Africa holds the key to Ireland’s asthma problem

Ireland has one of the highest incidence of asthma in the world, and the problem shows no signs of going away. So, why is it that asthma is increasing everywhere in the developed world, and Ireland in particular?

Meanwhile, in less developed countries, such as many African nations, asthma is rarely seen.

Professor Padraic Fallon, based at the Institute for Molecular Medicine at TCD, a renowned asthma researcher. Prof Fallon said that he has been focused on identifying the factors that make African children resistant to asthma.

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First broadcast on Ireland AM

Better test for lung cancer at St James’s Dublin

Lung cancer is the biggest among men with cancer in Ireland each year, and the second biggest killer of women. There are approximately 1,800 cases of lung cancer each year in Ireland.

At St James’s Hospital in Dublin about 450 cases of lung cancer are seen each year. Dr Joe Keane, Respiratory Consultant  at St James’, and has team, have devised a technique that could help to diagnose lung cancer earlier.

The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance people have to survive, and the tragedy is that many cases of lung cancer arrive in hospital too late for doctors to be able to do anything to help.

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Broadcast on 01.07.2009 on Ireland AM

Are Irish people eating themselves to death?

Experts estimate that 2,500 Irish people per year die as a result of being obese. Shockingly, 24 per cent of Irish adults are now obese, while 20 per cent of 5 to 12 year olds are either obese or overweight.

Despite this huge and growing threat to public health problem, there is only one clinic in Ireland specialising in the treatment of obesity and related problems.

This clinic is at Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin, and the consultant in charge is Professor Donal O’Shea.

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Broadcast 02.06.2009 on Ireland AM

‘Space Junk’: A Growing Problem Ireland’s Helping to Solve

This 32 metre satellite dish based in Midleton Co Cork, will be used to track and monitor dangerous ‘space junk’ (Source: National Space Centre)

Since the launch of the the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, by the Soviet Union in 1957, there have been an estimated 600,000 pieces of space debris, of varying sizes, transported and dumped in space by mankind.

These pieces of ‘space junk’ no longer serve any useful purpose, but they have the potential to cause serious damage to the orbiting International Space Station, and its crew, and represent a hazard to any future space travellers.

There are thousands of no longer used spy satellites orbiting in the Earth’s atmosphere, as well as tiny pieces of paint or pieces of metal that have fallen off spacecraft of varying kinds over the past five decades or so.

Even small pieces of space junk have the potential to cause huge damage should they impact on the Space Station, or future spacecraft, as they are travelling at thousands of miles per hour.

In order to make space safer for mankind to explore, it is important that all space debris is, in the first instance, tracked and monitored, and ultimately cleaned up.

An Irish company, called the National Space Centre, based in Midleton, has signed a joint agreement with a number of Russian companies to monitor and track space debris.

This will be done using its 32-metre satellite dish, which was built in 1984 to transfer telephone calls between Ireland and the USA.

LISTENInterview with Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO National Space Centre

This interview was broadcast on Science Spinning on 103.2 Dublin City FM on 15.12.2011

WATCH: Segment below was broadcast on Elev8, RTE 2 Television 02-05-2012

Astronauts perform tasks using Irish 3D training videos

The European Space Agency has contracted Irish firm, Cortona 3D, to provide 3D training videos to help its astronauts perform difficult tasks in space.  Astronauts are less likely to make mistakes, it is believed, when following video prompts rather than reading manuals, as was the case up to now.

Specifically, the Irish training videos will be used to help astronauts working on the Automatic Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, that docked recently with the International Space Station, or ISS.

The ATV is essentially a cargo vehicle, bringing food, water and other supplies to astronauts on the ISS.

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Click below to watch slot broadcast on TV3’s Ireland AM on 19.08.2009

Cork’s Tyndall on a mission to Mercury

Relatively little is known about Mercury, one of our nearest planetary neighbours, but the European Space Agency is aiming to address this with a spaceprobe mission to Mercury set to launch in 2013.

One of the major problems for any probe getting close to Mercury is the extreme heat, with temperatures rising to 350C even when orbiting the planet. The current materials that are used to protect spaceprobes are simply not able to withstand such heat.

That is where researchers at the Tyndall National Institute at UCC have come in, by providing ESA with a new material that has been can help a mercury space probe withstand the huge tempeatures it will be facing.

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Click below to watch slot broadcast on TV3’s, Ireland AM on 02.10.2009

Irish scientist predicting ‘solar storms’

Solar storms, caused by eruptions of charged particles from the Sun can threaten the lives of astronauts working on the International Space Station as well as disrupt telecommunications and power systems on Earth.

The impacts can be dramatically reduced if such storms can be predicted and prepared for. That is exactly what Peter Gallagher, astrophysicist, and his team are doing at TCD – predicting the arrival of solar storms here on Earth.

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Broadcast on Ireland AM 06.09.2009

UCD team to keep astronauts fit on future missions

Future missions to Mars may take up to three years to complete, and during this time astronauts will be subject to the bone and muscle wasting pressures that come from living in the zero gravity, or close to zero gravity, of space.

It is imperative that a way is found to keep astronauts fit and reducing the ‘wastage’ to a minimum. This is where Dr Brian Caulfield and his team at UCD come in. They have designed a muscle stimulating device, something akin to more sophisticated version of the Slendertone product, that will enable astronauts to exercise even while asleep.

Meanwhile, here on Earth, the device can be used to help elderly or disabled people to exercise.

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Broadcast on Ireland AM on 28.10.2009

Irish ‘Atomic Clock’ guides Europe’s satellites

An Irish company, Eblana Photonics, has developed ultra-accurate atomic clocks, that will provide positioning information for Europe’s new Gailileo satellite system.

Europe is developing Galileo has a rival to the US GPS system, and to provide Europe with its own independent satellite navigation system that is not under the control of the US military.

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Broadcast 11.11.2009 on TV3’s Ireland AM