Doc. Ján Svoreň was Also Awarded a Populariser of Science
Doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc was awarded the Award for Science and Technology in the category Populariser of Science for his long, broad and successful activity in the field of popularisation of astronomical knowledge with articles in magazines and newspapers, radio and TV shows, as well as lectures for the general public.
The awarding of these awards is the culmination of the Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia. The event aims to recognise the work of scientists and researchers for their achievements and contribution in the field of science, technology and innovation. Nominees for each category have received the award from the hands of the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic Peter Plavčan at the gala evening on 10 November 2016. Doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc., was not present, but the Award was received by his representative.
The Slovak Academy of Sciences proposed that the Award should be given to this leading expert in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. The Award-winning scientist, doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc. said “I knew about the proposal of the Slovak Academy of Sciences’ presidium, but receiving the Award surprised me nevertheless, because I know how many successful popularisers of science there are in various scientific disciplines in Slovakia”.
The employee of the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Tatranská Lomnica has a long, broad and successful activity in the field of popularisation of astronomical knowledge with articles in magazines and newspapers, radio and TV shows, as well as lectures for the general public. Among the reasons for deserving the Award for Science and Technology: “in particular, he popularises the results of research on interplanetary matter in accessible format and at a highly professional level, with emphasis on knowledge obtained at the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, including themes of close approaches of Near-Earth Asteroids, which have been perceived by the general public intensively. He has realised a range of events across the country with significant share of lecturing for the young generation”.
Between 2008 and 2016, he wrote a total of 114 articles in newspapers and magazines. He participated in 78 radio and 120 television shows, delivered 64 lectures to the public and published 110 contributions on the Internet. The events with the greatest public acclaim are considered his appearances on highly rated TV shows, such as the main news in the four most watched Slovak televisions, press conference about the finding of fragments of a meteorite in Košice, scenario preparation and technical cooperation in building the Astronomical nature trail in Stará Lesná and nature trail ‘Klátov’s Meteorites’ in Vyšný Klátov, membership in the editorial board of the popular-science magazine ‘Kozmos’ and the work preparing the keywords for the Encyclopaedia Beliana.
Similarly, very important was organising the Nationwide Astronomy Seminars for teachers, where doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc. was the guarantor of a scientific program, lecturer and co-editor of conference proceedings from six successful editions of this conference. Equally successfully, he worked as a deputy head of the two APVV projects related to dissemination of scientific knowledge.
Author and lecturer
Doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc. says, “All my life, I have dealt with astronomy and the emphasis gradually shifted from the acquisition of observations, through their processing and educational activities, to science management”. Should he had to highlight some of his past work, it would be the work appreciated by others. “The professional highlights were co-authorship of a chapter in the prestigious monography ‘Comets II’, which was published by the University of Arizona in 2004, the installation of the European Bolide Network cameras in Slovakia, the discovery of the meteorite ‘Košice’ in 2010 and series of papers on the fine structure of meteor streams in the vicinity of the Earth. In terms of education activities, I give lectures at the master’s and doctoral level at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice and at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of the Comenius University in Bratislava. Certainly the best achievement is training of four doctoral students, who have already shaped into successful young scientists”.
He is pleased that even after successful defense of their doctoral dissertations, he has the opportunity to closely work with them on joint projects. “In the area of science management, I have held a plethora of functions. I consider the most important holding the post of director of the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences between 2001 and 2009. Towards the end of my directorship, I managed to start the first project funded from Structural Funds under the Research and Development program. I managed these projects (later extended to other two) and they marked a breakthrough in terms of obtaining high quality and internationally competitive observation and computing technology in 70-years history of the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. I highly appreciate the appraisal of my work by the International Astronomical Union, which on 30 December 2001 named the 1999 TE6 asteroid ‘Svoreň’”.
Occupation as a hobby
As stated by the award-winning scientist, he has the extraordinary luck that for the entirety of his active life, his occupation – astronomy – was concurrently his hobby, with which he became acquainted as a 12-year-old in the former People’s Observatory in his native Banská Bystrica. “The extremely positive attitude of the observatory employees, Dr. Zibrinová and Mrs. Finková towards us kids, who did not know anything, but were interested in everything, was an inspiration for me later, for the lectures at schools, articles for the popularisation magazines, etc.”.
In astronomy, he has been devoted to the interplanetary matter – comets, asteroids and meteorites. “Objects observable only at night, of course, brought complications to the organisation of daily life. Similarly, tour stays at the Skalnaté Pleso Observatory (which is more than the touristy azure sky) brought along different non-astronomical requirements, such as mastering at least basic preparation of food, which was a necessity”.
From 1 January 2017, he should take over as the President of the editorial board of the popular-science magazine ‘Kozmos’. “Already today, ‘Kozmos’ brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and with readers in the Czech Republic and Poland, it is one of the best astronomical popular-scientific magazines, at least in Central Europe. I will try to achieve that it delivers even more original materials from the Slovak research institutes and convinces young readers that it is worth doing science in Slovakia”.
Doc. RNDr. Ján Svoreň, DrSc. believes that in an effort to popularise science, a regular column either on the radio or television could literally do wonders. The award-winning astronomy and astrophysics expert concludes, “many recall Grygar’s ‘Windows Towards Space Wide Opened’, but in more than 30 years, nobody was able to organise anything that would come close to the success of this television show. While today, we have an unprecedented amount of visual material, not to mention the technical possibilities. We are missing an explicitly educational channel, as the Radio and Television Slovakia competes in many aspects with commercial televisions, which have no room for serious science show. The second problem is the approach of scientists, who often back out when they encounter the barrier of necessary simplification of issues for the purpose of popularisation.” Personally, he regards the popularisation of science a service for people, which stems from gratitude for allowing him to work on what he likes.
The Award for Science and Technology has been awarded since 2014, replacing the Award of the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. The objective of this transformation is to increase the social prestige of the awards for science and technology.
Please visit the event's website Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia (only Slovak version) to find the list of all awarded in the individual categories, or see the e-newspapers Scientific kaleidoscope.
The main organiser of the Week of Science and Technology in Slovakia is the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic in cooperation with the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information and the National Centre for the Popularisation of Science and Technology in Society. The general partner of the event is Huawei.
Edited by: Slávka Habrmanová, NCP S&T within the SCSTI
Intro photo: from the archive of Ján Svoreň
Photo: Ján Laštinec, NCP S&T within the SCSTI
Published by: MZ
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