On the 27th November 2006, after a 40-year gestation period, the European Centre for Science Arts and Culture (ECSAC), was finally born... a grandiose title for Paolo Budinich's latest creature.
The first idea for this centre came about in the early '60s when a group of scientists from Central Europe got together to try to eradicate, or at least "fade out" the borders left over from the War. They thought that the "real borders", more than the geographical ones, were those between different cultures and peoples and they knew from experience that Science flies higher than any border and has far-reaching impacts... Amongst those scientists, there were Milla and Carlo Ceolin from Padua, Paolo Budinich, Ivan Supek, the future Rector of the University of Zagreb and founder of Ruðer Boškovic Institute, Walter Thirring from Vienna, George Marx from Budapest, Jiri Niederle from Prague.
The initiative was welcomed by UNESCO and was given the name of the European Network: the agreement had been already signed by all those involved, but... the Russians cast their veto because they did not approve of multilateral agreements between countries beyond the Iron Curtain. The idea, therefore, remained at a stall for years or at least took on other forms like: the establishment of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, the famous scientific review Encyclopaedia Moderna whose main patron was Ivan Supek together with Nikola Zovko, and many others.
The idea took life again, almost by chance, in the summer of 2001 when the "International Conference on Science and Culture" took place in Lošinj. This encounter was organized by Franco Bradamante and Giuseppe Furlan, an initiative of the Trieste Consortium for Physics, to celebrate the 85th birthday of Paolo Budinich. This event should have been held in Trieste, but Paolo Budinich hoping to discourage the organizers to continue in their endeavour, asked that it not be held in Trieste but rather in "his" Lošinj, one of the most beautiful islands of the Dalmatian coast.
The organizers did not lose hope, and on that occasion the scientists coming from not only from Italy but also from Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Graz, Warsaw and Zagreb found themselves in Lošinj, partially to celebrate Budinich, partially for their own scientific interests. During the informal meetings held outside the Conference programme, thought was given to resume the "old" idea of establishing a cultural centre, ignoring the borders left over from the War, to unite scientists by means of their "daily bread": Science and Culture.
Finally, on 27th November 2006, with a formal statute and the constitution of a Managing Committee based in Trieste, the ECSAC was born. Its temporary headquarters was a generous offer from the Mayor of Mali Lošinj, Mr. Gari Cappelli.
Ivan Supek (Zagreb 1915), is a Croatian physicist, philosopher, writer and peacekeeper; he was Werner Heisenberg's assistant, who saved him from the Gestapo. From 1943 until the end of the war, he was Minister of Education and Science and after the war he was conferred the Chair of Theoretical Physics at the University of Zagreb: he is one of the founders of the Ruðer Boškovic Institute and is one of the main supporters of the movement against Nuclear Weapons, the Pugwash Conference for Yugoslavia. He became the Rector of the University of Zagreb in 1969 and the year after founded an Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik; in 1966 he started publication of the Encyclopaedia Moderna; in 1997 he published a courageous Open Letter criticising the first President of Independent Croatia, Franjo Tudjman.
An interdisciplinary review founded in 1966 by Ivan Supek dedicated to the Science of Philosophy and Peace, published by the Croatian Academy for Science.