Dublin is European City of Science 2012

26 Jan 2012

Speaking at the launch of Dublin City of Science 2012, Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, spoke about the scope for commercialising scientific research and creating jobs as part of creating Ireland's new economy

Today Dublin formally launched as European City of Science for 2012. In July, the city will host the Euroscience Open Forum, attracting scientists from all over the globe. Ireland’s rich scientific landscape will also be opened up to the public as interactive events will be happening all over the island during the year.

Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague officially designated Dublin as European City of Science this morning at the Convention Centre Dublin.

Prof Patrick Cunningham, chief scientific adviser to the Government, was one of the key people who led the bid to secure Dublin’s tenure as City of Science. It was in Strasburg in France in 2008 that Dublin was announced as the city to host the 2012 Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF), edging ahead of Vienna.

Every two years, a European city holds the City of Science tenure. Turin was City of Science in 2010, while Barcelona held the mantle in 2008.

So what will City of Science behold?

The highlight of the year will be ESOF 2012 in July, when the world’s scientific community will be descending upon Dublin. In addition, ESOF will host the Europe – US Symposium on the Atlantic Ocean as a shared resource.

There will also be more than 160 science-related events happening all over Ireland throughout the year.

The setting itself was a colourful display this morning to showcase how the ‘year of science celebration’ will be all about an intersection between science and the arts. Theatre artists from Rough Magic Theatre Company gave an entertaining performance, while a harpist and a violinist from the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra also played two pieces. Dublin footballer Stephen Cluxton, who is also a science teacher, brought along some of his students to the event, while children from Gardiner Street Primary School checked out some of the interactive exhibits.

Compéring the event, Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, who also has a degree in maths and theoretical physics, spoke about how Ireland was renowned for its rich artistic and literary heritage, but he said this year would be a great opportunity to show the links that exist between the arts and the sciences and to open up Ireland’s scientific strengths to the public.

Together with Prof Brian Cox, O’Briain has just hosted the Stargazing series on BBC, a programme that was lapped up by the public. “Three million people followed the show for the three series. There’s a massive audience for this type of stuff,” said O’Briain.

The aim, according to this year’s committee, is to engage the public with science, giving people the opportunity to discover Ireland’s rich scientific heritage and to explore its scope for helping to regenerate Ireland’s economy.

Renowned scientific pioneers in Dublin

ESOF 2012 in Dublin will be attracting some renowned speakers including:

  • Jules Hoffmann, the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology;
  • Prof Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director-general of CERN;
  • James D. Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA in 1953, and a Nobel Laureate (1962);
  • Jean-Jacques Dordain, director-general of the European Space Agency; and British astrophysicist Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Dublin’s Lord Mayor said the St Patrick’s Festival will also tie in closely with Dublin City of Science, especially during the St Patrick’s Day Parade on 17 March.

Montague said Science Gallery would also be a key hub during the year. He said that ‘Hack the City’, the Gallery’s flagship exhibition this year, will be about getting people to interact with the city to use it as a test-bed for urban innovation.

Because Dublin City Council has released its data sets to the public, Montague said Hack the City will allow people to look at areas such as water levels in the city’s system and traffic flows, allowing people to “manipulate that data”.

Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, spoke about Ireland’s long history of scientific achievement. He spoke in particular about the investment that has been put into science over the past decade to make it a “really strong bedrock” and he said that science is about “challenging the conventional”.

Bruton pointed to how the Government’s aim, in its Action Plan for Jobs, is to translate scientific ideas into commercialisable outputs, ultimately creating jobs.

Some of the exciting elements that will happen this year include a science-themed picnic and orchestral piece from the World Science Festival in New York, film festivals, science carnivals and interactive installations.

For children, The Ark cultural centre in Dublin will also be running science-related events throughout 2012.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic