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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Famous Scots

Famous+Scots

By: Caroline Maas, foreign correspondent

The Scots, our tour-guide told us, love to boast about the advancements their small nation has brought to the world. As we walked through the streets of Edinburgh, he proceeded to call out name after name of Scottish-born people who had made contributions to worldly advancements of all kinds. Though seemingly irrelevant in the grand spectrum of the world’s progress, you may be surprised at just how many famous faces were Scottish-born and just how much of an impact their accomplishments have had in creating the world we live in today.

A “thank you” is due to Scotland for economist and philosopher, David Hume. Hume was born in Edinburgh in 1711 and came to be known for his belief that humans are directed more by passion than by reason and, through his books, asserted the overarching idea that human experience alone is responsible for human knowledge. Though he did not become recognized for his work until later in his life, his work has earned him a place among progressive thinkers like John Locke and Francis Bacon.

Want to call your friend? You’d better thank Scotland for the ability to do so: it is the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone and the Bell Telephone Company. Bell was born in Edinburgh in 1847 and received official schooling at various institutions, including his initial enrollment at the University of Edinburgh where he attended classes before moving to University College in London.

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Studying Economics? Well you’d best tip your hat to the Scots, yet again, for having produced the “Father of Modern Economics,” as the world knows Adam Smith today. Known for his book “Wealth of Nations,” he proposed the idea that the government maintain a laissez-faire approach to the economy because of, according to his theory of the “invisible hand,” a free market will regulate itself through its supply and demand.

Our current understanding of antibiotics in modern healthcare can be attributed to Scotland’s Alexander Fleming, who discovered Penicillin in1928. Born in rural Lochfield in East Ayrshire, Scotland, he discovered this antibiotic that would eventually come to be used during World War II. It transformed the face of battlefield medicine and would allow for the advancement of infection control. Fleming was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945.

If you identify with any branch of reformed Christianity, you too owe a tip of your hat to Scotland. Protestant Reformation leader John Knox was born in 1514 near Haddington, Scotland. Knox became known as a spokesman for the Reformation in Scotland and advocated vehemently for the reform of the Presbyterian Church. Despite his legacy, there is but one monument dedicated to him in Edinburgh and his grave sits humbly outside of St. Giles Cathedral, paved over with parking space number 24.

Andrew Carnegie is another Scottish product. Born in Glasgow, this steel-tycoon turned his life’s fortune into a reputation for generosity and philanthropy. His life began to change from its humble-beginnings, where he and his family lived in a one-room house, when they decided to immigrate to the United States. At age 13, he began working in a textile mill. He then became a telegraph operator and soon worked his way up to organizing transportation throughout the American Civil War. Stumbling into great luck in the steel industry, he created the Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold for $480m, using the money to begin his philanthropic career.

More modernly, pop music artist Calvin Harris also hails from Scotland. Born in January 1984 in Dumfries, he later attended Dumfries High School. With the release of his 2012 album, “18 Months,” Harris broke the record for the most top 10 songs from one studio album on the UK Singles Chart with eight entries, an accomplishment which surpassed Michael Jackson.

Though it is said that Scottish people love to boast of their contributions to the world, this impressive list suggests that their boasting might just be justified.

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