Gaelic Tech: Top Irish Contributions to Science and Industry

Gaelic Tech: Top Irish Contributions to Science and Industry

Summary: Think Ireland is all about the Guinness, Corned Beef & Potatoes? How about Color Photography, Seismology and Submarines?

TOPICS: Tech Industry

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  • Time Machines: DeLorean Motor Company

    Ok, maybe the DeLorean DMC-12 can't really travel through time, but the iconic vehicle that became famous in the Back to the Future trilogy was originally made and manufactured at a facility in Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    For a brief period from 1981 to 1982, approximately 9,000 DMC-12 cars were built before the company had massive financial issues and had to cease operations.

    Today, there is a new DeLorean Motor Company based in Texas which supplies parts to the owners of over 6,500 DMC-12 cars still in operation, and plans to resume production on an updated car using a combination of surplus parts and new fabrication.

  • Starting your Car and basically Doing Anything: Nicholas Callan

    The Induction Coil sounds like a buzzword piece of technology that might be thrown around as techno-garble on a classic episode of Star Trek. But actually, without it, your car would not start.

    Induction coils are a type of discharge coil which are used to create high-voltage pulses from low-voltage direct (DC) current. 

    Invented in 1836 by Irish priest Nicholas Callan, it was an early type of transformer that led the way towards modern electrical transformer technology, which in turn enabled AC current to be transmitted and distributed over high-tension wires over long distances, thus enabling all modern forms of electrical consumption as well as electricity used in many types of consumer applications.

    Without the transformer and the pioneering work of Nicholas Callan, there would have been no Edison, no Nikola Tesla, no Westinghouse.

    Induction Coils were widely used in X-Ray machines, radio transmitters, and arc lighting from the 1880s to the 1920s. Today they are used almost exclusively in ignition systems for internal combustion engines.

Topic: Tech Industry


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Gaelic Tech: Top Irish Contributions to Science and Industry

    There is nothing whatsoever Irish about corned beef.
    • beef

      Other than the fact that from the 17th to mid 19th century...Ireland was the largest producer of corned beef
  • Churchill Dublin Raised ?!

    Winston Churchill "Dublin-raised Winston Churchill," Dublin raised, is a bit tenuous isn't it, for arguable one of the most famous and influential people in British History.

    5 minutes on Google added the below missed off the list...

    ...Boyle (Chemistry), Beaufort (Meteorology), Dunlop (Tyres, company of the same name, anglo-Scottish), Fergusson (as in Massey-Fergusson Tractors), Martin (Ejector seat)

    Not sure the Titanic or DeLorean are shining examples of great engineering,.
    • Gaelic Tech

      Such is the totality of relationship between the islands in the north east European archipelago. All of 19th century Ireland was "British". Winston Churchill lived in Dublin from age two to six when his paternal grandfather John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough etc etc. was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1876 to 1880). Winston Churchill’s first cousins on his mother side lived at Leslie Castle in what is now Northern Ireland. Tenuous? Perhaps : )
      Which segway’s to the fact that the majority of the Irish scientific luminaries listed are not "Gaelic” in the ethno- national terms but rather Anglo-Irish; such were the Victorian social-economic conditions of the time. Of course my favourite is not listed i.e. Irish born 19th century physicist, John Tyndall who works are the basis for the theory of anthropomorphic global climate change.
  • Titanic and DeLorian failures ... NOT technical!

    The Titanic was a great piece of engineering, but even it had its weaknesses, which its users (the White Star Lines) failed to take into account. The ship was "sink-resistant" but was treated as UN-sinkable, and the captain steered it into a field of icebergs to make an overly optimistic schedule. The same kind of HUBRIS wrecked the Hindenberg, the Challenger space shuttle, and countless cars and pickup trucks (hold my beer and watch this!) over the years.

    The DeLorean was also a great engineering feat, but the combination of its high price, resulting in a narrow, upscale market niche, and Mr. DeLorean's out-of-office behavior with respect to drugs, resulted in failure at the marketing end.

    Anyone who has to drive in rain curses the inability to open and close umbrellas under cover (in addition to which, the WET umbrella, once closed, has to be lifted over the driver's lap and both seats to stow it for the trip), and to make it worse, storage space is provided in pockets IN THE DOORS, which exposes the contents to the rain AND the drip from the umbrella. If all car doors opened like the DeLorean's doors, this problem, AND the problem of narrow margins to swing doors open enough to get in and out, would be solved. It's just too bad that this technology has ONLY appeared in a very expensive car that went out of production for other reasons.
    • You cannot ding shipworks in Belfast...

      As not being a huge technical achievement. White Star's Olympic class vessels aside, it produced a tremendous amount of ships, many of them which had long and storied careers.
  • Gaelic Tech in Fiction

    Since Watt and Bell (a Scottish immigrant to the U.S.) have such a prominent place in technology, is it any wonder that Star Trek writers made the chief engineer of the Enterprise in the original series Scottish, and the chief engineer of the Enterprise-D in the Next Generation (plus the DS9 space station) Irish?
  • My personal favorite irishman is Philip Lynott

    His "Sarah" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
  • i like sarah

    i like sarah, she is very succesfull for