BT Young Scientist 2012 winners talk about their space project (video)

16 Jan 2012

Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle, the 17-year-old winners of the 2012 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, with BT Ireland CEO Colm O'Neill and Education and Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD

It was an energetic and celebratory affair at the RDS on Friday night when it was revealed that young Dubliners Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle had won the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition for 2012. To the sounds of Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ and with colourful streamers and confetti radiating from the ceiling, the two winners, who study at Synge Street CBS in Dublin, jaunted to the stage.

There they were greeted by BT Ireland’s CEO Colm O’Neill with their trophy, while Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD, also applauded Doyle and Kelly for their project ‘Simulation accuracy in the gravitational many-body problem’ that won the judges’ ultimate approval this year.

I had an opportunity to talk to the two winners, both aged 17, after their win (see video below).

But here’s a little bit more background on Kelly’s and Doyle’s project, which looked at planetary motion and how satellites can stay on the right flight path when in space.

The two students started out their project by looking at the work of the Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler, who studied the motion of planets and who pioneered Euler’s Theorem in 1760. Kelly and Doyle then drew upon the work of the Irish mathematician Diarmuid Ó Mathuná, who solved the problem in 2008. His results are published in his book Integrable Systems in Celestial Mechanics, which looked at the Kepler (two-body) problem and the Euler (two-fixed centre) problem.

Prof Pat Guiry, head judge, Chemical, Physical & Mathematical category, said on Friday night that Doyle and Kelly had “simulated this complicated ‘many-body’ problem using advanced computation and evaluated the accuracy of the solutions”.

Video interview with Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle

2012 BT Young Scientist winners 

Other winners at the 2012 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

Best Individual
Eoin Farrell from St Eunan’s College, Donegal, won for his project ‘Paediatric resuscitation: How reliable are existing weight estimation methods in Ireland’.

Individual runner-up
Aoife Gregg, from Loreto College, St Stephens Green, Dublin, won for her project ‘Cryptography: A study of the Irish language’.

Group runner-up
Deirdre Harford and Colleen Kelly from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, on for their project ‘A search for genes associated with drought resistance in potatoes’.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic