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Kilkenny woman to lead tonight’s Royal Institution Christmas Lecture

The environmental scientist concludes the three-parter on BBC4

A local woman will later today play a pivotal part in the Royal Institution Christmas lectures.

A tradition since 1825, previous participants include Carlow-born polymath John Tyndall.

This year’s offering themed ‘Plant Earth – A User’s Guide’ features Dr Tara Shine from Kilkenny City.

The environmental scientist was preceded in the series by two others, Chris Jackson and Helen Czerski, each delivering their take on the world.

From 8pm tonight she’ll demonstrate how Earth produces a never-ending supply of oxygen – the raw material for all complex life – and then reveals what’s really in the air we breathe, and why today’s increased carbon emissions are so dangerous to this delicate balance.

The virtual event will see her connected to Kilkenny College, which she herself attended, where some science students will also play a role.

Her family can’t wait as Dad Michael Shine, who also taught her Geography, explains “I’m afraid we’re very proud indeed, more proud than we ought to be because it’s her own effort and her own skill and determination and energy, I can’t believe the energy she has in all the things she does, she was asked herself recently by a school group did she always want to be a scientist and she said most certainly not, because scientists in those days were people in lab coats who worked in labs and looked at test tubes, and she would hate to have spent her life in a lab, the outdoor world is what she wanted”.

He adds “We will be glued to the television at 8 o’clock watching BBC4 to see how she gets on. What do we expect her to say? I don’t know, she has managed to mention one or other of us in some many of her nature programmes that she did for RTE, somehow Daddy and Mammy got a mention, but I doubt if that will be happening in this very serious science lecture”.

For more on the series click here