Irish tweets to reach the edge of space – Robert Boyle style

29 Aug 2012

Pictured: EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, scientist Keith Nolan and RTE Science Squad presenter, Kathriona Deveraux 

On 10 September a weather balloon is going to be sent to the edge of the atmosphere broadcasting tweets from people on the ground to test the limits of Irish scientist Robert Boyle’s law.

The imaginative #tweetsinspace initiative is being organised as part of the “Talk to EU” information campaign by the European Commission to encourage young Irish people to look into EU funding available for science, innovation and research.

By demonstrating the impact Robert Boyle made on the scientific world the idea is to communicate the potential for the next Robert Boyle could be funded by EU support.

The 17th century Waterford-born scientist Robert Boyle made numerous breakthroughs in chemistry and physics. His most famous achievement was Boyle’s Law which states that the absolute pressure and volume of a given mass of confined gas are inversely proportional if the temperature remains unchanged within a closed system.

Testing the limits of the Irish scientist Boyle’s world famous law, #tweetsinspace sees the launch of a weather balloon from Ireland to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. 

The balloon, with Boyle’s face printed on it, will be filmed as it expands until it eventually bursts, as Boyle’s Law predicts.

The experiment will also display a number of tweets from the public when it reaches the edge of space via a screen attached to the balloon, making them the highest tweets ever sent in Ireland.

When the balloon bursts, the Talk to EU team, using GPS, will then attempt to locate the balloon payload and recover the HD video footage showing the experiment in action.

Anybody interested in the process can follow the #tweetsinspace live blog that charts the research behind the launch, as well how it is being constructed and the predicted flight path of the balloon here :

“The European Union needs a million more researchers by 2020 if we want to stay ahead of the game in research and tackle major issues like climate change and food shortages,” European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said.

“EU funding is supporting many young scientists to further their careers and really make a difference,” she added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years