After a short illness, our colleague Jan Kozák passed away on August 30, 2022, when he was 84.
Born April 28, 1938, he spent most of his scientific career in the Institute of Geophysics in Prague, Czech Republic. He was not a geophysicist by education, but he joined the Institute as an experimental physicist. For decades, he worked in the lab of seismic modeling mostly on tasks of studying acoustic emissions in loading experiments and seismic wave propagation through materials with complex structure. His excellent experimental results helped to resolve a lot of puzzles both scientific and industrial as well. Most of Jan’s career was, however, linked to his parallel passion for history and art. Already as a young man, he became an enthusiast in collecting pieces of fine arts, especially engravings of geographical maps, historical town sights, and later also depictions of natural phenomena and catastrophic events like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, typhoons etc. Apart of beauty and artistic value of these art pieces, they may also contain information worth to be decoded for practical purposes. Jan Kozák was interested in following this link especially concerning depiction of earthquakes and the chance to retrieve hints about intensity of the events reported. The effort along this line resulted in several books with maps and depictions of macroseismic effects of many major historic earthquakes. The issues are a study material for hypothesizing about seismic intensity of these events from the past, at the same time they are beautiful pieces of art by themselves, and valued part of libraries of fine art lovers. Joining the everyday plain labor with the passion and entertainment, Jan was a happy man who succeeded to do this to much extent.
Jan Kozák was a man of wide range of interests, and a man of broad and deep knowledge of many disciplines. Physics was his profession, but he made people wondering about his knowledge of history and especially fine arts. People, who knew him, would witness that it wasreally enjoying to conversate with him on history, philosophy, religion and arts. It must not be forgotten that he owned a specific – sometimes a bit sharp – but always a kind humor witnessing that he loved people. Jan, we will miss you.
Jan Šílený, September 2, 2022