Dunsink Observatory designated Ireland’s first European site of historical significance

Dunsink Observatory
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor with Prof Luke Drury, DIAS

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25 June 2018 | 0

Dunsink Observatory, part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), has become the first location in Ireland to be recognised by the European Physical Society as a “site of historical significance”.

The observatory joins similarly significant locations across Europe, such as Einstein’s house in Bern and Marie Skłodowska Curie’s laboratory in Paris.

Dunsink Observatory was selected in recognition of the genius of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, who lived and worked at Dunsink from 1827 until his death in 1865.

Considered Ireland’s greatest ever mathematician, Hamilton contributed to the development of optics, dynamics and algebra, discovering the algebra of quaternions. His work had a significant influence on the development of quantum mechanics, and the Hamiltonian circuits in contemporary graph theory are named in his honour.

Dunsink Observatory now functions primarily as an outreach centre, attracting over 4,000 visitors a year. It has been part of DIAS since 1947.

Dr Eucharia Meehan, CEO and registrar of DIAS, said: “It is a huge honour for DIAS to have Dunsink Observatory designated as Ireland’s first site of historical significance by the European Physical Society.

“Ireland has a rich history when it comes to mathematics, astronomy and the advancement of knowledge. In the 1700s and 1800s, we were at the forefront of the movement seeking to better understand our universe through mapping the sun, moon, stars, planets and other non-Earthly bodies.

“This accolade from the European Physical Society recognises the impact William Hamilton had on mathematics and astronomy. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”

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