In the Footsteps of Science and Lasers


Anniversary 10th SheXO Club

In the Footsteps of Science and Lasers

Did you know that there is a scientific facility outside Prague that houses the most powerful laser in the world that could bring the water in the Lipno Dam to the boil in 10 seconds? And that the amount of steel used in its construction was the same as that used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris? This time, the SheXO Club rode the technological wave, inviting the ladies to the Eli Beamlines laser centre in Dolní Břežany.

Following a welcome speech by Deloitte Czech Republic’s Office Managing Partner and SheXO Club Chairman, Diana Rádl Rogerová, the floor was given to Senta Čermáková, who went on to clarify to the ladies why it was decided that the anniversary 10th session would take a detour off the beaten track and make a switch towards technologies and science.

“Women play an irreplaceable role in technologies. They are talented; they only need to be given space. Therefore, this time we have invited them to a scientific facility that is home to the most powerful lasers in the world and arranged a lecture by a successful female scientist, Kateřina Falk, who has already succeeded in this,” said Senta Čermáková, Deloitte’s Director for Strategic Projects and Innovations and the creative spirit of the SheXO Club in the Czech Republic, by way of introduction.

Eli Beamlines: A Laser Centre in Dolní Břežany

Building the most modern laser laboratory is no easy feat and it certainly cannot stand just anywhere. “Lasers require specific handling, they must not be exposed to any tremors, which is why, in building the Eli Beamlines centre, it was necessary to dig out 30-metre foundations and use 10 thousand tonnes of reinforcement,” clarified Jiří Vaculík, the architect in charge of coordinating the construction of the building.

“Have you ever thought it possible to create Jupiter in a lab? Well, this is exactly what I do for a living. I am an astrophysicist.” This is how Kateřina Falk, a prestigious scientist engaged in astrophysics research at Eli Beamlines, introduced her lecture on science and lasers. She went on to show the ladies what a laser can do and how this can be applied to science as well as practical life.

Following her speech, Senta Čermáková asked: “What will your weekend be like when you talk to your children about lasers and plasma? And what will their expressions be when you take their physics textbooks because you simply want to delve deeper into the subject after Kateřina Falk’s brilliant lecture?” The questions were apt as the ladies got literally carried away by the young scientist! Her fresh and fun approach both entertained and educated them long after the official part consisting of lectures and a tour ended.

The Deputy Mayor of Dolní Břežany, Lubomír Havel, acquainted the ladies with what preceded the construction of the modern scientific facility. “As recently as a few years ago, our town would have been referred to as a depressing zone: On one side, there was a huge waste dump and scrapyard and the site where the scientific facility was built comprised desolate structures and highly contaminated soil. On the other side, there was an agricultural brownfield and a concrete mixing plant.”

When they were discussing in Dolní Břežany how to reinvent the unused places, they had a clear idea: No industrial zones or logistics parks in the town! Apartments were one of the options, but the cost of cleaning up all contaminated areas, their costly construction and the disruption of the town’s aesthetics by building high-rise buildings pointed the town in a different direction. “Has it paid off? It most certainly has! The mere fact that the brownfield has been turned into beautiful space is a great feat. New job opportunities have opened up, other buildings are being reconstructed in the town, the entire castle enclosure is going to be revitalised and the chapel repaired,” added Lubomír Havel.

The lectures were followed by a tour of the Eli Beamlines centre. The ladies could take a peek into the research hall or, using virtual reality glasses, try out what the other possibilities of using lasers are. Kateřina Falk was under siege, supplying the ladies with one interesting fact after another.

Following today’s visit to the laser centre, what does the word ‘laser’ mean for you?

“The life story of a woman, Kateřina Falk, who wanted to change the world, choosing the laser and Jupiter to do so.”
Senta Čermáková, Deloitte’s Director for Strategic Projects and Innovations and the creative spirit of the SheXO Club

“Until yesterday I had associated lasers mostly with medicine. Following this most interesting and engaging lecture by Kateřina Falk I understood that, as a principle, the laser was first described in physical terms by Albert Einstein, and that its application is much wider. I was surprised how large and complicated the device can be. Thank you for the opportunity to visit the Eli centre in Dolní Břežany and see some of the lasers with my own eyes. I wish the scientists at the Eli centre many achievements in their work.”
Radka Mašková, a Director at Deloitte’s Tax function and a SheXO Lady

Kateřina Falk, an astrophysicists and a senior scientist at the Eli Beamlines centre

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