Innovation at the heart of EAAP 2016


Northern Ireland has long been recognised for its pioneering work in livestock science and production, but it’s history of industry and innovation doesn’t just lie in the livestock sector.

As we gear up to showcase the latest developments in livestock production at EAAP 2016, we've taken a look at some of the other discoveries Northern Ireland’s visionaries have made over the years:


1687: Hans Sloane's Milk Chocolate

Hans_Sloane.jpgBorn in Killyleagh Co. Down, Hans Sloane (pictured, right) was a Royal physician and eminent collector who bequeathed over 71,000 objects to the British Museum.

In the 1680s, he spent 15 months in Jamaica as the governor’s physician and catalogued hundreds of botanical species, including the cocoa bean.

While locals mixed it with water, Sloane decided to boil it with milk and sugar, thereby inventing milk chocolate. Back in England, he used his milk chocolate recipe to treat digestion and tuberculosis.

1824: William Thomson and the Kelvin unit

William Thomson, Baron Kelvin, was a Belfast-born mathematician and physicist whose name was given to the Kelvin unit of absolute temperature.

Thomson excelled at Glasgow and Cambridge Universities and, aged just 22, became Cambridge’s chair of natural philosophy (later physics).

As well as his groundbreaking work in thermodynamics, Thomson invented the compass used by the British Navy and was instrumental in laying the first transatlantic cable.


sherlock_holmes.jpg1866: John Getty McGee's Ulster overcoat - Sherlock's garment of choice

Named after the Irish province that includes Northern Ireland, the 'Ulster' overcoat is synonymous with famed detective, Sherlock Holmes.

The coat's designer was John Getty McGee who owned McGee & Co. tailors on Belfast's High Street. The premises were later expanded and named the Ulster Overcoat Company in honour of his famous creation.

1890: Dunluce Castle & Giant's Causeway Tram 

Co. Antrim brothers William and Anthony Traill invented the world's first electric tramway with the construction of the Giant's Causeway Tramway.

causeway.jpgThe three-foot narrow gauge line harnessed hydro-electric power and the first section, linking Bushmills with Portrush, opened on 29 January 1883.

Four years later, a second section connected Bushmills with the Giant's Causeway. The line closed in 1949 due to reduced passenger numbers and high maintenance costs.

Then, in 2002, the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway revived two miles of the original line, taking visitors to this iconic attraction (pictured, below) ever since.

1887: John Dunlop's pneumatic tyres

Scots-born but Belfast-based, John Dunlop (pictured, right) developed air-filled tubes in a bid to make bike riding - which was previously done on wooden wheels - more comfortable.

Ireland’s cycle racing elite dominated with Dunlop tyres before automobiles drove them to global dominance.

1890: William McCrum and the penalty kick

The son of a wealthy Irish linen manufacturer, ‘Master Willie’ McCrum was more interested in sport than business, becoming goalkeeper for Milford FC.

Annoyed by goalmouth foul play, McCrum devised the penalty kick to thwart unsportsmanlike behaviour.

The idea, known as the ‘Irishman's Motion’ and the ‘Death Penalty,’ was proposed in 1890 at an International Football Association Board and approved the following year.

1928: Harry Ferguson and the modern tractor

Credited with inventing the modern tractor, Ferguson’s three-point linkage system sent the Co. Down engineer into the agricultural history books.

mf8700_gallery-6.jpgPreviously, tractors and ploughs were two separate entities, making them cumbersome and dangerous to operate. Harry Ferguson hitched the two together and used hydraulics to move the plough section, making farming safer and more cost-effective.

Aged 25, aviation enthusiast Ferguson also became the first Irishman to fly a plane, and the first UK citizen to both build and fly a plane. He died in 1960, but his legacy lives on with the Massey Ferguson agricultural manufacturing company.

1965: Frank Pantridge and the portable defibrillator

Physician and cardiologist Professor Frank Pantridge was born in Co. Down and educated at Queen's University Belfast.

During WW2 he was a Japanese POW in Singapore. After the war, he studied cardiology in the US then returned to Belfast and became cardiac consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Realising the need to urgently treat cardiac patients, Pantridge invented the portable defibrillator. These devices were used in ambulances and at the scene of cardiac arrest. His 'Pantridge Plan' has saved countless lives worldwide. Dubbed the 'Father of Emergency Medicine', Frank Pantridge died in 2004 aged 88.

2012: Dr Steve Myers, CERN and the Large Hadron Collider


Belfast born and Queen’s University Belfast graduate Dr Steve Myers is one of the scientists behind the recent discovery of Higgs Boson, the so-called 'God Particle'. 

Myers is director of accelerators and technology at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Based near Geneva, facility collides particles in the 27km circumference tunnel (pictured, right) at close to the speed of light to try to emulate the ‘Big Bang’.

The data being recorded and analysed is being used by scientists, led by Myers, to try to discover the origins of the universe. 

List put together with help from the BBC 

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