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What If: Science's Most Important Question

Irish people have been responsible for many of the ground-breaking scientific discoveries and developments that we take for granted in our everyday lives. Waterford-born scientist Robert Boyle is known as the Father of Chemistry; John Philip Holland of County Clare invented the first submarine; Irish physicist and civil engineer Robert Mallet laid the foundations of modern seismology, even coining the name. The greatest scientific achievements all came about as the result of one simple question: what if?

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is encouraging today’s Irish scientists to continue asking that question and to discover the many exciting and world-changing answers to it. Ireland’s national foundation for investing in science and engineering research, SFI support of academic researchers and scientific institutions have helped to make Ireland a world leader in nanoscience, immunology and computer science.

What if we could fuel our cars with water? Researchers at SFI’s AMBER Centre have already developed a material to enhance the separation of oxygen and hydrogen in water at a very low energy cost, giving us the possibility of efficient production of pure hydrogen using renewable energy.

The greatest scientific achievements all came about as the result of one simple question: what if?

What if the mackerel you had for dinner could also cure super-bugs? That’s what researchers at the SFI, University College Cork and the Food Research Centre are trying to accomplish, using a protein produced by bacteria in the digestive systems of this popular and tasty fish.

What if we could re-print fractured bones? A new process developed by the AMBER researchers uses stem cells and biomaterials to create new cartilage templates that support the 3D printing of new bone material.

Who knew that two short words could lead to such radical scientific breakthroughs?

Source: Science Foundation Ireland