Proud Scotland†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The People and facts about Scotland to make us proud to be Scottish.


James Simpson, an Edinburgh physician, was the first doctor to use anaesthetics to relieve the pain of surgery in the mid 19th Century. His main objective at the beginning was to alleviate the pain that women felt in childbirth.


Joseph Lister, Professor of surgery at Glasgow University, was the first to realize that the high post-operative mortality of his patients was due to the onset of blood poisoning (sepsis) caused by micro-organisms. Operating theatres were not the pristine places they are today. In the early 19th century, they were awash with blood and amputated body parts. In 1865 Lister found that carbolic acid was an effective antiseptic.

Latent Heat

Joseph Black (1728 - 1799) Chemist. Professor of Anatomy and Chemistry in Glasgow University (1756) and then Professor of Medicine and Chemistry in Edinburgh (1766). Developed the concept of "Latent Heat" and discovered Carbon Dioxide ("Fixed Air"). Regarded as the Father of Quantitative Chemistry.


Buick is the brand name stamped on over 25 million cars in the USA. This car is the named after David Dunbar Buick, a Scot who immigrated to the U.S. in 1856. Buick started out as a plumber at age 15, and is credited with developing a method for bonding enamel to cast iron; a process responsible for our blue bathtubs and pink sinks. But David's passion was the internal combustion engine. In 1899, in the city of Detroit, he formed the Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company, manufacturer of gasoline engines. David also patented a carburetor and designed an automobile, but business debts and failed investments prevented him from realizing profits from his inventions. He died, impoverished, in 1929. But General Motors saluted his inventiveness in 1937 when it adopted the Buick name and family crest for its new line of cars.

Colloid Chemistry

Thomas Graham (1805 - 1869) is called the "Father of colloid chemistry" He was born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow University. He also formulated "Graham's Law" on the diffusion of gases.

Chemical Bonds
Alexander Crum Brown (1838 - 1922) was born in Edinburgh. After studying in London and Leipzig, he returned to the University of Edinburgh in 1863. He held the chair of Chemistry, which now bears his name, until his death. He devised the system of representing chemical compounds in diagrammatic form, with connecting lines representing bonds.

Cure for scurvy

The first person to publish the idea that consuming citrus fruits would prevent scurvy, then a plague on board sailing ships, was an Edinburgh man.

Iron Bridges

Engineer Thomas Telford is famous for building more than 1200 bridges, many of them using cast iron. Other major achievements of his include the Caledonian Canal, the Menai suspension bridge, and the London to Holyhead road. As a road builder he ranked second only to McAdam. Telford founded the Institute of Civil Engineers.


Natural logarithms were invented by the Edinburgh mathematician, John Napier, Laird of Merchiston, in the late 1500s. He published many treatises including "Mirifici logarithmorum" (1614) and Rabdologia (1615) on systems of arithmetic using calculation aids known as Napiers Bones.

Maxwell's Equations in Electromagnetism

Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynnman said that a thousand years from now the 1860s will be remembered not for the American Civil War which will be a mere footnote in history, but for Maxwell's mathematical description of electromagnetism. James Clerk Maxwell(1831 - 79), who was known as "daftie" Maxwell as a schoolboy at the Edinburgh Academy, became a professor of physics by the age of 21. He created the electromagnetic theory of light, and interpreted Faraday's electromagnetic field mathematically. He correctly predicted the existence of radio waves later confirmed experimentally by Hertz. Maxwell made important contributions to the study of heat and the kinetic theory of gases.

"As a creative and imaginative genius, he ranks with Newton and Einstein" ...Trevor Williams wrote in his book The History of Invention.

The story goes that a Dundee businessman imported a shipload of oranges from Spain that were found to be too bitter to sell as fruit. He turned them into an orange preserve which proved to be popular - marmalade

Mackintosh Raincoats

Since the rainiest spot in Europe is found in the Scottish highlands, it is not surprising that this technique for waterproofing clothing was developed there.


Discovered in 1928 by the bacteriologist . Sir Alexander Fleming. This drug has saved more lives than the number lost in all the wars of history.


James Young was a chemist who made his fortune as the first to market paraffin as a lighting and heating oil.

The Steam Engine

Invented by James Watt, instrumental in powering the Industrial Revolution in the Eighteenth Century. His engine was not mobile, but was fixed in position. Soon it was being built and used in mining, to pull coal carts up to the pithead. Mine manager, John Blenkinsop, put one of these steam boilers on wheels so that it could carry the coal further. This came to the attention of George Stephenson who was also a mining engineer. Stephenson took the idea a stage further with his invention of the steam locomotive.

The telephone

Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh and lived there until his family emigrated to Canada when he was 18. He patented the telephone in 1876 and now there are more than 500 million of them spanning the globe. He revolutionized world communications.


A photo-mechanical device invented by John Logie Baird in 1922. He set up the first practical television system in the world in 1929, in Britain. In 1935 Baird worked with the German company, Fernseh, to start the world's first 3-day per week television service.

In 1908, another Scot, Alan Campbell-Swinton, outlined the use of the cathode-ray tube for transmission and reception that is used in modern television. This method replaced Baird's in the 1930's.


Adam Smith, author of the book "The Wealth of Nations" was a Scot. This book is the first study and analysis of how commerce and free trade create the wealth of a country. He is buried in Greyfriars churchyard, near Edinburgh Castle.

The Cloud Chamber

was invented by Charles Thomson Rees Wilson (1869 - 1959) an eminent Edinburgh scientist. After observing optical atmospheric phenomena in the Highlands, he realized that condensation trails could be used to track and detect atomic and subatomic particles. The cloud chamber became an indispensible detection device in nuclear physics, and therefore he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927. In addition to his research on atomic physics, Wilson studied atmospheric phenomena all his life and his work on the electrical behaviour of the atmosphere is the basis of our understanding of what is involved in thunderstorms.

Polarization of Light

In 1828, William Nicol discovered polarization of light (the effect that makes polarized sunglasses useful). He stuck two bits of an Iceland spar crystal together and invented the Nicol prism. Iceland spar splits a beam of light into two polarized rays, with the transverse electromagnetic waves vibrating in orthogonal directions in the two beams. If two Nicol prisms were used, when the second one was rotated, one of the polarized light rays coming through would dim and then cut off once it had rotated through 90 degrees.


Around 1815 William Nicol (lecturer of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh) had used Canada balsam to cement pieces of fossil wood or minerals onto a glass plate and then ground the sample down to slices so fine you could see through them with a microscope and discover all kinds of good stuff--like bubbles in crystals, which told you something of the way the minerals had been formed, or the cell patterns that showed what kind of plant the sample had come from. Prior to this, paleobotany (... the morphology of fossil plants) was a subject virtually untouched, except for some earlier research by another Scotsman."

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Jekyll and Hyde

The mad doctor and his alter-ego of the famous novel written by Edinburgh's Robert Louis Stevenson. He claimed that each chapter came to him in nightly instalments while he dreamed.

Long John Silver

The pirate villain of the famous novel "Treasure Island" written by Edinburgh's Robert Louis Stevenson.

Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a medical student in Edinburgh. The character of Sherlock Holmes was based on one of the professors of Medicine at the University. A recent BBC program "The Killing Rooms" portrayed a semi-fictional version of how Doyle learned the techniques of deduction and forensic science from this professor.

Breech-loading rifle

Patrick Ferguson (1744 - 1780) Born in Pitfour, Aberdeenshire, Ferguson invented the breech-loading rifle, which was capable of firing seven shots per minute. With the help of this weapon, the Americans were defeated at the Battle of Brandywine (1777). He was killed at the Battle of King's Mountain in South Carolina, USA.

Tubular steel

Sir William Fairbairn (1789 - 1874) was born in Kelso, in southern Scotland. An engineer, he developed the idea of using tubular steel, which was much stronger than solid steel, as a construction material.

Thermos bottles (Dewars)

Sir James Dewar (1842 - 1923) invented the dewar flask to keep liquids cool in the laboratory. The idea became the domestic thermos flask, which keeps hot liquids hot as well as cold things cold by isolating them from their surroundings, thus reducing the flow of heat. His scientific career was noted for his pioneer work on low temperature physics and vacuum techniques. He was the first to liquify hydrogen.

Sulphuric Acid

John Roebuck of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh, invented the lead chamber process for the distillation of sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid is of central importance in the manufacture of many other chemicals and in metal refining.

Edinburgh was the first city in the World which had its own Fire-brigade.

Scotland was an independent country until 1603. Then the king of Scotland became king of England (not the other way round), but the two countries didnít merge their governments until 1707, to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Bank of Scotland, founded in 1694, is the oldest surviving bank in the UK. It was also the first bank in Europe to print its own banknotes, a function it still performs today.

Skara Brae, on the island of Orkney, is the most complete Neolithic village in Europe. It is also the oldest building in Britain, dating from 3100 BCE.

Scotland has some 790 islands, 130 of which are inhabited.

Scotland has only 5 million inhabitants, about 8.5% of the UKís population.

Scotland has about the same land area as the Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates, Panama, the U.S state of Maine of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido has the most similar climate and population density.

About 5 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry. The highest concentration of people of Scottish descent are found in New England and in the North-West.

At least 6 US Presidents were of Scottish descent: Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), James Madison (1751-1836), Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), James Knox Polk (1795-1849), William McKinley (1843-1901), Woodrow (Thomas) Wilson (1856-1924)

Other famous Americans with Scottish ancestry include John Paul Jones (father of the American Navy) and Thomas Edison (inventor).

The two first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. MacDonald (1815-1891) and Alexander MacKenzie (1822-1892) were Scottish.

Many Australian Prime Ministers were also of Scottish Descent, like George Reid (1845-1918), Andrew Fisher (1862-1928), Stanley Bruce (1883-1967), and Robert Menzies (1894-1978).

John Napier, Laird of Merchiston

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

John Logie Baird (1888-1946)

James Watt (1736-1819)

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)


Adam Ferguson (1723 - 1816) Born in Logierait, Perthshire, he became Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. He introduced the method of studying humankind in groups and is father of the subject now called "Sociology".

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Alexander Crum Brown

Professor Joseph Black