The Royal Society: 350 Years

This week marks the beginning of the 350th year for The Royal Society of the UK, founded November 28, 1660, and the oldest scientific society in the world.  In order to mark the event, the Society plans a number of special activities and events.  One that you can look at now is the Trailblazing web site,  which has a timeline of selected historical publications from Philosophical Transactions, the Society’s journal.  Some of the articles include:

  • Sir Isaac Newton’s 1672 paper on the theory of light and colours
  • Observations of the solar eclipse of 1715
  • Ben Franklin’s 1752 report of flying a kite in an electrical storm
  • James Clerk Maxwell’s 1865 paper on the electromagnetic field
  • Observations of the 1920 solar eclipse, testing General Relativity
  • A 1954 paper by Crick and Watson on the structure of DNA

There are also markers on the time line for historical events, such as the Great Fire in London, and the American Civil War.  For each of the papers listed, there is a brief summary, and a facsimile of the paper itself can be downloaded as a PDF.

It’s fascinating to be able to see some of this work as it was originally presented.

Update Tuesday, December 1, 23:18

Wired Science now has a short article reviewing their “greatest hits” from the scientific papers at the Trailblazing site.

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