Strathclyde’s past is full of extraordinary people whose flashes of inspiration led to discoveries that have an impact to this day. Here are just a few of the many Strathclyde pioneers:
John Logie Baird
Invented the world's first working television
Born in 1888, John Logie Baird was educated at Strathclyde’s precursor, Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, and the University of Glasgow. Today, he is of course credited as the inventor of the television. His early experiments resulted in the broadcast of a static image in 1924. By 1928, Baird Television Company Ltd had made the first transatlantic television transmission – from London to New York – and produced the first broadcast for the BBC. Baird
Formulated the Law of Diffusion of Gases
In 1830 Thomas Graham joined Anderson’s College (now the University of Strathclyde) as a Professor of Chemistry. The 29 research papers Graham published during his time at Anderson’s laid the groundwork for his international reputation. In 1833 he published 'On the Law of the Diffusion of Gases', a groundbreaking work. Many people may not realise that Graham also invented the forerunner of today's dialysis machine. Read Thomas Graham's dialysis story...
James 'Paraffin' Young
The 'oilman' from Scotland
James Young, an apprentice cabinet-maker and night school student of Thomas Graham's was the original driving force behind the creation of today’s oil refinery industry. After completing his studies, while working in natural oil spring in a Derbyshire mine, Young managed to tease from the oil paraffin wax, naphtha, lamp oil and lubricating oil. Read James Young's oil refinery story...
Wind energy pioneer
James Blyth, a lecturer, was the man responsible for one of the earliest applications of wind power, having built a windmill in his back garden around 1885 when he first began to experiment with wind energy. He believed passionately in the future of wind energy, a resolution that makes him one of the great pioneers of his age. Read James Blyth's wind energy story...
Originator of fingerprint identification
Another student, Henry Faulds, took up post as a medical missionary with the Church of Scotland after graduation. In 1874, he was tasked with establishing Scotland’s first medical mission in Japan. On an expedition to an archaeological dig, Faulds became intrigued by the impressions left by craftsmen on ancient pieces of clay. His theory on whether these patterns of ridges could be unique to each individual was put to the test by a real-life crime. Read Henry Faulds' fingerprint story...
Early investigator of climate change
In 1834, one of the most significant scientists of Victorian Britain was a janitor with no formal education at what is now the University of Strathclyde. Whenever he could get away from his duties, James Croll would lose himself in the books available for students. He became particularly interested in climate, and began to see patterns in the way the Earth’s planetary orbit varied. He began to investigate whether these variations could have caused such a drop in temperature that parts of the Earth now enjoying a mild climate might once have been frozen over. Read James Croll's ice age story...
Inventor of water filtration systems
Robert Thom, a former student of Anderson’s College developed an ingenious way of cleansing water so effective that it is still in use today across the globe, from village communities in Afghanistan to the city of London. He developed a slow sand filter – a simple, cheap, electricity and chemical-free device that can remove up to 99 per cent of bacteria from water. Read Robert Thom's water filtering story...
Many consider experiments on corpses conducted by Professor Andrew Ure and other scientists around that time, to be the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Read Andrew Ure's Frankenstein story...