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You cannot “trick” the science

Dr. Václav Sebera, researcher, main research area: wood mechanics and wood composites

 

  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

In fact, I spent my childhood in three various countries, and I did not have to even move anywhere. I was born in Czechoslovak Socialistic republic. Six years afterwards, the country was renamed to Czech and Slovak Federative republic. Then, four years later, the federation fell apart, so I suddenly lived in the Czech republic. I currently live in Slovenia.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

I studied Wood Technology Engineering and the motif of those times to choose this program is actually not fully clear to me. I think I liked the idea of focusing on something different than most of the other commonly known programs offered, but who knows what was really on my mind.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

That is a hard question, because the result of research work is not a physical product such as a shoe or table. I would reply with this modified cliché: learning, thinking and writing that results in developing or discovering something novel.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

If I had typical working day, I would probably start thinking about changing my job.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

I think it is a certain professional freedom and diversity of activities on one hand and a good group of people around on the other.

  •  And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

Learning new things to a level that I can use them in my work, so my biggest challenge is to keep challenging myself, actually.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement do you appreciate the most and why?

In general, I appreciate the very fact that people “developed” science as such – science could be understood as not giving up on people’s productive rationality, you cannot “trick it”. This is an important “benefit” of science since it provides a firm and indisputable ground.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

I cannot answer, there are too many.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

I just finished a book from Arnon Grunberg called Birthmarks. It is about a divorced middle-aged male psychiatrist who focuses on discouraging people from committing suicide and still lives with his mother, who is actually his father. This book is for those who don’t mind pure and heartless pragmatism and would like to experience an invisible border between normality and insanity. I am not sure I would recommend it to my friends.

  • Describe your very first impression of Slovenia.

When I visited Slovenia for the first time, I traveled by a train. Therefore, one of the first impressions was “unexpected velocity” of the train and “poetically decorated” railway stations.

  • What do you like about Slovenia and what do you miss most from your homeland?

I like the immediate proximity of the Alps and Adriatic sea. I don’t and I do miss certain “things” from Czech republic, but I won’t tell.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

I like the coast in general – combination of the sun, breeze and sea water is more than enough for me.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

Little things.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

It is a long story!

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

Pleasant color, impressive texture and charming smell of wood on one hand, and the physical and structural complexity on the other.