Scotland

The Nimrod Expedition and the Magnetic South Pole

The Nimrod Expedition and the Magnetic South Pole

On January 16, 1907, Australian geologists Tannatt William Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson together with Scottish physician Alistair Mackay, being part of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907–09, otherwise known as the Nimrod Expedition, led by Ernest Shackleton, reached the magnetic southpole. The major goal of the famous Nimrod Expedition was to be the first to reach the South Pole. Even though this goal was not fulfilled completely, the expedition’s southern march reached a…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1638, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory – Youth and Education James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at…
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Illumination and Steam Power – William Murdoch and the Industrial Revolution

Illumination and Steam Power – William Murdoch and the Industrial Revolution

On August 21, 1754, Scottish engineer and inventor William Murdoch was born. He was the first to make extensive use of coal gas for illumination and a pioneer in the development of steam power. William Murdoch – Early Years William Murdoch (sometimes also referred to as Murdock) was born as the third of seven children of the mill tenant and former infantryman John Murdoch in the community of Cumnoch. At the age of ten, he moved…
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David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

On July 10, 1817, Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor and writer Sir David Brewster received a patent for his kaleidoscope. “kaleidoscope” is derived from Ancient Greek and denotes something like “observation of beautiful forms.” It consists of a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the…
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Macquorn Rankine and the Laws of Thermodynamics

Macquorn Rankine and the Laws of Thermodynamics

On July 5, 1820, Scottish mechanical engineer William John Macquorn Rankine was born. He was a founding contributor, with Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), to the science of thermodynamics, particularly focusing on the first of the three thermodynamic laws. “Discrepancy between theory and practice, which in sound physical and mechanical science is a delusion, has a real existence in the minds of men; and that fallacy, through rejected by their…
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Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the British Art Nouveau Style

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the British Art Nouveau Style

On June 7, 1868, Scottish architect, designer, water colourist and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born. He was influential on European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism. Mackintosh is considered an influential precursor and protagonist of Modern Art. His austerely designed chairs with high backs became design icons and are still being reproduced to the present day. “Art is the Flower – Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist…
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Williamina Fleming – Harvard Computer and Astronomer

Williamina Fleming – Harvard Computer and Astronomer

On May 15, 1857, Scottish astronomer Williamina Paton Fleming was born. She helped develop a common designation system for stars and catalogued thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena. Fleming is especially noted for her discovery of the Horsehead Nebula in 1888. Williamina Fleming – Early Years Williamina Paton Fleming was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1857. She attended a public school and became a pupil-teacher when she was 14. She entered…
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John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

On April 29, 1667, Scottish physician, satirist and polymath John Arbuthnot was baptized. He is best remembered for his contributions to mathematics, his membership in the Scriblerus Club (where he inspired both Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as well as Alexander Pope), and for inventing the figure of John Bull. He published Of the Laws of Chance (1692), the first work on probability published in English, being his translation of a work by…
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Sir James Mackenzie and the Study of Cardiac Arrhythmias

Sir James Mackenzie and the Study of Cardiac Arrhythmias

On April 12, 1853, Scottish cardiologist Sir James Mackenzie was born. A pioneer in the study of cardiac arrhythmias, he was first to make simultaneous records of the arterial and venous pulses to evaluate the condition of the heart, a procedure that laid the foundation for much future research. James Mackenzie – Early Years Born at Pictonhill in Scone Scotland, where his father was a farmer, James Mackenzie was apprenticed to a chemist when…
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John Napier and the Discovery of Logarithms

John Napier and the Discovery of Logarithms

On April 4, 1617, Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer and astrologer John Napier of Merchiston, the 8th Laird of Merchistoun passed away. John Napier is best known as the discoverer of logarithms. He was also the inventor of the so-called “Napier’s bones“, a kind of abacus for calculation of products and quotients of numbers. Napier also made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic and mathematics. “A Logarithmic Table is a…
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