Famous Scottish Scientists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 James Maxwell

James Maxwell
6
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: June 13, 1831
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 5, 1879

Scottish physicist James Maxwell’s contributions included the formulation of the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation and the production of the first light-fast color photograph. His Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution explored the kinetic theory of gases. He has also written poems and was an Elder of the Church of Scotland.

 2 John Muir

John Muir
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: April 21, 1838
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dunbar
Died: December 24, 1914

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher, glaciologist, botanist, zoologist, and author. Nicknamed Father of the National Parks and John of the Mountains, Muir was an influential proponent of the preservation of wilderness in the US. He is credited with co-founding the American conservation organization, The Sierra Club. Muir is considered a hero by many environmentalists around the world.

 3 John Napier

John Napier
6
Famous As: Inventor of Logarithms
Birthdate: February 1, 1550
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh
Died: April 4, 1617

John Napier was a Scottish mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He is credited with introducing logarithms as a means of simplifying calculations. He also invented Napier's bones, a manually-operated calculating device. In addition to his interest in mathematics, John Napier was also known for his skills as a magician; it is said that he dabbled in necromancy and alchemy.

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 4 John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird
6
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Helensburgh
Died: June 14, 1946

Scottish inventor, electrical engineer, and innovator, John Logie Baird, is best known for demonstrating a working TV system in 1926. He then went on to invent the first viable purely electronic color TV picture tube and founded the Baird Television Development Company. He was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.

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 5 James Watt

James Watt
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Famous As: Inventor of Steam Engine
Birthdate: January 19, 1736
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1819
Eighteenth-century Scottish inventor James Watt developed the Newcomen steam engine, by inventing the Watt steam engine, which brough about the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. He also co-owned the firm Boulton and Watt and laid down concepts such as horsepower and the watt, the SI unit of power.

 6 John Leslie

John Leslie
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Famous As: presenter
Birthdate: February 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Edinburgh
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 7 Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford
3
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: August 9, 1757
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Eskdale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died: September 2, 1834

Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford had begun his career as a mason at 14, having lost his father in infancy. A self-taught architect, he was responsible for building many structures, including the Caledonian Canal and the Menai Suspension Bridge. Named The Colossus of Roads, he symbolized the Scottish Enlightenment.

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 8 James Hutton

James Hutton
4
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: June 3, 1726
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 26, 1797

The pioneer of modern geology, James Hutton laid down the principle of uniformitarianism in geology. While he was initially interested in chemistry, he had later also studied law and had then moved on to medicine. His iconic Theory of the Earth explained the science behind rock formations.

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 9 Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes
4
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: October 2, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: April 17, 1932

Apart from being a sociologist and biologist, Patrick Geddes was known for his impeccable sense of town planning. While he initially taught botany in Dundee, he later turned to sociology and conducted studies in India, Mexico, and other countries. He was eventually knighted for his achievements.

 10 James Gregory

James Gregory
2
Famous As: mathematician, astronomer, inventor,university teacher
Birthdate: October 31, 1638
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Drumoak
Died: September 30, 1675
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 11 Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart
3
Famous As: Geologist, TV Presenter
Birthdate: 1964 AD
Birthplace: East Kilbride, Scotland

 12 Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin
3
Famous As: Edinburgh
Birthdate: February 1, 1698
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Argyll
Died: June 14, 1746

 13 Daniel Rutherford

Daniel Rutherford
3
Famous As: botanist, chemist
Birthdate: November 3, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: November 15, 1819

 14 Michael Scot

Michael Scot
2
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 1175 AD
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: 1232 AD

 15 David Douglas

David Douglas
3
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: June 25, 1799
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Scone, Perthshire, Scotland
Died: July 12, 1834

 16 Naomi Mitchison

Naomi Mitchison
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 1, 1897
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: January 11, 1999

Known for authoring books such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman and The Conquered, Naomi Mitchison was also a driven socialist. She served as an advisor to Botswana’s Bakgatla tribe and had also been a farmer. Honored with numerous awards and honorary doctorates, she lived till age 101.

 17 Thomas Brisbane

Thomas Brisbane
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Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: July 23, 1773
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: January 27, 1860

 18 Thomas Graham

Thomas Graham
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 21, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: September 16, 1869

 19 Roderick Murchison

Roderick Murchison
2
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: February 22, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Muir of Ord, Scotland
Died: October 22, 1871

 20 D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson

D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson
2
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: May 2, 1860
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 21, 1948

 21 William Hunter

William Hunter
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 23, 1718
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Long Calderwood, Scotland
Died: March 30, 1783

Physician William Hunter is remembered for his efforts in making obstetrics a branch of medicine. After observing medical students in France, he introduced the use of cadavers for dissection in Britain. The Hunterian Museum in Scotland started with a collection of his belongings, including books and works of art.

 22 James Stagg

James Stagg
2
Famous As: Meteorologist
Birthdate: June 30, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland
Died: June 23, 1975

 23 Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan T. Sanderson
0
Famous As: Biologist, Writer
Birthdate: January 30, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: February 19, 1973

 24 Hugh Miller

Hugh Miller
2
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: October 10, 1802
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cromarty, Scotland
Died: December 24, 1856

 25 Thomas Charles Hope

Thomas Charles Hope
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 21, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 13, 1844

The third son of physician and botanist John Hope, Thomas Charles Hope began his career teaching chemistry and medicine and eventually chaired medicine at the University of Glasgow. He is remembered for discovering the element strontium and also explained why icebergs float. He eventually became a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 26 Sir Patrick Manson

Sir Patrick Manson
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: October 3, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: April 9, 1922

Best remembered as the founder of the domain of tropical medicine, parasitologist Sir Patrick Manson also had a degree in law. He practiced medicine in places such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and was the man behind the formation of the University of Hong Kong. He was later knighted, too.

 27 James Croll

James Croll
0
Famous As: Geographer, Geologist
Birthdate: January 2, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Little Whitefield, Perthshire, Scotland
Died: December 15, 1890

 28 Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd

Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: October 2, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cathcart, Glasgow, Scotland
Died: January 10, 1997

 29 James Young (Chemist)

James Young (Chemist)
1
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 13, 1811
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 13, 1883

Born to a carpenter in Glasgow, James Young initially assisted his father but later gained an interest in chemistry. He grew up to invent a process of extracting oil from coal and oil shales. Owing to his paraffin oil company, which he owned, he later earned the nickname Paraffin Young.

 30 John Claudius Loudon

John Claudius Loudon
2
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: April 8, 1783
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cambuslang, Scotland
Died: December 14, 1843

 31 Robert Chambers

Robert Chambers
1
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: July 10, 1802
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Peebles, Scotland
Died: March 17, 1871

 32 Patrick Matthew

Patrick Matthew
1
Famous As: Agriculturalist
Birthdate: October 20, 1790
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: June 8, 1874

 33 James David Forbes

James David Forbes
1
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 20, 1809
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: December 31, 1868

Scottish physicist James David Forbes is best remembered for his research on glaciers and heat conduction and for his invention of the seismometer. A University of Edinburgh professor, he later won both the Rumford Medal and the Gold Medal of The Royal Society for his achievements.

 34 Charles Wyville Thomson

Charles Wyville Thomson
1
Famous As: Zoologist
Birthdate: March 5, 1830
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bonsyde, Scotland
Died: March 10, 1882

 35 Archibald Geikie

Archibald Geikie
1
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: December 28, 1835
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 10, 1924

 36 Peter Tait

Peter Tait
1
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 28, 1831
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dalkeith, Scotland
Died: July 4, 1901

 37 Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet

Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet
1
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 10, 1766
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lower Largo, Scotland
Died: November 3, 1832

 38 Walter Scott

Walter Scott
1
Famous As: Businessperson, Nuclear physicist
Birthdate: April 30, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scotland

 39 Sir Andrew Noble, 1st Baronet

Sir Andrew Noble, 1st Baronet
1
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 13, 1831
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Greenock, Scotland
Died: October 22, 1915

Scottish physicist Sir Andrew Noble, 1st Baronet is best remembered for his research on gunnery and gunpowder and is credited with establishing ballistics as a domain of science. His studies also introduced new types of gunpowder and methods of loading. He was eventually knighted and made a baronet, too.

 40 John Goodsir

John Goodsir
1
Famous As: Anatomist
Birthdate: March 20, 1814
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Anstruther, Scotland
Died: March 6, 1867

 41 Francis Maitland Balfour

Francis Maitland Balfour
1
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: November 10, 1851
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland,
Died: July 19, 1882

 42 Archibald Scott Couper

Archibald Scott Couper
1
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 31, 1831
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kirkintilloch, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1892

 43 Malcolm Longair

Malcolm Longair
1
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 18, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland

Scottish astronomer and physicist Malcolm Longair has been a renowned academic, having taught at the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. His research also took him to Moscow. Known for his work in cosmology and astrophysics, he spends his leisure time indulging in music, art, and mountain walking.

 44 Robert Sibbald

Robert Sibbald
1
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 15, 1641
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 9, 1722

 45 Robert Simson

Robert Simson
1
Famous As: Mathematician1768
Birthdate: October 14, 1687
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: October 1, 1768

 46 Thomas Henderson

Thomas Henderson
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1798
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: November 23, 1844

Scottish astronomer Thomas Henderson was the first to measure the parallax of the Alpha Centauri. He was also named the first Astronomer Royal of Scotland. Though initially trained as a lawyer, he later focused on his love for math and astronomy. He also taught at the University of Edinburgh.

 47 Balfour Stewart

Balfour Stewart
1
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 1, 1828
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: December 19, 1887

Scottish meteorologist and geophysicist Balfour Stewart is best remembered for his research on radiant energy and terrestrial magnetism. Initially a trader, he later joined the Kew Observatory as an assistant and eventually became its director. The Unseen Universe remains one of his best-known written works.

 48 Sir David Gill

Sir David Gill
1
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 12, 1843
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aberdeen, Scotland
Died: January 24, 1914

 49 Sir James Hall, 4th Baronet

Sir James Hall, 4th Baronet
1
Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: January 17, 1761
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dunglass, Scotland
Died: June 23, 1832

 50 Watson Cheyne

Watson Cheyne
1
Famous As: Surgeon
Birthdate: December 14, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Australia
Died: April 19, 1932