Plzeňské sympozia

Milada Sekyrková

The Standard of Technical Education in the Austrian Monarchy and its Being Surpassed: The Case of Karel Václav Zenger

pp. 53–62 (Czech), Summary p. 50 (English)

The development of industry and technology in the long 19th century called for more and more technically educated people. One of the elementary fields that needed to be mastered by all secondary-school or university-educated technical experts was physics, at the end of the 19th century considered to be a field in which everything important had already been discovered and explained. Karel Václav Zenger (1830–1908) was one of the most influential and at the same time controversial professors of physics in the Bohemian Lands. He lectured at the Institute of Technology in Prague (first in German, after 1869 in Czech) and educated countless personalities, subsequently working at secondary schools and higher-education institutions as well as in practice. His controversiality lies mainly in his peculiar explanation of numerous physical phenomena then studied in the world, founded on an only insufficient theoretical preparation. Zenger’s language skills enabled him to communicate with his colleagues all over the world and cooperate with various leading world institutions. His interest in astronomy led to the creation of some of the earliest astronomical photographs in the Czech history of photography. In his time, his contribution was indisputable in the area of meteorology – he designed several useful physical devices. In addition, he was an excellent speaker and populariser of physics through enlightening articles and lectures.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, history of science, scientific photography

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