Irish scientists find arthritis ‘off’ switch; Chinese space station falling to Earth; New organ found; Holding on to memories in Alzheimer’s using implants

Chinese Space Station

The 9.4 tonne Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is set to fall to Earth over the easter weekend, but scientists are not sure exactly where (Photo: NBC News)

Listen to weekly round up of science news broadcast on East Coast FM: 29th March 2018

The ‘beauty bias’; aging is relative; new CF drug; anxiety is hereditary

Brad and Angelina

We are hard-wired to behave more positively towards good looking people, science suggests (Source:

Many of us have long suspected that good-looking people get away with more, now scientists in China have confirmed that in a study of several hundred men using brain scanning techniques.

Why is it that some people seem ‘old’ at 50, while others look relatively youthful into retirement? The answer might lie in how well our body protects our DNA, according to a New Zealand study.

Cystic Fibrosis is a deadly genetic disease which affects lung functioning, and is more common in Ireland per head of population than anywhere in the world. A new drug, called Orkambi, is showing ‘great improvements’ in lung function, and quality of life in recent trials according to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Got an anxious parent, or two? Then you are more likely to be anxious or depressed yourself, compared to the rest of the population, according to new research which says 35% of anxiety is hereditary.

Click below to hear a discussion about the above topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 9th July 2015

Antibiotics & childhood obesity; video games & violence; ‘friends first’ relationships; olfactory fingerprints

Olfactory Fingerprint

First we had the fingerprint, then the DNA fingerprint, and now science has developed an Olfactory fingerprint (Credit: Weizmann Institute for Science)

First we had the fingerprint, then came the DNA fingerprint. Now scientists have developed the olfactory fingerprint, which identifies the unique way a person perceives smell, as unique from all the other 7 billion inhabitants of the Earth.

A child can become predisposed to obesity due to changes in the balance of bacteria in their gut, following repeated courses of antibiotics, according to a study from New York University.

There is no evidence to suggest that violent video games trigger actual violence in the young, except among vulnerable youth that may already have an inclination towards violence, according to scientific research.

Love at first sight relationships, where physical attractiveness is crucial, are no more likely to succeed over the long term than relationships where physical attraction is not central, according to new research. .

Click below to hear a discussion of these topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 2nd July 2015

Was Sir Tim Hunt treated fairly? Are humans ‘walking dead’? Should we fear facial recognition technology? Why men are better at maths

Tim Hunt

Sir Tim Hunt was forced to resign from several prestigious positions following allegedly ‘sexist’ remarks (Credit:

The allegedly ‘sexist’ remarks made by Sr Tim Hunt, Nobel Prize winner, led to his resignation from several posts within days and his career is in shreds.

But were the remarks genuinely sexist? Was he treated fairly by the press?

Species of plants and animals are disappearing faster than any time since the dinosaurs. Legendary scientist and advocate Paul Ehrlich believes we have three generations left to do something about it, or we’ll end up like other ‘walking dead’, doomed species.

Facial recognition software is improving all the time, and governments and private companies are very interested in the data it provides. What’s now possible and how worried should be?

In education there is a well-known theory called the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is where a student meets the expectations of teachers and parents.

Does this explain the apparently strange reality where men are better at maths than women, while girls do better than boys in maths in primary school?

Click below to hear a discussion of these topics on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This was first broadcast on 25th June 2015 on East Coast FM

The talented Lady Ranelagh: Robert Boyle’s secret collaborator

Lady Ranelagh

Robert Boyle’s sister, Katherine, or Lady Ranelagh, pictured here, was one of his most important scientific collaborators (Scoure: Wikimedia Commons)

Robert Boyle is known to most of us from Boyle’s law in school and the idea that he was, somehow, a very important scientist indeed.

What is less well-known is that his sister Katherine, or Lady Ranelagh, pictured here on the right, was one of his most important scientific collaborators. She was, like her brother, a hugely talented person.

Katherine, who married at the age of 15, was a talented scientist, political activist, philosopher and medical practitioner. This, in a time when women were not meant to have opinions or to work in science.

Boyle held his sister in the highest esteem throughout his life, and after her husband died he went to live with her in London.

She left her husband, so the two Boyles – who were born in Lismore Castle – become even closer than they were already, and lived together for the rest of their lives, dying within a week of each other.

Robert Hooke, another huge scientific talent, and a brilliant experimentalist, built a laboratory for himself and Boyle in Katherine’s garden, and all three, it seems, worked there in close collaboration.

To find out more about this woman’s life why not take a trip to Lismore this Friday, the 26th, to hear Dr Michelle DiMeo of the Chemical Heritage Foundation tell her story at the Robert Boyle Summer School 2015.

The talk is dedicated to the memory of recently deceased, Mary Mulvihill, a science journalist, and another brilliant Irish woman. It will take place at 3pm at St Carthage’s Cathedral.

Why gossip is good; creative people more prone to mental illness; world’s first bio limb; and how eyes betray thoughts


Gossiping evolved in humans as a way to know who to trust [Credit;]

Gossip is a way for people to know who to trust, and whom not to trust, when living in large social groups, scientists say.

Studies have found that the single biggest factor in determining how long we’ll live is how big our social network is. That network is maintained by gossip.

A study of 86,000 Icelanders has found that creative people such as dancers, painters and writers have a 25 per cent higher chance of carrying genes associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disease.

The world’s first bio limb has been grown by scientists. The limb, a forearm was grown on a rat. The limb is ‘seeded’ with cells from the recipient that mean it is not regarded as ‘foreign’ by the body, and it looks more natural that bionic limbs that have been developed.

The way our eyes dilate, or move around, can determine what we are thinking, scientists have found. This can help predict when a person is unsure, and vulnerable to being sold on ideas or products. It can even be used to determine whether a person is going to chose a big or small number in a list of numbers, and influence their moral choices. To listen to a discussion on the above, on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan, click below.

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on the 11th June 2015

Creative thoughts linked to movement; Cynics earn less; Large Hadron fires up again; A wrist band that tells wearer they have had enough Sun

Many people get creative ideas while out walking, and science may have found an answer why (Credit: Rackett Hall Country House)

It is hard to force creativity, just ask any writer that suffered ‘writers block’ or a songwriter looking for a catchy line.

Scientists studying the brain may have found an answer why so many people report that they get their best, most creative, ideas, while out walking or running.

A cynical attitude to life and work is costly, according to new research, which found that cynics earn about $300 less than people who had a better view of their fellow man and were more willing to co-operate and collaborate.

A wrist band that changes colour when its wearer has had enough Sun, has been invented by scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast. It is important that people get some sun, as this helps our skin to produce Vitamin D, which is needed for bone health.

The band was developed by scientists Dr David Hazafy and Professor Andrew Mills and they have set up SunCatalyst Laboratories to commercialise it.

In other news, the Large Hadron Collider has powered up again, after a two year absence. It power levels have been increased, and the hope is that particles will be found that can shed more light on the nature of the Universe.

Listen to a discussion on these topics below, on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan

This item was first broadcast on East Coast FM on 4th June 2015.

Pollinators in trouble; drunk and in love; 1mm thin TVs; why we sleep & dream


Half of managed honeybee colonies in the U.S.A. have disappeared in the last 10 years (Credit:

The honeybee is a vital pollinator of crops that enable humans to survive on this planet, yet, in the U.S.A. half of managed honeybee populations have disappeared in the last 10 years.

The U.S. administration was so alarmed about the threat to human existence this represents that President Obama, in 2014, launched a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and other Pollinators.

We discuss the theories put forward to explain why honeybees are in trouble, and the main planks of the U.S. strategy to maintain and build up honeybee numbers again.

Most of us love our TV, but large screen LED TVs can take up a lot of space, when fixtures, fittings, and the width of the set are all taken into account. Imagine a large screen TV, just 1 mm in width, that can be stuck to the wall for viewing, and peeled off and put away when not required.

South Korean electronics giant, LG, say such ultra-thin, wide screen TVs will be available for sale in Autumn this year. They are based on new technology which removes the need for bulky light boxes.

We’ve heard the expression being ‘drunk in love’. Well, scientists have found that the effect of alcohol is very similar on the mind and body, as the impact of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin.

Scientists have long wondered why sleep, which made our ancestors, vulnerable to attack, evolved in human beings. They are finding that it has a lot to do with making sense of each day’s experience.

We also discuss how Japanese scientists are making remarkable progress with a ‘dream reading machine’ that can predict the content of people’s dreams – after the fact – with up to 80 per cent accuracy.

Listen below to discuss on all of the above with Declan Meehan on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan.

This was first broadcast on 21st May 2015

Science & the ‘benevolent sexist’; how a chameleon changes; why maths is not natural; near total eclipse


Are men that open doors for women displaying sexism? One scientific study indicates yes [Picture:

It’s something that many men do without thinking; open a door for a women. It’s just common politeness, or is it?

A study by scientists at Northeastern University in Boston, led by Professor Judith Hall, indicates that men who open doors for women may be secret sexists, of a more damaging kind for women’s equality than the more obviously misogynistic male.

A male chameleon is usually green, and well camouflaged, but it can change colour in minutes in response to another male, or a receptive female. It does this, scientists believe, by altering the spaces between crystals in its skin cells, which produces different wavelengths of light.

A almost total solar eclipse will occur on the 20th March in Ireland at 9:35 am. For a few minutes, the Moon will almost completely block out the Sun from viewers here.

Our brains are not set up for mathematics. A lot of people would agree, but it is a surprise to hear a leading French mathematician, Cedric Villani, winner of the prestigious Fields Medal, which is akin to the Nobel Prize for mathematicians, also agree. We consider why.

Listen below for discussion on The Morning Show with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM


First broadcast on East Coast FM on 12th March, 2015.

Full body transplants in two years; true artificial intelligence draws closer; the ‘ad men’ get literally inside our heads


Advertisers now have the power to see how the brain reacts to commercial messages (Credit:

Imagine if advertisers could literally get inside our heads, and see how the brain reacts to various selling messages?

Well it’s  happening and it’s called neur0-marketing. The ad men now have access to our private thoughts, thanks to sophisticated brain scanning and thought-reading technologies.

Meanwhile, an Italian surgeon has stated that full body transplants will be available inside two years. This is thanks to advances in surgical techniques and drugs that suppress a bodily reaction to a new head.

It’s expected that such transplants will be outlined in the USA and the EU, but the surgeon believes that if it is possible, then people that have no other option to live, but to find a new body will make use of the technique.

The decade long drive towards true Artificial Intelligence, where software can learn like a child and develop its own strategies, appears getting nearer with the development of Google’s Agent software.

To listen to a discussion of the above on Declan Meehan The Morning Show.


This was broadcast first on East Coast FM on 26th February 2015.