Tag Archive | "Irish"

The number of companies seeking Irish research increased 15pc in 2013


Companies are turning to Irish research organisations to tap their knowledge for commercial endeavours at a rate 15pc higher in 2013 over the previous year.

The report undertaken by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) showed that the increase in the number of external clients that engaged with research performing organisations in 2013 saw a total of 1,598 engagement agreements.

Last year alone, 37 spin-out companies were created based on intellectual property and knowledge from Irish research performing organisations while during the same period, the number of IP-based transactions between research organisations and industry, including licences, options and assignments, increased by 48pc to 139 last year.

This is the first report issued by KTI which was established last May in a partnership between Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Universities Association that also saw the creation of a web portal providing companies with access to resources from State-funded research, particularly intellectual property, facilities and equipment.

Speaking of the report, the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English, TD, said: “I am pleased to note the increase in commercially valuable knowledge being transferred from the research system into Irish industry.

“KTI is playing an important part (in the economy’s recovery) by helping to make it easier for companies to access the knowledge, expertise and IP available within our research-performing organisations so that they may use research and innovation to drive competitive advantage and sustainable job creation.”

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Irish botanist Matilda Knowles honoured after 150 years


One of the world’s great lichen experts of the 20th century, Irishwoman Matilda Knowles, has been honoured with a commemorative plaque at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin 150 years after her birth.

Knowles made a number of important scientific discoveries during her academic career including the discovery of several new species of lichens, and was the first to realise that lichens by the seashore grow in distinct tidal zones.

During her 30 years of research, she worked at the herbarium in the National Museum in Dublin and for the last 10 years she was essentially the curator of the museum, but was sadly only deemed worthy of the title of ‘assistant’.

Knowles was one of Ireland’s busiest publishers of botany literature having begun the study of lichens in Ireland around 1903 after being encouraged by the great Irish naturalist, Robert Lloyd Praeger.

Matilda Knowles. Image: Women’s Museum of Ireland.

She went on to become the acknowledged expert on Irish lichens, and in 1929 published the definitive guide to Irish lichens, a 255-page catalogue of over 800 species, including some 100 ‘new to Ireland’ and several species that were ‘new to science’ which she had discovered.

The new plaque is the latest in a series organised by WITS (the Women in Technology and Science network) and the National Committee for Science and Engineering Commemorative Plaques (NCSECP) and speaking of the importance of Knowles’ work, chairperson of WITS, Dr Marion Palmer, said it was important that she be remembered.

“It is so important to acknowledge the critical role played by women such as Matilda Knowles. So often their work went unnoticed and unacknowledged at the time, it’s right that we honour them now,” said Dr Palmer.

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Researchers from Sweden, Ireland and the USA believe fluorine formed in the stars


The fluorine that is found in products such as toothpaste was likely formed billions of years ago in now dead stars of the same type as our sun. This has been shown by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, together with colleagues from Ireland and the USA.

Fluorine can be found in everyday products such as toothpaste and fluorine chewing gum. However, the origins of the chemical element have been somewhat of a mystery. There have been three main theories about where it was created. The findings now presented support the theory that fluorine is formed in stars similar to the sun but heavier, towards the end of their existence. The sun and the planets in our solar system have then been formed out of material from these dead stars.

“So, the fluorine in our toothpaste originates from the sun’s dead ancestors,” said Nils Ryde, a reader in astronomy at Lund University.

With doctoral student Henrik Jönsson and colleagues from Ireland and the US, he has studied stars formed at different points in the history of the universe to see if the amount of fluorine they contain agrees with the predictions of the theory.

By analysing the light emitted by a star, it is possible to calculate how much of different elements it contains. Light of a certain wavelength indicates a certain element. In the present study, the researchers used a telescope on Hawaii and a new type of instrument that is sensitive to light with a wavelength in the middle of the infrared spectrum. It is in this area that the signal is found in this case.

“Constructing instruments that can measure infrared light with high resolution is very complicated and they have only recently become available,” said Nils Ryde.

Different chemical elements are formed at high pressure and temperature inside a star. Fluorine is formed towards the end of the star’s life, when it has expanded to become what is known as a red giant. The fluorine then moves to the outer parts of the star. After that, the star casts off the outer parts and forms a planetary nebula. The fluorine that is thrown out in this process mixes with the gas that surrounds the stars, known as the interstellar medium. New stars and planets are then formed from the interstellar medium. When the new stars die, the interstellar medium is enriched once again.

The researchers are now also turning their attention to other types of stars. Among other things, they will try to find out whether fluorine could have been produced in the early universe, before the first red giants had formed. They will also use the same method to study environments in the universe that are different from the environment surrounding the sun, such as close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. There, the cycle of stars dying and new ones being born goes considerably faster than around the sun.

“By looking at the level of fluorine in the stars there, we can say whether the processes that form it are different,” said Nils Ryde.

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