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Dublin’s weird ‘witch’ bottle

This is a fascinating bottle with a weird story.  We learned about it on a tour of historic Aungier St with Dublin City’s architects, archaeologists and conservation officers. It’s a pottery bottle, from about 1600, intact and sealed.  But x-rays reveal that there is a lot of “stuff” in it, including old nails.  This leads […]

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Halloween: Samuel Haughton’s ‘humane hanging’

One of Ireland’s more unusual contributions to civilisation was calculating the humane hangman’s drop.  In the good old days, public executions were a popular spectacle, and indeed, the word ‘gala’ comes from gallows.    Now, hanging was originally a prelude to drawing and quartering — or, for women, being burned at the stake —  and never […]

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Calculating the date of the Creation

The world began on this day 4004 BC, according to Archbishop James Ussher from Dublin, the man who famously calculated the date of the Creation by counting the ‘begats’ in the Old Testament.  But his work meant this ingenious Irish ‘scientist’ was also one of the first people to try and estimate the age of […]

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1907: was the first portable computer design Irish?

Possibly the first portable computer — more “table top” than “laptop” — was designed around 1907 by an inventive Irish accountant, Percy Ludgate.  His invention gets a place in the history of computing, although it was never built.   Ludgate died 90 years ago this week. Since the invention of the abacus, people have been […]

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New digital walking tours of Ingenious Dublin

Press release Tuesday October 16th 2102: on Hamilton Day, the day quaternions were invented in Dublin in 1843 As hundreds of geeks gather in Dublin for the WebSummit… two new city walking tours are launched to celebrate Ireland’s many great inventions and scientific discoveries. Did you know. . . that Dublin algebra helped to land […]

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How statistics helped to make Guinness good!

An important statistical technique was invented at Guinness’s Dublin brewery, as part of quality control in 1908.  By helping to improve the product, it helped to make Guinness an international brand.  An extract from our new book, Ingenious Dublin, for Arthur’s Day 2012. If you wanted to know the average height of the Irish population […]

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10 things you might not know about Dublin!

1. Napoleon Bonaparte’s toothbrush is in the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street! (Well, one of his brushes!) 2. ‘Humane hanging’ was invented here in 1866 by Samuel Haughton, a TCD geology professor. 3. Acetylene was discovered in Leinster House in 1836 by a chemistry professor, Edmund Davy, who nearly blew the place up with his experiment.   […]

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What inventions should be in our new tour?

From the stethoscope and the hypodermic syringe to Sudocrem… there are lots of ingenious inventions associated with Dublin and Ireland.  There are also some tasty ones — like milk chocolate and flavoured crisps — and rather a lot of boozy ones too (think: whiskey,  Bailey’s Irish cream, Irish coffee and draught Guinness in a can). […]

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What are Ireland’s ‘Top 10’ science places?

You can now find Ireland’s ‘top 10’ science places, thanks to our new interactive Atlas of ingenious places. We’ve selected the best Irish locations, in six geeky-science themes, stretching all the way from the Giant’s Causeway to Mizen Head. To view each of the ‘top 10’ lists on the Atlas, just toggle the other categories off.   […]

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