Scientist John Bell Remembered

Belfast City Hall floodlit on November 4th for John Bell.

By Patricia Harty, Editor-in-Chief
December / January 2015

A ground-breaking exhibition, Science and Art, on the life and work of John Stewart Bell opened at the Naughton Gallery in Queen’s University Belfast on November 4.

The exhibition was one of many events celebrating the Northern Irish physicist who 50 years ago became the originator of Bell’s Theorem, which resolved

a decades-old dispute involving Albert Einstein and showed that Einstein’s views on quantum mechanics were incorrect. Bell’s work also laid the foundation stone for quantum information technology which went on to revolutionize the world of computing, particularly in the areas of financial services and cyber security.

Considered by some scientists to rank alongside Newton and Einstein, Bell, who was born in 1928 into a working-class family in Tate’s Avenue, Belfast, was widely believed to be a front runner for the Nobel Prize in Physics but died in 1990 from a stroke at age 62.

To mark Bell’s achievement, scientists from the Royal Irish Academy, Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland Science Park, W5 and the Institute of Physics joined forces with Titanic Quarter Ltd, Belfast City Hall and the Watkin Jones Group, owners of old Belfast Met College to help make John Bell Northern Ireland’s best known scientist.

In what will become an annual event, they are dubbing November 4, as “John Bell Day,” as this is the day that Bell’s Theorem was first revealed to the world of science when Bell’s article was received by the scientific journal that published it.

Professor Mary Daly, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said, “The Academy wants John Bell to be the best known scientist in Northern Ireland and to be acknowledged as one of the most important scientists in the world.”

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