Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 30-26


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Eamonn Sinnott, Intel Ireland's general manager

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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, Siliconrepublic.com has dedicated this month to the top 100 most popular science and innovation stories of 2012. Our countdown continues below.

Greenland's Petermann glacier

30 – Iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaks away from Greenland glacier

An iceberg that’s reportedly twice the size of Manhattan, New York, has torn away from Greenland’s Petermann glacier. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured the event. Some scientists are claiming that recent global warming is to blame.

A massive iceberg measuring 260 sq kilometres already broke off of the Petermann Glacier in 2010.

Petermann Glacier is in north-west Greenland to the east of Nares Strait. It connects the Greenland ice sheet to the Arctic Ocean.

Dr Hitesh Tewari and Desmond Ennis

29 – Scientists pioneer new encryption technology for Google Docs (video)

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have come up with a new encryption technology called CipherDocs to secure documents that are sent and stored in the cloud via Google Docs.

The researchers, who are based in the Department of Computer Science at TCD, have been given funding from Enterprise Ireland to commercialise the project.

TCD academic Dr Hitesh Tewari is working on the project, as is developer Desmond Ennis, PhD student Michael Clear and developer Karl Reid.

Map of Euro-Med earthquakes

28 – Cliffs of Moher seismometer picks up Mayo earthquake

A magnitude 4 earthquake off Ireland’s Co Mayo coastline on 6 June was picked up by the newly installed seisometer on Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare. The tremor was recorded at a depth of 3 kilometres, and it was the second significant earthquake to hit the west of Ireland in recent years, according to the Irish National Seismic Network.

The British Geological Society confirmed the earthquake had struck 60 kilometres off the Co Mayo coastline at 8.58am.

David Galloway, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, said the earthquake had a magnitude of 4 but that there had been no reports of damage.

Full moon

27 – NASA spacecraft returns video from far side of moon

A camera aboard one of NASA’s twin lunar spacecrafts has beamed back its first unique view of the far side of the moon.

Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) consists of two identical spacecrafts named Ebb and Flow, each of which has been equipped with a MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students.

Students across the US will use lunar images from MoonKAM for their studies.

The images were taken as part of a test of Ebb‘s MoonKAM on 19 January, NASA said in a statement. The GRAIL project plans to test the MoonKAM aboard Flow at a later date.

Eamonn Sinnott, Intel Ireland's general manager

26 – Intel’s Leixlip plant chosen to produce its next-gen 14nm chips

Intel president Paul Ottelini has confirmed that Intel Ireland’s Leixlip, Co Kildare, plant is one of three global sites that has been chosen to produce its future 14-nanometer (nm) chips.

Ottelini revealed the company’s chip plans at Intel’s annual investor meeting in Santa Clara, California.

The other two sites that have been chosen to produce the 14nm chips are Intel’s Oregon and Arizona plants.