Despite being largely unknown outside of the former Eastern bloc, the nation of Bulgaria has and continues to be a major location in terms of scientific research and computer-related development for Eastern Europe. Much like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria is relatively obscure to most in the West; however it has consistently advanced scientific research despite the Cold War and the Warsaw Pact.
Perhaps Bulgaria’s top field of research is computer research, where not only is it a leading country in advanced research such as nanotechnology and IT (Information Technology), but also produces it’s own line of personal computers called the Pravetz series, named after the town of Pravetz where they are manufactured. These computers were an important influence on the Comecon, or the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, an economic organization controlled by the Soviet Union until it’s collapse in 1991. The only supercomputer to be found in the Balkans is an IBM Blue Gene/P, located in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Sofia.
Of course, there have also been great strides in the fields of astronomy and space travel. TrES-4b, possibly the largest planet ever recorded, was discovered by a group of scientists headed by Bulgarian Georgi Mandushev. Bulgaria was also the sixth country to send a man to space, cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov, who was aboard Soyuz-33 on April 10th, 1979. Then it created it’s first satellite in 1981 named Bulgaria 1300 and Interkosmos 22, which was taken into space aboard a Vostok-2M rocket and still provides information regarding Earth’s polar regions to the Balgarska akademiya na naukite, or the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The BAS was founded in 1869, and it’s headquarters are located in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The BAS maintains research in many different areas, and has departments in math, physics, chemistry, biology, Earth, engineering, humanities and social sciences. The location of most of Bulgaria’s scientific achievements, the BAS controls the Space Research and Technology Institute (Essentially the Bulgarian space program) which declared it’s plans in 2009 to cooperate with the European Space Agency (ESA) as an observer, and is actively involved currently in the biggest experiment to find the “Divine particle” at CERN (Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire), or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. BAS joined CERN in 1999 and contributes roughly 3.08 million Swiss francs.
The BAS’ Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy contributes personnel and funding to CERN along with 35 other countries, and the experiment is deemed extremely important as the “Divine particle” or Higgs boson is believed to be an essential part in modern theories towards the beginning and the evolution of our universe.
Although Bulgaria is faced with other problems such as corruption, it is also growing in many places, such as the cheapest hotels and resorts in Europe and economic revival. To the scientific community, the future looks brighter with Bulgaria’s capabilities now reaching farther throughout Europe, in terms of technological advances and the ability to produce research & development openly and cooperatively without ideological differences.