Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Did you know that an Irish scientist discovered why the sky is blue

Over the years, Irish scientists have made a significant contribution to global scientific breakthroughs, including discovering why the sky is blue and a cure for leprosy. This year an Irish born scientist also jointly won a Nobel Prize for Medicine.

In the 19th century Carlow native and prominent physicist John Tyndall discovered why the sky is blue. This discovery, known as the Tyndall effect, proves the sky’s blue colour results from the scattering of the Sun’s rays by molecules in the atmosphere.

In the 1940s, Cork scientist Vincent Barry led a medical research team that discovered a compound (B663) that ultimately led to a treatment for leprosy. The team was working on a cure for tuberculosis at the time. An estimated 15 million people owe their lives to him.

This year, Irish-born biologist William Campbell jointly won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in the discovery of Ivermectin. A Donegal native, William discovered Avermectin, a drug that has greatly improved the treatment of infections caused by roundworm parasites in both humans and animals. It has radically lowered the incidence of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases.

It’s day four of Science Foundation Ireland’s 20th annual National Science Week and today the hot topic is science careers and celebrating Ireland’s most influential scientists over the years.

Coordinated by Science Foundation Ireland Science Week aims to engage young people and inspire them to study and take up careers in the exciting fields of science technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Science Foundation Ireland’s Science Week also seeks to motivate people of all ages to engage with STEM at home, in the classroom and at work.

Some more famous Irish scientists:
Robert Boyle, (1627 - 1691) one of the original modern chemists, made many key contributions in the scientific revolution of the 1600s. His most famous discovery, which examined the pressure volume relationship in laboratory conditions, now bears his name (Boyle's Law) and was to prove fundamental to our understanding of gases and atmospheric pressure.

Louis Brennan, (1852 - 1932) from Castlebar, Co. Mayo, inventor of the world's first guided missile - a torpedo like device which was used as an early coastal defence mechanism. Brennan also designed a monorail and helicopter.

John Robert Gregg, (1868 - 1948) Monaghan man who invented the shorthand system of speed writing in 1888. The Gregg system modeled the mechanics and positioning of traditional writing and was later adapted to several languages.

Over 800 Science Week events will take place in Dublin, Donegal, Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, the Midlands and other locations nationwide this week. To find out more about the fascinating worlds of science, technology, engineering and maths visit for a full listing of events.

If you cannot attend an event log onto to see what you can do at home with your children – it can be fun and easy; and you can use everyday items from your home.