The Warsaw Voice » Other » Monthly - September 18, 2008
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From the Publisher
The idea of a nation deprived of possibilities to communicate is as absurd and terrifying as the idea of a country deprived of roads and freeways. This vision is absurd because it is unrealistic. It is terrifying because it would spell disaster. Especially terrifying these days is the idea of a nation deprived of the internet. While there's no denying that the internet is one of the most important means of communication today, it is not easy to come up with the right measures to make internet access more widely available-especially as such measures need to be accompanied by hard cash.

The special guest of this issue of The Polish Science Voice, Jan Węglarz, a professor at the Poznań University of Technology's Institute of Computing Science and one of the key figures behind the development of computer science in Poland, is at the center of this dilemma. Fifteen years ago he started developing an IT infrastructure in Poland. He was among the founding fathers of the Polish Optical Internet, also known as Pionier, that was launched in 2000. Today the Pionier network is 4,000 kilometers long, and a further 1,200 kilometers is under construction. For details see our interview with Węglarz.

Big projects can have small dimensions-100 by 100 by 113 millimeters, for example. This will be the size of Poland's first satellite, the PW-Sat, that will be launched into orbit by the end of the year. The satellite, built by astronautics and space engineering students at the Warsaw University of Technology, is intended for experimental purposes. Another Polish satellite, the Mazovia, will go into orbit in 2012, and will be positioned almost 700 km above the North Pole. This will be a military satellite and its task will be to improve the combat capabilities of the Polish armed forces. In all, the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences has sent more than 70 different instruments-designed and built by Polish researchers and engineers-into space over the past 30 years.

In 2006, a consortium of 17 Polish companies, research-and-development centers and colleges involved in satellite and space technology set up the Polish Space Technology Platform as a link between science and business.

Another link between science and business is the Wrocław Center for Technology Transfer. Set up 14 years ago, it is part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the world's largest business support network that includes almost 600 organizations in 40 countries. The Wrocław center is the coordinator of the EEN program in western Poland. "Our aim is to improve the effectiveness and competitiveness of Polish companies through innovation," says Prof. Jan Koch, director of the Wrocław Center for Technology Transfer.

The Wrocław Center for Technology Transfer is a part of the Wrocław University of Technology, an institution of higher education that is considered to be one of the best in the country. It is renowned for its laboratory research and close ties with industry. Among projects undertaken at the Wrocław University of Technology is one that fits in with the space technology theme in this issue of The Polish Science Voice: the American space shuttle Atlantis uses a set of antennas designed at the university.