October 28, 2017 is a very important date for the Czech Republic. It is a national holiday and the anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Republic in 1918. Celebrations of this day include a traditional ceremony, during which the President of the Republic confers state honours to important figures at Prague Castle in the evening.
This year’s (2017) recipients include the German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is credited with the Czech Republic’s ascension to the EU, the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Häupl and American Diplomat Charles Crane. The most important recipient from our viewpoint was our long-standing science colleague Professor Ing. Jaroslav Šesták, Dr. Sc., dr.h.c, who was awarded a First Grade Medal of Merit for his many years of work in education and science.
We all know Professor Šesták as a pioneer in thermal analysis, not just in the former Czechoslovakia. At the end of the nineteen sixties, he built a number of homemade DTA and TG devices. At the beginning of the nineteen seventies, he began working with a commercial DTA device by NETZSCH-Gerätebau and collaborated with the manager of the company at that time, Dr. Wolf-Dieter Emmerich. This partnership with our company continues to this day. We took this opportunity to make a short interview with Professor Sestak:
Miroslav Kule: Please allow me to join your supporters and congratulate you once again on this important award for your services in the field of science and education. The award received from the President of the Republic is the most important acknowledgment a scientist can receive in this country. But we know that you are also the recipient of many other awards and honours.
Prof. Jaroslav Šesták: Yes that is true, being awarded the Medal of Merit, furthermore during the celebrations of such an important anniversary, is the highest award that I have received for my life-long work. But I am sure you will also be interested to know that I have received a number of honours in the past for my thermo-analytical work, from the North American NATAS award in 1975, two Russian Kurnakov medals in 1988 and 2013, the Bodenhemer award from the Israeli Society in 1988 and the international ICTACT award in 1990, to the Heyrovsky medal from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in 1996 and the recently conferred NETZSCH award in 2014.
Prof. Jaroslav Šesták: If you delve into the records, you will find that I have written nearly three hundred specialist articles, presented hundreds of specialist and general lectures, and in the year 2000, I became one of the 20 most frequently quoted Czech physicists in the field of thermodynamics. I have been involved in the formation of new branches of science, such as kinetic phase diagrams, the theory of glass formation, thermodynamical economics or non-isothermal kinetics, where the Šesták-Berggren equation is quoted over a thousand times, for example. I have written/edited fifteen books, of which the most frequently quoted is “Science of Heat and Thermophysical Studies: a generalized approach to thermal analysis” (Elsevier, 2005) and the most recent innovative “Thermal Physics and Thermal Analysis” (Springer, 2017), which was ranked by the publishing house among the twenty best books.
Prof. Jaroslav Šesták: I have been the guarantor for origin of a number of institutions, e.g., the School of Energy Science of Kyoto University in Japan, the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University in Prague and the Czech branch of the University of New York in Prague, where I presented the inter-disciplinary subject of “On the boundary between science and the philosophy of nature” for twenty years. I am also a founding member of the journals Thermochimica Acta (Elsevier, 1969), J. Mining and Metallurgy (Bor, 1996) and Int. J. Applied Glass Research (Wiley, 2009). So I have actually become the co-founder of the inter-disciplinary science of heat.
Prof. Jaroslav Šesták: Work is a very important part of my life, but man does not live only for work, as the popular Czech proverb says. In my youth, I also played basketball, I was interested in mountaineering and I have a life-long love of photography. I have exhibited my work in twenty individual exhibitions of artistic photography. My photographs are also frequently part of my specialist publications and especially the frontispieces of books. But you don’t have to read just specialist literature to see my photographs from all over the world. In 2014, I wrote and published a travel and biographical book under the title of “Through the world of a scientist”, which was nominated book of the year in 2015 and I am preparing a book of stories called “Provídky” with a number of essays from the field of travel, as well as essays about science.
Prof. Jaroslav Šesták: My new project is a summarizing book simply titled “Thermal Analysis”, which I would like to write in cooperation with your company, with employees of the NETZSCH instrument department, and in which I would like to present a completely new and unique approach to the methodology of thermal analysis, scaled according to the influence and observation of temperature changes, as: thermostatics. thermodynamics, thermotics and Thermokinetics.
Miroslav Kule: That’s a lot of work for you and your colleagues! I would like to wish you much success, particularly next year, which will be a jubilee year for you ‒ the year of your 80th birthday. We look forward to meeting you not only in literature, but in person at events, conferences and seminars.
We wish you good health in the future!