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Ernest T. S. Walton

Professor Walton was born in Dungarvan, Ireland and studied at Methodist College, Belfast, where he excelled at mathematics and science. In 1922 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in mathematics and experimental science in 1926.

In 1927 he went to Cambridge University on a research scholarship and worked in the Cavendish Laboratory under Ernest Rutherford. He worked with John Cockcroft performing experiments with accelerated atomic particles. This research led to the two men sharing the 1951 Nobel Prize for physics for their pioneer work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles, more commonly known as splitting the atom. The award to Walton is to date the only Irish Nobel prize in science.

Walton was awarded a PhD from Cambridge in 1934 and returned to Dublin as a Fellow of Trinity College. He was appointed Erasmus Smith Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in 1946 and was elected a Senior Fellow in 1960. In 1952 he became chairman of the School of Cosmic Physics of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, where he remained until retiring in 1974. He died in Belfast in 1995.

Walton was a long time member of the Methodist church, and following the award of the Nobel Prize, he spoke on science and religion to audiences in Ireland, the United States, and Sweden. On the relation between science and religion he has stated:

"One way to learn the mind of the Creator is to study His creation. We must pay God the compliment of studying His work of art and this should apply to all realms of human thought. A refusal to use our intelligence honestly is an act of contempt for Him who gave us that intelligence ..."
(Quoted from p. 58 of V. J. McBrierty: Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton, The Irish Scientist, 1903-1995).

Walton's biography on the official website of the Nobel Prize.