Although Scotland lays claim to numerous scientists and inventors, perhaps the most memorable is (1) Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922). In addition to receiving the first US patent for the telephone, he is also credited with more than 30 inventions and discoveries across a wide variety of fields. Additionally, he was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.
Everyone who studies chemistry will be familiar with the contributions of (2) Joseph Black (1728 – 1799). This Scottish physicist developed the analytical balance and discovered latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. His work with latent heat and specific heat paved the way for the invention of the steam engine.
Penicillin changed history and brought new hope to many with previously incurable diseases. (3) Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955) discovered penicillin in 1928 while studying bacteria. He later purified the new substance and created synthetic versions, launching the anti-bacterial pharmaceutical industry.
Another critical medical procedure – dialysis – was discovered by Scottish chemist (4) Thomas Graham (1805 – 1869). He began his work by studying the diffusion of gases, resulting in the formulation of Graham’s Law. Later studies of colloids led not only to the creation of an early dialysis machine – the dialyzer – but also to the founding of a new branch of chemistry, colloid chemistry.
Thanks to (5) James Watt the steam engine was improved. This mathematician and engineer has also coined the term “horsepower” and nowadays his name can be found on almost every light bulb as the unit of electrical power (W).