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Science Spin3 66

Science Spin Issue 66

In this issue of Science Spin; Family Science

a new section where Christine Campbell from Anyone 4 Science presents some projects to do at home, and in Dr How’s Science Wows Naomi Lavelle explains about DNA.

From Tablet to Tablet

Five and a half thousand years ago a Sumerian scribe used a clay tablet to record the allocation of beer, and now we are back to using code on tablets. At a museum for computers and communications based in Galway we learn that everything we have now has a connection to the past. At the museum we discover that school students in Galway were using cloud computing long before the term was invented, we see how fiction has become fact and we learn how women played an enormous role in developing the computer industry. The museum is open to all and well worth a visit.

Rocky attractions

A major cross-border initiative is highlighting the geological wonders of the Mournes and Slieve Gullion. After many troublesome years visitors are being welcomed back into an area of outstanding beauty shaped by a geologically violent past. History, archaeology and rocks are being blended so that visitors not just see, but gain an understanding of the landscape.

Well bred potatoes

Four centuries after they were introduced to Europe, potatoes have become one of the world’s leading crops. However, lack of genetic diversity meant that they had little resistance to disease, but new breeds, developed by Teagasc are overcoming these problems.

Quantum biology

Why are biological systems so efficient? Many of the processes that enable us to live cannot be explained satisfactorily by stick and ball chemistry. Migration in birds is hard to explain, and why does photosynthesis work so well. Quantum mechanics provide some of the answers.


Ireland’s most recognisable rock, yet, as Paddy Gaffikin explains, with the exception of a small exposure in Kerry, it only appears in the north east corner of Ireland. Formed in shallow seas by calcareous algae, so small that they can only be seen with the aid of a microscope.

Weird and wonderful

Sive Finlay introduces us to a colourful Australian dancer. The tiny peacock spider males have an irridescent tail flap which they wave while dancing to attract the female.

Ask a scientist

Do you have a question? Our panel of over 40 experts in science and education are ready to provide the answers. Email your question to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Science on view

See our growing selection of videos on YouTube. Aine Hyland talks about the science curricula, Shiela Porter talks about SciFest, Jim Al Khalili talks about quantum biology, and Dr Aggeliki Georgiopolou talks about marine landslides.

Science Spin Articles

Solving the mystery of the Triassic mass extinction

by Anthony King

A huge project is underway at UCD to try and figure out the mystery of why so many creatures died off at the end of what's called the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, about 200 million years ago. The aim is to compare fossils collected from this time period with the evidence produced from state-of-the-art atmospheric chambers at UCD that re-create ancient climate conditions. Among the questions that scientists want to answer is, why did the dinosaurs emerge during this time of 'mass extinction'.

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Unworkable Science Syllabi

by Tom Kennedy

Over the past few years there have been enormous changes in science. In Ireland, research has raced ahead on a number of fronts, yet, how well are schools keeping pace with these new developments? Tom Kennedy reports that science teachers are not happy with the new syllabi for physics, chemistry and biology, and educational expert Áine Hyland has warned that Ireland is now at risk of falling far short of international standards in education.

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Shocked bugs devour phosphorous

by Sean Duke

Micro-organisms that were electrically 'shocked' at the research lab of Dr John McGrath at QUB, responded by devouring phosphorous pollutants and converting them back into a more useful form. This finding provides the means of reducing phosphorous pollution in the environment - a major problem in Ireland - and also of recycling a precious, and very expensive, mineral that is useful for many purposes.

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