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James Dinwiddie was a Scottish physicist, astronomer, inventor and natural philosopher. He was born in 1746 in Dumfries, Scotland and educated at Edinburgh University. In 1779 he began writing his series Queries and Hints, scientific journals covering fields of research including history, physics, chemistry, engineering and military tactics. In 1781 Dinwiddie embarked on a lecture series around the United Kingdom. In 1792 he was invited to join Lord Macartney's embassy to China as an experimentalist and mechanic, lecturing on physics and demonstrating British astronomical techniques at the imperial court. When the embassy returned to Britain, Dinwiddie asked to be left behind and went to India, where he was appointed Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the College of Fort William. Dinwiddie left Calcutta in September 1806 and resettled in London, where he continued to lecture and write scientific journals. In July 1810 he was elected to the Royal Institution and made a member of the Committee of Mathematics, Mechanics, and Mechanical inventions. He died in 1815.