He studies the key to understanding the universe. The top science prize goes to a physicist this year

Nobel Prize laureate Kip Thorne was the head of the international jury.

Fedor Šimkovic, laureate in the category Significant Personality of Slovak ScienceFedor Šimkovic, laureate in the category Significant Personality of Slovak Science (Source: Linda Kisková Bohušová/ESET Science Awards)

The second year of the ESET Science Award knows its laureates.

The main prize for the outstanding individual contributor to Slovak science was bestowed on Fedor Šimkovic. The nuclear physicist has dedicated his career to researching the neutrino, the key to understanding the universe, he says.

Šimkovic from the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of the Comenius University researches atomic nuclei. He studies an extremely rare phenomenon called neutrinoless double beta decay.

The process has not actually been observed yet, even though it was predicted in 1937. If one was successful in observing it, it could teach us a lot about neutrinos, the Sme daily reported.

"My aim is a complex theoretical description of this process linked to the problem of the Grand Unified Theory, the structure of nuclei and atoms," Šimkovič said as quoted on the website of the prize.

The prize for the category of young scientist under 35 years went to Tamás Csanádi. Ivan Varga is a laureate in the category of extraordinary university teacher.

The international jury selected laureates in the first two categories. The head of the jury was Kip Thorne, Nobel Prize laureate. He addressed the event, taking place under strict anti-pandemic conditions, via video, and he also announced the winner of the main award.

One of the most important occupations: scientists Read more 

During the event, the holder of the prize from the public in the main category was announced. Virologist Boris Klempa, who also participated in the development of the Slovak coronavirus test, from the Biomedical Research Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, who was chosen by the vote of readers of the Sme daily.

Research as the answer to problems

Tamás Csanádi, one of the laureates, works at the Institute of Materials Research of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Košice. He researches deformation behaviour of ceramics on a micro and nanoscale with the aim of developing new advanced ceramics with improved plasticity. They could then serve as an alternative for metals.

Ivan Varga works at the Faculty of Medicine at the Comenius University in Bratislava. His team was one of the first to describe wide lymphatic spaces in the wall of the oviduct and the occurrence of the specialised cells of the immunity system which suppress the defensive reaction in the epithelium of the oviduct. He is now learning how the new knowledge could be used when curing infertility in women.

A Slovak test can help distinguish flu from coronavirus. It awaits approval Read more 

“All the laureates but also the finalists of the prize are an example of what current science in Slovakia should look like,” said the director of the ESET company Richard Marko. “Their scientific work is linked to international research and looks at problems from the point of view of other scientific disciplines.”

“Their research also answers the current problems that Slovak and international society faces,” he added.

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