Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 45-41

10 Dec 2012

Dr Emmeline Hill, a genomics scientist at the School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD, with Irish racehorse trainer and breeder Jim Bolger. Also pictured is the racehorse Banimpire

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.

Brian David Johnson

45 – Intel futurist Brian David Johnson on creating the tech of tomorrow

Intel, which employs more than 4,000 people in Ireland, relies on futurists like Brian David Johnson to deliver a vision of how we will be using technology in the future.

When he’s not writing 1,000-word articles for The Wall Street Journal on his smartphone in airport lounges, painting, or directing feature films, Intel’s Johnson is obsessed with the future. It’s his job.

Joanne O'Riordan

44 – No Limbs, No Limits: Cork teen tells UN how tech improved her life

Cork 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. She also challenged these leaders to build her a robot.

O’Riordan flew to New York to deliver her speech on how accessible technology has helped her in her everyday life. She is one of only seven people in the world with total amelia, a congenital birth condition which causes the absence of all four limbs.

NUI Galway

43 – NUIG to offer students second-chance maths exam for its engineering and IT degrees

NUI Galway has given students who have applied for engineering and IT degree courses there a second chance to sit a special maths exam if they didn’t meet the Leaving Cert maths requirement as part of their overall CAO points.

The College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway offered the special entrance maths exam to students who had already applied via the CAO for an undergraduate engineering or IT degree course and who achieved the CAO points but did not meet the Leaving Cert maths grade requirement.

West Antartic ice sheet

42 – Grand Canyon-sized gash under West Antarctic Ice Sheet speeding up ice melt?

British scientists said they found a mile-deep rift valley hidden beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet – think the scale of the Grand Canyon. They believe this hidden gash is contributing to a speeding up of ice melt and, thus, rising sea levels in this part of the continent.

The scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the British Antarctic Survey published their findings in Nature.

They said they made the discovery of the deep chasm below Ferrigno Ice Stream, a remote Antarctic region that was apparently only ever visited once before in 1961.

Dr Emmeline Hill, Jim Bolger & racehorse Banimpire

41 – Scientists claim to have found origin of racehorse speed gene

Scientists from University College Dublin, University of Cambridge and Irish company Equinome said they traced the origin of the ‘speed gene’ in thoroughbred racehorses back to a single mare that lived in the UK around 300 years ago.

Their findings have been published in Nature Communications.

The scientists said they traced the origin of the speed gene (a C type myostatin gene variant) following the analysis of DNA from hundreds of horses, including DNA extracted from the skeletal remains of 12 celebrated thoroughbred stallions born between 1764 and 1930.