Seven days of science


It’s Science Week, and events are going on across the country. Want to see a tornado in a bottle or a marshmallow balancing on spaghetti? Read on as JOHN HOLDENpicks some highlights

Magic – Science or Mystery, Friday, Tipperary Institute, Thurles, Co Tipperary

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” wrote the famous science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C Clarke. In a world where invisibility cloaks and levitation are no longer just the stuff of Harry Potter, science magician Paul McRory will demonstrate how seemingly magical phenomena are merely illusions created through scientific methods.

Singing rods, disappearing water and tornadoes in bottles are just some of the tricks the audience will be encouraged to figure out scientifically. One brave volunteer will even sit on a bed of nails. Admission is free and takes place in the conference centre of the institute. For more info, see

Talking Rubbish, Saturday, Leabharlann Phobail na Rosann, Dungloe, Co Donegal

Spending your Saturday afternoon talking about waste might not sound like a laugh, but Talking Rubbish is in fact a very interactive and interesting event.

Looking at what kinds of “rubbish” we throw away and where it ends up, costumed role play is used to discover just how long it takes for simple things like newspaper and bags to decompose, as well as the completely gross gas, toxic soup and vermin that come out of landfill.

But fear not, it is all happening within the cosy confines of a library and Talking Rubbish also features a bag-for-life fashion parade, a “Steel or No Steel” can sorting game; a bag of pure, 100 per cent uncontaminated worm poo; Roger the Rat; and what bin juice means if you’re a fish — finally the chance to talk absolute rubbish without anyone complaining.

The Electric Magnetic Show, Saturday, Birr Library, Wilmer Road, Birr, Co Offaly

Did you know that frogs levitate? Not when you have your back turned but when they are put in a strong magnetic field. Like everything else, frogs are made of billions of atoms but their diamagnetic atomic make-up – along with strawberries, water and gold – make them easier to levitate.

Magnetic forces play more of a role in life than you would think. The Electric Magnetic Show combines innovative demonstrations as well as a “more in-depth journey of discovery which allows for all to see the invisible force fields around negatively charged particles and magnets.”

Throw in some magnet magic, stunning electricity and exploring cows and your Saturday morning is off to a stimulating start. For more info, call 057-9124950 or see

Marshmallow Challenge Regional Final, Nov 15th–18th, Belmullet, Co Mayo

Ain’t no party like a marshmallow party. Oh yes folks, the regional final for the fourth annual Mayo Science and Technology Festival National School Design Challenge is here. This extremely popular competition has got students thinking since 2007 and this year teams of four are being given the challenge “to build the tallest possible freestanding structure that can support a marshmallow using only dry spaghetti, masking tape and string.”

Entrants must practise their designs in class before competing in one of four regional finals, of which four winners will then go on to the finals at the Mayo Science and Technology Open Day on Sunday November 21st in the TF Royal Castlebar. Here, the marshmallow balancing champions of the world will be announced. Rules and further information can be found at

Mayo 2040, Nov 18th, GMIT Castlebar, Co Mayo

Connaught is looking ahead to a time when we all have spaceships and a robotic Enda Kenny will be programmed to have actual feelings. Well not quite, but 30 years from now the world could look different thanks to the leaps and bounds being made through science and technology. This night of presentations, discussion and debate on the types of technology that might be in use in 2040 will include talks from the European Space Agency; Declan Holmes speaking on the topic of nanotechnology; and Stephen Daniels explaining plasma. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. For more info see

Building It, TOG, Nov 13th and 21st, Warehouse Unit C, Chancery Lane, Dublin 8

Calling all amateur inventors, Building It is a full-day workshop, organised by Dublin hackerspace TOG, and is for those with a basic understanding of electronics. Participants will be instructed on how to design an interactive electronic device, from its inception right through to the working device itself.

Split into three parts, the morning will begin with a presentation covering the whole process, followed by a more detailed look at the tools and skills necessary with participants assembling a device during the final part of the day.

This is your chance to build a small robot who will help you take over the world. Each workshop will run from 11am to about 5pm, with a break for lunch.

Tickets are €40 waged, €30 unwaged and €20 for TOG members. For more information see

Dublin on The Rocks, until Nov 30th Walking tour starting from St Audoen’s Church, High Street, Dublin 2

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the chance to visit a coral reef or desert would mean leaving Ireland for much sunnier climes.

But the Dublin on the Rocks walking tour offers not only such experiences but also the chance to see volcanic ash and Jurassic creatures.

Join writer Mary Mulvihill for this audio guided tour which mixes geology, architecture and history. With fossils in buildings, cobblestones, railings, and even bricks and mortar, Dublin is a hotbed of geological attractions. Because it is an audio tour, you can do it anytime you want and at your own pace. Just download the commentary to your MP3 player or phone and press play.

The tour takes about two hours, costs €4.95 and comes with a user guide and gallery of images. For more info see

WANT MORE?Check out for the full listings of what is happening for Science Week around the country