Some of us still remember grey and dull streets of Warsaw during the Gomułka period. It was then, in the musty interior of the Moskwa Cinema, that Peter O’Toole sang one of the most remarkable Joe Darion’s musical ballads of all times “To dream the impossible dream… to reach the unreachable star”.
These days, on the Vistula river bank, close to the Warsaw Mermaid, enchanted in stone by Krystyna Krahelska, under the watchful eye of Stefan Żeromski’s empty window at the Royal Castle, the Copernicus Science Centre has been raised. On its façade we will see an artistic vision of a phenomenon that was the beginning of time and space – the Big Bang. However, we won’t be watching the great director Peter Greenaway’s show alone.
We will be joined by the long-time witness of the birth of history – the cosmic microwave background that fills the whole vast Universe. If not for our predecessors’ “impossible dreams”, we wouldn’t know about the CMB the Earth going around the Sun, or about the Big Bang, DNA, the processes feeding the whole fauna and flora of the Planet Earth, how photosynthesis works and how our brain functions. Their dreams made them try to “reach the stars”, and Science supported their actions.
For many years everybody tried convincing us that science is best discovered at school, during tests, exams and colloquiums. Today we know that these methods let us gain only a fraction of Knowledge and Science. We discover the rest ourselves, at our own discretion and often with no particular reason. Experts call this informal learning. Here, in the Copernicus Science Centre, we call it enquiry-based learning.
Technological development and the ease of information flow make enquiry-based learning a priority for the Twitter and Facebook generation. Warsaw took up the challenge of the future and financed the creation of the CSC. Successive governments of our country generously supported the production of exhibits for all CSC galleries. Architects, construction workers and the team of my wonderful colleagues have created this beautiful science centre and all its galleries.
Now it is time for you, our guests! Or maybe “guests” is not the right word, as the Copernicus Science Centre is all yours. Come and visit us in large numbers – maybe this will be the place where your impossible dreams will be born and where you’ll embark on your way to the Stars. Only you can lead our civilisation to the future and make sure that it does not die frozen by the breath of the Big Bang’s witness.
Welcome to the Copernicus Centre!
Professor Łukasz A. Turski, Chairman of the Copernicus Science Centre Programme Board, is the professor of theoretical physics in the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences and at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw