Apr 172016
 

Greyfriars Cemetery, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

Tomb of Colin Maclaurin

Colin Maclaurin was an important figure of the first years of the Scottish Enlightenment.  He was an early champion of Newtonianism, who was given the chair of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh in 1725 at Isaac Newton’s own recommendation. Maclaurin and a number of like-minded colleagues made Edinburgh into what was probably the most important centre for the dissemination of Newtonian ideas in Britain after the death of Newton himself. He famously defended Newton’s calculus against the philosophical objections of Bishop Berkeley.

 

Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746).

Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746).

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Apr 172016
 

38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA

The City Observatory on Calton Hill.

 

An observatory on Calton Hill was first proposed by Colin Maclaurin, Edinburgh’s professor of mathematics, in 1736. However, these plans came to nothing until Thomas Short brought a 12-foot reflecting telescope to the city in 1776, with the intention of opening a public observatory as a commercial enterprise. The university helped him with the cost of building the observatory on condition it was open to students. Short’s observatory became the property of the city on his death, but his daughter Maria Theresa ran her own observatory on Calton Hill before moving to a new site on Castlehill in 1850.

 

The Gothic Tower at the Edinburgh City Observatory on Calton Hill, 1792.

The Gothic Tower at the Edinburgh City Observatory on Calton Hill, 1792.

The Playfair Building at the Edinburgh City Observatory on Calton Hill, 1824.

The Playfair Building at the Edinburgh City Observatory on Calton Hill, 1824.

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