The coat of arms of the Royal Society
Hey teachers! This year marks the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society, and in honor of that, over the coming year we will be posting some of the scientific profiles of some of its founding, former, and current members for you to share with your class.
But first, a little information about the Royal Society itself!
The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. It was founded in November 1660 in London, and was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II. Its full name is “The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.” The goal of the Royal Society is to “expand the frontiers of knowledge by championing the development and use of science, mathematics, engineering and medicine for the benefit of humanity and the good of the planet.” The Society supports modern science by funding research fellowships, lectures, awards, and grants, offers courses, publishes research and literature, and acts as scientific advisor to Her Majesty Government’s chief scientific advisor, the United Kingdom’s Academy of Sciences, the European Commission, and the United Nations on matters of science.
The society seeks to
- invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation
- influence policymaking with the best scientific advice
- invigorate science and mathematics education
- increase access to the best science internationally
- inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery
The motto of the Royal Society is, “nullius in verba,” which is Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it.” This motto was chosen to indicate the members desire to seek out scientific knowledge by experimentation. In other words, don’t just sit there quietly, try the experiment yourself!
Members of the Royal Society are called Fellows, and are allowed to use the title “Fellow of the Royal Society, or FRS.” For instance, a member of the Royal Society could say, “I am Gertrude Pifflesnarf, FRS.” Fellows are selected for their scientific excellence by existing members of the Royal Society. Only 44 Fellows are chosen each year, and are given lifelong fellowship status. The society also includes Royal Fellows, Honorary Fellows, and Foreign Fellows. Foreign Fellows are called (Foreign Member of the Royal Society, and they get to use the title “ForMemRS.” For instance, Albert Einstein, who was a Foreign Member, could say “I am Albert Einstein, ForMemRS.”
Some of the members of the Royal Society, past and present, are Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson and Stephen Hawking. Today there are approximately 1,500 Fellows and Foreign Members, including more than 70 Nobel Laureates.
Happy 350th Birthday, Royal Society! We can’t wait to learn more about your fantastic Fellows!