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Travel guides were known and used even by people in ancient times, most often by sailors and merchants, for whom a new genre of travel guides was created: the periplus. It contained not only practical information about sailing, but sometimes also interesting facts collected from different countries. Ancient Greece also produced guidebooks that can still be used as sightseeing guides to this day. Vladislav Knoll from the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the CAS describes ancient monuments and records preserved mainly in medieval (Byzantine) manuscripts.
In the Czech Republic, there is lack of systematic research on ethical problems related to climate change and the so-called emerging technologies. The situation is about to change thanks to the newly forming international research Center of Environmental and Technology Ethics – Prague (CETE-P) at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Thanks to a prestigious European grant awarded to the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Mark Coeckelbergh from the University of Vienna will participate in its establishment and development.
An extensive series of experiments has been carried out by researchers from the Institute of Plasma Physics of the CAS and the international ITER project, which aims to start producing clean and almost inexhaustible energy through the so-called tokamak within the next four years. For the first time, scientists have been able to provide experimental evidence of a physical limit to the electric currents flowing between the plasma and the first reactor wall at a time when the plasma is unstable. The new findings, published in the Nuclear Fusion journal, will help improve computer models for future fusion reactors.
The global food system is in the crisis of growth-addicted development. Exploitative of humans and animals, ecologically rapacious, hooked on fossil fuels, and controlled by a small number of multi-national corporations from food to fork, this system produces massive quantities of the wrong foods at incredible social, ecological and economic cost. With food crises again looming on the near horizon, a strategy to tweak and maintain the current growth-driven food system is highly questionable.
Large amounts of pesticides in agricultural production can negatively affect mycorrhizal fungi, invisible to the naked eye, and thus the ubiquitous cooperation between plants and soil micro-organisms. This is suggested by the results of a unique giant survey of more than 200 soil areas from Spain to Sweden. Among the experts, who examined how mycorrhizal fungi influence the transport of phosphorus from soil to plants, were also scientists from the Institute of Microbiology of the CAS.
Breastfeeding for more than half a year has a positive effect on children's psychological development. This was confirmed by a long-term study of Czech and Slovak researchers who observed children from České Budějovice and Karviná. The results have also shown that the duration of breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for the development of cognitive functions in children who live in areas with high levels of air pollution. The study was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the CAS in collaboration with colleagues from other institutions.
Before the internal biological clock of the fetus starts ticking on its own, the mother's rhythmic behaviour influences the function and development of this structure. This was discovered and published in a new study in the PLOS Biology journal by a team led by Alena Sumová from the Institute of Physiology of the CAS. The discovery significantly contributes to the understanding of the development of the internal clock and may find application in the treatment of premature babies.
Artificial intelligence will help with diagnosing patients on the basis of their lab samples. The unique pilot technology called MAIA is the joint project of the Biology Centre of the CAS, České Budějovice Hospital, and biotech company Aiolite. The project is co-financed by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, and it culminated at the end of June this year. The collaboration will result in the development of an advanced software tool that will help doctors make informed decisions about patients' further treatment.
Three scientists from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the CAS helped to significantly refine the use of so-called atmospheric reanalyses in examining the causes and consequences of extreme precipitation. Knowing the inaccuracies of these "backward" analyses compared to the real situation will help in estimating future weather changes. However, the use of reanalyses is much broader as the provided data are the basis for hydrological applications and climatological studies.
One of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, Nature, recently published the research findings of a team of Czech researchers. Their empirical research shows that a large part of the public has misconceptions about doctors' views on the COVID-19 vaccination. Although the vast majority of physicians trust and support the vaccination, there is a common belief among the public that doctors' opinions are split roughly 50–50. Informing the public of the broad consensus of the doctors' opinions has persistently increased vaccination rates and has played an important role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.