Little Bits of History

College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 28, 2015
The Royal Society building

The Royal Society building

November 28, 1660: The 1660 committee of 12 announce the formation of a “College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning”. Gresham College was established in London in 1597 as directed in the will of Sir Thomas Gresham. In the 1640s and 1650s, a group of scientists began to discuss their subject matter. They first met at Jonathan Goddard’s house and the first members were known as the 1645 group although others joined later. They disbanded in 1648. They were also called The Philosophical Society of Oxford and their original set of rules are kept even today at the Bodleian Library. After the Restoration, the group moved to Gresham College.

French scientists had been banding together at the Montmor Academy and there is some dispute over whether or not some of the big names in British science had been there prior to the formation of their new group. On this day, their official group was formed and by the second meeting, the King had given his blessing along with a royal charter which was granted on July 15, 1662 making the scientific-based group the Royal Society. The group has been a mainstay of British intellectualism and every monarch since 1550 has been a patron of the society.

Early meetings were not just papers being read, but there were experiments done with the entire group able to witness the outcome. The group also published foreign material for enlightenment of the members. They continued to be associated with Gresham College, but the Great Fire of London in 1666 had them change venues. The college was not destroyed, but the Lord Mayor appropriated the building until London could be rebuilt. They returned to Gresham in 1673. They hoped to create a distinct place for the Royal Society and attempted to collect funding to build it, but it was unsuccessful at the time.

Today, the Royal Society, which now does have it own building, is located at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace in London which is headquarters. And they have a presence at Chicheley Hall, Chicheley, Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. Their motto is Nullius in verba (Take nobody’s word for it). Sir Paul Nurse heads the group comprised of 5 Royal Fellows, 1,450 Fellows, and 120 Foreign Fellows. They remain an independent scientific entity of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with a purpose of promoting excellence in science. They not only offer a variety of publications, both in print and online, but also strive to bring translations of other print works to help spread knowledge. They host about 30 international two-day conferences yearly to help bring understanding to the world. They award good science and their most prestigious award is the Copley Medal, first awarded in 1731.

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education. – George Bernard Shaw

There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; anything that is national is not scientific. – Anton Chekhov

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible. – Charles Krauthammer

Also on this day: The Pitch Experiment – In 2000, the eighth drop in the 73 year old Pitch Experiment dropped.
Night Life & Death – In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove burned.
Hot Off the Presses – In 1814, The London Times was printed using a steam operated press.
Attack – In 2002, the Mombasa attacks took place in Kenya.
There Goes the Groom – In 1528, William Shakespeare was given a marriage license.

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