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Societas Regalis Edinburgi

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Keir has become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh which was created by Royal Charter at the height of the Enlightenment in 1783. Above he is being formally admitted by its President, Sir John Arbuthnott on 20 May (photo courtesy of the RSE). The RSE is Scotland's national academy, with strong leanings towards science and technology. It stands in a beautiful domed building in George Street where we enjoyed mingling with other Fellows and families after the formal ceremony: the language level of the smalltalk was impressive, but plenty of wine helped to lubricate the proceedings. 

For the 47 Fellows admitted last week, the vocabulary level involved in the citations was challenging. Honorary Fellows included Sir David Cox (Nuffield College), one of the world's leading statisticians, Robbert Dijkgraaf (Princeton) who "has uncovered new structures in topological string theory, quantum states of black holes and supersymmetric gauge theories" and Jean Tirole (University of Toulouse) whose research covers applications of game theory to corporate finance, banking and currency crises (!). So it was a relief to read Michel Virlogeux's citation, which included the design of the Millau Viaduct whose elegance is more easily appreciated (courtesy fotopedia.com).

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Given the average number of higher degrees and academic honours of his fellow Fellows, some might think that Keir (who has only a first degree) is lacking in credentials. Of course I am biased, but I believe that his lifelong work at the leading edge in Scottish education means that his participation in the RSE will reflect well on the Society, albeit vice versa, the RSE has certainly honoured him. Furthermore he was the only Fellow to mention his family in his biographical note. I can't resist sharing a clipping from his certificate.

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