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Historical background

  • Mercury mine in Idrija. Photo: Primož Lavre /Salamon 2000
    Mercury mine in Idrija. Photo: Primož Lavre /Salamon 2000
  • Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693) in 1689 published an encyclopaedia of Slovenia in 14 volumes, in 1687 became a member of the Royal Society in London.
    Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693) in 1689 published an encyclopaedia of Slovenia in 14 volumes, in 1687 became a member of the Royal Society in London.
  • Detail of the map of the Slovene Lands, first published in 1853 by Peter Kozler.
    Detail of the map of the Slovene Lands, first published in 1853 by Peter Kozler.
  • Potočnik's Space Station (illustration (c) by Simon Zajc). Source: noordung.vesolje.net
    Potočnik's Space Station (illustration (c) by Simon Zajc). Source: noordung.vesolje.net


First internationally relevant research achievements of the Slovenian people are nearly five hundred years older, and Slovenian researchers started joining distinguished scientific associations as early as in the 17th century. The development of science, medicine and technology was particularly stimulated by the discovery of mercury in Idrija in 1490.  

In 1693, the first scientific organisation was founded in Ljubljana, the Academia Operosorumm Labacensium. The 17th century was marked by the works of the polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693), who in 1689 published an encyclopaedia of Slovenia in 14 volumes entitled Slava vojvodine Kranjske (The Fame of the Duchy of Carniola). On the basis of his research work into the intermittent Cerknica lake, Valvasor in 1687 became a member of the Royal Society in London.  

The mathematician and ballistics expert Jurij Vega (1754-1802) was also the author of the logarithm tables, which were used worldwide until electronic calculators prevailed.

In 1879, Jožef Stefan (1835-1893) discovered the law of light radiation, which is now called Stefan's Law.   

The first map of the territory of Slovenia, including marked ethnic borders, was created in 1853 by the Slovenian geographer, jurist and politician Peter Kozler (1824-1879).

In 1909, Edvard Rusjan (1886-1911) became the first Slovene to achieve motor-powered flight, in an aeroplane, which was constructed by himself.  

In 1929, Herman Potočnik-Noordung, a Slovenian rocket engineer and officer in the Austrian armed forces, published a book entitled Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel) that is considered one of the key pioneering works on space technology.  

The chemist Dr Friderik Pregl is so far the only Slovene to have received a Nobel Prize in 1923.  

The Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA) is the main centre through which flows all the knowledge in Slovenia. In its present-day structure it was founded in 1938; nonetheless it has a reputable tradition. Namely, in 1693, its predecessor the Academia Operosorum was founded in Ljubljana. Its activities ended approximately in 1725. For a long time Slovenes were without an academy, although the thought of it never vanished. It materialized only in 1938.

Today, the SASA is the supreme national institution of sciences and arts uniting scientists and artists who were elected in this institution for their particular achievements in the area of science and art.  

The competent body for planning and implementing higher education, science and technology is the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport.