Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 55-51

6 Dec 2012

Aviva Cohen, Tony Griffin, James Whelton and Karl Swan, winners of the Social Enterpreneurs Ireland Impact awards. Photo by Shane O'Neill/Fennells

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.

Space Junk 3D

55 – Space Junk 3D movie aims to expose space debris problem

With the US having declared it is going to work with the EU and other nations to devise an international code of conduct for outer space activities, a movie called Space Junk is aiming to show in 3D how humankind has been littering Earth’s low orbit during the past 50 years of Earth exploration.

Melrae Pictures, a creator of 3D and 2D entertainment, is behind the upcoming release. According to the company, the stereoscopic film aims to reflect a ‘growing ring of orbiting debris’ it said is threatening the future safety of space exploration. The 38-minute film was set to be released in IMAX and digital theatres.

Venus transit

54 – Venus transit: captured in photos across the globe

For those of us who weren’t able to have tea with Venus at sunset or breakfast with the planet at sunrise in early June as it traversed the face of the sun in an astronomical event that won’t happen again until 2117, here’s a snapshot of what people experienced during the transit.

Depending on where you were across the globe, stargazers in North America got to witness the transit of Venus, as the planet started its six-and-a-half hour transit across the face of the sun. In Ireland, stargazers had to wait until sunrise to see if they could spot the final hour of the transit, as Venus came off the disc of the sun.

Raspberry Pi

53 – Raspberry Pi offers stg£22 credit-card size PC for budding programmers

The Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized Linux-based computer priced at stg£22 aiming to get people into coding, launched early this year. Demand for the computer has caused websites selling it to crash.

The single-board computer comes from distributor RS Components and the Raspberry Pi Foundation and has been created for educators, programmers, developers and tech enthusiasts.

Raspberry Pi comes in two models. Model A runs a 700MHz ARM processor with 256MB of RAM, HMDI and RCA video outputs and an SD card slot. Model B, which is being sold first, has an additional two USB ports and an ethernet port.

Dr Paul McKenna, Ena Prosser & Prof Jane Farrar

52 – Dublin’s Genable Technologies secures licence to progress gene therapy product

Dublin-based biopharmaceutical company Genable Technologies has secured the worldwide licence to Benitec Biopharma’s ddRNAi technology, in a move the company believes will help progress the commercialisation potential for its lead gene therapy product to treat the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa.

Genable itself is a privately held, ventured-backed company that’s led by Jason Loveridge. The company’s lead product is GT038, a therapy it is developing to treat retinitis pigmentosa. This is an inherited disease that causes severe vision impairment and blindness, according to the company, which also said there are currently no therapies available for its treatment.

James Whelton

51 – James Whelton awarded €200,000 from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

It has been a great year for James Whelton, having become Ashoka’s youngest fellow and securing €100,000 worth of investment. He is also a 2012 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award winner, having received a further €200,000 to put into his new Hello World Foundation.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with new and innovative solutions to societal problems in Ireland. A total of €775,000 was awarded to social entrepreneurs at a ceremony in Dublin’s Temple Bar, with Whelton, Aviva Cohen of Neuro Hero, and Tony Griffin and Karl Swan from Soar each receiving the Impact award of €200,000.