One of the most striking aspects of director Václav Marhoul’s new film The Painted Bird is the language spoken in it. The characters communicate in Interslavic, or Medžuslovjansky, an artificial language combining elements from several Slavic languages that fits with the WWII story’s unspecified Eastern European setting. Interslavic has in large part been developed by academic Dr. Vojtěch Merunka, who was closely involved in the movie. When we spoke, I first asked him about earlier attempts to create a Slavic lingua franca.
A global team including Czech scientists has assembled the first full genome of the common pea, shedding light on how the legume has evolved over tens of millions of years. Their work – which builds on that of the Moravian monk Gregor Mendel – is a vital part of an effort to grow high-yield, sustainable crops to feed Earth’s growing population as the climate changes.
Czech scientists have created artificial DNA that with further development
could help combat disease by replacing problematic strands.
Researchers at the Academy of Sciences and Charles University say that by using chemical reactions, in theory the artificial DNA could be substituted for actual strands of human DNA to halt the advance of various diseases.
Experiments in transferring the light-sensitive, artificial DNA have not yet been carried out on living cells or organisms.
More than eleven centuries after the fall of the Great Moravian Empire, there are still direct descendants from the Slavic noblemen living among us. A study of DNA samples, carried out recently by the Moravian Museum in Brno, found eleven men from the region of Uherské Hradiště who definitely have Great Moravian ancestors in their bloodlines.
Welsh writer John Bills currently resides in Prague, but his fondness for Central and Eastern Europe stretches beyond the borders of the Czech Republic. So far beyond, in fact, that he’s written a 600-page book dedicated to history’s greatest Slavs, wryly titled An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery.
A team led by Dr. Eva Syková, who is a senator for the Social Democrats, took payments from patients undergoing treatment for ALS at a Prague hospital even though it should have been free, according to a Czech Television report. The head of the Academy of Sciences has called for Dr. Syková to be removed as head of the Academy’s Institute of Experimental Medicine. Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek says she should also be dismissed from the government’s Section for Science, Research and Innovation in connection with the payments.
A top Czech cancer specialist has said that only around 8-10 percent of cancers are probably caused by genetics. The overwhelming proportion of remaining cases are linked to external factors such as the environment and age, Professor Luboš Petruželka said at a conference on cancer in Prague. Around one in three Czechs eventually suffer from cancer. The professor said that doctors needed to be educated better about the signs of possible cancer. The toolbox of treatments has remained largely unchanged over the past decades, the professor pointed out, making the reduction of external causes one of the most promising routes to follow.
The Moravian city of Brno has been marking a double anniversary this week: 183 years since the birth of the founder of modern genetics Gregor Mendel, and 150 years since his discovery that led to uncovering the science behind heredity. St. Thomas’s Abbey in Brno’s Old Town – in whose garden Mendel made his famous discoveries growing peas, and which today houses the Mendel Museum – hosted the celebrations on Monday, including an audiovisual show created by award-winning American “biomedical animator” Drew Berry, backed by music from Czech-based composer