John Anderson (natural philosopher)

Last updated

John Anderson
John Anderson (zoologist).jpg
Born(1726-09-26)26 September 1726
Died13 January 1796(1796-01-13) (aged 69)
Memorial to John Anderson and his grandfather, Ramshorn Cemetery, Glasgow Memorial to John Anderson, Ramshorn Cemetery, Glasgow.jpg
Memorial to John Anderson and his grandfather, Ramshorn Cemetery, Glasgow

John Anderson FRSE FRS FSA(Scot) [1] (26 September 1726 – 13 January 1796) was a Scottish natural philosopher and liberal educator at the forefront of the application of science to technology in the industrial revolution, and of the education and advancement of working men and women. He was a joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, [2] and was the posthumous founder of Anderson's College (later Anderson's Institution), which ultimately evolved into the University of Strathclyde.

Contents

Early life and career

Anderson was born at the manse at Rosneath, Dunbartonshire, the son of Margaret Turner (d. 1784) and Rev James Anderson [2] [3] [4] His father and grandfather were prominent ministers of the church. After his father's death he was raised by his aunt in Stirling, where he attended grammar school. [3]

He graduated with an MA from the University of Glasgow in 1745. [3]

During the Jacobite Rising of 1745 he served as an officer in the Hanoverian army. [3]

From 1755-57 he was Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Glasgow, and from 1757 to 1796 Professor of Natural Philosophy. He is the longest-serving natural philosophy lecturer during the 18th century. [5]

A leading scientist

In 1760, Anderson was appointed to the more congenial post of professor of natural philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He began to concentrate on physics. He had a love of experiments, practical mechanics and inventions. He encouraged James Watt in his development of steam power. He was acquainted with Benjamin Franklin, and in 1772 he installed the first lightning conductor in Glasgow. [6]

Anderson also wrote the pioneering textbook Institutes of Physics published in 1786, which went through five editions in ten years. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and this brought him into contact with many of the leading scientists of the day. [3]

A pioneer of vocational education for working people

His greatest love though was in providing "useful learning" to the working class, especially in the application of science to industry. He did this alongside his University duties, by providing non-academic lectures for artisans during the evenings. In these popular lectures he concentrated on experiments and demonstrations, and from his predilection for setting off explosions and fireworks, he acquired the nickname "Jolly Jack Phosphorus".[ citation needed ]

Radical politics

Anderson was also known for his radical political views and was a supporter of the French Revolution. In 1791 he invented a new type of six-pound gun, [7] which was presented to the National Convention in Paris as "the gift of Science to Liberty". While in France, neighbouring Germany, fearing the spread of radical politics to its territory, imposed a blockade on French newspapers. Anderson suggested sending pamphlets on the wind to Germany attached to small hydrogen balloons, and this was done, with each balloon bearing an inscription translated as "O’er hills and dales, and lines of hostile troops, I float majestic, bearing the laws of God and Nature to oppressed men, and bidding them with arms their rights maintain."

Founder of a university

Building on the lectures for artisans, he bequeathed his property for the foundation of a school in Glasgow devoted to "useful learning", called Anderson's Institution or Andersonian University. As an example of its success it enabled a young millworker, David Livingstone, to become a famous missionary doctor and the foremost explorer of his day. The Institution underwent various name-changes and a number of mergers with other colleges before arriving at its current form as the University of Strathclyde, which honours Anderson in the name of the physics building and the main library, the Andersonian Library. The city centre campus is named the John Anderson Campus. [3] [8]

John Anderson died in Glasgow at the age of 69. [9] [10] He is buried with his grandfather in Ramshorn Cemetery on Ingram Street in Glasgow. On 13 January 1996 representatives from the University of Glasgow laid a wreath to mark the bicentennial of Anderson's death. [11]

Related Research Articles

Thomas Graham (chemist)

Thomas Graham was a Scottish chemist known for his pioneering work in dialysis and the diffusion of gases. He is regarded as one of the founders of colloid chemistry..

University of Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland

The University of Strathclyde is a public research university located in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded in 1796 as the Andersonian Institute, it is Glasgow's second-oldest university, having received its royal charter in 1964 as the first technological university in the United Kingdom. Taking its name from the historic Kingdom of Strathclyde, it is Scotland's third-largest university by number of students, with students and staff from over 100 countries.

George Birkbeck

Dr George Birkbeck was a British physician, academic, philanthropist, pioneer in adult education and a professor of natural philosophy at the Andersonian Institute. He is the founder of Birkbeck, University of London and was head of the Chemical Society. He is one of the creators of the earliest chemistry laboratory for undergraduates at University College London.

Edward Caird

Edward Caird was a Scottish philosopher. He was a holder of LLD, DCL, and DLitt.

Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow

The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow is a learned society established in 1802 "for the improvement of the Arts and Sciences" in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It runs a programme of lectures, starting its 218th Series in October 2019. The Society formerly owned a building on Bath Street, but since 1994 has been accommodated within the University of Strathclyde.

Andrew Gray (physicist)

Dr Andrew Gray was a Scottish physicist and mathematician.

Prof Philip Ivor Dee CBE FRS FRSE was a British nuclear physicist. He was responsible for the development of airborne radar during the Second World War. Glasgow University named the Philip Ivor Dee Memorial Lecture after him.

John Anderson, FRS may refer to any of three scientists who were Fellows of the Royal Society:

William (Bill) Cochran was a Scottish physicist.

John Anderson (philosopher)

John Anderson was a Scottish philosopher who occupied the post of Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University from 1927 to 1958. He founded the empirical brand of philosophy known as Australian realism.

Professor James Blyth MA, LLD, FRSE FRSSA was a Scottish electrical engineer and academic at Anderson's College, now the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow. He was a pioneer in the field of electricity generation through wind power and his wind turbine, which was used to light his holiday home in Marykirk, was the world's first-known structure by which electricity was generated from wind power. Blyth patented his design and later developed an improved model which served as an emergency power source at Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary & Dispensary for the next 30 years. Although Blyth received recognition for his contributions to science, electricity generation by wind power was considered uneconomical and no more wind turbines were built in the United Kingdom until 1951, some 64 years after Blyth built his first prototype.

Sir Samuel Crowe Curran, FRS, FRSE DL LLD, was a physicist and the first Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde – the first of the new technical universities in Britain. He is the inventor of the scintillation counter, the proportional counter, and the proximity fuze. Colleagues generally referred to him simply as Sam Curran and latterly just as Sir Sam. To date, Curran remains the longest serving Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, holding the post for 16 years, not counting his previous 5 years as Principal of the Royal College of Science and Technology.

John Anderson Campus

The John Anderson Campus, the main campus of The University of Strathclyde, is located in Glasgow, Scotland. The campus is self-contained in its own area which straddles the Townhead and Merchant City districts on the north eastern side of the city centre, while being only minutes from the M8 Motorway, George Square and is located midway between Queen Street Railway Station and High Street station on the North Clyde Line.

John Samuel Forrest FRS was a Scottish-born physicist, author and Professor Emeritus, University of Strathclyde.

Andersonian Library

The Andersonian Library is the university library of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Established in 1796, it is one of the largest of its type in Scotland.

Prof Ian Naismith Sneddon FRS FRSE FIMA OBE was a Scottish mathematician who worked on analysis and applied mathematics.

Events from the year 1796 in Scotland.

Prof. Thomas Jackson FRSE LLD (1773-1837) was a Scottish physicist operating in the early 19th century.

Magnus Maclean

Prof Magnus Maclean FRSE MIEE MICE LLD (1857-1937) was an electrical engineer who assisted Lord Kelvin in his electrical experiments and later became Professor of Electrical Engineering in Glasgow. The Magnus Maclean Memorial Prize given to students of electrical engineering is named in his honour. A native speaker of Scottish Gaelic, he also lectured in Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow, delivering the MacCallum lectures, in English between 1901 and 1093. These lectures constituted the first official lectures in Celtic studies at the University.

John Walker Sharpe FRSE FIP (1916–1997) was a 20th century Scottish physicist specialising in the electron microscope.

References

  1. Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN   978-0-902198-84-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  2. 1 2 http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp1.pdf
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wood, Paul (2004). "Anderson, John (1726-1796), natural philosopher" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/481 . Retrieved 26 January 2019.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. "Anderson, John" in Chambers's Encyclopædia . London: George Newnes, 1961, Vol. 1, p. 409.
  5. Wilson, David B. (2009). Seeking Nature's Logic: Natural Philosophy in the Scottish Enlightenment. Penn State Press. ISBN   978-0271035253.
  6. "University of Glasgow :: Story :: Biography of John Anderson". www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  7. Anderson, William (1867). The Scottish Nation: Or, The Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours, and Biographical History of the People of Scotland. A. Fullarton & Company. p.  130. John Anderson (natural philosopher) In 1791 he invented a new type of six-pound gun,.
  8. "Discover Glasgow | Schools - Strathclyde University". www.discoverglasgow.org. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  9. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anderson, John"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  10. Significant Scots: John Anderson FRS at ElectricScotland.com retrieved 31 October 2007.
  11. "FREE Scottish family tree inscriptions and links from HappyHaggis". www.happyhaggis.co.uk. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

Further reading