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Samhain agus Science 2022 Line Up

From pagan astronomers to Medieval fantasy, DIAS reveals line-up for 2022 Samhain agus Science Festival

Life on other planets, what the ancient pagan astronomers of Ireland taught us, and the food and fantasies of Medieval Ireland are just some of the topics that will be explored as part of this year’s Samhain agus Science festival. The annual festival, organised by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), will run from Thursday, 27th October to Monday, 7th November.

Now in its fifth year, Samhain agus Science brings together researchers from DIAS and around the world for a series of free in-person and online events that take inspiration from the Celtic festival of Samhain and look at the dark side of science.

The festival aims to make the big scientific questions of our time and Celtic history relevant, accessible, and fun to a general audience who might not normally be familiar with these topics. 

Events taking place as part of this festival include:

  • ‘Food and Fantasy in Medieval Irish TraditionFood and drink are mentioned often in medieval Irish literature, providing us with insights about life and health in pre-modern Ireland. Professor Joseph F. Nagy will explore the realities and meanings of food as it appears prominently in tales such as ‘The Battle of Mag Tuired’, ‘Mac Dathó’s Pig’, and ‘The Vision of Mac Conglinne’ (7pm, Thursday, 27th October at DIAS, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4).
  • ‘Strange sounds from the underworld: earthquakes and other deep secrets’ Professor Chris Bean, Head of Geophysics at DIAS, and Dr. Martin Möllhoff, Director of Seismic Networks at DIAS, underground in Mitchelstown Cave, where a new seismic station records vibrations in the underworld, even when there is nobody around. Audible versions of seismic data will be played back inside the cave to demonstrate different types of ground motions (Thursday, 27th October at 7pm, Mitchelstown Cave, Co. Tipperary).
  • ‘Slimer or X-men Mutants: How energetic particles can affect life on other worlds’ Finding the signature of life on another world is a key goal of modern astronomy. But what would this life look like? Dr. Donna Rodgers-Lee will discuss the harsh environments that many planets experience that affects the development and survival of life on these worlds. She will also explore the idea of what a planet that is hospitable to life could mean and how we hope to detect life elsewhere in the Universe. (7pm, Tuesday, 1st November, DIAS, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4).
  • ‘Don’t be afraid of the Dark (Matter), come and learn about it’ This talk by Dr. Venus Keus will look at how we know Dark Matter exists, where and how we look for it, and whether we can produce it in experiments. (7pm, Wednesday, 2nd November at DIAS, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4).
  • ‘Samhain to Space Telescopes: A journey from Otherworld doorways to the darkest corners of the Universe’ The timing of Samhain, when portals to the pagan Otherworld were opened to the souls of the dead, was likely determined by ancient pagan astronomers highlighting the incredibly rich and deep history of astronomy on this island. To this day, our astronomers peer into the unknown to understand the Universe we live in. In this talk, Dr. Patrick Kavanagh, researcher and MIRI software developer at DIAS, will give an overview of the history of astronomy on this island, from these ancient astronomers marking seasonal events to using the James Webb Space Telescope to look at the most distant and dark corners of the Universe.(7pm, Thursday, 3rd November at DIAS Dunsink Observatory).
  • ‘Are we living in the Anthropocene?’ Professor Mark Williams will discuss the extent of the impact humans have had on the Earth and its climate, how humans have caused climate change and the timescale for a new geological epoch. (7pm, Monday, 7th November online via Zoom).

Commenting today (25.10.22), Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO and Registrar of DIAS, said: “We’re delighted to announce the line-up for this year’s Samhain agus Science festival and return to predominantly in-person events. There are some exciting locations in this year’s line-up including Mitchelstown Cave and DIAS Dunsink Observatory, giving the public a great opportunity to explore new locations and interests.

“This year’s events come from across our three Schools of research including Celtic Studies which will explore Medieval Ireland traditions, and Theoretical Physics and Cosmic Physics which will introduce the public to the dark and eerie side of science.”

Registration for DIAS’s Samhain agus Science events is now live. All events are free to attend, but advance booking is required. To book, visit: https://www.dias.ie/2022/10/13/samhain-agus-science-2022/