At the end of the last academic year European specialists in research on the languages, culture and history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries gathered at the CU Philosophical Faculty for the 2nd Indological Seminar (ESIS). The meeting was organised by the Indological Institute of Charles University in collaboration with the Institute of Indian Philology and Art History at the Free University in Berlin and with the financial support of the Volkswagen Foundation. Participants in the seminar included representatives of classical and modern indological disciplines from seven countries in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
Discussion centred on the European system of mutual recognition of study credits (European Credit Transfer System - ECTS) and ways in which this could be implemented in Indology. A database has been established of study programmes introduced at the individual participant universities in the fields of Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, and the history and culture of the countries of the Indian sub-continent; representatives of the Free University in Berlin, Prague's Charles University and Sofia University presented participants with model lists of Indological lectures. Delegates considered information on the European Union's SOCRATES educational exchange programme and especially its university component ERASMUS, which allows mobility for university students and teachers. They emphasised that the introduction of a credit system in the framework of this system must be a voluntary matter, based on mutual trust and the recognition of the academic level of the partner institutions. In conclusion participants expressed their view that the Prague seminar had been a useful meeting, allowing a direct exchange of views. They decided that the next seminar would be held in a year's time at the Jagellion University in Cracow.
One of the ten new holders of the European Prize for Mathematians up to 33 years of age is Doc. RNDr. Jiri Matousek, DrSc., from the Department of Applied Mathematics of the CU Mathematics and Physics Faculty. The prize was presented to Docent Matousek by the European Mathematics Union at its 2nd Congress, held in Budapest in July of this year. The European Mathematics Union gave as the reason for the award Dr. Matousek's success in "discovering what are hitherto the best known results for several key problems of computational and combinatoric geometry and optimalization, for example algorithms for the linear programming and examination of areas."
The prize was presented to Docent Matousek at the session of the European Mathematics Union in Budapest by the Mayor of the city, the Chairman of the Committee for the Award of the Prize, Prof. L. Lovasz and the President of the European Mathematics Union Prof. J. P. Bourgignon.
On the 21st October, 1996, an important scientific event took place in the CU Mathematics and Physics Faculty building on Malostranske Square. Prof. Benoit Mandelbrot, one of the most distinguished of living mathematicians and scientists, gave a lecture on the theme "Fractals in Mathematics and Science" as part of the series of Mathematical Colloquia arranged by the Department of Applied Mathematics. His lecture aroused a great deal of interest in the academic community and the lecture-hall was packed.
In his Prague lecture Prof. Mandelbrot started out from some paradoxical (and half-forgotten) results derived by the mathematicians Cantor and Pean and especially the French mathematicians Faton and Juli and proceeded rapidly to an analysis of the possibilities of this new approach to the fundamental problem of measure, form and homothety using the concepts of algorithm, iterated processes and graphic computer outputs. Fractals can be said to be geometric objects with dimensions that are not whole numbers. In demonstrating the surprising aesthetic aspects of his discoveries and their broader contexts and applications in a wide range of fields, Prof. Mandelbrot showed himself a convincing spokesman not only for the unity of science but also for the unity of knowledge and feeling, science and art.
Nobody knows precisely when the tradition of Christmas-Eve Rounds started. It is attributed to Josef Thomayer at the beginning of the present century, and it is clear that his pupil Josef Pelnar continued the practice after him at the Second Internal Clinic, although we do not know whether the Christmas-Eve round was made every year. Immediately after the foundation of the Fourth Internal Clinic Bohumil Prusik, who studied under both these giants of Czech medicine, introduced this beautiful custom in 1945 and kept it going every year for the entire period during which he was chief of the clinic, up to 1959. Prusik's successor Mojmir Fucik then took care to maintain the Christmas-Eve rounds until he retired from the position in 1980.
The form and purpose of these rounds remained the same throughout - to visit and entertain those patients whose medical condition or social circumstances mean that they have to stay in the clinic over the Christmas holiday, and to express human sympathy for their suffering. Another reason for the Christmas-Eve rounds was to bring medical staff closer together, fostering a spirit of solidarity and involving a little music-making, which in Fucik's period reached its highest level. Every year a professional ensemble (from a quartet to a septet, and including Prof. Fucik, the endocrinologist Doc. Tvaroh and Prof. Heran), would play on these occasions. It should be said that in the postwar years such Christmas-Eve rounds also took place, but not on a regular basis, at some internal and even some surgical clinics. In the worst period of totalitarian rule, however, the practice all but died out and so some of the staff from other clinics would come to greet doctors and patients at Prusik's clinic, where the custom was observed until 1980, but then ceased for ten years. Only with the arrival of a new director, Doc. MUDr. Vladimir Puchmayer, CSc. and in the new democratic conditions in 1990, was the tradition of Christmas-Eve rounds revived. Now all those involved have the annual opportunity to give their warm regards to patients, and enjoy Christmas music and the presence of guests such as rectors, pro-rectors, deans, directors of important companies and other friends of the clinic. For many of these, it would be impossible to imagine Christmas Eve without this noble tradition.
At a meeting of the Research Board on the 26th of September 1996 Rector's Special Prizes were awarded to four students of CU's Mathematics and Physics Faculty for their outstanding results in the International Mathematical Olympiad held in Plovdiv in Bulgaria for university students. Receiving their prizes from the hands of the Rector were Michal Kubecek, David Pavlica, Jan Rychtar and Robert Samal.
Also honoured on the occasion was Mgr. Zdenek Mistr, a graduate of the CU Mathematics and Physics Faculty, who was given a prize for outstanding work in the field of geophysics, and for the presentation of his research results abroad.(Vol. III, No. 3, 1996)
On the 15th-17th of October 1996 the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma de Mallorca hosted an international Conference on Population, Migration and Development in the Mediterranean Region. It was jointly organised by the Council of Europe, the Spanish government and the local administration of the Balearic Islands with the support of other regional organisations such as the European Union, Organisation for Security, International Organisation for Migration, OSN-ESE, League of Arab States and others.
More than 330 demographers, economists, advisers, parliamentary representatives and other interested institutions from Europe and the countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean discussed demographic trends, migrational movements and the relationship between emigration and economic development in the region. The participants at the conference focused on research into the current state and future prospects of South-North migration, the causes of rising migration and the consequences of this development for the region. At the same time there was emphasis on the need to develop international co-operation and monitoring of demographic, economic and social trends in the South-Eastern Mediterranean area.
Participants at the conference argued that problems of demographic imbalance, increasing migrational pressures and the lack of proportion in economic development and social prosperity in the Mediterranean area would have a deep impact on the future of the African and European continent as a whole unless solutions could be found.
I was there. And whoever wanted could be there too. Whether out of curiosity, solidarity, or merely a desire to stretch your legs. Who was Terry Fox? An eighteen-year-old Canadian who had to have his leg amputated because of his cancer. He fought back against the insidious disease and started a journey right across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He did not finish the journey and after 5,565 kilometres succumbed to his illness, but his dream - the discovery of a cure for cancer - did not end. Every year Terry Fox Runs are held in many countries - a marathon of hope. Now and for the fourth time this run has been held in Prague as well, jointly with the seventh annual Prague Run. It took place on Saturday the 12th of October 1996 at Strahov and could boast a record 4,703 entrants. This, however, created serious complications for the Prague Run competition. The major international event, however, remained to the fore, under the aegis of the Mayor of Prague Jan Koukal, the Rector of the Czech Technical University Stanislav Hanzl (in memoriam) and the Canadian embassy.
The track led from Strahov through the Hradcany district to the Prague Castle and was 6,400 m. long. It was amazing to consider the range of people who had decided to take on the challenge: the old, the young, children in prams, blind or other handicapped runners concentrated all their efforts on vanquishing the six and a half kilometres of competition track (as we show in our photo of the start of the race). Four-legged friends came too and ran with their masters along the circular track through the centre of the capital city. The thousands of Praguers who joined in the race this year were joined by a number of popular personalities, actors and sportsmen.
What brought people to choose this run around Prague as a way of spending a Saturday afternoon? Some were motivated by the sad fate of Terry Fox, some by fellow-feeling for citizens afflicted in the same way, and some wanted to test their fitness or measure their strength against competitors. Others just wanted to pass the time. Whatever the reasons, the event inspired participants and spectators with the feeling that people have the strength and willingness to struggle against everything that limits or destroys them.
The brochure is slender, and the price would be low if it were on sale to the public. On the other hand, the information that it contains is worth its weight in gold for prospective students. The title? Admissions Procedures for Study at the Faculties of Charles University for the Academic Year 1997/1998. The brochure is the result of the efforts of the Study and Student Affairs Department of the CU Rectorate. It provides exhaustive information on degree courses and the subjects of admissions examinations, and has been drawn up on the basis of information obtained from the faculties and correct as of the 5th of September 1996. It aims to introduce prospective students to study at CU, giving information on the courses available in individual faculties and the open disciplines, and purely practical guidance, e.g. on closing dates for applications, forms of application, fees and charges, and appeals procedures. The brochure has been brought out in good time, so as to be available to applicants just when they need it. One innovation is that Internet users can obtain information on admissions examinations on the Charles University homepage at the address http://www.cuni.cz/uk (in Czech language).
Professor PhDr. Zdenek Matejcek, CSc.- external professor in the Department of Psychology for many years, child psychologist, well-known researcher and author of numerous widely-read publications - has decided to donate 250,000 CKr to the CU Philosophical Faculty out of his own resources. It will create a fund for the annual award of a Professor Matejcek Prize.
This prize will be given to the best graduates who have defended their theses in the PF CU Department of Psychology in the period 1st of January to 30th of October of each calendar year in the field of child psychology. In exceptional cases work by undergraduate students may be eligible for the prize.
Applications for the prize may be submitted by any person over the age of eighteen, with a complete text of the diploma thesis and account of academic reasons for the proposal, at the latest by the 1st of November of each year.
The award of the prize will take place each year starting with the year in which the available return on the fund has reached at least 20,000 CKr. The award committee will consist of the following members: the Head of the Department of Psychology, a member of the Department of Psychology concerned with Child Psychology, a representative of the section of specific learning disorders of the Czech Logopaedic Society, a member of a psychology department or centre other than the PF CU Department of Psychology, and a representative of Professor Zdenek Matejcek's family (PhDr. Jarmila Klegrova, CSc. - daughter).
This endowment gives students of the Department of Psychology at PF CU a chance of winning a prize this year. Perhaps it is worth emphasising that Professor Matejcek's decision to create a fund to support creative and high-quality research work among students is fully in line with his life philosophy of positive stimulation.