Article excerpt

Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge


Is it true Kilmarnock Academy has had more Nobel Prize winners than any British school?

KILMARNOCK Academy in East Ayrshire, established in 1807, and now a comprehensive, is the only school in Scotland to have two Nobel laureates as former pupils -- Lord John Boyd Orr (1880-1971) and Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955).

Boyd Orr was a teacher, doctor and biologist whose experience of the Glasgow slums led to his crusade for better nutrition.

He founded The Rowett Research Institute Of Nutrition and lobbied for the improvement of people's diets, after being decorated in World War I. He was awarded the Military Cross after the Battle of the Somme and the Distinguished Service Order after Passchendaele, where he had shown extreme courage treating the wounded in no-man's land.

After World War II, Boyd Orr was made director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. When he resigned from the FAO, he became director of several companies and proved a canny investor in the stock market -- making a considerable personal fortune.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949 and donated the entire financial award to organisations devoted to world peace and a united world government.

In 1960, Boyd Orr was elected the first president of the World Academy of Art and Science, set up by eminent scientists concerned about the potential misuse of scientific discoveries, notably nuclear weapons. Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of the antibiotic penicillin not only saved countless lives but spawned the global pharmaceutical industry.

Fleming was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945, sharing it with Sir Howard Florey and Sir Ernst Boris Chain, who established the method of mass producing the medicine.

In England, Harrow and Westminster schools have three Nobel laureates apiece.

Harrow has John William Strutt, Baron Rayleigh (1842-1919) who earned the 1904 Physics Prize for his discovery of the inert gas argon. Sir John Galsworthy (1867-1933), author of the Forsyte Saga, won the Literature Prize in 1932 and Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) won the same award in 1953 for works including The Second World War and History Of The English Speaking Peoples.

Westminster has Edgar Adrian (1889-1997), recipient of the 1932 Physiology or Medicine Prize jointly with Sir Charles Sherrington for work on the function of neurons. Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley (1917-2012), half-brother of Brave New World author Aldous, was awarded the 1963 Physiology or Medicine Prize jointly with Sir John Carew Eccles and Sir Alan Hodgkin for their work into unitary electrical events in the central and peripheral nervous system.

Sir John Richard Nicholas Stone (1913-1991) was awarded the 1984 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for developing an accounting model for tracking economic activity on a national and, later, an international scale.

Mr T. Hester, Edinburgh.


Why does the human voice rise in pitch when a person is angry?

THE human voice is a versatile instrument that can express meaning not only through words, but also through loudness (volume), prosody (rhythm) and in this case pitch -- the measure of how high or low a voice is.

Pitch is mainly determined by the speed of vibration of the vocal cords: the higher the pitch, the faster the rate of vibration, and the lower the pitch the slower the rate of vibration.

Strong emotion, such as anger, activates the sympathetic nervous system, the branch of the autonomic system that activates the glands and organs that defend the body against attack. …