Archer is the eldest son of Rev. Richard Archer (1796? – 1849), perpetual curate of Maghera hamlet, County Down, and his wife, Jane Matilda (née Campbell). Nothing is known of his education, though his two younger brothers attend Trinity College Dublin (TCD). At some point, he apparently appears to become estranged from his family.
Archer moves to Dublin around 1846, where for many years he pursues a business career. He achieves fame as a naturalist, and in 1849, is one of the twelve founder members of the Dublin Microscopical Club, of which he is the secretary and moving spirit for many years. Between 1858 and 1885 he writes over 230 scientific papers on Irish fauna and flora in the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, the vast majority of which are short notes on desmids collected in Ireland. Sometimes the same article is published in two or more journals.
Archer begins a new career when he becomes librarian of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) in January 1877. The bulk of the society’s library is being taken over by the state to form the National Library of Ireland. He becomes the chief librarian of the new institution and has the task of overseeing the changes. Most of the ideas put forward in his pamphlet, Suggestions as to public library buildings . . . with especial reference to the National Library of Ireland (Dublin, 1881), are used by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane in his design for its new building, which opens in August 1890. His adoption of the Dewey Decimal Classification system and the inception of a dictionary catalogue, both novel in the day, are to prove of lasting value to users of the library.
In poor health, Archer retires in 1895. He dies, unmarried, at his home, 52 Mount Street Lower, Dublin, on August 14, 1897. He is a shy, modest man, who declines professorships at the Royal College of Science for Ireland and at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and who is nominated for membership of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and the Royal Society without his knowledge.
Field is the daughter of John Wilmer Field, a wealthy estate owner. She has a sister, Delia, and they are educated at home by Susan Lawson, a governess who encourages her creativity and broad interests, including astronomy. The sisters are joint heirs to their father’s fortune.
Through her family Field meets William Parsons, then Lord Oxmantown and the future 3rd Earl of Rosse, an Anglo-Irish astronomer and naturalist, and they are married on April 14, 1836, her 23rd birthday. In February 1841, Lord Oxmantown succeeds his father in the family peerage to become the 3rd Earl of Rosse. She, Baroness Oxmantown since her marriage, thus now becomes the Countess of Rosse.
In the early 1840s the couple becomes interested in astronomy, and the Countess of Rosse helps her husband build a number of giant telescopes, including the so-called Leviathan of Parsonstown, that is considered a technical marvel in its time. The author, Henrietta Heald, contends that she is not only a financial support to the building of the telescope, but is also involved in a practical and intellectual capacity. The Leviathan of Parsontown is completed in 1845 and holds the record as the world’s largest telescope for over 70 years. It is mentioned in Jules Verne’s science fiction novel, From the Earth to the Moon.
The Countess of Rosse is an accomplished blacksmith, which is very unusual for higher class women of the time, and she may have constructed some of the iron work that supports the telescope. Other metal cast items around the castle grounds are designed by her, including bronze gates.
During the Great Famine of 1845–47 in Ireland, the Countess of Rosse is responsible for keeping over five hundred men employed in work in and around Birr Castle, where she and her husband live.
The Countess of Rosse creates a huge dining room at Birr Castle in which to entertain scientific guests, which becomes increasingly used when Lord Rosse becomes President of the Royal Society of London in 1848. Guests include mathematicianWilliam Rowan Hamilton, who writes her a sonnet about his experience of gazing through the Leviathan.
In 1842, Lord Rosse begins experimenting in daguerreotype photography, possibly learning some of the art from his acquaintance William Henry Fox Talbot. In 1854, he writes to Fox Talbot saying that the Countess too has just commenced photography and sends some examples of her work. Fox Talbot replies that some of her photographs of the telescope “are all that can be desired.”
The Countess of Rosse becomes a member of the Dublin Photographic Society, and in 1859 she receives a silver medal for “best paper negative” from the Photographic Society of Ireland. Many examples of her photography are in the Birr Castle Archives. Much of the topography of Birr Castle that she portrayed has changed very little, and it is possible to compare many of her photographs with the actual places. She records the Leviathan in her photographs including one image showing her three sons, Clere, Randal and Charles along with her sister-in-law, Jane Knox, standing upright at the mouth of the telescope.
The Countess of Rosse gives birth to eleven children, but only four survive to adulthood:
Parsons is born in London on June 13, 1854, the youngest among eleven children of the famous astronomerWilliam Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, of Parsonstown (now Birr), King’s County (now County Offaly) and Mary Parsons (née Field), a Yorkshire heiress. Only four sons survive to adulthood. He is strongly influenced by his father, who encourages him to use the workshops at the Birr Castleobservatory, and he is tutored at home by some of the assistant astronomers before entering Trinity College Dublin in 1871. He transfers to St. John’s College, Cambridge, and upon graduation in 1877 as eleventh wrangler in a class of thirty-six studying mathematics, he takes the unusual step for the son of an earl, of becoming a premium apprentice at the Elswick Engine and Ordnance Works of Sir William George Armstrong at Newcastle upon Tyne. In the period following this he develops a unique high-speed steam engine, and a torpedo which is powered by a gas turbine. He joins Clarke Chapman at Gateshead as a partner in 1884. In a matter of months he files patents for the world’s first effective steam turbine. These embody many novelties, but the key feature is an electricity generator rated at 6 kW and designed to run, directly coupled, at the astonishing speed of 18,000 rpm.
Parsons is not satisfied that his partners’ efforts to promote turbine development are sufficiently aggressive, and in 1889 he leaves to establish his own company, C. A. Parsons & Company, at Heaton near Newcastle upon Tyne. The price of this impetuous action is the loss of access to his original patents. He quickly establishes alternative designs and by 1892 he has built a turbo-alternator with an output of 100 kW for the Cambridge Electricity Company. Exhausting to a condenser, it has a steam consumption comparable with the best steam engines. Even his 1884 patents envisage applying turbines to marine propulsion, but it is 1893 before he can embark on the design of a suitable demonstration boat of 40 tons. By using careful tests on models, he perfects the hull shape and predicts the power requirements. At this time he recovers his 1884 patents and even wins the very rare prize of an extension for five years, which is a measure of the perceived national importance of his invention.
A syndicate is formed to raise the capital necessary to build Parsons’s turbine-powered vessel Turbinia. At the SpitheadFleet Review in 1897 she speeds among the ships of the world’s navies at 34.5 knots. In 1905 the Royal Navy decides to adopt turbines for its future warships. This example is followed by navies worldwide, from the United States to Japan. Builders of mercantile vessels follow quickly and the turbines of the Cunard liner RMS Mauretania (1906), each developing 26,000 kW, are the largest in existence at the time. The Mauretania holds the Blue Riband for the speediest Atlantic crossing until 1929, a fact that keeps Parsons’s name before the public.
The firm of C. A. Parsons (1889), which builds turbines for use on land, is privately owned, but the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company (1897) is a public company. Parsons also earns income from over 300 patents through the Parsons Foreign Patents Co. (1899). He readily licenses others to use his patents but he avoides costly litigation, the ruin of many inventors.
Parsons inherits an interest in optical instruments from his father. In 1890 he develops a cost-effective method for manufacturing searchlight mirrors, using sheets of plate glass and an iron mold heated in a gas furnace. During World War I he supplies most of the national requirements. In 1921 he acquires the optical instrument manufacturers Ross Ltd. and the Derby Crown Glass Company, makers of optical quality glass. In 1925 the firm of Howard Grubb, which makes large optical telescopes, is rescued from insolvency by Parsons. He believes that it is of national importance to maintain the industrial capacity to make optical equipment. Not all of his projects are commercially profitable, as for example his acoustic amplifier, dubbed the “Auxetophone,” or his attempts at synthesising diamonds, which absorbs much time and effort. In the development of his many inventions, he displays great tenacity in the face of reverses and always employs a meticulously scientific approach.
The supply of power on a large scale is revolutionised by the steam turbine. During the twenty years following the building of his first turbogenerator, Parsons remains at the forefront of promoting, building, and selling ever larger and more efficient turbines. He is not only a scientific engineer and inventor, but also a successful manufacturer and businessman. Modest and retiring in manner, his chief weakness lay in a lack of skill in managing interpersonal relationships, though this is compensated to a large extent by his integrity and loyalty. He seeks out the ablest men to run his businesses, among them several Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS). He is elected FRS himself in 1898 and is knighted in 1911. In 1927 he becomes the first engineer to be awarded the Order of Merit for his outstanding contributions to society. He is honoured by many universities and institutions in Europe and the United States.
Parsons marries Katharine Bethell, a Yorkshire woman, in 1883. They have one daughter and a son who dies on active service in 1918. He keeps a residence in London and in Northumbria.
Parsons dies on February 11, 1931, on board the steamship Duchess of Richmond while on a cruise with his wife. The cause of death is given as neuritis. A memorial service is held at Westminster Abbey on March 3, 1931. He is buried in the parish church of St. Bartholomew’s in Kirkwhelpington in Northumberland. His estate is valued at £1,214,355 gross.
Colleran, and her twin Noreen, are born to John and Josie Colleran. One of a family of five children, her father is a school principal and her mother, also a primary school teacher, dies when she is just 11 years old. She completes her secondary education at St. Louis secondary school in Kiltimagh. She spends a lot of time outdoors as a child, particularly fishing, which sparks her interest in the environment.
On entering higher education, Colleran has a grant from the Department of Education, which requires that she do her studies through the Irish language. Her first choice, Medicine, is not available in Irish so she chooses Science. She graduates with a first class primary degree in Science at University College Galway (now National University of Ireland, Galway) in 1967.
Colleran lectures in biology at Athlone Regional Technical College (now Athlone Institute of Technology) and Galway Regional Technical College (now Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology) before her appointment as a lecturer in microbiology at NUI Galway in 1976. She is appointed Associate Professor of Microbiology by the Senate of the National University of Ireland in 1990. She is a member of the university’s governing authority for a number of years, but steps down in May 2000 in connection with the selection procedure for the new university president. In October of that year she is appointed professor of microbiology and chair of the department at NUI Galway.
Colleran is the first director of the Environment Change Institute at NUI Galway set up under the Higher Education Authority‘s Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions in 2000. In 2010, the Environmental Change Institute and the Martin Ryan Marine Research Institute are merged to form the current day Ryan Institute at NUI Galway.
In 1973 Colleran is elected to the committee of the Galway Association of An Taisce, part of a national voluntary organisation the aims of which are to conservation in Ireland through education, publicity and positive action. She serves as membership secretary and then treasurer to the Galway branch before becoming chairman. In 1981, as chairman of the Galway branch, she hits back at claims from Galway County Council that An Taisce are “an anonymous group, wielding power unfairly.” She is involved in the compilation of a controversial planning report, published by An Taisce in 1983, which highlights abuse of planning laws by city and county councillors across Ireland, and in particular in counties Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Kerry and Louth.
Colleran serves as Environmental Officer for An Taisce before being elected National Chairman in 1987, the first time a chairman has come from one of the western county associations. She continues to use her position to campaign against misuse of planning laws, for a clamp down on pollution of rivers and lakes, and against a move to scrap An Foras Forbartha, a body that provides independent monitoring of pollution. During her three years as chairman, until May 1990, she is particularly involved in debates over local environmental and planning issues, in particular over gold mining in the west of Ireland, a proposed airport for Clifden, and the planned sewage treatment plant at Mutton Island, County Galway.
In 1991 plans are announced for a new visitor centre, to be located at Mullaghmore in The Burren. Colleran is among those who are part of an appeal, saying that while the plan for the national park is welcomed by An Taisce, they want the visitor centre to be located three or four miles from Mullaghmore.
President Mary Robinson appoints seven new members to her Council of State in February 1991, including Colleran. Other new members appointed at the time are Monica Barnes, Patricia O’Donovan, Quintan Oliver, Rosemarie Smith, Dónal Toolan and D. Kenneth Whitaker. The new Council of State represents a wide spectrum of Irish life and is widely welcomed, although Fine Gael is disappointed that its leader John Bruton is not included.
In 1991, Colleran is one of 15 people appointed to TaoiseachCharles Haughey‘s Green 2000 Advisory Group, to determine which problems will face the environment in the next century. The group is led by Dr. David Cabot, special advisor on environmental affairs.
In 2003 Colleran is elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy.
Colleran is recognised at the annual NUI Galway Alumni Awards in 2004 when she receives the award for Natural Science, sponsored by Seavite Bodycare Ltd., which acknowledges a graduate who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of natural science.
On leaving Macartney, Jacob joins with Robert James Graves and others in founding the Park Street School of Medicine. In 1826 he is elected Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and holds the chair until 1869. He is elected President of RCSI in 1837 and 1864. He founds an Ophthalmic Hospital in Pitt (now Balfe) Street in 1829 and in 1832, in conjunction with Charles Benson and others, he founds the Baggot Street Hospital, Baggot Street, and later practices there after the opening of a dedicated eye ward. His younger rival, Sir William Wilde, subsequently founds the competing St. Mark’s Ophthalmic Hospital in Lincoln Place (beside Trinity College) in 1844.
In 1839, with Dr. Henry Maunsell, Jacob starts the Dublin Medical Press, a weekly journal of medical science, and edits forty-two volumes from 1839 to 1859, in order “to diffuse useful knowledge… to instil honourable principles, and foster kind feelings in the breast of the student” among other desirable aims. He also contributes to the Dublin Journal of Medical Science. He takes an active part in founding the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund Society of Ireland and the Irish Medical Association.
At the age of seventy-five Jacob retires from the active pursuit of his profession. His fame rests on his anatomical and ophthalmological discoveries.
In December 1860 a medal bearing Jacob’s likeness is struck and presented to him, and his portrait, bust, and library are later placed in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He dies at Newbarnes, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, on September 21, 1874. He is buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.
King is the youngest child of the Reverend Henry King and his wife Harriette. She and her sisters are educated at home, as are most girls at the time. However, her education is slightly different from the norm because she is of a renowned scientific family. She is interested in nature from an early age, and by the time she is three years old she is collecting insects.
King also draws insects, and the astronomer James South observes her doing so one day. She is using a magnifying glass to see the tiny details, and her drawing so impresses him that he immediately persuades her father to buy her a microscope. A compound microscope made by Andrew Ross is purchased for £48 12s 8d. This is the beginning of a lifelong passion. She begins to read everything she can find about microscopy, and teaches herself until she has an expert knowledge. She makes her own slides from slivers of ivory, as glass is difficult to obtain, and prepares her own specimens. The physicistDavid Brewster asks her to make his microscope specimens, and uses her drawings in many of his books and articles.
Universities and most societies do not accept women at the time, but King obtains information any way she can. She writes frequently to scientists, asking them about papers they had published. During 1848, Parsons is made president of the Royal Society, and visits to his London home allows her to meet many scientists.
When Ward writes her first book, Sketches with the microscope (privately printed in 1857), she apparently believes that no one will print it because of her gender or lack of academic credentials. She publishes 250 copies of it privately, and several hundred handbills are distributed to advertise it. The printing sells during the next few weeks, which prompts a London publisher to take the risk and contract for future publication. The book is reprinted eight times between 1858 and 1880 as A World of Wonders Revealed by the Microscope. A new full-colour facsimile edition at €20 is published in September 2019 by the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society, with accompanying essays.
Her books are A Windfall for the Microscope (1856), A World of Wonders, Revealed by the Microscope (1857), Entomology in Sport, and Entomology in Earnest (1857, with Lady Jane Mahon), Microscope Teachings (1864), Telescope Teachings (1859). She illustrates her books and articles herself, as well as many books and papers by other scientists.
Ward is the first known automobile fatality. William Parsons’ sons had built a steam-powered car and on August 31, 1869, she and her husband are traveling in it with the Parsons boys, Richard Clere Parsons and the future steam turbine pioneer Charles Algernon Parsons, and their tutor, Richard Biggs. She is thrown from the car on a bend in the road at Parsonstown (present-day Birr, County Offaly). She falls under its wheel and dies almost instantly. A doctor who lives near the scene arrives within moments, and finds her cut, bruised, and bleeding from the ears. The fatal injury is a broken neck. It is believed that the grieving family destroys the car after the crash.
Ward’s microscope, accessories, slides and books are on display in her husband’s home, Castle Ward, County Down. William Parsons’ home at Birr Castle, County Offaly, is also open to the public.
Callan attends school at an academy in Dundalk. His local parish priest, Father Andrew Levins, then takes him in hand as an altar boy and Mass server, and sees him start the priesthood at Navan seminary. He enters Maynooth College in 1816. In his third year at Maynooth, he studies natural and experimental philosophy under Dr. Cornelius Denvir. He introduces the experimental method into his teaching, and has an interest in electricity and magnetism.
Callan is ordained a priest in 1823 and goes to Rome to study at Sapienza University, obtaining a doctorate in divinity in 1826. While in Rome he becomes acquainted with the work of the pioneers in electricity such as Luigi Galvani (1737–1798), who is a pioneer in bioelectricity, and Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), who is known especially for the development of the electric battery. In 1826, he returns to Maynooth as the new Professor of Natural Philosophy (now called physics), where he also begins working with electricity in his basement laboratory at the college.
Influenced by William Sturgeon and Michael Faraday, Callan begins work on the idea of the induction coil in 1834. He invents the first induction coil in 1836. An induction coil produces an intermittent high voltagealternating current from a low voltage direct current supply. It has a primary coil consisting of a few turns of thick wire wound around an iron core and subjected to a low voltage (usually from a battery). Wound on top of this is a secondary coil made up of many turns of thin wire. An iron armature and make-and-break mechanism repeatedly interrupts the current to the primary coil, producing a high voltage, rapidly alternating current in the secondary circuit.
Callan invents the induction coil because he needs to generate a higher level of electricity than currently available. He takes a bar of soft iron, about 2 feet long, and wraps it around with two lengths of copper wire, each about 200 feet long. He connects the beginning of the first coil to the beginning of the second. Finally, he connects a battery, much smaller than the enormous contrivance just described, to the beginning and end of winding one. He finds that when the battery contact is broken, a shock can be felt between the first terminal of the first coil and the second terminal of the second coil.
Further experimentation shows how the coil device can bring the shock from a small battery up the strength level of a big battery. So Callan tries making a bigger coil. With a battery of only 14 seven-inch plates, the device produces power enough for an electric shock “so strong that a person who took it felt the effects of it for several days.” He thinks of his creation as a kind of electromagnet, but what he actually makes is a primitive induction transformer.
Callan’s induction coil also uses an interrupter that consists of a rocking wire that repeatedly dips into a small cup of mercury (similar to the interrupters used by Charles Grafton Page). Because of the action of the interrupter, which can make and break the current going into the coil, he calls his device the “repeater.” Actually, this device is the world’s first transformer. He induces a high voltage in the second wire, starting with a low voltage in the adjacent first wire. The faster he interrupts the current, the bigger the spark. In 1837 he produces his giant induction machine using a mechanism from a clock to interrupt the current 20 times a second. It generates 15-inch sparks, an estimated 60,000 volts and the largest artificial bolt of electricity then seen.
Callan experiments with designing batteries after he finds the models available to him at the time to be insufficient for research in electromagnetism. Some previous batteries had used rare metals such as platinum or unresponsive materials like carbon and zinc. He finds that he can use inexpensive cast iron instead of platinum or carbon. For his Maynooth battery he uses iron casting for the outer casing and places a zinc plate in a porous pot (a pot that had an inside and outside chamber for holding two different types of acid) in the centre. Using a single fluid cell he disposes of the porous pot and two different fluids. He is able to build a battery with just a single solution.
While experimenting with batteries, Callan also builds the world’s largest battery at that time. To construct this battery, he joins together 577 individual batteries (“cells“), which use over 30 gallons of acid. Since instruments for measuring current or voltages have not yet been invented, he measures the strength of a battery by measuring how much weight his electromagnet can lift when powered by the battery. Using his giant battery, his electromagnet lifts 2 tons. The Maynooth battery goes into commercial production in London. He also discovers an early form of galvanisation to protect iron from rusting when he is experimenting on battery design, and he patents the idea.
The Callan Building on the north campus of NUI Maynooth, a university which is part of St. Patrick’s College until 1997, is named in his honour. In addition, Callan Hall in the south campus, is used through the 1990s for first year science lectures including experimental & mathematical physics, chemistry and biology. The Nicholas Callan Memorial Prize is an annual prize awarded to the best final year student in Experimental Physics.
Andrews begins a successful medical practice in his native Belfast in 1835, also giving instruction in chemistry at the Academical Institution. In 1842, he marries Jane Hardie Walker (1818–1899). They have six children, including the geologistMary Andrews. In 1845 he is appointed vice-president of the newly established Queen’s University Belfast, and professor of chemistry there. He holds these two offices until his retirement in 1879 at age 66.
Andrews first becomes known as a scientific investigator with his work on the heat developed in chemical actions, for which the Royal Society awards him a Royal Medal in 1844. Another important investigation, undertaken in collaboration with Peter Guthrie Tait, is devoted to ozone.
In Andrews’ experiments on phase transitions, he shows that carbon dioxide may be carried from any of the states we usually call liquid to any of those we usually call gas, without losing homogeneity. The mathematical physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs cites these results in support of the Gibbs free energy equation. They also set off a race among researchers to liquify various other gases. In 1877-78 Louis Paul Cailletet is the first to liquefy oxygen.
Andrews dies in Belfast on November 26, 1885, and is buried in the Borough Cemetery in the city.
Hamilton is born in Dublin on August 4, 1805, the fourth of nine children born to Sarah Hutton (1780–1817) and Archibald Hamilton (1778–1819). He is part of a small but well-regarded school of mathematicians associated with Trinity College, Dublin, which he enters at age eighteen. He is said to have shown immense talent at a very early age. Astronomer Bishop Dr. John Brinkley remarks of the 18-year-old Hamilton, “This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.”
Trinity College awards him two Optimes, or off-the-chart grades. He studies both classics and mathematics, and is appointed Professor of Astronomy just prior to his graduation. He then takes up residence at Dunsink Observatory where he spends the rest of his life.
Hamilton’s scientific career includes the study of geometrical optics, classical mechanics, adaptation of dynamic methods in optical systems, applying quaternion and vector methods to problems in mechanics and in geometry, development of theories of conjugate algebraic couple functions, solvability of polynomial equations and general quintic polynomial solvable by radicals, the analysis on Fluctuating Functions, linear operators on quaternions and proving a result for linear operators on the space of quaternions, which is a special case of the general theorem which today is known as the Cayley–Hamilton theorem. He also invents Icosian calculus, which he uses to investigate closed edge paths on a dodecahedron that visit each vertex exactly once.
Hamilton retains his faculties unimpaired to the very last, and steadily continues the task of finishing the Elements of Quaternions which occupies the last six years of his life. He dies in Dublin on September 2, 1865, following a severe attack of gout precipitated by excessive drinking and overeating. He is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.
Parsons also performs some preliminary work in association with the practices of the electrodeposition of copper sulfate upon silver films circa 1865 while in search of the design for a truly flat mirror to use in a telescope. However, he finds it impossible to properly electroplate copper upon these silver films, as the copper contracts and detaches from the underlying glass substrate. His note has been cited as one of the earliest confirmations in literature that thin films on glass substrates experience residual stresses. He revives discussion in his work Nature’s August 1908 edition after witnessing similar techniques used to present newly-devised searchlights before the Royal Society.
Although overshadowed by his father (when astronomers speak of “Lord Rosse”, it is almost always the father that they refer to), Parsons nonetheless pursues some astronomical observations of his own, particularly of the Moon. Most notably, he discovers NGC 2, a spiral galaxy in the constellationPegasus.