National Geographic : 1984 Jul
ever knew are still there in the Scottish genius for reliving its past and regaling its present-from the annual marshaling by the Duke of Atholl of his 100-man private army to the flourish of the Edinburgh Festival with its music, drama, vigorous fringe festi val, stirring military tattoo. About that recession, the jobless rate is a discouraging 15 percent and, I was told, some mine and mill towns are economic disaster pockets with half the men idled. Worse, economic doldrums already had sapped Scotland's historic brawn-steel making, coal mining, locomotives, ships. George Younger, Secretary of State for Scotland in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, lives with the economic problem. Even so, his easy laugh put me at ease, an asset in politics. His post combines a legislative role in the House of Commons with diverse executive duties at the apex of the Scottish governmental pyramid. "Scotland led the first industrial revolu tion," he told me in his Edinburgh office at New St. Andrew's House. "Now it is in a second industrial revolution, away from the heavy industries into diversification. We have the third largest concentration of elec tronic plants, after California and Japan." The industrial corridor across Scotland's waist, once a belt of mining and smelting, is becoming a "Silicon Glen" of microchip firms, many parented by Japanese and U. S. companies-Honeywell, Nippon, NCR Corporation, Timex. "These major readjustments cannot be accomplished in a year or even in ten," Mr. Younger said. "But by the turn of the cen tury, while we yet have North Sea oil to ease the transition, I see a Scotland prosper ing in its second industrial coming of age." At Edinburgh's namesake university, one of Britain's venerable in its 401st year, Pro fessor Donald Michie rides the chip's cutting edge by building computers that think. But can they really think? "A hand-held electronic calculator is much cleverer than I am at arithmetic prob lems, but it can't direct brain surgery or bake a cake," Professor Michie explains. "But our computing systems give sensible explana tions of what they are doing, on demand. This is their distinguishing aspect-the fac ulty that was missing at Three-Mile Island."