Irish maths and science numbers no joke for comic

Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 01:00

IRISH COMEDIAN and television presenter Dara O’Briain believes Ireland is falling behind in terms of the number of maths and science graduates it produces on the international stage.

“Ireland is falling behind in terms of maths in a huge way. It has failed to meet a lot of European Commission guidelines in terms of increasing the number of graduates,” he said yesterday at Dublin’s Botanic Gardens as he launched the 10-day Science in the City festival, which kicks off today.

“That we’re the very bottom of the pile in Europe in terms of science graduates and in terms of women taking up science, it’s actually gone backwards in the last 10 years,” he added.

He hopes the Science in the City festival will tap into people’s sense of wonder and encourage an interest in science.

The festival is the public engagement side of the EuroScience Open Forum 2012 meeting, the largest scientific conference of its kind in Europe, which opens in Dublin next Wednesday.

Science in the City will see an innovative range of science-themed events taking place across Dublin designed to encourage interaction between the thousands of visiting scientists coming for the forum and the wider public.

O’Briain is a major supporter of public engagement with science. He studied theoretical physics and mathematics at University College Dublin and co-hosts BBC2’s Stargazing Live with physicist Brian Cox.

“Stargazing Live gets four million viewers per show, which is more than Mock the Week or Three Men in a Boat and most things on BBC 2, for example, don’t come close to that, so there’s a huge audience for this kind of stuff,” he said.

The comedian will be performing at Vicar Street for the duration of the festival and will be attending many of the science events during the day.

The festival, which runs until July 15th, includes more than 60 science-orientated events, among them a science film festival and plays.

The head of Nasa, Charles Bolden, will be speaking on the theme “Pushing the limits to achieve success”, at the Burke theatre, TCD, next Thursday at 1pm.

Festival details are at

O’Briain will present “The Age of Reason: How Logic Can Save Us . . . Again”, which will see him and a panel of thinkers take a satirical approach to science and the challenges facing society at an event in Trinity College Dublin next Friday, July 13th.

The head of Cern, Rolf Heuer, will address a public meeting on the recently discovered Higgs boson on Saturday, July 14th, while this Sunday, July 8th, science and art will merge for the Science, Art and Submarines children’s event at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

The Euroscience Open Forum runs from July 11th-15th. Details are available at esof2012.organd at