Nagrody Dyrektora Departamentu Badań Podstawowych NCBJ

Last year's best achievements in basic research



On Monday, June 24, 2024, a Special Colloquium of the Fundamental Research Department of the National Centre for Nuclear Research was held, during which awards for achievements in 2023 were presented. The jury distinguished research on low brightness galaxies and for attempts to explain phenomena occurring during collisions of relativistic ions. Popular science stories and essays in which the author managed to hide his fascination with discovering the universe were also honored.

The seminar took place at the building of the Department of Basic Research at ul. Pasteura 7 in Warsaw. The lecture hall was quickly filled with audience who listened with interest to the presentations of the winners. After each presentation there was a intensive discussion.

Dr. Junais from the Astrophysics Division, honored for researching the properties of the faintest galaxies ever observed, took the audience on a journey to the edge of the Universe. He showed that in addition to the known and repeatedly observed bright galaxies, when looking at the dark sky using powerful telescopes, one can see more and more objects with much lower brightness and greater distances from the Earth. It turns out that a very large percentage of existing galaxies must be classified as so-called LSBG – low surface brightness galaxies. Meanwhile, their study is crucial to understanding our cosmological models. There is still no single theory of how these galaxies formed and evolved. Especially since spectral analysis indicates their chemical composition is not obvious, and only 4% of them appear to contain significant amounts of interstellar dust. Dr. Junais group use machine learning to search for LSBG galaxies in sky surveys made with the world's largest telescopes. To date, over four thousand of them have been identified.

The second winner was prof. Michał Spaliński from the Theoretical Physics Division. His achievement focused on the study of relativistic hydrodynamics used to describe the collisions of relativistic ions. In his presentation, he emphasized how unobvious it is to apply equilibrium models to the first moments when ions collide. Still, these models are surprisingly effective. The audience heard about the results of modeling the quark-gluon plasma formed during collisions, which is leading to advances in fundamental questions in the field of fluid dynamics. Together with prof. Spaliński also analyzed the special kinematic characteristics of heavy ion collisions, which proves the existence of target states (attractors) occurring before thermodynamic equilibrium is achieved. It also turned out that causal theories can explain not only equilibrium states, but also earlier processes occurring during ion collisions. The key here is the dependence on the radius of convergence, which allows for the universality of the model used.

At the end of the seminar, Dr. Darko Donevsky from the Astrophysics Division presented his popularization activities. Assuming that people understand and remember better if they are immersed in a story full of emotions, metaphors and inspirations, he showed how to create a story about other planets or galaxies and primarily about dreams that inspire scientists to ask questions and strive to find answers. He also pointed out that images have an even stronger impact on recipients than words, due to their ambiguity, which allows them to stimulate the imagination. Such images can be graphics, but also photos of distant galaxies or nebulas. Darko Donevsky regularly writes for the popular science magazine "Elements". His essays can also be read at:


The awards were granted by the jury consisting of: dr hab. Justyna Łagoda, prof. dr hab. Marek Biesiada, dr hab. Michał Bluj, dr hab. Michał Kowal, prof. dr hab. Zygmunt Patyk, prof. dr hab. Stanisław Mrówczyński. Congratulations to all the winners!

Krzysztof Petelczyc

Prof. Michał Spaliński podczas wręczania Nagród Dyrektora Departamentu Badań Podstawowych
Dr Darko Donevsky podczas wręczania Nagród Dyrektora Departamentu Badań Podstawowych
Dr Junais podczas Seminarium Specjalnego Departamentu Badań Podstawowych Narodowego Centrum Badań Jądrowych