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2015: A new horizon of science




Scientists greeted Pluto and genetic editing, entrepreneurs participated in the space race, and Ireland won the Nobel Prize in science for the first time in more than 60 years.

2015 was a milestone year for Silicon Republic. There was a new look, a responsive design website, and the first international science and technology event, the Inspirefest.

Sadly, incredible science communicator Mary Malvihill didn’t attend the Inspirefest as planned. She died just a week before her short illness, and Inspirefest founder and curator Ann O’Dea took part in the Silicon Republic Women Invent Tomorrow campaign, the predecessor of creating a comprehensive science and technology event. Pay tribute to her important role in.

At that time, Ireland was in a state of transformation into a more progressive country. The Marriage Equality Referendum dominated the headlines earlier this year, and Silicon Republic participated in a Business for Yes campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.

#MarRef is the main topic of conversations on Twitter in Ireland, and as the referendum approaches, it also brings a heartwarming #HomeToVote hashtag. Yes won, and love won again later that summer when the US Supreme Court ruled that the state could not ban same-sex marriage.

At least it gave us something to talk about other than dresses.

Pluto flyby

Another star on social media in 2015 was the dwarf planet Pluto.

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft departed for Pluto in 2006, it was still considered the ninth planet in our solar system. Almost 10 years later, New Horizons took the first photo of this demoted dwarf planet with the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt (named after an Irish scientist).

After a brief failure in July, New Horizons awoke and took the first grainy snap of Pluto’s surface. Let’s take a closer look than ever before. Then it was a breathtaking snap one after another, as were the amazing scientists and Twitter people.

New Horizons is also a monumental moment for STEM women, who make up a quarter of the team led by mission operations manager Alice Bowman.

Space Race 2.0

Space travel began in 2015, with astronauts aboard the ISS preparing aircraft to visit tourists and SpaceX first building a crew dragon capsule to take them there. Gave me a glimpse of it.

Some had the ambition to go further, but the Mars One program took advantage of these desires. Dr. Joseph Roche has been kicked off the list of finalists for a one-way private mission to Mars. He talked about the selection process that prompted applicants to raise money for fake projects.

Meanwhile, the two most famous entrepreneurs in the world were keen to take the lead in commercial space travel. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX participated in the Space Race to launch a reusable self-landing rocket for future space missions.

SpaceX got off to a good start on the ISS and missions to deep space, but the Falcon 9 rocket was unable to sustain its landing. By April, Blue Origin was preparing to launch its own spacecraft while SpaceX was solving speed and weather issues.

The summer explosion delayed Musk’s space flight plan and gave Bezos the opportunity to take control when the New Shepard rocket successfully landed after the November test launch.

However, SpaceX swung back, successfully entered orbital space, launched the first reusable rocket that returned, and landed upright at the end of December.

Cut and paste gene

Reusable rockets may have sounded like a distant concept, even at the turn of the century, but 2015 didn’t stop there with advances in its science fiction level.

Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, who many consider to be a breakthrough this year, have developed CRISPR-Cas9 as a method of genome editing. The duo won the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for developing a “cut and paste” technology for genes with promising potential for tackling diseases such as diabetes, cancer and HIV.

It’s been a few years ago, but this year was a year of explosive research with cheaper CRISPR-Cas9.

Scientists primarily supported low-level research on CRISPR, but did not support clinical use in human germline, resulting in genetic changes. However, in April, it was confirmed that Chinese scientists could use CRISPR to edit the genome of non-viable human embryos to remove genes that cause serious blood damage. rice field.

Ethical questions were raised, and at the International Summit on Gene Editing in December, scientists agreed to set up an international forum to address CRISPR concerns and harmonize regulations globally.

Ireland’s latest Nobel laureate

Doudna and Charpentier later won the Nobel Prize for their work on CRISPR, but the 2015 winners included William C Campbell, who graduated from Trinity College Dublin, born in Donegal.

Campbell was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on anthelmintic drugs used in livestock. He worked with Merck in the United States to develop a drug called avermectin. It was later further refined as ivermectin, a treatment for a condition known as “River Blindness.”

He was the first Irish to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since Ernest Walton, a Waterford man and “atomic splitter” in 1951.

Campbell wasn’t the only winner in Ireland in 2015. Ciara Clancy, the founder of Beats Medical, won the European Cartier Award for his work with patients with Parkinson’s disease. 13-year-old Niamh Scanlon was the second Irish girl to win the EU Digital Girl of the Year. Professor Louise Kenny received an award from the American Heart Association for her work on fetal and neonatal research.

Protect and monitor

Ireland received international attention in 2015 for other reasons. Safe Harbor was submerged in October when the European Union Court of Justice declared that the EU-US data sharing agreement was invalid for Max Schrems v. Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner. ..

By December, EU legislators had agreed to the text of the Data Protection Package, which includes the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The EU has decided to draw a line between its data regime and the US data regime, which simultaneously passed the Cyber ​​Security Information Systems Auditor (CISA), which effectively legalized government snooping.

The terrorist attack in Paris was used to justify government technical surveillance and rekindled the fierce debate over encryption and backdoors. And it wasn’t just the US government looking for a way. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron had already threatened to ban encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat if British intelligence couldn’t monitor them.

Later this year, the UK Government exhibited a number of new surveillance methods that further enhance its espionage capabilities, one of the world’s most advanced surveillance nations. Edward Snowden quickly criticized, and Apple went on to warn that there was no guarantee that the backdoor could be built for use only by “good people.”

Everything shook

From splitting to remodeling, from birth to departure, Big Tech has undergone major changes in 2015.

Following HP’s example, Yahoo decided to split into two separate entities after a month-long battle with the IRS over an ongoing attempt to spin off Alibaba’s $ 32 billion stake.

Earlier, Yahoo’s rival Google announced that it would change its brand name as Alphabet. This move has replaced Alphabet Inc with Google as the company’s public trading entity. Sergey Brin became president of Alphabet and its subsidiaries (including Google), and Sundar Pichai became CEO of Google.

Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter as CEO seven years after he left his position. He replaced the retiring CEO Dick Costro.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrates the birth of his first child and the birth of a charitable career when he and his wife Priscilla Chan promised to donate 99% of their property to a charity. I did.

Near the house, the Irish telecommunications provider underwent a brand change and leadership change. In September, Eircom became Eir under new CEO Richard Moat. A week later, Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave announced that the annual event will be held in Lisbon instead of Dublin after 2016, and decided to move the business elsewhere.

In other news:

January 12: An open letter signed by Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and many others promises to ensure that the development of AI will not end humanity.

January 14: Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe Systems settle $ 415 million after almost four years of fighting an antitrust class action alleging that they restricted Silicon Valley employees from changing jobs. A settlement agreement has been reached.

February 4: 3G Telecom crash postpones Ireland’s € 10 million national lottery jackpot draw.

March 11: Scientists announce the discovery of a warm sea on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

April 30: John Herlihy resigns 10 years after leading Google in Ireland. (He was later appointed to LinkedIn’s EMEA MD.)

April 30: NASA’s messenger spacecraft collided with the surface of Mercury after sending back stunning images of a planet that had been orbiting for years.

May 14: Introduced HTTP / 2, the first new version of HTTP since 1997.

May 19: Silicon Republic unveiled Facebook’s plans to build a € 200 million data center in Clonee, CoMeath.

June 23: Researchers aboard the MV Celtic Explorer report a surprising discovery of coral reefs off the Kelly coast.

July 2: The Irish startup Hassle, called “Hilo for Cleaners,” was acquired by Berlin-based Helpling for € 32 million.

July 27: Outbox Incubator, the world’s first incubator program for young women under the age of 22, begins in London.

July 27: Details of the first Stagefright of a series of bugs affecting hundreds of millions of Android devices have been released.

August 1: Isis Anchalee launches the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag in response to people skeptical of appearing in technology recruitment campaigns.

August 11: Apple has acquired a green light for a € 850 million data center in Athenry, Galway.

August 21: Google announced that it has begun construction of a new € 150 million data center in western Dublin.

August 24: Facebook has reached a milestone for 1 billion users in one day.

September 10: Scientists announce the discovery of a new species of human ancestor, Homo naledi.

September 18: A Volkswagen emissions scandal occurred when the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a clean air breach for concealing a million tonnes of pollutants from automakers.

September 22: A team of researchers claim to transfer quantum information carried by optical particles over a 100km optical fiber, quadrupling the distance recording of quantum teleportation.

September 28: NASA confirms that liquid water has been found on Mars.

September 29: Edward Snowden has joined Twitter and is following only one account, @ NSAGov, but is quickly gaining over 1 million followers.

September 30: Google and Microsoft call for a truce after a five-year patent proceeding.

October 13: UCD Data Spinout Logentries was acquired by security analytics giant Rapid7 for $ 68 million.

October 29: The European Parliament acknowledges Edward Snowden’s status as a “whistleblower and international human rights advocate” and, by a small margin, voted to withdraw all criminal charges against Edward Snowden.

November 11: Apple CEO Tim Cook visits Ireland and announces 1,000 new jobs at Cork.

November 29: Bill Gates announces two initiatives at COP21. Mission Innovation is a commitment of more than 10 countries to invest more in clean energy research. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a private green energy fund backed by Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Marc Benioff, Meg Whitman, Priscilla Chan, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma.

November 30: 26-year-old Trinity researcher Haytham Assem has been named the youngest IBM Master Inventor in history.

December 2: The Center for Applied Earth Sciences (iCRAG) for € 26 million was opened at the University of Dublin.

December 10: Chicago’s TransUnion acquires Irish startup Trustev for $ 44 million, becoming a billionaire with serial entrepreneur Pat Phelan and his co-founder.

December 12: At COP21, the final wording of the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions and limit global heating to “1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” was agreed.

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