Thomas Preston (scientist)

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Thomas Preston (1860 in Kilmore, County Armagh 1900) [1] was an Irish scientist whose research was concerned with heat, magnetism, and spectroscopy. He established empirical rules for the analysis of spectral lines, which remain associated with his name. In 1897 [2] he discovered the Anomalous Zeeman Effect, a phenomenon noted when the spectral lines of elements were studied in the presence or absence of a magnetic field. Preston reported, in an important paper published in The Scientific Transactions of The Royal Dublin Society, read on 22 December 1897, and published the following April, that he reported results more complicated than Zeeman had reported. Following this up further, he reported in a second paper in the RDS Scientific Transactions, read on 18 January 1899, and published the following June, that he had found results that were ’very startling’ and appeared ‘quite contrary to all theoretical explanations’. The full explanation had to wait for the theory of relativity and the introduction of quantum mechanics, which were to shake the rigid framework of Newtonian conceptions of absolute time and space. Preston’s results were an important step in this development.</ref> [3] [4]

Kilmore, County Armagh village in the United Kingdom

Kilmore or Killmore is a small village, townland and civil parish in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It lies 2.5 miles north of Richhill and within the Armagh City and District Council area. It had a population of 190 people in the 2011 Census.

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Scientist person that studies a science

A scientist is someone who conducts scientific research to advance knowledge in an area of interest.

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Preston was at the forefront of the Maxwellian research programme led by George Johnstone Stoney and George Francis FitzGerald. Preston famously tackled Stoney in what became a public dispute over a mathematical conclusion in this research programme which concerned electromagnetic and spectroscopic sciences. Stoney who is accredited with naming the electron was in opposition to Preston on this particular matter. John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh president of the Royal Dublin Society intervened in this argument in Prestons defence.

George Johnstone Stoney Anglo-Irish physicist

George Johnstone Stoney FRS was an Irish physicist. He is most famous for introducing the term electron as the "fundamental unit quantity of electricity".

George Francis FitzGerald Irish physicist

Prof George Francis FitzGerald FRS FRSE was an Irish professor of "natural and experimental philosophy" at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, during the last quarter of the 19th century. FitzGerald is known for his work in electromagnetic theory and for the Lorentz–FitzGerald contraction, which became an integral part of Einstein's special theory of relativity. A crater on the far side of the Moon is named for him, as is a building at Trinity College, Dublin.

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The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol
e
or
β
, whose electric charge is negative one elementary charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family, and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have no known components or substructure. The electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton. Quantum mechanical properties of the electron include an intrinsic angular momentum (spin) of a half-integer value, expressed in units of the reduced Planck constant, ħ. As it is a fermion, no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state, in accordance with the Pauli exclusion principle. Like all elementary particles, electrons exhibit properties of both particles and waves: they can collide with other particles and can be diffracted like light. The wave properties of electrons are easier to observe with experiments than those of other particles like neutrons and protons because electrons have a lower mass and hence a longer de Broglie wavelength for a given energy.

He was educated at The Royal School, Armagh, the Royal University of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin. From 1891 to 1900 he was Professor of Natural Philosophy at University College Dublin. He was a Fellow of the Royal University of Ireland and of the Royal Society, London and was a distinguished spectroscopist. [1] His two major textbooks remained in continuous use for over 50 years. [3] He enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1881, working under the physicist George FitzGerald (known for his work in electromagnetics [3] ) and graduated with a BA in mathematics in 1885. The previous year he had sat the Royal University of Ireland degree examinations which also earned him a BA from there with a first in mathematical science. He enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1881, and worked under the physicist George FitzGerald, known for his work in electromagnetics. [3] While at University College Dublin, he wrote a book, The Theory of Light. [5] In 1899 he won the second Boyle Medal presented by the Royal Dublin Society. [6] He died at his home, Bardowie, Orwell Park, Rathgar, Dublin, on 7 March 1900 of a perforated ulcer just as he was reaching the height of his academic powers. [3]

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The Royal University of Ireland was founded in accordance with the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879 as an examining and degree-awarding university based on the model of the University of London. A Royal Charter was issued on 27 April 1880 and examinations were opened to candidates irrespective of attendance at college lectures. The first chancellor was the Irish chemist Robert Kane.

University College Dublin university located in Dublin, Ireland

University College Dublin is a research university in Dublin, Ireland. It has over 1,482 faculty and 32,000 students, and it is Ireland's largest university. The university originates in a body founded in 1854 with John Henry Newman as the first rector known as the Catholic University of Ireland, re-formed in 1880 and chartered in its own right in 1908. The Universities Act, 1997 renamed the constituent university as the "National University of Ireland, Dublin", and a ministerial order of 1998 renamed the institution as "University College of Dublin - National University of Ireland, Dublin".

Family

He was father to the physicist Prof George Dawson Preston FRSE (1896-1972). [7]

Prof George Dawson Preston FRSE (1896–1972) was a 20th century British physicist specialising in crystallography and the structure of alloys. He was one of the first to use x-rays and electron diffraction to study the crystal structure of metals and alloys. He gives his name to the Guinier-Preston zone, discovered in 1938.

Books

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Augustine FitzGerald, D.D. was Dean of Armagh from 1896 until his death.

References

  1. 1 2 Thomas Preston Dictionary of Ulster Biography
  2. "Irish Scientists and Inventors". Irish Patents Office. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thomas Preston". The Free Dictionary by Farlex. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  4. "Thomas Preston". Birr Castle Demesne, Voyage of Discovery, Irish scientists and engineers. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  5. Preston, Thomas (1901). The Theory of Light (3rd ed.). Macmillan.
  6. "The Boyle Medal". Irish Universities Promoting Science. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  7. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0 902 198 84 X.