The Czech Republic may be a small country, but it has enjoyed a golden age, during which many great, great minds were born.
While some of them appear on banknotes today, such as Comenius, the eminent professor who laid the foundations of modern education, or Palacky, whose work enabled the Czechs to understand and become aware of their true identity, others are less well known.
However, their work and creations still ring true today! In this article, we present a list of great Czech scientists and inventors.
Who are the great Czech scientists and inventors?
In this article, we present a list of great Czech scientists and inventors. Some of these great inventions are still in use today. We’re sure you’ll be surprised!
It’s hard not to mention the incredible discovery of Jan Janský. Born in Prague, he studied medicine at Charles University. This gave him the opportunity to develop his knowledge and refine his research. All his life, he tried to prove a link between mental illness and blood disorders… Without success.
However, his work led him to classify blood into four groups: I, II, III and IV. A classification that went unnoticed when his paper was published in 1907. 23 years later, in 1930, his work was celebrated by an American medical commission.
Even today, Janský’s classification of blood is still used, and has had a major influence on the ABO system, which has now become the standard.
Leonardo da Vinci thought them up, Adolphe Eugène Fick created them, and Czech scientist Otto Wichterle modified and greatly improved them. Indeed, this eminent chemist was born on the Prostějov side of the river.
At the end of the Second World War, after being captured by the Gestapo, he set to work on hydrogels for the ophthalmology sector and, more specifically, contact lenses, which he planned to perfect.
Accompanied by Drahoslav Lim, Wichterle succeeded in creating a new compound, HEMA, which would form the basis of his soft lenses. He made this discovery while stirring his coffee.
On Christmas Eve 1961, he moved ahead with his project and, thanks to his son’s Meccano game, succeeded in creating four soft lenses of rare perfection. The patent was later registered by the Communist Party.
Another great Czech inventor, who this time revolutionized the marine world, was Josef Ressel. Born in Chrudim in 1793, he effectively invented the concept of propeller propulsion, going so far as to create the very first ship powered by his invention, in 1827.
His first test was on a small boat, but his first real application was on the Civetta, a ship that sped along at six knots thanks to its propeller. Problem: the propeller’s lack of stability turned the situation into a fiasco.
Wishing to rework his project, he was fleeced by French merchants who filed the patent for him, after improving the system. He never received any money for his invention, and was soon forgotten. He then left the waters to become a forestry engineer.
Another field, another Czech inventor. Jaroslav Heyrovský, born in Prague in 1890, is the inventor of polarography. In collaboration with Professor Bohumil Kučera, he developed a new method for measuring the surface tension of polarized mercury.
This discovery will enable huge advances to be made in electroanalysis in a global and general way. Such was Heyrovský’s influence on the history of science that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1959 for his work and contribution to science.
Antonin Holý, born in Prague, may not have discovered the miracle cure for AIDS, but if one day a definitive solution were to be found, his work would have played a major role.
A Prague-born physician, he has filed no fewer than 60 patents and written over 400 medical articles, all relating to his work and research into the development of effective drugs to combat AIDS and hepatitis B.
Several of the antiretrovirals he discovered were actually marketed during his lifetime. Vistide was launched in 1996, as was Tenofovir, a drug used in the fight against AIDS. In 2003, Hepsera, a treatment for chronic, active hepatitis B, went on sale.
It was not until 2011, at the age of 75, that Antonin Holy, the formidable Czech physician and researcher, retired, one year before his death. A man who never counted the hours he put in.
Czech inventors in the spotlight
The Czech Republic is a great country of science. Here, many minds and scholars have lived side by side. This heritage is still palpable today. Whether it’s technology or science. You can learn more about these works by visiting Prague’s best museums. They’ll help you discover a little more about these scientific and technical advances.