Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scotland the Brave

It struck me, just as it must have struck Sir Alex of footballing fame, that Scotland might legitimately be a contender for the country that did most to make a modern world. Not Greece, not India or China, those pillars of the human imaginary of the ancient world, but Scotland — a country on the periphery of the ages of man.

I will only mention a few names here, from a pantheon of noble pioneers longer than the list of the Greeks at Troy:

Adam Smith (economic philosophy), James Watt (effective steam engine), James Clerk Maxwell (theory of electromagnetism), Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), Alexander Fleming (penicillin), John Napier (logarithms), John Baird (television), John McAdam (tarred roads), John Shepherd-Barron (auto-teller machines), William Thomson (thermodynamics — he's better known as Lord Kelvin)...

These are only the engineers and scientists (of which there are a veritable and verifiable host). The explorers and other seekers after knowledge whom I've not named have done disproportionately much more for such a geographically small nation.

So yes, maybe Scotland.

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