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Irish Young Scientist winners share top European prize

Eric Doyle and Mark Kelly from Synge Street CBS are among three top prizewinners at the EU Contest for Young Scientists.

Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle from Synge Street CBS celebrate their victory at the BT Young Scientist in January.
Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle from Synge Street CBS celebrate their victory at the BT Young Scientist in January.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE TWO BOYS from Synge Street CBS in Dublin who impressed judges with their simulation of a complex gravitational problem at this year’s BT Young Scientist contest have shared the top prize at the EU-wide parent contest.

Eric Doyle and Mark Kelly’s project dealt on the ‘many-body problem’ shared a three-way tie for the top prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is the 30th time in 24 years that Ireland has won a prize at the event.

The teenagers’ work saw them formulate new algorithms (a type of mathematical formula) to predict how items move in particular scenarios, such as where no gravity is present.

Their work made it possible for astronomers and physicists to more accurately predict how objects might move in space – which could have major commercial applications given the gradual moves towards commercial spaceflight.

The Dubliners split the prize with Polish teenager Jakub Nagrodzki, whose project dealt with the artificial synthesis of a chemical that occurs naturally in living organisms, a technique which could be used to treat conditions like muscular dystrophy.

The other top prize went to a trio of Austrian teenagers who developed a ‘blow-off’ device to protect cameras working in compressed environments.

The prizes were awarded by an international jury which included two past winners of the contest.

European science commissioner, former Irish minister Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, awarding the prizes, said equality of entries to this year’s contest was “very high, and encouraging for the future of research in Europe”.

“Past winners have gone on to prestigious careers in research, for instance at the European Space Agency and CERN. Europe must continue to nurture its best brains if it wants to lead in the 21st century,” Geoghegan-Quinn said.

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Gavan Reilly

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