Friday 22 September 2017

'Gravity-defying' spheres honour atomic physicist

Artist Eilis O'Connell at TCD with her sculpture celebrating the life and work of Nobel Laureate for Physics Ernest Walton.
Artist Eilis O'Connell at TCD with her sculpture celebrating the life and work of Nobel Laureate for Physics Ernest Walton.

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

IN his public life, the former Trinity College Dublin (TCD) scholar and professor Ernest TS Walton is best known as Nobel Laureate for Physics, famous for his work on splitting the atom.

His son Alan recalled yesterday how he was also a keen gardener who disappeared down the garden every Saturday.

Growing fruit trees was his labour of love and so, when TCD decided to honour his life and work, artist Eilis O'Connell RHA's striking sculpture, Apples and Atoms, was selected to celebrate both the public and private side of the man.

The stack of mirror-polished spheres, which appear to defy gravity as they increase in size as they rise upwards, was unveiled yesterday outside the college's Physics Building. Reflected in the stack are native Irish apple trees, planted alongside.

Ernest Walton and fellow physicist John Cockcroft – whom he met in Cambridge – were awarded the Nobel prize in 1951. Ernest Walton returned to Trinity in 1946 and remained there until 1985.

He presented his papers to the college library in 1993 and his family subsequently donated his Nobel medal. To mark the formal launch of the sculpture, a small exhibition, which includes the medal, is currently on display in Trinity's Long Room.

Irish Independent

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