Greek scientists fume as Hermes slips away

We modern Greeks are incorrigible. We constantly turn our backs on whatever we have that is good. A world-famous Greek facility, with cast-iron proof of its success all over the world, was not chosen by the competent state authority to tackle a highly sensitive, and wholly Greek, matter. Was it due to ignorance? Somewhat improbable. To narrow-minded and anachronistic attitudes in state services? Possibly. To the final and impregnable pseudo-argument that foreign is better? Probably. Were other motives involved? It’s best to not to lift the lid on such talk. The problem, however, remains: The testing of the seismic insulation of Praxiteles’ statue of Hermes, which is exhibited at the Olympia Museum, will not be carried by the world-renowned Laboratory for Earthquake Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the brainchild of Professor Panayiotis Carydis, but by the American laboratory Suny at Buffalo, USA. This was the decision taken by the head of the Culture Ministry’s Museum Studies and Cultural Buildings Directorate, Athina Athanassiadou: to disregard the repute and reliability of a laboratory that was declared by the European Union as «major European facility,» and which attracts researchers, university academics and builders from all over the world (from Sweden to El Salvador and Chile, from Germany and Belgium to California and the USA). Instead, testing of the seismic protection of a major ancient Greek statue was handed over to an American laboratory which is unfamiliar with the pattern of earthquakes in Greece. The NTUA laboratory is the scene of frenzied activity. With the help of a pioneering and ultra-modern seismic simulator, known as the shaking table, whose construction began in 1981 and which has been in regular use since 1986, tests are carried out on the endurance of sensitive instruments and complex apparatuses, the stability of technical works, buildings, materials, exhibitions, vehicle suspensions, weapons systems, and the packaging of products bound for transport. Kathimerini met Professor Carydis in his laboratory, where he spends endless hours with his colleagues, teaching, testing and researching.