Royal Institution

The Royal Institution of Great Britain was set up in 1799 by the leading British scientists of the age, including Henry Cavendish and its first president George Finch, the 9th Earl of Winchilsea, for "diffusing the knowledge, and facilitating the general introduction, of useful mechanical inventions and improvements; and for teaching, by courses of philosophical lectures and experiments, the application of science to the common purposes of life."

It is situated in palatial premises in London's Albemarle Street, and boasts a substantial library in addition to the lecture theatre, function rooms and various research facilities. Membership is open to all on payment of an annual subscription, with no nomination procedure or academic requirements.

The institution gained its Royal Charter in 1800 and supports public engagement with science through various lectures, many of which continue today. The most famous of these are the Christmas Lectures for Children, founded by Michael Faraday The Friday Evening Discourses (or earlier Thursday Evening discourses) are a series of lectures by eminent scientists, each limited to exactly one hour. At the end of the hour a chime informs the speaker if he is running behind. It also has a substantial public science programme and science for schools programme.

In the 19th century Faraday carried out much of the research which laid the groundwork for the practical exploitation of electricity at the Royal Institution. More recently, fourteen of the Royal Institution's resident scientists have won Nobel Prizes. Ten chemical elements including sodium were discovered at the Institution, as well as the electric generator and the atomic structure of crystals. Science research continues there to this day.

As of 2005, the Royal Institution is seeking to raise 24 million to redevelop its premises. The architect is Sir Terry Farrell.

Michael Faraday Museum

In 1973 the Royal Institution opened a museum dedicated to Michael Faraday. It is in the main building in Albemarle Street and is open to the public during normal weekday office hours. There is a reconstruction of one of Faraday's laboratories and a second room containing further historic apparatus and other items associated with Faraday.

See also

British Association for the Advancement of Science

External links


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