Stokes Laboratories are named in commemoration of one of Ireland’s most famous physicists, George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903), who was born and brought up in Sligo, not far from the University of Limerick.
After schooling in Dublin, Stokes spent his academic career at Cambridge University where he held the Lucasian chair, previously occupied by Isaac Newton, for over 50 years. His work covered many areas of mathematics and physics. In particular, his equations that describe the flow of fluids – the Navier-Stokes equations – are central to much of what we do at the Stokes Laboratories. We also use fluorescence, a term he coined, in tagging DNA, Stokes’ law for the drag on micro-particles, and Stokes flows in microchannels. He also investigated wave and diffraction theories of light, concepts which we currently use in optical measurements of temperature, strain and mass diffusion. Finally, he made critical contributions to the understanding of elasticity and wave motion in solids.