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Friday, October 5th 2012

On today's Mooney Goes Wild, with Olan McGowan,

We celebrate the launch of a new magazine and a new radio show, both aimed at bringing science to students of all ages. New research generates a fascinating theory into the evolution of the menopause in mammals. And we hear how the music of Barry White and Marvin Gaye is helping flamingos to breed!

Golf-Ball Stealing Fox!

During the week, we received the following e-mail from one of our listeners, Darren, in Laois:

Dear wildlife team,

Please could you help me with a problem I have? It started a few weeks ago - I play golf and I practice in my back garden. One morning I saw that about 20 golf balls had gone missing from the garden. I was upset and tried to find out who took them - I asked my kids - they said no, and then I began to think someone had stole them from me.

A week later, I left about seven on the lawn, and the next morning they were gone too. Last Friday, I left out some more, and they were there on Saturday morning and Sunday morning - but on Monday morning they were gone. I left one on Monday night too, and that was gone on Tuesday morning.

As you can think, this was starting to drive me mad. So I got a camera with night vision, and set the trap on Wednesday night. I put out ten balls, and on Thursday morning, they were still there, so I thought they had seen the camera and that was that.

But this morning I woke to find all balls gone, and said to myself: "I have you now!". I checked the camera only to discover that at 2am this morning, a large fox had been taking them one by one - that's over forty golf balls he has belonging to me!

All I want to know is: will I ever get them back, and what has he done with them?!

Olan, Richard and Eanna discuss...

National Tree Day: If Trees Could Talk

Avonmore, who supply the cartons of milk for use in schools, have printed up seven different things trees would tell us on the milk cartons they distribute to schools. 

Imagine what the great piece of bog oak that they removed from the bog in the Céide fields would tell us - it is 4,300 years old. It could describe the arrival of the strange Neolithic people that arrived in their area and started farming no less.  This tree is older than the pyramids! Eanna ni Lamhna has more...

Effect Of Barry White On Flamingos!

New evidence has come to light which shows a link between flamingos and a "walrus" - the walrus in question being the "Walrus of Love", Mr. Barry White! It's a truth universally accepted that Barry White can, let’s say, "encourage relations" in human beings. And, it turns out, he has a similar effect on flamingos! The flamingos in question are kept at Drusillas Park in East Sussex in the UK – and they just didn’t seem to be taking a shine to each other. So clever zookeepers brought in a few Barry White CDs as well as some Marvin Gaye to "egg" on the romance, "ruffle" the feathers and get the birds "in a flap", as Head Zookeeper of Drusillas Park, Mark Kenward, explains to Olan…

Why Animals Go Through The Menopause

It would seem that in the animal kingdom, as for humans, playing at happy families is sometimes very hard work! One day it’s wedded bliss, the next you’re refereeing the battle of the century between the two most important women in your life - your wife, and your mother. Bad enough being in the middle of those two - how about you try being the mother in law in that equation. Well now scientists have uncovered the mystery of the menopause, and why it evolved in humans. And it all comes back to the harmony, or lack thereof between a woman and her mother in law. Olan is joined on the line by Dr Andy Russell, from the Centre of Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, and co-author of this study...

Animal Olympics

This week in Ohio, an eleven-year-old cheetah, named Sarah, was clocked running an incredible 61mph at Cincinnati Zoo - setting a world speed record. The lightning-quick animal covered 100m in 5.95 seconds, nearly 40 per cent faster than Jamaican sprinter Bolt, the world's quickest man. Sarah’s sprint was nearly four seconds faster than Bolt, whose fastest time for the same distance is 9.58 seconds. So Animal 1, Human 0. But what about other animals - how do they compare to our finest athletes? Marty Morrissey provides the commentary...

New RTÉJr Radio Science Series For Children: The Discovery Lab

RTÉjr Radio’s first science series for children begins on Saturday October 6th at 9am - just in time for Dublin City of Science 2012. Presented by Trinity College science graduate and journalist Louise Denvir, The Discovery Lab series will bring Ireland’s junior scientists on an educational rollercoaster of super scientific phenomena. Louise joins Olan in studio today to have a chat about the new series...

For six weeks, Louise will welcome a panel of Discovery Lab Junior Scientists, from across Ireland, in to the Lab, where they will explore and chat about the science of the world around them. The Discovery Lab’s Junior Scientists are bursting with creative ideas and entertaining anecdotes and have great fun in the Lab recounting their science stories to series presenter, Louise.

Featuring cool science reports and field experiments from Ireland’s scientists of the future, The Discovery Lab brings science to the fore in many fun and interesting ways. The series’ first programme on October 6th, titled ‘Sea Life’, sees Galway’s Junior Scientists visit the Galway Atlantiquaria and Salthill Beach, where they discover the physics of saltwater, the geography of coastal processes and the habitats of sharks. Wicklow’s Junior Scientists will be out in force too, as they discover the marine biology of Ireland’s coastline - conducting a rock pooling field experiment on the famous Bray seafront.

The Discovery Lab’s panel of Junior Scientists will interview many working scientists each week too, such as Dr. Matthew Jebb of the National Botanic Gardens; who chats botany, the science of plant adaptation and the sheep-eating plants of the Andes, and Dr. Tina Aughney of Bat Conservation Ireland who talks echolocation, nocturnal life and Ireland’s bats!

With programme themes ranging from Space, to Ireland’s Peatlands and Dinosaurs, Ireland’s scientists of the future are sure to be enthralled with this world of discovery. And don’t forget to tune in to the series’ Halloween Special ‘Ireland at Night’ on 27th October!

Join Louise Denvir and The Discovery Lab’s Junior Scientists on RTÉjr Radio for six weeks, starting October 6th on RTÉjr Radio online at www.rte.ie/digitalradio/junior, on the RTÉ Radio Player and UPC Channel: 942.

New Irish Science Magazine Launched: Walton

This week sees the launch of an exciting new Irish Science magazine called Walton. The publication is being put together by a group of young Science graduates and will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) stories with an Irish slant. The editor of Walton Magazine is John O’Donoghue, a PhD Candidate from Listowel, and he joins Olan and the panel in studio to explain more...

App Article: What Is DNA? (by Terry Flanagan)

Everyone knows of DNA. Hardly a day goes by without hearing something about Genetic engineering, cloning or the use DNA fingerprinting in some paternity case. But what exactly is DNA? What’s it made of? Where can we find it and most importantly, what does it do? DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. Many people are often put off by such complex names, but the name gives lots of information about the substance.

To find out more, download the Mooney app, for iPhone and Android phones, to read the rest of Terry's article, and much more!

The Island Landscape

RTÉ Television, in association with Mooney, is currently producing a major new documentary series on the history of the Irish landscape. The series will tell the story of how our landscape was created after the last major climatic event – the end of the last Ice Age, over ten thousand years ago.  And we want your help! Would you like to contribute video towards the TV series? Click here to find out what we're looking for!

Today's Podcasts

Effect Of Barry White On Flamingos!
Animal Olympics
Why Mammals Go Through The Menopause
New Science Show on RTÉJr and New Science Magazine Launched
App Article: What Is DNA?

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