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25 Times Scotland Changed The World

Scotland is deciding its future. The nation has a long history of making waves.

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Scots may have invented the telephone and television, but as Sean Connery said, "There is no more creative act than creating a new nation."

As Scotland votes on independence today, here are 25 Scots who changed the world.
Thinkstock / United Artists

As Scotland votes on independence today, here are 25 Scots who changed the world.

1. Macbeth is Scotland's most infamous king thanks to William Shakespeare's powerful yet wildly inaccurate portrayal of him as an arch-villain. Actually, the witches in the play were made-up, and he was a fair monarch.

2. In 1694, Dumfries-born William Paterson suggested then co-founded the Bank of England because the nation's public finances were in disarray.

3. With The Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith, the founding father of economics, introduced the concept of the "invisible hand", the idea that self-interested free-market competition without government intervention benefits the whole of society.

Tom Tomorrow / thismodernworld.com / Via thenation.com
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4. Written in 1788, Robert Burns' poem "Auld Lang Syne" is sung around the English-speaking world on Hogmanay to bid farewell to the departing year.

5. The Alloway-born Burns, the author of masterpieces such as "A Red Red Rose", is Scotland's national poet – in 2009 he was voted the greatest Scot of all time.

Robert Burns (1787) by Alexander Naysmith

6. John Paul Jones, the founder of the US Navy, was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, the son of a gardener, before going to sea at 13. He was commander when the Stars and Stripes was first recognised by a foreign government, in Quiberon, France, in 1778.

7. The founder of modern geology, James Hutton of Edinburgh, declared in 1785 that the earth was igneous and no other forces were responsible for shaping it. His theories affected the thinking of Charles Darwin.

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8. In 1797 Janet Keiller launched the world's first commercial marmalade in Dundee, apocryphally after receiving a batch of bitter oranges from Spain, but actually by adapting an existing recipe.

9. In 1818, Glaswegian chemist Charles Macintosh invented the first waterproof fabric by placing soluble rubber between two sheets of cloth. His company Mackintosh is still selling coats, starting at £500.

10. Born in Ayr in 1820, engineer John Loudon McAdam invented a new type of hard road surface dubbed Macadamisation to replace muddy soil tracks. When tar was later added to his process, Tarmac was born.

Royal Mail

11. Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the inventor of the first bicycle in 1839, was fined 5 shillings in 1842 for "causing a minor injury to a little girl who ran out in front of his contraption".

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12. Described by Florence Nightingale as "the greatest man of his generation", the Lanarkshire-born missionary, explorer, and abolitionist David Livingstone was one of the first Europeans to explore central Africa, most famously naming Victoria Falls in 1855.

13. In 1876 the Edinburgh-born Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Boston after emigrating to escape the tuberculosis that killed his two brothers.

Moffett Studio / Library and Archives Canada

14. According to Bell's journal, now held by the US Library of Congress, his first words using the device were, “Mr Watson, come here – I want to see you.”

Actor playing Bell in AT&T commercial / commons.wikimedia.org

15. The Edinburgh-born Arthur Conan Doyle's cerebral sleuth Sherlock Holmes first appeared in the novella A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887. Holmes is "the most-portrayed movie character" ever, with more than 70 actors playing him in 200-plus films.

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16. The man who developed the world's first commercial pneumatic rubber tyre in 1888, Dreghorn-born John Boyd Dunlop, patented his invention after designing it to smooth the ride on his son's tricycle.

17. One of Europe's greatest ever architects was the Glasgow-born Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the leading light of Scotland's influential late 19th-century art nouveau movement. His masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art, was seriously damaged by fire earlier this year.

18. Born into poverty in Dunfermline in 1835, Andrew Carnegie had a rags-to-riches story that saw him become America's most powerful 19th-century industrialist. By his death in 1919 he had founded 2,811 libraries and given away 90% of his fortune.

19. In 1926, the Helensburgh-born John Logie Baird invented television – separating images into lines to transmit pictures. He demonstrated his transmitter in January 1926 and achieved the first trans-Atlantic broadcast in 1928.

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20. In 1928, Ayrshire-born pharmacologist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillium mould growing on an unwashed Petri dish. The antibiotic penicillin is one of the most important drug advances in history.

21. Born near Stirling in 1898, John Grierson was the first person to use the term "documentary", and established the genre with classic films such as 1936's Night Mail.

Post Office / Via youtube.com

22. Voted Scotland's greatest living treasure, the Edinburgh-born Sean Connery starred in starring in seven 007 movies, beginning with Dr. No in 1962.

23. In 1977, Dumbarton-born Talking Heads frontman David Byrne wrote "Psycho Killer", a pop song that described the world from a serial killer's perspective.

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24. OK, she's not technically Scottish, but J.K. Rowling has lived in Scotland since 1993, when she arrived in Edinburgh with the first chapters of Harry Potter in her suitcase. She went on to write the bestselling book series in history.

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25. Born in Edinburgh in 1996, Dolly the sheep was the world's first cloned mammal, created by the Roslin Institute from the genetic material of an adult ewe's mammary cell. She died in 2003.

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