Dec. 12, 2013

Séamus Davis receives honorary degree

Seamus Davis with National University of Ireland officials
From left, Maurice Manning, chancellor of the National University of Ireland; Michael Murphy, president of University College Cork; Cornell physicist J.C. Séamus Davis; and Attracta Halpin, registrar of the National University of Ireland, at the ceremony in Dublin where Davis received an honorary doctorate of science degree from the University of Ireland.

At a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Dec. 2, the chancellor of the National University of Ireland conferred an honorary doctor of science degree on J.C. Séamus Davis, the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell.

Davis received his undergraduate degree at University College, Cork (UCC), a college of the National University of Ireland. Michael Murphy, president of UCC, described Davis as “one of the most accomplished Irish university graduates of the 20th century,” and “one of the world’s most accomplished physicists.”

At the event, Murphy reviewed Davis’ discovery of the superfluid Josephson effect, based on the 1960s prediction of Richard Feynman and Brian Josephson that the macroscopic quantum dynamics of a superfluid could be revealed as a pure musical tone. He also described Davis’ invention in the 2000s of the spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microscope, which allows the quantum “matter waves” of electrons to be visualized (and even converted into movies).

“Today he is leading the world in applying his science to discover compounds that will exhibit superconductivity at room temperature, allowing the passage of electricity without loss of energy – a holy grail of science for economic and social benefit,” Murphy said.