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  Ladies and Gentlemen,
Do you know what mites, workers' settlements, Apollo butterflies and invasive plants have in common with multicoloured white of glaciers, indispensable bees and Xerolycosa nemoralis spiders? And what about cryomineral formations in ice caves, season changes in the degree of damage to the DNA of domesticated carps, and influence of horse chestnut leaf miners on the decrease in photosynthetic area of leaves? All of them present themselves well in photos that have been shown at exhibitions of Photo Biennale of University of Silesia since 2006. They invite you for a trip into the world of inspiring images, which, obviously, present only a tiny fraction of research conducted in the farthest corners of Poland, Europe and the world.
Nothing appeals to human imagination better than an image. Good photographs may evoke a wide range of feelings in a beholder: joy, sadness, delight, shock, surprise. Thanks to photographs, we do not remain so indifferent since they arrest our attention. Scientific photographs, contained in the album, have an additional aim, apart from the aesthetic one. Through them, we are able to show the Nature and its wealth, popularize complex knowledge and seize seemingly imperceptible phenomena. The photographic images describe fascinating places and processes taking place in different corners of the world alike. They show scientific research conducted in different academic centres. They give us an opportunity to visit laboratories and workshops, participate in research works and travel across lands far and near.
The subject of the first edition of the photo competition was 'Silesia' - the hospital and magical land, the place with enchanting landscapes and warm people. Authors of the photographs showed us a different face of the phenomenal area, its natural environment, unique architecture of workers' settlements and people living in the heavy industry Region. The second edition of the competition, 'Silesian science for Poland, Polish science for Silesia', was a research perspective realised by scientists from Silesia and from other regions of Poland. It showed that Silesia is a scientific inspiration for researchers from academic centres all around the country. The 3rd edition was titled 'Science - the world without borders'. It showed that human thought knows no boundaries, physical limitations, architectural or geographical barriers. That it is far beyond them. The 4th edition showed 'the world around us', and this year's competition, organised within the framework of 'Science on Camera' project, is titled 'Science - Idea in Practice' - presents innovativeness of science, its appliction in our everyday life, the clash of theory and practice. John Howkins wrote in The Creative Economy that 'People with ideas - people who own ideas - have become more powerful than people who work machines and, in many cases, more powerful than people who own machines'. No wonder then that this year the organizers decided to bet on the active search for the ways to solve practical problems, on creativity in creating solutions, on putting an idea into practice.
I have an honour to invite you for a journey in a world of beautiful and inspirational images that present just a small fraction of the research scope of scientists from different parts of Poland. Ryszard Horowitz, one of the worldwide famous Polish photographers said about taking photos: 'you cannot learn it the same way as you learn the technique. You just have to have a vision. No matter if we create a picture, arrange it or 'produce' it from the reality. It does not matter. The final effect matters.' This effect you will see on the pages of the album. Enjoy it!

prof. zw. dr hab. Wiesław Bany¶
Rector of the University of Silesia
in Katowice