o The Frog Blog: December 2011

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Google Give Science Gallery Early Christmas Present

Dublin's Science Gallery is planning to create eight "Science Gallery Hubs" around the world within the next eight years, working in partnership with leading universities in key cities such as London and Moscow. The hope that in each city, the Science Gallery Hubs will tap into a vibrant local creative community of researchers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs to engage and inspire the next generation of innovators. It's an ambitious plan but Science Gallery has already proven their innovative exhibitions are exportable and translate well across the globe. Last August they brought their hugely popular BIORHYTHMS exhibition to the World Science Festival in New York and I believe there are other cities pencilled in for 2012. The Science Gallery Global Network will be officially launched in July 2012, during the European Science Open Forum.

To help them achieve their goal, Google have given Science Gallery an early Christmas present - €1 million! Michael John Gorman, Founding Director of Science Gallery, describes how the very generous gift will allow them "share Science Gallery's unique approach to inspiring young adults at the interface between science and art".

It's an exciting time for the unique exhibition space. Since opening Science Gallery has welcomed over 800,000 visitors to their 18 exhibitions and they recently launched an exciting programme of exhibitions for 2012 - when Dublin will be crowned European City of Science. Science Gallery will be firmly planted at the core of the year long series of events planned.

I would like to congratulate all the staff of Science Gallery on all they do and wish them a very merry (and geeky) Christmas!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

YouTube Saturday - David Attenborough's Wonderful World

After delighting us with Frozen Planet, David Attenborough provided yet another nugget of genius for us to enjoy - a cover of Wonderful World. And what a wonderful world it is and thank you for revealing that wonder in all your do!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Observes Exoplanet in Habitable Zone

Earlier today NASA reported that, since it's launch in 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered over two thousand planetary objects outside our own solar system. Just over two hundred of these are thought to be similar in size to Earth, nearly seven hundred were super-Earth-size, over a thousand are Neptune-size, two hundred are Jupiter-size and fifty five are larger than Jupiter. Forty eight of the planets discovered were in the "habitable zone" - a distance from their orbiting star which would allow liquid water to exist and, therefore, could potential harbour life.

The smallest planet found in the habitable zone to date was also announced earlier today - Kepler 22b. This "Goldilocks" planet (not too hot, hot too cold but just right) is 2.4 times the size of Earth and orbits a star similar to the Earth's sun. Kepler 22b is believed to have a surface temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius, which would allow liquid water exist on its surface. NASA do not know what the planet is made of - it could well be a ball of gas like Jupiter - but the find is very significant indeed. Kepler 22b is over 600 light years away - or 3,600 trillion miles - and travelling there would be impossible (with our current understanding of the laws of physics anyway).

Kepler finds planets by observing the light from stars and looking for small changes or fluctuations. The changes are caused by planets passing in front of the star they are orbiting. The Kepler scientists can then ascertain the speed of the orbit and the distance from its sun from data collected by the spacecraft. Kepler 22b is so called because it was discovered from the 22nd star observed by Kepler with the "b" indicating it was the first planet found orbiting that star (they don't ever use "a" for some reason). Some news reports are calling Kepler 22b "Earth's twin", which is complete nonsense - we have no idea what the planet is made of or if water even exists there.

Suggest Pupil Activity: Find out more about Johannes Kepler - the scientist who lends his name to the Kepler spacecraft.

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltec

Saturday, 3 December 2011

YouTube Saturday - Science Gallery 2012 Programme Launch

Last week Dublin's Science Gallery launched an excited programme of exhibitions and events for their 2012 programme, placing the unique gallery at the fulcrum of the Dublin Science 2012 festival of science. Next year will begin with the final weeks of their current exhibition SURFACE TENSION before EDIBLE (an exhibition you can eat apparently) kicks off in early February. From April to June, HAPPY will explore why Irish people are so damn happy all the time, even on the verge of economic disaster! Over the summer months, HACK THE CITY will bring the exhibition out of the gallery and ask the public how can we make the city work for them. HACK THE CITY will coincide with the European Science Open Forum and is sure to be a highlight of the Dublin Science 2012 programme. As the schools return from their summer break Science Gallery will launch NANOLAB, delving in to the smallest of scales and exploring how thinking small may ultimately allow science to think big! Finally in 2012, Science Gallery will celebrate Ireland's emergence as a global hub in gaming and animation with GAME - an exploration on what makes a game work and look to the future of gaming with further advancements in social media, technology and virtual worlds. Click here to download the full 2012 programme.

Science Gallery is funded through the generosity of companies and individuals who share their passion for for revealing science through cross-disciplinary dialogue. Entry to all their exhibitions is free but donations are always welcome. The work done by Science Gallery in encouraging young people from all backgrounds to engage with science and technology is difficult to quantify but, as a science teacher, I am thankful for their efforts in blurring the lines between science, technology, the arts and society and revealing science in a relevant, original and wondrous way.  

If you would like to help Science Gallery achieve their goals in 2012 why not consider giving a small donation - just €20.12  - which will go towards developing our 2012 line-up. With your support, the will ensure that Science Gallery’s unique mix of art and science is at the heart of 2012. Click here for more information and to contribute to the €20.12 campaign.

Speaking at the launch of the 2012 programme were economist David McWilliams, Professor Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College Dublin; Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; David Martin, Director, Geo Operations, Google and Michael John Gorman, Fouding Director of Science Gallery. The short film below summarises the events of the launch. (Look out for some frog action at around 2:06!)