The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.
The society is governed by its Council, which is chaired by the Society's President, according to a set of statutes and standing orders. The members of Council and the President are elected from and by its Fellows, the basic members of the society, who are themselves elected by existing Fellows. As of 2016, there are about 1,600 fellows, allowed to use the postnominal title FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society), with up to 52 new fellows appointed each year. There are also royal fellows, honorary fellows and foreign members, the last of which are allowed to use the postnominal title ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society). The Royal Society President is Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who took up the post on 30 November 2015.
|The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge|
Coat of arms of the Royal Society. Unlike the coat of arms of the other corporations in Britain that use a closed helmet, the Royal Society uses a barred helmet, reserved for members of the nobility.
|Formation||28 November 1660|
|Remarks||Motto: Nullius in verba|
(Take nobody's word for it)
The Invisible College has been described as a precursor group to the Royal Society of London, consisting of a number of natural philosophers around Robert Boyle. The concept of "invisible college" is mentioned in German Rosicrucian pamphlets in the early 17th century. Ben Jonson in England referenced the idea, related in meaning to Francis Bacon's House of Solomon, in a masque The Fortunate Isles and Their Union from 1624/5. The term accrued currency for the exchanges of correspondence within the Republic of Letters.
In letters in 1646 and 1647, Boyle refers to "our invisible college" or "our philosophical college". The society's common theme was to acquire knowledge through experimental investigation. Three dated letters are the basic documentary evidence: Boyle sent them to Isaac Marcombes (Boyle's former tutor and a Huguenot, who was then in Geneva), Francis Tallents who at that point was a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and London-based Samuel Hartlib.
The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at a variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. They were influenced by the "new science", as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, from approximately 1645 onwards. A group known as "The Philosophical Society of Oxford" was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library. After the English Restoration, there were regular meetings at Gresham College. It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society.
Another view of the founding, held at the time, was that it was due to the influence of French scientists and the Montmor Academy in 1657, reports of which were sent back to England by English scientists attending. This view was held by Jean-Baptiste du Hamel, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and Melchisédech Thévenot at the time and has some grounding in that Henry Oldenburg, the society's first secretary, had attended the Montmor Academy meeting. Robert Hooke, however, disputed this, writing that:
[Cassini] makes, then, Mr Oldenburg to have been the instrument, who inspired the English with a desire to imitate the French, in having Philosophical Clubs, or Meetings; and that this was the occasion of founding the Royal Society, and making the French the first. I will not say, that Mr Oldenburg did rather inspire the French to follow the English, or, at least, did help them, and hinder us. But 'tis well known who were the principal men that began and promoted that design, both in this city and in Oxford; and that a long while before Mr Oldenburg came into England. And not only these Philosophic Meetings were before Mr Oldenburg came from Paris; but the Society itself was begun before he came hither; and those who then knew Mr Oldenburg, understood well enough how little he himself knew of philosophic matter.
On 28 November 1660, the 1660 committee of 12 announced the formation of a "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning", which would meet weekly to discuss science and run experiments. At the second meeting, Sir Robert Moray announced that the King approved of the gatherings, and a royal charter was signed on 15 July 1662 which created the "Royal Society of London", with Lord Brouncker serving as the first president. A second royal charter was signed on 23 April 1663, with the king noted as the founder and with the name of "the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge"; Robert Hooke was appointed as Curator of Experiments in November. This initial royal favour has continued and, since then, every monarch has been the patron of the society.
The society's early meetings included experiments performed first by Hooke and then by Denis Papin, who was appointed in 1684. These experiments varied in their subject area, and were both important in some cases and trivial in others. The society also published an English translation of Essays of Natural Experiments Made in the Accademia del Cimento, under the Protection of the Most Serene Prince Leopold of Tuscany in 1684, an Italian book documenting experiments at the Accademia del Cimento. Although meeting at Gresham College, the Society temporarily moved to Arundel House in 1666 after the Great Fire of London, which did not harm Gresham but did lead to its appropriation by the Lord Mayor. The Society returned to Gresham in 1673.
There had been an attempt in 1667 to establish a permanent "college" for the society. Michael Hunter argues that this was influenced by "Solomon's House" in Bacon's New Atlantis and, to a lesser extent, by J. V. Andreae's Christianopolis, dedicated research institutes, rather than the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, since the founders only intended for the society to act as a location for research and discussion. The first proposal was given by John Evelyn to Robert Boyle in a letter dated 3 September 1659; he suggested a grander scheme, with apartments for members and a central research institute. Similar schemes were expounded by Bengt Skytte and later Abraham Cowley, who wrote in his Proposition for the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy in 1661 of a "'Philosophical College", with houses, a library and a chapel. The society's ideas were simpler and only included residences for a handful of staff, but Hunter maintains an influence from Cowley and Skytte's ideas. Henry Oldenburg and Thomas Sprat put forward plans in 1667 and Oldenburg's co-secretary, John Wilkins, moved in a council meeting on 30 September 1667 to appoint a committee "for raising contributions among the members of the society, in order to build a college". These plans were progressing by November 1667, but never came to anything, given the lack of contributions from members and the "unrealised—perhaps unrealistic"—aspirations of the society.
During the 18th century, the gusto that had characterised the early years of the society faded; with a small number of scientific "greats" compared to other periods, little of note was done. In the second half, it became customary for His Majesty's Government to refer highly important scientific questions to the council of the society for advice, something that, despite the non-partisan nature of the society, spilled into politics in 1777 over lightning conductors. The pointed lightning conductor had been invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749, while Benjamin Wilson invented blunted ones. During the argument that occurred when deciding which to use, opponents of Franklin's invention accused supporters of being American allies rather than being British, and the debate eventually led to the resignation of the society's president, Sir John Pringle. During the same time period, it became customary to appoint society fellows to serve on government committees where science was concerned, something that still continues.
The 18th century featured remedies to many of the society's early problems. The number of fellows had increased from 110 to approximately 300 by 1739, the reputation of the society had increased under the presidency of Sir Isaac Newton from 1703 until his death in 1727, and editions of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society were appearing regularly. During his time as president, Newton arguably abused his authority; in a dispute between himself and Gottfried Leibniz over the invention of infinitesimal calculus, he used his position to appoint an "impartial" committee to decide it, eventually publishing a report written by himself in the committee's name. In 1705, the society was informed that it could no longer rent Gresham College and began a search for new premises. After unsuccessfully applying to Queen Anne for new premises, and asking the trustees of Cotton House if they could meet there, the council bought two houses in Crane Court, Fleet Street, on 26 October 1710. This included offices, accommodation and a collection of curiosities. Although the overall fellowship contained few noted scientists, most of the council were highly regarded, and included at various times John Hadley, William Jones and Hans Sloane. Because of the laxness of fellows in paying their subscriptions, the society ran into financial difficulty during this time; by 1740, the society had a deficit of £240. This continued into 1741, at which point the treasurer began dealing harshly with fellows who had not paid. The business of the society at this time continued to include the demonstration of experiments and the reading of formal and important scientific papers, along with the demonstration of new scientific devices and queries about scientific matters from both Britain and Europe.
Some modern research has asserted that the claims of the society's degradation during the 18th century are false. Richard Sorrenson writes that "far from having 'fared ingloriously', the society experienced a period of significant productivity and growth throughout the eighteenth century", pointing out that many of the sources critical accounts are based on are in fact written by those with an agenda. While Charles Babbage wrote that the practice of pure mathematics in Britain was weak, laying the blame at the doorstep of the society, the practice of mixed mathematics was strong and although there were not many eminent members of the society, some did contribute vast amounts – James Bradley, for example, established the nutation of the Earth's axis with 20 years of detailed, meticulous astronomy.
Politically within the society, the mid-18th century featured a "Whig supremacy" as the so-called "Hardwicke Circle" of Whig-leaning scientists held the society's main Offices. Named after Lord Hardwicke, the group's members included Daniel Wray and Thomas Birch and was most prominent in the 1750s and '60s. The circle had Birch elected secretary and, following the resignation of Martin Folkes, the circle helped oversee a smooth transition to the presidency of Earl Macclesfield, whom Hardwicke helped elect. Under Macclesfield, the circle reached its "zenith", with members such as Lord Willoughby and Birch serving as vice-president and secretary respectively. The circle also influenced goings-on in other learned societies, such as the Society of Antiquaries of London. After Macclesfield's retirement, the circle had Lord Morton elected in 1764 and Sir John Pringle elected in 1772. By this point, the previous Whig "majority" had been reduced to a "faction", with Birch and Willoughby no longer involved, and the circle declined in the same time frame as the political party did in British politics under George III, falling apart in the 1780s.
In 1780, the society moved again, this time to Somerset House. The property was offered to the society by His Majesty's Government and, as soon as Sir Joseph Banks became president in November 1778, he began planning the move. Somerset House, while larger than Crane Court, was not satisfying to the fellows; the room to store the library was too small, the accommodation was insufficient and there was not enough room to store the museum at all. As a result, the museum was handed to the British Museum in 1781 and the library was extended to two rooms, one of which was used for council meetings.
The early 19th century has been seen as a time of decline for the society; of 662 fellows in 1830, only 104 had contributed to the Philosophical Transactions. The same year, Charles Babbage published Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of Its Causes, which was deeply critical of the Society. The scientific Fellows of the Society were spurred into action by this, and eventually James South established a Charters Committee "with a view to obtaining a supplementary Charter from the Crown", aimed primarily at looking at ways to restrict membership. The Committee recommended that the election of Fellows take place on one day every year, that the Fellows be selected on consideration of their scientific achievements and that the number of fellows elected a year be limited to 15. This limit was increased to 17 in 1930 and 20 in 1937; it is currently 52. This had a number of effects on the Society: first, the Society's membership became almost entirely scientific, with few political Fellows or patrons. Second, the number of Fellows was significantly reduced—between 1700 and 1850, the number of Fellows rose from approximately 100 to approximately 750. From then until 1941, the total number of Fellows was always between 400 and 500.
The period did lead to some reform of internal Society statutes, such as in 1823 and 1831. The most important change there was the requirement that the Treasurer publish an annual report, along with a copy of the total income and expenditure of the Society. These were to be sent to Fellows at least 14 days before the general meeting, with the intent being to ensure the election of competent Officers by making it readily apparent what existing Officers were doing. This was accompanied by a full list of Fellows standing for Council positions, where previously the names had only been announced a couple of days before. As with the other reforms, this helped ensure that Fellows had a chance to vet and properly consider candidates. The Society's financial troubles were finally resolved in 1850, when a government grant-in-aid of £1,000 a year was accepted. This was increased to £4,000 in 1876, with the Society officially acting merely as the trustee for these funds, doling them out to individual scientists. This grant has now grown to over £47 million, some £37 million of which is to support around 370 fellowships and professorships.
By 1852, the congestion at Somerset House had increased thanks to the growing number of Fellows. Therefore, the Library Committee asked the Council to petition Her Majesty's Government to find new facilities, with the advice being to bring all the scientific societies, such as the Linnean and Geological societies, under one roof. In August 1866, the government announced their intention to refurbish Burlington House and move the Royal Academy and other societies there. The Academy moved in 1867, while other societies joined when their facilities were built. The Royal Society moved there in 1873, taking up residence in the East Wing. The top floor was used as accommodation for the Assistant Secretary, while the library was scattered over every room and the old caretaker's apartment was converted into offices. One flaw was that there was not enough space for the office staff, which was then approximately eighty. When, for example, the Society organised the British contribution to the International Geophysical Year in 1954, additional facilities had to be found for the staff outside Burlington House.
On 22 March 1945, the first female Fellows were elected to the Royal Society. This followed a statutory amendment in 1944 that read "Nothing herein contained shall render women ineligible as candidates", and was contained in Chapter 1 of Statute 1. Because of the difficulty of co-ordinating all the Fellows during the Second World War, a ballot on making the change was conducted via the post, with 336 Fellows supporting the change and 37 opposing. Following approval by the Council, Marjory Stephenson, Kathleen Lonsdale and Edith Bülbring were elected as Fellows.
The blazon for the shield in the coat of arms of the Royal Society is in a dexter corner of a shield argent our three Lions of England, and for crest a helm adorned with a crown studded with florets, surmounted by an eagle of proper colour holding in one foot a shield charged with our lions: supporters two white hounds gorged with crowns, with the motto of nullius in verba. John Evelyn, interested in the early structure of the society, had sketched out at least six possible designs, but in August 1662 Charles II told the society that it was allowed to use the arms of England as part of its coat and the society "now resolv'd that the armes of the Society should be, a field Argent, with a canton of the armes of England; the supporters two talbots Argent; Crest, an eagle Or holding a shield with the like armes of England, viz. 3 lions. The words Nullius in verba". This was approved by Charles, who asked Garter King of Arms to create a diploma for it, and when the second charter was signed on 22 April 1663 the arms were granted to the president, council and fellows of the society along with their successors.
The helmet of the arms was not specified in the charter, but the engraver sketched out a peer's helmet on the final design, which is used. This is contrary to the heraldic rules, as a society or corporation normally has an esquire's helmet; it is thought that either the engraver was ignorant of this rule, which was not strictly adhered to until around 1615, or that he used the peer's helmet as a compliment to Lord Brouncker, a peer and the first President of the Royal Society.
The society's motto, Nullius in verba, is Latin for "Take nobody's word for it". It was adopted to signify the fellows' determination to establish facts via experiments and comes from Horace's Epistles, where he compares himself to a gladiator who, having retired, is free from control.
The society's core members are the fellows: scientists and engineers from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth selected based on having made "a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science". Fellows are elected for life and gain the right to use the postnominal Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). The rights and responsibilities of fellows also include a duty to financially contribute to the society, the right to stand for council posts and the right to elect new fellows. Up to 52 fellows are elected each year and in 2014 there were about 1,450 living members in total. Election to the fellowship is decided by ten sectional committees (each covering a subject area or set of subjects areas) which consist of existing fellows.
The society also elects royal fellows, honorary fellows and foreign members. Royal fellows are those members of the British Royal Family, representing the British monarchy's role in promoting and supporting the society, who are recommended by the society's council and elected via postal vote. There are currently five royal fellows: The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Kent, the Princess Royal, and The Duke of Cambridge. Honorary fellows are people who are ineligible to be elected as fellows but nevertheless have "rendered signal service to the cause of science, or whose election would significantly benefit the Society by their great experience in other walks of life". Six honorary fellows have been elected to date, including Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve. Foreign members are scientists from non-Commonwealth nations "who are eminent for their scientific discoveries and attainments". Eight are elected each year by the society and also hold their membership for life. Foreign members are permitted to use the post-nominal ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society) and currently number about 140.
The appointment of fellows was first authorised in the second charter, issued on 22 April 1663, which allowed the president and council, in the two months following the signing, to appoint as fellows any individuals they saw fit. This saw the appointment of 94 fellows on 20 May and 4 on 22 June; these 98 are known as the "Original Fellows". After the expiration of this two-month period any appointments were to be made by the president, council and existing fellows. Many early fellows were not scientists or particularly eminent intellectuals; it was clear that the early society could not rely on financial assistance from the king, and scientifically trained fellows were few and far between. It was therefore necessary to secure the favour of wealthy or important individuals for the society's survival. While the entrance fee of £4 and the subscription rate of one shilling a week should have produced £600 a year for the society, many fellows paid neither regularly nor on time. Two-thirds of the fellows in 1663 were non-scientists; this rose to 71.6% in 1800 before dropping to 47.4% in 1860 as the financial security of the society became more certain. In May 1846, a committee recommended limiting the annual intake of members to 15 and insisting on scientific eminence; this was implemented, with the result being that the society now consists exclusively of scientific fellows.
The society is governed by its council, which is chaired by the society's president, according to a set of statutes and standing orders. The members of council, the president and the other officers are elected from and by its fellowship.
The council is a body of 21 fellows, including the officers (the president, the treasurer, two secretaries—one from the physical sciences, one from life sciences—and the foreign secretary), one fellow to represent each sectional committee and seven other fellows. The council is tasked with directing the society's overall policy, managing all business related to the society, amending, making or repealing the society's standing orders and acting as trustees for the society's possessions and estates. Members are elected annually via a postal ballot, and current standing orders mean that at least ten seats must change hands each year. The council may establish (and is assisted by) a variety of committees, which can include not only fellows but also outside scientists. Under the charter, the president, two secretaries and the treasurer are collectively the officers of the society. The current officers  are:
The President of the Royal Society is head of both the society and the council. The details for the presidency were set out in the second charter and initially had no limit on how long a president could serve for; under current society statute, the term is five years.
The current president is Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who took over from Paul Nurse on 30 November 2015. Historically, the duties of the president have been both formal and social. The Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 left the president as one of the few individuals capable of certifying that a particular experiment on an animal was justified. In addition, the president is to act as the government's chief (albeit informal) advisor on scientific matters. Yet another task is that of entertaining distinguished foreign guests and scientists.
The society is assisted by a number of full-time paid staff. The original charter provided for "two or more Operators of Experiments, and two or more clerks"; as the number of books in the society's collection grew, it also became necessary to employ a curator. The staff grew as the financial position of the society improved, mainly consisting of outsiders, along with a small number of scientists who were required to resign their fellowship on employment. The current senior members of staff are:
The Society has a variety of functions and activities. It supports modern science by disbursing nearly £42 million to fund approximately 600 research fellowships for both early and late career scientists, along with innovation, mobility and research capacity grants. Its Awards, prize lectures and medals all come with prize money intended to finance research, and it provides subsidised communications and media skills courses for research scientists. Much of this activity is supported by a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, most of which is channelled to the University Research Fellowships (URF). In 2008, the Society opened the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, intended to invest in new scientific companies and be self-sustaining, funded (after an initial set of donations on the 350th anniversary of the Society) by the returns from its investments.
Through its Science Policy Centre, the Society acts as an advisor to the UK Government, the European Commission, the United Nations on matters of science. It publishes several reports a year, and serves as the Academy of Sciences of the United Kingdom. Since the middle of the 18th century, government problems involving science were irregularly referred to the Society, and by 1800 it was done regularly.
The premises at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace is a Grade I listed building and the current headquarters of the Royal Society, which had moved there from Burlington House in 1967. The ground floor and basement are used for ceremonies, social and publicity events, the first floor hosts facilities for Fellows and Officers of the Society, and the second and third floors are divided between offices and accommodation for the President, Executive Secretary and Fellows.
The first Carlton House was named after Baron Carleton, and was sold to Lord Chesterfield in 1732, who held it on trust for Frederick, Prince of Wales. Frederick held his court there until his death in 1751, after which it was occupied by his widow until her death in 1772. In 1783, the then-Prince of Wales George bought the house, instructing his architect Henry Holland to completely remodel it.
When George became King, he authorised the demolition of Carlton House, with the request that the replacement be a residential area. John Nash eventually completed a design that saw Carlton House turned into two blocks of houses, with a space in between them. The building is still owned by the Crown Estates and leased by the Society; it underwent a major renovation from 2001 to 2004 at the cost of £9.8 million, and was reopened by the Prince of Wales on 7 July 2004.
Carlton House Terrace underwent a series of renovations between 1999 and November 2003 to improve and standardise the property. New waiting, exhibition and reception rooms were created in the house at No.7, using the Magna Boschi marble found in No.8, and greenish grey Statuario Venato marble was used in other areas to standardise the design. An effort was also made to make the layout of the buildings easier, consolidating all the offices on one floor, Fellows' Rooms on another and all the accommodation on a third.
In 2009 Chicheley Hall, a Grade I listed building located near Milton Keynes, was bought by the Royal Society for £6.5 million, funded in part by the Kavli Foundation. The Royal Society spent several million on renovations adapting it to become the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, a venue for residential science seminars. The centre held its first scientific meeting on 1 June 2010 and was formally opened on 21 June 2010.
The society introduced the world's first journal exclusively devoted to science in 1665, Philosophical Transactions, and in so doing originated the peer review process now widespread in scientific journals. Its founding editor was Henry Oldenburg, the society's first secretary.
Through Royal Society Publishing, the society publishes the following journals:
Philosophical Transactions is the oldest and longest-running scientific journal in the world, having first been published in March 1665 by the first secretary of the society, Henry Oldenburg. It now publishes themed issues on specific topics and, since 1886, has been divided into two parts; A, which deals with mathematics and the physical sciences, and B, which deals with the biological sciences. Proceedings of the Royal Society consists of freely submitted research articles and is similarly divided into two parts. Biology Letters publishes short research articles and opinion pieces on all areas of biology and was launched in 2005. Journal of the Royal Society Interface publishes cross-disciplinary research at the boundary between the physical and life sciences, while Interface Focus, publishes themed issue in the same areas. Notes and Records is the Society's journal of the history of science. Biographical Memoirs is published twice annually and contains extended obituaries of deceased Fellows. Open Biology is an open access journal covering biology at the molecular and cellular level. Royal Society Open Science is an open access journal publishing high-quality original research across the entire range of science on the basis of objective peer-review. All the society's journals are peer-reviewed.
The Royal Society presents numerous awards, lectures and medals to recognise scientific achievement. The oldest is the Croonian Lecture, created in 1701 at the request of the widow of William Croone, one of the founding members of the Royal Society. The Croonian Lecture is still awarded on an annual basis, and is considered the most important Royal Society prize for the biological sciences. Although the Croonian Lecture was created in 1701, it was first awarded in 1738, seven years after the Copley Medal. The Copley Medal is the oldest Royal Society medal still in use and is awarded for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science".
The Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society is an academic journal on the history of science published annually by the Royal Society. It publishes obituaries of Fellows of the Royal Society. It was established in 1932 as Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society and obtained its current title in 1955, with volume numbering restarting at 1. Prior to 1932, obituaries were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
The memoirs are a significant historical record and most include a full bibliography of works by the subjects. The memoirs are often written by a scientist of the next generation, often one of the subject's own former students, or a close colleague. In many cases the author is also a Fellow. Notable biographies published in this journal include Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, Bertrand Russell, Claude Shannon, Clement Attlee, Ernst Mayr, and Erwin Schrödinger.Each year around 20 to 25 memoirs of deceased Fellows of the Royal Society are collated by the Editor-in-Chief, currently Malcolm Longair, who succeeded Trevor Stuart in 2016. All content more than one year old is freely available to read.ChemSpider
ChemSpider is a database of chemicals. ChemSpider is owned by the Royal Society of Chemistry.Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, HFRSE LLD (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937), was a New Zealand-born British physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics. Encyclopædia Britannica considers him to be the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday (1791–1867).In early work, Rutherford discovered the concept of radioactive half-life, the radioactive element radon, and differentiated and named alpha and beta radiation. This work was performed at McGill University in Canada. It is the basis for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry he was awarded in 1908 "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances", for which he was the first Canadian and Oceanian Nobel laureate.
Rutherford moved in 1907 to the Victoria University of Manchester (today University of Manchester) in the UK, where he and Thomas Royds proved that alpha radiation is helium nuclei. Rutherford performed his most famous work after he became a Nobel laureate. In 1911, although he could not prove that it was positive or negative,
he theorized that atoms have their charge concentrated in a very small nucleus,
and thereby pioneered the Rutherford model of the atom, through his discovery and interpretation of Rutherford scattering by the gold foil experiment of Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. He conducted research that led to the first "splitting" of the atom in 1917 in a nuclear reaction between nitrogen and alpha particles, in which he also discovered (and named) the proton.Rutherford became Director of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 1919. Under his leadership the neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in 1932 and in the same year the first experiment to split the nucleus in a fully controlled manner was performed by students working under his direction, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton. After his death in 1937, he was honoured by being interred with the greatest scientists of the United Kingdom, near Sir Isaac Newton's tomb in Westminster Abbey. The chemical element rutherfordium (element 104) was named after him in 1997.Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.
Fellowship of the Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, is a significant honour which has been awarded to many eminent scientists from history including Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Michael Faraday (1824), Ernest Rutherford (1903), Srinivasa Ramanujan (1918), Albert Einstein (1921), Winston Churchill (1941), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944), Dorothy Hodgkin (1947), Alan Turing (1951) and Francis Crick (1959). More recently, fellowship has been awarded to Stephen Hawking (1974), Tim Hunt (1991), Elizabeth Blackburn (1992), Tim Berners-Lee (2001), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2003), Atta-ur Rahman (2006), Andre Geim (2007), James Dyson (2015), Ajay Kumar Sood (2015), Subhash Khot (2017), Elon Musk (2018) and around 8,000 others in total, including over 280 Nobel Laureates since 1900. As of October 2018, there are approximately 1689 living Fellows, Foreign and Honorary Members, of which over 60 are Nobel Laureates.Fellowship of the Royal Society has been described by The Guardian newspaper as “the equivalent of a lifetime achievement Oscar” with several institutions celebrating their announcement each year.Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) judges to have made outstanding achievements to social progress and development. In the official language of the Fellowship Charter, the award recognizes the contributions of exceptional individuals from across the world who have made significant contributions relating to the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. Fellowship is only awarded to those who can demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to social change, and support the mission of the RSA. Fellows of the RSA are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRSA. Fellows of the Royal Society of the Arts are entitled to use of the RSA Library and premises in central London.Past and current fellows include leading artists, writers, journalists and former politicians who have made significant contributions to their fields. Previous Fellows have included Stephen Hawking, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Benjamin Franklin, and Nelson Mandela. The Royal Society of the Arts is based in The Strand, near the centre of London, England.Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Canada judges to have "made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life".As of 2017, there are over 2000 living Canadian fellows, including scholars, artists, and scientists such as Margaret Atwood, David Cronenberg, Philip J. Currie and Demetri Terzopoulos.There are four types of fellowship:
Honorary Fellows (a title of honour)
Regularly Elected Fellows
Specially Elected Fellows
Foreign Fellows (neither residents nor citizens of Canada)Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland, judges to be "eminently distinguished in their subject". This society had, in itself received a royal charter in 1783, allowing for its expansion.Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.
In Principia, Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that formed the dominant scientific viewpoint until it was superseded by the theory of relativity. Newton used his mathematical description of gravity to prove Kepler's laws of planetary motion, account for tides, the trajectories of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and other phenomena, eradicating doubt about the Solar System's heliocentricity. He demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and celestial bodies could be accounted for by the same principles. Newton's inference that the Earth is an oblate spheroid was later confirmed by the geodetic measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, convincing most European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over earlier systems.
Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colours of the visible spectrum. His work on light was collected in his highly influential book Opticks, published in 1704. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling, made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.
Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout but unorthodox Christian who privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of alchemy and biblical chronology, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. Politically and personally tied to the Whig party, Newton served two brief terms as Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge, in 1689–90 and 1701–02. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and spent the last three decades of his life in London, serving as Warden (1696–1700) and Master (1700–1727) of the Royal Mint, as well as president of the Royal Society (1703–1727).Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
Philosophical Transactions, titled Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (often abbreviated as Phil. Trans.) from 1776, is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society. In its earliest days, it was a private venture of the Royal Society's secretary. It became an official society publication in 1752. It was established in 1665, making it the first journal in the world exclusively devoted to science, and therefore also the world's longest-running scientific journal. The use of the word philosophical in the title refers to natural philosophy, which was the equivalent of what would now be generally called science.Proceedings of the Royal Society
Proceedings of the Royal Society is the parent title of two scientific journals published by the Royal Society. Originally a single journal, it was split into two separate journals in 1905:
Series A: which publishes research related to mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Series B: which publishes research related to biologyThe two journals are the Royal Society's main research journals. Many celebrated names in science have published their research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, including Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, Ernest Rutherford, and Erwin Schrödinger.All articles are available free at the journals' websites after one year for Proceedings B and two years for Proceedings A. Authors may have their articles made immediately open access (under Creative Commons license) on payment of an article processing charge.Robert Hooke
Robert Hooke FRS (; 28 July [O.S. 18 July] 1635 – 3 March 1703) was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath.
His adult life comprised three distinct periods: as a scientific inquirer lacking money; achieving great wealth and standing through his reputation for hard work and scrupulous honesty following the great fire of 1666, and eventually becoming ill and party to jealous intellectual disputes (the last may have contributed to his relative historical obscurity).
At one time he was simultaneously the curator of experiments of the Royal Society, a member of its council, Gresham Professor of Geometry, and Surveyor to the City of London after the Great Fire of London (in which capacity he appears to have performed more than half of all the surveys after the fire). He was also an important architect of his time – though few of his buildings now survive and some of those are generally misattributed – and was instrumental in devising a set of planning controls for London whose influence remains today. Allan Chapman has characterised him as "England's Leonardo".Hooke studied at Wadham College, Oxford during the Protectorate where he became one of a tightly knit group of ardent Royalists led by John Wilkins. Here he was employed as an assistant to Thomas Willis and to Robert Boyle, for whom he built the vacuum pumps used in Boyle's gas law experiments, and conducted the experiments themselves. He built some of the earliest Gregorian telescopes and observed the rotations of Mars and Jupiter. In 1665 he inspired the use of microscopes for scientific exploration with his book, Micrographia. Based on his microscopic observations of fossils, Hooke was an early proponent of biological evolution. He investigated the phenomenon of refraction, deducing the wave theory of light, and was the first to suggest that matter expands when heated and that air is made of small particles separated by relatively large distances. He proposed that heat was the manifestation of faster movement of the particles of matter. He performed pioneering work in the field of surveying and map-making and was involved in the work that led to the first modern plan-form map, though his plan for London on a grid system was rejected in favour of rebuilding along the existing routes. He also came near to an experimental proof that gravity follows an inverse square law, and first hypothesised that such a relation governs the motions of the planets, an idea which was developed by Isaac Newton, and formed part of a dispute between the two which caused Newton to try to erase Hooke's legacy. He originated the terraqueous globe theory of geology, disputed the literal Biblical account of the age of the earth, hypothesised the idea of extinction, and wrote numerous times of the likelihood that fossils on hill and mountain tops had been raised there by "earthquakes", a general term of the time for geological processes. Much of Hooke's scientific work was conducted in his capacity as curator of experiments of the Royal Society, a post he held from 1662, or as part of the household of Robert Boyle.Royal Society Te Apārangi
The Royal Society Te Apārangi (in full, Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi) is an independent, statutory not-for-profit body in New Zealand providing funding and policy advice in the fields of sciences and the humanities.Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a charitable organisation registered in England and Wales and in Scotland. It was founded in 1889. It works to promote conservation and protection of birds and the wider environment through public awareness campaigns, petitions and through the operation of nature reserves throughout the United Kingdom.The RSPB has over 1,300 employees, 18,000 volunteers and more than a million members (including 195,000 youth members), making it the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe. The RSPB has many local groups and maintains 200 nature reserves.Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) is a London-based, British organisation committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges. Founded in 1754 by William Shipley as the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, it was granted a Royal Charter in 1847, and the right to use the term Royal in its name by King Edward VII in 1908. The shorter version, The Royal Society of Arts and the related RSA acronym, are used more frequently than the full name.
Notable past fellows include Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Nelson Mandela, David Attenborough, William Hogarth, John Diefenbaker, and Tim Berners-Lee. Today, the RSA has Fellows elected from 80 countries worldwide.
The RSA award three medals, the Albert Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal (following a decision by the Board in 2013, the Benjamin Franklin Medal is now overseen by the RSA US, although the final nomination is ratified by the UK Board) and the Bicentenary Medal. Medal winners include Nelson Mandela, Sir Frank Whittle, and Professor Stephen Hawking. The RSA members are innovative contributors to the human knowledge, as shown by the Oxford English Dictionary, which records the first use of the term "sustainability" in an environmental sense of the word in the RSA Journal in 1980.Royal Society of Canada
The Royal Society of Canada (RSC; French: Société royale du Canada), also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (French: Académies des arts, des lettres et des sciences du Canada), is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists. The primary objective of the RSC is to promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the sciences. The RSC is Canada’s National Academy and exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.Royal Society of Chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is a learned society (professional association) in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences". It was formed in 1980 from the amalgamation of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society, and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new Royal Charter and the dual role of learned society and professional body. At its inception, the Society had a combined membership of 34,000 in the UK and a further 8,000 abroad. The headquarters of the Society are at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. It also has offices in Thomas Graham House in Cambridge (named after Thomas Graham, the first president of the Chemical Society) where RSC Publishing is based. The Society has offices in the United States at the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, in both Beijing and Shanghai, China and Bangalore, India.
The organisation carries out research, publishes journals, books and databases, as well as hosting conferences, seminars and workshops. It is the professional body for chemistry in the UK, with the ability to award the status of Chartered Chemist (CChem) and, through the Science Council the awards of Chartered Scientist (CSci), Registered Scientist (RSci) and Registered Science Technician (RScTech) to suitably qualified candidates. The designation FRSC is given to a group of elected Fellows of the society who have made major contributions to chemistry and other interface disciplines such as biological chemistry. The names of Fellows are published each year in The Times (London). Honorary Fellowship of the Society ("HonFRSC") is awarded for distinguished service in the field of chemistry.Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. It is a registered charity, operating on a wholly independent and non-party-political basis and providing public benefit throughout Scotland. It was established in 1783. As of 2017, it has more than 1,660 Fellows.The Society covers a broader selection of fields than the Royal Society of London including literature and history. Fellowship includes people from a wide range of disciplines – science & technology, arts, humanities, medicine, social science, business and public service.Royal Society of Literature
The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) is a learned society founded in 1820, by King George IV, to 'reward literary merit and excite literary talent'. The society is a cultural tenant at London's Somerset House.Royal Society of Medicine
The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) is one of the major providers of accredited postgraduate medical education in the United Kingdom. Each year, the RSM organises over 400 academic and public events. spanning 56 areas of special interest providing a multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and debate. Videos of many key lectures are also available online, increasing access to the Society’s education programme. The RSM is home to one of the largest medical libraries in Europe, with an extensive collection of books, journals, electronic journals and online medical databases. As well as providing medical education, the Society aims to promote an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organisation of medicine, both within the health professions and with responsible and informed public opinion. The Society is not a policy-making body and does not issue guidelines or standards of care.
Presidents of the Royal Society
Glossaries of science and engineering