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Ernest Walton, Irish physicist Photo by: Science Photo Library

Top ten Irish scientists of all time

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Ernest Walton, Irish physicist Photo by: Science Photo Library

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8. Denis Burkitt (1911-1993), born in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

Burkitt graduated as a physician, and became a world-renowned pioneer in public medicine as well as the identification of cancer. He worked in public service for many years in Uganda and for the first time described a cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma, showing it is spread by mosquitoes who transmit the disease by spreading the Epstein-barr virus. Burkitt returned to London in 1966 and led campaign advocating the importance of fibre in the diet.

9. Cynthia Evelyn Longfield (1896-1991)

Longfield was a dragonfly expert and explorer. She came from an Anglo-Irish family and was interested in botany. Through her work in odonatology and entomology, Longfield saw most of Europe, and travelled extensively in four other continents, at a time when travel meant months at sea on a steamship. In 1945, Longfield published the second enlarged edition of The Dragonflies of the British Isles.

10. Nicholas Joseph Callan (1799-1864), born near Ardee, Co Louth.

Callan was appointed professor of natural philosophy at Maynooth in 1826. He acquired an interest in electrical phenomena, with his most notable contribution being the invention of the induction coil. The induction coil was the forerunner of the modern step-up voltage transformer. Only now is work attaining recognition as it was originally accredited to others.

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