Category Archives: Blog Posts

Electricity and the Extinction of Fairies?

By Ceri Houlbrook, University of Hertfordshire

There can be little doubt that the advent of electricity brought many benefits. With the introduction of the lightbulb, the telegraph, the electric cooker, people’s domestic lives became easier, more sanitary, and arguably less isolated. Electricity sparked an age of unprecedented technological and social advancements, and humanity thrives.

But electricity hasn’t brought benefits for everyone. We know from evolutionary biology that changes in the environment can cause one species to flourish whilst endangering another, and this blog post focuses on one specific species that hasn’t fared so well since the advent of electricity: fairies. Read more


Electrical Magic and the Science of the Supernatural

By Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire

Over the last two millennia, the idea of a world governed by invisible forces has shaped the way people in western cultures have understood the relationship between us, the natural world, and the heavens. It has also profoundly shaped our interactions with each other as humans. Up until the eighteenth century, the concept of Neoplatonism, which had its origins in antiquity, was central to scientific and religious understanding. It explained how all matter was interconnected through myriad spirits. So witches, for example, were able to cause harm at a distance using spells, looks, and muttered curses, through this invisible spiritual soup.

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Thomas McLaughlin: Visionary Behind the Shannon Scheme

By Deirdre McParland, ESB Archives

I would like to introduce you to Thomas McLaughlin, who became first Managing Director of the Electricity Supply Board ( ESB) in 1927. Known as Tommy by his friends and colleagues, similar to many of our newly recruited employees, he was a young graduate when he began his career with ESB.

Source: ESB Archives

When Tommy achieved his PhD in engineering at the age of 27, Ireland was just coming out of the War of Independence and Civil War . The country was broken and it had to be rebuilt from within. At this time, there were about 160 small electricity producers in Ireland and electricity was mostly only available to those living in affluent and urban areas and who had the financial where with all to afford this modern luxury.

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