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The world's most powerful laser launched near Prague

HiLASE, a $50 million center near Prague employing numerous Japanese, Indian, and Italian folks, among others, has launched the new 1,000-watt laser DiPOLE 100 (Google Images), a fully diode pumped solid state laser (DPSSL) designed and constructed at STFC’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the U.K. and transferred to Czechia in two big trucks in late 2015.

For half a year, the laser will only be used by local employees. Companies will be able to exploit the device from July 2017. The idea is that the laser should be used to manipulate surfaces, test components of the aircraft, and do other things that I am extremely far from being good at.

The center hoping to become an important hi-tech hub is located in Dolní Břežany [The Lower Birchvilles], Southern outskirts of Prague near the river: maps, Google Images. To make the geography more confusing, a similarly named village Panenské Břežany [The Virgin Birchvilles] with a memorial is located some 10 miles North of Prague. That village with 500 inhabitants has no big laser but has also punched above its weight because that's where the Imperial Protectors Konstantin von Neurath and Reinhard Heydrich lived in the early 1940s. After the latter, a violinist and a main author of the Holocaust nicknamed the Blonde Beast, was executed by the Czechoslovak government in exile (while commuting from the Virgin Birchvilles to the Prague Castle in his Mercedes 320 Convertible B) in 1942, the house was used by his wife Lina and her four kids (Klaus, Haider, Frauke, and Marine – OK, I admit the last two, girls, should have been Silke and Marte LOL) up to 1945 when the Heydrich family became a bit unpopular in the Czech lands and the house was taken and exploited by The Research Institute for Metals. Even though Lina also lost her son Klaus in a 1943 car accident, she – a romanticized Nazi up to her death in the 1980s – remembered the years in Tschechei as the most wunderbar years of her life.

In the Czech language, the laser was nicknamed Bivoj – a nearly extinct and archaic male first name. I assure you that the name makes the strength of the laser obvious. Why? Well, Bivoj the Strong is a hero of the Old Czech Legends.

Most Czechs know these legends from the book Old Czech Legends by Alois Jirásek, first published in 1897. The story of Bivoj was first described in The Chronicle of Dalimil, the first chronicle written in the Czech (and not Latin) language and published around 1300 AD. However, in Dalimil's version of the story, Bivoj was more recent and he was identified as Jetřich of Buzice, a low-key nobleman who died in 1110.

Bivoj has been the name of the hero since the 1541 chronicle by Václav Hájek of Libočany. The story was also moved a few centuries deeper into the past.

What is the story? Well, Bivoj, a strong guy on the picture at the top, caught a wild boar with his bare hands, loaded it on his back, and brought it to Prophet Libuše living at the old Vyšehrad [Upper Castle] (Smetana's composition "Vyšehrad" has been used as the theme song of various radio stations and programs and the main theme can be heard in his "The Moldau", too), an early legendary female leader who forecast the birth of a "city whose fame reaches the heaven" while standing above Prague (which she founded, the legends says) – so far the prediction looks like a slight exaggeration ;-) – before she married Přemysl the Ploughman and established the Přemyslid dynasty of early Bohemian kings.

For the heroic delivery of the wild pork, Bivoj has received Libuše's sister Kazi. Aside from Libuše and Kazi, their father Krok/Step/Crocco also had a third daughter named Teta/Auntie. Aside from this paragraph and the previous one, I can't imagine what the remaining pages dedicated to Bivoj's story say. Some bumpkin on steroids has possibly brought a piece of meat to an old castle and we still talk about him 1350 years later? :-)

OK, if you think that a 1,000-watt laser could be useful for you, contact them. So far, they're doing their experiments only, e.g. what happens when you insert your hand to the 1000-watt beam etc. ;-)

Some local "technology" news in movies. Czech Fall 2016 comedy sitcom "Kosmo" – about the Polish astronauts who finally land on the Moon before the Czechs – remained almost unknown in Czechia but it quickly turned into viral videos beloved by the Polish audiences that appreciate the gentle Czech humor. Czechs (nicknamed Pepíci, i.e. the Czech word for Joes) have been the most popular foreign nation among the Poles for years, a relationship that isn't quite reciprocated.

Update: I have watched all five episodes of "Kosmo" and was laughing almost all the time. It's just excellent.

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