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The Warsaw Voice » Other » August 13, 2008
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From the Publisher
August 13, 2008   
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Can eating frankfurters help prevent cancer and hypertension? What if these frankfurters are stuffed with cabbage? A group of researchers from the Gdańsk University of Technology headed by Dr. Agnieszka Bartoszek have developed original recipes for meats that combine traditional flavors with healthy extracts from cabbage.

Cabbage frankfurters are not the only "tasty" topic in this issue of The Polish Science Voice. As usual, our menu includes a report about efforts to reform Poland's science sector. This reform is slowly getting off the ground. After decades of stagnation, it is difficult to expect that the changes will take place overnight, especially as they involve some fundamental organizational and financial issues. Ideally, changes should begin in people's minds, and they should be followed by new legal regulations. By the end of this year, the Polish parliament is expected to approve a package of new legislation drafted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in consultation with interested communities. This package may prove to be quite a challenge for the country's lawmakers.

Meanwhile, 15 aerospace engineering students from the Warsaw University of Technology have risen to a challenge of their own. The Polish students, who are members of the Warsaw campus branch of the American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), have designed and built a model aircraft that won third prize in this year's Aero Design West international collegiate competition in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States. The MiNi airplane designed by the Polish students weighs some 600 grams, has a wingspan of 1.5 m and is capable of carrying a load of 0.8 kg. The plane was built with the utmost precision using the latest materials and technology.

Sometimes small projects like this are only a step away from big business. While ties between science and business are rather loose in this country, efforts to encourage closer links between the two are all the rage in Poland nowadays. The Jagiellonian University Center for Innovation, Technology Transfer and Development (CITTRU) in Cracow is a case in point.

No less attractive is the range of career opportunities offered by the Technical University of ŁódĽ, a key Polish college in which business plays a major role, on a par with research and education.

In a separate topic, this issue of The Polish Science Voice reports on a number of Polish scientists who have received various national and international awards. These include recipients of honorary doctorates at home and abroad and winners of various competitions and prizes, including what are known as "Polish Nobels" from the Foundation for Polish Science.

A special guest of this issue of The Polish Science Voice is Lesław Gajek, a professor of mathematics at the Technical University of ŁódĽ and an expert in actuarial sciences and pension plans. Gajek is Poland's first recipient of the David Garrick Halmstad Prize, an award that is given out annually by the U.S.-based Actuarial Foundation (TAF) for "significant contributions to actuarial science." Gajek received the award for a work entitled Reinsurance Arrangements Maximizing Insurer's Survival Probability that he has published together with Prof. Dariusz Zagrodny of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. In an interview he gave us, Gajek says that "mathematics is beyond time and space. It is constant, mysterious and majestic. It is good for contemplation and it teaches humility." He adds that "the most pleasant thing in practicing mathematics is the moment when, after a long concentration, you suddenly see everything in the right order and discover the truth." Asked about his role model in his work as a researcher, Gajek mentions the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus who "was the first real scientist in the contemporary meaning of the word." Copernicus "built a beautiful yet simple model that explained the complicated movements of celestial bodies and put it through empirical verification," Gajek says. "At the same time, he had to stand up to almost the entire academic community of the day" which preached a concept of the universe that was vastly different.

This is an approach that serves as an inspiration not only for scientists like Gajek but also for a publication such as The Polish Science Voice.
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