38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA
Mathematician, physicist and geologist, John Playfair is perhaps best known as James Hutton’s most influential disciple. His Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802) probably did more to popularise his theory than Hutton’s own notoriously impenetrable writings. In his career he was consecutively professor of mathematics and professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. As first president of Edinburgh Astronomical Institution he enthusiastically supported the construction of Edinburgh’s observatory on Calton Hill, which his monument stands beside, but sadly died before its completion.
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