The tree of knowledge: a tribute to Otto Wichterle /1913 -1998/
Millions of people around the world could not imagine their life without modern contact lenses. But few of them know that the man who invented them was professor Otto Wichterle, an outstanding Czech chemist who had many notable achievements to his name, and died in 1998. This week academics and scientists from around the Czech Republic gathered outside the Prague Institute of Macro-Molecular Chemistry for the unveiling of a monument to one of the great minds of the last century.
Jaroslava Moserova, a leading plastic surgeon, is one of many who remember Otto Wichterle as a respected colleague and a trusted friend.
"He was the most exceptional and wise person that I've ever met - really. I mean I have met people who you could say were maybe more exceptional like the Dalai Lama, but the wisdom, the wisdom of Wichterle is unequalled. "
"At the time when he made these discoveries - mainly the soft contact lenses - he was not in the favour of the totalitarian government. So all his excellent achievements were played down and the public didn't know of them. I knew of them. I was fortunate enough to know him in person, but the man in the street simply didn't know. And it was not only the inventions. He was an excellent manager and, as I said, he had foresight, which so few people have. He had foresight not only in science but in life in general, in politics, in economy, in everything. If we had more people like him this country would be much better off."