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Filter: The Liffey A


I, Human: are new scientific discoveries challenging our identity as a species?
    Thursday July 12, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey A

    From neurobiology to genetics to information technology, we're now living at a time of rapidly unfolding revolutions in science.
    These discoveries are not just changing the way we live and die, but have the potential to explode old ways of looking at ourselves. Neuroscience is taking away the illusion of an essential self. Genetics has shown us just how close we are to other life forms, how we've even incorporated DNA from unexpected places into our own, and become inextricably dependent upon it. In the race to build computers that can think like humans, technology continues to raise new questions about what we are; and indeed what we are not.
    As scientific understandings continue to seep into culture, what impact will they have on our view of what it is to be human?

    Imperial College London

    Freelance Writer, USA

    Wellcome Trust, UK

    Weekendavisen A/S, Denmark

    Type Science Programme, Science & Culture
    Host Organization British Council
  • Organiser Aarathi Prasad
  • Tags SP2


Exploding myths on nuclear reactor security, harm reduction and GMOs
    Thursday July 12, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey A

    This session explodes myths about the seldom seen science behind some of today's most controversial public policy issues, particularly in Ireland. Case-studies will spotlight that crucial interface between science, policy and society vis-à-vis nuclear energy, crop innovations (GMOs), and harm reduction (tobacco). Accepting that societal problems are not necessarily problems with purely scientific solutions, speakers will argue that calculated risks are fundamental to realising proven benefits. Fukushima or not, why is it so difficult to separate fact from fiction on nuclear reactor safety and waste management solutions? What are the known and unknown implications of innovation in biotechnology and genetic engineering? Is tobacco harm reduction the greatest public health imperative today or is quit or die enough? Their common cause will be to demonstrate that innovative science is ever more prevalent and important. Their common aim will be to urge the wider scientific community to think – and act – in the global interest, while pressing the re-set button for evidence-based policy above policy-biased evidence. Their approach will not be to assume that scientific consensus can exist or to frame issues as science vs. the public with science in the right. Yet, all governments face challenges in terms of how science is viewed and used with the gap between public perceptions and scientific realities widening. Citizens are, nevertheless, unequivocal in their support for finding solutions to global issues.

    American Association for the Advancement of Science, USA

    Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission...

    British American Tobacco, UK

    Nuclear Consultant & Former Director-General, EU's Joint Research...

    Imperial College London, UK

    Type Science Programme, Communicating Science
    Host Organization SciCom - Making Sense of Science
  • Organiser Aidan Gilligan
  • Tags SP12


Keynote Address: Alvaro Giménez Cañete "The Future of European Space Exploration"


Scientists say...' but how do they know?
    Thursday July 12, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey A

    Every day we are confronted with scientific sounding claims; whether in advertising material, advice columns, campaign statements, public health schemes, common prejudice or celebrity health fads. How do we know what to believe?

    Giving people the tools to question pseudo-science and misleading claims, helps people to transcend noise in the debate around a scientific or medical issue. Building on a packed and lively ESOF 2010 session that discussed the role of 'myth-busting' as a way to share scientific reasoning, the panel will discuss the importance of communicating not only 'what do we know?' but also 'how do we know that?' How can we popularise the universal role of science as a public tool for truth-seeking? Can critical thinking play a role in emerging democracies by creating informed citizens?

    American University in Cairo, Egypt

    San Lian Life Weekly, China

    University College Hospital London, UK

    Sense About Science, UK

    Type Science Programme, Communicating Science
    Host Organization Sense about Science
  • Organiser Julia Wilson
  • Tags SP20


Keynote Address: Marcus du Sautoy "The Secret Mathematicians"
    Thursday July 12, 2012 2:45pm - 3:45pm @ The Liffey A

    Artists are constantly on the hunt for interesting new structures to frame their creative process. From composers to painters, writers to choreographers, the mathematician’s palette of shapes, patterns and numbers has proved a powerful inspiration. Often subconsciously artists are drawn to the same structures that fascinate mathematicians. Through the work of artists like Borges and Dali, Messiaen and Laban, Professor du Sautoy will explore the hidden mathematical ideas that underpin their creative output but will also reveal that the work of the mathematician is sometimes no less driven by strong aesthetic values.


    Session Chair: Brian Trench, Dublin City University

    Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN7


Sleep and depression
    Thursday July 12, 2012 4:00pm - 5:30pm @ The Liffey A

    Impaired sleep is both a major risk factor and a key symptom of depression, which is an increasing health problem. In Europe the number of depressed patients amounted to 21 million in 2004. Total costs of depression were estimated to be $118 billion. Even modest improvements in the efficiency of treatment of depression would be beneficial.

    Most antidepressants modulate sleep, particularly by suppressing REM sleep. Twin studies have shown that poor sleep quality predisposes people to initiation of depression. In light of these results it is reasonable to hypothesise that by improving sleep we could also alleviate depression.

    New studies suggest that physical activity is an intervention, which helps to moderate depressive symptoms by improving sleep. As a paradox sleep deprivation exerts antidepressive effects in many patients. In this session the complex relationships between sleep patterns and clinical depression are explored.

    Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany

    San Raffaele Hospital, Italy

    Psychiatric University Clinics Basel, Switzerland

    University of Groningen, The Netherlands

    University of Helsinki, Finland

    Type Science Programme, The Future of Medicine & Health
    Host Organization Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany
  • Organiser Axel Steiger
  • Tags SP24



How can technology transfer drive innovation?
    Friday July 13, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey A

    Despite the widespread rejection of the 'linear model' of innovation, policy often continues to build on linear thinking. Thus, the idea that 'making better use of publicly funded R&D is a significant problem' in Europe underpins aspects of the 'Innovation Union' flagship of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

    The 'Technological Impacts of Knowledge Transfer from Public Research Organisations' project of the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament was conceived to deepen understanding of policy options for knowledge interchange. It explores the mechanisms of mutual influence and exchange that should underpin institutional 'knowledge transfer' strategies as well as trade-offs between formal technology transfer and other forms of research-industry cooperation.

    Technopolis Group and University of Twente, Netherlands...

    European Chemical Industry Council, Belgium

    Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Belgium...

    Science|Business Publishing, Belgium  

    Science and Technology Options Assessment, European Parliam...

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization European Parliament
  • Organiser Miklos Gyorffi
  • Tags SP26


The Emerging Arctic: a Challenge for Humankind
    Friday July 13, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey A

    The thawing of permafrost and northern sea ice as a result of global temperature rise has become an increased focus of world attention. The Arctic Ocean and Arctic coasts are rapidly changing from being an expanse of largely in penetrable ice fields into navigable sea. The resulting increased interest in the potential mineral and energy reserves when combined with the needs and livelihoods of the Arctic people poses huge challenges in governance, environmental management and cultural ethics.


    In this session we will introduce and discuss the major issues of the emerging Arctic regions. The physical and hydrographic shifts will be elucidated. The clear habitat and ecosystem shifts on many different scales ranging from increased bacterial activity to shifting tree lines will be discussed. Building on this, the reshaping of Human needs and ways of life, not only as a direct consequence of shifting geography and ecosystems but via the great pressure for resource utilisation in these regions is one the most important issues. The combination of, for example mining and cultural values, represents one of the major challenges to human communication, peaceful interaction and ethical intercultural confluence. Innovative and integrative governance and management strategies are indispensable for the adaptation and survival of the Peoples of the Arctic and the unique Arctic system.



    1. Arctic warming and its impact on glaciers, sea ice and permafrost (Prof. Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten),
    2. Ecosystem Challenges in the Arctic (Prof. Dr. Terry Callaghan),
    3. Arctic Socio-Economic systems -impact of changes on Arctic people (Prof. Dr. Gail Fondahl),
    4. Arctic political  systems - governance and adaptation (Professor Paula Kankaanpää).


    President of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association...

    President of the International Permafrost Association

    Distinguished Professor of Arctic Science, Royal Swedish Academy...

    Director, the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Fi...

    Type Science Programme, Energy Environment & Climate
    Host Organization Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
  • Organiser Prof. Dr. Karen H. Wiltshire
  • Tags SP36


An educational revolution to reveal scientific talent in Africa
    Friday July 13, 2012 12:15pm - 1:15pm @ The Liffey A

    This session introduces and discusses The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), an innovative institute providing world-class postgraduate education in the mathematical sciences to young talented Africans. The institute has a pan-African student body of which a third are women, and an international body of lecturers coming from the best universities around the world.

    The AIMS Postgraduate Diploma course equips students with critical scientific skills, exposes them to a variety of mathematical sciences (including physics, computer sciences, pure and applied mathematics), and teaches them to carry out research.

    AIMS graduates pursue successful careers in the sciences, completing PhDs in areas such as pure and applied science, business, health or environmental sciences. About 80% of the 360 AIMS graduates are still in Africa.

    Director AIMS-South Africa and AIMS-NEI Director of Academic...

    AIMS-NEI Director of Finance and Operations

    AIMS-NEI Executive Director

    Type Science Programme, Engagement & Education
    Host Organization AIMS Next Einstein Initiative
  • Organiser Sarah Jackson
  • Tags SP37


Building an economy on good ideas
    Friday July 13, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey A

    Innovation is all about getting good ideas to market and bridging the gap between discovery and delivery. In this session, three distinguished speakers will deal with the challenges faced when driving and supporting economic and social progress through science. More precisely, they will explore the latest thinking on the value of indicators while providing the latest insights into Irish, European and US developments, plus their global implications.

    The first case study will highlight the experience of the Irish Celtic Tiger and lessons learnt from the perspective of a knowledge based economy. The science behind the compilation of the annual investment in industrial R&D scoreboard will be explained. Finally, the lessons learned into a wider context, while advocating the importance of advancing the scientific basis of science and innovation policy through developing, improving and expanding models, analytical tools, data and metrics.

     Financial Times, UK

    Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

    Enterprise Ireland, Ireland

     American Institutes for Research, USA

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization Enterprise Ireland
  • Organiser Catriona Ward
  • Tags SP38


Keynote Address: Helga Nowotny "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge – and how to find uses and users"
    Friday July 13, 2012 2:45pm - 3:45pm @ The Liffey A

    What future does Europe have at a time beset by a fear of the future? The optimistic outlook which prevailed only a few years ago has yielded to gloomy doubts.Science and technology have always played a role as a gigantic, if unstable projection screen for public and private imaginairies alike, coloured with utopian or dystopian meaning.Where do we stand today? What are some of the emerging imaginairies that uneasily float across policy discourse, corporate boards, the social media interconnecting the younger generation?
    I will then turn to the ERC and what appears to be the seemingly useless knowledge it generates. I will argue that it is precisely its seeming uselessness that permits new uses and new users to emerge, take shape, become embedded in already existing systems, structures and practices or carve out new spaces for themselves. Historical examples abound, showing that solutions were readily offered, but yet had to find and define the problem which they were uniquely suited to address. As always, to jump from lessons offered by history to a complex and messy present is risky. Nevertheless, I will attempt to offer a few guidelines on how useless knowledge is transformed into uses and how users are constituated by using what science and technology have to offer. 

    Session Chair: Martin D. Shanahan, Chief Executive of Forfás, Ireland

    President of the European Research Council, Belgium

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN16


Are university rankings real indicators of global competitiveness?
    Friday July 13, 2012 4:00pm - 5:30pm @ The Liffey A

    The world is increasingly one of Key Performance Indicators, Rankings and League Tables and the universities are no exception. Yet universities should be the repositories of academic freedom. Can these two issues be reconciled? What do League Tables really measure? What makes a good ranking? Are they measuring what's important or excellent? Are they a guide to global competitiveness? Can European universities compete in the new global environment? Should government policy and or institutional strategy focus on its position in a ranking or on improving the quality of higher education? How should rankings develop in the future?

     QS Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd, UK

     Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland  

    Centre for Higher Education, Germany

    Association of Commonwealth Universities, UK

    Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization Nanyang Technological University Singapore
  • Organiser Tony Mayer
  • Tags SP44



Volcanic eruptions and global fallout
    Saturday July 14, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey A

    Since Pliny's description of Mt Vesuvius erupting in 79AD, there have been countless individual historical, archaeological and geological investigations of volcanic eruptions. More recently, studies of the impact of volcanic hazards on local communities, and improvements in infrastructure and engineering, have tried to mitigate major volcanic risks to local communities. However, recent eruptions in Iceland and Chile have shown that social and economic effects of such eruptions can also be felt globally. Although the eruptions mentioned are not considered large in scale, they influence communities thousands of kilometres away from the volcano; the impact on societies and multibillion Euro industries (such as tourism and agriculture) is acute.
    This panel discussion will to bring together the scientific community and end-users such as the aviation industry and policy makers, to highlight the progress made using a multidisciplinary, multinational approach to such scientific problems. The goal is to show what efforts are being made to fully understand and forecast the effects of these elements of our dynamic planet and how we aim to mitigate against future risks to our global community.

    German Aerospace Centre, Germany

    University College Dublin, Ireland

    University College Dublin, Ireland

    Institute of Earth Science, Iceland

    Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy

    Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

    Type Science Programme, Energy Environment & Climate
    Host Organization University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Organiser Aoife Braden
  • Tags SP54


Keynote Address: Regina Palkovits "Biomass – a valuable feedstock of the future"


Frontier Research: An extravagance or a necessity in times of recession?
    Saturday July 14, 2012 10:45am - 12:15am @ The Liffey A

    In many parts of the world, science, technology and innovation are seen as critical drivers of economic growth and national well-being. We look towards research hoping to find the solution of many of the problems – current and future ones- we face and which cannot be solved without major breakthroughs. The challenges created by poverty, climate change, infectious diseases, health challenges across the years of the human lifespan produce a sense of urgency to find solutions. Hence, as tools become available and financial resources become more limiting, research funding is increasingly viewed as an end to a means. Because this view assumes it can recognise the appropriate endpoint, it ignores the role that research directed by the need to understand basic processes has played as the engine of new discoveries to fuel new technologies and combat challenges not yet imagined. 
    The speakers of this session all agree that it is necessary and natural for a nation to set aside specific means to address major challenges or to explore already acknowledged promising areas. However, they also share the view that a nation should commit itself to support what might be described as frontier research that push the boundaries of knowledge and hold the potential to transform science itself and ultimately change the way we live and think. In order to push the frontiers one must enter new fields and leave the beaten track. This demands that not only researchers but also funders are courageous and adventurous and ready to take risks. Forging new paths in barely known territory often takes longer than the usual length of project funding. Mistakes must be allowed as well as change of direction. 
    The session will discuss why it is necessary to trust the best researcher’s talent and how transformative research is best identified and supported by addressing questions such as

    • What is frontier research and how do we detect it?
    • Is it a necessity or an extravaganza? – Why?
    • What are the benefits for society?
    • How is frontier research and creativity sustained, developed, nurtured?

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA

    Human Frontier Science Program Organization, France

    Danish National Research Foundation, Denmark

    Volkswagen Stiftung, Germany

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization Danish National Research Foundation
  • Organiser Vibeke Schrøder
  • Tags SP70


What does art bring to science?
    Saturday July 14, 2012 12:15pm - 1:15pm @ The Liffey A

    Historically, discussions of the interface between art and science have tended to focus on artists representing or illustrating some aspect of science, while leaving the science intact and unquestioned. In this visually engaging session, we will explore how interactions between art and science lead to the generation of new ideas, including original scientific concepts but also ideas for social, commercial and cultural innovations, products and services.
    We will discuss innovative approaches to bridging art and science around Europe and the world, and report on the first results of the European Framework 7 StudioLab project focussed on developing innovations through collaborations between scientists, artists and experimental designers. Is there genuine value to scientists from interactions with artists and designers? How can the public benefit from collaborations between art and science, and does this provide a way to engage new audiences with science and technology?

    Après Tendance, The Netherlands

    Wellcome Trust, UK

    Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

    Science Gallery, Ireland

    Type Science Programme, Science & Culture
    Host Organization Science Gallery - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Organiser Michael John Gorman
  • Tags SP63


Particles, light and antimatter: new ways to battle cancer
    Saturday July 14, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey A

    In the last few years several new ways of treating cancer have emerged, using different particle species, intense light or even antimatter - all pushing the boundaries of science and technology significantly beyond the previous state of the art.

    This session will give a brief overview of the history of cancer therapy before tackling a number of key questions: What are the distinct advantages of hadron therapy when compared to more traditional methods and how can highest quality treatment beams be produced? Can THz radiation serve as a diagnostics tool to detect cancer cells at their very early stages? Could antimatter-ions be the ultimate tool to treat specific cancer types? An outlook on future research programs will also be given - all of this in an active dialogue with the audience.

    Cockcroft Institute, UK   Prof. Carsten P. Welsch studied...

    University of Seville, Spain.   Prof. José M. Espino carried...

    Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Germany   Ms. Sara...

    Type Science Programme, The Future of Medicine & Health
    Host Organization Cockcroft Institute, UK
  • Organiser Carsten Welsch
  • Tags SP65



The impact of ice sheet and ocean interactions on climate change
    Sunday July 15, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey A

    Ice-sheets are dynamic systems that form an integral part of the global climate system. They are both sensitive to and drivers of climate change and therefore provide a unique opportunity to investigate climatic change.
    As ice sheets grow and decay they leave a rich geological record of ice sheet behaviour that can help to unravel the timing and driving mechanisms of major climatic events. A decade of scientific investigation of Irish submarine territory in the NE Atlantic has uncovered a fascinating picture of a perfectly preserved ice age landscape across the width of the Irish continental shelf.
    This session will explore how research in the North Atlantic region shows that the Irish continental shelf is a critical area for climatic research and will discuss in this context the potential that a rapidly melting Greenland Ice Sheet could force unexpected and rapid climatic change in the North Atlantic region.

    Durham University, UK

    University of Bergen, Norway

    University of Ulster, UK

    University of Ulster, UK

    National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland

    Type Science Programme, Energy Environment & Climate
    Host Organization University of Ulster
  • Organiser Paul Dunlop
  • Tags SP83


Can we survive a day without satellite navigation?
    Sunday July 15, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey A

    Satellite navigation (SatNav) technology is more than route planning for a motorist. Most critical services depend on precise timing to the nanosecond scale, derived from the GNSS (global navigation satellite systems) clock: banking, power systems, and telecommunication networks. Can we imagine what life would be like in the event of a GNSS blackout?

    Extreme events of space weather such as solar storms are part of natural phenomena that impact the earth. With our increasing reliance on space-based technologies (satellite-based communications, broadcasting, SatNav etc) society today is ever more vulnerable to space weather than even 50 years ago.

    This session will help us reflect on our everyday dependence on SatNav, the fragility of SatNav infrastructure to natural threats, and current research to ensure it works reliably 24/7, no matter what.

    Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

    European Space Agency, Spain

    Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

    RAL-Space, UK

    Joint Research Centre - Institute for the Protection and Security...

    NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre, USA

    Type Science Programme, Reshaping the Frontiers of Knowledge
    Host Organization European Commission - Joint Research Centre
  • Organiser Geraldine Barry
  • Tags SP87


Science-2-Business Keynote Address: Pearse Lyons "Building a Billion-Dollar Business – a real-life story"
    Sunday July 15, 2012 2:45pm - 3:45pm @ The Liffey A

    How did a scientist with $10,000 build a multi-billion dollar company? How did this private company, with no outside investors, rise to become no. 7 in the world of animal health? What does the future hold for Alltech as it heads for a target of $4 billion in sales?


    Listen to the story of Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech, a global animal health company that employs more than 2,800 people and conducts business in 128 countries throughout the world.  Born in Dundalk, he received his bachelor’s degree from University College Dublin, Ireland and obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Birmingham, England. He later worked as a biochemist for Irish Distillers before founding Alltech in 1980.


    Today  Dr. Lyons is widely recognised as an entrepreneur and innovative industry leader in both biotechnology and agriculture. His scientific expertise, combined with an acute business sense, helped revolutionise the animal feed industry through the introduction of yeast-based ingredients to feed. Now, as the company enters its fourth decade of business, its solid base will enable it to extend products, core values and nutritional solutions to an ever-expanding market. At the same time, its commitment to the primacy of science, a commitment responsible for the company’s success, remains steadfast.

    Session Chair: Prof. Gerry Boyle, Director, Teagasc

    Founder and President of Alltech

    Type Keynote Address, Science-2-Business
    Tags KN26


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