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Popular Science: The phenomenon of farmers’ shops in Czechia
What are the reasons of the recent expansion of farmers’ shops in the Czech Republic? Are all the goods sold there from Czechia? What are the problems faced by the owners of the shops? We can read about these and other topics in the article written by Marie Syrovátková from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development from the Faculty of Science of the Charles University.
Popular Science: Ageing is more pronounced in male face than in women
Ageing or senescence is a natural part of our lives, even though we often try to hide it. First senescence changes start to manifest on the human face as early as at the age of twenty. Knowledge of the facial ageing process can be crucial for face appearance predictions for long-term missing persons.
Popular Science: Does our immune system have the ability to fight off obesity?
Human adenoviruses are common pathogens that cause mild gastrointestinal, ocular or respiratory symptoms. Infections are commonly observed in young children. One virus from this group, Adenovirus 36, is associated with obesity and antibodies against it are more prevalent in overweight and obese individuals than in normal-weight individuals.
Popular Science: Do you want to be more attractive to delicate female noses? Take a dose of garlic!
Garlic is one of the favourite ingredients in within Euro-Asian cuisines, giving food a special pungent, spicy flavor and a bit of sweetness. It is a product also well-recognized for its medical purposes, and already Ancient Egyptians used garlic and onion regularly to promote good health. However, all the goodness brought to a human comes to the death point we try a kiss after a meal full of this ingredient. The garlic breath coming out of the mouth can be unbearable. But what about the regular body odour, mostly of the axillary origin? Every single one of us has some, and it can be perceived by the others either pleasantly or unpleasantly, depending also on person’s diet.
Popular Science: Even partial river restoration can help
Now and in the past, humans mainly try to control river bodies by straightening and fortifying river channels. River network modifications can result in negative impacts, such as extreme floods or droughts, because the water is quickly drained from the basin and not retained in the landscape. There is a degradation of water quality and physical river habitat quality. Milada Matoušková and Kateřina Kujanová from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology are concerned about the state of the rivers.
Popular Science: Armed plant pathogens
Since plants are sessile organisms, it may seem that they are very vulnerable to pathogens and diseases. This could not be further from the truth! All plant populations are constantly threatened by enormous number of different pathogens, but only few plants will show any symptoms or eventually die, because plants have evolved very complex defence. How does it look and how do parasites bypass it? Our biochemists had a look on an example of that.
Popular Science: How old is too old? Ideal age of parents according to children
What should be the ideal age of parents at childbirth? Many people deal with the question by starting a family, a team of scientists affiliated to the Department of Demography and Geodemography of Charles University in Prague-Jiřina Kocourková, Boris Burcin and Tomáš Kučera and Hana Konečná from the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of the University of South Bohemia decided to focus on this topic professionally. A unique feature of this research was the fact that its respondents were children. The team has published the results of their work in Reproductive Biomedicine Online.
Popular Science: Impressions from an Expedition to Azerbajjan
I have had the opportunity to join an expedition of researchers from departments of zoology and parasitology of our faculty to Azerbaijan at the end of the June. It was an expedition indeed – for two weeks we explored local nature, places rarely or sometimes never before visited by teams of researchers. The expedition was led by RNDr. Miroslav Švátora, CSc. and from zoology department represented by doc. RNDr. Daniel Frynta, PhD., Milan Kaftan, Mgr. Barbora Kaftanová, Mgr. Zdeněk Lerch and Iveta Štolhoferová, from parasitology department by doc. RNDr. Jan Votýpka, PhD. and Barbora Kykalová.
Popular Science: Leishmanias under microscope
Leishmania are single-celled protozoa not very well known in our country. In southern latitudes, however, it is a feared parasite that annually takes the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. This alarming fact has prompted European scientists to join together to control this epidemic. Research within the EuroLeish network happens to be taking place at the Faculty of Science - Charles University.
Popular Science: Transformations of mining areas
The landscape in northwest Bohemia has been heavily modified by man. We can see rapid development, mainly in the strip mining of brown coal. Scientists from the University of Life Sciences together with Dušan Romportl, a member of the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, the Faculty of Science, Charles University, analysed changes in the forest cover using a Geographic information system (GIS).
Popular Science: Immigrants - Where are they heading in the USA and Australia and how will it be in the future?
Nowadays Europe, the old continent, is talking about a huge wave of immigrants and their distribution to the individual countries. The authors analysed the data from two traditional immigrant countries, the USA and Australia. Josef Novotný and Jiří Hasman from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development, the Faculty of Science, tested a method for the prediction of the development of the distribution of migrants and the population structure of the regions.
Popular Science: Man and nature are connected vessels
All of us are aware that humankind tries to preserve cultural heritage. However, how can geomorphologists contribute? Every significant site and building is established in a specific environment. Natural processes at the site are very important for us and are worth watching. This is a reason why the LACUNHEN scientific network was founded. The Faculty of Science is member of it, specifically Vít Vilímek from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology.
Popular Science: Will we lose the views in the Giant Mountains and Jeseníky Mountains?
The highest mountains in the Czech Republic have a lot of views of the Czech basin as well as to the Polish lowlands. This is thanks to the timberline which we can find on the highest places in the Czech Republic. Will the timberline remain in the future? Václav Treml and Tomáš Chuman from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, the Faculty of Science, Charles University are interested in the dynamics of forests and the treeline in the Giant Mountains and Jeseníky Mountains.
Popular Science: Who decides on the economy? The role of the state and multinational organizations in the automotive industry in Slovakia
Slovakia has been experiencing economic growth in recent years. One of the causes is the rapid development of the automotive industry. It is not easy to say if this path is without problems. In his article Professor Petr Pavlínek from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development and also from the University of Nebraska analysed developments in the automotive industry in Slovakia with regard to the role of the state and its industry policy in this process.
Popular Science: The Jatunraju Glacier – lying and waiting?
Geomorphologists Adam Emmer and Vít Vilímek from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology have long been interested in the mountainous Cordillera Blanca area in Peru. Together with their colleagues from the Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics and Peruvian scientists they studied recent and past changes to the Jatunraju Glacier and if these changes can affect the stability of Perón Lake, which is dammed by lateral moraines.
Popular Science: Do we know how newly introduced cultural crops are influencing the soil?
Soil is an important provider of ecosystem services, among the most important of which include the possibility of food production and the mitigation of climate change effects. This is made possible through carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, which are processes primarily driven by soil biota. However, the intensification of agricultural production caused by the growing demand for biofuels reduces the soil biota.
Popular Science: North Atlantic Oscillation: What is its influence on weather?
In his recent article Radan Huth from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology analysed the relationship between solar activity and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Now Radan Huth, together with Lucie Pokorná, researches the climate impacts of the NAO in Europe.
Popular Science: What all does solar activity cause?
The Sun is the most important source of energy for the Earth. That is clear. How else does the Sun affect the Earth? Radan Huth, a Climatologist from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, researched the influence of solar activity on North Atlantic Oscillation together with colleagues from Romania.
Popular Science: Erratic boulders – witnesses of the past
Scientists from our Faculty are also working at the edge of the ice continent. Thanks to the facilities of Masaryk University’s Mendel Antarctic station on James Ross Island, Zbyněk Engel, a member of the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, can work there together with colleagues from the Czech Geology Survey and the University of Marseille. They dated the remains of glacier activity to clarify knowledge about the development of glaciation.
Popular Science: What to do with toxic wood? Let’s compost it!
Toxic waste is being produced with ease in vast quantities, but it is considerably more difficult to get rid of it gracefully afterwards. Stefano Covino and his colleagues from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the Charles University and the Institute of Microbiology at the Academy of Sciences focused on a 240-days detailed survey of the composting process, which can decompose creosote-treated wood.
Popular Science: Are seagrasses capable of mycorrhiza?
Seagrasses are a special group of plants which shifted back from land to below the sea surface about 100 million years ago. Although their 50-70 species constitute a mere two hundredths percent of all angiosperm flora, they colonize the entire ten percent of the coastal ocean bottom. They make up one percent of the total marine plant biomass and are responsible for fifteen percent of the total carbon storage in marine ecosystems. For comparison – in terms of carbon storage per unit area, that is twice more than forests of temperate or tropical regions.
Popular Science: From mining landscape to natural forest
A large portion of deposits of mineral and energy resources is located in the forests. Before mining, stripping the surface is necessary. But this means a loss of unique forest ecosystems. A question remains: what next? Scientists from universities in North America, Europe and Australia are working on a new approach to return the affected land to its natural state through reforestation.
Popular Science: A way to discover the true species diversity of single-celled organisms?
What is the true diversity of organisms on our planet? That is the question that keeps many scientists awake at night. Interestingly, until now many more macroscopic organisms have been described than the very smallest ones, invisible to the naked eye. But one would probably assume that those tiny organisms will be more abundant as they've had obviously much more time for their differentiation.
Popular Science: Painting with a surprise
It is good luck when an old and unrestored painting is acquired for pigment analysis, and even more so when there is a surprise in it. A group of chemists and geochemists from Great Britain, Belgium and the Czech Republic, which also included Professor Jan Jehlička from the Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, analysed an oil painting from the 18th Century with the aid of Raman spectroscopy. The painting “Bird in Hand” was acquired by the passionate collector George Lester Winward, who thought it to be a work by Thomas Gainsborough, the renowned English painter of the 18th century.
Popular Science: Tree-rings – a live chronicle of forest management
While watching nature programmes on TV we can often see documentaries about tropical seas and rainforests. Now, however, we are going to search an environment that is much closer to us. Why should we be interested only in native ecosystems, which form only a small percentage of forests nowadays? Let's find out what the impact of forest management is on a traditionally managed forest in CHKO Pálava, a protected natural area in the Czech Republic. There was a change in this region from intensive management to leaving the forest on its own for a couple of centuries.
Popular Science: Are we closer to revealing the origins of mammalian neocortex?
Mammals are unique with their six-layered neocortex. No other vertebrate clade has a brain structured in such a way. For example a reptile’s dorsal cortex consists of one layer of pyramidal cells with little functional differentiation. The development of the neocortex is a primary contribution to mammalian intelligence – including ours. How has this complex structure evolved? As phylogeny is a succession of ontogenies, or individual developments, understanding the mechanisms of ontogenetic development can help us understand brain evolution in an essential way.
Popular Science: What influences the geography of gay places and how?
Michal Pitoňák, a PhD student from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development, the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague is interested in queer geography – the geography of sexuality. Together with his colleague, Koessan Gabiam from Belgium, they try to describe and explain factors that influence the localization and diversification of gay places. Similar studies have been done on the scale of a region or country, most often on a city scale. Michal Pitoňák and Koessan Gabiam, however, analysed all the states of the European Union (EU), Norway and Switzerland.
Popular Science: How is healthcare for foreigners in Czechia?
Geographers from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development in the Faculty of Science of Charles University in Prague are interested in migration and its aspects. In one of the case studies they investigated the Czech healthcare and insurance system in relation to foreigners. Based on Czech law Dušan Drbohlav, Dagmar Dzúrová and two colleagues from Spain made and tested the hypothesis that foreigners have disadvantages compared to native Czech citizens.
Popular Science: Tracking Paleoclimate in High Central Andes
As summers and vegetation seasons pass by, plant remains accumulate and in waterlogged areas they turn into peat bogs. These bogs contain thousands of years of paleo information from which we are able, using specific techniques, to reconstruct environmental conditions persisting in the past. Actually, this was the science which, in the early 19th century, revealed the existence of the green-house effect. But back to our recent article.

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