Sunday, March 31, 2013

Science Communication enters the Dragon's Den

New Irish #SciComm venture Walton Magazine hits the airwaves tonight when they pitch their wares on Dragon's Den.

Magazine editor John O'Donoghue and PR Manager Ger O'Donovan braved the den to get funding for their fledgling science communication magazine.

The magazine was launched in the Autumn of 2012 and deals with STEM issues from an Irish perspective. My own articles for Walton have dealt with current research on the potato as well as the future of food production and the importance of plant pathology.

You can see Walton Magazine take on the Dragons tonight (Easter Sunday, 31st March) at 9.30pm on RTE One television and join in the conversation on twitter @waltonmagazine using the hashtag  #ddirl

Monday, March 25, 2013

Private funds could help secure scientific heritage

Some positive steps forward could be on the way for number 5 Grenville Place in Cork City, the former home of mathematician George Boole.

The building partially collapsed in October 2010 and has been languishing in a terrible condition since, despite pressure being applied to Cork City Council and others to protect the building as part of Cork's cultural, historic and scientific heritage.

George Boole was the first Professor of Mathematics at Queen's College Cork (now University College Cork) and is widely regarded as the 'father' of computer science and certainly of Boolean algebra. Boole lived at Grenville Place from 1849 to 1855 and it is where he wrote one of his most important works: An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities.

In March of 2011, Cork City Manager Tim Lucey said that, subject to the consent of the owner, the City Council would "establish the level of interest in its future use/development, from the range of bodies which have expressed views to the Council on its historic importance".

At a Cork City Council meeting earlier this month, Mr. Lucey told councillors that a Building Condition and Feasibility Study had been completed for No. 5 Grenville Plane and had been circulated to University College Cork.

"It has been suggested to UCC that a small working group be established to determine how best to resolve issues and see what possibilities exist to deal with this important building in light of upcoming anniversaries of George Boole in 2014/2015", said Mr. Lucey.

The 150th anniversary of Boole's death falls on 8th December 2014. The 200th anniversary of his birth takes place on 2 November 2015.

The City Manager also confirmed that "preliminary discussions" had taken place between the university where Boole was professor of mathematics and the city council. According to the Irish Examiner, this working group will consider approaching Apple Computers, which has its European headquarters in Cork and other computer and software firms to see if private funding would be available to help preserve this building and Boole's memory in the city.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are you interested in the greatest challenge on Earth?

The Director of the National Botanic Gardens, Matthew Jebb, has said that the study of plants has never been more important given the global problems we face - the greatest challenge on Earth.

"By 2050, the UN estimates the world will need 70% more food, 55% more clean water and 60% more energy than today", said Jebb. "These challenges will have to be met through the sustainable use of natural resources. The most important question facing the human race must be how will the world feed our children’s children? The answer is with advances in plant biology and ecology, and using this knowledge in field-based solutions".

A career and information day for Botany and Plant Science will take place at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin later this month.

The event, on Thursday 21st March from 2pm-5pm, is the perfect opportunity for those interested in a university degree, or career in plant sciences, to learn more.

Matthew Jebb said the event was "an unparalleled opportunity to hear first hand from botanists engaged in biodiversity, ecology, conservation and genetics jobs, and the potential prospects in one of the most important future careers for saving our planet".

Dara O’ Briain at the National Botanic Gardens for Dublin2012
Writing in advance of the information day, Jebb said that plant science had never been more important: "The growing and increasingly prosperous human population needs abundant safe and nutritious food, shelter, clothes, fibre, and renewable energy, and needs to address the problems generated by climate change, while preserving habitats. The key to solving these challenges is Plant Science; plants are the source of all the food we eat and the air we breathe".

Plant scientists, researchers and teaching staff from the Botanic Gardens and from University College Cork, University College Dublin, Trinity College, NUI Maynooth and NUI Galway will present on the day and provide information on the courses they offer.

The Botany and Plant Science Career and Information Day takes place at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Dublin on Thursday 21st March from 2pm-5pm. More details can be found on the Gardens website.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Naming of names

I love these - Famous scientists' names presented in a way that represents their most famous achievement. Designed by Kapil Bhagat of India, I spotted them on

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