We Love Chocolate…..

chco event 2….So you can imagine how pleased we were when we recently heard that it can actually be good for you! Check out some of the best reasons we can find not to feel guilty about eating one of our favourite foods!

  • The amount of caffeine in chocolate is quite low compared to coffee and other things we sometimes claim boost one’s energy.
  • Chocolate is a natural painkiller.
  • Dark chocolate aids the “good” bacteria in your body.
  • Eating chocolate can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Chocolate’s scent increases the amount of relaxation-inducing brainwaves.
  • Regularly eating dark chocolate reduces ones risk of heart disease.
  • Eating dark chocolate can help protect your skin from being damaged by the sun.
  • The anti-oxidants in chocolate will keep you looking young

…And one of our favourite Irish scientists/friend to the Midlands Science Festival, Professor Luke O’ Neill, recently informed us that its just a myth that chocolate causes acne, so better again! Everything in moderation of course, but for now after a hard day’s work ….we are happy to tuck in!

‘Not True!’

popeye1We love listening to Professor Luke O Neill on the ‘Pat Kenny Show’ talking all things science every week, but he gave a particularly enjoyable interview recently on ‘Science Myths’ ..Here are some of the fascinating things that Luke had to say…..

Does the cold weather or being in wet clothes cause colds and flus?
No, common colds and flus are caused by viruses and not by the chill of winter time. We tend to get more colds in the winter because we are inside more so we are more likely to pick up infection from other people. So if you are sitting around in wet clothing, you are not necessarily going to catch a cold, unless of course you happen to be sitting beside someone else who has one ….and then there is a chance you will!

Should we feed a cold and starve a fever as the old saying tells us?
No, there is no evidence to support this. How it came about was due to the belief that if we take more fuel on board when we have a cold it will benefit us and give us heat and that if we have a fever we should lower that fuel. But no, there is no truth in this.

Does too much sugar make children hyperactive?
No, this isn’t the case at all! Of course sugar is believed to give you energy but it’s not the sugar boost that causes children to be hyper.. it is the running around and mixing with other children at a party of whatever other exciting place they happen to be that causes it.

Should I avoid food before I swim?
There is no reason to do this. Dive in! It is true that you get some blood flow away from the stomach to digest food after you eat and some people have a theory that this would take blood flow from muscle therefore causing cramp, but there is no evidence to support this, so swim away!

Is it true that we only use 10% of our brain?
No, that’s not true at all! We have an enormous brain capacity and every piece of it gets used in any given day.

There is so much in the media about what foods we should be eating and spinach seems to be one of the best things we can eat in order to increase our iron intake, is this true?
No, unfortunately not. A scientist made a mistake on this one back in the 1920’s and placed a decimal point in the wrong place so spinach actually has way less iron than we have been led to believe. In fact, did you know that raw spinach actually contains oxalic acid, an organic substance that can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and iron? So the idea that Popeye would become stronger if he eats it is most definitely a myth!

So, there you have it ..some of the top science myths floating around out there that simply aren’t true!

Top Irish Scientist Confirmed for Midlands Science Festival

Luke-ONeillWe are thrilled to announce Leading Immunologist, Professor Luke O’ Neill of Trinity College Dublin as one of our keynote speakers at this year’s festival. Luke is known for his pioneering work on the molecular understanding of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and he addressed an impressed audience for ‘An Evening of Drug Discovery’ at the festival in 2013. We are privileged to have Luke back in the Midlands again for Science Week. The full festival line-up will be announced very soon!

Luke was recently named amongst 11 researchers based in Irish universities who were ranked among the world’s top 3,000 by the multinational media body, Thompson Reuters. Inclusion means the person’s research is listed in the top 1% for the number of times their work has been cited by other scientists. I recently had a chat with Luke to hear some of his views on the image of science and various other factors in advance of this year’s event….

What first inspired you towards a career in science?
An interest in biology at school led me to study biochemistry at university. Once I started doing research and discovering new things I was then hooked as it was tremendously satisfying. I also felt I could make a difference by working in science and medical research.

What are the key factors that are going to be important to guarantee the future of Irish science in your opinion?
Continued government investment in research and in education is essential.

What do we need to do to make the image of science more appealing?
More science in the media – emphasising fun and excitement and how science can provide you with huge fulfilment.

What advice would you give to young people considering a career in science?
Come and join the adventure!

What do you enjoy the most about teaching the next generation of scientists?
There is a real satisfaction in explaining complex phenomena in ways that students can understand such that they themselves can get engaged in science.

Are there particular areas where we are particularly short of skilled graduates?
Probably in IT.

Why is ‘Science Week’ such an important annual event in Ireland?
The more science events we have the better, as it gets the message across that science is great!