Sometimes inspiration can strike suddenly. On October 16th, 1843, while walking along the Royal Canal from Dunsink Observatory to the Royal Irish Academy, William Rowan Hamilton had a flash of inspiration and discovered quaternion algebra. He immediately etched his equation on the wall at Broome Bridge in Cabra.
The legacy of that eureka moment persists – Hamilton’s insights have in recent times been used for space exploration, robotics, theoretical mechanics and more realistic graphical representations in computer games.
Each year the RIA marks Hamilton's achievement with a public lecture from a renowned mathematician, and this year that speaker is Prof Roger Penrose from University of Oxford.
Prof Penrose is noted for his insights into space-time and relativity – in the 1960s he worked with Stephen Hawking to prove that matter in black holes collapses to a singularity. He has also written extensively on maths, physics and consciousness, and in 1994 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to science.
Prof Penrose will give the 2013 Hamilton Lecture entitled Twistor Theory: A Developing Hamiltonian Legacy at 6pm on Wednesday, October 16th, at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
Tickets for the annual talk tend to be snapped up quickly, so book a free place online at ria.ie. The lecture is supported by Arup and The Irish Times.