The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS)
Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath
School of Theoretical Physics
Eamon De Valera (1882-1975) had training as a mathematician, and remained intersted in science throughout his life. Born in New York and educated in Dublin, he was Ireland's first prime minister (serving in that post 1937 to 1948 as well as on two other occasions) and later as president from 1959 to 1973. During his first term as prime minister, De Valera proposed the creation of DIAS. An act of parliament founded the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1940, incorporating two schools: the School of Theoretical Physics and the School of Celtic Studies. A third School of Cosmic Physics later came to exist.
De Valera had already arranged that Erwin Schrödinger would come to Dublin in 1939. After the founding of DIAS the following year, Schrödinger became the first Director and Senior Professor at the School of Theoretical Physics. He remained at DIAS until his retirement in 1955.
DIAS currently resides in several buildings: the School of Cosmic Physics remains mostly in historic Merrion Square, not far from the original institute.The Schools of Theoretical Physics and Celtic Studies occupy adjacent buildings on Burlington Road. The astronomical observatory of William Hamilton, who may have been Ireland's best-known scientist, can be found some miles away in Dunsink, and it too is part of DIAS. The mathematical library of De Valera still can be viewed in the School of Theoretical Physics.
In 2003 the government stipulated that each School be reviewed by an outside committee. Sir Michael Atiyah, then Chair of the Board of the School of Theoretical Physics, asked me to perform this review, which ultimately took place in November 2004 with a committee comprising John Cardy, Robbert Dijkgraaf, David Simms, and myself as chair. Knowing that such reviews could drag on unless they were promptly submitted, I insisted that the committe schedule time to prepare and submit our report before leaving Dublin, and this we accomplished with success.
Shortly afterward Dervilla Donnelly, the charming and extremely effective Chairman of the Council of the Institute (and a well-known biochemist), asked me to succeed Sir Michael as Chair of the Board of Theoretical Physics. I agreed to take this on, leading to appointment by the Irish Government in the summer of 2005. As a consequence, I make couple of trips each year to Dublin, and these meetings have always been surrounded by other interesting events—ranging from the fascinating Statutory Public Lecture in May 2007 by Lene Hau entitled, Wizardry with Light: Stop Teleport, and Go!, to series of lectures by Fröhlich or Varadhan dedicated to John Lewis, to the launch of books on Celtic studies, to the meeeting of the British Association, and to the opening of the Hamilton Institute.
Jürg Fröhlich's Lectures, November 2005.
The board meeting in May 2006.
Varadhan lectures, May 2006.
Some Council Members, May 2006.
Board Meeting, May 2007.
Lene Hau's Statutory Public Lecture, May 2007.
An article in the Irish Times whetted many people's appetite, and Lene's lecture filled the large Schrödinger lecture theater at Trinity College Dublin. Some people even sat in the aisles. Afterward Lene gave a nice radio interview with Pat Kenny.
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