De Valera and Advanced Studies

It could be argued that Eamonn de Valera, who was Taoiseach (Prime Minister) from 1932 to 1948, picked up the concept of the implanted research centre in the context of the foundation in 1941 of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS), and thought he was doing a good thing; after all was it not a well-tried European model?

There is much to be learned, positively and negatively, from the DIAS experience, and the Crawford analysis of the central European periphery gives some useful leads.

It is not relevant here to go into the details of the organisational arrangements, except to mention in passing a composite known as Cosmic Physics, which attempted to unite in one discipline meteorology and geophysics. This was under the influence of Julius Hann, who was Director of the Central Office of Meteorology and Geodesy in Vienna, and Professor at the University. Hann imposed the provision that cosmic physics be made obligatory for teachers in secondary schools, and this gave it some university momentum. The fields however share few common concepts or methods, and after World War 1 the discipline lapsed into nominality. It could be argued that with modern satellite technology the fields are again becoming unified, but this is another story.

De Valera would appear to have picked up the Cosmic Physics concept from this source, when assemblng the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies in the 40s, as a refuge-enclave for continental physicists.

Janossy and Pollak(8) were respectively from Austria and Hungary; Janossy was a cosmic ray pioneer, and Pollak was an innovative meteorologist. The 'School of Cosmic Physics' label united them in no 5 Merrion Square, and their work shared to some extent a common technical basis, but their scientific fields had little intellectual contact.

They were ably supported technically by Jerry Daly, who perhaps can be said to have inherited the Fitzgerald tradition via Bolton St College, now part of the Dublin Institute of Technology. The label 'Cosmic Physics' however has sometimes generated comment; it has a slightly quaint air, and those aware of its Austro- Hungarian history would smell obsolescence and provincialism.

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