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BLACK, Joseph (1728 – 1799) Father of Quantitive Chemistry

Professor of Anatomy and Chemistry in Glasgow University (1756) and then Professor of Medicine and Chemistry in Edinburgh (1766). Today the chemistry buildings at both universities are named after him. Invented the Analytical Balance c. 1750. In 1751 he developed the concept of “Latent Heat“, the theory of which marks the beginning of thermodynamics, and discovered Carbon Dioxide (“Fixed Air“).

CRUM BROWN, Alexander, FRSE, FRS. (1838 – 1922)

An organic chemist, born in Edinburgh. He studied in London and Leipzig before returning to Edinburgh in 1863, and holding the chair of Chemistry there until his death. That chair now bears his name. He devised the system of representing chemical compounds in diagrammatic form, with connecting lines representing bonds. His investigations into a mixture of organic materials contained within sedimentary rocks caused him to name them Kerogen. These substances are of great interest today because of their ability to give up enormous quantities of light and heavy hydrocarbons. He also discovered the carbon double bond of ethylene which has had enormous implications for the modern plastics industry.

GRAY, George William (1926-2013) Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)

Born Denny, Falkirk. A Glasgow University chemistry graduate who went on to become Emeritus Professor of chemistry at Hull University. His fundamental research made possible the now universally used LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays). He has been honored worldwide, including the 1995 Kyoto Prize. The Japanese equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

NEWLANDS, John Alexander Reina. (1837-1898) The Periodic Table

Born in London.  His father was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and his mother Italian. Early education was provided at home by his father, before he attended the Royal College of Chemistry. In 1864 he set up in practice as an analytical chemist. He was the first person to devise a periodic table of the chemical elements and in 1865 published his Law of Octaves which was ridiculed by his contemporaries. Following Mendeleev’s and Meyer’s receipt of the Davy Medal for “discovery” in 1869 of the Periodic Table, Newlands fought for recognition of his earlier work, and eventually received that recognition with the award of the Davy Medal in 1887.

RAMSAY, Sir William, KCB, FRSE, FRS (1852-1916) Discovery of the Noble Gases

A Scottish chemist, b. Glasgow. He discovered the noble gases Neon, Argon, Helium, Krypton,  Xenon and Radon and was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1904.

RUTHERFORD, Daniel, FRSE, FRCPE, FLS, FSA(Scot) Discovery of Nitrogen

A Scottish physician, chemist and botanist. Born Edinburgh (1749-1819).  Brought about the isolation of nitrogen in 1772.

YELLOWLEES, Lesley FRSE. (b. 1953)

Inorganic chemist and professor of inorganic electrochemistry. First female head of chemistry at, and first female Vice-Principle of Edinburgh University, and head of the college of science and engineering. First female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2012-2014).

YOUNG, James “Paraffin” FRSE, FRS. (1811-1883) Beginnings of the Worldwide Oil Industry

Chemist, orn Glasgow, Scotland. In 1851, along with partners, he opened the first truly commercial oil production facility in the world using his patented distillation techniques. Other similar facilities opening around the world, including the US, had to do so under his licence.

Scottish Achievement, Influence & Heritage is a work in progress