Weekend takeaway: 10 tech stories you need to read right now

11 Sep 2015

John Kennedy serves up his opinion of Apple’s new menu of products. Apple image via sarawutnirothon/Shutterstock

Here are 10 must-read stories for you to sink your teeth into this weekend, starting with John Kennedy’s analysis of the week’s Apple announcements.

We also have some fascinating scientific discoveries, tips on science communication and some disruptive ideas on software development and air pollution for you to feast on. Enjoy!

1. Apple already savours a decisive victory in the smartphone wars

Our editor, John Kennedy, has been our man on the ground in San Francisco this week, getting early peeks at all of Apple’s latest gadgets: the new iPhones, the iPad Pro, Apple TV and the Apple Watch. But what has really impressed him is Apple’s bold new strategy for smartphone sales. “It wasn’t only the new devices that fascinated me, it was Apple’s deft move to consolidate its victory by locking in a base of loyal users,” he writes in his full analysis from his week in the US.

2. Prof Louise Kenny wins international award for INFANT work

This week marks a celebration for Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) co-director Prof Louise Kenny, who picked up a major award from the American Heart Association – a first for Irish research as well as a first in pregnancy research. Check out Colm Gorey’s report on Prof Kenny’s award-winning work and watch her keynote from Inspirefest 2015 to learn more.

3. The cloud, the crowd and endless computer competitions

We often hear of localised skills shortages in software development but, with all the remote-working and cloud technology companies now have at their disposal, they can complete projects with coders from around the world. Gordon Hunt takes a look at an innovative platform from Appirio called TopCoder, which helps them do just that, encouraging a community of 800,000 specialists to compete to work on projects with companies such as NASA.

4. ‘We have to compete as a country to become a global start-up hub’ – Startup Ireland CEO

This week, Startup Ireland launched its inaugural Startup Gathering, a week-long event across the country that will incorporate over 300 events in total. We spoke to Startup Ireland CEO Eoin Costello about the motivation behind this series of events and the establishment of a strong community of Irish and Ireland-based entrepreneurs.

5. German start-ups visit Dublin to build partnerships and share skills

It seems the vision of Ireland as a start-up hub is shared with those beyond the island as German delegates at the German-Irish Digital Innovation Summit expressed their eagerness to collaborate and connect with Irish companies. “While in Berlin you’ll find a lot of entrepreneurial know-how, you’ll find a lot of tech know-how here, and I think there’s a lot of synergies to be discovered,” said Pfeffermind Games co-founder Tarek Hohberg.

6. New Pluto close-up photos create more questions than answers

Surprises from NASA’s New Horizons mission keep coming with the latest batch of beautiful photos of Pluto and its moon, Charon, indicating the presence of some unexpected features. “If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top – but that’s what is actually there,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern.

7. Career Zoo to welcome Dr Geraint Morgan, member of the Philae lander team

Sticking with space exploration, visitors to Career Zoo this weekend will get the chance to hear from Dr Geraint Morgan, who worked on technology aboard Rosetta’s Philae lander. Ahead of his Career Zoo appearance, Dr Morgan spoke with Colm Gorey about his work on the Rosetta mission and his thoughts on Ireland’s own space mission, Cumar, to be led by Prof Susan McKenna-Lawlor.

8. Talking to the media: 12 top tips for scientists

To do what Dr Morgan is set to do this weekend takes a skill even enormously clever scientists struggle to master: science communication. We are privileged this week to offer up a very important guest post from Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Dr Shane Bergin with tips on how to effectively communicate complex ideas to the general public.

9. Homo naledi: The human descendant fascinating anthropology

In other science news this week, a two-year-old discovery of fossils in South Africa has been credited as a significant breakthrough in anthropology. An analysis of 1,550 bone fragments has led researchers to define a new species of human: Homo naledi.

10. Smog Free Tower: A clever Kickstarter to clean up our air

“One day I woke up and became fascinated with pollution. It’s really weird that we accept it as something normal, or that we somehow take it for granted.” These are the words of Daan Roosegaarde, the man behind a Kickstarter project to build a giant air purifier in Rotterdam. It looks like it’s going ahead, too, with funding nearing double Roosegaarde’s target of €50,000.

Apple image by sarawutnirothon via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic