“When were atoms first discovered?” I was recently asked. The question often comes up at this time of year, as our students embark on their first cour(...)

“Most scientists and historians would agree that Einstein’s quest was driven by scientific curiosity.” Photograph:  Getty Images)
Is science influenced by politics?

“Science is always political,” asserted a young delegate at an international conference on the history of physics earlier this month. It was a very en(...)

Pope Francis. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

The recent visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, following so soon after the discovery of yet more horrific crimes committed by Catholic clergy against ch(...)

Cause for big debate: astronomers based in Western Australia detected a signal thought to represent the absorption of radiation by the very first stars when they formed many billions of years ago.

While many academics in Ireland and the UK were snowbound at home earlier this month, an intriguing controversy was breaking in the world of physics. (...)

 Art installation titled ‘climate refugees’, by Danish artist Jens Galschiot at the COP23  Conference in Bonn. Photograph: Patrik stollarz/AFP/Getty

An important international meeting about climate change took place in Bonn, Germany earlier this month. Attended by more than 10,000 delegates, it rec(...)

Last week’s solar eclipse brought to mind once again the formidable predictive power of science. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
A question of trust in science

Last week’s solar eclipse generated unprecedented public interest in the skies above us. One reason was that the path of the eclipse fell across a lar(...)

It is a tragic irony that those who resist action on climate change tend to resist immigration with the same ferocity, unaware that inaction on climate risks a human migration on an unprecedented scale. Photograph:  Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Early in June, Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord, a key international agreement that aims to limit global warming(...)

Fred Hoyle, a brilliant and controversial figure who made a number of original contributions to 20th-century physics

Earlier this month, I attended a meeting at the Royal Astronomical Society in London in memory of the celebrated British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.(...)

Dr Róisín O’Shea at Waterford Institute of Technology: ‘Carlow is still many years away from being able to make the transition to technological university status.’ Photograph: Patrick Browne

The long-running saga of Waterford Institute of Technology’s bid for university status has had a few problems of late. There were particular issues(...)

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who sparked the MMR controversy, beside a supporter’s banner. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Don’t believe everything you read: a cynical rule for cynical times. One might think the academic journal is the one place where accuracy, validity(...)

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