William Rowan Hamilton & Luas Broombridge

08 October '19
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Luas has partnered with the Royal Irish Academy and TU Dublin to support an art commission and a design competition to commemorate Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.  

William Rowan Hamilton was born only a couple of miles from Broombridge Luas in Dominick Street, Dublin in 1805. He is universally accepted as a great mathematician and has made important mathematical contributions to algebra and physics.

Broom Bridge, the bridge beside Broombridge Luas stop, is famous as the place where Hamilton first wrote down his groundbreaking mathematical quaternions equation on 16th October 1843. It came to him in a flash of inspiration as he was out walking along the Royal Canal with his wife Helen on the way to a meeting at the Royal Irish Academy where he was President. Hamilton is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading scientists and his work went on to make important contributions to physics. 

In 2018, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the National Transport Authority, and the Royal Irish Academy decided to mark this important moment in world science by commissioning an artwork for Broombridge Luas stop through a competition open to students, staff and alumni of the nearby TU Dublin School of Creative Arts. 

Former DIT Fine Art student, Emma Ray, based in Dundalk, Co. Louth won the commission. Emma’s artwork shows the footprints of Hamilton on his wife and his quaternions equation which is backlit at night. 

On Wed 16th Oct 2019, Emma’s artwork was unveiled by Minister Paschal Donohoe TD who said “We 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.”

In 2019, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy and TU Dublin also ran a poster design competition to commemorate Hamilton’s discovery.

Jake Skelly came up with the “Hamilton Did It” tagline and Lily Gaertner designed the poster. Their inspiration came from the fact that quaternions were fundamental in the successful operation of Apollo 11, which landed the first man on the moon in 1969. This poster commemorating Hamilton is now up on the Luas lines.  

To discover more about Irish mathematics check out all the events on for Maths Week 2019, running Sat 12th Oct to Sun 20th Oct, at www.mathsweek.ie/2019

To discover more about Irish science check out all the events on for Science Week, running Sun 10th Nov to Sun 17th Nov, at www.sfi.ie/engagement/science-week

To find out more about Hamilton and the work of the Royal Irish Academy check out www.ria.ie/hamilton-did-it

To find out more about TU Dublin check out https://tudublin.ie

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