Archive for June, 2009

Summer edition

Toys, T-shirts and even embroidery, new movies,  plus the usual guide to what’s on.  It must be the summer edition!



Art, books & culture


Performance, poetry, comedy: just some of the events taking place this month in London’s eclectic DANA science centre — always work dropping in, if you’re across the water.

Body, voice, dance: still in London, the Wellcome Centre for Medicine is exploring the human body in the world of dance, theatre and voice this month.

Have you caught it yet? The excellent, free exhibition exploring diseases and even the infectivity of ideas, continues at the Science Gallery, Dublin,  until July 17. Adm free; note: the gallery is closed Mondays. Late-night opening Tuesday-Friday.

Electric Picnic sees stars: not just rock stars, but celestial ones — Blackrock Castle Observatory and the Science Gallery should both be in the lineup for the picnic, September 4-6.

mg20227081.600-1_300The politics of evolution:  this new book about Stephen J. Gould and the politics of evolution caught my eye recently. One for the summer reading pile, and I’d be keen to hear your views if you’ve read it.

Coming soon to a screen near you — ancient mathematics: Democritus’s atomic theory and Aristarchus’s heliocentric model of the universe aren’t topics you usually associate with new film releases, but then it isn’t often that you get a movie about the life of 4th-century mathematician and astronomer, Hypatia, an early woman scientist who was killed by an angry Christian mob in Alexandria.  More about Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora here.

Angels & Demons &  antimatter: So, what did you think of the new Dan Brown movie?   I haven’t seen it yet, but I was intrigued by the favourable review from physicist Cormac O’Raifeartaigh on his antimatter blog.  And could one-eighth of a gram of antimatter, stolen from Cern, really work as a WMD?




car importsNew worlds:  we love World Mapper, where they resize the globe according to various statistics — as here, for car imports — now with over 600 different maps.

The humble paperclip and crime: who would have thought a small piece of bent wire could do so much?  Read this intriguing summary of the role of paper clips in legal cases.

Cross-stitch physics: Maybe some people need to get out more?!  Larripin Labs, on the wonderful craft website Etsy,  will sell you cross-stitch embroidery patterns (PDF) for your favourite physicist. Coming soon — astronauts!

big-proton-with-mini-quarksSubatomic soft toys: soft toys as you’ve never seen them, from the Particle Zoo, including the Higgs Boson and even ‘dark matter’, and all from the Standard Model.  For the geek who has everything.

Debating Darwin: if you missed zoologist Damien Walshe’s RTE radio series exploring Darwin and his ideas, you can still catch it in the RTE archive.  And contrary to initial impressions, most of the programmes were new, with just a couple of repeats from the original 2006 series.

Evil Mad Scientists: here is a neat site we’ve just discovered that will appeal to the child in everyone, but could be really useful for teachers.  Check out, for instance, the 17 cool magnet tricks and projects.  And some elegant electric origami / paper circuitry.  And, one for the physics teachers: play with eddy current damping:

images-products-front-abd4_day_without_fusionA day without fusion is like a day without sunshine: Wouldn’t it be great if conference T-shirts were all like this.  And so many to choose from.

Eco-art and science chat:  I’ve added artist Cathy FitzGerald’s eco-art blog to the (slowly) growing role of Irish science-related blogs. Cathy will be well known to many of you as a microbiologist turned artist, with a keen interest in the art-science interface  and ecology. Also new in the blogroll is Science Chat, from science communication student Sean Marshall.


Conferences & opportunities…


The New Emergency Conference: managing risk and building resilience in a resource-constrained world is the topic for a Feasta  conference Dublin, June 10-12. With a public lecture by Dmitry Orlov on June 9th

World Conference of Science Journalists:  calling all science writers and communicators, for the 6th WCSJ in London this June 30-July 2.

Epidemics in Modern History: a 2-day symposium that promises to Combine medicine, statistics and history. Supported by Wellcome Trust. UCC, Cork June 25-26. Contact o.walsh@ucc.ie.

Living Knowledge Conference: University-community partnerships and ‘science shops’ are some of the topics for this year’s research policy and practice conference, Belfast August 27-29.

Science & technology in 19th-century Ireland the Society for the Study of 19th-Century Ireland annual conference is on 2-3 July (RIA Dublin).

Skills & Make day: skills for sustainable living is a full-day of workshops and exhibits to take you into the world of DIY, art and learning, forgotten skills, and show you just how easy it is to MAKE:STUFF.  Book now,  Cultivate, Dublin. A September Saturday, tbc

Summer camps: no shortage of science and technology-related summer camps these days.  You can Get Animated and learn digital technologies at the Digital Hub, Dublin. Blackrock Castle Observatory is offering ‘space camps’ where students aged 9-12 can join the search for alien life (July, Cork, €95).  And Charles Darwin’s life and work is the theme for this year’s Anyone4Science summer camps, which take place around the country July-August (€160).


Out & about


SS TCD brochure coverAn ingenious safari: Join me for a free guided walk through Trinity College, Dublin’s rich scientific heritage, in my new podcast walking trail. Visit little-know gems, and some hidden heritage. The self-guided trail takes about 90 minutes. More information and the audio files here.

Seeking the north-west passage: we hear good reports about this new free exhibition at Greenwich National Maritime Museum, about the historic surge from the Northwest passage, in which several Irish explorers played a key role.  Definitely worth a look if you are in London.  Until year-end.

Summer solstice & stone circles: astronomers and archaeologists will mark the summer solstice at the fascinating Beaghmore stone circles and alignments sites in County Tyrone, June 21  Irish Astronomical Association.

The Big Bang: fact or fiction? this month’s Alchemist Cafe explores the origins of the universe with antimatter blogger Dr Cormac O’Raifeartaigh (Waterford Institute of Technology).    Should be good. Wed 10th June, Science Gallery, Dublin, 8pm; adm free.

Wild Wicklow walks: the excellent free summer programme in Wicklow National Park includes a peregrine falcon nest watch (Sun June 7th),  a bug walk (Sun 14th), a bat night walk (Thurs 18th), and a wildflower walk (Sat 27th). Free;   Booking advised for some events.

Connemara geology: if you enjoy landscape, then you’l surely enjoy understanding the science of landscape, and this weekend field trip led by consultant geologist Barry Long, Irish Geological Association, June 13-14.

See the Sun! Pray for clear skies on Saturday, June 20, for the one-day Solar Fest at Dunsink Observatory, with a panel of speakers and hopefully the chance to observe the sun. Places limited, booking advised.

Darwin, Praeger and the Clare Island Surveys:  a new exhibition examines how Irish naturalists were influenced by Charles Darwin’s ideas, and how come 100 years ago, scientists from across Europe gathered on a small Irish Atlantic island for an intensive bio-geographical survey.  Opens July 2 at the Royal Irish Academy; until December 2009.

The Irish Response to Darwinism:  public plenary lecture by science historian Thomas Duddy (NUI Galway), part of the conference on ‘Science and Technology in nineteenth-century Ireland’; RIA Dublin,  2 July 6:30pm; adm free, all welcome, booking advised (here).

Skeptics, survival and extinction: expect an entertaining evening when Nigel Monaghan, keeper of the Natural History Museum and raconteur will be telling tales from the ice age, for this month’s Irish Sceptics public talk.  Wed June 10th, 8pm, Dublin. All welcome.

The Dead Zoo at large:  our beloved Natural History Museum may be closed for renovations, but an exhibition of some of its treasures is at Collins Barracks, and the programme educational events continues.

Apollo, Saturn and the summer solstice: Blackrock Castle Observatory public events this summer include a talk on ancient astronomy, and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.


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The Changing Nature of the Epidemic in Modern History (25-6 June, UCC). Organised by Oonagh Walsh and held with the support of the Wellcome Trust. For further information contact o.walsh@ucc.ie.


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