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A new scholarship scheme in Waterford has been named after Ernest Walton, who was the first to split the atom along with John Cockcroft and Ireland’s only Nobel laureate in science.
The new bursaries will recognise high achievement for students who are from disadvantaged families and attending DEIS schools.
A park in the town of Dungarvan is already named after Walton whose discovery with Cockcroft gave rise to a whole new generation of research in physics.
It was of paramount importance because it validated many scientific theories within the realm of relativity theory and quantum mechanics, provided proof for Einstein’s mass-energy equation and ushered in the new era of nuclear power production.
Labour TD Ciara Conway said the move will help to further immortalise the scientist in a region that is already synonymous with ground breaking scientific discoveries.
“West Waterford is fortunate to be home to two of history’s most influential scientific figures with Robert Boyle hailing from Lismore and Walton in Dungarvan. This is hugely significant in terms of promoting the area both at home and abroad, while I believe these new bursaries will also help ensure a new generation of Irish people strive to replicate Walton’s achievements,” she said.
Sixty students from DEIS schools, who hold medical cards, will receive a bursary of €2,000 each this September as part of the new scholarship. This number will rise over each of the next three years, with over 350 students a year benefitting by 2015.