On science and cynicism

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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.

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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

Blog Awards 2015

Thank you all for following my blog: it makes me really happy that so many people are interested in my passions, and I always strive to write something that I think will instill some wonder and reflection, make people think outside of the normal day-to-day matters, and most of all give people enjoyment.

Thoughts is entered in the Best Educational and Science Blog category in this years Blog Awards Ireland, so if you like my blog and enjoy my ramblings,  I would be really honoured if you could consider giving my blog a vote at

I have more posts on the way so thank you again for following and I hope you’ll enjoy what’s coming!

Raspberry Pi Weather Station

I like to play around with my Raspberry Pi and see what I can do with it. Recently I got it to stream video from a webcam and show it on the streaming website this will eventually become a home CCTV system. In the next week or two a signal generator I ordered will have arrived, and I’ll use the RPi to control it and encode Morse code onto the signal, which will then be sent to an amplifier, a filter, and finally an antenna to act as a low power QRSS radio beacon.

This week, however, I built a weather station. Continue reading

Rosetta, Philae, and the Importance of Comets

After months of silence from the Philae lander, it was today reported that the craft has finally awoken from a hibernation mode and is now transmitting data from the surface of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, also known as Comet 67P. Philae travelled to the comet attached to the Rosetta orbiter, which still orbits the giant icy body. It was planned to undergo a smooth landing, which unfortunately didn’t happen: a couple of malfunctions meant that the lander ended up bouncing over the comet’s surface over the space of a few hours, before finally resting net to what is presumed to be a cliff-face. While Philae managed to send home some photos before shutting down, we still don’t know exactly where on the comet the lander is located.

The following is a piece I wrote that first appeared in in August 2014, prior to the arrival of the mission at the comet, where I talked about the Rosetta/Philae mission and the importance of comets. As Philae is now working again, it looks like the mission can continue, so I felt this is a good time to repost this one. Hope you like it!

Comet 67P as photographed by the Rosetta spacecraft.

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The Final Approach to Pluto

In January 2006 NASA launched a spacecraft that would spend the next nine and a half years sailing through the Solar System. It’s currently travelling at over 70,000km per hour, the fastest spacecraft ever launched. In one month, on July 14, New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto. Continue reading

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