Distinguished Irish scientists to lead DIAS line-up for 2020 Dublin Festival of History

Astrophysicist Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill will feature

World-renowned astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Two of Ireland’s most prominent scientists, Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Prof Luke O’Neill, are headlining a programme of events being hosted by Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) as part of this year’s Dublin Festival of History.

On Thursday September 10th at 6pm, Bell Burnell, a world-renowned astrophysicist – who discovered the first pulsar as a graduate student in Cambridge, revealing a new tool for solving many mysteries of the cosmos – will give a lecture entitled “The Next and Last 100 Years in Astronomy”. It will explore how our understanding of the Universe has evolved and look ahead to what might be groundbreaking areas of astrophysics in the next few decades.

On Wednesday September 16th at 6pm, O'Neill – a leading specialist on innate immunity and inflammation based at Trinity College Dublin – will screen his documentary "Thinking Outside the Box – Schrödinger in Ireland" about Erwin Schrödinger's achievements in Dublin. The Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist developed a number of fundamental results in quantum theory and was based at DIAS for 17 years.

An online panel discussion on the lasting impact and legacy of Schrödinger´s "What is Life?" lectures and book will follow, featuring O'Neill, Dr Cormac O'Raifeartaigh, Physics Lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, and science writer Dr Neasa McGarrigle.

Professor Luke O’Neill, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Historic institution

Both of DIAS’s Dublin Festival of History events are also keynote events on the DIAS2020 programme, which is running this year to mark the 80th anniversary of its establishment.

DIAS chief executive and registrar Dr Eucharia Meehan said: "I am delighted DIAS is participating in the eighth Dublin Festival of History. It is fitting that such a historic institution as our own, which was only the second institute for advanced studies in the world when we were founded in 1940, should play a role in this stimulating history festival."

She added: “Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has contributed immensely to the area of astrophysics with her groundbreaking pulsar discovery. Prof Luke O’Neill, meanwhile, is an acclaimed immunity and inflammation expert, who has been at the forefront of public health discussion on Covid-19. I am sure both their events will engage the public in some fascinating and thought-provoking topics.”

The Dublin Festival of History, organised by Dublin City Libraries, has moved exclusively online for the first time in 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will still play host to an international and domestic line-up of speakers and panel discussions. All DIAS events at the festival will be conducted via Zoom.

Click here to register for DIAS events at the Dublin Festival of History

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times