TITLE - Choosing your medicines to suit your genes.
Leader - David McConnell.

Tue, 21/05/2024

10:30 - 11:30 

David McConnell is Fellow Emeritus in Genetics in Trinity College. Educated at Sandford Park, Trinity and the California Institute of Technology (Ph D, 1971) he became a member of the faculty in Trinity in 1970, introducing the science and technology behind genetic engineering in Ireland. He held a fellowship at Harvard University (1976-1977). As Professor of Genetics (1990-2014) he planned and organised the Smurfit Institute of Genetics which grew to have more than 100 research staff from 30 countries. Genetics had led to remarkable advances in medicine, including "pharmacogenomics", how genes affect responses to medicines. Today a simple saliva test is available to help a doctor choose prescriptions that suit your genes. This test will reduce the chance of an "adverse drug reaction", which can be serious, and make prescriptions effective. When he took the test he found he had 5 genes that would affect his responses to about 30 commonly prescribed medicines. He will explain the science in lay language, and its usefulness. Caveat emptor!


TITLE - Robert Boyle (1627-1691): Genius, Polymath, Eccentric and Cork's Gas Man.
Leader - Jim Malone.

Tue, 04/06/2024

10:30 - 11:30 

Jim Malone is Robert Boyle Professor (Emeritus) of Medical Physics and was Dean of the School of Medicine at trinity College/St James's Hospital. He works/worked with various international organisations, including the UN's WHO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the EC. He has broad interests in the Humanities and directed 2 Merriman Summer Schools. He has been reading Boyle's work in its original format for almost 50 years and has contributed regularly to the Robert Boyle Summer School. He has a multitude of peer reviewed publications and including 3 books and a recent almost true memoir: "Tales from the Ivory Tower". Robert Boyle (1627-1691) is known as the father of chemistry and the son of the Earl of Cork. He was much more - a determined, undercelebrated, brilliant scientist and eccentric. He was born in Lismore castle in Waterford and lived through the English Civil War, regicide, interregnum, restoration, and died just months after the battle of the Boyne. He was among the last of the universal polymaths, and contributed substantially to medicine, physics, the life sciences, philosophy and theology. He was a founding member of the Royal Society and refused numerous honours including its presidency. He accumulated a vast range of cures and even wrote a short semi-autobiographical novella. Finally, he established the experimental method as we know it. He was deeply religious, lived an exemplary if somewhat stoic Anglican life. He funded the first translation of the Bible into Irish. Like Nelson he was fascinated by alchemy and sorcery and not at ease with the boundary to empirical enquiry into these sensitive areas. His science and his personal spirituality are inextricably intertwined. Jim started reading Boyle's copious original writings inn the early printed books room of the TCD library almost 50 years ago. They are informative about 17th century science and life, and rich in unintended humour. The talk is based on these writings and a comparison with what one learns from them with what one would learn from a 21st century scientist's writings. Boyle's opus brings the man to life and Jim seems now to know him better than many of those he meets regularly. Visual art is used to illustrate the talk.


TITLE - Feral children: their linguistic development.
Leader - Philippe Hamel.

Tue, 18/06/2024

10:30 - 11:30 

Feral (or wild) children grow up without social contact, without linguistic stimulation. They are either subjected to ill treatment by uncommunicative "carers", or brought up by animals, or surviving in total isolation by their own resources. This talk will concentrate on four feral children, describe the circumstances of their early lives and the efforts of society to bring them into the fold through language teaching and patient socialization. We will briefly consider two conflicting theories that attempt to explain why the linguistic development of feral children is extremely difficult and in numerous cases impossible. Philippe Hamel studied English and French literatures at the University of Upper Normandy in Rouen. Whilst teaching French in various branches of the Irish Civil Service he studied at Trinity College Dublin where he obtained his Higher Diploma in Education in 1974. He then taught French, German and Spanish at secondary school level. He studied Theoretical Linguistics at University College Dublin where he lectured in Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics whilst pursuing his research in the logic of tenses and Speech Act Theory. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1982. For the pleasure of French readers, Philippe has published a book of short stories.


TITLE - The life and Music of Jean Sibelius.
Leader - Kirsten Briggs.

Tue, 25/06/2024

10:30 - 11:30 

Sibelius was born in Finland in 1865 and composed over 500 pieces of music. A major influence on his music was that he held a deep interest in the myths, ideologies and legends of Finland as we shall hear in his music. Sibelius had a deep interest in the flora and fauna of Finland and these feelings played a very important role in the construction of his music. The beauty of the Finnish landscape and his interest in its wildlife also influenced and became apparent in his music. Sibelius is probably best known for his Violin Concerto but above all for his patriotic symphonic poem "Finlandia" that he composed in 1899. This piece received its premiere performance on July 2nd 1900 to great acclaim, not only by the Finnish people but in global terms also. "Finlandia" became the ultimate expression and desire of the Finnish people for their independence and glory when Finland was valiantly attempting to avoid being controlled by Czarist Russia. Independence was achieved through non-violent uprising by the Finnish people who then became part of the EU, joined NATO last year and remain an acclaimed independent state today. We will listen to a range of great music by Sibelius and also hear a little bit about Finland as a country.



Print Date: 20 May 2024