With a population of slightly more than 5 million, the Scots are a rare group endowed with endless innovation and insights. Fun does not end with Irn-Bru, whisky, Burns Suppers, and deep-fried Mars Bars, even though Scotland is the source of numerous brilliant inventions! Discover just 25 remarkable things from Scotland that have improved the world.
Consider that if it weren’t for the Scottish engineer John Logie Baird, the world would not have been introduced to that magical little box! In 1925, this legend, known as the “Father of Television,” demonstrated the very first working television.
It should come as no surprise that a Scot invented the kaleidoscope, a genuine source of amusement and endless source of wit! This hypnotic device was the brainchild of Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster in 1816.
Considering the sometimes arctic conditions in Scotland, you wouldn’t think people would have rushed to invent the refrigerator, but they did! William Cullen, a Scottish professor, created the first artificial refrigeration system in 1755.
Due to the discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in 1928 by the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, genuine medical emergencies are made more tolerable. Lifesaver.
The Encyclopédie Britannique
The original Google was the Encyclopdia Britannica. Yes, there was life prior to the internet! The first edition of the oldest English-language encyclopedia, which is still in print today, was published in Edinburgh between 1768 and 1771 in three volumes.
Fans of Queen might not have heard Freddie Mercury sing “I Want to Ride My Bicycle” if it were not for the multi-talented Scotsman Kirkpatrick Macmillan. A Dumfriesshire blacksmith, he invented the pedal bicycle around 1839 in an effort to travel more quickly. Due to his horizontal mindset, he never patented it or protested when others adopted the trend.
Alan MacMasters, a Scottish scientist with a penchant for breakfast, invented the electric bread toaster in 1893. The next time you’re waiting for your electric bread toaster to work its magic, remember that this genius appliance was invented by a man with a passion for breakfast.
James Hutton, the “Father of Modern Geology,” brought the study of rocks and earth science out of the Middle Ages and into the light, despite the fact that curious minds had been studying the Earth’s physical material for centuries. Hutton’s theory of uniformitarianism and other works are credited with establishing geology as a legitimate field of study and earning him the title of the first “modern geologist.”
The British Bank of England
Sir William Paterson, a Scottish banking magnate and merchant, was one of the first to propose the idea of the Bank of England.
The earliest record of the modern sport of golf dates back to the 15th century in Scotland, where a plethora of iconic golf courses are located.
In 1888, the first pneumatic bicycle tire was introduced. All of this was due to the Scottish inventor and veterinarian John Boyd Dunlop.
Tonic and gin
Ah, the G&T, that delightfully refreshing and quintessentially British beverage that we all adore, was created by the Scottish physician George Cleghorn. During the 1700s, he discovered that quinine was an excellent antimalarial elixir. British officers in India during the early 19th century added lime, sugar, water, and a splash of gin to quinine to counteract its bitter taste, believing that gin o’clock was imminent. And voila!
Dolly the lamb
Dolly, a Scottish hero, is a significant figure. Dolly was the first ever mammal to be cloned using nuclear transfer from an adult somatic cell. She was born in 1996 at the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh. This mythical sheep, the discovery of whose existence was a scientific breakthrough, had three mothers.
Chicken tikka masala
These rumors are accurate! Popular gastronomic delight chicken tikka masala is said to have originated in Glasgow. Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam, proprietor of the Shish Mahal, a Glasgow landmark restaurant, created the dish after a customer complained about dry chicken. He had Campbell’s condensed tomato soup on hand (to alleviate a stomach ulcer) and all he had to do was combine a delicious blend of spices with a creative portion of the soup.
Who knows what the future of social media and emojis would look like if not for Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his brilliant mind during the 1870s. He did not invent smart phones, but he was intelligent and he did invent the first practical telephone.
In 1855, James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist, introduced the “three-color method” (using pure green, red, and blue hues) as an essential contribution to the art of photography. The first color photograph (of a tartan ribbon) was the result of Maxwell’s research, and his theory serves as the basis for most color processes used today.
During an archaeological dig with a friend, the Scottish physician and missionary Henry Faults observed that ancient clay fragments contained fingerprints. An observation that became a life’s mission, Faulds began to dig deeper, publishing his findings in 1880. If it weren’t for this Scot, criminals might not be required to wear gloves!
Auto Theft Classic
Grand Theft Auto, a cult classic and go-to for many gamers, is the brainchild of Scottish video game design guru David Jones (founder of game company DMA Design, which is now Rockstar North) and Mike Daily. Remember the Kincaid Bridge in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? This rail bridge is modeled after the famous Forth Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland.
John Reith, 1st Baron Reith of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, was the first general director of the BBC when it went public in 1927. Reith is also responsible for the development of independent public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom.
By making tractor beams a reality, a team of devoted scientists at the University of Dundee pushed the boundaries between science fiction and the real world. The term ‘tractor beam’ was coined by the influential Edward E. Smith in his 1947 science fiction novel Spacehounds of IPC. It is an updated version of his ‘attractor beam’ and refers to a device that lures something to another from great distances.
John Napier, a human calculator, must have been able to solve mathematical problems in his sleep. This Scottish genius is widely recognized for discovering logarithms.
Points after the decimal point
John Napier of Merchiston, a man of many mathematical talents, made the common use of the decimal point in mathematics look cool.
Aston Martin Vanquish
The Aston Martin Vanquish is just one of the many stunning automobiles designed by Ian Callum, the Scottish car designer and Director of Design for Jaguar. This V12 grand tourer served as James Bond’s vehicle in Die Another Day.
In 1853, Scottish physician Alexander Wood allegedly modeled the first hypodermic syringe after a bee sting.
Really, no explanation is necessary! Although Sir John Harrington is credited with inventing this essential device, the intelligent Scottish watchmaker and instrument inventor Alexander Cumming was the first to patent the flushing toilet’s design. Cumming invented the indispensable bend or ‘S-trap’ in 1775, which is utilized in or below plumbing fixtures today.