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Dr. Cormac O'Raifeartaigh BSc (Hons) PhD FRAS

Title:

Lecturer in physics

School/ Department:

School of Science & Computing - Dept of Science

Telephone:

+353 0 51845572

Room Name/ Num:

333 1969 - Main Building

Campus:

Main Campus

My Blog/Website:

Click Here to View

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My Biography

Dr Cormac O’Raifeartaigh is a graduate of University College Dublin (BSc Hons) and Trinity College Dublin (PhD). He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Science, Technology and Society Program of Harvard University. A solid-state physicist by training, his research has recently focused on the history and philosophy of 20th century physics.

Research

Early career work concerned the study of defects in solids. More recent research is concerned with the history and philosophy of 20th century science, in particular the rise of the Standard Model of particle physics and the rise of the Big Bang model of the evolution of the universe.

Best known for several original discoveries concerning the cosmology of Albert Einstein, in particular the discovery that Einstein once attempted a 'steady-state' theory of the universe. This work was described in Nature, Scientific AmericanDiscovery Magazine and The New York Times.

Teaching

Lecturer in physics at WIT since 1996. Major part in design and delivery of BSc (Hons) in Physics for Modern Technology. Modules designed and taught include mechanics, the quantum theory of solids and special relativity. Other modules include:

Science, Universe and Society (1): A brief history of cosmology

Science, Universe and Society (2a): A brief history of particle physics

Science, Universe and Society (2b): A brief history of global climate

Professional

BSc Hons (University College Dublin) 1988.

Trinity Trust Award (Trinity College Dublin) 1988-1991.

PhD (Trinity College Dublin) 1994.

CEC Marie Curie Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (Aarhus University) 1993 - 1994

CEC Marie Curie Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (Trinity College Dublin) 1994 - 1995

Member of the American Physical Society

Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and Chartered Physicist

Research Fellow, Science, Technology and Society Program (Harvard University) 2010-11

Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society 2013

Research Associate of the School of Theoretical Physics of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies 2014.

Outreach

Well-known science communicator, best known for the science blog Antimatter and a monthly science column in The Irish Times. Science Ambassador for Discover Science and Engineering Ireland. Experienced public science presenter with appearances on The Six One News (RTE TV 1), Drivetime (RTE Radio 1), Pat Kenny Live (Newstalk) and Futureproof (Newstalk). Former Chair of the RAW public science debates at Science Gallery Dublin. 

Publications

Recent book chapters

O’Raifeartaigh, C. (2019). 'Historical and Philosophical Aspects of the Einstein World'. Accepted for publication in Einstein and the Philosophy of General Relativity: Einstein Studies Vol 8. (eds D. Howard and J. Stachel) Birkhäuser

O’Raifeartaigh, C. and Mitton S. (2018). ‘A new perspective on steady-state cosmology: from Einstein to Hoyle'. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on the History of Physics (Eds. M. J. Cooper, E. A. Davis, P. M. Schuster and D. L. Weaire) Cambridge University Press. 

O'Raifeartaigh, C. (2017). ‘A new perspective on Einstein's philosophy of cosmology’. In The Philosophy of Cosmology (Eds. K. Chamcham, J. Silk, J.D. Barrow and S. Saunders) Cambridge University Press pp 467-485.

O’Raifeartaigh, C. (2013). ‘The contribution of V.M. Slipher to the discovery of the expanding universe’. In Origins of the Expanding Universe: 1912-1932 (Eds. M.Way and D. Hunter) Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series vol. 471 pp. 49-61

Recent journal articles 

O'Raifeartaigh, C. and S. Mitton, S. (2018). 'Interrogating the legend of Einstein’s ‘biggest blunder’. Physics in Perspective 20(4): 318–341https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00016-018-0228-9

O'Raifeartaigh C., O'Keeffe M., Nahm W. and S. Mitton. (2018). ‘One Hundred Years of the Cosmological Constant: from ‘Superfluous Stunt’ to Dark Energy’. Eur. Phys. J. (H). 43(1): 73-117

O'Raifeartaigh C., O'Keeffe M., Nahm W. and S. Mitton. (2017). ‘Einstein’s 1917 Static Model of the Universe: A Centennial Review’. Eur. Phys. J. (H) vol. 42 (3): 431-474

O'Raifeartaigh C., O'Keeffe M., Nahm W. and S. Mitton. (2015). ‘Einstein's cosmology review of 1933: a new perspective on the Einstein-de Sitter model of the cosmos’. European Physical Journal (H) vol. 40 (3) pp301-335. ArXiv preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.08029 

O’Raifeartaigh, C, McCann, B, Nahm, W, and Mitton, S. (2014). ‘Einstein’s steady-state theory: an abandoned model of the cosmos’. European Physical Journal (H) vol. 39 (3), pp.353-367.  ArXiv preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.0132

O’Raifeartaigh, C. and McCann, B. (2014). ‘Einstein’s cosmic model of 1931 revisited: an analysis and translation of a forgotten model of the universe’. European Physical Journal (H) vol. 39 (1), pp. 63-85.  ArXiv preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.2192 

O’Raifeartaigh, C. (2014). ‘Einstein’s steady-state cosmology’. Physics World  (September 2014) vol. 27  no.9.

Recent magazine articles

Investigating the legend of Einstein’s “biggest blunder” . Physics Today (October 2018)

Einstein’s Greatest Blunder?  Scientific American (February 2017)

Albert Einstein and the Origins of Modern Cosmology.  Physics Today (February 2017)

Einstein’s evolving universe. PLUS Magazine, University of Cambridge (March 2014)

Recent conference presentations

Climate science and the media: a war on information? Invited lecture, Institute of Physics (Ireland) Spring Weekend, Athlone,  30/03/2019

The dawning of modern cosmology: and internal and external history. Third International Conference on the History of Physics, San Sebastian, Spain, October 17-20 2018

 Interrogating the legend of Einstein’s ‘biggest blunder’. IoP History of Physics Group Open Meeting, Institute of Physics, London, September 27th 2018

 Einstein’s ‘biggest blunder’; one hundred years of the cosmological constant. Niallfest Relativity Conference, University College Cork, May 24th-26th 2018

 Historical and philosophical aspects of the Einstein WorldTalking about Space and Time: 100 Years of Applying and Interpreting General Relativity. Bern, Switzerland, Sep 11-15 2017

 Trust, uncertainty and society: the public perception of scientific uncertainty in climate science. When Experts Disagree (WEXT) Conference, University College Dublin, Aug 31st- Sep 2nd 2017

One hundred years of the cosmological constantFourth Irish Conference on the History of Mathematics, Dublin, June 9th 2017

The Einstein World: a centennial review of Einstein’s 1917 model of the cosmos. Fifth Irish Quantum Foundations Conference, University College Dublin, May 25-26 2017

‘Astronomy, General Relativity and the Universe: the first 100 years’ Keynote speaker, Irish National Astronomy Meeting, University College Dublin, September 9th, 2016

‘Einstein’s Oxford Blackboard’ 2nd International Conference on the History of Physics, Schloss Pollau, Austria, September 5th, 2016

‘Einstein’s Universe: General Relativity and the Big Bang’ Keynote speaker, Institute of Physics Ireland Annual Conference, Belfast, February 20th 2016

‘A new perspective on Einstein's cosmology’ Centenary Conference on the History of General Relativity, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Harnack Haus, Berlin, Dec 3rd 2015   

‘Steady-state cosmologies in context: from Arrhenius to Einstein, from Hoyle to Linde’ Fred Hoyle Centenary Meeting, Royal Astronomical Society, London, Oct 9th 2015

Our changing planet: the science behind Laudato Si’ Laudato Si Conference, Waterford Institute of Technology, Oct 3rd 2015

New perspectives on steady-state cosmologies’ Inaugural International Conference on the History of Physics, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, September 6th, 2014

‘A steady-state model of the cosmos by Albert Einstein’ Irish National Astronomy Meeting, Trinity College Dublin, August 14th 2014

‘Einstein and the quantum theory’, Irish Quantum Foundations Conference, Trinity College Dublin, May 31st 2014

‘The discovery of the expanding universe: paradigm shift or slow dawning?’ 223rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Washington, Jan 5th 2014

 ‘VM Slipher and the discovery of the expanding universe’ Astronomical Science Group of Ireland, Westwood House Hotel, Galway, November 5th 2012

Who discovered the expanding universe?’ Origins of the Expanding Universe 1912-1932, Flagstaff, Arizona, September 14th 2012

Book reviews

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2015. 'A Bad Night at the Academy'. Review of 'Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat' by John Halpern. History of Physics Newsletter,  Institute of Physics (December  2015)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2015. 'A Very Brief History of General Relativity'. Review of 'Einstein’s Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity by John Gribbin. Physics World (August 2015)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2014. 'One Hundred Years of General Relativity'. Review of The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity by  Pedro G. Ferreira in Physics World (July 2014)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2012. 'A Strange Cat in Dublin'. Review of Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin  in Physics World (November 2012)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2012. 'Potshots from a Sceptical Scientist'. Review of The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake in The Irish Times (04/02/2012)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2011. 'A Startling Vision of the Future'. Review of Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku (Doubleday) in The Irish Times (23/04/2011)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2010. 'A Glimpse of the Future'. Review of How It Ends by Chris Impey (Norton) in Physics World (December 2010)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2010. 'A Dark Forecast of Climate Change'. Review of Climate Wars by Gynne Dyer (Oneworld) in The Irish Times (11/05/2010)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2010. 'The Scramble for the Arctic'. Review of The Future History of the Arctic by Charles Emmerson (BodleyHead) in The Irish Times (12/04/2010)

O’Raifeartaigh C.  2009. 'The Story of the Quantum'. Review of Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar (Icon Books) in Physics World (May 2009)

Newspaper articles

The Year of Post-Truth. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/12/16) 

Trump’s rejection of climate science. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/09/26)  pdf

Belgian priest who preached the big bang. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/06/2016) 

Gravitational waves: general relativity passes another key test. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/03/2016) 

Irish Nobel win shows the glacial speed of science. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/12/2015)

Fred Hoyle: the brilliant man who lost the big bang debate. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/10/2015)

The great injustice of climate change. Science Today, The Irish Times (30/07/2015)

Ireland’s narrow research focus on commercial technology is short-sighted. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/04/2015)

Hawking film gripping despite a black hole or two. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/02/2015)

Einstein’s theory of relativity clashes with common sense. Science Today, The Irish Times (30/10/2014)

Fraudulent research results; how common are they? Science Today, The Irish Times (31/07/2014)

All changed, changed utterly. Article on Leaving Cert mathematics, The Irish Times (10/06/2014)

Term is over so the research begins. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/05/2014)

Science isn’t swayed by the fashion of the age. Science Today, The Irish Times (30/01/2014)

A Nobel for Higgs. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/10/2013)

Earth burns as we chat about the weather. Science Today, The Irish Times (22/08/2013)

No relief as climate change accelerates. Science Today, The Irish Times (14/06/2013)

Labs, lectures and luring young people into science. My Education Week, The Irish Times (14/05/2013)

Why the big bang is a misnomer. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/01/2013)

Don’t expect an evolution in US climate change policy. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/11/2012)

Lost genius who merits a place on the podium. Science Today, The Irish Times (30/08/2012)

Science is for everyone. Think Tank: Ideas for the 21st Century,The Sunday Times (04/08/2012)

A glimpse of the god particle. Science Today, The Irish Times (29/03/2012)

Verdict out on neutrino experiment. Science Today, The Irish Times (28/12/2011)

Relativity passes dramatic satellite test. Science Today, The Irish Times (22/09/2011)

One of the great puzzles of science celebrates its centenary. Science Today, The Irish Times (31/03/2011)

Five steps to keep science straight on global warming. Science Today, The Irish Times (30/10/2010)

Should Literacy Include Science? Science Today, The Irish Times (29/07/2010)

Fifty years of CERN. Science Today, The Irish Times (4/3/2004)

Quantum leap into the future. Science Today, The Irish Times (6/2/2003)