Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 15-11

18 Dec 2012

The AR.Drone hones in on part of the O'Connell Monument erected in memory of the Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) on Dublin City's O'Connell Street

We continue 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 this month to the top 100 most popular science and innovation stories of 2012. Our countdown continues below.

GJ1214b shown in this artist's view

15 – NASA’s Hubble detects new ‘waterworld’ planet type

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has released captivating images of a new class of ‘waterworld’ extrasolar planet 40 light years from Earth that astronomers are calling GJ1214b.

Apparently the planet, known as the ‘super-Earth’, is smaller than Uranus but larger than Earth. The scientists said it represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in our solar system or any other planetary system known.

Hubble Space Telescope observations have revealed that GJ1214b is a waterworld ‘enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere’.

A multicolored Perseid meteor

14 – Perseid meteor shower set to impress stargazers

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaked the weekend of 11-12 August as a result of trailing debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet, which was first discovered 150 years ago.

Two US astronomers who had been working independently of each other – Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle – first observed the comet in July 1862. That’s why the comet is named Swift-Tuttle.

Steve Myers

13 – Exclusive: interview with CERN’s Steve Myers about Higgs boson find

Steve Myers, the director of accelerators and technology at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, spoke to about the implications of finding the Higgs boson particle, what it will mean for the future of physics, and our understanding of the creation of the universe, as well as what the next steps are for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Since CERN unleashed the news about the new particle discovery that could be the Higgs boson, the news has rippled across the globe as its find could mean our understanding of the universe and how it was formed could change.

Irish inventions

12 – Irish inventions that changed the way we live (infographic)

Ireland is more than the just the place where Guinness comes from. It’s the home of innovations that have changed the world, as illustrated by an infographic from accommodation booking engine

From submarines to rubber soles, and bombs to colour photography, 10 top innovations have come from Irish minds.

For example, engineer John Phillip Holand of Co Clare is the brain behind the submarine. In 1875, his first submarine designs were submitted for consideration by the U.S. Navy, but turned down as unworkable. He eventually developed the first submarine the U.S. Navy formally commissioned, as well as the first Royal Navy submarine, the Holland 1.

AR Drone

11 – Aerial assault on Facebook and Google as part of Dublin ‘Hack the City’ attempt (video)

Facebook and Google’s respective European headquarters in Dublin came under an unusual form of intrusion as part of Dublin’s Science Gallery’s ‘Hack the City’ expo, whereby helicopter drones equipped with cameras honed in on their offices but were met with a frosty reception.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously quipped back in 2010 that privacy was no longer the social norm, referring to the online sharing of information. Well, what would Zuckerberg have made of a particular exhibit at Science Gallery in Dublin in which a video montage featured the European headquarters of both Facebook and Google coming under the radar of robotic helicopters (aka, drones) with video cameras? The occupants of both buildings were less than impressed, shall we say …