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The Ingenious Irish: how Irish inventors and scientists helped to shape the modern world. ...

The Ingenious Irish: how Irish inventors and scientists helped to shape the modern world.

Talk given at the EC's Joint Research Centre in Geel, Belgium, by Mary Mulvihill, Ingenious Ireland, at an event marking Ireland's EU presidency, in January 2013

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2013 ingenious-ireland-jrc irmm 2013 ingenious-ireland-jrc irmm Presentation Transcript

  • The ingenious Irish! Great Irish scientists & inventorswhose ideas shaped the modern world EC JRC, Geel, 18.1.2013 Mary Mulvihill www.ingeniousireland.ie Copyright Mary Mulvihill, 2013
  • I want to change what you think about Ireland!From medicine to military, the Ingenious Irish:• Revolutionised food and farming• Changed the face of war• Electrified the world and made the 20th century possible• Split the atom, starting the atomic era• Even helped to land a man on the Moon!
  • Small everyday contributions include . . . The ISBN, Gordon Foster, 1960s Trinity College Dublin
  • Milk chocolate: Sir Hans Sloane, 1680sThe Irish add milk to everything, inventing new industries,such as Baileys cream liqueurs and milk chocolate.
  • Flavoured crisps:Joe ‘Tayto’ Murphy, 1954
  • We’re still inventing flavours:Shamrock-flavoured crisps :-)
  • The Penny Black: 1840World’s first adhesive stamp.Note: no perforations,making the stamps difficultto separate
  • Perforated stampsDublin printer Henry Archer, c. 1850.The Royal Mail paid him £4000 for his patents.
  • We revolutionised farming: Artificial fertiliser: Sir James Murray, 1817 He invented a way to make minerals soluble for plants.
  • Lightweight tractor: Harry Ferguson, 1930sManufactured initially by Ford, replaced the horse
  • We invented whiskey . . . Not once, but twice!In the Middle-Ages, missionaries and Crusaders broughtdistilling back from the Arab world.The Irish distilled beer, and made the first proto-whiskey
  • The continuous, column still – the first heat exchange deviceAeneas Coffey, 1830Produced whiskey so pure it was almost industrial alcohol!
  • Medical inventions include:The hypodermic syringe,Francis Rynd 1843, Dublin’s Meath Hospital
  • The modern stereo, rubber stethoscopeArthur LearedFirst exhibited Crystal Palace, London, 1851
  • First effective radiotherapy for cancerThe ‘Dublin Method’, using radon gas in place of radiumJohn Joly, Dublin 1910-14
  • John JolyA founding father of geophysicsHis many inventions included:A full-colour photographictechnique, 1890sThe steam calorimeter…
  • We changed the face of war The first commercial submarine John Philip Holland, 1890s
  • World’s first guided missileLouis Brennan’s ‘dirigible’ torpedo (guided by wires fromthe shore) , 1860s
  • We electrified the world!Steam turbineCharles Parsons 1880s – made the 20th-century possible(this small working model is at Trinity College Dublin)
  • . . . and revolutionsed transport at sea Turbinia, 1890s Parsons’s turbine-powered ship
  • Some great scientific contributions...
  • The world’s largest telescope: 1845-1917Birr Castle ‘Leviathon’,Now beautifully restoredto working order.
  • Revealed the spiral nature of galaxies and nebulaeThe whirlpool galaxy Hubble Space Telescope 2005William Parsons sketch Birr 1845
  • We invented the science of seismology Robert Mallet, ingenious engineer First controlled seismic experiments 1846 Ireland seldom has earthquakes.... So Mallet had to make his own!
  • Mallet: first seismic atlas of the world Reveals the Pacific rim of fire, 1850s
  • Irish algebra, helped to put a man on the MoonWilliam Rowan Hamilton: invented Quaternion algebra, 1843The 1st non-commutative algebra, it is now used to orientatespacecraft, and in 3D computer graphics.Hamilton also laid the foundations of quantum mechanics.
  • Thermodynamics and degrees Kelvin William Thomson, Baron Kelvin 1824-1907 His many inventions included an instrument that made the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable possible.
  • George Gabriel Stokes Stokes’s conjecture Stokes’s phenomenon Stokes’s layer Stokes’s line Stokes’s law of hydrodynamics Stokes’s aw of fluorescence Navier-Stokes equations . . . the stokes, the standard unit of kinematic viscosity, is equal to 1cm2/second. Lucasion Professor at Cambridge (Newton and Hawking)
  • For splitting the atom: 1951 Nobel physics prizeErnest Walton, with John Cockcroft Experimental accelerator and detector, 1932 Proved e=mc2 Began the atomic era
  • Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel prize 1933 The Austrian physicist was also an Irish man! He lived in Dublin 1939-1956 and took Irish citizenship. He wrote ‘What is Life?’ in Dublin and his book inspired a generation of biologists after WWII, including Crick and Watson.
  • X-Ray crstallography: Dame Kathleen Lonsdale The structure of benzene and diamond, and other inorganic molecules
  • Contributions to research and analysis . . .
  • What made Guinness great was quality control and statistics . . .
  • Student ‘t’ testWilliam Sealy Gosset, Guiness Brewer 1908
  • The ‘father’ of chemistry – Robert Boyle Boyle’s Law (gas volume and pressure) • Experiments with an air pump • Modern analytical chemistry • Modern concept of an element • Litmus tests, for acid, base and neutral • Analytical tests for mineral water • Assays for gold and silver and salts • Formalin as a preservative
  • A great experimentalist: John Tyndall • First proof of Greenhouse gas effect (absorption spectroscopy of gases) • First explanation of why the sky is blue •First proof of Pasteur’s germ theory •Champion and populariser of science •Mountaineer
  • New microdrop analyserbased onTyndall’s workonspectrometry
  • Discover more about Ingenious Ireland . . .
  • Try the e-bookAvailable on Amazonhttp://url.ie/gu5v
  • Visiting Dublin?Discover great stories with an Ingenious Dublin walking tour
  • Or download a ready-to-go MP3 audio tour
  • Irish stamp marking 350 years of Boyle’s Law, in 2012Now ‘peel and stick’ -- but still with perforations! www.ingeniousireland.ie