List of Biographies

Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Born at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford. Boyle, sometimes called The Father of Chemistry, is a in the history of science. In 1661 he published The Sceptical Chemist.

William ‘Guillermo’ Bowles (1720-1780)

Born near Cork and spent most of his life in continental Europe. He studied law in England and natural history, chemistry and metallurgy in Paris. He wrote the first modern scientific description of Spain.

Francis_Beaufort (1774-1857)

Born in Navan, Co. Meath and became the British Navy’s greatest hydrographer and mapmaker. He is best known as the author of the table which classifies the velocity and force of winds at sea – The Beaufort Scale.

Nicholas_Callan (1799-1864)

Born near Ardee, Co. Louth. He was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Maynooth in 1826. Callan acquired a great interest in electrical phenomena and his most notable contribution was the invention of the induction coil, the forerunner of the modern step-up voltage transformer.


Conway successfully explained how differences between fluids inside and outside cells are established and maintained.  He also explained the origin of hydrochloric acid in gastric juice and carried out a very well regarded analysis of the evolution of ancient seas.

William Parsons (1800-1867)

Born in York, England, and brought up at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. In 1845 Parsons built the then-largest telescope in the world at Birr, a distinction retained for 70 years. A main purpose in building the telescope was to study the status of the sun and the star system (galaxy) in which it lies.

George Boole (1815-1864)

Born in Lincoln, England. Boole was the first Professor of Mathematics at Queen’s College, Cork (University College Cork today). Boole, sometimes called The Father of Computer Science, developed his system of Boolean Algebra while in Cork.

William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1864)

Born in Dublin, he became Professor of Astronomy at TCD and Royal Astronomer of Ireland. Hamilton introduced the terms scalar and vector into mathematics and he invented the method of quanternions as a new algebraic approach to 3-D geometry, which turned out to be the seed of much modern algebra.

John Tyndall (1820-1893)

Born in County Carlow, he became one of greatest scientists of 19th century. Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) at The Royal Institution, he did pioneering work on radiant heat, germ theory of disease, glacier motion, sound, and diffusion of light in the atmosphere. He was the first to explain how scattering of light in atmosphere causes blue colour in sky.

William Thomson (1824-1907) (Lord Kelvin) first Baron Kelvin (1866).

Born in Belfast. Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics), Glasgow University. World renowned physicist. Introduced the absolute scale of temperature – the Kelvin scale. His work on conversion of energy led to Second Law of Thermodynamics.

George Francis Fitzgerald (1851-1901)

Born in Dublin and became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at TCD. He is best remembered for his proposal that a moving body contracts in the direction of its motion, but that this contraction cannot be measured because moving rulers shrink in the same proportion. This was a significant step towards Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

J.D. Bernal (1901-1971)

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.

Ernest Walton (1903-1997)

Born in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, he was a pioneer nuclear physicist and is Ireland’s only science Nobel Laureate. He built the first successful particle accelerator with John Cockroft at Cambridge with which they disintegrated lithium (‘split the atom’) in 1931.

Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971)

Born in Newbridge, Co. Kildare she became Professor of Chemistry at University College, London. She did much important work in X-ray crystallography, including a demonstration that the benzene ring is flat. She was the first woman elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1945.

Denis Burkitt (1911-1993)

Born in Eniskillen, he graduated as a physician, and became world renowned pioneer in public medicine. Worked in public service for many years in Uganda. First described a cancer called Burkitt’s Lymphoma and showed that it is spread by mosquitoes who transmit the disease by spreading the Epstein-barr virus.

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