John Scott Rusell, Scottish civil engineer and naval architect, c 1870s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph. John Scott Rusell (1808-1882) graduated from Glasgow University in 1825, aged just 17, going on to teach mathematics and natural philosophy at Edinburgh University. In the 1830s he began research into wave-generation and its effects, which resulted in his discovery of the 'solitary wave'. He moved to London in 1844 and, in collaboration with Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), built the pioneering iron steam ship the Great Eastern (1856). He also designed HMS Warrior (1860), the largest and fastest ship of its day, which revolutionised warship construction. He was Secretary of the Society of Arts from 1845-1850, and Secretary to the Committee behind the Great Exhibition of 1851. He became one of the founders of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1860.