Cosmic Adventures on God's Island
Why write a book about Irish scientists? Isn't Ireland God's country?
Let's face it, when the earth was flat, Ireland teetered on the edge, lost in an Atlantic fog, too barbaric even for Roman boots to bother conquering. Yet, long before Europe reeled in the dust of Rome's collapse, this heathen backwater had embarked on its first remarkable and little known cosmic adventure.
Our story begins in 3200 BC when Neolithic man constructed one of the world's oldest and most elaborate astronomical observatories-come-passage tomb a century before the English hauled their last stone to Stonehenge and when the pyramids were just a speck of sand in an Egyptian's eye. It has an inner chamber that's as dark as a black hole all year round, but this is flooded with sunlight for 17 minutes at dawn on the Winter Solstice. It is a testament to the islander's tenacity to unite life and death, science and spirituality, imagination and veneration, and honor something greater than themselves.
In the five millennia since this prehistoric mapping of the heavens, Irish scientists -- including the proto-biology of Augustine (b. 655) and the astronomy of Eriugena (b. 815), the Father of Modern Chemistry Robert Boyle (b. 1627), the great philosopher George Berkeley (b. 1685), giant of modern mathematics William Rowan Hamilton, the first man to split the atom, Ernest Walton (b. 1903), Lord Kelvin (b. 1824), John Bell (b. 1928) who proved Einstein wrong and quantum weirdness right, and Dublin's adopted son, father of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrodinger (b. 1887) -- have found an easy alliance between faith and scientific enquiry.
In a land renowned for its saints and scholars, this relationship with science is unexpected. Yet, the romantic, saintly and mystical Ireland may be why poet-scientists Hamilton and Schrodinger felt at home here.
As we kill God and ruin the planet in the name of greed, secularism, and the derision of religiosity, the story of Irish scientists shows that science and spirituality aren't mutually exclusive. These men show that there is a fundamental need in the human psyche to belong to something greater than ourselves and show that, as Einstein said, there is no greater way to honor God by seeking to understand His creation.