On Wednesday 28th November 1660 twelve men met at Gresham College in London following a lecture there, and constituted themselves into an association “for the promoting of Experimentall Philosophy”.
Among them was “Mr Boyle”, likely Robert Boyle, son of the first Earl of Cork, born at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, on 25 January 1627, and employer, co-experimenter and friend of Robert Hooke.
The Royal Society was born – although the first Royal Charter for the Society was not granted until 1662, with a second, amended, Charter following a year later.
The Daily Telegraph‘s Tom Chivers adds his thoughts here. And The Guardian enlists out-going President of the Royal Society, and Astronomer Royal, [Lord] Martin Rees, and asks ten big questions for science to answer
Today we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society. It signalled the emergence of a new breed of people – described by Francis Bacon as “merchants of light”. They sought to understand the world by experiment and observation, rather than by reading ancient texts. They were motivated by curiosity, but also engaged with the practical problems of their time – improving navigation, cultivating forests, rebuilding London after the Great Fire, and so forth.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of Francis Bacon…