Page images
PDF
EPUB

his great reflecting telescope 58 feet long. This instrument, which cost £30,000, long remained the largest in the world. Ho was president of the Royal Society from 1848 to 1854.

Sir Howard Grubb (b. 1844), F. R. S., is known all over the world for his telescopes and for the remarkable advances which he has made in the construction of lenses for instruments of the largest size.

Sir Robert Ball (b. in Dublin 1840, d. 1913), F. R. S. Originally Lord Rosse's astronomer at Parsonstown, he migrated as professor to Trinity College, Dublin, and subsequently became Lowndean Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge. He was a great authority on the mathematical theory of screws, and his popular works on astronomy have made him known to a far wider circle of readers than those who can grapple with his purely scientific treatises.

William Edward Wilson (b. Co. Westmeath 1851, d. 1908), F. R. S. A man of independent means, he erected, with the help of his father, an astronomical observatory at his residence. In this well-equipped building he made many photographic researches, especially into the nature of nebulae. He also devoted himself to solar physics, and wrote some remarkable papers on the sudden appearance in 1902 of the star Nova Persei. He was the first to call attention to the probability that radium plays a part in the maintenance of solar heat. In fact, the science of radio-activity was engaging his keenest interest at the time of his early death.

A. A. Rambaut (b. Waterford 1859), F. R. S., formerly Astronomer Royal for Ireland and now Radcliffe Observer at Oxford, is one of the leading astronomers of the day.

PHYSICISTS.

Lord Kelvin, better known as Sir William Thompson (b. Belfast 1824, d. 1907), F. R. S. Amongst the greatest physicists who have ever lived, his name comes second only to that of Newton. He was educated at Cambridge, þecame professor of natural philosophy in Glasgow University in 1846, and celebrated the jubilee of his appointment in 1896. To the public his greatest achievement was the electric cabling of the Atlantic Ocean, for which he was knighted in 1866. His electrometers

and electric meters, his sounding apparatus, and his mariners' compass are all well-known and highly valued instruments. To his scientific fellows, however, his greatest achievements were in the field of pure science, especially in connection with his thermodynamic researches, including the doctrine of the dissipation or degradation of energy. To this brief statement may be added mention of his work in connection with hydrodynamics and his magnetic and electric discoveries. His papers in connection with wave and vortex movements are also most remarkable. He was awarded the Royal and Copley medals and was an original member of the Order of Merit. He received distinctions from many universities and learned societies.

George Francis Fitzgerald (b. Dublin 1851, d. 1901), F. R. S., was fellow and professor of natural philosophy in Trinity College, Dublin, where he was educated. He was the first person to call the attention of the world to the importance of Hertz's experiment. Perhaps his most important work, interrupted by his labors in connection with education and terminated by his carly death, was that in connection with the nature of the ether.

George Johnston Stoney (b. King's Co. 1826, d. 1911), F. R. S., after being astronomer at Parsonstown and professor of naturai philosophy at Galway, became secretary to the Queen's University and occupied that position until the dissolution of the university in 1882. He wrote many papers on geometrical optics and on molecular physics, but his great claim to remembrance is that he first suggested, "on the basis of Faraday's law of Electrolysis, that an absolute unit of quantity of electricity exists in that amount of it which attends each chemical bond or valency and gave the name, now generally adopted, of electron to this small quantity." He proposed the electronic theory of the origin of the complex ether vibrations which proceed from a molecule emitting light.

John Tyndall (b. Leighlin Bridge, Co. Carlow, 1820, d. 1893), F. R. S., professor at the Royal Institution and a fellowworker in many ways with Huxley, especially on the subject of glaciers. He wrote also on heat as a mode of motion and was the author of many scientific papers, but will, perhaps, be best remembered as the author of a Presidential Address to the British Association in Belfast (1874), which was the high

water mark of the mid-Victorian materialism at its most triumphant moment.

CHEMISTS.

Richard Kirwan (b. Galway 1733, d. 1812), F. R. S. A man of independent means, he devoted himself to the study of chemistry and mineralogy and was awarded the Copley medal of the Royal Society. He published works on mineralogy and on the analysis of mineral waters, and was the first in Ireland to publish analyses of soils for agricultural purposes, a research which laid the foundation of scientific agriculture in Great Britain and Ireland.

Maxwell Simpson (b. Armagh 1815, d. 1902), F. R. S., held the chair of chemistry in Queen's College, Cork, for twenty years and published a number of papers in connection with his subject and especially with the behavior of cyanides, with the study of which compounds his name is most associated.

Cornelius O'Sullivan (b. Brandon, 1841, d. 1897), F. R. S., was for many years chemist to the great firm of Bass & Co., brewers at Burton-on-Trent, and in that capacity became one of the leading exponents of the chemistry of fermentation in the world.

James Emerson Reynolds (b. Dublin 1844), F. R. S., professor of chemistry, Trinity College, Dublin, for many years, discovered the primary thiocarbamide and a number of other chemical substances, including a new class of colloids and several groups of organic and other compounds of the element silicon.

Among others only the names of the following can be mentioned :

Sir Robert Kane (b. Dublin 1809, d. 1890), professor of chemistry in Dublin and founder and first director of the Museum of Industry, now the National Museum. He was president of Queen's College, Cork, as was William K. Sullivan (b. Cork 1822, d. 1890), formerly professor of chemistry in the Catholic University. Sir William O'Shaughnessy Brooke, F. R. S. (b. Limerick 1809, d. 1889), professor of chemistry and assay master in Calcutta, is better known as the introducer of the telegraphic system into India and its first superintendent.

BIOLOGISTS. William Henry Harvey (b. Limerick 1814, d. 1866), F. R. S., was a botanist of very great distinction. During a lengthy residence in South Africa, he made a careful study of the flora of the Cape of Good Hope and published The Genera of South African Plants. After this he was made keeper of the Herbarium, Trinity College, Dublin, but, obtaining leave of absence, travelled in North and South America, exploring the coast from Halifax to the Keys of Florida, in order to collect materials for his great work, Nereis Boreali-Americana, published by the Smithsonian Institution. Subsequently he visited Ceylon, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Friendly and Fiji Islands, collecting algae. The results were published in his Phycologia Australis. At the time of his death he was engaged on his Flora Capensis, and was generally considered the first authority on algae in the world.

William Archer (b. Co. Down 1827, d. 1897), F. R. S., devoted his life to the microscopic examination of freshwater organisms, especially desmids and diatoms. He attained a very prominent place in this branch of work among men of science. Perhaps his most remarkable discovery was that of Chlamydomyxa labyrinthuloides (in 1868), “one of the most remarkable and enigmatical of all known microscopic organisms."

George James Allman (b. Cork 1812, d. 1898), F. R. S., professor of botany in Trinity College, Dublin, and afterwarls Regius Professor of natural history in the University of Edinburgh, published many papers on botanical and zoological subjects, but his great work was that on the gymnoblastic Hydrozoa, "without doubt the most important systematic work dealing with the group of Coelenterata that has ever been produced.”

Amongst eminent living members of the class under consideration may be mentioned Alexander Macalister (b. Dublin 1844), F. R. S., professor of anatomy, first in Dublin and now in Cambridge, an eminent morphologist and anthropologist, and Henry Horatio Dixon (b. Dublin), F. R. S., professor of botany in Trinity College, an authority on vegetable physiology, especially problems dealing with the sap.

GEOLOGISTS. Samuel Haughton (b. Carlow 1821, d. 1897), F. R. S., after earning a considerable reputation as a mathematician and a geologist, and taking Anglican orders, determined to study medicine and entered the school of that subject in Trinity College. After graduating he became the reformer, it might even be said the re-founder, of that school. He devoted ten years to the study of the mechanical principles of muscular action, and published his Animal Mechanism, probably his greatest work. He will long be remembered as the introducer of the “long drop" as a method of capital execution. He might have been placed in several of the categories which have been dealt with, but that of geologist has been selected, since in the later part of his most versatile career he was professor of geology in Trinity College, Dublin.

Valentine Ball (b. Dublin 1843, d. 1894), F. R. S., a brother of Sir Robert, joined the Geological Survey of India, and in that capacity became an authority not only on geology but also on ornithology and anthropology. His best known work is Jungle-Life in India. In later life he was director of the National Museum, Dublin.

MEDICAL SCIENCE. Very brief note can be taken of the many shining lights in Irish medical science. Robert James Graves (1796-1853), F. R. S., after whom is named "Graves's Disease", was one of the greatest of clinical physicians. His System of Clinical Medicine was a standard work and was extolled by Trousseau, the greatest physician that France has ever had, in the highest terms of appreciation.

William Stokes (1804-1878), Regius Professor of Medicine in Trinity College, and the author of a Theory and Practice of Medicine, known all over the civilized world, was equally celebrated.

To these must be added Sir Dominic Corrigan (1802-1880), the first Catholic to occupy the position of President of the College of Physicians in Dublin, an authority on heart disease, and the first adequate describer of aortic patency, a form of ailment long called "Corrigan's Disease". "Colles's Fracture" is a familiar term in the mouths of surgeons. It derives its

« PreviousContinue »