New streets honour Edinburgh thinkers

Edinburgh University's King's Buildings science campus. Picture: Jon Savage
Edinburgh University's King's Buildings science campus. Picture: Jon Savage
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SEVERAL of the Capital’s key thinkers have had streets at a flagship science campus named in their honour.

Roads, crescents and avenues around Edinburgh University’s King’s Buildings now pay tribute to 12 of the city’s most esteemed scientific sons and daughters.

Among the dozen scientists recognised are Sir James Dewar – inventor of the vacuum flask – and James Hutton, the founding father of geology.

Major female thinkers, including genetics pioneer Charlotte Auerbach and X-ray visionary Marion Ross, have also been honoured in a bid to ensure the contributions of both sexes are given equal ­billing.

The move has been welcomed by leading scientists in the Capital, who said it was always important to remind residents of the city’s position at the cutting-edge of research over the centuries.

Alan Alexander, general secretary at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s national academy of science and letters, said: “It is good to see so many eminent fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh featured in this way.

“All deserve recognition for their pioneering work.

“The RSE has been working to raise the profile of women 
in science and we welcome seeing two of our early women ­fellows, Charlotte Auerbach and Marion Ross, being included.”

The street names mean a number of Edinburgh’s lesser-known scientific greats are set to have their profile boosted significantly, as university bosses bid to underline their institution’s contribution to the world. Pioneering 19th-century chemist Alexander Crum Brown – who developed a unique system of representing molecules with the help of knitting needles and rolls of wool – now has a road named after him.

Colin Maclaurin, a professor of mathematics in the early 1700s, who was appointed after a recommendation from Isaac Newton and made important contributions to algebra and geometry, has been similarly honoured.

Groundbreaking physicists are also recognised, including Peter Guthrie Tait, a prolific worker and author of definitive physics textbooks, and Nobel Prize-winning quantum mechanics expert Max Born.

Science leaders at Edinburgh University said the street naming was a fitting way of recognising the crucial work of so many predecessors over hundreds of years.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees, head of the university’s 
college of science and engineering, said: “We 
are delighted to mark Edinburgh’s proud association with many great scientists 
and engineers, by commemorating them at our science ­campus.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com