Socialising Science | Brian Cox, Override and Reviews

With so many science & curiosity-themed events happening regularly across the country and abroad, we try to capture them on ‘Socialising Science’ with video and a few words. And if you have an event you’d like to include, email with ‘Socialising Science’ in the Subject line.

Upcoming events

A bit of science at Dublin Theatre Fringe Festival: ‘Override’

Project Arts Centre Sept 9-17th

Explore science on stage at this years Dublin Fringe Festival with ‘Override’. Mark and Violet have run away from technology-obsessed reality to raise their future child closer to nature. No enhancements, no bionic super-limbs, no shopping for perfect embryos. They want everything, from their flesh to their love to be real. But there’s no love without fear of loss. So will you get old with me?

Override’ by Stacey Gregg examines the boundaries of our faith in science. Turned by Sophie Motley into a digital spectacle with visceral audio visual design, an unsettlingly funny, bitter love letter to the future.

Tickets: €16/€14
Further details here

Brian Cox Extra dates – 3Arena, May 24th 2017

For those of you loving Professor Brian Cox’s latest show ‘Forces of Nature’ on BBC, you have a chance to catch him in person. And in case you missed out on grabbing yourself a ticket first time round for the November 22nd event at the Olympia, (which I heard sold out in minutes) fear not. He is returning to Dublin in a slightly bigger venue too: this new show will take place in the 3Arena on May 24 2017. Tickets are priced from €40 and are still on sale (I just checked the booking site). To book all details are here


Inspirefest 2016

Last month, I was fortunate to secure a ticket to Inspirefest, a two day feast of inspiration, creativity and disruptive thinking. I wasn’t really sure what to expect- I was away in the US on the Space Studies Programme when the inaugural Inspirefest took place last summer. But I had nothing to fear. This was a super really well-thought event, organised within an inch of its life and no stone was unturned in terms of schedule, coffee breaks, and catering for all manner of dietary needs in funky packed lunches. Not to mention the schedule of speakers.

The brainchild of Ann O’Dea, Inspirefest is a big event that provides even bigger thinking from speakers who provoke, prod and poke at our perception of Ireland and what we were doing now to ensure an equal and fair society in the future. Its fair to say that everyone took away something different, but what was particularly encouraging for me was the importance of STEAM (i.e. the addition of Art&Design to tradition STEM – Science Technology Engineering & Maths) a flag I have been flying for some time. There were too many speakers to mention them all but the stand-out favourite for me was the film-maker and advocate of the Lottie doll, Elena Rossini. 

Other home-grown champions at Inspirefest were Mary Carty and her Outbox incubator initiative to prepare young girls to be STEM entrepreneurs , Linda Doyle leading Connect Ireland, a research centre for future networks and 14yr old Niamh Scanlon our EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015.

Mary Carthy Inspirefest
Mary Carthy at Inpirefest (Photo Credit: Niamh Shaw)

And the conversations over coffee were just as inspiring too, especially since so many attending Inspirefest already work tirelessly to promote women in their chosen field. Overall, it was an all-consuming very rewarding couple of days, and I left feeling as if inspiration was everywhere, if only I take the time to look in the right places. I had to leave an hour before the final session, and as I left through the big glass doors, I noticed a woman outside pleading frantically with the security guard to let her in. Her teenage son was with her and her husband was parking the car. The security guard was doing his job and not allowing anyone in with out a pass. She’d almost given up, but then I shouted after her and offered her my pass, and she immediately lit up and whizzed past me. I felt like I had just handed over a VIP pass to a rock concert! It was starting to rain so I was messing with my umbrella, as her son, touched me gently on the elbow and whispered ‘Thanks a mill’. What a nice young man. There’s hope for Ireland yet.

Festival of Curiosity July 21-24th 2016

colouring in
Adult Colouring Room as part of Urban Escapes as Festival of Curiosity (Credit: Niamh Shaw, 2016)

Earlier in July, the annual Festival of Curiosity took place, to bring us playful days and curious nights. It was a packed festival with events happening across Dublin city centre at Smock Alley Theatre, Wood Quay, Merrion Square, The Science Gallery, Temple Bar Galleries, (and online, with sound piece ‘Earthlings from Outer Space’ from Shaun O’Boyle & Maurice and my very own ‘Memory of Place’ interactive story map). The content was novel, innovative and forward focussed. Watch my video below of some of the fun!

The Festival of Curiosity is curated annually by Ellen Byrne & Vince McCarthy, co-founders of the festival, and they weaved their magic again this year. Artists and creative technologists exhibited their work and gave their insights in a series of Studio talks. ‘Yawn Chorus’ was a new piece of work premiered from UK-based artists,Alex Rothera and Chris G Thompson, who were artists-in-residence at Curiosity Studio in collaboration with the Urban Escapes exhibition at Temple Bar Galleries (see video). And of course, there was also the Curiosity Carnival and Dublin Maker, a mainstay of the festival every year, guaranteeing that there was something for everyone to explore. Another great festival, and looking forward to 2017 already!

Space Camp Ireland 2016

In mid-July Birr saw the coming together of the future scientists of rocketry, physics, astronomy, maths, chemistry and a successfully completed full programme on “A Mission to Mars”. I was delighted to contribute to Space Camp Ireland, speaking to the participants about my upcoming Mars analog mission in the Utah desert. It is organised by sisters Majella and Deardriu Lally, the people behind SPEAKIrelandSince 2013, SPEAK has organised events for families of children with high academic ability, 5%, or 95th percentile, based on the standardised Dumcondra, SIGMA-T or MICRA-T tests carried out in schools. 

spacecamp ireland
SpaceCamp Ireland 2016 attendees with their Mars Rover (credit: Deardriu Lally, 2016)

In the workshops our young astronauts spent the week investigating all of the implications involved in being part of the first Irish Space Colony on Mars. Activities included soil-testing and analysis with Dr How and building an operational Mars Rover with Donovan de Jager. Donovan also led a workshop on edible and quick growing plants and the astronauts also learned about solar and wind energy. Science professionals and enthusiasts all came together to ensure an expansive, all-round experience including the Irish Rocketry Society who launced a rocket from the grounds of Birr Castle, the TCD I-LOFAR project, a number of live Webex conversations with myself, Dr. Niamh Shaw, Mars One candidate Josh Richards, and Dr Aidan Cowley on 3D hive building for accommodation on Mars. Our Mars candidates also had their survival skills tested as they overnighted in Knocknabarron woods. A number of attendees will be invited by TCD Astro-physics department to turn the sod on the I-LOFAR radio telescope in Birr Castle later in the year.

“Space Camp was excellent – 10 out of 10! My favourite part was building the rockets and seeing them lift off and making new friends” enthused Liam, aged 13. 

Space Camp Ireland are grateful to Science Foundation Ireland, ESA, Enterprise Ireland, and all of our workshop facilitators for making Space Camp Ireland a reality. Through the informal structure of the camp and accessibility of our speakers SpaceCamp hopes to inspire these children to reach for the sun, moon and stars!

For further information about SPEAK and upcoming events please visit or find @SPEAKParents on Facebook.

Main Image: Brian Cox, BBC