Wednesday 22 November 2017

Great eureka moments in history rediscovered

Shane Hickey

A new exhibition celebrating our greatest scientific moments opened its doors yesterday.

Among the weird and wonderful, the exhibit has illustrated how the inventor of the first steam-powered car was also responsible for the world's first road death.

Charles Parsons is renowned for his multiple achievements, one of which was the invention of the steam turbine in 1884, which was responsible for revolutionising marine transport.

From that came the first steam-powered car, and, tragically, the first death, according to Mick Kelly, curator of the newly opened Science and Discovery Lab at the National Wax Museum Plus in Dublin.

"The world's first road death happened with this car. He killed this woman, Mary Ward, who was a scientist specialising in research with the use of microscopes. She fell out of the car and got run over in Birr when he was coming out of his estate," Mr Kelly said.


As a result of the accident, the car was dismantled and buried across parts of the Offaly estate where Mr Parsons lived.

The exhibition celebrates the Irish people behind major scientific discoveries such as the first dual-powered submarine and medical breakthroughs including the stethoscope and defibrillator.

Also among the characters celebrated is Fr Nicholas Callan, from Co Louth, who was well known for his work with the induction coil -- now used in mobile phone chargers and electric motors.

Described as a "wild man in his time" during the 19th century, his methods were slightly out of the ordinary, said Mr Kelly.

"He couldn't tell how much power he could make in his batteries so he used to get his students to hold hands and he would electrocute them. He had to stop doing that and only electrocute turkeys."

Engineer William Dargan, from Laois, built the first metropolitan commuter line in the world between Dublin city centre and Kingstown -- now Dun Laoghaire.

The new part of the wax museum was opened by Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe and Science Minister Conor Lenihan yesterday.

"We are delighted the science room will act as a stimulus for the many students that are going to come here," Mr O'Keeffe said.

Irish Independent

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