The History of the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural

Science owes some of its most important developments to a single group of men and the society they started over four-hundred and fifty years ago. This society’s name is The Royal Society of London For the Improvement of Natural Knowledge (Royal Society for short). The society broke through the old ways of thinking and brought into light scientific truths. Its members include many men who have left their mark on the world through life changing inventions and ground breaking scientific theorems.

Officially the R.S. was founded at Gresham College by 12 men on November 28th 1660, but the founding members of the Royal Society began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss the ideas of Francis Bacon. The Group included Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and William, Viscount Brouncker. The purpose of the society was to witness experiments and to discuss scientific topics. From the Society flowed a vast amount of controversial studies that many at the time thought balsams and even treasonable, but the Society also founded a library as well as a museum of specimens of scientific interest. Due to the Fire of 1666 the Royal Society moved its headquarters to Arundel House. This house belonged to the Duke of Norfolk. In 1710 Isaac Newton moved the Society into two houses in Crane Court. From here the Society began its own publishing of books and even a scientific journal by the name of Philosophical Transactions. Today the Royal Society still works hard at furthering the scientific fields. Every year the Society elects around 44 members into their Fellowship. The Society is an independent academy aimed at promoting the natural and applied sciences. They believe themselves to have three roles, which are as a UK academy of science, a learned Society and as a funding agency. It prides itself by responding to individual demands with selection by merit not by field.

Many members of the Society are seen as being the most influential men in the history of science. Some of these members include Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and Isaac Newton.

Robert Boyle, born in 1627, is noted for his work in physics and chemistry. He was not only a founding member of the Society but he could be considered one of the first modern chemist although he did have his roots in alchemical traditions. It is perhaps his cornerstone book The Sceptical Chymist that showed his forward thinking and made him more then just an Alchemist.

Robert Hooke, born in 1635, has been called one of the greatest experimental scientists of the seventeenth century. He became Curator of Experiments for the Society in 1662. Hooke has been credited for discovering Hooke’s law of elasticity. One of his most famous books is entitled Micrographia. The books showed for the first time microscopic observations of many things. Hooke discovered many things in the field of biology, including the term cell. Although he was such a contributor to the field of biology he ended up being a Professor of Geometry at Gresham College.

Sir Isaac Newton, born 1642, was perhaps one of the most multi-talented members of the Society. He is considered an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, philosopher and even an alchemist. He is most definitely a man of great genius. It is because of Isaac Newton’s book the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, that the world understands universal gravitation. Newton set the ground work for classical mechanics. Isaac Newton’s roll in the Royal Society grew over the years to such a extent that he became its president of the Society in 1703. He spent the rest of his life as the president till his death in 1727.

In Robert Boyle’s masterpiece The Sceptical Chymist or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes he presented a hypothesis that matter consisted of atoms and clusters of atomes in motion and that every phenomenon was the result of collisions of particles in motion. In the end he hoped to show that Chemistry should not be subservient to alchemy.

In physics, Hooke’s law of elasticity states that if a force is applied to an elastic spring or prismatic rod, its extension is linearly proportional to its tensile stress and modulus of elasticity. Hooke published this law as ceiiinosssttuv, which he later revealed to mean ut tensio sic vis, or the force. Hooke very much enjoyed anagrams. The law itself is not actually a law but an approximation that holds for only some materials under certain loading conditions. These objects are called hookean. One hookean material is steel. For aluminum on the other hand the law is only valid for a portion of the elastic range. Then theres materials like rubber where the law can not be applied at all. This is why materials like rubber are called non-hookean.

Newton’s law of universal gravitation states the following. Every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force directed along the line of centers of mass for two objects. This force is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the separation between the centers of mass of the two objects. Given that the force is alonge the line through the two masses. Newton published this law in one of the three volumes of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. On Jun 30 1686 the Royal Society gave authorization to license it for publication, but unfortunately the Society had spent their book budget on a history of fish, so the initial cost of publication was borne by Edmund Halley ( founder of Halley’s comet).

As one can see the Royal Society as and is doing much for the world of science. It is hard to believe that so many things have come from this group of individuals. It is fair to guess that many more great inventions and revelations will be made by this grand Society of Science.