I was wending my way home through the near-freezing fog last night listening to Newstalk-FM and caught the end of an interview with the Nitrogenase Three from Kinsale, Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, whom we met last Fall because they had made the cover of Time. They were dropping in on the radio studio en route to an event with Michael D Higgins our diminutive but big-hearted President. They were explaining, ever so s l o w l y, that despite them not yet being eligible to vote they had discovered something new and interesting about the world . . . and despite being told that their idea was nonsense because nobody [nobody adult, by implication] had done it before. Why would we want to do the research if someone had done it before? was their perfectly legitimate response. They won the BTYS Young Scientists Top Prize in Dublin this time two years ago.
Let will serve to launch three other young scientist project
reports that I've had on the skids for the last couple of weeks.
James Dyson Award for Mom, a portable, inflatable incubator for keeping babies alive [L] in, say, refugee camps in Syria in the depths of Winter. As 150,000 children are born in such places each year with mortality between 15 and 20%, providing an affordable safe-haven for the newly arrived is clearly going to affect the quality of life of many families. Affordable? Maybe less so, at £250, in regions where families live on less than $2 a day, but still 100x cheaper than a regular maternity ward incubator in The West. Cripes, I'll buy two and send them to Kurdistan.
when they were both working in overseas development. That's not to disparage in any sense his success, he clearly has it in him to a) care and b) do - but his parents maybe influenced the direction in which his talents drove him.
Emer Jones, BTYS winner from Tralee Co Kerry in 2008, was also probably
influenced by her folks in that her father teaches engineering in the
local Institute of Technology. Quotable Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Build a better mouse-trap and the world will beat a path to your door"
Emer said something like Build a better sandbag and you'll have a door
to your home to which the world can beat such a path. After watching a
documentary about poor people living in temporary accommodation
following an earthquake, Emer started thinking and making a better
sandbag, that wouldn't sag and collapse from the after-shocks. Her
final solution was a brilliantly "appropriate technology" solution to
this third world problem. By driving two bamboo stakes crosswise through
each sandbag she enormously increased the stability of the whole
structure. The protocol is so simple that nobody had thought of that
before. Emer was only 13 at the time. Turns out that several years
later, she clocked full marks on her Leaving Certificate and is now finishing up a degree in Natural Science in Cambridge.
With blooming marvellous kids [L Father Christmas agrees] like these walking tall in the land there is hope for the world.