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Archive for April, 2009

May edition

Growing shamrock in space,geekgirl  dinners, Yenka software for teachers, sci-comm conference, and much more as always.

Art, books & culture

microbe_infectious

Can you infect the web? With an idea that will attract 1 million page views by July 17th? That’s the challenge as part of INFECTIOUS the new epdidemic, I mean exhibition, at TCD’s science gallery. The ideas are spreading, and I’m looking forward to catching it myself next week. Until July.

Arts Technology Research Lab: this new facility at TCD, to be opened on Wednesday, April  29th, will, the press release says: bring together film, video, music, sound production, theatre, dance, live art and installation in a state-of-the art digital environment for the purpose of interdisciplinary  postgraduate research. Expect a PhD programme in Digital Arts Technologies, and a new digital arts and humanities programme  starting September 2010.

Can you think small? TCD’s Science Gallery is calling all miniaturists, self assemblers, molecular manipulators and sub-micron philosophers with ideas for art/science installations and performance for a new exhibition and festival on nanoscale phenomena.  Closing date April 30th.

Omniumgatherum

Educational experiment modelling:  for the teachers among you . . . Yenka is a new software modelling tool that lets you simulate concepts and set up maths, science and technology experiments on a computer, eg build a light experiment with various lenses and send rays of light through it to see what happens. Includes electrical and chemical experiments, 3D shapes, statistics, printed circuit boards, and more. Free to teachers and students for personal use.

The best science blogs: the touching short post by a pathologist about the merit of a fountain pen in communicating a death, caught my eye among the many posts selected for this year’s ‘best of’ list.  Others include the thought provoking ethics of research on vulnerable children, the tasty  ice cream as an geological specimen, and the intriguing experiment: how to make your eye feel like it’s closed, when it’s actually open.  The best 50 are also in a new book, The Open Laboratory (Lulu.com).

Science blog roll: I still haven’t found many Irish science blogs to add to the blog roll (right). Do point me to any I may have missed

Debating Darwin: a welcome repeat for zoologist Damien Walshe’s 2006 radio series exploring Darwin and his ideas. RTE Radio 1, Fridays, 8.30pm

Geek girl dinners: for those with two x-chromosomes, we like this new networking idea, that couples dinner with a chance to hear from some interesting speakers. Already in Belfast and Dublin.  Watch this space for the next event.

The world’s most remote place? It’s official: the Tibetan plateau (34.7°N, 85.7°E), is three weeks travelling from a city of at least 50,000 people (one day by car and 20 days on foot).  I enjoyed this new way of viewing the world in maps.

On the airwaves: keep track of the rich science and nature programming at the BBC (radio & TV) with this useful site.

TV & film science awards: this year’s winners, announced in early April, include a short British web-film on ‘the good heart attack’, and a 50-minute Danish drama about Copernicus and his legacy.

Conferences & opportunities…

ihai1West Offaly’s industrial heritage: fancy a tour of west Offaly’s industrial heritage in the company of friendly and knowledgeable experts? The tour is part of the Industrial Heritage Assoc of Ireland’s agm on Saturday May 16th, one-day meeting in Tullamore. These events are highly recommended for anyone interested in the region or the topic. A small charge applies to cover transport and lunch. Details here.

Geometry & physics: marking the life and legacy of TCD mathematician, James MacCullagh (1809-1847), a
one-day symposium May 14, RIA Dublin, adm free, booking advised.

Geology trip to Isle of Man: fancy a weekend exploring the Isle of Man’s geology and mining history, with the Irish geology association? John Morris of the Geological Survey of Ireland is leading a 3-day trip May 8-11. Details here.

Bealtaine Festival:  the yearly festival of ‘outdoor environment and science’ in the south-east has Darwin and biodiversity as it’s theme this year. More details here.

Science, engineering & communications: best practice is the theme for the 3rd annual one-day communications and outreach conference, Thurs May 21st organised by Engineers Ireland, Dublin. Details here.

The Epidemic in Modern History: this conference bringing together scholars in the humanities and medicine, takes place in UCC November 6-7th, 2009.  A first call for papers has been issued, for themes such as the role of folk medicine in combating disease, and war and epidemics.  Contact Oonagh Walsh (o.walsh at ucc.ie).

Spring gentian

Spring gentian

Burren in Bloom festival:  Mid-May is traditionally the time to visit the Burren, especially for the wild flowers. It’s also festival time, when geologists,  botanical artists, ornithologists, lepidopterists and more . . . will share their expertise.  Month of May, in Ballyvaughan .  Most events free.

Irish Association for Social, Scientific and Environmental Education:  the society’s conference this year will focus on teacher education and educational research in history, geography and science.   June 18-19, 2009, Dublin


Out & about

Treasures of the dead zoo:  the Natural History Museum remains closed to the public, but happily some of its treasures feature in a new exhibition at Collins Barracks opening April 30th, including new geological material on display for the first time and the popular exhibition ‘Planet Earth – Our place in Space’, previously on display at Turlough Park.

iya_logo_ie_f-2

The stars, the stars: the evenings may be brighter, but there’s still lots of astronomical events planned for the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for local events at the Year of Astronomy website, here.  Cork’s Blackrock Castle Observatory continues its excellent programme of events its First Friday viewing sessions on May 1st.  A day and night of observations is promised at Castle Archdale, Co Fermanagh, on Sat May 23rd, hosted by the IAA. Including an afternoon observing the sun, then the night sky.  Growing shamrock in space is the topic for Astronomy Ireland’s May talk, Monday May 11th, 8pm TCD.

The challenge of climate change: this excellent series of Friday lunchtime seminars, run by UCD Earth Systems Institute, continues  with yet more wide-ranging talks, including  bog slides (May 1st), concrete, construction and climate change (May 8th), shaping the Dublin of 2020 (May 15th), and the future of crop production in Ireland (June 5th). RCPI, Kildare St, Dublin; 12.30pm; adm free, all welcome. And if you missed previous ones, videos are now avilable online.

Got a mystery fossil? Bring your rocks and fossils to show off or to have them identified at the Irish Geological Association’s annual gathering. Talks, snacks and wine are also promised. Wed. May 13th, UCD 8pm

18th-century Irish doctor’s chinese books: the surprising book collection owned by Sir Hans Sloane, the doctor originally from Co Down, whose collection was the foundation of the British Library and Museum. Talk, Chester Beatty library, Dublin Thurs 14th May 1.10pm.

Copper coast, Co Waterford: a week-long geology course, and evening geology walks are among the Copper Coast events for Geopark Week, May 25-31st.

Climate change challenge — the lecture tour:  a series of public talks exploring issues around climate change, including the psychology of risk, is touring venues around Ireland in May, and organised by Siemens.  Details here.

Dawn chorus: the early bird catches the dawn chorus. Gather at the Glendalough education centre at 5am (!) and join with the expert rangers and bird-watchers from BWI. Sunday May 17th. All welcome. It’s a more civilised 11am start for the sand dune walk at Brittas Bay beach the following Saturday.

Darwin the botanist: Dr Matthew Jebb, Keeper of the national herbarium at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, will talk about Darwin’s work on plants, Wed May 6th 3pm. You can also see a reconstruction there of Darwin’s study. And on Friday May 22nd, 2.30pm,there’s a special tour of the gardens to mark international biodiversity day.

Punk science comedy: just one of the many events taking place at London’s DANA centre. Always worth a look if you’re across the water.

Remarkable trees and rhododendrons:  Not visited Kilmacurragh Gardens in Co Wicklow? These guided tours are the perfect time to see the  Botanic Gardens Wicklow ‘wing’ and the Rhododendron Avenue at its best.  Sundays May 3rd and 10th, 2.30pm.

Learning from patients: how rare diseases inform immunology is the topic for a public talk by Prof John O’Shea at the RDS, Thursday, May 21, 7pm.  Adm free, booking advised.

May alchemy? No details yet of the next Alchemist Cafe in Dublin.  Watch this space for info, and details of previous gatherings.

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April & Easter edition

Genes, germs and genomes. Stay away from the Infectious exhibition!  Science tweets. Geek books, and much more as always

Art, books & culture

microbe_infectiousINFECTIOUS: STAY AWAY!  Financial crisis, flu pandemics, religion, catchy tunes, viral ideas . . .  Infectious is the theme for the next big event at TCD’s science gallery. The ideas are spreading. Despite the containment zone. Definitely worth cathing. April 17th until July.

Also worth catching:

Submarine Man: Aidan Harney’s play about the little-known life of John P Holland, the man from Liscannor who invented the first commercial submarine, is on a nationwide tour this month. We enjoyed the play in Dublin last summer.

Can you think small? TCD’s Science Gallery is calling all miniaturists, self assemblers, molecular manipulators and sub-micron philosophers with ideas for art/science installations and performance for a new exhibition and festival on nanoscale phenomena.  Closing date April 30th.

Omniumgatherum

Harriott's 1st Moon sketch, 26 July 1609

Harriott's 1st Moon sketch, 26 July 1609

400 years of telescopes: It’s four centuries since scientists first turned telescopes on the heavens. History (and Italy) genereally accords the credit to Galileo, although a lesser known English scientist and mathematician, Thomas Harriott arguably beat Galileo by some months. (Interestingly, Harriott spent time in Molanna Abbey, Co Waterford, a gift from his friend and patron, Walter Raleigh.)  But that isn’t stopping Italian tributes to Galileo, including a special exhibition at Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, until 30 August. Worth a look if you’re visiting that wonderful city.

Limestone heritage  booklet:  an attractive new booklet on limestone as a habitat and resource has been published by the Irish Wildlife Trust, with support from The Heritage Council,  the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.  Download it free here.

The natural religion: ‘maverick zoologist’ and author Brendan Connolly discusses his new book, The Natural Religion, with Senator David Norris on Newstalk this Sunday.  Catch the podcast here from Monday.  (I mentioned Brendan’s book in the November bulletin, here)

Astronomy and ancient stones:  Beaghmore in Co Tyrone is blessed with probably more prehistoric stone circles than any where else in Ireland, many of them with astronomical alignments.  Learn more in a special edition of UTV’s Hidden Heritage this Monday April 6, at 8pm.

Science tweets Do you twitter? We don’t. At least, not yet. But lots of scientists do, it seems, and science journalist Dave Bradley is compiling a list of science tweeters, with over 300 and counting.

090227_sword-thumb-150x205The science of sword swallowing: With x-rays to prove it.  Watch the video. Do not try this at home!

Wallace & Gromit’s cracking ideas: the wonderful world of inventions. A new exhibition at the London Science Museum, until November 2009. Worth catching for all the family if you’re over there.

The geek’s bookshelf:  What book most influenced Iona co-founder Chris Horn? Technology writer Karlin Lillington is starting an occasional series of podcast interviews with interesting geeks exploring the books that influenced them.  Hear her talk here with Chris Horn about Tracy Kidder’s classic computing book, The Soul of a New Machine.

The science community notice board:  want to reach Ireland’s science community with details of an event? The monthly science and nature magazine, Science Spin is providing free space for short notices. There is also a useful diary of science related events. Both are free for non-commercial notices up to 100 words.  Email sean@sciencespin.com

Conferences & opportunities…

Innovation Dublin: Dublin’s Digital Hub is hosting an information session this month, to plan the city’s October innovation conference.  Be there, if you would like to be involved. Wed 8th April, 10.30am

The Epidemic in Modern History: this conference bringing together scholars in the humanities and medicine, takes place in UCC November 6-7th, 2009.  A first call for papers has been issued, for themes such as the role of folk medicine in combating disease, and war and epidemics.  Contact Oonagh Walsh (o.walsh at ucc.ie).

Women in science fellowships:  research fellowships worth some €15,000 each for women in the early stages of their research career are on offer from L’Oreal.  Closing date is April 8th — so you’ll need to get writing now!  Open to those  in UK and Irish institutes.

Spring gentian

Spring gentian

Burren in Bloom festival:  Mid-May is traditionally the time to visit the Burren, especially for the wild flowers. It’s also festival time, when geologists,  botanical artists, ornithologists, lepidopterists and more . . . will share their expertise.  Month of May, in Ballyvaughan .  Most events free.  (PS: we hear the Burren’s first spring gentian flower of 2009 was spotted a week ago, on March 28th)

Rethinking the City — the Transition to Resilience:  Resilience is the theme for this year’s Convergence festival, with a varied programme of interesting events in Dublin and in Cloughjordan, home to the new eco village project. April 22-28.

Carbon capture and storage:  Can we really capture CO2 emissions, and store them long-term in geological deposits? This is one approach being explored as a possible solution to rising CO2 levels.   A major conference exploring the implications for Ireland takes place next March 2010, in Dublin Castle, and the RIA is now calling for papers and expressions of interest. Contact  ccs@ria.ie now.

MSc in Science Communication: Interested in science communication? DCU’s MSc course is now well established, and can even be done part-time, for those who want to combine it with work. The deadline for applications for this coming year is April 30th. Full details here.

Women in science, women of science:  science education for women in Victorian Ireland is just one of the talks at what promises to be a fascinating international multidisciplinary conference, France,  June 4-6, 2009.

Irish Association for Social, Scientific and Environmental Education:  the society’s conference this year will focus on teacher education and educational research in history, geography and science.   June 18019, 2009, Dublin

Calling all young science writers! Prizes in this year’s RDS McWilliams Young Science Writers’ Competition include a laptop and digital camcorder. Entry is open to ages 12-19.  Closing date Friday, April 24, 2009.


Out & about

Genes, germs and genomes:   Society’s ongoing battle against emerging infectious diseases is the topic for a special RIA Lecture by Prof Brendan Wren (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) taking place in UCC, Thursday 23 April, 5pm. Adm free, booking required

The dead zoo returns:  the Natural History Museum remains closed to the public, but happily some of its treasures will feature in a new exhibition at Collins Barracks opening later this month.  Watch this space.

The challenge of climate change: this excellent series of Friday lunchtime seminars, run by UCD Earth Systems Institute, continues  with yet more wide-ranging talks, including  electric cars (April 17th), long-distance road freight (April 24) and bog slides (May 1st).  RCPI, Kildare St, Dublin; 12.30pm; adm free, all welcome. And if you missed previous ones, videos are now avilable online.

Tales from the laboratories: want to hear what graduate students in Irish colleges are up to? The annual Science Speak competition for students to explain their research, in English, to the public, is in the RDS on Monday April 27th, 7pm. Free, booking reqd.  I’m looking forward to hearing all the stories — as this year I’ve been asked to join the judging.

Antarctica’s flora and fauna: a chance to hear Irish naturalist, explorer and writer Jonathan Shackleton, who has visited the white continent 25 times, on why he loves its mix of history, wildlife, dramatic scenery and silences. Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, Thurs 23rd April, 8pm

Remarkable trees and rhododendrons:  Not visited Kilmacurragh Gardens in Co Wicklow? These guided tours are the perfect time to see the  Botanic Gardens Wicklow ‘wing’ and the Rhododendron Avenue at its best.  Sundays in April, 2.30pm.

Early days of computing in Ireland: the engineers’ heritage society and the Irish computer society are joining forces for Gordon Clarke’s talk on April 20th.   8pm, Dublin

Alien evolution in Cork: Blackrock Castle Observatory is mashing this year’s Darwin and Telescope anniversaries into alien evolution workshops for children over the Easter break.  April 6-19.

Remembering Darwin:  Dr Michael de Arce (TCD Genetics) will give a talk marking Darwin’s bicentenary, for the Lismullin Institute in Tara, Co Meath.  Wed 8 April, 8pm; adm 5 euro.

Climate change skeptics! The Irish Skeptics April talk is by Nobel Prize winner (he was part of the IPCC team) and climate change expert Prof John Sweeney (Geography, NUI Maynooth). Wed April 8th, 8pm, Dublin  Adm €3/€6

Wild Wicklow: Walk Clara Vale nature reserve with a National Park guide, and explore the woodlands. Wicklow National Park event for adults, and older children. Free, booking reqd. Sat morning, 25th April.

April alchemy? No details yet of this month’s Alchemist Cafe in Dublin.  Watch this space for info, and details of previous gatherings.

Sound, light and seismology:  how geologists use waves to learn more about the structure of the Earth.  A public geology talk by Prof. Alan Jones (DIAS), Dublin, Wed April 8th, 8pm.
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