o The Frog Blog: June 2010

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Irish 'Superbug' Drug Breakthrough

The Spread of C. difficile infection in Europe
Hospital ‘superbugs’, such as MRSA (Methicillin - Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Clostridium difficile, have become a major problem over the past few years - causing thousands of deaths worldwide. ‘Superbugs’ are types of bacteria which have mutated to become resistant to normal antibiotics. Precise figures on deaths in Ireland are hard to obtain, but about 25,000 people pick up MRSA infections in Irish hospitals each year, and those who do are seven times more likely to die (Irish Times, April 21st 2010). In the UK, between 2004 and 2008, C. difficile was involved in 1 death per 1000, and MRSA in 3 deaths per thousand. Recent data shows that C. difficile is set to overtake MRSA as the major ‘superbug’ killer in our hospitals, and is now the fastest spreading hospital-acquired illness in Europe. The very young, the elderly, the seriously ill and those recovering from major surgery, are particularly at risk.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Breakthrough in Dental Treatment

Scientists in France have developed a new treatment for dental cavities - which won't require the dreaded drill. The scientists have developed a repairing gel, containing a new protein which, when placed next to a cavity, encourages cells inside teeth to regenerate in about a month. The scientists have recently published their work in the journal ACS Nano. The new gel or thin film could eliminate the need to fill painful cavities or drill deep into the root canal of an infected tooth.

Cavities are bacteria and pus-filled holes on or in teeth which can lead to discomfort, pain and even tooth loss. When people eat acidic foods, consume sugary snacks or simply don't maintain proper oral hygiene, bacteria begin to eat away at the protective enamel and other minerals inside teeth. The causes of cavities are varied. But for most cavities, the treatment is the same: drilling into a tooth, removing the decay and filling in the hole to prevent further damage. The new gel or thin film contains a peptide known as MSH, or melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Previous experiments, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that MSH encourages bone regeneration. Bone and teeth are fairly similar, so the French scientists reasoned that if the MSH were applied to teeth, it should help healing as well. To test their theory, the French scientists applied either a film or gel, both of which contained MSH, to cavity-filled mice teeth. I for one am happy!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

More Stress, Less Success

Humphrey Jones, Frog Blogger, here (pictured across). I would just like to let you all know that I have just recently set up a new blog, More Stress, Less Success, devoted to expressing my own opinions on what it means to be a teacher in today's Ireland. The blog will contain ruminations and thoughts on my experience as a teacher and will contain more personal reflections and views than ever published on this blog. I will also aim to provide more information on the use of various types of technology in education, particularly the iPhone, which will expand beyond science teaching and learning. I will not abandon The Frog Blog, (I predict it will continue to consume my life) but I do hope to be able to reveal a more personal side of me than has ever been revealed through the 673 posts on this forum. So, if you would like to know what I am thinking - specifically about my teaching philosophy and career - please visit More Stress, Less Success by clicking here

YouTube Saturday - Brain Power and the Survival Instinct

This week's YouTube video looks at the human brain's relationship with food and how our behaviours towards food allow us to survive. There are more in the series so try to find them on YouTube. Homework!

New Burren Photos Added

I've just added some more photos to the Burren Photo Album this year. Click here. These are courtesy of Florian Lenhart and his band of fellow photographers. You can also find them by clicking PHOTOS on the top of the page - here you will find a whole series of albums from various science expeditions over the last few years.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Agricultural Science Exam Update

I wrote an email this morning to the Chief Examiner for Agricultural Science for the State Examinations Commission, (not pictured - that's a cow) highlighting my concerns about yesterday's Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science exam paper. I stressed that the exam simply did not reflect what was on the syllabus and I urged him to reform the paper and his drafting team. I understand that he is not from an agricultural background and has little experience in the subject, thus must trust his drafters to produce a paper that will accurately assess the syllabus and the pupil learning. I urged him to form a new drafting team that will accurately reflect the syllabus (outdated as it is) in future exams.

I do not know who his current drafters are. I presume they are teachers of Agricultural Science. I might be so bold as to presume they are "experienced" Agricultural Science teachers. They probably starting teaching the subject when the syllabus was new. They most likely are farmers or are from a farming background and they most likely teach (if they are still teaching or taught if they are not) pupils from farming backgrounds. Thus they are likely able to keep up to date with new farming practices (like zero grazing which was asked in yesterday's exam). But they are not typical Agricultural Science teachers and the pupils they teach are not typical Agricultural Science pupils. We should be proud that our subject has increased in popularity and the majority of pupils sitting the exam now are from urban backgrounds (one of my pupils is from Los Angeles). We should not be ashamed that bright urban pupils are now taking the subject up and obtaining excellent grades. We should be glad that there is a greater understanding of how food is produced amongst the non-farming communities. We should be glad that the work of the farmer goes noticed for a change. We should not punish these pupils for taking an interest by inserting questions outside the scope of the syllabus. Someone wrote in today's Irish Times that:
"In an interesting twist, a question about the index of calving difficulty in question seven, would have rewarded students who took an interest in, and kept up to date with farming matters."
I'm sorry, but you can't put something on a Leaving Certificate Exam that is beyond the scope of the syllabus - we have an assessment of practical coursework that does that!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Exam Reaction - Agricultural Science

Let me warn you! This gets nasty! I am so frustrated and annoyed, both for pupils of Agricultural Science and my fellow teachers. Every year the exam seems to expand our already ancient and outdated syllabus and this year is no exception. This year's higher level paper is a travesty - an utterly unfair assessment of the typical Agricultural Science pupil's learning over the past two years. How this exam is supposed to reflect the syllabus is unknown to me, and many of my fellow teachers that I have spoken to in the last hour. There are questions on this paper I can't answer - and I am a good teacher. I know for a fact that the majority of Agricultural Science teachers in this country couldn't answer all the parts of this questions - they couldn't even find information on them, as the syllabus (or any of the textbooks) doesn't mention them (Click here to see the syllabus by the way). Let me go through the paper first and outline how the syllabus and the exam simply don't match.

OK, I should mention that not all pupils will be disappointed with this exam, only the pupils hoping to achieve an A1. Pupils expecting a B or C will be satisfied that there was sufficient questions to tackle. Saying that, question 1 was awful and many pupils struggled to find six parts they could cover out of the ten. Parts (a), (b), (c) and (d) were particularly troublesome. Let me draw your attention to part (c) for a second - Account for the increasing popularity of maize silage as a feed for dairy cows. Only pupils who have hands on experience of growing maize or have visited farms growing maize would know this. Teachers would not cover this - why? - because maize wasn't been grown in Ireland 40 years ago when the syllabus was introduced, let alone maize silage. So how can a teacher, who is following the syllabus, be expected to teach about "increasing popularity of maize silage" when this trend has occurred 35 years after the syllabus was drafted? In part (e) pupils are asked what a refractometer is? Well it is an instrument used to measure the sugar content of sugar beet, which is one of the 250 plus experiments the pupils can be asked on! How many school have refractometers? I'd imagine somewhere close to 0.5%. Even if they did, where will they find a sugar beet to analyse - no one grows it anymore! So then how is a pupil expected to know this - it is grossly unfair! The rest of question 1 was fine, but by now pupils confidence must have been very low.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Exam Reaction - Chemistry

Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch. Chemistry proved to be a very tough exam with almost every question having a "sting in the tail". Pupils found it particularly tricky and our chemistry teacher, Mr. Jackson, described it as one of the toughest papers he'd seen. It certainly is not a paper for the pupil aiming for an A1 and many will be disappointed once again that a gifted pupil will find it more difficult to achieve a top grade in chemistry than most of the other science subjects. Pupils who would expect to achieve a C or B might not have too many complaints though.

In section A, the practical questions, pupil were asked on the total hardness of water, the preparation of soap and a HCl - Sodium Thiosulphate titration, each were doable but had a tricky question in each. For example, question 1 part (f) asked if water, having passed through a deioniser, would be suitable for use in the laboratory. Pupils wouldn't necessarily need to know that as part of the practical and many got caught out. In Section B, question 4 (short questions) seemed reasonable but question 5 was very challenging. The question was on atomic theory but some of the questions were poorly constructed, especially part (c). Also the scientists asked were tough. Question 6, organic chemistry, appeared tricky but probably worked out to be fair while question 7, reversible reactions, was again tough. Question 8 assessed pupil knowledge of the Bronsted Lowry theory and was reasonable. Question 9, reaction mechanisms, again had a sting in the tail, part (f). Question 10 and 11 both had a reasonable choice to make them fair, but again with some tricky little questions. In all, many pupils who were confident of achieving an A in chemistry may not be so confident this evening. I would imagine the marking scheme may be softened slightly come the marking conference, so don't be too disheartened.

Agricultural Science is the last remaining science exam, which will be sat on Thursday morning. Good luck to all.

iPhone OS 4 - Let the Magic Begin

So yesterday evening my Dell laptop took nearly three hours to download the new operating system for my iPhone 3G S (which I love - see here) - over my painfully slow broadband. It then took another hour or so to load it on to my phone before I could finally start to play with the new and improved system. So is it worth it? Well so far, I am impressed. I love the background wallpaper which now covers the home screen as well as the lock screen. I love the new folders feature (shown over) allowing me to categorise all my apps in News, Office, Utilities or whatever you want. Other improvements include the ability to create iPod playlists during playback, built-in spell-checking functionality and iPhone Faces and Places customised graphics as well as improvements in the photo and video capabilities. The email interface and the contacts page each get a face lift but I wish they had changed the calendar a bit though. You can also zoom when taking a photo and switch between app more easily. iPhone readers now get the iBooks following our iPad cousin.

The most significant change though is the multi-tasking features which will allow music (including radio apps) and GPS apps to run in the background while other apps are being used. This should greatly improve the usability of the iPhone. Also apps can now be frozen when closed and may not need to be reloaded when opened again. But this could have a detrimental effect on the battery life of the iPhone and it now means that to fully close a app one must double click the home button and then hold down the app and then close it.  I think there should be an option available within each app to either close or minimise, thus removing this ordeal. But wait until the developers start making apps which utilise the new multitasking powers of the iPhone.  I can only imagine what magic they will create. Overall, a great new way to experience the iPhone in all its glory. For more of the iPhone OS 4 hidden features, click here.

So how do you download it. Well first you have to download the latest version of iTunes (That's 9.2 I think). Connect your iPhone and click "Check for Update" and then let the magic begin.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Exam Reaction - Physics

Form VI pupils have just completed their Leaving Certificate Physics exam (well done) and by all accounts the paper was quite a challenge over all. Section A was deemed fair but Section B had some tricky questions. In Section A, question 1 was on force and acceleration and seemed straightforward. Question 2 looked at specific latent heat of vaporisation of water and again was well received. Question 3 was on Snell's Law and again was fine while question 4 was on a experiment to investigate the variation of resistance of a thermistor with its temperature and was again deemed fair. Question 1, 2 and 4 all required pupils to construct a graph so easy marks were on offer. But it was Section B which caused most problems. Question 5, the short questions were fine, but question 6 on gravitation was quite difficult. As part of the question, pupils had to calculate the height above the earth in which a astronauts would experience weightlessness, which many pupils found challenging. Question 7 was again challenging and looked at the Doppler Effect. Question 8 looked at the electronic circuit of a hair-dryer and was fairly straightforward. Question 9 assessed knowledge of X-Rays and was fair enough. Question 10 has a choice of two parts and most chose part A which looked at particle physics. Part B contained a circuit with four light emitting diodes (LED's) and was a little tricky. Question 11 stayed true to form and contained a short passage to read, followed by a series of questions on the topic within the passage - this time mobile phone radiation and radio waves. Question 12 requires pupils to answer 2 out of 4 parts and contained questions on data logging and data analysis, nuclear reactions, sound resonance (the only sound question on the paper) and electric field. Most found two parts they could handle. So overall, a tricky paper which certainly challenged the pupils but most remain confident of a good grade. Attention now turns to Chemistry tomorrow which again should provide a significant challenge. 

Saturday, 19 June 2010

YouTube Saturday - Beyond Einstein

Whoops! Forgot this feature last week - sorry! But it's back - YouTube Saturday and this week's (fortnight's) slice of the YouTube cake is Beyond Einstein - a short documentary produced by NASA regarding the Beyond Einstein program exploring questions like what powered the big bang, what happens at the edge of a black hole and what is dark energy? Hardcore science for your weekend!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Burren 2010 - Photos

The members of Form V returned from the Burren last Saturday but it has taken me until today to sort through some of Mr. Jackson's amazing photos to post (it's been manic here of late as we approach the end of term). But, finally, here is a series of photos of our pupils and amazing fauna and (particularly) flora of the Burren!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Exam Reaction - Biology and Science

This morning, Form VI sat the Leaving Certificate Biology exam while Form III sat the Junior Certificate Science exam. By all accounts the papers were fair but with some tricky elements. 

The higher level biology paper stays pretty much true to form. There were few complaints about the general tone of the exam although some felt there were some questions which were more challenging than others. The short questions in Section A were a little tough with "what is a triglyceride? in question 1" catching one or two. Question 2 was challenging with a series of genetic problems while question three - on amoeba - was fair and straightforward. Question 4, 5 and 6 were all fine although some complained of the lack of space for comprehensive answers. The experiment questions in Section B were OK, especially question 7 while question 8 assessed numerous mandatory practicals. Question 9 was probably the most challenging questions which looked at the IAA investigation. The questions were very vague with little space left for the procedure - it wasn't made clear if pupils were to give details on the serial dilution either. In all, Section B was fair. Section C, the long questions, had a very decent mix of questions and the "old favourites" were not ignored. Question 10 was a very straightforward question on DNA and genetics while question 11 looked at the nervous and endocrine systems, again fairly straightforward. Question 12, ecology, probably appeared the most challenging question, but in reality wasn't too bad. But I will be interested to see how they mark part (c) - an odd series of true or false questions. Question 13 was a well constructed question on plant reproduction which many found favourable and the final two questions, 14 and 15, were fair and uncomplicated and contained a good mix of topics from across the syllabus. Question 14 assessed photosynthesis, enzymes and cell membranes while question 15  examined human reproduction, digestion and a nicely composed "biological explanation" question. In all a fair paper with little complication. It would have suited the "middle of the road" candidate but the pupil seeking an A1 may not be so confident this evening. On a personal note, it was nice to see some variation in the style of questions as the exam had become almost too predictable.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mr. Jones' Form V Biology Class

Above is a quick portrait of Mr. Jones' Form V Biology class. They have been entertaining him all year so here is a little present for ya! On the top row from left to right: Aljoscha, Uzi, Tam, Seth and Florian and the bottom: Toni and Milly! Even Tommy Boa, our pet snake, made the picture!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Alcock & Browne

Today in 1919, Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Browne successfully completed the first, non-stop, transatlantic, aeroplane flight. They flew from Newfoundland to Clifden in Galway in exactly 16 hr 12 min and won the prize offered by the London Daily Mail. Their aircraft was a Vickers Vimy (which was originally designed as a bomber to be used during WW I). Their flight was not without incident. Their radio broke down shortly after take off and fog and drizzle prevented the fliers from seeing anything for much of the journey. They aimed to land in a green field but instead it turned out to be a bog. The plane suffered some damage when it hit the ground and sank into the bog. Both Alcock and Brown came away unhurt. An amazing feat of engineering and personal endeavour!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Science Fact of the Week 56 - Helium

This is the last ever Science Fact of the Week! We will introduce a new feature at the start of the next academic year. To see all 56 SFOTW click here.

Helium (He) is an unreactive, colourless, and odourless gas. It is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. Helium has the lowest melting point of any element. It is the only liquid that cannot be solidified by lowering the temperature. It remains liquid down to absolute zero at ordinary pressures, but can be solidified by increasing the pressure.

Helium has many uses including cryogenic research because its boiling point is near absolute zero. It is also used in the study of superconductivity, as an inert gas shield for arc welding, as a protective gas in growing silicon and germanium crystals and producing titanium and zirconium, for pressuring liquid fuel rockets, for use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as a cooling medium for nuclear reactors, and as a gas for supersonic wind tunnels. A mixture of helium and oxygen is used as an artificial atmosphere for divers and others working under pressure. Helium is most widely used for filling balloons and blimps.

Most of the Earth's helium is extracted from natural gas although there is a small amount found in the atmosphere (0.00052%). Helium is produced continually by the radioactive decay of uranium and other elements, gradually working its way into the atmosphere.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Junior & Leaving Certificate 2010

The Frog Blog team would like to wish everyone beginning their Junior or Leaving Certificate exams today the best of luck and hope the next two weeks go well for everyone. A special shout out to all the pupils in St. Columba's who begin their exams today. We will be reporting on each of the science exams as they occur and will critique each of the papers. Don't forget to check out our podcasts to help you prepare for each of the science exams.

On a separate note, good luck to all our pupils in Form V who are setting off for their four day trip to the Burren. Many of the pupils will be carrying out a series of ecological studies around their base in north Clare including a rocky seashore, the sand dunes in Fanore, Blackhead and Mulloch Mor. They are joined by SCC teachers Peter Jackson, Jeremy Stone and Karen Hennessy.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Science Fact of the Week 55 - Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal, on the Russia - Mongolia border is the world's deepest lake and the second most voluminous lake (after Lake Caspian). It contains nearly one fifth of the Earth's unfrozen fresh water and is almost four hundred miles (636 km) long and almost fifty miles (80 km) wide. Baikal's record - a depth of approximately 1,700 metres. Lake Baikal is also the world's oldest lake - aged at close to 25 million years old and it has a surface area of 3.15 million hectares. Baikal's water is  unusually transparent, pure and saturated with oxygen. The lake is known for the amazing wildlife around its 2000 kilometres of shoreline. Few other lakes can equal the extent of biodiversity present in Lake Baikal. It hosts 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals. More than 80% of the animals are endemic.

The lake is in a rift valley, created by the Baikal Rift Zone, where the crust of the earth is pulling apart, so it is getting deeper and wider every year (but only by a few centimetres). The lake is completely surrounded by mountains. The Baikal Mountains on the north shore and the taiga are protected as a national park. It contains 27 islands; the largest, Olkhon, is 72 km (45 mi) long and is the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world. The lake is fed by as many as three hundred and thirty inflowing rivers. In millions of years time, as the rift becomes larger, Baikal could indeed become a new ocean!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

YouTube Saturday - Life on Titan

This week's YouTube video is again sourced from the BBC and takes a look at the research scientists are carrying out to investigate if life does, has or could possibly be supported on Titan, Saturn's largest moons.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Conservation Clues Sought for Tiny Frogs

Below is an article which appears in today's edition of the Irish Times. Being frog related, I simply had to include it! It is written by Steven Carroll.

A WICKLOW-based scientist has commenced a study of some of the smallest and most striking creatures from the rainforests of South and Central America. Ian Millichip, chairman of the Herpetological (reptile and amphibian) Society of Ireland, is currently housing a selection of rare tropical frogs in an attempt to better understand their breeding patterns and how the species might be conserved. Mr Millichip, who has a background in toxicology, is studying the husbandry of red-eyed tree frogs and poison dart frogs, which range from 1cm to 5cm in size.

“The red eyed tree frog is an iconic animal and in some respects it almost speaks for the rainforest,” he said.

“They live in trees and lay eggs on the leaves above water. They are nocturnal creatures and as the darkness appears the males will call for females with what sounds like a jack-in-the-box’s cackle.”

The tree frogs were caught in the wild in Costa Rica or Panama, he said, but did not fall under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The poison dart frog, despite its name, is not poisonous when in captivity, he said.

Super Mario - The BP Edition

The BP oil spill is big news at the moment and is potentially the worst environmental disaster in US history. But it has inspired some software manufacturers to develop a whole new range of games! Below is Super Mario - the BP Oil Spill Edition! I can't wait to get it!! 

Recommended Apps - Finger Physics

A few months ago we featured Touch Physics, a simple game testing your knowledge of the laws of physics, which you must use to solve a huge number of puzzles. Well now there is Finger Physics, another brilliant app for the iPhone and iPod Touch with a similar purpose. Finger Physics contains over 200 challenging levels in a variety of different games. In some levels you must construct a stable building using the different shapes supplied or build up to the line or guide an egg into a basket (shown over). Some of the levels are complicated by magnetic, explosive or floating blocks! It's very addictive and great for getting your brain working in the morning. A top rated app and a former number one in the UK and US iTunes charts!

To download Finger Physics for your iPhone or iPod Touch click here. For more information on Finger Physics visit their website here. To see all our recommended iPhone apps so far, click here.

The Royal Society

The Royal Society is a London based scientific academy containing some of the world's greatest scientific minds. The society was formed to fund and support Britain's most promising scientists and has been doing so since 1660, 350 years ago. Throughout its history, the Society has promoted excellence in science through its Fellowship and Foreign Membership, which has included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson, Robert Boyle and Stephen Hawking. In fact, Ireland's Robert Boyle was one of the founding members of the society (Robert Boyle was voted as "Ireland's Greatest Scientist" recently in a poll carried out by http://www.science.ie/). Robert Boyle's private papers (pictured above), revealing his wish list for scientific achievement from 1660, are currently on display in 'The Royal Society 350 Years of Science' exhibition which began in London yesterday. Some of the items he predicted include aeroplanes, organ transplants, sat navs and a means of "curing diseases at a distance".

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Fake Science - How to be a BP Scientist!

Ooooh!!! Current and controversial! Another gem from our friends over at Fake Science. Well, in all fairness, this one kind of wrote itself!

Famous Irish Scientists - Robert Mallet

Robert Mallet, Irish geophysicist, seismologist, engineer, and inventor, was born on this day 200 years ago (June 3rd 1810). Mallet was born in Dublin and was educated at Trinity College, entering at the age of 16 and graduating in science and mathematics in 1830 at the age of 20. In 1831 he took charge of his family business - a foundry - which he expanded into the dominant foundry in Ireland. His commissions included the construction of railway terminals, the Nore viaduct, the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, and several swivel bridges over the Shannon. He is also known to have perfected the production of cast iron for the development of more effective canons. His major innovation in bridge technology was buckled-plate flooring, a steel floor plate which is slightly arched to increase rigidity.

As well as his success as an inventor and engineer Mallet is also known as the "Father of Seismology" having built an early form of seismograph - a device to determine the strength of earthquakes. In fact he is credited with coining the word "seismology" and other related terms e.g. the isoseismal map, which he used in his research. He also coined the term epicentre. Mallet was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1854, and moved to London in 1861. He was awarded the Telford Medal by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1859, followed by the Wollaston medal of the Geological Society of London in 1877, the Society's highest award. Blind for the last seven years of his life, he died at Clapham, London, on 5 November 1881 and is buried at West Norwood Cemetery. A true great figure in Irish science history.

ESA's Mission to Nowhere

To boldly go where no man has gone before! Well, actually no. Six men, chosen from thousands of very highly qualified applicants, will tomorrow climb inside a "spaceship" in Moscow and embark on a mission to .... Moscow. Strangely, the trip will take 520 days. The six men are involved in a European Space Agency (ESA) mock round trip to Mars. The experiment, called Mars 500, is designed to explore how humans cope with the stress, confinement and severely limited company that will confront future astronauts on missions to the farthest reaches of the solar system. The ESA will simulate equipment failures and medical emergencies in order to keep the men, three Russians, two Europeans and one Chinese, on their toes throughout the "mission". The men will also simulate a mock Mars landing 250 days into the trip. I hope they will be safe? Good luck gentlemen, on your mission to nowhere.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

ISS Crew Land Safely in Kazakhstan

The crew of the International Space Station, Oleg Kotov, T.J. Creamer and (Twitter Star) Soichi Noguchi safely landed their Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft in the highlands of Kazakhstan yesterday, wrapping up their stay aboard the ISS. Kotov was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked from the station's Zvezda module on Monday. The station is now occupied by Expedition 24 Commander Alexander Skvortsov and Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko. A new trio of Expedition 24 flight engineers – NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Doug Wheelock and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikin – will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 16 aboard the Soyuz TMA-19.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

T-Research - Summer 2010

The summer edition of T-Research, a brilliant magazine produced by Teagasc to highlight the research work they, and their supporting bodies, carry out in the area of food and agriculture, is now available on line. Click here to download and see all previous editions. Incidentally, Teagasc and UCC have annouced they have lauched a new partnership agreement aimed at securing and expanding strategic R&D in the area of food and agriculture. Click here to find out more.

Solarfest 2010

Solarfest 2010 takes place at the Dunsink Observatory in Dublin, on Saturday 12th June. The Irish Federation of Astronomical Science (IFAS), along with the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), have organised the one-day event to discuss solar astronomy.  Admission is free, and the event will include speakers from Trinity College Dublin, leading members of Ireland’s amateur astronomy community and an international speaker. Weather permitting, there will also be solar observing sessions. A tour of the facility will also take place to see the dome and the 12" Grubb refractor. Spaces are limited to 60 seats so if you are interested in attending this event, contact Michael O'Connell by emailing here.