I was born in 1969 in Košice, Slovakia, where I received a good secondary education. Even though I had been thinking about becoming a priest, I decided to study Particle Physics at Charles University Prague, Czech Republic. The Czechoslovak Federation was dissolved as of 1 January 1993, but I have obtained a double nationality.
In 1995, I finally gave in and entered the Society of Jesus (a Roman Catholic religious order known as the Jesuits), did the 2 years of novitiate in Kolin, Czech Republic, then 2 years of Philosophy in Cracow, Poland, then I taught philosophy for a year in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and did my Theology in Paris, France, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2004.
My religious superiors decided, however, that I should make the most of my training in physics, and eventually join the staff of the Vatican Observatory. Members of the Observatory’s team work in science most of the year (mostly in Tucson, Arizona), but they return to their province of origin for a few months each year to work in the area of Science and Religion.
Having spent 2003-2005 in the Czech Republic primarily in order to establish a network of contacts to build upon in my future work regarding Science and Religion, I went back to Paris to work on a PhD in astrophysics which I earned in 2009. In January-August 2010 I rounded off my religious training, doing my tertianship; the programme’s base being Sydney, Australia.
Since September 2010 I am applied to the Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus, for work at the Vatican Observatory.
My work in particle physics in 1992-1995 was primarily instrumental, participating in the development of the ATLAS detector (completed only recently!) for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ten years later, pursuing a doctorate in astrophysics, I again opted for instrumentation, working with Alain Léger (notable for the discovery of PAHs in the interstellar medium, and for the ocean planet idea), the author of the proposed Darwin space observatory already in 1993 (with Jean-Marie Mariotti, deceased in 1998). Up till now exoplanets are studied primarily through careful analyses of the light of their parent stars since direct observation is very challenging because of the star’s relative brightness (typically 10 orders of magnitude more luminous in the visible than the planet), lack of angular resolution (typically 0.1 arcsec), and the presence of scattered light (typically about 10 times brighter than the planet). Darwin together with NASA‘s proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer, have converged to a single design developing the 1978 Bracewell‘s concept of a nulling interferometer.
My work under Alain Léger was carried out at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, University of Paris XI, focusing on two optical test beds, SYNAPSE and NULLTIMATE. The main interest of the experiments was in the tests of achromatic phase shifters, stabilisation (through optical path dithering), wave front filtering (with single mode fibres), polarisation and other issues, a deep understanding of which is necessary for the implementation of nulling interferometry.