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William, Scottish physicist, 1768-1851. See: Nicol prism.
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Artistic endeavors moved to the back burner during Nicols' high school years, when his extra-curricular time was dominated by sports.
Within months, Nicols was producing "reasonably credible" paintings of scenes like an osprey clutching a fish and a group of duck hunters silhouetted against a sunrise.
Back in Mississippi, Nicols divided time between a successful professional career and late nights and weekends spent before the easel.
Now retired from his "day job," Nicols is free to pick up the brush and palette more often.
Much of Nicols' current inspiration comes from the natural world surrounding his 450-acre farm, as well as the flora and fauna he happens upon in other parts of Mississippi.
Asked to name his greatest artistic accomplishment, Nicols discounts obvious choices like the 2008 one-man show sponsored by the Greater Jackson Arts Alliance, or even the sheer volume of paintings--around 1,000--and prints--more than 5,000--he has created over the years.
Nicol once wrote comedy for Norman Wisdom but the audience at Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre failed to see the funny side when he compered a clairvoyants' night five years ago.
But Ian recalled Nicol had an innovative way of escaping the baying crowd - by hypnotising them.
But Keegan couldn't wait for Nicol to appear in front of his England squad before last Saturday's match with Poland - which they went on to win 3-1.
It was a remarkable turnaround for Nicol, who has been involved in several forms of showbusiness throughout his career.
Nicol says that over the years he has successfully bounced back from several setbacks - including divorce, bankrupcy and cancer.
Now Nicol, of Livingston, West Lothian, himself lectures businessmen on how to motivate themselves and their workers.