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Annual Hamilton Walk – 16th October 2017

The Annual Hamilton Walk, in association with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Maynooth University, will take place during Maths Week Ireland on Monday 16th October starting from Dunsink Observatory. Advance Booking is essential for this event. More information including booking details can be found here.

dunsink_houseThe walk commemorates Sir William Rowan Hamilton’s famous creation of a strange new number system, called Quaternions, on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin on October 16, 1843. Quaternions now play a fundamental role in computer games and animation, special effects in movies, space navigation, physics, engineering and many other areas. The walk will retrace Hamilton’s steps from Dunsink Observatory to Broom Bridge in Cabra where he had his Eureka moment.

Hamilton performed a piece of mathematical graffiti by scratching his quaternion formulas on the canal bridge. In an act of mathematical vandalism, Hamilton opened up a whole new mathematical landscape where mathematicians could now feel free to conceive new algebraic number systems that were not shackled by the rules of ordinary numbers in arithmetic. Hamilton freed algebra from arithmetic and he was called the Liberator of Algebra.

Friday, 22 Sept 2017 – Culture Night (Geophysics programme)

DIAS – Geophysics programme of Culture Night event at 5 Merrion Square:

Earthquakes and other Geohazards: Despite its lack of large earthquakes, Ireland holds a special place in the history of Earthquake studies thanks to the pioneering work of Robert Mallet in the mid-19thcentury. Come see the past and present of live earthquake monitoring worldwide, from the heart of Dublin.

Time: 5pm – 10pm

Address: 5 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

Admission is free.

See Culture Night website for more details about that event.

Photo of MIRI Group Meeting – September 2017

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is due for launch in 2018 and DIAS convened the team working on one of its major instruments MIRI in Dublin (13th to 15th September) to finalize their plans for using the biggest telescope ever put into space. DIAS helped build some of JWST’s hardware and is now developing software to analyze its data.

8th September 2017, M8.1 Mexico earthquake

A major earthquake with magnitude 8.1 occurred offshore Mexico on the 8th September 2017 at 04:49:21 UTC. The epicentre is located about 60km from the coast of the mexican state Chiapas, see map below. The event was felt widely and several casualties and damage to buildings have been reported. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a threat warning for tsunami waves up to three metres high along the coast of Mexico. Maximum wave heights of 1.75 metres were observed at the coast of Chiapas five hours after the earthquake origin time.

The M8.1 earthquake was recorded at seismic stations worldwide, including stations of the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN), see seismic waveforms below (select figure to enlarge).

Further information is available from the following webpages:

More information about the INSN is available via this link.

19th October – School of Cosmic Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2017

**Advance booking is required here**

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – School of Cosmic Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2017

Thursday 19th October at 6:30pm

Brave new worlds: the planets in our galaxy

By Professor Giovanna Tinetti, University College London

Location : Theatre C (O’Connor Theatre – Room H2.22), Science Hub, University College Dublin

Abstract: The Earth is special to us – it’s our home. But is it really special as a planet? Every star we can see in the night sky is likely to be orbited by planets. There are probably a thousand billion planets in our galaxy alone. In about twenty years, over 3500 “exoplanets” have been discovered in distant solar systems. There are planets completing a revolution around their mother star in less than one day, as well as planets orbiting two or even three stars or moving on trajectories so eccentric as to resemble comets. Some of them are freezing cold, some are so hot that their surface is molten. But beyond that our knowledge falters: What are they made of? How did they form? What’s the weather like there? Are they habitable? 
 Finding out why are these new worlds as they are and what is the Earth’s place in our galaxy and –ultimately– in the universe, is one of the key challenges of modern astrophysics.

About Professor Tinetti: Giovanna Tinetti is Professor of Astrophysics at University College London where she coordinates a research team on extrasolar planets. Select appointments and achievements include Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded program “Exo-Lights”, co-editor of planetary journal ICARUS and Institute of Physics Moseley medal 2011 for pioneering the use of IR transmission spectroscopy for molecular detection in exoplanet atmospheres. She is the Principal Investigator of ARIEL, one of the three candidates for the European Space Agency’s next medium-class (M4) science mission; co-founder and co-director of Blue Skies Space Ltd, which aims at creating new opportunities for science space satellites. Awarded a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Turin in Italy, Giovanna has continued her academic career as NASA Astrobiology Institute/NRC fellow at Caltech/JPL and then as European Space Agency external fellow in Paris, before moving to London in 2007 as Royal Society URF.

3rd September 2017 – Nuclear event in North Korea

On the 3rd September 2017 the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) recorded a seismic event with epicenter in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), see below plot for the location. The recordings are consistent with the announcement by the DPRK that it has conducted a nuclear test, their sixth since 2006. The event occured at 03:30:01 UTC.

Vibrations caused by the nuclear test were detected by seismic stations of the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN), see waveforms below. Please click the figure to enlarge. Further information about this event can be obtained from these websites:

RTE Drivetime – School of Celtic Studies Summer School 2017

The recent Celtic Studies Summer School featured on RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime programme on 20th July.

Listen to it here (from1:56:00)


DIAS Scholar wins 2017 Earnshaw Medal

Congratulations to Anton Feeney-Johansson on being awarded the Earnshaw medal for best undergraduate physics thesis in Ireland for 2017.

Anton carried out his undergraduate project at the school of Cosmic Physics in DIAS and was mentored by Irish Research Council scholar Dr. Eamon O’Gorman. Anton’s work focused on measuring the temperature of the atmosphere of the famous red supergiant, Antares. To do this he used data from the Very Large Array in New Mexico, which is one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. Anton is due to start his PhD in radio astrophysics at DIAS in September 2017 and we’re looking forward to have him on board.

The Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico

Dunsink Observatory – Culture Night 2017

Dunsink Observatory is joining in the celebrations of Culture Night on Friday 22nd September 2017.

Address : Dunsink Lane,     Castleknock,  D15 (location)
Phone   : 087- 6294966

The Observatory will be open from 7:00pm to 11:00pm and during the evening, visitors will be able to view the historic observatory building, which were once the home of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, world renowned mathematician and scientist.

Visitors will also be able to see the historic Grubb telescope and hear the remarkable story of the Dublin company that became one of the greatest telescope makers in the World. Weather permitting, there will be various smaller telescopes on display for star-gazing.

There will be two talks given by astronomers from DIAS, and  advance booking is essential  for these talks.

The talks  are not suitable for children under 12.

Time: 7:30 pm
Title: Winds On Earth, The Sun, And Other Stars


Time: 9:30 pm
Title: Imaging Stars And Searching For Exoplanets At Radio Wavelengths
Speaker: Dr Eamonn O’Gorman


2017-8-10 – Seminar by Prof. Balz Kamber (TCD)

10 August 2017Seminar

When: 16:00 on Thursday, 10th August 2017
Where: DIAS, Geophysics Section, 5 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, (library)

Speaker: Prof. Balz Kamber (Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin)
Title: Why Archaean cratons differ from younger continental lithosphere.


The most outstanding features of Archaean cratons are their extraordinary thickness and enduring longevity. Seismically, Archaean cratonic fragments are sharply-bounded deep roots of buoyant cold lithospheric mantle, clearly distinguishable from non-cratonic lithosphere. The age of diamond inclusions and the Os-isotope composition of deep cratonic xenoliths support a model of coeval formation of the crustal and residual mantle portions.
Archaean and post-Archaean crust also differ, not in bulk composition, but in crustal architecture. Key drivers of crustal rearrangment were the radioactive heat-producers U, Th and K. In the early Earth, high radioactive heat production led to self-organisation into evolved, potassic upper and refractory lower crust. The lag time between crust formation and re-organisation was much shorter than today. An additional factor contributing to cratonic restruc-turing was the emplacement of dense supracrustal rocks in ensialic greenstone belts, leading to gravitational inversion. The dome and keel architecture of Archaean cratons was thus driven by crustal radioactive heat and high temperature mantle melting, yielding dense, low viscosity lavas piling up at surface.
A pleasing complementary observation from cratonic mantle roots is that refractory mantle nodules also suggest very high degrees of melting and extraction. Thus, the most logical conclusion seems that the komatiite mantle source was up to 500ºC hotter than modern astheno¬sphere. With higher degree and depth of melting, a thicker and severely depleted bouyant cratonic residue was formed, perfectly equipped to preserve the Archaean crustal record.
However, there are significant inconsistencies in this otherwise convincing line of reasoning. They include: Archaean crust is not especially thick, the dunites expected after very high degree melting are rare, many cratonic harzburgites are much richer in orthopyroxene than predicted [1], and cratonic harzburgites often contain garnet. Finding a solution to these issues has important ramifications for secular evolution of the continents and thermal evolution of the mantle. In this presentation, I will contrast the various proposed solutions, including purging of surprisingly carbonated ancient mantle [e.g. 2], onset of plate tectonics, a Neoarchaean superplume event and collapse of Hadean cumulate barriers.
[1] Boyd (1989) EPSL 89, 15-26
[2] Herzberg (2016) J. Petrol. 57, 2271-2288