St. Patrick’s Day

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

That’s Irish for “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

In celebration, let’s take a look at a list of famous Irish physicists:

  • Robert Boyle, discoverer of Boyle’s Law, the relationship between pressure and volume in an ideal gas.
  • William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, one of the founding fathers of thermodynamics, and the namesake of the Kelvin temperature scale.
  • William Hamilton, best known for reforming classical mechanics in the formalism know known as the Hamiltonian.  This approach is now essential in classical mechanics as well as quantum mechanics.
  • George Stokes, who made important contributions to the study of fluid dynamics and mathematical physics, including the Navier-Stokes Equations and Stokes’ Theorem.
  • Joseph Larmor, discoverer of Larmor precession, and the Lorentz Transformations, ostensibly before Lorentz himself discovered them, although only in the context of orbiting electrons.
  • Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, and developer of Schrodinger’s Equation.  Yes, I know the name doesn’t seem Irish, and he was indeed born in Austria.  However, he founded the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies on the request of the Irish Prime Minister, and became a naturalized Irish citizen during his 17 years in Dublin.

Just for kicks, let’s throw in an Irish mathematician or two:

  • George Boole, famous logician, inventor of Boolean Algebra, he is often considered the founding father of computer science.
  • Not a mathematician, but Eamon de Valera, the first Prime Minister of Ireland, was once a professor of mathematics.  There’s a lot to like about a country with that kind of scientific background in its politics.

Hope you’re having a great holiday!  Erin go Bragh!

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1 Response to “St. Patrick’s Day”


  1. 1 Drew Haven March 17, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    Nice list. I came across your blog looking for St. Patrick’s Day physics – great work. Loved this one – http://individual.utoronto.ca/sck/stpday.html – too. I have no idea so many physicists were into St. Patrick’s Day.


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