Josef Ressel

Today in Mailbox: Czech presidential elections, a poem about Tycho Brahe by Sarah Williams, new QSL cards, Radio Prague on Facebook, RP's monthly listners' competition. Listeners/readers quoted: Vladimir Gudzenko, Caitlin Brown, Hans Verner Lollike, Jayanta Chakrabarty.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Hello and welcome to the first Mailbox in 2013 – I hope the New Year finds you well. Many thanks for all the season’s greetings you sent us by old-fashioned mail and email, as well as on Facebook.

As our regular followers will know, the Czech Republic is currently holding its first ever direct presidential election and Vladimir Gudzenko from Russia has commented on the topic:

“In December, you paid tribute to Václav Havel, the hero of the Velvet Revolution and the first president of the Czech Republic. And at the beginning of the coming year, the Czechs will elect the new president. In my opinion, the new president of your country must be a right-wing politician, oriented toward traditional Western values, freedom, democracy and human rights for all people, a supporter of NATO and a united free and democratic Europe.”

So let’s wait and see which one of the nine candidates will make it to Prague Castle, the traditional seat of Czech heads of state.

Caitlin Brown from Indiana commented on last month’s listeners’ quiz question:

“In the December edition of your Mailbox program I was pleased to learn more about the astronomer Tycho Brahe. However, I was somewhat surprised that no one (or at least no one that you featured) had brought up the fact that he was mentioned in the poem The Old Astronomer to His Pupil by Sarah Williams. While it was written some time after his death, it is an intelligent, inspiring poem to aspiring astronomers everywhere.”

Caitlin included an internet link to the poem by the 19th century English poet:

L-410 Turbolet,  photo: National Technical Museum
Thank you for your comments and thank you also for following Radio Prague on Facebook where the number of our fans has now exceeded 3000.

Regular visitors to our website will have noticed that a brand new set of QSL cards is out now, featuring historic Czechoslovak airplanes. Even after curtailing our shortwave transmissions as of February 1, 2011 we still continue sending QSL cards for reception via the internet. There is a special form on our website that you can use for your reception reports We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Now onto our monthly quiz. The winner of our competition last month, Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark, was the first to answer the new question:

“Josef Ludvík František Ressel was an Austrian-Czech forester and inventor who designed one of the first working ship's propellers. His ideas were finalized and used in the 1880s and revolutionized shipping.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India wrote:

Josef Ressel
“Financial constraints once led this Czech genius to leave Vienna University to become a forester. But a fascination with ships motivated young Josef Ressel to think about a contraption that could power a ship using multiple blades fastened around a conical base. His invention of propellers in 1826 nicknamed the ‘never-ending screw’ revolutionised the speed of ships forever. The Civetta, the first ship to be driven successfully with screw propellers, notched up a speed of 6 knots. It is alleged that Ressel's invention was copied by others. However, all doubts were set aside when the Washington-based National Academy credited Ressel as its original inventor.”

Vladimir Gudzenko from Russia, who we have already heard from, writes:

“Josef Ressel was born in a Czech-German family. His mother was Czech and his father was native German. He graduated from a Forestry Academy, but later become the inventor of the ship’s propeller. Ressel applied for a patent in 1826, and he received it a year later. However, his invention was not recognized during his lifetime. It was nine years after his death, in 1866, when the National Academy in Washington confirmed his authorship of the invention of the screw-propeller. Ressel was the author of many other inventions, too, including a screw press-roller for wine and oil. He worked as a forest officer and was also famous for his works on calligraphy and drawing.

“Josef Ressel was also a writer and the author of some popular scientific works. He died from malaria in Ljubljana, the capital of the modern Slovenia, and is buried there. Monuments to Josef Ressel are to be found in Vienna, Chrudim and Prague, and in numerous Czech towns we can find streets named after him. His portrait was on the Austrian 500 shilling bond, as well as on Czechoslovak and Slovenian postage stamps.”

Many thanks for your answers and this time our prize goes to Jayanta Chakrabarty from India. Congratulations and your parcel is in the post. As usual, here is a brand new quiz question for the coming four weeks.

This time we are looking for the name of the Austrian painter, born in 1890, whose Czech mother had been born in the South Bohemian town of Český Krumlov where he himself often came to spend time and work.

Please send us your answers as usual to [email protected] by February 6th along with your questions, comments and reception reports. We’ll be looking forward to your feedback. Until next time, happy listening and take care!