Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. The membership consists of over 1300 peer-elected fellows. It provides annual grants totalling over half a million pounds for research and entrepeneurship. The Society organises public lectures and promotes the sciences in schools throughout Scotland.
The Society's followship has included many famous names.
At the start of the eighteenth century, Edinburgh's intellectual climate fostered many clubs and societies. Though there were several that treated the arts, sciences and medicine, the most prestigious was the Philosophical Society which was founded in 1738. With the help of University of Edinburgh professors like Joseph Black, William Cullen and John Walker, this society transformed itself into the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783 and in 1786 it issued the first edition of its new journal Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
As the end of the century drew near, the younger members like Sir James Hall embraced Lavoisier's new nomenclature and the members split over the practical and theoretical objectives of the society. This resulted in the founding of the Wernerian Society (1808-1858), a parallel organisation that focused more upon natural history and scientific research that could be used to improve Scotland's weak agricultural and industrial base. Under the leadership of Prof. Robert Jameson, the Wernerians first founded Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society (1808-1821) and then the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal (1822), thereby diverting the output of the Royal Society's Transactions. Thus, for the first four decades of the nineteenth century, the RSE's members published brilliant articles in two different journals. By the 1850s, Jameson and his partner Sir David Brewster lost their influence and the society once again could unify its membership under one journal.
During the nineteenth century the society produced many scientists whose ideas laid the foundation of the modern sciences. From the twentieth century onward, the society functioned not only as focal point for Scotland's eminent scientists, but also the arts and humanities. It still exists today and continues to promote original research in Scotland.
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