Debate will look at how independence would influence Scottish science
12 November 2012
Great Britain and the world have benefited for centuries from the genius of Scottish scientists and engineers.
The outpouring of inventions and research by Scots has driven economic growth and advancement in Britain, starting with the industrial revolution.
The debate, Scotland and the Constitution, will be chaired by the BBC's Ken MacDonald. Would separation of Scotland from the Union affect the Scottish spirit of invention?
A Royal Society of Chemistry debate in Edinburgh on Wednesday will examine the issue.
Stewart Stevenson MSP and Professor Stephen Salter will present the case on behalf of the Yes Scotland campaign that independence will be beneficial for science in Scotland, whilst Dr Richard Simpson MSP and Professor Hugh Pennington will speak on behalf of the Better Together group highlighting the benfits of UK wide support for science.
The event will be part of the annual Science and the Parliament day, organised by the RSC and staged at Our Dynamic Earth in Holyrood.
Scottish chemist and RSC President, Professor Lesley Yellowlees, Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh, will make the opening address at Science and the Parliament and the closing address will be by the society's chief executive, Dr Robert Parker.
Professor David Phillips, RSC Immediate Past-President, said: "The pantheon of Scottish scientific greats is remarkable. To name but a few, Watt, Fleming, Bell, Black, Baird, Kelvin - the prowess represented in the list is probably unmatched anywhere in the world in the past two centuries.
"We cannot identify easily the source of this brilliance but it could spring from religion, work ethic, geography, even collaboration with other parts of Great Britain after the Union.
"Wherever it came from, we know that its power brought us a lead in the industrial revolution and since then a range of concepts, methods and products that include the steam engine, the telephone, the television, penicillin and leading drugs.
"Much of the work was done by Scots working in England, in which scientists from other nations were engaged, and that interplay of talent and cooperation probably played a major part in the ideas becoming successful.
"The world and Britain owe much to Scottish science. Would independence have any effect on future Scottish science on the world stage? The debate will hopefully throw some light on this fascinating subject."
In an earlier debate at the same event, delegates will hear from Eleanor Mitchell of Scottish Enterprise, Dr Olga Kozlova of Heriot Watt University and Ian Ritchie, Vice President for Business of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, on how Scotland can best grow its SME sector through stimulating innovation, particularly in Science and Technology.
Wednesday 14 November 2012, Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh
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