With the death of Douglas MacEwan on 12 March 2000, at the age of 82, we have lost a scientist of brilliant intellect who made seminal contributions to so many fields. Yet he never reached his full potential in material terms because of the diversity of his interests, his restless spirit and his inability to resist new challenges.

Douglas was born in Edinburgh on 20 June 1917. He was educated at Craigend Park School, a private school where the excellent science teaching inspired him to follow a scientific career. Entering Edinburgh University at the age of 16, he graduated MA,...

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