Launch of Symposium on Edward Hutchinson Synge (1890 - 1957)
“From peering at atoms to gazing at the stars”
Shrödinger Lecture Theatre
Trinity College Dublin
19 April 2012
Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends. Two days ago I received the book 'Hutchie – The Life and Works of Edward Hutchinson Synge (1890-1957)'. I learned a lot very quickly, and I'm delighted that we are having this symposium today devoted to the genius of Edward Hutchinson Synge, and to launch a book in his memory.
As most of you here will know, 'Hutchie' was the nephew of playwright John Millington Synge, and was the older brother of John Lighton Synge, the outstanding mathematician and theoretical physicist. It is my great privilege to welcome the members of the Synge family here today. I would like to extend a special welcome on behalf of the College to Professor Cathleen Synge Morawetz, niece of Edward Hutchinson, who is herself an eminent mathematician.
You will hear today of the life of this remarkable man, and I won't even attempt to sketch it here, except to say that EH Synge was a Foundation Scholar in mathematics at Trinity in 1910. However, he didn't graduate and he did his work as a recluse at his home in Dundrum.
Today's symposium, almost a century after Edward Hutchinson Synge left Trinity, will shed some light on his remarkable scientific achievements and relatively unknown life in all its tragic complexity. I would like to welcome the guest speakers who are with us today to contribute to this process, particularly those who have travelled from the UK.
I would like to thank the School of Physics for organising today's symposium. A huge thanks to Professors John Donegan, Denis Weaire and Petros Florides for organising the special commemorative publication. This book republishes the papers of EH Synge together with a short biographical memoir which for the first time provides some insight into his life. It is my pleasure to officially launch this book this morning.
During a week when we remember those from past generations whose legacies have advanced Trinity's reputation in the world, it is very appropriate that we pay tribute to this unique person – this man whose headstone reads ‘Scientist-Inventor’. Indeed I think it says something about the immutability of Trinity's values that we still do things like this, and I feel everyone here is proud that we can raise EH Synge there alongside his brother, John Lighton Synge, and his hero William Rowan Hamilton whose life work he had been instrumental in having published.
I now declare the symposium open and hope that you all enjoy this special programme of events to commemorate Edward Hutchinson Synge.