Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 35-31

12 Dec 2012

View of the partial eclipse of the sun in June from the Hinode spacecraft. Image by JAXA/Hinode

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.

Minister of State for Small Business John Perry, TD

35 – Ireland is world’s largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals

Exports from Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector have been valued at €55bn and account for 50pc of total exports from the country. The sector faces some challenges, however, such as the skills gap, high costs and global over capacity.

The Minister of State for Small Business John Perry revealed the findings about Ireland’s pharma sector at a seminar held by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association.

The industry itself contributes total tax receipts of €3bn annually to Irish economy.

DERI's Dr John Breslin

34 – US government deploys open data standards created in Ireland

The open data movement is in full swing and tools and standards created in Ireland are to prove pivotal to open data employed by the US government. Agencies in the US government have adopted a set of web tools and standards developed in Ireland by researchers at NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI).

DERI’s technologies are being utilised by, a portal developed to bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the US government. DERI’s research, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, focuses on enabling networked knowledge, using the latest semantic web and linked data technologies.


33 – Termin8tors win Irish FIRST LEGO League Challenge 2012

A group of brothers and pals, ages 9 to 14, have scooped the overall prize at the Irish FIRST LEGO League Challenge. Calling themselves Termin8tors, the team has won for its smartphone app that aims to educate people about food safety.

For this year’s LEGO challenge, more than 300 students flocked to Galway from all over Ireland. The event itself comprised a robotics challenge and an app competition, which had the global theme of food safety.

Hailing from Moycullen, Co Galway, the Termin8tors team comprised nine students.

Appollo 11 Mission Insignia

32 – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wants to reclaim Apollo 11 space debris from Atlantic

Amazon founder and space enthusiast Jeff Bezos has issued a web statement, indicating how he is going to be working with undersea experts to recover the Apollo 11 engines that started humankind’s mission to the moon in 1969.

In the statement, which features on Bezos Expeditions, Bezos spoke about how he was five years of age when he watched the Apollo 11 mission unfold on TV in 1969. He said that, without a doubt, it was a big contributor to sparking off his passions for science, engineering and exploration.

Transit of Venus

31 – Cosmic treats in store with lunar eclipse and transit of Venus

Following a solar eclipse, space watchers received more cosmic events to look forward to in June. First up was a partial lunar eclipse, and then the transit of Venus between 5-6 June.

A partial lunar eclipse took place on Monday, 4 June. The June full moon dipped through the Earth’s shadow early on the day to produce the first lunar eclipse of the year.