Polish scientists make ground-breaking discoveries. Meet some of them and discover their achievements.
Tadeusz Sendzimir (1894–1989) – Saying 'Goodbye' to Rusty Cars
After the Second World War, politicians and media of the Polish People’s Republic would not even mention his name. Most Poles were unaware that this great inventor ever existed. But he had a long life, as if in defiance of the communist authorities, even though most of it abroad.
Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski, Jerzy Różycki – Polish Enigma Codebreakers
During the Second World War, the Allies won the “information warfare” thanks to Polish cryptologists, who cracked the Enigma code. Over the last forty years, several monographs offered insight into the behind-the-scenes of cracking the Enigma codes. Some of the English-language works upfront ignore the key role of Polish cryptologists in this process.
Stanisław Nowkuński (1903–1936) – Had he not slipped…
30 July 1936. The beautiful but unpredictable Tatra Mountains have once again shown their might. This time, it was Stanisław Nowkuński, the most talented Polish aircraft engine designer, who lost his life in the mountains. His life was abruptly ended after a fall from Cierny Stit in the Jaworowa Valley.
Jan Szczepanik (1872–1926) – a Self-taught Technician Dubbed the Polish Edison
In publications describing his life and work, Jan Szczepanik was dubbed “the Polish Edison,” “the Austrian Edison,” “the Leonardo da Vinci from Galicia,” and “the Genius from Galicia.” His groundbreaking inventions were ahead of their time, which frequently made them difficult to implement for technological and financial reasons.
Jan Czochralski (1885–1953) – Famous Inventor of Rhinitis Medicine
Kcynia near Bydgoszcz was the birthplace of a Pole whose achievements would revolutionise the modern-day electronic industry. The man himself did not suspect what a great impact he would have on industrial development.
Stanisław Kierbedź (1810–1899) – less famous than his bridge
Warsaw was not lucky when it came to bridges. The first crossing, built at the times of King Sigismund II Augustus, linked the banks of the Vistula for thirty years before languidly drifting away with spring ice floe. All that was left was the Bridge Street, which, however, has not led to any bridge for four centuries. In the 16th century people were proud of that bridge, just as they were ashamed that they no longer had one in mid-19th century. The Kierbedź Bridge, named after its constructor, changed this.
Józef Kosacki (1909–1990) – Inventor of a mine detector
The first years of World War Two brought the scourge of many military and civilian casualties on minefields. The fight for human life prompted the invention of an electric mine detector, which was designed by Lieut. Józef Kosacki, an engineer. However, the identity of the creator of the device that saved thousands of human lives was kept secret for years.
Mieczysław Bekker (1905–1989) – fly me to the Moon
He gained international fame and recognition thanks to the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which American astronauts drove on the Moon. Mieczysław Bekker, while working for General Motors, headed a team of constructors who were commissioned by NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to design and build the LRV. Bekker designed the vehicle’s chassis.
Rudolf Modrzejewski (1861–1940) – building bridges
An average American found his surname impossible to pronounce. To get around this problem, he would always introduce himself as Ralph Modjeski. Even so, this famous constructor never denied being Polish, and always signed his letters home with his real name.
Abraham Stern (1769–1842) – Does anyone have a calculator?
What a strange paradox that a computing machine, a device that was inconceivable at the beginning of the 19th century, was not constructed by a mathematician, but by a phenomenal self-taught mechanic. This brilliant mechanic was a Polish Jew named Abraham Stern. He began studying mechanics as a watchmaker’s apprentice in Hrubieszow. At that time, watchmaking was the height of precision mechanics.
Stefan Drzewiecki (1844–1938) – on land, under water and in the air
The first man to fly a heavier-than-air machine was Otto Lilienthal, but the first one to consider such flight possible was Stefan Drzewiecki. He was the one to develop a gliding flight theory, proving that it was possible to fly without flapping wings, merely by giving them a proper shape.
Jan Józef Baranowski (1805–1888) – Renaissance Man
The most prolific author in Polish literature was Józef Kraszewski, who wrote over 220 novels. As regards inventions, it is Jan Szczepanik and Jan Józef Baranowski who have left the largest legacies.
Ignacy Łukasiewicz (1822–1882) – Polish pharmacist and Prometheus
Even though we rarely realise this in our daily busy life, we need light as much as we need food, drink or sleep. The main source of light is naturally the Sun, but people started looking for other solutions to disperse darkness very soon. The break-through in the history of lighting came with the kerosene lamp .
Kazimierz Prószyński (1875–1945) – Inventor who preceded the Lumière brothers
In April 1902, a unique attraction awaited the residents of Warsaw who decided to take a stroll through the Saxon Garden. In the Summer Theatre a young man was presenting photographs of daily life in the capital city. Since the art of photography was not new to Warsaw dwellers, one might think that it was nothing exceptional, but... the photographs were moving! People in the photos were walking, dancing and jumping.
Forgotten Polish inventors
Without Jan Czochralski’s inventions, electronics would not have developed in such a spectacular fashion. Appreciated in the West, he still remains obscure in Poland. Like many other outstanding Polish inventors.
Prof. Wiesław Wiktor Jędrzejczak
“I really am a happy doctor, because I could turn around the lives of patients whose fate meant death sentences,” Professor Wiesław Wiktor Jędrzejczak, a bone marrow transplant pioneer in Poland and the second doctor in the world to perform umbilical cord blood transplantation from two donors, says in an interview for Polska.pl.