TCD Geneticist Unearths Correspondence between Irish Physicist and Famous British Botanist
Aug 11, 2011
A collection of over 200 letters between one of Irelandís most successful scientists and educators, John Tyndall, and the great British botanist and explorer, Sir Joseph Hooker, were recently discovered in the archives of Imperial College London where they have been housed for over a hundred years. The find, which links the great scientists and botanists of the 19th Century, was unearthed by Senior Experimental Officer at the School of Genetics and Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Miguel DeArce, whilst researching the famous zoologist and anatomist, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 Ė 1895).
John Tyndall (1820-1893) was a Carlow born physicist whose work on infra-red spectroscopy served to form the basis of our understanding of the Earthís climate system and current awareness of the threats of global warming and climate change. Tyndallís friendship with Charles Darwin led him to extend his theory of evolution to the physical world. Interest in Tyndall as one of the Irelandís greatest scientists has been increasing as of late with projects currently underway at the University of York in Canada and a conference set to take place in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.
The new correspondence between Tyndall and Sir Joseph Hooker (1817 Ė 1911) was discovered by Dr DeArce during his research into the Huxley online collection of documents and letters based at Imperial College London. Dr DeArce noticed a folder that contained the letters and upon further investigation realised the correspondence was not between Huxley and any of his contemporaries but between Tyndall and Hooker. World experts including Dr James Elwick of York University, Canada and Professor Ruth Barton of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, are now evaluating the exact value of the finding to the academic community and an exploration of their contents will undoubtedly help build a picture of the relationship between some of the greatest scientists of the 19th Century. This find comes two years after Dr DeArce discovered 22 original Darwin letters in the library of the Royal Irish Academy.