Dunsink Lane, Dublin 15, D15 XR2R

The Heaventree of Stars 2021

“There will be a total eclipse this year: autumn some time. Now that I come to think of it that ball falls at Greenwich time. It’s the clock is worked by an electric wire …”

Ulysses, James Joyce

Join us at 19:30 on Thursday 10th June for a very special Joycean evening of readings, discussion, and music on the day of a partial solar eclipse!

The Heaventree of Stars is a Bloomsday celebration of astronomy, maths, music, and science in Ulysses. The event will be run virtually this year and include readings by researchers from DIAS Astronomy and Astrophysics Section.


  • 19:30 Welcome
  • 19:35 Prof Peter Gallagher: Introduction to DIAS Dunsink Observatory
  • 19:50 Readings and music
  • 20:00 Prof Luke Drury: Ball, Joly, parallax, time, event horizons?
  • 20:15 Readings and music
  • 20:25 Eoin Gill
  • 20:40 Reading and song
  • 20:50 Thank yous and goodbyes


The evening will be run virtually on Zoom. Tickets are free but must be booked beforehand through Eventbrite as places are limited (one ticket per Zoom connection):


This event is dedicated to Dr Anne Kernan, Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus, 1933 – 2020. Those who wish to honor Dr Kernan’s legacy can make a donation to the Anne Kernan Endowed Fund for Physics to support graduate students in the field of Condensed Matter at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University of California, Riverside (UCR).

Dr Anne Kernan and the top quark

Anne Kernan was introduced to the study of Physics in ‘The Science Hall’ which, as part of Dominican College, occupied No 17 Eccles Street, just ten doors from’the most famous address in literature’ the home of Molly and Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses ('the blue book of Eccles') at No 7. At its peak, Dominican College occupied all of No's 12 to 22. In 1984, having celebrated its centenary two years earlier, it re-located to to No 204 Griffith Avenue, just minutes from Anne Kernan's childhood home at No 242.

Many of Anne Kernan's contemporaries went into the Civil Service, Banks and Law Firms - for as long as they remained single or until their careers were curtailed by the notorious 'marriage bar' which remained in place in Ireland until 1973. 

After earning her Ph.D., Anne spent several years lecturing at UCD before taking up research positions in California at  the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory or LBNL) and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) ‘the longest, straightest structure in the world’.  There, she investigated heavy baryon resonances and electroweak kaon decays. 

In 1964, physicist Murray Gell-Mann of the Caltech Institute in Pasadena, California, predicted the existence of smaller of particles than had been postulated previously. He playfully dubbed them quarks, following a rich tradition of whimsical naming in the world of physics, as is the case with “the God particle,” “flavor,” and “charm.”

“When I assigned the name “quark” to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon,” he wrotes, “I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been ‘kwork.’”  “In one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word ‘quark.’” The line was:

Three quarks for Muster Mark!
Sure he hasn’t got much of a bark
And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.

In 1969, Gell-Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery. 

In  the 1980s, Dr  Kernan was part of the  Nobel prize-winning DZero Tevatron collider experiment team at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago. Her paper on The Discovery of the Intermediate Vector Bosons [W and Z particles] was published in American Scientist recounts part of the story of the discovery of 'the top quark.'

Dr Anne Kernan, Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus, passed away in May 2020. 


Anne Kernan grew up on Griffith Avenue Dublin and attended Dominican College , Eccles Street ( estd 1882). She subsequnely  attended University College Dublin (UCD) where she earned her bachelor’s degree at the age of 19. She was the first woman to get a First Class Honours in Physics from UCD and was the only woman in her class. She continued at UCD and obtained her Ph.D. in Physics in 1957. Her thesis dissertation was on the interactions of protons and kaons.

In 1967 she joined the Department of Physics (now Physics and Astronomy) at the University of California (UC Riverside) as a Lecturer and was appointed an Associate Professor in 1968, becoming the first woman to gain tenure in the Department.

Dr Kernan was a founding member of the Experimental High Energy Physics Research Group. She rose to leadership positions in the American Physical Society serving as a Divisional Councellor for the Division of Particles and Fields.

In 1973-76 she was Physics Department Chair and in 1991-94 served as Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate Division, the first woman to serve in these positions. 

From SLAC she moved to an experiment at the CERN Intersecting Storage Rings led by Carlo Rubbia, where the focus of her research was diffractive interactions and heavy meson physics. She went on to become one of the founding members of the UA1 experiment at CERN where the W and Z bosons were discovered in 1983. These discoveries led to the award of the 1984 Nobel Prize in physics to Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer. In recognition of her contributions, Anne Kernan attended the award ceremony in Stockholm at the invitation of the recipients. In 1986 Anne’s pursuit of the high energy frontier prompted her to move to the DZero experiment which was being constructed at the Tevatron collider at Fermilab. Working at DZero, her group was part of the team that went on to discover the top quark in 1995.

She retired in 1994 after 27 years of service at UC Riverside. She was influential in founding and building the experimental high energy physics group and served as Chair of the Physics Department, Vice Chancellor for Research, and Dean of the Graduate Division. Within the high energy physics community she was known as an innovative, kind, and generous group leader who worked at the LBNL and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), CERN, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).

Honors included Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was a Senior Visiting Scientist at CERN and served on many advisory committees for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.

Anne was a generous benefactor to the UC Riverside Department of Physics and Astronomy. She made substantial donations to support outstanding undergraduate and graduate students via the annual Anne Kernan Graduate Award. 

Dr Kernan is remembered as an accomplished and successful physicist with innovative vision and a kind and generous nature. She was a highly valued professor and member of the UCR community and a mentor to many. 

Those who wish to honor Dr Kernan’s  legacy can make a donation to the Anne Kernan Endowed Fund for Physics to support graduate students in the field of Condensed Matter at5 the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University of California, Riverside (UCR).

This event is run by DIAS Dunsink Observatory in association with Maths Week Ireland and the James Joyce Centre.