Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Queen and the Mathematician

Queen Elizabeth II will receive a unique scientific gift when she visits Cork on Friday.

When the Queen visits the Tyndall Institute at University College Cork, President of UCC Dr. Michael Murphy will present her with a scarf inspired by the work of the university's greatest professor and the 'father' of computer science.

A lace scarf, designed by Carmel Creaner will be presented to acknowledge the role of Queen Victoria in establishing the college. The idea was inspired by the presentation by Queen Victoria of scarves to four of the bravest soldiers to fight in the Boer War in 1900. One of these scarves was presented to UCC graduate Richard Rowland Thompson and now is on display in the Canadian War Museum.

Carmel Creaner, the artist, explains that George Boole, the first Professor of Mathematics at UCC (then Queen's College Cork) is at the centre of the design:

"I chose to use the mathematical notation found in Boole’s notes as inspiration for the scarf. Some of the elements of the notation such as the three dots for “therefore” inspire random cross stitches and french knots which in turn become zeros! Binary notation is also included in the scarf, most specifically, the binary notation for 1849 – the year Queen Victoria came to Cork and 2011 the year of Queen Elizabeth’s visit. George Boole’s signature - Prof Boole Queen’s College Cork- is also printed on the scarf referring to the original name of the University. The coat of arms of the University and UCC 2011 are also featured.”


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