‘On Thin Ice’ exhibition opens in UCD

For the next three weeks, the Discovery Institute in University College Dublin will house a new Climate Change exhibition, On Thin Ice.

The exhibition tells the story of an expedition by a team of Norwegian researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute. The researchers embedded their research ship in the ice near Svalbard, close to the North Pole, in order to study the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

“Instead of just [producing] statistics, they wanted to really reach the public and produce a photo exhibition,” said Else Berit Eikeland, Ambassador of Norway to Ireland.

The exhibition was launched on Wednesday 10 October by Else Berit Eikeland, Ambassador of Norway to Ireland, Prof. Tasman Crowe, Director of the UCD Earth Institute, and Assoc. Prof. Patricia Maguire, Director of the UCD Institute for Discovery.


Prof. Tasman Crowe, Director of the UCD Earth Institute talks about the exhibition on the eventing of the launch.


Dr Conor Sweeney, UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, talks about the uncertainty around climate change and how to communicate it to non-scientists.

The launch was accompanied by a panel discussion on climate change.


Above Left: Else Berit Eikeland, Ambassador of Norway to Ireland, talks about the climatic links between the Arctic and Ireland. Right: The layout of the sea ice around the Lance, sketched by project leader Harold Steen.

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Science Gallery London opens inaugural exhibition on addiction

Science Gallery London’s very first exhibition, HOOKED, explores the process of addiction and recovery in our lives, questioning the role of society in both.

“This is a new space for art and science to collide,” said Daniel Glaser, Director of Science Gallery London. “HOOKED is about addictions of all kinds. The systems that allow us to get up in the morning, allow us to walk or do anything, are about reward, but sometimes the reward mechanisms go a bit too far. This exhibition is about when the thrill and the desire to do things crosses over the line and becomes an addiction, whether it’s to drugs or to the internet or even self-harm.”

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Above. Have you ever worried your battery is running out? The art installation Sisyphus by artist Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos looks at the emotional relationship people have with technological devices. Photo: Anthea Lacchia

But how can art and science help us to think about these issues?
To look at something like addiction you’ve got to look at it from more than one perspective,”said Glaser. “We need art, we need science, culture and young people’s voices. Science Gallery is a space where those three, science, art and young people, all come together.”

Science Gallery London is located just below the Shard building in London Bridge. HOOKED will run from tomorrow until 6 January 2018 and entry is free.

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President & Vice-Principal, King’s College London told me about this unique venue:

 

 

Nature Jobs Blog Post 1 up!

I recently attended the Boston NatureJobs Career Expo 2015 as one of five winners of the NatureJobs journalism competition. It is a wonderful opportunity for any aspiring science journalist and definitely worth applying for!

I really learned a lot from working with Nature editors and covering various events at the conference.

And I’m happy to say the first of my articles, called “Making it in academia: before and after you apply” is now online! You can read it here.

Lyme’s Literary and Fossil Treasures

Here is a blog post I wrote for the Geological Society of London: fossils and Jane Austen, what could be better?!

Geological Society of London blog

Unearthing literary ghosts and extinct creatures in Lyme Regis, Dorset

Anthea Lacchia (@AntheaLacchia)

lyme regisIn anticipation of the upcoming Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, which takes place from May 1-3 this year, let’s set off on a literary and geological tour through the charming streets and beaches of Lyme Regis, which is also known as the “pearl of Dorset”. We will be travelling through time, so hold on to your geological hats and period bonnets!

Literary Lyme

Portrait of Jane Austen in Lyme Regis countryside by her sister Cassandra Portrait of Jane Austen in Lyme Regis countryside by her sister Cassandra. Source: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/janelife.html

It’s a misty afternoon in early 19th century Lyme. As you make your way through a narrow street, you hear the sound of ruffled skirts brushing against the pavement. You turn to see a group of women walking swiftly towards the harbour. Could one of them be Jane Austen?

Lyme Regis was a holiday destination for the Austen…

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Fossils around Dublin

Fossil hunting need not require a wind-swept coastline and hiking boots. Urban fossil hunting can be equally fascinating! Let’s take a stroll through Dublin’s city centre, starting from the National Gallery‘s entrance on Kildare Street. Here, most of the fossils are gastropods and bivalves and the building stones are made of limestone. Why not drop in to view some of Ireland’s most treasured paintings while you’re here?

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Few people passing through Dublin miss out on visiting Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells. Less known is Trinity’s iconic Museum Building, finished in 1857, which boasts dazzling building stones, among which fossils are lurking…

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Glancing down from the majestic staircase, you will see columns made of Connemara Marble, Cork Red Marble, serpentinite and limestone.

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Look closely at the columns and you’ll spot some fossils, such as this ammonite:

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Here it is in close-up view:

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The presence of fossils is a tell-tale sign that the rock in question is not metamorphic (it is limestone rather than marble, in this case).

Crinoids are hiding here too!

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Let’s step out of the Museum Building now. Look! A squirrel just crossed the path in front of us!

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As we reach Kildare Street and its beautiful buildings, such as the Alliance Français and the National Library, look closely at the building stones. As you walk along, you will see they are brimming with fossils!

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Crinoids, brachiopods and corals can be seen in this limestone from Carlow. Can you see the crinoid ossicles? Hint: they are polo-mint-shaped.

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Have you seen the monkeys playing billiard? A reminder that the building once housed the Kildare Street Club, a gentleman’s club.

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Below, a hare is chased by greyhounds:

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There are plenty more urban fossils if you care to look! Whether it’s the floor you’re walking on, the steps you rush past or the banisters you lightly touch on your way to the office, it’s always worth a closer inspection. Who knows what you might find?

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to fossils in the building stones of Dublin. To find out more, consult this excellent book:

The Building Stones of Dublin: A Walking Guide, by Patrick Wyse Jackson, 1993.

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Scientists, Engage or Die

This is a piece I’ve written for Trinity News on science communication. Hope you like it!

http://trinitynews.ie/scientists-engage-or-die/

scicomm

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Scientists, Engage or Die

This is a piece I’ve written for Trinity News on science communication. Hope you like it!

http://trinitynews.ie/scientists-engage-or-die/

scicomm

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Short Story: A Pedometer’s Experience

A word of warning: NO science was involved in the making of the next post!

So I recently entered a story competition about my “pedometer experience,” after completing a pedometer challenge with other students at Trinity as part of the Smarter Travel Workplaces initiative.

I was thrilled to learn that my story won first prize and I thought I’d share it here:

 

A Pedometer’s Experience: A Heart Warming Tale

 

Here we go! STEP-STEP-STEP, ladies and gentlemen, let the counting begin! Sometimes being a pedometer is difficult. I don’t like doing all this counting. You’d imagine I had a Maths degree for all the counting I am forced to do. Yes, you heard me: FORCED! Do you think I chose this life? Anyway, let’s be serious, this job isn’t too onerous compared to what my owner has to do: 15.000 steps in one day? Ha! Excuse me while I chuckle. But, as funny as it is seeing my owner exhausted at the end of a run, whilst I am perched very comfortably on her waist, I did experience tough days, when I felt quite lonely… Ones where I was forgotten on a desk, abandoned in a bathroom, or shoved against abrasive clothing. My owner gets fitter, but I get more and more stressed!

1-2-3-4, all these numbers really do get boring. In fact, I’m sure you won’t mind me confessing that sometimes I skip a few counts just to speed things up.

It was precisely during one such moment of boredom on day 5, somewhere in between 9778 and 9779, that something truly wonderful occurred: my owner had been walking idly around the house- mindlessly bumping me into several items of furniture, might I add- when, suddenly a loud sound caused both my owner and I to jump! She started walking swiftly towards the door- 9887,9888, 9889- opened it and- behold!– a vision lay before my eyes: in front of me was another pedometer of the handsomest kind I had ever seen, clipped on to the waist of another human. I sensed my owner was excited too as she sprinted towards the human to hug him- 9890,9891- and, much to my surprise, I was catapulted in the arms of the pedometer of my dreams!

Since that fateful day, my life has been filled by a series of blissful runs and walks together, accompanied by our owners! Guess what? I am never to be a lonely, bored pedometer again.

 

 

 

 

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The early history of ammonite studies in Italy.

Letters from Gondwana.

Sin título Ammonites figured by Aldrovandi on his Musaeum Metallicum.

Since antiquity, ammonites has been associated with myths, legends, religion and even necromancy. You can find reference to these fossils in the works of Emilio Salgari, Sir Walter Scott, Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

From the sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries, the study of ammonites in Italy was crucial in the debate about the real nature of fossil remains. Leonardo describes the ammonites of the Veronese mountains in the code Hammer (formerly Codex Leicester), folio 9, where he identified these fossils as lithified remains of organisms.

Ulisse Aldrovandi describes several specimens of ammonites in his Musaeum Metallicum.  Aldrovandi supported the idea of the inorganic origin of fossils, although he often compared them with existing animals. He recognized some resemblance between ammonites and snakes so he used the term ‘Ophiomorphites’ (or snake-shaped stone).

Ammonites illustration of the Metallotheca Vaticana of Michele Mercati. Ammonites illustration of the Metallotheca Vaticana of…

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Haunted by Pyrite

Haunted by Pyrite

 

Just what is pyrite and how is it affecting homes?

 

Article, Science Spin magazine, May 2014

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