Baron Roland Eötvös (1848-1919; in Hungarian: báró Eötvös Loránd), an outstanding Hungarian scientist (three times nominated for the Nobel Prize), a public figure and a sportsman, “a prince of physics”, “the father of geophysical prospecting” was recognized by UNESCO, proclaiming the centenary year of his death to be commemorated in association with UNESCO. The centennial project carried out by the Library and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA KIK) represented the core of the whole Eötvös 100 Commemorative Year.
Project no. ED_18-1-2018-0011 has been implemented with support from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund of Hungary, financed under the ED_18 funding scheme. Each of the planned twenty-five tasks has been completed. The direct partners of MTA KIK in the project were: BEAC, Eötvös Loránd University, Eötvös Loránd Physical Society, Eötvös Loránd Geophysical Foundation, Hungarian Mining and Geological Survey (MBFSZ), Association of Hungarian Geophysicists, Hungarian Geological Society, Hungarian Academy of Sciences / CSFK, SZTAKI, Wigner FK, Hungarian Tourist Association, MOM Memorial Foundation, and the Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO MNB).
The site www.eotvos100.hu, created specifically for the Commemorative Year, provides information about its events and results in a uniform graphic design, in both Hungarian and English. 127 commemorative events have taken place from the opening event in early 2019 to the December 5 evaluation session (and 129 to the final stop of the Eötvös Commemorative Sport Marathon Series). Their implementation is due in part to this project financed by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office and partly to other organizations supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary (NKA), the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) and the Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM).
The Eötvös 100 Coordinating Committee, set up by UNESCO MNB and operated by MTA KIK, endeavoured to coordinate the various initiatives. The success of the Commemorative Year, which went beyond the original expectations, is due to the dynamically developing cooperation of all participating organizations. One of the focal points was the Roland Eötvös Commemorative Day on April 8 (beginning with the issue of commemorative coins and stamps, followed on the next day by a wreath ceremony and a thanksgiving mass). Another “fruit-yielding” program series was related to the
World Science Forum and the Hungarian Science Festival: student quiz, book presentations and an exhibition opening.
The sections of the website www.eotvos100.hu give full information about all these events and activities.
National and international events
Eötvös 100 exhibitions were held at major international congresses such as EGU
(European Geoscience Union) in Vienna, EAGE (European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers) in London, IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics) in Montreal, and AGU (American Geophysical Union) in San Francisco. Eötvös was the Surveyor of the Year 2019, as declared by CLGE (Comité de Liaison des Géomètres
Européens). Eötvös’s oeuvre was the focus of many international events in Hungary, too (Modern theories in gravitation and Eötvös the Earth Scientist at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, GIREP (Physics Teacher Conference held at BME),
Precision Physics Conference in Tihany, Eötvös 100 Special Session at the World Science Forum).
An Eötvös 100 Honorary Board was created with the participation of the most prominent gravitational physicists, geodesists and geophysicists of the world. The most important foreign research institutions were regularly informed through them. Eötvös 100 presentations were held at conferences in Mexico, Canada and Germany. In Heidelberg a wreath was placed on the Eötvös plaque.
Toblach (Dobbiaco, South Tyrol, where the „ungarischer Baron” was a regular mountaineering guest for four decades) organized an exhibition of recently restored 3D photographs took by Roland Eötvös, which was open during the summer tourist season. The friendship with the people there was further strengthened by a cycling tour (following a cycling route of Eötvös and his daughters from Székesfehérvár to the Misurina Lake along the river Drava) and climbing the Eötvös Peak, where an Eötvös 100 plaque was installed.
A Slovak-Hungarian-Romanian-Croatian joint scientific conference summarized Eötvös’s geophysical heritage at Gbely (Egbell, SK, Moravian Basin, the world’s first petroleum field discovered by using field geophysical method). At the starting point of the once famous hiking trail (Eötvös-road) above Banská Štiavnica (Selmecbánya, SK) an Eötvös
memorial plaque was installed. There were Eötvös 100 conferences and lectures in Timișoara (Temesvár, RO), Cluj (Kolozsvár, RO) and Novi Sad (Újvidék, RS). At a Levice (Léva, SK) high school, a memorable Eötvös Day was organized. Important Commemorative Year events took place also at the Eötvös milestones in Hungary: Celldömölk (quiz, instrument demonstration) and Balatonfüred (installation of a memorial plaque and planting of a tree in the Nobel Prize winners’ promenade).
Debrecen, Gyöngyös, Kaposvár, Miskolc, Nagykanizsa, Nyíregyháza, Ráckeve, Sopron,
Tihany, Szolnok, Szombathely, Veszprém, Zalaegerszeg were also venues of at least one Eötvös 100 event. Half of the events took place in the capital of Hungary. For example, on the closing day of the World Science Forum (WSF), 14 teams competed for the prizes of the Eötvös Loránd Jubilee Competition at the Palace of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. (224 four-person teams entered the high school-age competition; 181 completed the five online rounds. About 10 percent of the teams applied from neighbouring countries.)
Outcomes of the Commemorative Year
With the support of the Eötvös Centenary Project, two representative books
were published in both Hungarian and English: the “Roland Eötvös Memorial Album” for the average reader, and “The Eötvös Experiment in Its Historical Setting” for professionals. Until May 2020, the ELTE University Library and Archives hosts an
exhibition about the life and work of Eötvös, entitled “Under the Spell of Accuracy.” In 2019, a number of studies were published about Eötvös (journal articles, complete journal issues and other volumes).
Most of these, as well as video recordings and illustrations of the lectures given, are directly accessible from the archives of the Eötvös 100 website. All documents were also added to the REAL repository of MTA KIK. One of the tangible results of the Commemorative Year is that from now on all publications by Eötvös can be read on www.eotvos100.hu. Moreover, an MTMT (National Hungarian Scientific Bibliography) profile for Roland Eötvös was created. Another spectacular result of the Commemorative Year is the fact that a number of stereoscopic photos made by Roland Eötvös in Budapest, his field geophysical measurements and his climbings in the Dolomites have become widely known.
Virtual guided tours to the MBFSZ Eötvös Loránd Memorial Exhibition and to the Ság Hill near Celldömölk were completed. Both photos and virtual presentations can be viewed anywhere in the world; with anaglyph glasses or on 3D TV, even in stereoscopic form.
An eye-opening conclusion of the Commemorative Year: the name “Roland Eötvös” is an even greater brand in international science than it was thought a year ago. Roland Eötvös was an exceptionally visionary researcher. His experimental results survive any theory. In gravitational physics, the famous Eötvös experiment has become a focal and
reference point again. There is a great deal of interest in the re-measurement of his experiment, which was indeed started in Hungary in 2019.
For Earth scientists living and working in the Carpathian Basin, his name represents a cohesive force. Roland Eötvös can be a veritable role model for young people. A concise summary of his oeuvre was published in four languages in leaflet and poster versions. The poster photo can also be viewed in 3D.
The popularity of electronically downloadable documents was also due to the uniform appearance of all Eötvös 100 documents, and even a HungarianEnglish Eötvös 100 puzzle postcard for Christmas was sent to and multiplied by all contributors. Two excellent student presentations, enhanced by English subtitles, at the final of the high school competition have received internationally recognition.
Closing of the Commemorative Year
Although in 2020 a full-scale statue of Roland Eötvös is to be erected in Hegyvidék (Budapest, 12th district) with financial support from EMMI, the Eötvös centenary project has been completed by now. The project gives us many things to be learned. By making Eötvös’s oeuvre more accessible to the public, anyone can now approve Frigyes Károlyházi’s statement in 1998 (the 150th anniversary of Eötvös’s birth):
“On the gravestone of the great forerunner Newton reads: Humani generis decus – the ornament of humankind. We should write here that Roland Eötvös is the ornament
of the Hungarian nation: Hungarae gentis decus.” January 15 is the name day for Loránds in Hungary.
On this occasion we hope that Károlyházi’s words will be known to
everyone until the next Roland Eötvös anniversary year, 2048.