The Men Who Defined Czech!

This week we’re going to start with a Bang! Robots, Semtex, and Sugar Cubes.

This month Czech translations will be taking an in depth look at the Czech scientists and inventors. From fingerprints and the uniqueness of cells, to inventing contact lenses made using Meccano sets. These scientists have made groundbreaking developments that are the base of techniques and theories that are still used globally.

Robot – Karel and Josef Capek

In 1920, two Czech brothers were working on what we would now call Sci-Fi. The Capek Brothers were busy rewriting the Jewish Folklore of the Clay Golem by giving it a futuristic feel. In their story, Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U. R.) humanoid workers were assembled in factories for various jobs. They then ultimately rebelled against their human overlords.

Karel Capek may not have invented modern robots, but he and his brother are credited for coining the term Robot. One single word which would inspire countless people around the world to write their own tales of futuristic machines. 

This one little word would go on to encourage readers of these stories  to try and build their own robots. These robots have even benefited the lives of many amputees who’ve received robotic prosthetics. R.U.R. might not have aided in the development of robots, but it did help to stimulate the intellectual climate that grew from the spark created. Can you believe this was all because Josef was annoyed by the old Czech word for “forced labour” / Robota!

The Sugar Cube – Jakub Krystof Rad

Every small town likes to think of themselves as famous for one thing or another. In the small town of Trim in Ireland, everyone would be able to tell you which Scottish themed Mel Gibson movie was filmed there.

In the little known Bohemian town of Dačice, at first glace you might be wondering why this town has such a passion for cubes.

Jakub Krystof Rad was the director of the local sugar refinery when he was inspired by his Wife Juliana. Back in 1840, sugar was produced in large loaves, which were quite tricky to cut up. Juilina and her kitchen staff were constantly injuring themselves, so Jakub set himself the challenge of trying to create a smaller, more manageable sized block. And thanks to him, we now have what we call sugar cubes 🙂

Stanislav Brebera – Semtex

The Czech Republic has an impressive history of being a world leader in the production of firearms, all the way up until the end of the communist era.

Czech chemist  Stanislav Brebera developed Semtex at the end of the 1950s and within 5 years, it was being mass produced to supply the communist viet cong government during the Vietnam war. The name is derived from the town Semtín near Pardubice which was home to the explosia factory where it was produced.


Next week we’ll be looking at fingerprints, and the theory of cells by J.E. Purkyně – the man who made us unique.



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