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  • Northside West

Eureka! Hamilton discovery is marked at Broombridge

Thursday, 24th October, 2019 6:00pm
Eureka! Hamilton discovery is marked at Broombridge

Artist Emma Ray with her tribute artwork. Photo: Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic.

Eureka! Hamilton discovery is marked at Broombridge

Artist Emma Ray with her tribute artwork. Photo: Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic.

A FAMOUS piece of graffiti in Broombridge that dates back 176 years was celebrated last week with the unveiling of some modern artwork created by tattoo artist Emma Ray.

On October 16, 1843 Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton and his wife Helen were walking along the banks of the Royal Canal from Dunsink Observatory to the Royal Irish Academy where he was President.

At Broome Bridge Hamilton had that very rare occurrence in science - a Eureka moment. The solution to a problem he had been working on for a long time popped into his head, and in his excitement he took out his penknife and scratched his formula for Quaternion algebra onto the bridge: i² = j² = k² = ijk = −1.

Quaternions would later be instrumental in putting the first man on the moon and it’s used for CGI in movies.

Last year, the Royal Irish Academy, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority decided to mark this important moment in world science by commissioning an artwork for the Luas stop at Broombridge.

A competition open to students, staff and alumni of the nearby TU Dublin School of Creative Arts was held and former DIT fine art student, Emma Ray, a tattoo artist based in Dundalk, won the commission.

Last week Emma was joined by Minister for Finance and Dublin Central TD, Paschal Donohoe and President of the Royal Irish Academy, Peter Kennedy, for the unveiling of her work.

“The artwork is the story of his walk on October 16, 1843, and how the answer came to him in a flash and probably when he least expected it,” Kennedy said.

“Dublin and especially Cabra should be proud of William Rowan Hamilton. We want this artwork to inspire the next generation. Dublin needs new Hamiltons.”

Minister Donohoe said locals in Cabra have always had great pride in the story of William Rowan Hamilton’s Eureka moment.

“This stop is fondly referred to by locals as the ‘Luas Hamilton’ so it is wonderful to launch this artwork by Emma Ray today,” he added.

A poster campaign is currently running on Luas stops across the city to raise awareness of Hamilton. Last week also saw a number of events taking place to commemorate his life and work.

The Maynooth University Department of Mathematics and Statistics retraced Hamilton's steps with a walk beginning at Dunsink Observatory heading south to meet the Royal Canal before going east along the canal to end up at Broombridge station in Cabra.

And the Royal Irish Academy invited Professor Maria Chudnovsky from Princeton University to deliver this year’s Hamilton Day Lecture to celebrate Hamilton’s contribution to mathematics.

Her research interests are in graph theory and combinatorics and she was a winner of the prestigious Fulkerson prize in 2009.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here