Forensic Fun and Investigation in Athlone!

International Terrorism expert, Prof Andrew Silke and Brian Gibson of Forensic Science Ireland, Jackie Gorman and Pauline Nally of Midlands Science and Craig Slattery, UCD and Midlands Science at the Science Week event, which explored forensic science, poisoning by spies and the psychology of terrorism. The event took place in Athlone Little Theatre and featured  a crime scene with clues for audience members to use to solve the crime.

HEATWAVES, HURRICANES AND HAIL!

Learn All About the Weather this November in Laois with Midlands Science

The countdown to this year’s Midlands Science Festival is certainly on now and the week-long event will be taking place across the region for people of all ages from November 11th – 18th. Attendees should expect to find a range of speaking events, workshops and performances about cutting-edge science from world-leading speakers and academics and there will be lots of fun for people of all ages throughout the festival week.
Midlands Science Festival Director Jackie Gorman commented on one exciting, free event which will be coming to Laois this year,
‘How accurate is weather prediction? Is long-range forecasting reliable? Given the real extremes of weather that the country saw earlier this year, we are particularly looking forward to this year’s ‘science of weather’ talk with well-known weather forecaster, Gerald Fleming. This will take place on the evening of November 13th in Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise and we look forward to welcoming people of all ages to explore ‘The Science of a Grand Soft day.’

Gerald Fleming said,
‘I am delighted to be partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival and I look forward to coming to Laois to discuss something which is so universal to us all. My talk will explore a background to the science of climate change and will detail the work done in recent decades both to refine the science and to provide adequate, understandable summaries of the key issues to help society decide on appropriate policies and actions. We will examine key questions as to whether we can enjoy a sustainable lifestyle while protecting our atmosphere. Events like ‘Science Week’ are a wonderful opportunity to take a closer look at so many different issues that affect us in day to day life and the weather is certainly one which has begun to spark more and more interest, particularly when we reflect on the year which has just passed. I look forward to debate and discussion on the night and hopefully plenty of questions and curiosity about the science of weather.’

Jackie Gorman continued,
‘We are delighted to bringing a whole range of science events to Laois and this particular talk which is open to the public, is one which promises to be both informative and entertaining. Known for his engaging style of presenting, trademark wink and sign-off, Gerald recently retired from Met Eireann, where he had served as head of forecasting for many years. He has been involved in weather forecasting and public engagement with forecasts for many serious weather events in Ireland over the years. Weather is a pretty safe topic of conversation especially here in Ireland. It’s too hot or it’s too cold, it can affect whether schools or transport networks run and it can influence the decision of wedding dates and potential holiday-makers year on year. The science behind the natural forces that cause the weather is extremely interesting and this event will explore views on how we can engage with the challenges presented by climate change and extreme weather events, so do come along and hear all about it on the night.’
This evening will also include students from Timahoe National School presenting findings from their school weather station – ensuring that the next generation of weather forecasters are thriving in Laois! The team from Midlands Science want to ensure that that in rolling out 120 events across Science Week that there is something for everyone and there is no doubt that the weather is of interest to each and every one of us. Check out www.midlandsscience.ie for more details on how you can book this and other events for Science Week 2018 in Laois and beyond.

Festivals attract people with curiosity…

We are pleased to announce a very different event for this year called Intimacy, The Science Of Relationships.’ Join author and neuroscientist Giovanni Frazzetto for a unique discussion exploring the science of relationships, everything from family, work to love and our engagement with technology. Giovanni is an engaging speaker who has published books on relationships and emotions. He was awarded the John Kendrew Young Scientist Award for his cross-disciplinary and science communication efforts. We had a chat to Giovanni in advance of Science Week to find out more..

Giovanni, you are currently a research fellow at Trinity College Dublin,
what brings you to Ireland and what exactly are you researching during your time here?
I am interested in understanding what intimacy is today, and how art, science, design and technology can together help us understand it.
 
What first inspired you towards a science-related career?
At about 16 I read an article about molecular biology in a scientific magazine. I was fascinated and wanted to learn everything about genes, proteins and invisible reactions. Later on, I became more interested in psychology and neuroscience. However, since I was a student I have always tried to filter what I learnt in science through the lens of art and the humanities, and vice-versa.
 
In your research, you talk about the importance of human interaction for our well-being and yet loneliness is an epidemic? Why is this the case?
I suppose there may be a kind of disenchantment with relationships nowadays. While technology has given us the opportunity to connect widely, it may also make us spend a lot of time on our own.
 
How can we use science to improve interpersonal connections?
In general, an effective scientific method to improve personal connections is observation.
In habit and routine, we may keep making mistakes in interpersonal relationships. But if we begin to pay more attention to our own and other people’s needs, we will be able to improve the knowledge of who we are and what makes us most comfortable alone or with others. We will begin to rectify inconvenient patterns, and reinforce behaviour that is more helpful to us.
 
In your book, you look through the lenses of emotion, psychology, philosophy, art and personal experience… What can we do to ensure science meets art and culture more often in order to engage more people?
Complex phenomena like love, intimacy and relationships can hardly be understood satisfactorily from a single perspective. Indeed, most questions, be they personal life questions, societal issues or global challenges, earn a multi-disciplinary approach for an elucidation. I would concentrate on reinforcing a trans-disciplinary approach in schools and universities, as early as possible in the education of students. We need to reward and encourage transdisciplinary learning so that it becomes standard.
 
Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so important do you think?
Events like the Midlands Science Festival are important because they represent a regular appointment with a curated series of lectures, conversations etc. where scientists, educators, students, and other interested people can gather and always learn something from one another, effortlessly. Festivals attract people with curiosity. Visitors stock up with ideas and bring home a lasting inspiring energy.

The importance of Heart Health – World Heart Day

Today on World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation’s biggest platform for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease, we look back on a special Science Week event that we held last year all about the importance of your heart health.

At our well attended public event, we learned about the role of the heart in our bodies, the care it requires, the risk factors and what can happen if we neglect it. Cardiovascular or heart disease is a broad term for a range of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels and accounts for 33 percent of all deaths in Ireland. Women account for half of the 16.5 million cardiovascular deaths that occur globally each year.

Internationally, the World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020, heart disease and stroke will become the leading cause of both death and disability worldwide, with the number of fatalities projected to increase to over 20 million a year. By 2030, this number is expected to jump again to 24 million fatalities per year.
Taking that first step toward a healthier lifestyle can be a challenge but decreasing the risks of heart disease is critical now more than ever as the pressures of modern day living. Check the website below to find out how you can take small actions to look after your heart now!

http://www.world-heart-federation.org/what-we-do/world-heart-day/about-world-heart-day/

Psychology, sweet treats and Science for Breakfast!

Chco event 1 chco event 2Today we hosted a Science Week business breakfast in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone where members of the business community and the public had the opportunity to hear from two corporate speakers, Mr. Traoloch Collins, Managing Director of Athlone based multinational, Ericsson and Westmeath native, Mr. Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner of PwC Ireland. They talked about the importance of STEM skills for the future of Irish society and the economy.

Then it was over to Kilbeggan to sample some delicious handmade chocolate and learn all about the science of one of our favourite treats with toxicologist and Offaly native, Dr Craig Slattery! We had more career talks, more Reptile Zoo school visits, marine life workshops and we were delighted to welcome back Famelab to Mountmellick library where students learned about science communication and were informed and entertained by a number of science experts in a fun and engaging way.

We are also delighted to host a free public event in Athlone Little Theatre tonight  – The Mind, The Body, The Universe. At this event we will hear from experts from the world of medicine, psychology and astronomy.

We had sincerely hoped to brave the weather tomorrow for an ecology walk and an evening of stargazing to finish off a wonderful festival but the forecast is just too bad so both events have to be postponed but please be patient with us and we will rearrange for them to take place as soon as possible!

Public Events, Career talks and Science for Breakfast!

F O' RourkeDon’t miss an opportunity to hear from some of our expert speakers during Midlands Science Festival

2015 marks 20 years of Science Week; a national, annual event that celebrates the fascinating worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Science Week 2.0 invites people of all ages to experience science firsthand. As part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival which is heading into its third year and features some 90 events across the four counties of Westmeath, Offaly, Laois and Longford, we will be delivering school career talks from a number of expert speakers from academic institutes such as NUI, Maynooth and Trinity College Dublin.

We are also delighted to announce another exciting and free public event due to take place in the Athlone Little Theatre on the evening of Friday 13th  – The Mind, The Body, The Universe. On the night, we will hear from experts from the world of medicine, psychology and astronomy for some fascinating discussion and an opportunity for questions afterwards.

This year and for the first time, we will also host a business breakfast in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone on the morning of Friday, November 13th where members of the business community and indeed the public will have the opportunity to hear from two local corporate speakers, Mr. Traloch Collins, MD of Athlone based multinational, Ericsson and Westmeath native, Mr. Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner of PwC Ireland. On the morning, they will talk about the importance of STEM skills for the future of Irish society and the economy.

This event is free of charge but remember, booking is essential and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photo: Mr. Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner of PwC Ireland.