Icons of Irish Science


pauric dempseyIcons of Irish Science (2005) was a series in which the RIA’s Pauric Dempsey talked to eminent Irish scientists whose work has had a global impact. The show was broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 in 2005 and was repeated in 2008. The shows are available as podcasts here.



Programme 1:
William Rowan Hamilton, who discovered quaternions

Programme 2: 
 Ernest Walton (1903 -95) won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951 for his part in splitting the atom.  This was the beginning of particle physics, pursued today in the giant accelerators of CERN.

Programme 3:
Charles Parsons (1854-1931) invented the steam turbine, which revolutionised marine transport and electricity generation.  Today every power station in the world uses turbine generations based on Parsons' idea.

Programme 4: 
 George Boole (1815-64) was the first professor of Mathematics at University College, Cork. He invented a revolutionary way of translating abstract ideas into algebraic equations, which could be processed by a machine.  Web search engines rely on Boolean algebra. Einstein used Boole's invariant theory when developing his theory of relativity. Bertrand Russell describe Boole's book, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, as the book where pure mathematics was discovered.

Programme 5:
Nicholas Joseph Callan (1799-1864), Irish priest, scientist and inventor, was a pioneer in the development of electrical science and inventor of the induction coil used in every motor car, which led to the modern transformer.

Programme 6:
George Stokes (1819-1903) laid the foundation of the modern engineering science of fluid mechanics, was a pioneer in the science of geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the earth and its gravitational field and gave fluorescence its name.

Programme 7:
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, born in Belfast in 1943. She detected the first pulsar, a rapidly rotating and strongly magnetised neutron star, emitting regular pulses of radio waves. Accurate measurements of pulsars have confirmed Einstein's theory of general relativity

Programme 8:
Professor Patrick Cunningham developed the first test for CJD and it is now used worldwide. He is chief scientific advisor to the government of Ireland.

Programme 9:
Dr. Peter Butler, a pioneer in the field of plastic surgery.

Programme 10:
Dr. Garret Fitzgerald of the University of Pennsylvania and winner of the Boyle Medal for Science. He was the scientist who exposed the dangers of the drug Vioxx.

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