Friday 26 April 2019

Boffins of the future gunning for glory

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

A CAT that thinks it's a sniffer dog, a turbo jet engine housed in a coffee can and a pile of sesame seeds which hold the key to stock market success.

A CAT that thinks it's a sniffer dog, a turbo jet engine housed in a coffee can and a pile of sesame seeds which hold the key to stock market success . . .

These are some of the more bizarre projects unveiled at the 2004 EU Contest for Young Scientists officially opened yesterday at O'Reilly Hall, University College Dublin, by cryptography genius and former Esat Irish Young Scientist of the Year winner Sarah Flannery.

This is the first time Ireland has played host to the most prestigious youth science expo in the world, despite dominating the winners podium for much of the last 15 years. But with two Irish teams and the UK team hailing from Belfast, this may be yet another vintage year for Irish success.

"Since 1989 we've won it every year until 1999 so the pressure is definitely on to win again," said current Esat Irish Young Scientist of the Year Ronan Larkin.

The 17-year-old maths whizz from Synge Street CBS, Dublin, has been riding high since his win in the national final in January and may be set to repeat that success at European level.

Ronan's project used complex equations to prove results posted on the internet by a reclusive Venezuelan mathematician, Domingo Gomez.

One team hoping to pip Ronan to the post on this occasion is Roisin McCloskey (17) and Brendan MacChnoic (18) from Lumen Christi College in Derry, the group winners of the Young Scientist of the Year competition in January.

The duo commandered Roisin's kitchen and used a pile of sesame seeds to investigate the physics and behaviour of sand piles. "The theory can be applied to forest fires, earthquakes, even stock markets and evolution," explained Roisin.

One of the most popular projects, 'The Hashcat Project' from Iceland, showed how the humble moggie can be trained to become a sniffer dog.

Over 100 students from 34 countries will showcase 73 projects. The exhibition is open to the public today and tomorrow.

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