Scotland

Charles Wyville Thomson and the Challenger Expedition

Charles Wyville Thomson and the Challenger Expedition

  On March 5, 1830, Scottish natural historian and marine zoologist Charles Wyville Thomson was born. Thomson served as the chief scientist on the famous Challenger expedition surveying and exploring the oceans for more than 130.000km between 1872 and 1876. Thomson‘s work there revolutionized oceanography. Thomson was born at Bonsyde, in Linlithgow, West Lothian, the son of Andrew Thomson, a surgeon in the service of the East India Company. He was educated…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1838, 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 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 home by his mother, Janet Anderson, who…
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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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James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

James Hutton – the Father of Modern Geology

On June 3, 1726, Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist James Hutton was born. He originated the theory of uniformitarianism, a fundamental principle of geology, which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes over geologic time. Hutton’s work established geology as a proper science, and thus he is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Geology“. “The past history of our globe must be explained…
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Williamina Stevens Fleming and her Achievements in Astronomy

Williamina Stevens Fleming and her Achievements in Astronomy

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 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 Harvard College Observatory as a…
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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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Joseph Black and the Discovery of Carbon Dioxide

Joseph Black and the Discovery of Carbon Dioxide

On April 16, 1742, Scottish physician and chemist Joseph Black was born. He is best known for his discoveries of latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. Joseph Black was sent off to school in Belfast to learn Latin and Greek, and subsequently, aged 16, enrolled at Glasgow University in 1744 to study arts. After y few years however, his father managed to persuade him of choosing a more useful profession and…
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John Murray and the Oceanography

John Murray and the Oceanography

On March 3, 1841, pioneering Scottish oceanographer, marine biologist and limnologist Sir John Murray was born. As one of its founders, coined the name oceanography. He studied ocean basins, deep-sea deposits, and coral-reef formation. As a marine scientist, he took part in the Challenger Expedition (1872–76), the first major oceanographic expedition of the world. Early Years John Murray was born in Coburg, Ontario as the second son of Elizabeth Macfarlane and Robert Murray,…
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Sir James Young Simpson and the Chloroform

Sir James Young Simpson and the Chloroform

Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (1811–1870) On November 12, 1847, Scottish obstetrician and important figure in the history of medicine Sir James Young Simpson published his self trial experiments with the new anesthetic chloroform. “All pain is per se and especially in excess, destructive and ultimately fatal in its nature and effects.” (James Young Simpson) Simpson was born in Bathgate near Edinburg, West Lothian, Scotland, as the seventh son and eighth child of an impecunious baker. Simpson attended the University of Edinburgh…
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