Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 100-96

23 Nov 2012

Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle scooped another top award at the EUCYS, the European Union Contest for Young Scientists

Today we begin our countdown of Ireland’s top science and innovation stories of 2012. It was the year Dublin became the European City of Science and major scientific breakthroughs occurred in every field.

During four days in July, international scientists, policy-makers and business leaders, as well as the general public, converged on the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin, the highlight in a year full of science and innovation events, such as Science Week, Nanoweek, and Engineers Week.

Most notable during 2012, however, is the impact young people in Ireland have been making in innovation. James Whelton’s CoderDojo movement has gone international, student Paddy Mulcahy won the Irish leg of the 2012 James Dyson award, Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle, this year’s overall winners at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, also scooped another top award at the EUCYS, and teenager Joanne O’Riordan, who has no limbs, gave a speech to global leaders at a United Nations conference for Girls in ICT Day on how technology has changed her life.

To celebrate a year that also included great research, discoveries and partnerships, has dedicated the next month to the top 100 most popular science and innovation stories of 2012. Our countdown begins below.

Dr J Craig Venter

100 – #ESOF2012 – ‘We are in the digital age of biology’: Dr J Craig Venter

Things came full circle at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), as one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of genomic research, Dr J Craig Venter, gave a lecture entitled ‘What is life? – a 21st century perspective’.

Venter was taking on the mantle from a lecture that was given in February 1953 at TCD by physicist Erwin Schrödinger entitled ‘What is Life?’ That 1953 lecture is now deemed by scientists to have been pivotal in having helped to inspire the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Solar storm

99Solar wind heading for Earth could spark auroras

A stream of solar wind that looked to be heading towards Earth at the end of July had been forecast to potentially spark off solar storms and result in auroras, according to NASA.

According to NASA’s at the time, the Earth-bound stream of solar wind may result in geomagnetic storms. If such storms happen, it means that sky watchers in high latitudes could be in for some aurora sightings over a few nights.

Science in the City

98Science in the City festival kicks off in Dublin

A fusion of 60 events took place in Dublin City over 10 days for adults and kids alike to learn all about science through creative mediums such as film, comedy, and theatre, as well as live experiments. The aim of Science in the City had been to help inspire the next generation of scientists in Ireland, according to the Government’s chief scientific adviser Prof Patrick Cunningham.

Science in the City took place in July to celebrate Dublin hosting Europe’s largest science event, the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF), that same month. ESOF is part of Dublin’s year-long tenure as the European City of Science.


97 – Spike in solar eruptions causes bright auroras – NASA

There was an active solar weekend in February, as NASA confirmed the sun produced five solar eruptions, producing coronal mass ejections in the Earth’s direction. The result was that those in high latitudes were treated to some stunning auroras.

So why had the sun been producing more solar eruptions? Solar activity amplifies every 11 years, and the sun had been entering the peak of this cycle, also known as a solar maximum. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the next solar maximum is expected to happen in May 2013.

BT Young Scientist

96 – Irish students win top prize at EU young scientists awards

Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle, this year’s overall winners at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, have scooped another top award in Bratislava, Slovakia, at the EUCYS, the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.

They won for their project ‘Simulation accuracy in the gravitational many-body problem’, which already won over the judges at the young scientist competition in Dublin in January.