Science Week 2011 explores the chemistry of life

14 Nov 2011

Into the cosmos

Get ready to experiment with chemistry, as Science Week 2011 is getting into full swing here in Ireland. This year’s theme is ‘The Chemistry of Life’ and there are many interactive events happening around Ireland to entertain inquiring minds of all ages.

As Dublin prepares to be the Dublin City of Science 2012, the aim of Science Week is to promote the relevance of science, engineering and technology in our everyday lives and to demonstrate the importance of these disciplines to the future development of Irish society and the economy. This year it runs from Sunday, 13 November 2011 until Sunday, 20 November 2011.

Discover Science & Engineering also has a range of lectures on the topic of this year’s Science Week theme: ‘The Chemistry of Life’.
Daytime events are open to second-level schools only, while evening events are open to the general public, of all ages. Ticketing is free, but because places are limited, people are advised to reserve their tickets in advance.

Here’s a flavour of some general events:
Bubble, Bubble, Surface Trouble
Time and date: 11.30am, 16 November (Wednesday)
Location: Cork City Library
Description: The event will analyse bubbles. Taking an Aero chocolate bar, a slice of bread and a pint of Guinness, they all have one thing in common – bubbles. This interactive workshop will aim to uncover some of the science that lies behind (and in) creating bubbles.
Audience: Junior cycle, secondary school. Free event, but pre-booking is necessary.

Geometric Physics lecture
Time and date: 6.30pm, 19 November (Saturday)
Location: J.M. Synge Lecture Theatre (Room 2039) Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin
Description: The lecture entitled Geometric Physics will be given by Prof Cumrun Vafa, Donner professor of science, Department of Physics, Harvard University. Vafa will explore how the interplay between geometry and physics has been a rich source of inspiration for both fields over many centuries. This interaction has reached new heights in recent times in the context of string theory.
Audience: General public. Free event.


Fire and Ice Show with Mad Science Ireland
Time and date: 1pm, 17 November (Thursday)
Location: Wexford Town Library, Wexford
Description: This event will look at the science of hot stuff, cold stuff, how fire is made, water ice and dry ice. It will include burning money and marshmallows, smoky drinks and smoky bubbles, plus a very bubbly bubble bath.
Audience: Primary-school level. Free event, but pre-booking is necessary.

2011 Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition
Time and date: 10am, 27 November (Sunday)
Location: National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway
Description: This final-day exhibition will bring together local companies, education and government agencies to display what is happening in Galway. There will be many shows and events to entertain visitors, including Bubble Magic, Mr Bug and Blackrock Observatory StarDome, all free to the public. There will also be a LEGO competition and tours of the Zoology Museum and Geology Museum. See the website for more details.
Audience: Families. Free to attend.

Science Tricks and Stunts presented by Steve Allman
Time and date: 10am, 11.30am and 2pm, 16 November (Wednesday)
Location: Loughboy Library, Kilkenny
Description: Steve Allman will use physics, engineering and chemistry to make Maltesers float, to change the colour of liquids, to burn money and sit on a chair of nails.
Audience: Junior cycle, secondary school. Free event, but pre-booking is necessary.

Here’s a taste of two evening events that are open to all:

Chemistry, Disease and Cure
Venue: O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, South Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1
Time and date: 6.30pm, 16 November (Wednesday)
Description: Prof Luke O’Neill, a native of Dublin and based at Trinity College Dublin, is a renowned international authority in the field of immunology. His work has made a profound contribution to the global exploration of how diseases can be tackled and prevented. In 2009, O’Neill won the prestigious Boyle Award for his ground-breaking research into the molecular understanding of innate immunity and inflammatory diseases.

During this lecture, O’Neill will look at look how science is explaining the basis for inflammatory diseases and will explore some of the major advances that have been made in this area to date.

Space exploration

EXPOSURE Experiments on ISS
Venue: O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, South Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1
Time and date: 6.30pm, 17 November (Thursday)
Description: Dr Christer Fuglesang is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut who became the first Swede in space when he launched aboard the STS-116 space shuttle mission on 10 December 2006. Fuglesang was a Fellow at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, and did research in particle physics in Stockholm before being selected to join the European Astronaut Corps in 1992. He has participated in two space shuttle missions and five spacewalks, and is the first person outside of the United States or Russian space programmes to participate in more than three spacewalks.

Since May 2010, Fuglesang has headed up the Science and Application Division within the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operation at ESTEC in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

Fuglesang will present ESA’s EXPOSURE Experiments on the International Space Station, which shows that simple life forms can survive a long time in open space. He will also discuss ESA biological experiments on cellular levels on ISS.

To reserve tickets, email

In advance of Dublin City of Science 2012, is hosting Science November, a month dedicated to news, reports, interviews and videos covering a range of Irish science, research and innovation.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic