Sunday, January 10, 2010

542)The Royal Society, London, UK: Celebrating The 350th Anniversary Of The Birth Of Modern Science; Quotes From Blogpost Four Hundred

The Royal Society

The Establishment Of Science

Jan 7th 2010
From The Economist print edition

Celebrating The 350th Anniversary Of The Birth Of Modern Science

THE streets surrounding St James’s Palace in London are dotted with gentlemen’s clubs, many of which now also admit women. This year, one such establishment is marking its 350th anniversary. The club in question is not merely a meeting place for like-minded members, however: it is the society that founded modern science.

The first fellows of the Royal Society, as it is now known, were followers of Sir Francis Bacon, a 17th-century statesman and philosopher who argued that knowledge could be gained by testing ideas through experiments. On a damp and murky night in November 1660, a dozen of them met to hear a lecture by a 28-year-old astronomer called Christopher Wren, who would later become the architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral. Inspired, they determined to meet every week to discuss scientific matters and to witness experiments conducted by different members of the group. In so doing, they invented the processes on which modern science rests, including scientific publishing and peer review, and made English the primary language of scientific discourse.

The French Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666, proved no great rival; the American Association for the Advancement of Science was not formed until 1848. The first account of the Royal Society’s scheme of work, published in 1667, was accompanied by a frontispiece (see picture) showing Charles II, who granted the society its royal charter, with Sir Francis on his left and the society’s first president on the king’s right.

Sir Isaac Newton, who defined the laws of gravity, became president of the Royal Society in 1703. Its members (no more than 44 outstanding British scientists are elected to fellowship each year, along with up to eight foreign members) go on to win Nobel prizes; indeed, 74 of the society’s 1,300 living members are Nobel laureates. Before such honours were bestowed, many worthy of the accolade were fellows of the Royal Society, including Michael Faraday, who discovered electromagnetic induction, Charles Darwin, who uncovered evolution, and William Thomson, who formulated the first two laws of thermodynamics.

Such is the excitement at the Royal Society’s anniversary that Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, has created a year of science-related programming to celebrate it. Bill Bryson, a popular American author, has edited a book on the story of science that highlights the society’s role. The British Museum is holding a series of lectures on science’s contribution to the objects that it holds. The Royal Society itself is organising a festival billed as “a huge and splendid celebration of the joy and vitality of science, its importance to society and culture, and its role in shaping who we are and who we will become”. A proud tradition, indeed.

Related Posts:
The 19 Grand Ideas Of Science: What Is The Universe Made Up Of And How Does It Operate? Quotes Of Aga Khan IV And Others.

A Collection of Posts on this Blog about Great Scientists; Quote of Aga Khan IV.

"Science is a wonderful, powerful tool and research budgets are essential. But Science is only the beginning in the new age we are entering. Islam does not perceive the world as two seperate domains of mind and spirit, science and belief. Science and the search for knowledge are an expression of man's designated role in the universe, but they do not define that role totally....."(Aga Khan IV, McMaster University Convocation, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, May 15th 1987)

"The great Muslim philosopher al-Kindi wrote eleven hundred years ago, "No one is diminished by the truth, rather does the truth ennoble us all"(Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

"It is no exaggeration to say that the original Christian universities of Latin West, at Paris, Bologna and Oxford, indeed the whole European renaissance, received a vital influx of new knowledge from Islam -- an influx from which the later western colleges and universities, including those of North Africa, were to benefit in turn"(Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, Aga Khan UNiversity, Karachi, Pakistan)

"The truth, as the famous Islamic scholars repeatedly told their students, is that the spirit of disciplined, objective enquiry is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity. To quote the great physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina: "My profession is to be forever journeying, to travel about the universe so that I may know all its conditions." "(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"It (Surah of Light from the Quran) tells us that the oil of the blessed olive tree lights the lamp of understanding, a light that belongs neither to the East nor West. We are to give this light to all. In that spirit, all that we learn will belong to the world and that too is part of the vision I share with you"(Aga Khan IV, Speech to the Asia Society, New York, USA, September 25 1979)

"Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields"(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

"Nature is the great daily book of God whose secrets must be found and used for the well-being of humanity"(Aga Khan III, Radio Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan, February 19th 1950)

"One hour of contemplation on the works of the Creator is better than a thousand hours of prayer"(Prophet Muhammad, circa 632CE)

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)