Mysteries of physics: vacuum zero-point energy


Physics of an Empty Box   Imagine we took a box, removed all matter from it, cooled it to the lowest temperature possible to remove all heat and sealed it perfectly. It appears that we imagined a boring empty box with absolutely nothing in it, but this is not true. Quantum mechanics predicts that in […]

Farmers, wildlife, freak-outs and facts


Wildlife conservation in Ireland has had a number of success stories to celebrate in recent years. Birds of prey such as the white-tailed sea eagle are breeding down in Killarney National Park after being reintroduced. This past week it was reported that another reintroduced bird of prey, the red kite, has successfully bred in Fingal […]

Surgical pioneer set for the first human head transplant

Credit: stranger

Three years ago, Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero announced that he could perform a human head transplant in a two-part procedure called HEAVEN (head anastomosis venture) and Gemini (the fusion of the spinal cord). Many have dismissed Canavero’s plans, with one bioethicist going so far as to label him a “Looney Tune,” but there are still […]

Citizen science: The dawn of amateur scientific discovery


Most of us are introduced to science at school as a rigid set of principles, equations and facts – laws that describe the world. Most of us don’t experience the process by which we construct these laws when studying science. As the astronomer Carl Sagan said, “Science is more than a body of knowledge. It […]

The giant panda’s disappearance from the endangered species list


The giant panda has become something of a success story after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded its threat level from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’. This is largely due to the monumental efforts made by the Chinese government to preserve this icon of Chinese wildlife.   Intensive captive breeding programmes and efforts to […]

Laughter in the Lab: the indisputable importance of humour in scientific discourse


  If you tickle us, do we not laugh? Science is a serious business. It requires serious people to write serious grant applications, to convince serious funding agencies to support serious research projects. Furthermore, the results of these projects are published in serious peer-reviewed journals, which are read by other serious people, who plan and […]

Saving our biosphere – why we need conservation

Illustration by Sarah Larragy

     The Giant Panda was removed from the IUCN’s endangered list at the beginning of this month and is now listed as vulnerable. But what’s the point? Does it matter if the Giant Panda goes extinct? Or the Siberian Tiger or the Eastern Gorilla (now critically endangered) or the Polar Bear or any other […]

The Great Auk: from Extinct to Extant?

Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

  Cabinet 20 in the Trinity College Zoological Museum is not crammed with specimens, instead it contains only one, the Great Auk. This specimen, collected off Waterford in 1834, represents the last recorded sighting of this species in Ireland. It wasn’t long after this that the species became extinct when the last known individuals were […]

Humanities and health

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“Health is wealth”, as the old adage goes and indeed our health dictates many aspects of our day-to-day life. We rely on our health for all aspects of our life – we need it to work, play and to function at any level. It is therefore unsurprising that many of us find it difficult to […]

HFEA granted permission to genetically modify human embryos in the UK

Turlough discusses the possible research outcomes carried out by the pioneering developmental biologist Dr. Kathy Niakan.


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