20 Williamina Fleming: Astronomer who discovered more than 300 stars

In 1879 Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming found herself pregnant, unexpectedly alone and far from home. The year before, together with her husband James, she had emigrated from Scotland to the US. Fleming applied for a job as a maid and housekeeper at the Harvard College Observatory and, within two years, was working as a "computer" for director Edward Pickering – paid to examine photographic plates which contained images of stars taken from telescopes in Harvard and the southern hemisphere.

Computing was repetitive, painstaking and paid little – even the factory girls at the nearby Lowell mill were paid more – but it offered mental stimulation to those who applied and used their own minds.

Fleming established the first photographic standards of magnitude – an important tool for astronomers – that were then used to measure the brightness of variable stars, whose light fluctuated. She also developed a new Pickering-Fleming system to classify stars by their spectra alphabetically, according to the strength of the star’s hydrogen spectral line.

Within a decade she had studied and classified more than 10,000 stars – most of those visible to the naked eye – for the Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra (1890). During her career, Fleming discovered a total of 59 gaseous nebulae, more than 310 variable stars, and 10 novae.

19 Mohammad Sarwar: He was not only the first UK Muslim MP, UK, but also first Asian constituency MP in Scotland.

In 1976, Mohammad Sarwar, then living in Faisalabad, Pakistan, had a plan. His intention, he said, was to go to the UK, work “long enough to amass a small fortune and return to Pakistan a rich man.” Sarwar did do that, making millions through setting up a chain of cash and carries, but he also forged a ground-breaking political career in the Labour Party. Now the 33rd Governor of the Punjab, Sarwar came to Scotland in 1979 and became the first Muslim MP.

As a councillor Sarwar rescued two sisters who had been abducted and forced to marry in Pakistan. In 2005 he played a crucial role in bringing to justice the killers of fifteen-year-old Glasgow schoolboy, Kriss Donald. The killers fled to Pakistan, which has no extradition treaty with the UK, but Sarwar managed to negotiate a one-off, no conditions attached, treaty – following which they were tried and convicted of murder.

When he became governor, he had to rescind his British citizenship. He said, "You can imagine what it was like, going from a small village with no facilities, no sanitation, to Britain and entering the parliament which ruled this country. And for people ruled by the British Raj it is a matter of pride, coming from there and sitting here, where the viceroy used to sit!"


18 James Clark Maxwell: The scientist who formulated electromagnetic theory and had the greatest influence on 20th-century physics

From his early childhood, Maxwell displayed a natural inquisitiveness, always asking how things worked and moved as they did.

In 1841, he went to the Edinburgh Academy. He was a satisfactory student but took great interest in subjects outside the school syllabus, especially geometry, drawing and maths. At the age of 14, he wrote his first scientific paper (Oval Curves).

In 1850, he moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied mathematics under the great tutor William Hopkins. Maxwell graduated with a degree in mathematics and was able to pursue his own research interests.

In 1860, he suffered a serious bout of smallpox, but survived and moved to King's College, London. In his time in London, he became acquainted with Michael Faraday at the Royal Institute and made great progress on his work in electro-magnetism, including a model for electromagnetic induction.

The concept of electromagnetic radiation originated with Maxwell, and his field equations, based on Michael Faraday’s observations of the electric and magnetic lines of force, paved the way for Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which established the equivalence of mass and energy.

Maxwell died in 1879, but his equations for electromagnetism have since been called the "second great unification in physics" after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.

Einstein himself once described Maxwell’s work as the “most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton”.

17 Rita Cowan: Kirkintilloch girl who became the mother of Japanese whisky

The story of the award-winning, globally known Nikka Whisky brand all began in a small town near Glasgow, where a doctor’s daughter met an ambitious young Japanese chemist.

Jessie Roberta “Rita” Cowan was born in 1896 in Kirkintilloch. After her father died in 1918 the family was forced to take in a lodger – an ambitious Japanese chemist named Taketsuru Masataka.

The young couple married – against both families' wishes – and left for a new life in Japan in 1920.

While studying at Glasgow University, Masataka had travelled all around Scotland to follow his true passion: making Scotch whisky.

By 1923, Shinjiro Torii – founder of the Suntory group – had heard of Masataka’s experience in Scotland and hired him to help build a whisky distillery in Yamazaki, Kyoto.

Rita worked as a teacher and the couple were able to set up their own firm – now Nikka Whisky – in 1934 in Yoichi, where the main road is now named Rita Road.

Rita died in 1961, but the strength of her legacy is clean in a 150-episode television series about her life which aired in Japan in 2014/2015.

16 Andrew Carnegie: Industrialist and philanthropist who donated $350 million to help charities, foundations and universities

Dunfermline-born Carnegie emigrated to the US with his parents in 1848 when he was 12.

He worked in a Pittsburgh cotton factory as a boy before working on the railways and rising to the position of division superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1859. While working for the railroad, he invested in various ventures, including iron and oil companies, and made his first fortune by the time he was in his early 30s. In the early 1870s, he entered the steel business, and over the next two decades became a dominant force in the industry.

In 1901, he sold the Carnegie Steel Company to banker John Pierpont Morgan for $480 million.

After he sold the company, Carnegie retired from business and devoted himself full-time to philanthropy. In 1889, he had penned an essay, “The Gospel of Wealth”, in which he stated that the rich have “a moral obligation to distribute [their money] in ways that promote the welfare and happiness of the common man”. Carnegie also said: “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”

He eventually gave away some $350 million, around 90% of his fortune – a sum worth around $5bn in today's money. Among his philanthropic activities, he funded the establishment of more than 2,500 public libraries around the globe, donated more than 7,600 organs to churches worldwide and endowed organisations dedicated to research in science, education, world peace and other causes. Among his gifts was the $1.1 million required for the land and construction costs of Carnegie Hall, the legendary New York City concert venue that opened in 1891. He died in 1919, but the legacy of his generosity lives on a century later.

15 Alexander Cumming: He flushed the stink from our loos

Cumming was not exactly the creator of the first flushing toilet. That stroke of genius is mostly attributed to John Harington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I. But he was the man who solved one of its chief problems. Cumming, a watchmaker and instrument inventor born in Edinburgh, worked out a way to prevent the foul smells from rising back into the room from the sewers. His answer was elegantly simple – and far less complex than most of his other inventions – the forerunner of the U-bend, an S-shaped pipe in which water would sit preventing the backflow of gases.

Cumming also pioneered the microtome, a device for cutting ultra-fine slivers of wood for microscopic analysis. Clever, but not quite so revolutionary.

14 Donald Dewar: Scotland's inaugural First Minister who played a pivotal role in bringing about devolution

Known as the "Father of the Nation", Dewar was first elected as a Labour MP in 1966 – aged 28 – but lost his seat in 1970.

He worked as a solicitor during the 70s and returned to politics in 1978, winning a by-election.

In Scotland's first referendum on devolution, held in March 1979, Dewar campaigned for a "Yes" vote alongside the Conservative Alick Buchanan-Smith and the Liberal Russell Johnston. Though they won a narrow majority, it fell short of the 40% required.

He gained a parliamentary platform as chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. After a year honing his political skills, he joined the front bench in November 1980 as a Scottish affairs spokesman when Michael Foot became party leader.

He rose quickly through the ranks, becoming Shadow Scottish Secretary in November 1983.

It was Dewar who went on to oversee the devolution process that led to the passing of the Scotland Act and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament after a gap of almost 300 years.

The first elections to the Scottish Parliament were held on May 6 1999, with Dewar leading the Scottish Labour Party against their main opponents, the Scottish National Party led by Alex Salmond.

On May 13 1999, Dewar was nominated as First Minister, and was officially appointed by the Queen on May 17.

He died of a brain haemorrhage in October 2000, aged 63.

13 Maggie Keswick Jencks: She started a revolution in cancer care.

In 1996, when the first Maggie’s Centre was opened in Edinburgh, the woman who had inspired their revolutionary new approach to cancer care had been dead for two years. Maggie Keswick Jencks had been told in May 1993 that her breast cancer was back and given two to three months to live, but, after joining an advanced chemotherapy trial, survived for another 18 months.

In that time she and her husband, with her oncology nurse, devised a new method of cancer care, centred on stress-reducing strategies, psychological support, the importance of information and the idea that, as Maggie put it, people should not “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”.

Since the first centre in Edinburgh, more than more have been opened in the UK and overseas. In a world where cancer rates are rising globally, they are refuges of calm, some of them designed, with a holistic view, by some of the world’s greatest architects – Frank Gehry in Dundee, Zaha Hadid in Fife.

12 Robert Burns: His songs and poems are timeless, political and resonant – and he remains a poster boy for a kind of Scottish identity that’s all about the common man

"When Scotland forgets Burns, then history will forget Scotland," said 19th century scholar JS Blackie. But it seems there’s little chance of us, history, or even the world, forgetting the bard whose supper is celebrated every January 25.

The son of a tenant farmer, born in a small town in Ayrshire in 1759, his songs are now, over a quarter of a millennium later, sung all over the world. Back in 2003 the World Bank estimated that Robert Burns boosted the Scottish economy by £157 million.

His life was short – he only lived till the age of 36 – but what an impact. His songs and poems, with their themes of international brotherhood, social equality, nature and romance, still resonate. As Kevin Williamson, Neu Reekie founder, once said: “These songs and verses still inspire solidarity. As long as there is inequality and social elites Burns will remain not just relevant but an iconic symbol of equality.”

Burns expert Professor Gerald Carruthers sees one of his most relevant aspects for our times as being “the sardonic, satirical attitude to authority found in Holy Willie's Prayer or A Man's A Man". Burns mirrors our own “scepticism to government”. But also, as he puts it, his songs, speaking of love, grief, beauty and cruelty, have an enduring resonance: “In our century where the pace of change and our moral and political compasses seem ever-changing, these texts represent a kind of timelessness.”

11 Andy Murray: Revolutionised Scotland's standing in the tennis world and inspired generations to take up the sport

Currently on 45 career titles, Andy Murray is the UK’s most successful tennis player of the Open era, the first Briton to reach 500 ATP match victories and the winner of three Grand Slam singles titles.

Born in Glasgow on May 15, 1987, to Judy and William Murray, Andrew Barron Murray grew up in Dunblane and began playing tennis at just three. He came to the world’s attention in 2004 when he became the world’s number one junior after winning the US Open junior title and was crowned BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

From then on, Murray went from strength to strength – with a few ups and downs along the way – and was ranked second in the world in 2009 before his moment of triumph at Wimbledon in 2013 – the first British male to win the tournament in 77 years – a title he reclaimed in 2016.

But it’s not just his tennis Murray has attracted publicity – some of it unwelcome – for. His famous ‘dour’ persona and dry sense of humour have not always endeared him to the public, or to the press.

This modest Scot is notoriously private – he did not release the name of his second daughter, born to him and wife Kim Sears in 2017 , for some time after her birth.

And the intense media spotlight on his relationship with Sears – with the pair elevated to ‘celebrity couple’ status after meeting in 2005 – was not something he welcomed.

As a former advisor says “all he really wants to do is play tennis.”

“It was a hard slog to get him to accept that the public’s perception actually mattered,” he said. “He could understand the reasoning, but following through with the charm, talking to the press, smiling at people, was a struggle for him. It’s not that he’s boorish. He’s actually a nice lad. But tennis is all that really matters to him.”

Murray is on the leadership team of Malaria No More UK, a charity that raises funds and awareness to save lives in Africa, and a global ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund.

He was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to tennis and charity.

10 Nicola Sturgeon: She redefined independence post-referendum and post-Alex Salmond.

The Daily Mail once called her the most dangerous woman in Britain. When a person is threatening enough to be described as dangerous, you know they have influence – and there is no doubting that Sturgeon, the woman who led the SNP to its massive “tsunami” 2015 victory, had it and still has.

Last month, a Lord Ashcroft poll revealed that Sturgeon, amid the chaos of Brexit, had the highest approval ratings among Scots of any leader in the UK. The news wasn’t surprising. It was just the latest of many such polls and surveys that have told us again and again that she is one of the key leaders of our times, and has a compelling popular appeal.

Earlier this year she stormed into the Forbes list of world’s most powerful women at number fifty. The only Briton above her was Queen Elizabeth II. Less divisive than her predecessor Alex Salmond, she is a plainer speaker, more approachable, regarded as an everywoman. But she’s also a figurehead, an icon of a kind of Scotland that values the common person. For many she is a feminist inspiration. Chelsea Clinton said of her: "I think that her candour will hopefully make it easier for more women to go into politics here in Scotland, and in other places where women are watching her example."

She may not have forged the independence movement in the way Salmond did, but she has defined and guided it, and Scotland, since the 2014 referendum. Born in Irvine, to electrician father Robin and dental nurse mother Joan, and raised in a council house, she was a rookie politician when devolution came about, an MSP in the Scottish Parliament. She chose the SNP, she said in a speech in 2012, “because it was obvious to me then – as it still is today – that you cannot guarantee social justice unless you are in control of the delivery”.

The times she has led Scotland through are exceptional, and she has seemed, frequently, the calm at the centre of the storm that is current British politics – unflappable and sensible. There is also little sign of her disappearing – she could do another term and still only be in her mid-50s. In an interview with Holyrood magazine she said: “I will take the SNP into the 2021 election. If we win the 2021 election, I will do another term as First Minister...”

9 Ali Ahmed Aslam: he was the man who made Indian food the national favourite it is today

Indian cooks say it came from the Punjab, but Ali Ahmed Aslam said he created one of Britain's favourite dishes, the chicken tikka massala

It was a complaint by a customer in his Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow that, so the story goes, prompted Ali Ahmed Aslam to create his first Tikka Massala back in 1970. The man had grumbled that his Chicken Tikka was too dry and asked for some gravy or sauce to put on it. The chef threw together a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, sprinkled in some spices, added some yoghurt and served it up. When in 2009 Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar put forth an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons requesting that Parliament legally recognize Glasgow as the home of chicken tikka masala, He described it as “perhaps one of the earliest examples of the modern fashion for 'fusion' cuisine”. Indian chefs were quick to fight back, saying it was in fact a Punjabi dish. Whatever its origins, it almost always tops the polls for Britain’s favourite curry dish.

There’s no doubting too that the chef made his mark on the UK culinary scene. Known only as “Mr Ali” to generations of Glasgow curry lovers, he was from a family of restaurateurs, the son of Noor Mohammed who ran the Green Gates, regarded as the city's first proper Indian restaurant. The Shish Mahal, opened on Gibson Street was very much a family affair too, with his wife, Sahra at one point making the chapatis. Soon, as the street rapidly filled up with other Indian restaurants, it became known as “curry canyon”.

8 Mary Barbour: She led tens of thousands in the 1915 Glasgow rent strikes, resulting in the introduction of the Rents and Mortgage Interest Restriction Act 1915.

Barbour was living in Govan with her family when the first world war started. It was a time when thousands of workers were flocking to the city to take jobs in the shipyards and munition factories. Landlords were taking advantage of the fact that there was a housing shortage – demand was outstripping supply – and pushed up rents in the teeming tenements. With many men away fighting, it was the women who were hit hard by this – mothers who were struggling to raise families in overcrowded conditions.

Mary Barbour, a political activist since before the war, and a member of the Independent Labour Party, was a galvinising force in a women’s movement campaigning for social improvements and fighting those profiteering landlords.

She set up the South Govan branch of the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association and was joined by many other housewives. They developed a system of keeping watch for the arrival of bailiffs in order to prevent evictions. Barbour's friend and fellow campaigner, Helen Crawfurd described: "This is how they organised the resistance: one woman with a bell would sit in the tenement close, watching while the other women living in the tenement went on with their household duties. Whenever the Bailiff’s Officer appeared to evict a tenant, the woman in the passage immediately rang the bell, and the other women put down whatever work they were doing and hurried to where the alarm was being raised. They would hurl flour bombs and other missiles at the bailiff, forcing him to make a hasty retreat. It is said they even pulled down his trousers to humiliate him!"

On 17 November, 1915, "Mrs Barbour's Army", a crowd of 20,000 people, marched on Glasgow's Sheriff Courts to fight one landlord's attempt to force 18 evictions, many of which involved munitions workers. They were barred from entering the building, but made enough noise and fuss that the court called David Lloyd George, the munitions minister, who ordered the tenants to be released and the cases dropped. The Rents and Mortgage Interest Restriction Act followed.

Barbour would later become one of Glasgow's first two female Labour Party councillors in 1920 and the city’s first woman Baillie. Among her achievements was the setting up of the Women's Welfare and Advisory Clinic, the first family planning clinic in Glasgow. She remains relevant still today, in these times of soaring rents. Last year Richard Leonard proposed bringing in a Mary Barbour Law to introduce rent controls. The Scottish Labour leader described Scotland’s housing system as broken.

7 Andy Kerr: He was the minister who took the second-hand smoke out of our bars and public spaces

When Labour health minister Andy Kerr introduced the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill in 2005, with its ban on smoking in public spaces, it was controversial. Few countries in the world had already set restrictions. Ireland made history when it introduced the first ban on workplace smoking in 2004. But the bill was approved by 97 votes to 17, and suddenly, from one day to the next, in March 2006, the smoke-filled bar disappeared.

The impact on our health and culture has been huge. The law marked a fundamental shift in attitudes towards smoking. Smoking rates are falling. Today fewer than 17% of people smoke. Fewer young people are taking it up. In addition, the global appetite for smoking legislation has grown. Country after country has followed suit.

Last year’s Raising Scotland’s Smoke-free Generation report also proposed a plan to make Scotland “smoke-free by 2034”.

In 2016, on the 10th anniversary of the smoking ban in public spaces, public health ministe, Maureen Watt reflected that it was clear that the ban had been “the right thing to do”.

“The positive impact on our health and our future health is without question. Things have had to change. But few would argue they haven’t changed for the better. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places. Since then, evidence shows that the smoking ban has contributed to a 39 per cent reduction in second-hand smoke exposure in adults and 11-year-old children, a 17 per cent reduction in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome and improvements in the respiratory health of bar workers.”

It was also significant in being one of many acts in which Scotland got there before England. At the time Kerr said it was the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation. "It shows how Scotland can lead the UK. A tribute to the success of devolution. We have been congratulated for going further than the measures that have been proposed for England, but Scotland's problem is far greater – higher numbers of smokers leading to higher risks for public health."

6 JK Rowling: With more than 500 million copies sold, the Harry Potter series is, quite simply, the best-selling book series in history

Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton Business School and author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, in 2015, described Rowling as the world’s most influential person. Partly, he said this because Harry Potter has reached more people than any other book series ever, but also because, as he pointed out: “It affects [people] when they're young and impressionable – and has inspired an entire generation to read, opening the door to many other avenues for education.”

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic," said Albus Dumbledore – and Rowling has given us plenty of that magic. Rowling, who grew up in Gloucestershire, was working as a researcher for Amnesty International when the idea came to her, while sitting on a delayed train, in 1990. It would be seven years, during which she gave birth to her first child and divorced her first husband, of writing in relative poverty, hunkering down in Edinburgh cafes, before the first Potter book, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, was published.

At the time fantasy stories had fallen out of favour, and there was a trend for books based around reality. Her boarding-school tale seemed to hark from another time and its phenomenal success rocked the publishing industry. As did the movies that followed.

Since then, a whole generation of children, now Millennial adults, have been raised with her words, and shaped by them. A fandom universe has sprung into being. It changed the business model for publishing books for kids, creating an appetite for longer books, and a crossover market for adults. There were even Harry Potter editions targeted at the grown-ups. The YA, or "young adult", sector came into existence. A 2012 study found that 55 percent of YA novels are bought by adults, and that boom is partly down to Harry Potter.

Now a multi-millionaire philanthropist, Rowling is also a political writer, activist and influencer through her social media. Her politics and fiction are still coloured by her times of struggle – by, she has said, her times on benefit, and the stigma she felt then. "I was a single parent, and a 'single parent on benefits' to boot. Patronage was almost as hard to bear as stigmatisation. I would say to any single parent currently feeling the weight of stereotype or stigmatisation that I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life."

5 Alexander Graham Bell: His invention of the telephone kicked off our interconnected communications age

On March 7, 1876, Alexander Bell was awarded a patent for a device that could “transmit speech telegraphically”. Three days later, he made his first successful telephone call to his assistant, electrician Thomas Watson, saying the historic first words: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”

The phone in our pocket may seem a world away from the clunky device created by Bell, but that was where it started, the technology that would transform our lives, that would mean that we could listen to each other over great distances.

Bell had grown up in a family fascinated by speech. His father and grandfather were authorities on elocution, and by the age of 16 the young Bell was researching the mechanics of how we speak. He emigrated with his family to Canada, then moved to the United States to teach, where he pioneered a system called “visible speech” which could be used to teach deaf-mute children. While teaching, he met 15-year-old Mabel Hubbard, one of his deaf students, with whom he would fall in love with and marry.

Throughout this time, he was fascinated by the idea of transmitting speech. He realised, he said, “if I could make a current of electricity vary in intensity precisely as the air varies in density during the production of sound, I should be able to transmit speech".

Other pioneers, especially Elisha Gray, claimed they had invented the telephone before him, and Bell experience decades of lawsuits, none of which was successful. At one point in the race to be the first to invent the device, he said: “It is a neck-and-neck race between Mr Gray and myself who shall complete our apparatus first. He has the advantage over me in being a practical electrician – but I have reason to believe that I am better acquainted with the phenomena of sound than he is – so that I have an advantage there.”

The Bell Telephone Company was created in 1887, and made Bell his fortune. He would continue to experiment in a wide range of fields, including communication, medical research, techniques for teaching speech to the deaf (he worked with Helen Keller) and aviation. At 75, he created the largest hydrofoil in the world at the time. He was also one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.

4 John Logie Baird: He gave us television ushering our screen-loving, gogglebox times

When John Logie Baird, the son of a clergyman from Helensburgh, began to apply himself to inventing the first television, he was one of many in pursuit of that dream. He was a fan of HG Wells and, in particular, futuristic stories like The Sleeper Awakes, which contained a description of a table-top television.

As a boy he loved experimenting with electronics, and even rigged up a telephone line connecting his bedroom to his friend's across the street. Later, he would study engineering at the University of Glasgow. His ingenuity was astounding. He created his prototype in a little village called Santa Cruz on the island of Trinidad where he was recovering from an illness, and by 1924 had managed to create a device that transmitted a flickering image across a few feet.

A Times journalist who was present on January 26, 1926, when Baird made his first public demonstration of his new technology, reported: “[The image] was faint and often blurred, but substantiated a claim that through the 'Televisor' it is possible to transmit and reproduce instantly the details of movement and such things as the play of expression on the face.” That face he was watching on the screen was that of Baird's business partner, Daisy Elizabeth Gandy.

The journalist, however, was sceptical. “It has yet to be seen to what extent further developments will carry Mr Baird’s system towards practical use,” he wrote.

By early 1927 the first television sets were for sale in Selfridge’s, and the following year, Baird sent images from London to Glasgow via phoneline and demonstrated colour television for the first time. It wasn’t very much longer – 1932 – that the BBC was in action providing the country’s first 30-line television service. Broadcast television was born and since then, the box, and now the flat screen, has become our friend, the centrepiece of our homes, our connection with the world, news and entertainment. It was the first technology that allowed many people, at once, to see and experience events that were hundreds of miles away. John Logie Baird, did invent a few other devices – the thermal undersock, pneumatic shoes and a video recording device he dubbed Phonovision – but none were quite the hit that telly was.

3 Billy Connolly: He makes the whole world laugh – and shows us how good it is to be alive

The man (or woman) who can really make us laugh has our hearts. A 2012 poll commissioned by Dave television panel, saw him voted the most influential UK comedian of all time. He is also among the world's most recognised Scots. Say the name Billy Connolly and most people will know who you're talking about and perhaps be able to fondly recite one of his routines. Possibly the crucifixion sketch or the one about jobbies.

As Hardeep Singh Kohli once put it: "For me, Connolly put Glasgow on the map; he helped make comedy rock and roll. Tuning into Parkinson and seeing a big hairy man with appalling dress sense who had lived round the corner now being the very epicentre of the comic universe was life-changing. At times, it felt like he held the entire world’s attention. I can’t think of another comedian who has made a greater impact on the world of comedy."

Part of the appeal of Connolly is his own personal story – his connection with working-class Glasgow and the shipyards. At the age of four Billy was abandoned by his mother and looked after by aunts. He attended St Gerard's Secondary school in Govan, before famously going on to work as a welder in the shipyards.

Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago after a doctor spotted him walking strangely through the lobby of a hotel in Los Angeles. Earlier this year he said that he sensed his life "slipping away" - and one of the great sadnesses is that he will not get to grow old "disgracefully" as he had hoped.

He remains one of our best-loved figures. There is no bigger yin. But also, there's no better guide than he to how to live. He is our philospher guru, shining a light on the human condition through humour.

As he once wrote: "Tread gently on anyone who looks at you sideways. Have lots of long lie-ins. Wear sturdy socks, learn to grow out of medium underwear and, if you must lie about your age, do it in the other direction: tell people you're ninety-seven and they'll think you look ****ing great.

"Try to catch a trout and experience the glorious feeling of letting it go and seeing it swimming away. Never eat food that comes in a bucket. If you don't know how to meditate at least try to spend some time every day just sitting.

"Boo joggers. Don't work out, work in....Above all, go to Glasgow at least once in your life and have a roll and square sliced sausage and a cup of tea. When you feel the tea coursing over your spice-singed tongue, you'll know what I mean when I say: 'It's good to be alive!'."

2 Alexander Fleming: When he stumbled upon penicillin, he changed medicine and started the antibiotics revolution

Fleming’s great discovery – the one that won him the Nobel Prize in 1945 – may have been the result of an accident, but was no less momentous for it. In fact, the discovery of penicillin was so significant that Time Magazine named him one of the most important people of the 20th Century. “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for," he once said. "When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.”

On that day, Fleming, who had left out staphylococcus cultures in a few petri dishes while he was away for an August family holiday, noticed, on his return, that there was a strange fungus growing on one of them. The mould, it seemed, had created a bacteria-free circle around it. Fleming experimented and named the active substance penicillin.

Born in Ayrshire in 1881, the son of a farmer, his family would later move to London and he would study to be a doctor. His specialising in bacteriology happened, like many things in his life, almost accidentally, because he was persuaded to be in a particular rifle team. The search for an effective antiseptic, however, quickly became an interest of his. When the First Wold War broke out, most of the staff in his bacteriology lab went to France to set up a battlefield hospital lab. There they found that soldiers were dying quickly from simple infections.

By the Second World War, his discovery, penicillin, was making an extraordinary impact on the number of deaths and amputations of troops. By its end, American companies were making 650 billion units of penicillin a month.

Over ninety years on, the revolution brought about by antibiotics looks under threat. More and more bugs are becoming resistant to them and threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. This wouldn’t have surprised Fleming who reputedly predicted this. Colleague Dr Bill Frankland has recalled: “Fleming said there would be a revolution, but doctors will overuse it, and because bacteria have to survive ... they will become resistant to it.”

1 Dave Jones: His Grand Theft Auto would go on to spawn one of the most successful video franchises of all time, make billions and cause countless parents to fret.

The Grand Theft Auto game Dave Jones launched back in 1997, out of his Dundee studio, DMA Design, was the germ of the titanic open world, popular satire on American culture that GTA is now, but even back then it was so controversial and ground-breaking it caused a seismic culture shock. Players took the role of criminals in a 2D city in which any car could be hijacked and pedestrians were there to be taken out.

Jones would only be involved in the first two games, and it would take Sam and Dan Houser’s Rockstar North, mostly under Leslie Benzies, to develop it into the world-conquering phenomenon it became. But just in kicking off GTA, Jones created a phenomenon that would infiltrate most of our lives and homes and define an entertainment era.

With Max Clifford as publicist, outrage was built up even before the launch, as briefings were given to the public about how the game involved the slaughter of police, and various other elements of antisocial violence. It was denounced by the Police Federation of England and Wales as “sick, deluded and beneath contempt”.

Yet the concept was partly based on a relatively innocent game, Pac-Man. “The ghosts,” Jones said, “were the police and the little dots that Pac-Man used to run around and munch up were the pedestrians”. The original game wasn’t nearly as shocking as the hype has suggested. Nevertheless, GTA was well on its way to becoming, as David Kushner has put it in Jacked: The Outlaw Story Of Grand Theft Auto, “a symbol of what an older generation feared in video games”.

Programmer Mike Dailly, who was DMA Design’s first employee, has recalled how GTA began as game called Race and Chase. “Dave was fascinated by the idea of just giving players the tools and letting them do what they wanted ... I’d no idea GTA would be so big.”

But the impact of GTA remains much debated. One international analysis, looking at 24 studies from different countries, found a correlation between prolonged use of titles like GTA, Call of Duty and Manhunt and increased physical aggression in youngsters – for instance being sent to the headteacher’s office or hitting a non-family member.

Jones’s other big hit wasn’t however quite so controversial. Previously, he had created Lemmings – a game revolutionary in that it was about saving characters from their doom, rather than killing them.

The success of Lemmings, which became the biggest video game in the world, selling over 50 million copies on multiple formats, is one of the reasons why Dundee is such a games capital. One critic compared its impact on the industry as like that of Henry Ford on cars. Dailly said, "When we did Lemmings, we all thought it was great – but we weren’t sure anyone else would. That’s how development works. You should always set out to make a game you enjoy playing.”

More recently, ever innovating, Jones was behind Cloudgine, a cloud-based game engine company, which he sold to Epic Games (maker of Fortnite) last year.