A tough test in the Antarctic

Not far from the northernmost tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on James Ross Island, Masaryk University built a polar station to serve for the Antarctic research conducted by the Faculty of Science and a number of Czech as well as foreign scientists. This polar research station named after Johann Gregor Mendel, father of genetics, has been contributing to the research of this icy continent since 2007.


The Czech scientists at the station mainly research the geological development of the peninsula and study climate change as well as its consequences and the ecology of local algae, lichen, and blue-green algae. The extreme conditions of frozen Antarctica also make it a great place to conduct tough applied research. And the subject of the research? Shoes, underwear and even nano impregnation produced by companies who like to know how their products handle the most demanding of terrains. Every day, the researchers wearing them are exposed to snow, ice, wind, rain, and a high level of UV radiation.

We use the tested products daily. During the expedition, some groups of scientists walk up to 700 kilometres and don’t really go easy on their equipment,” explains Pavel Kepler, leader of the expedition.

If the products pass the test, the polar explorers grant them the Tested in Antarctica stamp of approval. This opportunity to expose their products to polar extremes provides the companies with feedback on how they did in demanding conditions and whether any further improvements are required. The stamp then serves as a trustworthy quality indicator for their customers.


And what conditions are the materials tested in? Temperatures between 15 to -15 degrees, strong wind and snow. The scientists wade through flooded icy creeks and climb up mountains and glaciers covered in sharp volcanic rocks or sticky mud. Marches across difficult terrain and lengthy installations of various apparatuses and sample taking. And long trips on uncovered boats or four-wheelers against strong wind.

Used oil: potential further use

Testing finalized products is a bit of a bonus activity once the materials for them have been thoroughly developed. And there’s a special lab for this development in #brnoregion! The Materials Research Centre was established at the Faculty of Chemistry at the Brno University of Technology. Here, the scientists focus on applied research of inorganic as well as organic compounds and biomaterials. The main goal is to help create functional innovations in cooperation with an applied field – with private business. This way, scientific findings and technologies can be used in everyday life much sooner and more efficiently.

The revolutionary Hydal biotechnology is a good example. It works with used deep-frying oil, which is hard to process. Using special microbacteria, however, scientists from Brno have succeeded in turning it into a brand new raw material – the precious biopolymer PHB. This polymer is biodegradable and – unlike the used oil – can be processed by the soil and oceans. Its main advantage lies in meeting all the criteria of circular economy; its production requirements are absolutely minimal and producing it generates only a negligible amount of waste.

The team of professor Ivana Márová from the Brno University of Technology patented a technology which could help prevent the contamination of our planet by non-degradable waste. In 2012, the NAFIGATE Corporation purchased the licence for the development of this technology, allowing the idea to move from the lab to production. According to the scientists, in the future, Hydal will facilitate the production of degradable bioplastic, ranging from various types of foil and filaments for 3D printers, to microscopic elements for the cosmetics industry.

From heartbeat to theatre stage

It isn’t hard to imagine what applied research in natural sciences or technologies deals with. How about the humanities, though? How can testing of the way people think, behave, and interact yield any specific results? Well, it’s this and many other questions that scientists are trying to answer using the HUME lab – a unique lab for experimental humanities.

The HUME lab was created at the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University and deals in controlled laboratory experiments as well as opportunities for field research. Anthropologists, psychologists, experts on religions or linguists turn to it for what they need for their research, and a central database allows them to create and evaluate various types of experiments and share the results of their research.

The HUME lab is making it possible for various teams of scientists to research facets of the human brain like never before. Among the tools to measure behaviour, reactions and attitudes are various monitors of heartbeat, blood pressure as well as changes in hormone levels.

For their latest experiments, however, scientists have been using virtual and extended reality, thermal imaging cameras and eye-tracking. For example the results of the Centre for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Sciences were used to develop Hypothesis, a virtual software tool used for conducting remote psychological tests.


Scientists aren’t the only ones interested in how people behave, however. The latest technologies offered by the HUME lab will be used by drama theorists in cooperation with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at BUT. A research team from the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno aims to develop a new educational method for communication skills based on testing interactions between performers and the audience. Objectively measuring biosignals radiated by both parties during their communication should help improve performing in front of the public as well as the ability to draw attention and convince an audience.

06. 08. 2019
Photos: HUME lab, NAFIGATE, Masaryk University

More articles

Foreigners in #brnoregion: Johan Nilsson Work

Foreigners in #brnoregion: Johan Nilsson

A constant runaround – that’s how Johan Nilsson described the lengthy process of establishing his company in #brnoregion. It was much more complicated than back in Sweden, where yo... Read more
Foreigners in #brnoregion: Hassan Šejk Work

Foreigners in #brnoregion: Hassan Šejk

He spends nights at Petrov, talking to the city he loves more than to people around him. He says he didn’t choose Brno – Brno chose him. Still, he can see a lot of places for #brno... Read more
“Dálník” – the dream of a pilot who wasn’t allowed to fly Work

“Dálník” – the dream of a pilot who wasn’t allowed to fly

The history of this single-track cabin motorcycle is a story of freedom. “Dálník”, which is what this Czech invention is called, was supposed to be a cheaper and more economical al... Read more
Unique registry improves care for stroke patients Work

Unique registry improves care for stroke patients

Patients who have suffered a stroke get world-class care in the Czech Republic. One of the reasons is the RES-Q international registry, created by Czech experts, which helps partic... Read more
Foreigners in #brnoregion: Emanuele Ruggiero Work

Foreigners in #brnoregion: Emanuele Ruggiero

“A dynamic country with a wide range of job opportunities.” That’s how Emanuele Ruggiero, founder of Kinovision Production, sees the Czech Republic. And for him, Brno is a city whe... Read more
Stay calm! We’ve found life Work

Stay calm! We’ve found life

In their experiments for the CEITEC research centre in Brno, scientists Judit and Jiří Šponer travel four billion years into the past to try and figure out how life emerged on our ... Read more
Expert on product reliability and safety: I have to do a top-quality job Work

Expert on product reliability and safety: I have to do a top-quality job

One of the best experts on the reliability and safety of products in the Czech Republic lives and works in #brnoregion. While this discipline isn’t too common here, Michal Vintr al... Read more
GAMING INDUSTRY BOOM IN #BRNOREGION Work

GAMING INDUSTRY BOOM IN #BRNOREGION

Anyone who knows at least something about the video game industry in Brno knows Jakub Bedecs and Zdeněk Záhora, as they’ve been very actively pushing game developers from #brnoregi... Read more
Winemaking technologies in #brnoregion Work

Winemaking technologies in #brnoregion

Even though we’ve been making wine for over a thousand years, in #brnoregion there’s always room to innovate. In fact, we’ve been researching new methods and inventing new technolo... Read more
Needles don't fly Work

Needles don't fly

What do hot-air balloons and your jeans have in common? And what’s the relation between physical laws and the Civil Aviation Authority? Why can’t needles fly? And why is constructi... Read more
Man in the Room? Work

Man in the Room?

We’ve learned how to protect our virtual accounts as well as computers in various ways and companies use sophisticated solutions to protect their data. Yet new threats keep emergin... Read more
Kentico plants a tree for each bug found Work

Kentico plants a tree for each bug found

The developers at Kentico Software are proud to say that bugs in their website design tool are very rare. For every one that shows up, however, Kentico plants a tree. Why do they d... Read more
Psychology diagnostics remotely Work

Psychology diagnostics remotely

Since the day it was created, Hypothesis software has travelled an unusual path – from cartographers directly to the army, which uses it for remote psychology diagnostics of its jo... Read more
Left Netflix and Elon Musk Work

Left Netflix and Elon Musk

David Pavlík graduated from the Faculty of Informatics at Masaryk University. Strong-minded as he was, he went on to successfully work for several top American companies in Silicon... Read more
The Industry 4.0 has arrived in #brnoregion Work

The Industry 4.0 has arrived in #brnoregion

Digitalization, robotic process automation, autonomous production, machines taking people’s jobs… Hey, slow down, would you? Each industrial revolution brought changes. In #brnoreg... Read more
The devices by PSI are used all over as well as beyond the planet Earth Work

The devices by PSI are used all over as well as beyond the planet Earth

Photon Systems Instruments from a small village in #brnoregion has been developing and producing devices for research of plants for over twenty years now. Read more
The best care for your head and heart Work

The best care for your head and heart

No, we can’t help with your broken heart in #brnoregion (well, we actually could, but let’s leave it for some other time…), but if you’re looking for the best experts on diseases, ... Read more
There are no space technologies as such Work

There are no space technologies as such

To bring Space back to Earth and start-ups into orbit is the motto of space visionary and avid fan of startups Frank Salzgeber. Read more
4 centres of excellence – 4 reasons to be proud Work

4 centres of excellence – 4 reasons to be proud

Some people know the word of “excellence” only from the diplomatic protocol, since expressions like “Your Excellency” abound there. If this word existed only in the sense of an h... Read more
Red Hat presents Brno as an example for the whole world Work

Red Hat presents Brno as an example for the whole world

Software giant Red Hat launched its Brno subsidiary in 2006. At that time, it was manned by just a couple of people and its office wasn’t larger than a flat. Today this company emp... Read more
University spin-off companies drive innovation Work

University spin-off companies drive innovation

Universities research, explore and develop. Useful things emerge! They can also come in handy outside of the academic sphere, where they can bring money (that can be used for furth... Read more
Girls and Technology? Perfect couple Work

Girls and Technology? Perfect couple

Right. There is still majority of men in Czech IT and engineering. However, #brnoregion supports bright brains regardless of gender, and ladies and girls take the plunge! Read more
We Don´t Hack Around Work

We Don´t Hack Around

A gang of professionals, limited time, uncompromising deadline and useful software at the end: congratulations, you’ve just passed a fast track hackathon. This programming format i... Read more
Sound Engineers Work

Sound Engineers

You have certainly seen many movies with agents filtering off sound layers off a crime suspect’s phone call to discover where the caller is. Nowadays the real job is very very simi... Read more
Ice flowers for scientists Work

Ice flowers for scientists

There’s winter in #brnoregion, however we still haven’t got any snow. A team of scientists from Brno couldn’t wait and set off to a polar district ... thanks to their special elec... Read more
DO YOU BELONG IN #BRNOREGION? Work

DO YOU BELONG IN #BRNOREGION?

Region of South Moravia is one of leading centres of science, research, and innovation in Europe. Let´s check if you belong to this region too! Read more
TIME TO MAKE IT REAL! Work

TIME TO MAKE IT REAL!

JIC STARCUBE is now launching registration for its ninth run. Teams with promising technology or products now have until 31st October to apply to central Europe’s longest running a... Read more
From #brnoregion into space. And back Work

From #brnoregion into space. And back

#brnoregion has had a great influence on the relationship between the Czechia and the rest of the universe. And it still holds true to this day. Read more
Enantis: Out of University Lab into Business Work

Enantis: Out of University Lab into Business

Interesting conclusions of university research do not necessarily end up in academic files. They often become the driving force in business. One of the ways to introduce the scient... Read more
WHY INVEST IN #BRNOREGION Work

WHY INVEST IN #BRNOREGION

RedHat, Honeywell, or NetSuite. And Kiwi, Y Soft, or Safetica. These are very successful companies based in Brno. The list of leaders and their achievements is much longer and beyo... Read more
BRNO: PROMISED LAND OF ELECTRON MICROSCOPY Work

BRNO: PROMISED LAND OF ELECTRON MICROSCOPY

In 1947 the first electron microscope was brought to Brno as part of UNRRA help after World War II. Only three years later, in 1950 scientists in Electron Optics Laboratory at Czec... Read more
LIFE BALANCE IN #BRNOREGION Work

LIFE BALANCE IN #BRNOREGION

In April 2017 an IT company Artin introduced unlimited holiday. Their web informs that they are not interested in overworked employees sitting in the off... Read more
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more