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Ladies and Gentlemen,|
According to Greek mythology, a long time ago in Crete there lived an architect and inventor, Daedalus. He worked at the court of king Minos, who commissioned him with constructing a labyrinth for Minotaur. Daedalus together with his son Icarus dreamed of escaping from Crete. He dreamed of impossible - flying like a bird. As the myth has it, he managed to do that - together with his son, he took to the skies on wings made of feathers glued with wax. What does the story teach us? Maybe that it is worth dreaming, attempting to do the impossible, because one day the impossible may be possible. It has been thousands of years since Ancient Greece. In the meantime, people over and over again faced the impossible : they crossed oceans, discovered new lands, constructed amazing machines - from an ordinary wheel to the Large Hadron Collider in the CERN's research centre near Geneva and the quantum computer; finally, they reached the orbit of our planet, landed on the Moon, and even sent probes to the farthest corners of the Solar System and beyond (in August 2012, Voyager 1 and 2 left the heliosphere and continue their flight into the unknown, every day covering the distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometres). Today, humanity dreams of seemingly impossible: colonization of Mars and exoplanets, Artificial Intelligence, discovering the beginning of the Universe, even of immortality. Can we achieve it all? Scientists, as Nobel Prizes prove it every year, incessantly redefine the impossible. What today seems unreachable, may be nothing out of ordinary tomorrow. Hypotheses first turn into scientific theories before many of them become reality. Of course all researchers ought to be humble. If they are not, like Icarus, they will underestimate the forces of Nature. At the end of 19th century, it seemed that there was nothing more to understand in physics. Outstanding scientists, like James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Michelson, were convinced that the only thing left to do was more and more precise determination of some fundamental physical constants. The beginning of the 20th century brought two greatest revolutions in the whole history of physics - theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. The 20th century also saw emergence of philosophical anthropology with Max Scheler among others, who proclaimed that never before had the man known about themselves so much and yet knew how much they did not know. In the 1950s, the inventor of the computer believed that with the machine people will gain unlimited knowledge. Decades after the discovery, with our laptops, smart phones and even quantum computers, we can see how illusionary the belief was. Our ignorance has not decreased. On the contrary, it even expanded. Humanity keeps posing new questions. Every day we touch the impossible. NASA's probe, sent to study Pluto (flew by Pluto in July 2015, and now is heading for the Kuiper belt) was named New Horizons. The name of the probe which reached the frontier of the Solar System proves that beyond every horizon there are other new horizons, which seem to be impossible to reach with our today's knowledge. But who knows what future will bring? I would like to invite you to admire the photographs sent for the 6th Biennial Photography Competition of the University of Silesia within the framework of project "Science on Camera", titled "Science - Impossible Made Possible". May the diversity of the research projects prove that Polish science also overcomes the impassable barriers.