The Royal Society of London is claimed to be the oldest learned society still in existence. It was founded in 1660. The Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1782, is also closely affiliated with it. The Royal Society of Edinburgh (founded 1783) is a separate Scottish body.
The premises of the Royal Society in London.
Although a voluntary body, it serves as the national academy of the sciences in the United Kingdom. It is a member organisation of the Science Council.
It's possible that the Royal Society was one of the first documented aspirations toward Open Content; they imagined a network across the globe as a public enterprise, an "Empire of Learning". They also were one of the first documented cases of attempting to deal with having content available to address language and languages within the Sciences, and strove to remove language barriers. Dedicated to the free flow of information, the Royal Society despised secrecy and encouraged communication.
Several famous scientists were either the founding members or involved during its history. The early group included Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Robert Hooke, William Petty, John Wallis, John Wilkins, Thomas Willis and Sir Christopher Wren. Isaac Newton demonstrated his theory of optics to them, and later became president of the society. The motto "Nullius in Verba" means literally "On the words of no one" signifying the Society's commitment to establishing the truth of scientific matters through experiment rather than through citation of authority. Although this seems obvious today, the philosophical basis of the Royal Society differed from previous philosophies such as Scholasticism, which established scientific truth based on deductive logic, concordance with divine providence and the citation of such ancient authorities as Aristotle.
Thomas Bayes first presented his theorem at the society.
A selected list of presidents
Mace of the Royal Society, granted by Charles II
See also: The complete list of Presidents of the Royal Society
The coat-of-arms of the Royal Society as a stained-glass window. The motto is 'Nullius in verba'.
Last updated: 10-17-2005 16:47:57