Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Queen's event to celebrate life of Ulster scientist

The first man to put the Giant's Causeway on the map is due to be celebrated at a special event next month.



Belfast-born scientist Lord Kelvin, who helped create the world's first electric tram at the Causeway, will be commemorated by Queen's University and the Institute of Physics, Ireland on December 7.

The event, entitled 'Kelvin and Ireland', has been organised by Professor Andrew Whitaker from Queen's School of Mathematics - a contributing editor of a new collection of essays on Kelvin's life. It is due to take place at Queen's Great Hall between 10am and 4.30pm.

Born William Thomson in 1824, Lord Kelvin was a giant of 19th century science. In addition to developing the Kelvin temperature scale, he was responsible for the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable. He was a talented engineer whose work meant messages could be delivered from Ireland to America in minutes via telegraph, rather than taking at least 10 days by ship.

Today his work is still revered by scientists and engineers worldwide, and his statue stands inside the entrance to Belfast's Botanic Gardens.

Professor Whitaker said: "Lord Kelvin was an outstanding scientist of the 19th century and someone about whom Northern Ireland should be very proud.

"While he spent much of his adult life in Glasgow, Kelvin's Irish connections remained a strong influence throughout his life. As well as hailing from Belfast, his brother James was a Professor of Engineering at Queen's and their conversations often inspired aspects of Kelvin's work.

"Whether people have an interest in Ulster-Scots, science, technology, history or engineering, I would urge them to come along to Kelvin and Ireland for a fascinating insight into the life of one of Northern Ireland's, if not the world's, greatest scientists."

For more details, contact Professor Whitaker on 9097 3576.

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