The Science Squad
The Science Squad takes an entertaining look at some of the exciting and important scientific research that is currently underway in Ireland. From social networking to rugby tackle analysis and from health care monitoring to air travel, our presenters Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea travel the country to meet the Irish scientists who are working at the forefront of research and innovation. The series will bring viewers up to date with the latest developments in Irish scientific research across a wide range of sectors and make the vital connection between the extraordinary work currently underway and the people it directly affects.
To coincide with the conference RTÉ has launched Open Mind, an editorial initiative which will highlight new discoveries and enterprising research in the areas of innovation, science and technology.
Programme 1 of 6
From the heavy hitters on the international rugby pitch, to the fragile brains of newborn babies, we investigate innovative sensing technology which is being developed by Irish scientists and meet the people with severe physical disabilities who are using sensors to create and play music with their eyes.
CLARITY in UCD specialise in the development and application of intelligent sensors in the fields of energy, health and the environment. They are working with IRFU physiotherapist Brian Green to develop systems which can automatically detect collisions in elite level Rugby Union. The data could help to advise coaching staff as to when a player has received too many heavy tackles and should be substituted from a game.
Geraldine Boylan in UCC has developed a pioneering neo-natal brain seizure detection system that can detect and potentially allow doctors to treat damage to baby's brains at an earlier stage than has ever been possible before.
We look at technology being developed by UCD's SMARTLab Research Facility which enables disabled people who have lost or have limited use of speech and/or their limbs to speak and perform tasks such as playing music or operating computers by using their eyes instead.
Programme 2 of 6
Sometimes big breakthroughs come in small packages! We meet the researchers who are taking big steps on the nano scale, developing revolutionary new methods for the production of lighter and cheaper plastics, manipulating food structures to reduce fat content while increasing flavour, and looking at how our genes have evolved over millions of years in an attempt to better understand genetic diseases.
Ireland is currently 8th in the world for Materials Science research. Jonathan Coleman in TCD is developing innovative methods for the production of new materials that could be used to strengthen everyday plastics. His work has the genuine potential to offer huge benefits to the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries, cutting CO2 emissions and ultimately reducing the overall cost to consumers throughout the world.
The microscopic structure of food significantly affects its processing characteristics, flavour properties and texture. We investigate Teagasc research that could provide keys to understanding and controlling food behaviour, which could solve the 'reduced fat but with better taste' challenge facing modern society.
We look at the evolution of genes and investigate how we can use this understanding to potentially help treat health problems associated with certain genetic diseases, offering those affected the possibility of living longer and much healthier lives.
Programme 3 of 6
The world has gone into information-overload in the last decade, and while this massive increase and sharing of information offers genuine benefits to society, it also poses tough new challenges. We look at how maths, computing and biology are coming together to offer potential solutions in the fight against disease, investigate innovative breeding technologies which could revolutionise the Irish Dairy Industry, and speak to the Irish researchers who are working on ways to cope with our increasing reliance on internet and mobile communication!
Systems Biology Ireland uses dynamic systems analysis and mathematical modelling to help in the fight against diseases such as childhood cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. They are working closely with researchers such as Cormac Taylor and Des Higgins.
CTVR is one of Ireland's largest Telecommunications Research Centres. Their research is at the forefront of the hugely significant networking and technological challenges that are currently facing Ireland the rest of the world. We look at our increasing reliance on the internet and mobile communication, and new requirements for the regulation of the spectrum which link back to the SOS signals that were sent from the Titanic before it sank 100 years ago!
Genomic Selection is a new technology that helps the dairy industry evaluate calves on the basis of their DNA profile, allowing breeders to predict, among other things, which animals are going to give higher milk yields in a much shorter time period than previous methods. After the United States, Ireland is only the second country in the world to introduce it. We look at methods that have been developed by Irish scientists from Teagasc that use a lower cost technology with minimal compromise in accuracy, and speak to the researcher who is aiming to make Ireland the first in the world to use genomic selection for beef cows.
Programme 4 of 6
2012 is a great year for science in Ireland. Dublin plays proud host to the prestigious Euro Science Open Forum 2012 and we highlight some of the fascinating science-themed events that will be taking place as part of Dublin's City of Science this summer. We also speak to researchers who are using social networking techniques for novel global media applications, and meet the environmental scientists who are investigating how our current behaviour is detrimentally affecting our health.
The Clique Centre in UCD is using the thinking behind social networking sites such as Facebook to explain the extraordinarily complex Data Analysis systems which they have developed. Their work has applications in global media where they are working with Irish start up companies such as Mark Little's Storyful.
Martin Cormican from NUI Galway is conducting research into the increasing amount of antibiotic resistant bacteria being discovered in our waterways. We discusses the potential impacts of this on the environment and on human health, where bacteria such MRSA no longer respond to antibiotics, and suggest ways that we might be able to combat this trend through a combination of improved wastewater management, a reduction in the over prescription of antibiotics, and a more careful and considered disposal of them.
This year Ireland is where it's at for science, with Dublin named as the European City of Science 2012. We highlight some of the major events that will be taking place during the Euroscience Open Forum from 11-15 July, 2012, and speak to some of the leading Irish scientists who will be involved in the events.
Programme 5 of 6
This week the squad investigates Irish developments for growing blight-resistant crops, looks at technologies for monitoring our hugely important marine resources, and asks how controlled changes in the environment of plants could offer new insights into the consequences of climate change.
Programme 6 of 6
Our understanding of science and technology advances every single day, from the latest Smartphone, to cutting edge medical technologies, to furthering our understanding of how the universe was created. We meet the Irish researchers who are working at the forefront of innovative healthcare devices and imaging, and speak to the former Young Scientist who is now working on the greatest experiment the world has ever known!