Saturday, 11 January 2014

Apples and Atoms

I decided to take a walk around Trinity College Dublin, my alma mater, when I had some time to kill during the week. I felt a burn of nostalgia, the certainty and deliberation of my time in college was such a comfort blanket. It's quite terrifying at times being out there on your own, with no buffer for the 'so, what are you doing with yourself?' questions.

I came across this really amazing sculpture sitting beside the cricket pitch, and had to stop for closer inspection. The sculpture celebrates the life of Ernest Walton, who was the first person to split the atom. That's quite the feather to add to your bow, don't you think?

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page:

Walton and John Cockcroft were recipients of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for their "work on the transmutation of the atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles" (popularly known as splitting the atom). They are credited with being the first to disintegrate the lithium nucleus by bombardment with accelerated protons (or hydrogen nuclei) and identifying helium nuclei in the products in 1930. More generally, they had built an apparatus which showed that nuclei of various lightweight elements (such as lithium) could be split by fast-moving protons.
That is pretty incredible, and I'm so proud that, even though I studied Humanities and had nothing whatsoever to do with the science dept., this was done by someone who attended my University. Call it too much reading His Dark Materials over the last few years, but I am fairly wistful that I didn't study science at college. Some day, maybe.

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