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Emile de Senerpont Domis.
Nederlandse samenvatting van AVM.
The Hamilton children
William Edwin, Archibald Henry, Helen Eliza Amalia.
Lady Hamilton
The larger picture.
Dunsink Observatory
A drawing of the Observatory by night.
Catherine Disney
The larger picture.
Hamilton around 1861 Two times Hamilton 1861
A comparison.
A Riddle
What kind of Swift was that.
Three physics essays
Work in progress. Teleportation, the Higgs boson (to be translated), Relativity (to be finished).
Clean the Earth
We may have some time left, but only if we act now.

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Read A Victorian Marriage : Sir William Rowan Hamilton in The Internet Archive’s BookReader

A Victorian Marriage as pdf or epub, background information, and further publications

Read Catherine Disney : a biographical sketch in The Internet Archive’s BookReader

Catherine Disney, background information, and the sketch about her as pdf or epub

Photos of people in Hamilton’s biography



This page contains anything not at home in the other pages,
from nineteenth century Dublin and Quantum mechanics to Mars and the Universe.
From subjects belonging to Hamilton’s story, or my own interests and doings.

Emile Domis
Emile Domis (1942-2002),
to whom I dedicated my essay.

Nederlandse samenvatting van
A Victorian Marriage : Sir William Rowan Hamilton


For an English summary of the essay see our ‘gossip article’,
A most gossiped about genius: Sir William Rowan Hamilton

The Hamilton children

The Hamilton children
William Edwin, Archibald Henry and Helen Eliza Amelia
as depicted on p. 17 of the essay. See for the descriptions, the
suggestion that the boy on the first row is most likely William
Edwin, and where the photographs came from, pp. 18-24.

Lady Hamilton

Lady Helena Maria Hamilton Bayly
Lady Hamilton (1804-1869)
This is the larger picture as reproduced from Wayman’s 1987 book about Dunsink Observatory.
Lady Hamilton was said to have been fashionable rather than intellectual, and her fashionability
seems to show in this photograph. Unusual for pictures from those times is her faint smile;
she looks as if she found being photographed rather funny.

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory
Dunsink Observatory and the South Dome by Sir Robert Ball, one of Hamilton’s successors
Reproduced from The book of Trinity College, Dublin, 1591-1891.
Belfast: Marcus Ward & CO., Limited.
A date is not given but the South Dome, which can be seen on the left, was built in 1865,
while the book was published in 1892. The light, which in Hamilton’s time would have
come from candles and fires in the fireplaces, streaming through the windows beautifully
indicates the atmosphere within the Observatory and on the premises as it must have
looked like when the Hamiltons were at home and still awake; Hamilton working on his
mathematics or talking with his family, and Thompson observing in the dome.
The soft light shining from the left on the lawn, and on the left side of the Observatory,
its south side, seems to indicate moonlight, probably even a full moon.

Catherine Disney

Catherine Disney
Catherine Disney (1800-1853)
This is the larger picture of Catherine Disney. It is a photo, made by Trinity Libary, from an earlier photo from,
most likely, a miniature from before 1825.
The earlier photo, or the miniature, was damaged, therefore the right part of Catherine’s face has been modified.
The photo was “attributed as being Catherine Disney” and that this attribution is correct is almost beyond
doubt; the portrait is in complete agreement with Hamilton’s lines about Catherine’s “locks of gold, and
soft blue eyes, and cheeks All rich with artless smiles and natural bloom.”
Courtesy Trinity College Dublin Library.

Hamilton around 1861

Sir William Rowan Hamilton ca 1861
Sir William Rowan Hamilton around 1861
This is the larger picture as it was shown in “What is Life? Celebrating Erwin Schrödinger.”
Manuscripts at Trinity College Dublin, but with the adaptations shown below.


Hamilton ca 1861 org en bewerkt
Two times Sir William Rowan Hamilton
Having tried to remove some blots on this photo, I here show the
original and the altered one to make a comparison more easy.
See for background information this entry.

A Riddle

Swift, A Riddle
A riddle from The Dublin Penny Journal, volume 1, 1832/33.
Gleanings of Natural History - In Ireland. No. III.

Published about ten days before Hamilton’s marriage.
“We present our readers with a portrait of a singularly large bird,
a variety of the Swift, which was caught in the neighbourhood
of Rathfarnham in the month of February, 1832. From its great sweep
of wing, as well as the circumstance of its appearing at a time of the
year when swallows are rarely, if ever, to be seen, it was at first
supposed to be a hawk by a boy who perceived it flying about.
He pursued it to an outhouse, into which it had flown, but was too late
to rescue it unhurt from the murderous talons of a cat that had seized
it, as it died soon afterwards. Its colour is exactly that of the common
Swift; and the spot on the throat of the same dirty white, but rather
larger, and much more distinctly and better marked. Its mouth
is considerably larger than even that of the night-jar, or goat-sucker,
of the same tribe; it extends far back, quite beneath the eye.
The quill feathers of the wings, as well as those of the tail,
are very pointed. The tail, which consists of ten feathers,
is remarkably different from that of the common swift, the feathers
being all nearly of an equal length. This bird measured ten inches
from the point of its bill to its tail, and twenty-one inches from
tip to tip of its wings.
It is preserved in the fine collection of Irish birds of T.W. Warren, Esq.”

Three physics essays

About how to teleport using quantum
entanglement. But perhaps in a hundred
years computers can just store us on a
hard drive and we can be rebuilt from
that, evading the no-cloning theorem.
I would greatly prefer teleportation.
T4T en het merkwaardige Higgsdeeltje
T4T and the Higgs boson
About particle physics and why the
Standard Model needed the Higgs boson.
To my happiness, when I had almost
finished writing the Higgs boson was
found. This essay is in Dutch, but I will
translate it some day.
This essay will describe how Einstein
found his relativity theories. Theory
will alternate with the very visual
way Einstein used to think about the
consequences of new findings, and
explain it to the public.

When I stumbled on Hamilton’s bizarre reputation I was, next to my work, studying physics, and wanted to become a cosmologist. As many students do, I hoped to make a great discovery some day, or if that would not happen at least a tiny one. Little had I expected what ‘my discovery’ would look like, and how much it had nothing to do with the universe. Still, as a variation on what Isaac Asimov seems to have said about crying out “Eureka” or mumbling “that is funny,” it appeared that thinking “that is odd” can also ‘herald’ years of work.

It happened when I was enrolled in the first course for my masters, History of Vector Analysis. I then heard about Hamilton as an alcoholic, who had married some lass from across the fields just to be married, and after his discovery of quaternions only had eye for them for the rest of his life (however useful that was). I vividly remember the picture I had formed in my mind, of a man looking at beautiful sloping green fields from behind his desk but seeing nothing but quaternions. I also remember that I wondered when he drank all that alcohol, perhaps in the evening, still sitting at his desk, and that I pitied that poor lonely village girl. Until I read about Hamilton’s suprisingly peaceful description of the walk with his wife along the Royal Canal where he had his Eureka moment. I then imagined that thinking “Woman, go away again and leave me in peace instead of annoying me even on my quiet walk along this canal” would most likely have prevented any Eureka moment. It was the start of a two weeks’ frenzy filled with sudden realizations, “impossible, that is simply utterly illogical.” Thereafter, no physics for me any more; reputations, gossip, Victorian times and the difficult lives of married Victorian women kept me busy for years.

Every now and then I give a presentation about the ‘inflationary universe,’ an adaptation and extension of my bachelor’s presentation, to local groups of the KNVWS, of which I am a member also. When I had finished writing about Hamilton what I had thought I had to write, and again was invited to give my presentation, I was very happy to be back in the universe. But knowing that continuing my studies is not in any way realizable in the near future, I also started to think that perhaps I do not want to become a cosmologist any more.

Already from the first time I gave my presentation about the inflationary universe I have introduced myself by telling the audience that I do not believe inflation can be true, but that I am very happy to explain the theory to them, including why the problems with the Big Bang theory seemed to be solved so neatly. That I obviously cannot prove that inflation is not true, but that it just does not make much sense to me. But what also happened while I was working on Hamilton’s reputation was that I became more convinced that Erik Verlinde* may be right (and not just because the first course in relativity I was enrolled in was given by him :). I can proudly say that already before handing in my bachelor’s essay (August 2013) I told my mentor that if I had money (which I do not have) I would bet on Verlinde’s theory, against inflation. So instead of becoming a cosmologist myself it would be better to try to learn to explain his theory to my fellow KNVWS members. Some people do that very well already, but it would give me focus.

* I was curious about Schroedinger’s remark, “I daresay not a day passes - and seldom an hour - without somebody, somewhere on this globe, pronouncing or reading or writing or printing Hamilton’s name,” and whether that still holds (not counting. I therefore counted the 71 articles of which Erik Verlinde was author or co-author and which were open access, which remarkably most of them were. And indeed, the Hamiltonian was mentioned in 34 articles.

But that will also take much time, and therefore my brother Rein thought that in the meantime it would be a nice idea (as a consolation for lost physics?) to also make a BookReader for my bachelor physics essays, which I once did love to write. Two of them, an essay on Teleportation and an essay in Dutch about the Higgs boson are in the Wayback Machine already, Anne’s page on Here it is a ‘work in progress,’ because I will translate the latter essay,** and my bachelor’s thesis, which should have formed a diptych with my master’s thesis, must be rewritten into an independent whole. I am looking forward to that.
Teleportation can be read in the Bookreader even though it is not a book: Teleportation.

** Translation note for the particle physics essay.
Preface: The original posts by the LHC@home 2.0 team about the “rogue” systems and the team having been “flabbergasted” can be found at the BOINCstats/BAM! page for vLHCathome including links to the original articles. I had paraphrased the LHC@Home 2.0 Team’s first post of 11-08-2011, but it is too historical not to write it out once more: “WE HAVE A PROBLEM. WE BELIEVE SOME "ROGUE" SYSTEMS ARE SUCKING OUR QUEUES DRY AND THUS OVERLOADING THE SUPPLY OF JOBS TO EVERYONE ELSE. Please be patient - we will try to fix this as soon as possible. Until this problem is understood, we have disabled the creation of new jobs and users for the moment. As soon as the system is recovered, the work unit flow will be restored.”
This is the 11 August 2011 BBC article calling on volunteers, LHC@home allows public to help hunt for Higgs particle. How appealing can you be! No wonder the servers were overloaded (even if everyone had understood the need for VM's). The BBC article linked to the LHC@home home page, but the link to the T4T page containing the quotation I used, “The Test4Theory@home project seeks to engage volunteers in theoretical physics computations for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN,” does not exist any more. Happily, it still is visible in the Wayback Machine, About Test4Theory. The capture being of the page as it was two years later, it also contains the later warning: “Before Attaching to us you must first have an up to date installed version of the VIRTUAL BOX software package. To download Virtual Box if needed see instructions here”.

Clean the Earth

It is a relief to know it still is possible: Climeworks, Carbfix, The Ocean Cleanup.
But only if we act now, and on a huge scale.

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