We’ve a new radio series starting shortly on Newstalk called Science is Everywhere which explores the everyday stories of our daily life and the science behind them. Its presented by Dr Lara Dungan a young scientist with a PhD from Trinity College in immunology who is now studying medicine at UCD. The series has had a long gestation. I think the idea started a couple of summers ago when my adorable niece Dara Shaw was in on work experience during her transition year. (She’s now in the midst of her Leaving Cert year so that says just how long this gestation period has been!) Dara loves science and hopes to take science at UCD in the future but when she was in with us on her work experience I asked her to come up with some ideas about science programming particularly aimed at getting people who don’t think they know much about science (and assume it’s boring!) but who may be surprised by the science stories about the things we take for granted in our everyday life. Science is Everywhere was born from that conversation and Dara worked on an outline which was initially for a children’s and young people series but later became the Newstalk/BAI series, which starts on air from March 15th. Dara’s ideas were aided and developed over coffee in the Science Gallery with her cousin John Howard who was then finishing his Masters degree in science at Trinity College Dublin. (John is now living in Bilbao living each day!) While the 8 part series which we finally created is a lot different to those humble notes in the Science Gallery it’s interesting how some of the themes and the core idea remained. What we set out to create was a series to surprise people and intrigue people by revealing the scientific principles behind everyday things like the water which flows from their tap or the honey they tip into their breakfast bowl. The topics range from climate change and weather chaos to the concept of the plastic brain which features a wonderful interview with the ever inspiring Mark Pollock, who features in the current Science Gallery exhibition ‘Fail Better’.
You can listen to a promo for the series on our audioboo channel and we shortly put up some of the specials in the Science is Everywhere series which we put out at Christmas including the full feature length documentary on the science of sound and music.
The series features some of the dynamic young scientists who are shaping research and innovation in Ireland; people like physicist Shane Bergin and stem cell engineer Danny Kelly from TCD, as well as UCD geneticists Emmeline Hill and Emma Teeling (my second cousin!) who’s work is leading globally. Probably, for me, the most fascinating material relates to the brain and in particular this idea that the brain is plastic and can be re-engineered throughout our lives. That’s a liberating thought; that we’re not fixed or settled but can continually reform, re-shape and adapt. Richard Roche, of the Brain Council, put it brilliantly and provocatively when he said we’ve learnt more about the brain in the last twenty years than in the thousands before it. The brain, as the undiscovered frontier of human endeavour and exploration, intrigues and motivates me.
Hope you enjoy the series and our thanks as always to the crew behind it including Lisa Essuman who recorded most of the series on location, Amy Millar our talented audio editor who recorded our studio interviews and did a beautiful mix on the programmes and of course Kate Ní Chléirigh who managed the series administration, recorded interviews and assisted with all aspects of final productions. Robert Hope, as always, showed he is the master of vox pops and produced some great pieces from the streets while the series features the music of both Robert and Michael Gallen, our in house composers whose music compositions lift all our productions.