An Irish Man Interprets the World

A Story of Everyday Heroes

A little north of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, you’ll find the small Postman’s Park. Nestled beneath an unassuming wooden shelter, there is a wall with a series of 54 tiles. Each one carries at least one name, every name the name of a hero who laid down life to...

The Pain of Painlessness

Imagine having a condition which meant you are unable to feel pain. It sounds blissful.

Yet, for Steven and his brother, this was far from the case.[1] When he was 4-5 months old, he began chewing on his tongue as he was teething, unable to sense the pain this would usually cause. Once his condition, congenital analgesia, had been diagnosed, he had destroyed a quarter of...

One in Three people infected…

One in three people worldwide are infected. When it becomes active, without proper treatment, it will be fatal for up to two thirds of cases. In fact, it is second only to AIDS in deaths caused by a single infectious agent. In 2013, it killed 1.5 million people worldwide.[1]

Today is World Tuberculosis Day.

The culprit of countless millions of fatalities: Electron...

One child dies every minute: 10 incredible facts about water…

On one side of the world:

8 billion people, around 1 in 6 people, drinks water contaminated with faeces.[1]

 

More people have access to mobile phones than working toilets. Only a third of the population of India has access to adequate sanitation.[2]

 

In 76% of households, women and children bear the primary responsibility of collecting...

What does a Day of Happiness look like for Indrakhala?

This is Indrakhala. She lives in the beautiful country of Nepal. She has her home next to the mud homes of her extended family.[1]

Yet the key word here is ‘next to’.  In this photo she gently smiles, but, in reality, her life is far from beautiful. Years ago, she was forced to stay in a shelter made out of mud and bamboo leaning on the...

Ireland and the three thousand of Gallipoli…  

Above: The 10th Irish division, composed of volunteers from across Ireland, which fought at Gallipoli

  Ireland has been officially neutral in terms of international conflict for around 8 decades, since the 1930s.

Yet it has not been immune from the turmoil of the 20th century, which saw the advent of the largest and most destructive wars of all history. Before its...

St Patrick, champion of Human Rights?

Ireland has only 0.064% of the world’s population. Yet it has international influence that far exceeds its size. Today, St Patrick’s celebrations involve over 150,000 people in New York City alone,[1] and around 34 million Americans consider themselves to have Irish heritage, over 7 times the population of Ireland itself.[2]

St Patrick’s...

Why does an extra X chromosome make such a difference?

Sunday was International Women’s Day.  It adopted the strapline “Make it Happen”. It’s a clear statement that enough talking has been done – it’s time to ensure gender equality.   What is gender? When we’re born, whether we are male or female depends on whether we end up possessing a slightly different strand of DNA. If a baby has two ‘X’ chromosomes, it is a...

The Polar Bear: Key to saving the world?

Maybe you missed it on Friday, but it was International Polar Bear Day.

What does the Polar Bear make you think of? Cute, fluffy animals? A landscape of snow, glistening in the sun in a frozen utopia? Nostalgic Christmas cards? For some, the humble creature, which lives in the Arctic region, has become a symbol of world...

Could you patent the sun? The Beginning of the End for Polio…

The 1952 polio epidemic killed 3,145 and paralysed 21,269 men, women and children in the US.  Two years later, on 23 February 1954, Virologist Jonas Salk brought a glimmer of hope to Pittsburgh.  On this day,  61 years ago, the first large-scale inoculations of children began today. Just over a year later, the vaccine was...

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

27th January 1945 was a momentous day in history. 70 years ago today, Soviet forces liberated the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. The liberation of Auschwitz was a red letter day after the genocide of 6 million Jews, 1 million from the travelling community, 250 thousand people with disabilities and 9 thousand homosexual men by Nazi forces.

The...

Happy Pie Day! Why pies have saved lives…

Today is National Pie Day in the USA. It’s not to be confused with the number Pi, or the film the Life of Pi, which focusses more on being stuck in a lifeboat with a tiger! It’s genuinely a day celebrating the symbolic, economic, and tasty qualities of pie! It’s sponsored by the American Pie Council...

Happy Old New Year…

Today would have been the date St Patrick, Jonathan Swift and William Shakespeare celebrated as New Year’s Day. You and I might say it’s the 14th January, but according to the Julian calendar, today is 1st January.

For some...

Is this a distantly-related cousin?

Do we have the right to eradicate diseases?

180 years ago today, 7th January 1835, HMS Beagle dropped anchor on the Chonos Archipelago. Charles Darwin was on board. He would spend the next number of weeks conducting research. By November 1859, Darwin had published ‘On the Origin of Species’. His book transformed the study of the natural sciences.

Darwin’s central thesis argued that the diversity of...

Running out of soil?

Do we feed landfill sites better than the starving?

Did you see last Friday’s cartoon? The statistic is startling. The United Nations confirms that 12 million hectares of land useful farming land is lost each year.[1] That’s an area almost one and a half times the size of Ireland.

There are only 150 million km2 of land area in the entire world. 34% of that is hostile to vegetation and therefore...

Worth more than all the gold in the world…

In UK, more than one third of adolescent girls, and one fifth of boys, have self-harmed.[1] In USA, suicide kills more young people than cancer.[2] Countless people have such a low sense of self worth that they think life no longer worth living.

Gold, an inanimate metal, is highly valued: roughly $14,500 per kilo.[3] If an 80 kilo human body is broken down into its individual...

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.”

– Mother Teresa

Carrying around the cure to AIDS?

Potential in your Pocket: Carrying around the cure to AIDS?

Today is World AIDS day. Whatever you do to count down to Christmas, spare a thought for countless HIV-positive individuals would give anything they owned to be cured in the next 24 days. AIDS is at present incurable, and severely weakens the immune system, making the victim open to a deadly cocktail of diseases and cancers that ordinarily the immune system prevents....

Front Page of the Constitution of India

Happy Constitution Day!

Just over a month ago, India’s Mars probe, the Mangalyann, survived the 298-day journey to Mars, and was successfully in orbit around Mars. The Indian space programme is the fourth to reach Mars, after Russia, NASA and Europe. The Indian way of doing it is impressively different: NASA’s programme cost around $671 million while India’s was budgeted at around $74 million...