Science & Nature

Trees: Cherry Tree

The cherry is one of the better know trees in Ireland because it is often planted as on ornamental street-tree. It ushers in the spring with a wonderful splash of colour. However, most of these white and pink blossoms have come from afar, mainly from Asia in particular from Japan.

Willow Warbler (Ceolaire sali)

Phylloscopus tochilus

Though unfamiliar to most people, the Willow Warbler is actually an extremely common bird in Ireland. Indeed, it is our most numerous summer migrant, with around two million individuals making the journey here each spring; they begin to leave for their west African wintering grounds in August, staging in Iberia en route. The species occurs in all counties, and despite its name is not confined to willows, nesting also in a wide range of young deciduous trees and bushes, woodland edges and scrubland.

Walks: Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow

Visit ruins of a medieval church amd the stroll for a few hours on a shingle beach along the Murrough. Take care when crossing the railway near the car park. A bronze plaque recalls that guns were landed here in 1914 for the Irish volunteers. Turn south on a level path parallel with rail tracks.

Clovis Catastrophe

Several individuals grouped fearfully around the perimeter of a burning hot fire and peered ominously at the spreading wave of heat as it transferred across the parched vegetation that made up their dry homeland.

Virtual World War

Perhaps people are taking the rise in popularity of role playing games too seriously. The US Department of Defence is developing a synthetic parallel world, complete with billions of “nodes” to represent the world population, in an attempt to foresee the effects of various events, such as how long a country can go without water or the results of televised propaganda. The concept would be to create “a synthetic mirror of the real world with automated continuous calibration with respect to current real-world information” according to Professor Alok Chaturvedi.


The Internet abounds with stories of exploding laptops. In 2005 Dell recalled 35,000 laptops, Apple recalled 128,000 Mac batteries and Fujitsu 250,000 batteries. Many companies made similar recalls in 2006 due to overheating batteries, often made by Sony. The latest victim is Toshiba, who recently admitted that they had evidence of one of their laptops bursting into flames due to a short-circuit within the Sony-made battery.

Google stretch wings and mileage

Never out of these pages for long, Google are now gaining attention for more than their ubiquitous search engine. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric PG&E, the company that provides energy for much of Northern California, Google recently unveiled their vision of the future of the electric car. The vehicle would be powered from the electricity grid yet would itself power the grid in return.

Alder: good survivor

Alder which is one of our most widely distributed native trees flowers before the leaves come out and has attractive reddish catkins and small ‘cones' that contain seeds. Alder will grow on most soils but prefers wet soils. It thrives in damp areas, beside lakes and rivers where its strong fibrous roots protect the river banks thereby reducing erosion. Given a rich damp soil alder will grow rapidly and is a productive timber tree. A unique feature of alder is its root nodes which can fix nitrogen thus enabling it to survive on infertile soils.