RTE One 7.30PM, Friday, September 27, 2013

On this week’s show, Aoibhinn investigates just how road ready we are for electric vehicles, Kathriona looks into new technologies which could enable Irish farmers to determine the gender of their calves, and Jonathan finds out if he could have what it takes to become a top surgeon!

Part 1 : Electric Vehicles

The Irish Government has committed to getting enough electric passenger vehicles on the road by 2020 to account for 10 per cent of all vehicles (a projected 230,000 electric vehicles). But how are we doing on that pledge? And how well are we set up for the electric cars that are currently on our roads? Aoibhinn investigates how things are going in terms of EV uptake and advances in battery technologies, and visits the Aran Islands to check in with the homeowners who are now entering the final year of a three-year trial of electric vehicles to see how the project is going.

Part 2 : Surgical Training

It has been acknowledged that certain natural abilities and personality characteristics can influence surgeons’ performance. At RCSI, new technologies have allowed for a move towards more skills lab training involving simulators, where students can learn skills in a controlled environment, allowing for safer and accelerated learning. We test our presenter Jonathan’s natural suitability to a surgical profession, highlighting both the new technology being used in skills labs and the human factors modules that are transforming surgical training. Does he have the natural physical and cognitive skills suited to a career in surgery?

Part 3 : Weird Science - Bobtail Squid

Imagine you are on the beach. It’s a clear calm night. The path of the moon and the twinkle of the stars on the surface of the water. It sounds idyllic. However, for one particular animal, such a night is far from ideal, and it’s adopted a Harry Potter-esque technique to aid its survival…

Part 4 : Sexed Semen

A new trial into the controversial viability of using sexed semen in Ireland, which allows farmers to determine the sex of their calves, has the potential to revolutionise the dairy and beef industry. Conventionally there is a 50/50 chance of male or female off spring, but in the dairy industry, female offspring are more desirable than male offspring. Dairy farmers using sexed semen will be able to increase the numbers of heifer calves born and reduce the number of unwanted male dairy calves. Kathriona meets Teagasc researchers who are heading up a €1m project with ICBF and US-based Sexing Technologies to establish the viability of using sexed semen in Ireland, and speaks to Farmer Kevin Twomey about the importance of this type of ongoing research, particularly in light of facilitating the 50% increase in milk output as set out in Food Harvest 2020 targets.