When you think of Czech Republic and
things that are from Czech Republic you probably think of the Instagram famous trdelník or the goulash that your grandmother found in a Czech recipe book and you’d be wrong neither of those are actually Czech. But in this video I want to talk about some things that were invented or discovered
in the Czech Republic. Hi I’m Jen from Dream Prague this is my channel. If you
are interested in videos about an American’s experience in the Czech Republic, subscribe and hit the bell to get videos from me each week. Soft contact lenses were invented by a Czech. Yep this little miracle was invented by a Czech. Otto Wichterle…. They don’t pronounce W so I’m thinking it’s Wichterle. Otto Wichterle in the late 1950s. He discovered and patented a hydrogel
material that could take 40% of water into—into the material before that
they were using hard tough rigid contact lenses. Not really comfortable. And he created the first pair on Christmas Day on his kitchen table. He used a transformer from a bell, he used a bicycle dynamo, and he used a construction toy that was from a toy company—a Czech to a company— Merker… to build this very rudimentary device to manufacture these soft hydrogel contacts. And his soft contacts are now prescribed to over 90% of contact wearers in the world. Fun fact, Czechs used the same word for
contacts as they do for lentils: and so his machine was called the “čočkystroj” Number two, the net bag. You’ve seen them on your favorite influencers arm on Instagram, but these net bags did not originate in a Brooklyn farmers market or on the streets of Paris. Not everything cool comes from France. They were in fact invented in the 1920s by a Czech man named Laurel Krčil. Now Krčil had learned how to weave at a very young age, he came from a poor family, his mother was a servant, and he helped her weave hairnets and sell them to help feed their family. Then after he came back from World War I, he opened up a hairnet factory and would manufacture those. But then in the mid 20s, hairstyles started to go shorter so there was less of a need for hairnets, and the Japanese also started manufacturing hairnets and infiltrating the market, and so he was sort of at a crossroads what to do with his business? And so one night he decided to add handles to his hairnet and the idea for a net bag was born. Fortunately he started shipping his bags
all over the world, but unfortunately he didn’t patent the design so he was quickly copied and and so he couldn’t maintain a monopoly on the design the net bag was really popular during communist time and I think it kind of
connotes the Czech babička or the Czech grandmother to Czechs. What replaced the net bags popularity was when grocery stores started giving single-use plastic bags away to shoppers so only now have they started to come back into fashion with the EU now forbidding single-use plastic bags to be given away for free and you see these net bags all over the streets. Now the Czech word for these net bags are… síť is network like basically a network but there’s soft T. pssht…anyway this is the word for the Czech bags and there’s a company and
that makes them now it’s called Česka Síťovka and you can get them at
ceskasitovka.cz and the goal of this company was to sort of bring back the net bag and they also source their labor from people who need jobs people who are older or maybe there’s some something prohibiting them from
getting a different type of job so this is a really good company to support I’ll put the link below yes even the US dollar came from the Czech Republic but we don’t take dollars, so don’t bring them yes the origins of the US dollar
trace all the way back to a small mining town of Jachýmov on the Czech-German
border in the Year 1520. So in the fifteen-teens lots of silver was discovered in this town and back then Europe was just a collection of small city-states they weren’t nation-states and they had no sort of currency for trade they traded in metal but they didn’t have like a standard currency so in this town there was a count named Hieronymus Schlick (that’s the name!) and he actually was one that named the town after St. Jacob, Jesus’s grandfather, who is the patron saint of miners. And he decided to manufacture his own currency. So he developed the Thaler or the Tolar depending on how you pronounce it. On the front of the coin he put St. Jacob because of the town’s name and on the back he put the Bohemian lion. And he ended up minting more coins than had ever been minted in the world. So this town is obviously growing and in
1533 this became the biggest town in what is now modern Czech Republic after Prague. It had 8,000 miners there and they had ended up coining over 12 million Tolars and these Tolars soon were traded and spread all through Europe. A few decades later the Holy Roman Emperor decided to use the Tolar as its own standardised currency. And so for 300 years this currency was spreading all over the world and different states would model their own currency after the Tolar and they adapted the name Tolar to their own language. So in Italy it was the Tallero in Denmark it was the Daler, and in French it was the Jocandale, Because, you know… the French. It even made it as far as Africa and the Middle East and it was used in India up into the last century. In Romania and Bulgaria they instead called it the lion because of the lion on the back. So they called it the Lev or the Leu. And the Dutch called it the leeuwendaler. Oh that’s—please correct me if you’re Dutch. The leeuwendaler… basically the Lion dollar. And as we know the Dutch went to the new world and spread their currency
throughout the thirteen colonies. The English speakers in the new world
started referring to this currency as the dollar, and made it the official
currency of the new country in 1792. So the origins of the US dollar came from the Czech Republic. But we don’t want your dollars, crowns only. Maybe euros. The next one is blood. Serologist and neurologists Jan Jansky invented blood. Well he discovered blood— okay he discovered that there were classifications for blood. And he put them into numbers I, II, III, IV which now correspond to A, B, AB and O. Jan Jansky studied medicine at Charles
University here in Prague…. GO …. LIONS!? Do we have a mascot? We need to get on that. After working as a doctor on the frontlines in World War I, he came back to
the Czech Republic and he focused his career trying to find the link between blood clotting and mental illness (there wasn’t one) and during this time he came up with the classification for blood into the four types. But he wasn’t recognized for this discovery within his lifetime. In 1921, the year of his death, the American Medical Association finally acknowledged his leadership in this field over an Austrian doctor who had only come up with 3 instead of 4 classifications. Go Lions! The sugar cube was invented in the Czech Republic. Jakub Krystof Rad was the manager of
a sugar factory in Dálčice. In 1843, his wife Juliana cut herself while trying to hack a commercial loaf of sugar into pieces small enough to use in a kitchen. So Jakub invented the process and the machinery of cutting sugar into cubes for personal use. Now we’d never have to guess about the exact right amount to put in our tea. Notably Jakub was the father of 16 children which I feel like should go on his wife’s Wikipedia page. When you hear the word “Bohemian,” you
probably think of artists and writers who live freely in a Parisian loft experimenting with drugs hanging macrame plants from their big windows and definitely not getting jobs. But you would be wrong. Again with the French?? Bohemia is actually a part of the Czech Republic along with Moravia and Silesia, these are sort of like States. And Prague is in Bohemia. So how did we get this image of this sort of vagabond from the word Bohemian? Okay France does have something to do with it. In the 1850s, people started showing up in France in caravans and they weren’t respecting sort of the normal culture they were not getting jobs they were
living freely, etc. Now these were actually the Roma— that’s the population that people think came from India, that is pejoratively referred to as the
gypsies the French thought those were people from Bohemia. They thought they were Czechs because they’d essentially stopped through Bohemia along the way. People said, “Where’d you come from?” and they said, “Bohemia.” And in the 1890s the Bohemians became famous for this style that we know and their irreverence for society. It was sort of a reaction to the bourgeoisie culture of the times. Again still not the Czechs. Pretty soon, all the kids want it to be Bohemians— but those Bohemians… they didn’t—they didn’t want to be Czech. I guess the Bohemians would fall into the trdelník category of “not Czech.” So the Czechs really have nothing to do with this one, it was just a case of mistaken identity. And the last thing that came from Czech culture, which oddly is one of the first things that Czechs tell you when you arrive is that a Czech invented robots. Not the actual robot. Just the word. A Czech invented the word robot. It comes from the word ‘robota’ which is a common Slavic word for forced labor and it used to describe the laborers in the field during feudal times. So when Karel Čapek was writing his famous play “RUR” in the 1920s, he was looking for a word to describe this fictional humanoid body that didn’t have a soul. And it actually wasn’t him that came up with the word robot. It was his brother who’s also famous. Karel Čapek had been on a tram in Prague and he come in from the suburbs, and he was on this tram and everyone was smushed together, and there were so many people and their dreary faces and they were even like sort of pushed to the steps to stand and he noted how they all just looked like drones with no souls, and that this was what the
industrialized economy was doing to people. And this is what inspired him to
write his famous play RUR, Rossum’s Universal Robots. And he was naming the characters quite literally, but he had to come up with a word for—
the…essentially the laborer. And he was gonna call them like a ‘labori’ and he lived with his brother Josef here in Mala Strana and Josef was an artist and he asked Josef, “um I don’t know what to call these
labourers?” [Unintelligible] A robot, Karel, a robot. And that does it for today. There’s a lot more for you to explore when you come to the Czech Republic other than things that aren’t even from here. So if you’re interested in hearing more tales of an American’s experience in Prague, click subscribe and give this video a like. See you next week, bye!