On science and cynicism

The Road to Chernobyl

When I told my friends and family where I was going on my holidays I was met with quite a few raised eyebrows: the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident probably isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find at the top of anyone’s destination list, in place of a sunny beach and some cocktails. But I could barely contain my excitement, and I loved it so much that I even wrote a book about it, called ‘The Road to Chernobyl’.

One night back in November, about a year ago, I went out for drinks with some friends. The following day I was feeling the effects, so I took refuge on the living room sofa and found a repeat episode of Top Gear. On this particular episode the presenters were driving across Ukraine and eventually to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Having studied physics for years this intrigued me, and I spent a few minutes on my phone – still on the sofa – researching how one gets to Chernobyl. Very quickly, I made the decision to go. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Abortion

Hi, folks. It’s been a while since I’ve written about this. In one sense I took a break from it: I needed a breather; I laid down my pen and did what I could to help fight for a Repeal of the 8th Amendment in other ways. It wasn’t much, nor was it ever much; there are a lot of other people making #repealthe8th happen and not only keeping it alive but making it a ferocious and unignorable thing. A Repeal will happen, regardless of who wants it or not. It must happen. It simply must.

Continue reading

A Radio Telescope for Ireland

When we think of astronomy, many of us imagine a lone figure outside in the cold and dark peering at a single star through a telescope. Astronomy – even at an amateur level – is much more interesting that that, as we work together with other astronomers to look not only at stars, but planets, moons, vast clouds of gas and dust, entire galaxies, clusters of stars, and more. This year, astronomy in Ireland is going to get even more exciting, as we will soon begin looking into the depths of space, back in time, to a point not long after the Universe came into existence. Continue reading

Cooking Low and Slow

I love my slow cooker. My mam gave it to me years ago as it was a spare one in the house and I was on for using it. It’s really versatile and it isn’t just for cooking endless supplies of casseroles; you can cook almost anything in a slow cooker: meat joints, soups, mulled wine, cake, takeaway-style grub… The list goes on.

At this time of year a lot of people are eager to try to eat healthier, or at least have more control over what they eat, and I think using a slow cooker is a great way to do this. For me, however, it’s not so much about the healthiness aspect of it, but more about how much time using a slow cooker frees up. It just takes a few minutes preparation for the majority of recipes, and when you come home from work, your dinner is already cooked! Continue reading

Guest Post: Paris – Thoughts from a Gig Dweller

My friend Shaun is a music photographer. He worked at The Olympia Theatre on the night of the attack on Paris. A few days before, the Eagles of Death Metal played at The Olympia, before going to Paris where they and their fans were caught up in the shocking and tragic events of November 13th. This connection had an impact on Shaun, and he shared his thoughts with those around him, as many of us have. I’m happy to now repost his words as a guest post here.

Remember, hate and fear have no place in our world any more: we can drive them out with love and bravery.

Continue reading

Making Pickled Shallots

A few years ago I came across this great recipe for easily pickling onions. I had most of the ingredients and a few 12140806_10153621677611774_5216489960874278724_n
hours to spare, so I went for it. Now lads, I swear, these shallots were delicious, and got better and better with age. The shallots were nice and crunchy and the flavour of the vinegar pierced through. They’d be fantastic with a bit of strong cheddar, or sliced up in a sandwich or on top of a burger. I’m drooling even thinking about them now!

I found the recipe again (links at the bottom) so a couple of weeks ago I made them again, and I’m really excited about getting stuck into them again!

They’re very easy to make once you can set aside some time, and I think they would make excellent homemade gifts around this time of year in smaller jars for any foodies in your life. Continue reading

Letter to Local TDs: Will You Support a Referendum?

I was unable to make it to March for Choice today, and someone on Twitter suggested that those of us who couldn’t make it should write to our local TDs. So I did that. All my TDs are men, so in a sense I am writing “as a man”, and I know I’m only touching on some of the complexities of abortion rights; I’ll never experience abortion in the same way a woman will, but I hope I’m helping to give some sort of voice to those who can’t speak out. But here it is, and feel free to use it yourself when writing to your local TDs. Continue reading

Blood Red Moon: Lunar Eclipse on September 28th

In the early hours of the morning of Monday, September 28th, our Moon will pass throw the shadow cast by Earth. This is known as a lunar eclipse, and this particular event will be the last in the current group of four eclipses, which have been taking place since April last year. Weather permitting, we in Ireland will be in a great position to see the eclipse from start to finish! Continue reading

‘Thoughts’ is on the Blog Awards Long-List

So Conor’s Thoughts has been long-listed for the Blog Awards Ireland 2015, in the category for Education and Science! I’m really excited by this and have to thank all my readers for your continuous encouragement in writing about science and astronomy. With your help I hope this blog can make it to the short list, but in the meantime I have some new blog posts coming up in the next while telling you all about current and future space missions and frontier physics experiments. Do you want to know how to build a starship? Or maybe you’d rather know about how teleportation will make our next generation computers even faster? Stay tuned!

Check out my shiny new graphic *smugface*

Check out my shiny new graphic *smugface*

Raspberry Pi Weather Station – Part 2

I’ve been working on a prototype for a Raspberry Pi weather station this last while and recently I made two new additions to the setup: a pressure sensor and an LCD screen.

The pressure sensor is the BMP180, which also gives a temperature reading. I used the Adafruit BMP libraries to control it (you can find the project on Github at There are plenty of guides online in getting this sensor set up, and it’s straightforward to do.

I was already using the Adafruit DHT library to use the temperature and humidity sensor and send data to Google Docs, so I just added in the imports and stuff to its Google upload script so that both the DHT and BMP stuff could be used in one file.

lcd_weather Continue reading

« Older posts

© 2016 Thoughts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑