Science in Space: Seeing the Invisible Universe

In the final Research Article for 2015, Dr. Neil Trappe, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Physics in  Maynooth University  writes about how his research helps scientists ‘see’ much more of the universe than previously possible.

Stars in the sky (Image credit ESA/Hubble)


When you look outside at the clear night sky you will see many thousands of stars overheard which is, of course, a beautiful sight. The Moon, stars, planets, comets and galaxies can all be observed if you know where to look just using your eyes. But if you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope these optical instruments also you to see much more detail and many fainter objects you would not be able to see with just your eyes. The telescope gathers more light and magnifies the objects letting you see more and enhance your view.

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STEM CELLS: Irish marine animal provides hope for research into ageing

Hydractinia echinata are tiny organisms that can be found living on the back of hermit crabs in the waters around Ireland. What makes these guys so interesting is they have an amazing ability to re-generate any lost body parts (they can even re-generate a new head should its head be bitten off by a predator!)  This regeneration ability, it has been discovered is a result of the Hydractinia having so many stem cells in its body.

The team led by Dr. Uri Frank in NUI Galway have been able to show that how the stem cells of the Hydractinia behave are very similar to their  human counterparts which makes them a very interesting organism to study so we can better understand human development, aging and disease. Using these tiny creatures could open doors for scientists in ways that could not have been imagined before.

Hydractinia Life Cycle
Hydractinia Life Cycle

Irish Scientific Achievements

Ireland: you may have read works by some of our writers. Perhaps you’ve seen some of our dancers perform. Maybe you’ve grown up listening to some of our bands. But do you know our scientists?

This short film on Irish scientific achievements was produced by Dervalomedia on behalf of the Irish staff of the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy. It was first shown at the JRC open day on May 4th, 2013 which was attended by Máire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

The film is based on “The Little Book of Irish Science” produced by Science Foundation Ireland. Images contained in the book were produced by Duffy Design in Dublin. Music is by Ronan Hardiman.

The NUI Galway led REDDSTAR project features from 4.10 in the video. The REDDSTAR project aims to use adult stem cell to treat diabetes and its associated complications and more details can be found here: