o The Frog Blog: October 2012

Saturday, 27 October 2012

YouTube Saturday - Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell

This amazing documentary, recently broadcast on BBC, explores the inner world of the human cellular structure via the narrative of a viral infection from within the world of a single cell. Update: Embedding of the video is no longer supported - click here to view on YouTube.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Top Tweets of the Week

The week on Twitter was dominated, for me at least, with the Science 140 project and the launch of A Neutron Walks Into A Bar. So most of my Top Tweets of the Week feature some #Neutron inspired tweets as well as other nuggets of science brilliance.

A Neutron Walks Into A Bar ... Launch Night Photos

On Tuesday last the Science 140 book - A Neutron Walks Into A Bar - was officially launched in Dublin's Science Gallery by Dr. Aoife McLysaght. Many thanks to all who attended - we had a great night and were delighted with the reaction the book received.

All photos below are by Lensmen

Team Science 140 - Me, Aoibhinn, Maria & Paul at the launch

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pumped - A Great New Competition for Schools

Pumped is an exciting new competition for second level pupils (under the age of 16) which challenges them to think about teenage health issues and use their imagination to create a short 90 second video. There are some great prizes on offer including iPads, iPods and iPod Nanos. The winning school will also received €5000 for their science department. Organised in association with Bayer and the Irish Heart Foundation, Pumped will award the prizes to the best short videos which explain an aspect of the following four themes: Kids Need Good Grub, Fit For Fun, Smoking Stinks & Fats and Sugars - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Judges will be looking for "entertaining and persuasive videos on one of the four topics. They want to see that students have researched the topic and understand the science behind it and the reasons why students took the approaches they did. They also want to see creativity and clear messaging on your chosen subject." Click here to see all the "Frequently Asked Questions" on Pumped or download a poster for your school here. Only one entry from each school is allowed however and all work must be original. The Pumped website also contains loads of resources for anyone thinking of getting involved.

Visit Pumped.ie now to find out more.

YouTube Saturday - Felix Baumgartner's Free Fall

It's been all about Baumgartner this week so this week's featured video had to be about the record holding free-faller.
After flying to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Felix Baumgartner completed a record breaking jump for the ages from the edge of space, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane. Felix reached a maximum of speed of 1,342.8 km/h (833mph) through the near vacuum of the stratosphere before being slowed by the atmosphere later during his 4:20 minute long freefall. The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the one for the longest freefall to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.
Watch his amazing feat in 90 seconds. Awesome!  

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Neutron Walks Into a Bar ... - OUT NOW!

If you have been following the Science 140 project, of which I am one of the co-ordinators, you'll have no doubt heard about all the wonderful science tweets we received over April, May & June of this year. Over the summer, the Science 140 team were busy collating all the best tweets for our book - A Neutron Walks Into A Bar - which goes on sale today. You'll find it in bookshops across Ireland (and in selected stores in the UK) and online (see the links below) and we sincerely hope you enjoy it. Please let us know what you think of the book via Twitter using the hashtag #neutron and remember - all royalties go directly to cystic fibrosis research. For more information about this partnership, click here

A Neutron Walks Into A Bar (RRP €14.99) is also available through:

T-Research: Autumn 2012 & Reader Survey

The latest issue of Teagasc's excellent research and innovation magazine T-Research is out now and is available both in print or online. This quarter's issues features articles on how we might feed an ever growing human population, picking the right food solutions for weight management, supporting rural enterprise developments and wood energy potential of farm. It's another excellent issue, with articles of interest for anyone with an interesting in food or farming. It is particularly useful for students and teachers of agricultural science in second or third level. Click here to see this season's issue and all previous back issues.

Teagasc are keen to hear from their readers on how T-Research can be improved. With that in mind, they are undertaking a short online survey (only five minutes) in an effort to hear suggestions and make improvements to their mag. You'll find the survey here and your input can help mould the future of the magazine.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

YouTube Saturday - Science Friction: Stem Cell Research

This week's featured YouTube video is from the excellent RTÉ documentary series, 'Science Friction'.  Presented by Liz Bonnin, the show embarks on a journey to meet the different people, both within and outside the science community, whose lives are touched by the controversy surrounding the embryo. It's an excellent way to create debate amongst pupils on the future of stem cell research.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

New Irish Science Magazine - Walton

Ernest Walton is one of Ireland's greatest scientists and our only scientific Nobel Prize recipient. He received the award in 1951 for his ground-breaking work in artificially splitting the atom in the early 1930's - the first man to do so. It's fitting then, that Ireland's newest magazine publication - a dedicated science and technology mag - bears his name. 

'Walton' is an impressive new science and technology magazine created by a group of young Irish scientists from a variety of backgrounds; engineering, chemistry, biology and maths. It's first edition has just been released and contains some excellent articles exploring the latest in Irish and international science news. There is an exposé on the humble spud from Communicate Science's Eoin Lettice, a review of the sometimes exorbitant costs associated with scientific endeavours, an analysis of the effectiveness of Project Maths while Maria Delaney from ScienceCalling.com outlines how the Science 140 project created 'A Neutron Walks Into a Bar...' book. There are also articles on the coldest place in the universe, why the sky is blue and the history of piracy. 

It's a great read and something which I can see evolving in the future (as so often these things tend to do). I must commend the young scientists on their ambition and great work in bringing their idea to fruition. Walton is released seasonally with the first edition available to view online for free. I'm already looking forward to the next edition.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

YouTube Saturday - Why is it Dark at Night?

This week's YouTube Saturday video is recommended by St. Columba's College TY pupil Bethany Shiell. It's another excellent video from Minute Physics and answers the age old question of "why is it dark at night". The answer isn't as clear cut as you think.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Top Tweets of the Week

It was another bumper week on Twitter - here are my top tweets of the week.

Stem Cells Used to Create Baby Mice

Scientists in Japan have successfully transformed mouse stem cells into viable eggs, which were later fertilised  in-vitro to create healthy baby mice. The research was led by Mitinori Saitou from Kyoto University and may provide hope for infertile human females in the future. The team of researchers harvested stem cells from adult mice and, with some genetic giggery-pokery, altered a number of genes to create cells very similar to the primordial germ cells that generate sperm in males and eggs in females. Last year, the researchers reported successful production of sperm cells using this method and now eggs too. The new eggs cells produced were mixed with other body cells and transplanted into living mice, where the cells matured into fully-grown eggs. The eggs were extracted, fertilised them in vitro and implanted them into surrogate mother mice. The fertilised eggs successfully formed baby mice, which themselves were able to reproduce.

While the work is a massive advancement, Saitou warns that much is still needed to be done before the technology can be used on humans. There was only a 4% success rate in the new eggs becoming baby mice so the technology is not perfect. However, it is likely that the research will help scientists understand the process of fertility in more detail and Saitou and his team will continue their work on monkey and human cells in the coming years to find out if the technology is transferable.

The research was published in the latest issue of the Journal Science. Click here for more information or here to learn more about stem cells from the Irish Stem Cell Foundation.