• Question: Did any Irish scientists play a big role in worldwide scientific revolutions in the past or present??:)

    Asked by zmayr to Adam, Chris, Eleanor, Jessamyn, Sinead on 14 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Eleanor Holmes

      Eleanor Holmes answered on 14 Nov 2013:


      The scientific history books are full of great Irish men and women. Some that spring to mind right away are;

      Robert Boyle “The Father Of Chemistry” who formulated Boyle’s Law which describes the relationship between the pressure and the volume of a gas (among other things).

      Ernest Thomas Walton who (with a man called Cockroft) was the first to split the atom and show that it was not “Indivisible” at all. He won the Nobel Prize and was a Fellow of Trinity College.

      In the area of Astrophysics, Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars – rapidly-rotating neutron stars – in 1967. She still studies them today.

      There are many more great scientist born here and I encourage you to look them up. There are also great scientists born elsewhere who came here to do their research and would have collaborated with (perhaps lesser known) researchers in Ireland.

      Erwin Schrodinger – of quantum mechanics and the infamous Cat – came to Trinity to work when his home in Austria became less than friendly in 1939. He stayed in Dublin for 15 years.

      English George Boole, developer of Boolean Logic and “Father of Computer Science”, developed his logic in Cork!

    • Photo: Adam Murphy

      Adam Murphy answered on 14 Nov 2013:

      There’s also Francis Beaufort who invented a scale for how strong winds are

      There there’s William Hamilton, who did a load of maths that became the basis for all Quantum Mechanics (He thought of them while crossing a bridge and had to stop and write them down with chalk!)

      Then there’s John Tyndall who did something really important. He proved the Earth has a greenhouse effect m(that the Earth’s atmosphere keeps in some radiation to keep us warm) , and now we understand that we’ve been trying to use it to slow down global warming.

      There’s plenty of Irish people floating about in History.

      (PS. One of the people Eleanor mentioned, Ms. Bell Burnell, discovered neutron starts, but her PhD supervisor stole all the credit! How mean is that?!)