The Scott Blair Collection

Aberystwyth University

The Scott Blair Collection of books, pamphlets, journals and reprints is housed in room 420 adjacent to the Physical Sciences Library on the fourth floor of the Physical Sciences Building, Aberystwyth University.

The books and research papers of Scott Blair were donated to the British Society of Rheology and later deposited in the Library of Aberystwyth University in the early 1980’s. After the death of his widow in 1988 a legacy of £10,000 was bequeathed to the Society “for the purposes of maintaining and improving the library facilities enjoyed by the Society in connection with the research papers...”

The collection has over 550 books and the aim is to develop this “into an up-to-date library of rheological literature available to all members”. Included in the collection are some of Scott Blair’s publications such as Agricultural rheology, An introduction to industrial rheology, Measurements of mind and matter, Elementary rheology and Rheology in relation to pharmacy and medicine. Some of these books are extensively annotated by the author. Rheology abstracts and the British Society of Rheology Bulletin are two journals published by/for the Society which form an important of the Collection. There is a manual index to the Reprint Collection whilst the books and journals are catalogued online. Access via:

The official Custodian of the collection is Professor Simon Cox, Institute of Mathematics and Physics, Aberystwyth University. E-Mail:

Management of the collection is undertaken by Collection Management who would be pleased to receive general enquiries. E-Mail: telephone number: 01970 621891.

G.W. Scott Blair (1902-1987)

Dr George William Scott Blair was born on 23 July 1902, of Scottish ancestry, in Weybridge, England. After leaving school he read chemistry at Trinity College, Oxford where his tutor was Sir Cyril Hinshelwood. After graduating he was employed as a colloid chemist in Manchester where he worked on viscosity of flour suspensions. In 1926 he was offered a post in the Physics department of the Rothamsted Experimental Station, working on soil science, where he remained for ten years.

For the next thirty years he was employed by the National Institute for Research in Dairying, University of Reading. Here he worked on the rheology of butter, cheese and cheese curd. He also studied the properties of mucus from the uterine cervix of the cow, which resulted in early detection of pregnancy, with correct results at 28 days after conception in healthy cows.

Eventually this work interested gynaecologists and during the war he went to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford to work on cervical secretions in women.

Scott Blair’s research papers also cover areas such as biorheology and psychorheology. After he retired in 1967 he worked on the flow and coagulation of blood at the Oxford Haemophilia Centre. In 1969 he was awarded the Poiseuille Gold Medal of the International Society of Haemorheology (now Biorheology) and in 1970 he received the Founders Gold Medal of the British Society of Rheology.

Outside his profession his interests included music, modern languages and the philosophy of science.

Definition and applications of rheology

Rheology is defined as the science of the deformation and flow of matter. According to the McGraw Hill Encyclopaedia of Physics ‘.... the less dense the state of matter, the more easily deformable it ordinarily is ....’ The viscosity of a gas increases with temperature. Solids and liquids, however, become more fluid with temperature rise. Polymer rheology deals with polymeric materials such as plastics and synthetic rubber and biorheology deals with biological fluids such as blood and mucus.

Rheology is derived from the Greek word rhein meaning ‘to flow’. Scott Blair attempted to trace the history of rheology back to the Sumerian, Chinese, Egyptian and Greek peoples. At a later period rheology can be traced back to the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and also to Galileo. In the seventeenth century Robert Hooke did a great deal of work on the elasticity of solids and Isaac Newton in his famous Principia discusses the response of fluids to a steady shearing motion.

The way liquids flow and solids deform is clearly seen in all aspects of daily life. The science of rheology affects the consistency of toothpaste, how margarine spreads on your daily bread, the texture of cream cheese, mayonnaise, ice cream and even the lubrication of joints in the human body. The processing of crude oil and the moulding of plastics are two manufacturing industries heavily dependent on the science of rheology.

British Society of Rheology

The very first meeting that rheologists ever held was in 1929 which was when the term ‘rheology’ was officially adopted and a Society of Rheology founded. This was intended to be an international Society but in fact it became the American Society, other countries forming their societies at a later date.

The British Society of Rheology , which is a registered charity, was not founded until 1940 and by now it has over 600 members. The aim of the Society is the “bringing together of rheologists and of promoting rheology as a science to the public at large.”

G. W. Scott Blair was President of the British Society from 1949 -1951.


The archives of the Society, which are housed in the Strong Room of the Hugh Owen Library, Aberystwyth University, are available to members of the Council of the British Society of Rheology by prior arrangement with Professor Simon Cox, Institute of Mathematics and Physics, Aberystwyth University. E-Mail: telephone number: 01970 622764


Reprints for previously published materials on the subject of Rheology dating back to 1905 are arranged alphabetically by surname. For further information please contact Collection Management on: E-Mail: telephone number: 01970 621891.