Bright Sparks

Irish Science and Scientists

2012 was Dublin city of Science so we decided to join the celebrations and acknowledge the work of some of the best.

William Rowan Hamilton

i²=j²=k²=ijk=-1 by Daniel Doyle

i²=j²=k²=ijk=-1 by Daniel Doyle

i²=j²=k²=ijk=-1 by Daniel Doyle

i²=j²=k²=ijk=-1 by Daniel Doyle

William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1864), born in Dublin, became Professor of Astronomy at TCD and Royal Astronomer of Ireland. At the age of 9 he knew 13 languages. Hamilton introduced the terms scalar and vector into mathematics and he invented the method of quaternions as a new algebraic approach to 3-D geometry, which turned out to be the seed of much modern algebra.
The story goes that while walking with his wife down the Grand canal in a flash of genius Hamilton thought of a formula. Without paper and worried that he may forget he scratched it into Broom bridge. Although the etching is long faded the Formula lives on, used to this day in Space exploration and computer game design.

J.D. Bernal

Crystalography by Niall Magee

Crystalography by Niall Magee

J.D. Bernal (1901-1971) was born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Professor Physics, Birbeck College, University of London. Developed the technique of modern X-ray crystallography and led a group that used the technique to work out the 3-D structure of proteins, nucleic acids and viruses.

John Tyndall

Light Pipes by Alan Magee

Light Pipes by Alan Magee

John Tyndall (1820-1893) was born in County Carlow, he became one of greatest scientists of 19th century. He was the first to explain how scattering of light in atmosphere causes blue colour in sky. He explained how the gases in the atmosphere trap heat and keep the earth warm. He invented the light pipe which later led to development of fibre optics.