‘What lies beneath’ becomes clearer

It has always been necessary for archaeologists to ‘dig’ for information. The problem with this is that digging destroys the site. But, a relatively new science, geophysics, can provide ways of ‘looking underground’ without the need to dig.

The big contribution of geophysics to world might be that it ends altogether the need to dig for information, and not just in archaeology. Geophysics can also help Gardai find bodies buried in a large suspected area, or illegal dump sites.

Geophysics 008Click here to read my article on the development of geophysics in Ireland published in the November issue of Science Spin.

Toxicity testing – without killing

A researcher based in UCC has come up with a new approach to testing for toxins in the environment.

It is faster,cheaper and more sensitive than existing methods, and – something that is increasingly important on many levels – it doesn’t involve killing animals.

Professor Dimitri Papkovsky has developed new methods for conducting toxicity tests, simply by adapting and applying some existing testing technology.

Click here to read the article (published in Science Spin, Issue 36, September ’09)

Brown Trout in Ireland

Interview with Martin O’Grady on 103.2 Dublin City FM, Broadcast 27th Jan. 2011

Author: Dr Martin O’Grady

Publisher: Central Fisheries Board

A superb new book by Dr Martin O’Grady, Senior  Research Officer with the Central Fisheries Board, has been published and it will appeal to anyone with even a remote interest in Irish Brown Trout.

The book has a distinct charm, and, aside from the informative text, the aerial photographs, other images, and excellent illustrations – provided by Myles Kelly – makes for an enjoyable read. The graphic work too by Shane O’Reilly is of a high order.

General readers, fishermen, and scientists are all accommodated here. This is a publication that provides useful general information, and specific details, without alienating any potential group of readers – not an easy task.

To read the full review click here for article (published in Science Spin, Issue 36, September ’09)


Celebrating Ireland’s ‘father of seismology’

Robert MallettAs a working science journalist in Ireland, it always amazes me how little we celebrate – and I include myself in this group – or even know anything about, some of our most famous, and accomplished scientists.

I came across yet another example of this recently, when it was brought to my attention by Tom Blake, experimental officer in the geophysics section of the Dublin Institute for Advance Studies that next year marks the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Mallet, a Dubliner, recognised around the world as ‘the father’ of the science of seismology.

Robert performed an ingenious experiment on Killiney Beach, where he exploded gunpowder, and measured how the resulting shock wave travelling through rock and sediments down along the beach. This helped to prove his theory that earthquakes were caused by shock waves moving out from an area where rocks had suddently shifted underground.

To read more about Robert click here for article (published in Science Spin, Issue 36, September ’09)

Threatening western waves

Aran RocksThe west coast of Ireland, in places such as the coastline of Co Clare and the Aran Islands, have been repeatedly hit by major storms, and even tsunamis in the past couple of hundred years.

Professor Mike Williams, NUIG, has found evidence, in the form of large ‘megaclast’ rocks, that storms are so powerful that they can lift rocks weighing two tonnes, or more,  up a height of 50 metres (that’s 164 feet)

To read more on this subject, click here for the article (published in the September ’09 issue of Science Spin)

Bugs could stop plastic going to waste

Plastics – particularly those made from petrochemicals, called PET plastics – are very useful for all kinds of purposes. They are, however, also a major contributor to waste landfills.

That is why the research of Dr Kevin O’Connor, UCD is so exciting. He has found three bacteria that can convert used PET into a more valuable form of plastic.

Click here to view full article (published, July ’09 issue, Science Spin)

Science’s Celtic Tiger tries to keep roaring

Once a place that ambitious scientists couldn’t wait to get away from, Ireland was transformed at the start of this decade into a place where world-class research was happening.

The financial crisis means the Irish government is now struggling to keep that momentum going.

Click here to read the blog (published 26th March, Science Insider)