Royal Institution

Royal Institution

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The Royal Institution of Great Britain (often abbreviated as the Royal Institution or RI) is an organization devoted to scientific education and research, based in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

Overview


The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 by the leading British scientists of the age, including Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish FRS was a British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called "inflammable air". He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper "On Factitious Airs". Antoine Lavoisier later reproduced Cavendish's experiment and...

 and its first president, George Finch, the 9th Earl of Winchilsea
George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea
George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea KG PC FRS was an important figure in the history of cricket. His main contributions to the game were patronage and organisation but Winchilsea, an amateur, was also a very keen player....

, 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." Much of its initial funding and the initial proposal for its founding were given by the Society for Bettering the Conditions and Improving the Comforts of the Poor, under the guidance of philanthropist Sir Thomas Bernard and American-born British scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson
Benjamin Thompson
Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford , FRS was an American-born British physicist and inventor whose challenges to established physical theory were part of the 19th century revolution in thermodynamics. He also served as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Loyalist forces in America during the American...

, Count Rumford. Since its founding it has been based on Albemarle Street
Albemarle Street
Albemarle Street is a street in Mayfair in central London, off Piccadilly. It has historic associations with Lord Byron, whose publisher John Murray was based here, and Oscar Wilde, a member of the Albemarle Club, where an insult he received led to his suing for libel and to his eventual imprisonment...

 in Mayfair
Mayfair
Mayfair is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster.-History:Mayfair is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that took place on the site that is Shepherd Market today...

. Its Royal Charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

 was granted in 1800.

History



Throughout its history, the Institution has supported public engagement with science through a programme of lectures, many of which continue today. The most famous of these are the annual Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are a series of lectures on a single topic, which have been held at the Royal Institution in London each year since 1825. The lectures present scientific subjects to a general audience, including young people, in an informative and entertaining manner....

, founded by Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

.

The Institution has had an instrumental role in the advancement of science since its founding. Notable scientists who have worked there include Sir Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

 (who discovered sodium
Sodium
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

 and potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

), Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

, James Dewar
James Dewar
Sir James Dewar FRS was a Scottish chemist and physicist. He is probably best-known today for his invention of the Dewar flask, which he used in conjunction with extensive research into the liquefaction of gases...

, Sir William
William Bragg
William Bragg may refer to:* William David Bragg , cricketer* William Henry Bragg , joint 1915 Nobel Prize winning physicist* William Lawrence Bragg , joint 1915 Nobel Prize winning physicist...

 and Sir Lawrence Bragg (who won the Nobel prize for their work on x-ray diffraction), Max Perutz
Max Perutz
Max Ferdinand Perutz, OM, CH, CBE, FRS was an Austrian-born British molecular biologist, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with John Kendrew, for their studies of the structures of hemoglobin and globular proteins...

, John Kendrew
John Kendrew
Sir John Cowdery Kendrew, CBE, FRS was an English biochemist and crystallographer who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Max Perutz; their group in the Cavendish Laboratory investigated the structure of heme-containing proteins.-Biography:He was born in Oxford, son of Wilford George...

, Antony Hewish
Antony Hewish
Antony Hewish FRS is a British radio astronomer who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 for his work on the development of radio aperture synthesis and its role in the discovery of pulsars...

 and George Porter
George Porter
George Hornidge Porter, Baron Porter of Luddenham, OM, FRS was a British chemist.- Life :Porter was born in Stainforth, near Thorne, South Yorkshire. He was educated at Thorne Grammar School, then won a scholarship to the University of Leeds and gained his first degree in chemistry...

. 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. In total fourteen scientists attached to the Royal Institution have won Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

s. Ten chemical elements including sodium
Sodium
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

 were discovered at the Institution, as well as the electric generator and the atomic structure of crystals.

Presidents


Since 1799, the Royal Institution has had fifteen Presidents and one Acting-President.
  • 1799 - George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea
    George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea
    George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea KG PC FRS was an important figure in the history of cricket. His main contributions to the game were patronage and organisation but Winchilsea, an amateur, was also a very keen player....

  • 1813 - George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer
  • 1825 - Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester
    Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester
    Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester PC, PC , FRS , styled The Honourable Thomas Pelham from 1768 until 1783, The Right Honourable Thomas Pelham from 1783 to 1801, and then known as Lord Pelham until 1805, was a British Whig politician...

  • 1827 - Edward Adolphus Seymour, 11th Duke of Somerset
  • 1842 - Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland
    Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland
    Admiral Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland KG, PC, FRS , styled Lord Algernon Percy until 1816 and known as The Lord Prudhoe between 1816 and 1847, was a British naval commander, explorer and Conservative politician.-Background:Northumberland was the younger son of General Hugh Percy, 2nd...

  • 1865 - Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet
    Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet
    Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet FRS, DCL , was a British physician and travel writer.-Private Life:Born in Knutsford, Cheshire, Holland was the son of the physician Peter Holland and his wife Mary Willets. Peter's sister Elizabeth was the mother of the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, and Mary was the...

  • 1873 - Algernon George Percy, 6th Duke of Northumberland
  • 1899 - Henry George Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland
  • 1918 - Alan Ian Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland
  • 1930 - Eustace Sutherland Campbell Percy, 1st Baron Percy of Newcastle
  • 1945 - Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh
    Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh
    Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh was a British peer and physicist. He discovered "active nitrogen", was the first to distinguish the glow of the night sky....

  • 1948 - John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara
  • 1963 - Alexander Fleck, 1st Baron Fleck
    Alexander Fleck, 1st Baron Fleck
    Alexander Fleck, 1st Baron Fleck KBE was a British industrial chemist.-Background and education:Fleck born and educated in Glasgow. He attained a doctorate of science from Glasgow University in the chemistry of radioactive substances...

  • 1968 - William Wellclose Davis (acting)
  • 1969 - Harold Roxbee Cox, Baron Kings Norton
  • 1976 - Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
    Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
    The Duke of Kent graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 29 July 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, the beginning of a military career that would last over 20 years. He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1961. The Duke of Kent saw service in Hong Kong from 1962–63...


Directors


The leadership of the Royal Institution has had various titles:
  • Director of the Laboratory
  • Director of the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory
  • Director


The last director was Susan Greenfield
Susan Greenfield
Susan Adele Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield, CBE is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords. Greenfield, whose specialty is the physiology of the brain, has worked to research and bring attention to Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.Greenfield is...

.

Andrade controversy


In 1952, Edward Andrade
Edward Andrade
Edward Neville da Costa Andrade FRS was an English physicist, writer, and poet.-Background:Andrade was a Sephardi Jew and is a descendant Moses da Costa Andrade...

 was forced to resign following a complicated controversy over the management of the Royal Institution and his powers as Director, involving a power struggle with Alexander Rankine who was Secretary. Following various resignations and general meetings of members, Andrade was awarded £7,000 by arbitration: the arbitrators blamed the problems on "a lack of clear definition of roles... an outdated constitution, and the inability of the protagonists to compromise". Andrade launched a lawsuit to set the arbitration aside which he lost.

Greenfield controversy


Until 8 January 2010, the Director of the Royal Institution was Baroness (Susan) Greenfield
Susan Greenfield
Susan Adele Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield, CBE is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords. Greenfield, whose specialty is the physiology of the brain, has worked to research and bring attention to Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.Greenfield is...

, but following a review, she was made redundant, and subsequently announced that she would be suing for discrimination.
The RI's official statement stated that:

The Royal Institution today



Today the Royal Institution is committed to "diffusing science for the common purposes of life". Membership is open to all, with no nomination procedure or academic requirements, on payment of an annual subscription. School membership is free.

The Institutions patrons and trustees include:
  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • Vice Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales
  • President: HRH The Duke of Kent
    Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
    The Duke of Kent graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 29 July 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, the beginning of a military career that would last over 20 years. He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1961. The Duke of Kent saw service in Hong Kong from 1962–63...

  • Honorary Vice President: Sir John Ritblat
    John Ritblat
    Sir John Ritblat, educated at Dulwich College, is the Honorary President and formerly Chairman and CEO of The British Land Company PLC an FTSE100 London-based property company...

  • Chairman: Sir Richard Sykes
  • Board of Trustees (appointed 16 May 2011): Prof. Chris Bishop, Howard Covington, Hugh Harper, Prof. Sir Peter Knight, Prof. Sir David Wallace, Prof. Julia Buckingham, Prof. Alan Davies, Dr. Martin Knight, Rod McGregor, Lord Robert Winston.


The Institution's palatial home has been greatly enlarged and redeveloped since 1799, and is a Grade I listed building. As well as the famous Faraday Lecture Theatre, the building contains several function rooms, a substantial library, modern research facilities and a public restaurant.

The Institution (today abbreviated as the Ri) has a substantial public science programme and science for schools programme, holding over one hundred events per year on a wide variety of topics. The Christmas Lectures
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are a series of lectures on a single topic, which have been held at the Royal Institution in London each year since 1825. The lectures present scientific subjects to a general audience, including young people, in an informative and entertaining manner....

 continue today as a series of five televised lectures aimed at children. The Friday Evening Discourses are monthly lectures given by eminent scientists, each limited to exactly one hour, a tradition started by Faraday. These lectures are open to all members of the Royal Institution and their guests. Many other events and lectures are held both at Albemarle Street and at other venues around the country.

Scientific research headed by Professor Quentin Pankhurst continues to be done under the auspices of the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory (DFRL), and indeed this is considered to be one of the UK's most notable labs in nano-science.

Fellows of the Royal Institution may use the initials FRI after their names. Members may use MRI and associate members may use AMRI after their names.

The Faraday Museum


In 1973 the Royal Institution opened a museum dedicated to Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday, FRS was an English chemist and physicist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry....

. It is in the main building in Albemarle Street and is open to the public during 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.

The Royal Institution of Australia


The Royal Institution of Australia, the only other Royal Institution in the world, was opened in Adelaide
Adelaide
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

 on 8 October 2009 by HRH, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

See also


  • British Association for the Advancement of Science
    British Association for the Advancement of Science
    frame|right|"The BA" logoThe British Association for the Advancement of Science or the British Science Association, formerly known as the BA, is a learned society with the object of promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters, and facilitating interaction between...

  • Directors of the Royal Institution
  • Gresham College
    Gresham College
    Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in central London, England. It was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham and today it hosts over 140 free public lectures every year within the City of London.-History:Sir Thomas Gresham,...

  • Hakluyt Society
    Hakluyt Society
    Founded in 1846, the Hakluyt Society is a registered charity based in London, England, which seeks to advance knowledge and education by the publication of scholarly editions of primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material...

  • History of science
    History of science
    The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

  • Learned societies
    Learned society
    A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...

  • Royal Academy of Sciences

  • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
    Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
    The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are a series of lectures on a single topic, which have been held at the Royal Institution in London each year since 1825. The lectures present scientific subjects to a general audience, including young people, in an informative and entertaining manner....

  • Royal Institution of Cornwall
    Royal Institution of Cornwall
    The Royal Institution of Cornwall was founded in Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom, in 1818 as the Cornwall Literary and Philosophical Institution. The Institution was one of the earliest of seven similar societies established in England and Wales. The RIC moved to its present site in River Street...

  • Royal Institution of South Wales
    Royal Institution of South Wales
    The Royal Institution of South Wales is a Welsh learned society founded in Swansea in 1835 as the Swansea Philosophical and Literary Society with objectives:In 1838, the Society received its Royal charter as the Royal Institution....

  • Royal Manchester Institution
    Royal Manchester Institution
    The Royal Manchester Institution was an English learned society founded on 1 October 1823 at a public meeting held in the Exchange Room by Manchester merchants, local artists and others keen to dispel the image of Manchester as a city lacking in culture and taste.The Institution was housed in a...

  • Royal Society
    Royal Society
    The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

  • Science Media Centre
    Science Media Centre
    The Science Media Centre is an organisation which formed following to the United Kingdom House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology's third report on "Science and Society" in 2000....

  • Science outreach
    Science outreach
    Science outreach, also called Education and Public Outreach or simply Public outreach, is an umbrella term for a variety of activities by research institutes, universities, and institutions such as science museums, aimed at promoting public awareness of science and making informal contributions...



External links