Locals peddle for energy
Hordes of adults and children mounted bicycles in an unusual marathon to produce energy and to raise awareness of energy conservation in this town of 9,000 in east Slovakia on November 22.
The event, organized by the Slovenské Elektrárne Vojany (Slovak power station in Vojany) and the district office in Veľké Kapušany, attracted 107 adults and 487 children, who peddled specially-made bicycles for eight hours to generate 0.136 kilowatt hours of electrical energy. The locals' effort produced enough energy to power an electrical appliance, such as a television, for an hour, according to Dagmar Spišaková of Slovenské Elektrárne Vojany.
"It seems that people will understand how hard it is to produce energy only if they experience it with their own sweat," Spišaková said.
While the locals peddled, the younger ones also got the message, in their own descriptive way. "Children from kindergarten came here and drew pictures of how they will try to build a power plant one day and also how they can help to save energy," Spišaková said. "I was really surprised that so many people came to this event."
The occasion also served a promotional purpose for the company. "We've tried to explain the project of rebuilding the power plant," Spišaková said. "The renewing of the power plant will help the plant itself, but especially the people who live in this area."
UFOlogists swap sighting stories at rendezvous
Delegates from Slovakia and other central and eastern European countries converged on this city of 250,000 in east Slovakia to swap stories of extraterrestrial sightings and to discuss recent findings in space at the third annual congress of Central European UFOlogists on November 24.
"People come here and discuss these matters with us. A lot of times they come here to relate what they have experienced," said Peter Nický, one of the members of the UFO club. "One older gentleman came here and reported that he saw a UFO flying over Košice in 1947."
In all, 50 delegates from Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic dealt with close encounters of the extraterrestrial kind and discussed the recent discovery that life may have existed on Mars. Participants also talked about the "superstring" theory, which holds that there are ten dimensions in space instead of three, meaning that more worlds can overlap with Earth, said Martin Schuster, a member of the leadership committee at the UFO center in Košice. Taking the theory another step, Schuster said, other civilizations can move in another space and appear here, thus explaining the Virgin Mary's alleged appearances, psychokinesis, talking with ghosts, and the appearance of UFOs.
Congress delegates agreed on a framework for international cooperation, particularly in the exchange of video shots, photographs, and other evidence on UFOs that will be published in English. In Slovakia, 360 people to date have reported seeing UFOs, actually meeting with aliens, Nický said.
Probe sent to Mars never made it there
An interplanetary space probe developed by the Slovak Academy of Science's Institute of Experimental Physics (UEF-SAV), located in this bustling city of 250,000 in east Slovakia, and attached to a Soviet space shuttle that lifted off for Mars on November 16 came to a less than satisfying end when the rocket failed to make it out of the Earth's trajectory and crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Australia the next day.
UEF-SAV's probe was the first of its kind in the department's history and was planned to conduct research of Mars by way of a balloon probe, which was to enter through Mars's atmosphere and give way to a descending module that would land on the planet's surface, said Ján Balášik, a researcher at UEF SAV.
To say the least, officials at UEF-SAV were disappointed that their efforts did not translate into tangible results. "Right now, there's not so much to say about it; it was not successful," said Karol Kudela, an official at UEF-SAV. "There is nothing to be proud about, we can only learn from it."
In all, 22 countries developed scientific instruments aimed at gathering information on Mars (the planet located about 100,000 kilometers from Earth.) UEF-SAV has been studying cosmic radiation through measurements from earth and satellites since 1969 and has developed several scientific instruments which are successfully operating on other space probes.
Column of peace erected in Žilina
Several hundred people witnessed the unveiling of Slovakia's first "column of peace" in this northern district seat of 83,000 in northern Slovakia on November 18.
The three-meter tall column, a symbol of peace that has been built in scores of countries around the world, stands in front of the Konzervatórium on Františkánske námestie in downtown Žilina. "A lot of time has passed since 1955 when the first peace column was built in Japan until this three-meter-tall symbol of peace was built in Žilina," said Milada Hrianková a professor at a local school. "We are proud that this generation of students and professors of our 45-year-old school came up with this idea."
The idea first had to overcome some local doubts and derision before it found its place. "Students were at first laughing at this idea," Hrianková related, "but now I see them stop, and they seem to be thinking about the meaning of it."
Slovakia is the 160th country in the world that has a peace column, which was built through the cooperation of the Severopovažské kultúrne centrum(Northern Cultural Center) and a foundation from Košice called Healthy Schools.
"The reason why I like the idea of a peace column so much is that it makes people stop and think about what is really important to them," Hrianková said. "There are different messages on the column and one says: 'We are what we think.' I like that one."
Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová from original reporting and TASR
4. Dec 1996 at 0:00