History of Physics Tour

 
observatory 1. City Observatory

An observatory on Calton Hill was first proposed by Colin Maclaurin, Edinburgh’s professor of mathematics, in 1736. Read more…

Charles Piazzi Smyth's house. 2. Charles Piazzi Smyth’s house
Charles Piazzi Smyth, Scotland’s second Astronomer Royal, was appointed Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh in 1846. Read more…
Birthplace of James Clerk Maxwell 3. Birthplace of James Clerk Maxwell

Now home to a museum of his life and work, this was the childhood home of James Clerk Maxwell, famous for his revolutionary work on electromagnetism and the kinetic theory of gases. Read more…

James David Forbes' house. 4. Birthplace of James David Forbes

James David Forbes, who was born at this address, pipped his mentor David Brewster to the post of Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in 1833, much to the disgust of the latter. Read more…

Camera Obscura. 5. Outlook tower (Camera Obscura)

Edinburgh is home to the oldest camera obscura in Britain, which first opened in 1853. Read more…

Site of the Luckenbooths. 6. Site of the Luckenbooths

In the centre of the High Street close to this spot in the 17th century stood the so-called ‘luckenbooths’. Read more…

College Wynd 7. College Wynd

It was close to here that James Gregory, the University of Edinburgh’s first professor of Mathematics, lived between his appointment in 1674 and his death in 1675. Read more…

Former Waterson's sealing wax factory. 8.Site of John James Waterston’s house

John James Waterston lived in a house on St John’s Hill, next to the sealing wax factory owned by his family. Read more…

Peter Higgs' former house 9. Peter Higgs plaque

Peter Higgs is famous for predicting the existence of a new fundamental subatomic particle, now named in his honour the ‘Higgs boson’, while a Lecturer at the Tait Institute of Mathematical Physics in Edinburgh. Read more…

Appleton Tower. 10. Appleton Tower

Sir Edward Victor Appleton became Principal of the University of Edinburgh in 1949. Read more…

Arthur's Seat. 11. Arthur’s Seat

It was on Arthur’s Seat, the great volcanic plug that overlooks Edinburgh, that George Sinclair tested and calibrated the mercury barometer he had developed for estimating the depths of mines. Read more…

Max Born's House 12. Max Born’s house

Max Born, who became the second Tait Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in 1936, was one of the founders of quantum mechanics. Read more…

The Royal Observatory. 13. The Royal Observatory

A new observatory for Edinburgh was opened in 1896 on top of one of the Braid Hills. Read more…

Charles Glover Barkla's house. 14. James Glover Barkla’s house

Now the visitor centre for a nature reserve, this was once the home of Charles Glover Barkla, who became the University of Edinburgh’s eleventh professor of Natural Philosophy in 1913. Read more…

Merchiston Castle. 15. Merchiston Castle

Now on the campus of Napier University, Merchiston Castle was once the family home of John Napier (1550–1617). Read more…

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