Friday 24 November 2017

Eureka! Young Dubs' space mission wins science award

ORGANISERS of the BT Young Scientist were left redfaced last night when the wrong name for the Best Individual Award was announced on stage.

Judges had picked Eoin Farrell from St Eunan's College, Donegal, for the top award, but a mix-up meant that another student's name was called out.

The judges said the Dublin student had been given a prize of a two-day trip to the Olympics by BT to compensate for the mistake.

Eoin Farrell finally scooped his award of a cheque for €2,400 and a BT perpetual trophy, and was said to be delighted.

There was no such trouble for best friends Eric Doyle and Mark Kelly (both 17), from Synge Street in Dublin who were announced as overall winners for their project 'stimulation accuracy in the gravitational many-body problem'.


The two mathematicians won a cash prize of €5,000, tickets to the London Olympics, a Waterford Crystal Trophy and they'll compete in the European Union Young Scientist competition in Slovakia in September.

The boys said they had a "eureka moment" when they discovered an algorithm which could be used to place satellites in space.

Meanwhile, Colleen Kelly and Deirdre Harford from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, discovered three genes which can resist drought in potatoes.

The two fifth-year students, who hope to eventually study medicine, scooped the award for group runner-up.

"We started noticing how susceptible potatoes are to a lack of water and the potato genome sequence had just been published in 2012 -- it was sequenced by a group of international scientists.

"An Irish scientist has worked on the area as well so we contacted him and went from there. We started to identify genes that are associated with drought resistance in potatoes, we identified three.

"There was a lot of trial and error and a lot of evenings after school and at weekends. We thought we did quite well because we had a lot of judges coming over today but when we were called, we just thought, 'oh my God'."

The pair won the One Good Idea competition last year.

And Aoife Gregg (16) from Loreto, St Stephens Green scooped two awards, the Runner-up Individual and the Intel Standard award for her project on tracing changes throughout the Irish language.

"It has changed a lot. The language has evolved like any language evolves.

"I was really interested to look at Irish from a mathematical point of view. And now I don't think maths will ever die out, people are far too passionate about it for that to happen.

"I've always liked Irish and it's interesting to see the patterns throughout its history. I looked at how letter frequency has changed right from 1600AD to the late 1800s."


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