Should Ireland join the European Southern Observatory?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Over the last couple of days on RTÉ News platforms, we’ve been exploring the structure, facilities, work and discoveries of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) – Europe’s foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation. We’ve also been teasing out the costs and benefits of joining ESO, which is what many astronomers who are part of the small but active and growing community here want. Having travelled to Chile to see first-hand what ESO’s observatories are like, I can …

The Apple tax ruling and the implications for its Irish operations

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent The Apple tax ruling is an extraordinary multi-faceted and many layered story, with implications regionally, nationally, internationally. The announcement that the amount of unpaid taxes owed by the Cupertino based company was of the order of €13bn, likely induced sharp intakes of breath among foreign multinational executives here. But regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, what does it all mean for Apple’s operations in Ireland, for the tech industry here, and the …

Proxima b – has a new Earth been discovered?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Scientists have announced that they have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting the closest star to our own solar system. It is big news, opening up the prospect that another world, which could potentially harbour life, is right on our doorstep (well in space terms anyway). What exactly has been found? For a number of years, astronomers have been busily engaged in a search for extrasolar planets or exoplanets. These are planets that orbit …

The real story behind Ireland’s ‘Leprechaun’ economics fiasco

Over the past few days we have learned much about the true story behind Ireland’s so-called “Leprechaun” economic figures. Senior civil servants and ministers were blindsided by the astonishing 26% economic growth figures for 2015 from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) – issued on 12 July. Some of the mandarins found out after the media, who were given the information under embargo 30 minutes in advance of publication at a press briefing. When the statisticians dropped their bombshell last week, ministers …

“the long goodbye”?

It must be the silly season – people are talking about whether Ireland should rejoin the Commonwealth. This notion is a hardy perennial of the summer school circuit, where the great and the good gather to ponder, pontificate and proselytise. Let them at it, it’s fairly harmless. If I run out of things to blog about, I might even discuss it at some point. But for the moment, let’s just say it’s not going to happen, whatever Frankie Feighan and …

Counting the cost of Brexit for science

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent “It’s a disaster”. That was Nobel Prize winning physicist Peter Higgs’ response when I asked him for his reaction to the result of the Brexit referendum, just hours after it was delivered last Friday. And he wasn’t alone in his views. Indeed a few weeks earlier, Professor Higgs had been among 13 Nobel Prize winning scientists who had warned losing EU funding of science would put British research “in jeopardy”. “Inside the EU, …

Brexit Britain … where next?

London on Thursday was hammered with rain. Not just a few summer showers but full on downpours. Tube lines were flooded. Train lines were closed. Traffic ground to a standstill. The glass tower of The Shard building disappeared from view. Two polling stations in Richmond were moved due to flooding. It was, in retrospect, a dramatic backdrop to the decision of voters that day to end Britain’s membership of the European Union. The United Kingdom and the rest of the …

Yanis Varoufakis comes to town. But did he help Greece?

Every year I make a point of attending the Dalkey Book Festival in Co Dublin, writes RTÉ’s Business Editor David Murphy. Run by economist David McWilliams and his highly-motivated wife Sian Smyth, the event has broadened from its literary origins to include a range of interesting speakers from the world of politics and economics. This year, one of the big name guests is the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis next Thursday. He is engaging, smart and controversial. This time …

Brexit could send Ireland back in time

Overlooking the River Liffey on Dublin’s docks is the neo-classical Customs House. The stunning building took ten years to construct and was completed in 1791 at a cost of £200,000, which was a fortune at the time. One of its purposes was to collect tariffs on goods coming into Dublin Port. At the time tariffs were seen as a positive mechanism for any country because they protected a nation’s domestic industry from foreign competitors. Since then economic thinking has been …

A Journey to the Heart of Brexit Britain

The tour groups shuffle respectfully past the stone tomb. A dappled pink light shines in from two brand new stained glass windows. The final resting place of Richard the Third in Leicester’s cathedral has become an unlikely tourist attraction. His remains, uncovered under a city car park, were reburied here with much pomp and ceremony last year. Now the stage villain king, killed at the Battle of Bosworth close to Leicester, has also been credited with the good luck enjoyed …

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