A Visit from Seán Duke

Report by Nicholas, Enan and Oscar – 6th Class

On the 11th November 2015, a parent came into our class. That parent was Seán Duke; not just a helpful parent to the school, but a scientist, journalist, science broadcaster, and one of the founding members of the magazine Science Spin.

In the space of an hour he gave us information about science that would take us a year to research. It is an amazing ability to be able to teach so many aspects of science in such a short space of time, as well as answering our many questions.
First of all, he told us about Ernest Walton, an Irish scientist who lived locally. He split the atom. He was part of an English team, in a race against 2 American teams to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. He made the first Proton Accelerator out of scrap material; it shoots protons into the atom, the smallest thing in the world, at such a speed that the atom splits without a big explosion and mushroom cloud. His work won him, his boss Ernest Rutherford and his colleague John Cockcroft a Nobel Prize. His name went down in history.
Seán Duke’s career embraced all scientific aspects from around the world. He writes about his research and discoveries in his monthly magazine Science Spin, and in his book How Irish Scientists Changed the World. This book was No. 2 one the bestseller of Hodges Figgis bookstore. He has been a science journalist for almost two decades now. He has been on a few science and technology shows on radio including Today with Sean O’ Rourke and The Morning Show with Declan Meehan.
He also talked to us about alien life. He suggested that it was more than just a possibility that alien life exists. Maybe not sentient alien life but since the discovery of packed ice on Mars, he says that it is likely that some non-sentient life form such as bacteria could exist in our galaxy (as suggested from the WOW signal). The WOW signal was a signal discovered by SETI; an organization devoted to discovering extra-terrestrial life. They used a listening device nicknamed ‘The Big Ear’ to search for alien life. In August 15th 1977 they picked up a strange signal that bore the hallmarks of non-terrestrial life that lasted a full 72 seconds on a frequency not used by any known organizations.

He told us about the theory of afterlife. He admitted that many people see dead loved before their own death. He felt this was not a hallucination, but a sign that there is a life after death.
This visit was inspirational, educational and fun. We all hope to see him again; maybe on Mars, frozen in packed ice, maybe in a better place, we never know. Only time, and a little bit of science, will tell.