My ESOF2012: Day 1

Registration

The first day of ESFO2012 was light enough, with events not really starting until 1500 hrs, when the ESOF2012 Exhibition opened. When I registered, I got myself a lovely name badge and an ESOF2012 tote bag. The bag itself made of a really heavy material, so it should last me for some time. As to be expected from a conference bag, the usual promotional material from the sponsors, a copy of Nature, flyers from intel and the like. But there are a few items worth noting. There is the copy of the ESOF programme which goes into great detail about each of the sessions over the five days. It also has bios of the keynote speakers and welcome messages from the organising committee. Also included was a smaller pocket version.

SFI included their booklet entitled “Little Book of Irish Science”. While I only had a quick look, it includes both modern Irish scientists like Dr Emma Teeling along with other classic Irish scientists like Ernest Walton. Looking forward to reading that a bit more.

One somewhat surprising element was a book called “Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines” As part of Dublin being the City of Science, Pat Boran suggested that a number of Irish poets respond to science in 12 lines. Like the SFI booklet, I haven’t had time to read over it yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know about it.

ESOF2012 Exhibition

This exhibition has a number of exhibitors from third level institutes, such as UCD, Aathus University and a number of Irish Institutes of Technology. Also in attendance are Elsevier, EMBL, SFI and NatureJobs.

I’ve hadn’t the chance to look at most of the stands in detail, but over the next few days I’m sure I’ll spend more time at them, so I’ll be sure to give you an update.

Opening Ceremony: Céad Mile Fáilte

On the way to the opening ceremony I happened to see Prof Cunningham, Minister Sherlock and Minister Bruton greeting each other at ESOF2012

Prof Cunningham, Minister Sherlock and Minister Bruton greeting each other at ESOF2012

Prof Cunningham, Minister Sherlock and Minister Bruton greeting each other at ESOF2012

The Opening Ceremony was MCed by Dara O’Briain and started with a speech from Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins. Stating that “We must aspire to turn the best of ideas into living realities for all of our people, realising our limitless possibilities…” the President went on to talk about John Deane’s poem “The Moon and the Stars” which “captures the wonder of science – that ‘giant step into the new world.’” He finished by talking about possibly the next biggest challenge for scientists, feed the growing population, stating that “The challenge will continue to be finding ways to increase production with fewer resources.”

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins giving his opening speech at ESOF2012

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins giving his opening speech at ESOF2012

After Uachtarán na hÉireann came Professor Patrick Cunningham, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government. He praised both the last government and the current one for keeping up their containing support of science during “…these difficult times.” He finished by saying that science is like alpha and omega. On the alpha side, he said that only last week CERN announced the Higgs boson, delving into the microscopic scale of the universe. While on the omega side talked about Square Kilometre Array, a radio telescope with 70% being build in South Africa and 30% in Australia, to gaze into the depths of our universe.

Speeches by the president of Euroscience Enric Banda, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,  Richard Bruton followed. One of my personal favourite lines from the evening was from MC Dara O’Briain talking about how ESOF was more than just a single event, stating that “ESOF2012 has set up remote locations around the city. We know them as pubs.”

After the speeches, the delegates where treated to music, dance, the bodhrán and uilleann pipes thanks to Rhythm Corporation.

Irish dancers at the opening of ESOF2012

Irish dancers at the opening of ESOF2012

After all the song and dance, it was time for the “…first bit of real science.” This was the Keynote Address by Jules Hoffmann, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 2o11 for “…discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity.” His address entitled “From insects to mammals: reflections on a European journey through basic research on immune defences.” After his lecture on the gene Toll, involved in the mammalian innate immunity, he finished with some personal reflections. He said that he started research due to curiosity. He pointed that when he started in research, when writing grants, there were no milestones to meet nor need to find what down stream applications the research might yield. From talking to grant holders, I hear that there is more of a move by awarding bodies towards looking of immediate applications. Often, research has no immediate application, no apparent use (much like the laser) but can yield advances in the long run.

Day 2

Not sure what I shall be attending tomorrow, however in the morning I shall be sitting down to breakfast with Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Professor in Life Sciences for “Porridge with the Prof”

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One Response to My ESOF2012: Day 1

  1. Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying
    your blog and look forward to new updates.

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