William Scott MacKenzie was born in 1920 in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire where his father was a minister in the Presbyterian Church. Although he often quoted his father’s advocacy of brevity (“As a preacher, you save no souls after the first five minutes”), Mac was the most sociable of men and could never break off a story, a tutorial or, best-of-all, an argument, before it had reached its natural conclusion.

Mac went up to St. Andrews before the Second World War where he initially studied Mathematics (acquiring a significant student medal), Chemistry, Physics and Latin. When war broke out he entered the...

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