The mineral wealth of the Jáchymov deposit has been well-known for almost five centuries due to the German scholar Georgius Agricola. In spite of this, Jakub Plášil and his research team succeeded in discovering and describing more than a dozen of as-yet unknown, mostly uranium-based minerals in the recent years. Their findings are now available in the collective publication titled “Jáchymov – A Mineralogical Jewel of the Ore Mountains” co-authored by Jakub Plášil, Pavel Škácha, and Vladimír Horák.
“The authors have considered decades of geological, mineralogical and crystallographic research of the world-renowned location to be able to give general public a popular but scientifically accurate account of the mineral variety at the local, small-sized deposit, the extraction at which has influenced the course of history for several times,” said Michal Dušek, the Head of the Solid Particle Physics Division at the Institute of Physics of the CAS – which is also Jakub Plášil‘s a home institution, praising the team of authors.
The introduction to the publication by Academia concisely describes how the interest in the mineral resources of Jáchymov have changed over the centuries: the mining town has seen consecutive periods of silver, arsen, cobalt as well as uraninite mining – the sources used at first to make coloured glass, to extract radium for medicinal purposes at a later stage and to develop the atomic bomb after the WWII.
The extraction of mineral resources in the Ore Mountains has been associated with a number of technical innovations and discoveries from the very beginning. Until as late as the nineteen century, some of the local mines had used what was known as a “mihadlo”, a mine water pumping device, designed in 1551. In the early 20th century, Jáchymov held a global monopoly on producing radium, which was first extracted from uraninite by Marie Curie-Skłodowská and her husband. Also, the world‘s first state miner training school and the very first radon spa were established in Jáchymov.
The Jáchymov deposit is also the place of origin of the uranium ore used for the development of the first Soviet atomic bomb, tested in 1949 at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. The strategic role that the extraction of uranium played in the Soviet Era may be evidenced by a secret pact between the USSR and Czechoslovak governments from November 23rd, 1945, and by a decision of Antonín Zápotocký, the prime minister of the time, to submit the uranium extraction directly to state control in 1952. The mining of uranium claimed victims and caused hardship among political prisoners as a result of forced labour, for which they were interned in concentration camps located near the mines.
The next chapters of the publication address the outcome of the multiannual research by the team of authors, presenting detailed descriptions of primary and secondary minerals originating from the Jáchymov deposit. The complex overview of mineralogy and mineral wealth was complemented with photographs provided by Czech and foreign museums; historical map reproductions and photos of artworks created from local minerals.
Jakub Plášil has focused on mineralogical crystallography at the Institute of Physics of the CAS and has co-authored descriptions of more than eighty new mineral types originating from around the world. In the long term, he has concentrated on the mineralogy of uranium and the mineralogy and geochemistry of the Jáchymov ore district.
Jáchymov – mineralogická perla Krušnohoří
The first month of autumn at the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences will be marked with a sequence of events intended for general public. Apart from the annual events such as the Science Festival or Researchers‘ Night, the Institute of Physics will participate in a neighbourhood fest entitled Different City Experience. All events will be free of charge, for information about the programme and how to sign up please continue reading.
The series of events will be started by the Science Festival on Wednesday, Sept 4, taking place at “Kulaťák” in Dejvice, Prague, offering its visitors a full day programme which will be extended for the first time until as late as 7 p.m. The morning programme is usually visited by classroom trips as a perfect complimentary program to start the new academic year. General public is, however, welcome anytime throughout the day.
This year, the booth of the Institute of Physics will give its visitors a detailed presentation of its research section, focusing on particle physics and astrophysics, and of a discipline referred to as astroparticle physics, a field connecting both aforementioned disciplines, being the FZU‘s field of excellence. Do come and unveil the mystery of this scientific cross-field! Learn about the particles reaching the Earth in huge amounts and - going unnoticed – landing on us and on everything around us – with us you will have the opportunity to observe them! To do so, we are going to bring our brand new cloud chamber to the site. Additionally, you will learn which are the international observatories we participate in; how Czech scientists contribute to the research at CERN, and finally, who the scientists from the CEICO group are that examine the development and the building stones of the entire universe.
Particle tracks in a cloud chamber - what do they mean and could be dangerous?
On Saturday, Sept 21st, the Institute of Physics will take part in a neighbourhood fest in Cukrovarnická street in Střešovice, Prague. The event will take place directly in front of the historical site of this Institute‘s facility as part of the Different City Experience. The concept of the Different City Experience is to improve the awareness of the value of public space and to enable active citizens to meet under the lead of local organisers and volunteers.
“The Institute of Physics and our workers will join the Different City Experience by introducing interesting physical experiments or a cloud chamber. We will make part of our premises accessible to a historical tour,” says Dr. Michal Dušek, the head of the FZU facility at Cukrovarnická street. At the end of the evening, we will show a short amateur historical film that recalls with humorous nostalgia of the times when a screwdriver, a solder and a volmeter were a must-have for every physicist.
Historical image of a main building at Cukrovarnická (1920s).
The last event to take place in September will be the Researchers’ Night. It will take place on Friday, Sept. 27th at 51 locations around the Czech Republic, including three facilities of the Institute of Physics. Every year, the programme includes the participation of research institutes, universities and observatories that offer their visitors an opportunity to encounter both the fascinating world of science and the people doing science.
At this occasion, you will also be able to take part in thematic tours featuring special alloys with shape memory and electron microscopy at the facility of the Institute of Physics at Na Slovance (Prague 8 – Ládví). The facility in Cukrovarnická street (Prague 6 – Střešovice) will present its research to students with serious interest in physics and potential collaborators, showing not only top technologies and procedures but also entertaining experiments and refreshments. A comprehensive programme will traditionally be offered be the renown ELI Beamlines and HiLASE laser centres in Dolní Břežany. Detailed information and how to sign up for individual sites is available in detailed programme.
Experience the unique atmosphere of Researchers' Night!
If you do not make it in September, do not worry! You can look forward to visiting the Week of Science and Technology (November 11th – 17th) hosting also our Open Days – more information about the event and how to sign up will follow at our website during September.