Friday Fun Fact: Irish seminarians were used as guinea pigs to test voltage

Another fun fact thanks to Sean Dukes book, How Irish Scientists Changed the World.

Fr Nicholas Callan use seminarians as a way to measure voltage

Fr Nicholas Callan

Fr Nicholas Callan

In 1836 Fr Nicholas Callan started developing the induction coil, a type of transformer which produces high voltages from a low DC supply. However, at the time there were no instruments which could test the coils range of voltages. Using what he had to hand, the resourceful Fr Callan got a number of seminarians to hold hands. Fr Callan would then assess the voltage by seeing how high the last two students jumped in the air. Famously, one of the student once was knocked unconscious, the future Archbishop of Dublin William Walsh.

After this happened, Fr Callan was forbidden to experiment on students so he used turkeys. Attaching electrodes to a turkeys head, Fr Callan would deem the step up in voltage good if the turkey was killed by electrocution.


Teaching Training Update II – End of the road

Well that was a short road. The schools are back and a handful of rejection emails means that as it stands only 20% of schools in the Dublin area haven’t rejected my application. What’s more the School of Education will not accept me as a dual student of both the School of Education and the School of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science, which I would require if I am to submit my PhD thesis. So thus ends my road towards becoming a secondary school teacher. For now at least.

My Leaving Cert Moment

Last week saw just over 52,000 students receive their first round CAO offers. Eight years ago I got my own first round offer, science in UCD. But it wasn’t my first choice, nor was it my second. It was my fifth. The first four? All law courses. I was interested in doing law and becoming some form of law professional, but I also wanted to become a scientist. I was one of those rare students, at least in my school, which would have been happy with any of the ten courses on my CAO application. This is my new “Leaving Cert” moment. While I may not have gotten teacher training, I have applied jobs which I am just as equally excited about. I may not have gotten my number one choice eight years ago, but I was still happy with what I got. The same applies now. Onwards to the next great adventure!

Friday Fun Fact: The world’s first person known to be killed by a car was Irish

So this weeks fun fact comes from Sean Dukes book, How Irish Scientists Changed the World.

Mary Ward was the world’s first person known to be killed by a car

Mary Ward was an Anglo-Irish scientist during the 1800’s and she was one of only three women on the mailing list for the Royal Astronomical Society. However, despite her work in astronomy and microscopy, she is best known was the world first person to be killed by a car.

Mary Ward, Irish scientist and first person to be killed by a car

Mary Ward, Irish scientist and first person to be killed by a car

In late August 1869, Mary Ward, her husband Henry Ward, 5th Viscount Bangor were visiting her cousin William Paerson, the 3rd Earl of Rosse in present day Birr, County Offaly. William Parsons sons, Richard Clare Parsons (whom was 18 at the time), Charles Algernon Parson (whom was 15) had built a steam powered car which they would drive around the family estate. During her visit the Parson boys took Mary Ward for a drive, but she fell off and a wheel of the car ran over her braking her neck.