Hamilton Day commemorates a groundbreaking discovery by Ireland’s most famous scientist. On 16 October 1843, William Rowan Hamilton discovered quaternion algebra, while walking along the Royal Canal from Dunsink Observatory to the Royal Irish Academy (RIA). This was one of those very rare Eureka moments in the history of science. So excited was he by his discovery that he scratched his equation on the wall of Broome Bridge, Cabra.
Sir William Rowan Hamilton
Each year the RIA celebrates Hamilton’s life and contribution to mathematics by holding Hamilton Day to coincide with the anniversary of Hamilton’s discovery in October 1843. The day includes an award ceremony to recognise the most gifted third level mathematics students in Ireland; a masterclass for early-career researchers; a public discussion on a topical issue and the day concludes with the Hamilton lecture which is given by an international renowned speaker.
Past Hamilton Day speakers have included Roger Penrose, Robert Merton, Cédric Villani, Lisa Randall and Frank Wilczek. A complete list of all Hamilton Day speakers can be viewed here. In 2015, Professor Daniel Spielman, Henry Ford II Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Applied Mathematics at Yale University gave the Hamilton lecture.
With support from Arup and the Irish Times, the next Hamilton Day will take place on Monday 16 October 2017. Read about Hamilton Day 2016 here. If you missed the Hamilton Lecture, you have an opportunity to learn a bit more about the field of cryptography from the Hamilton speaker in this video interview.