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DONALDSON, Prof Gordon Bryce FRSE (1941-2012) Physicist

Born in Edinburgh, he was professor of applied physics at the University of Strathclyde, and a leading expert in the design and application of superconducting devices, including his invention of gradiometers which are widely used for measuring tiny magnetic fields. These instruments are based on SQIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices) whose usefulness he developed and championed. A figure of world stature in his chosen field.

KELVIN, Lord William Thomson (1824-1907) Mathematician and Physicist

In 1846 he became professor of natural philosophy at Glasgow University, a post he would hold for more than fifty years. In Glasgow he created the first physics laboratory in Britain. He formulated the two great laws of thermodynamics. Evolved theory of electrical oscillations. Propounded the “law of squares”. The important notion of absolute zero. Invented improvements in cables and galvanometers which were vital to the success of the Atlantic telegraph cables. Improvements to the mariner’s compass. Invented sounding gauges, tide predictors, etc, etc.

LESLIE, John (1766-1832)

Born in Largo, Fife. Mathematician and physicist. Best remembered for his research into heat. Gave the first modern account of capillary action in 1802, and using an air pump froze water in 1810. The first artificial production of ice.

Star Trek’s “Tractor Beam” becomes fact

Scientists at St Andrews University, and a team from the Institute of Scientific Instruments in the Czech Republic, have created  a special optical field that actually draws objects towards the light source, rather than repelling them in the radiation force first identified by Johanes Kepler. This breakthrough could have important relevance in the field of medical testing, for example in examination of blood samples.

The Nobel Prize for Physics 2016

Two Scottish born physicists and one English with a Scots name have jointly won the prize this year. David J Thouless, b Bearsden, Glasgow, J Michael Kosterlitz, b Aberdeen and Duncan Haldane.

THOMSON, Sir Joseph John “JJ” OM, FRS (1856-1940) Physicist

Diaspora. English physicist whose paternal line was Scottish in origin. Received the Nobel Prize for, among other works, his discovery of the electron.

Scottish Achievement, Influence & Heritage is a work in progress