The first volume of the John Tyndall Correspondence Project was launched this week in Trinity College Dublin by the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast. Considered to be one of the most prominent Irish scientists ever, publishing over a dozen science books, the correspondence offers an unparalleled insight in to his life and work which is still relevant today.
The event, which was attended by leading figures of the academic and scientific community featured internationally acclaimed climate change expert Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University, and Dr Kieran Drain, CEO Tyndall National Institute.
Born in Leighlinbridge Co. Carlow around 1820, Tyndall is widely acknowledged as having led the way in developing modern fabrication techniques used to create every day products and technologies we use today.
Credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect and as a leading light on modern climate change, Tyndall is also known as the father of clean-room technologies (cabinets, filters, particle monitoring and heat treatment decontamination of surface) which were developed for bacteriological researches in the 1870s in collaboration with Louis Pasteur.
His impact stretched beyond the realms of science, having also being credited as one of the founders of mountaineering as a sport. Contributing to the first modern mountaineering book, his sporting firsts include an ascent of the Weisshorn and the traverse of the Matterhorn.
Tyndall is remembered today in Ireland and globally through a number of academic scholarships and research facilities, including the Tyndall National Institute in Cork and the Tyndall Research Centre for Climate Change in East Anglia in the UK.
Speaking at the launch, Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said; “It’s an honour for Trinity College to be hosting this event which celebrates a significant global research project, involving universities and libraries from all round the world. At Trinity we put particular emphasis on multidisciplinarity, on international collaboration and global relations, on innovation and independent, critical thinking. These are the values we espouse and promote. John Tyndall is a remarkable embodiment of all these values. A self-made man, he worked as a surveyor before attending university; his studies took him to Germany where he did his PhD; and enjoyed, as the introduction to his correspondence puts it, ‘several interconnected lives’: as an experimental physicist; as one of the great outspoken champions of science in the 19thcentury who took on the church in his defence of Darwinism; as a mountaineer, and as an inventor.”
Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University commented; “This remarkable text containing 230 letters begins a series of publications from a mammoth project commencing 10 years ago to collate and document the correspondence of John Tyndall. But much more than this, it opens up a window on both himself and 19th century science in Ireland. To be able to follow the threads of scientific discovery told by a great Irish scientist himself is a great privilege. John Tyndall from Leighlinbridge Co. Carlow was the first person to prove by experimentation the role of the greenhouse gases in warming the Earth, and modern climate science, as well as many other branches of science, owes a great debt to his pioneering work.”