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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Science | My Passion – Seweryn Kowalski, professor

26.01.2022 - 14:44 update 26.04.2022 - 09:55
Editors: jp
Tags: science my passion, science my passion


According to the definition taken from the Polish Language Dictionary, science is complete human knowledge arranged into a system of problems, but also a set of ideas that constitute a systematic whole and comprise a specific research field.

Science is also activity: learning and teaching.

Please read the “Science | My Passion” series, where our researchers present their work and show that science and research process can really draw us in.

SEWERYN KOWALSKI PhD, DSc, Associate Professor
Institute of Physics

I was asked to write a few words about what I do and why I chose this path. At first, it seemed like a simple task that I will spend a few minutes on – because what could be easier? I may write: I studied physics at the University of Silesia, I am involved in experimental physics of nuclear reactions, I cooperate with many research centres in the world, and currently I carry out my research at CERN. But it’s just a collection of cold facts, and that’s not the point here. But let’s start from the beginning. Sometimes a coincidence or a combination of many random elements guide our actions. Then, I always wonder about the question posed by Einstein, “Does God play dice?” and it was probably like that with the choice of my degree programme – physics. Back in high school, I claimed that I would never study anything connected with science or technology, but my maths teacher said the opposite – she foretold my future in technical studies and she was ultimately right – I “landed” in physics. From that moment my adventure with physics began, and it continues to this day. I must also admit that many people I met at the University and later, people with whom I worked, due to their attitudes and approach to physics only confirmed my belief that a random choice I made was very good.

Is physics my passion? Well – another difficult question. Passion is a great love for doing something that brings us joy, energy and a sense of fulfilment. On the other hand, passion is also suffering, because what we do costs us a lot of sacrifices and probably takes control over us. I have always had a problem with calling my job a passion – for me it was just my profession, but if I look at the above-mentioned definitions, I can say with 100% certainty that physics is my passion. It is to physics that I owe a lot of joy in my professional life, but also a lot of sacrifices.

From the very beginning, my interests were related to the physics of nuclear reactions. I started with low energies, through the search for new elements (those that are not yet on Mendeleev’s table), then I moved to high energies, to stand on the border between nuclear physics and elementary particles. In my work, I am also fascinated by measuring equipment – it is unique in the world, built and designed by physicists. Hence, experimental nuclear physics has become my passion – there is no more exciting feeling than measuring a new phenomenon using the equipment that you built yourself, or participated in the process of its construction. Another element that fascinates me and goes beyond the scientific framework is team work. Currently, in my field of study there are no scientific achievements realised by one person only – there is always a team, sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger.  The ability to act together in order to achieve the intended goal is the basis of what we do.  Science opens our eyes to the world, gives us a broader perspective on what we do. Thanks to extensive cooperation, we become open and we have a sense of participating in something important.

Of course, apart from work, private life is also important to me. I love spending time with my family, the moments spent talking together, listening to music are unforgettable for me. I also like to spend my time actively. Mountain and forest hikes as well as skiing are what charges my batteries for the next difficult days. I also have one more passion (that’s probably too much to say), or rather activity – scouting. It allows me to feel the wind in my hair again, and at the same time share my experiences with young people who are on the threshold of adulthood and, if possible, give something from myself.

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