1700s

1714

The first English account of inoculation against disease appears in the Philosophical Transactions. The fight against smallpox in the West begins, ending in global eradication by 1979.

Smallpox

1723

The first Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, Philip Henry Zollman, is appointed, 59 years before the UK Government appoints its first Foreign Secretary.

1723

1727

Sir Hans Sloane becomes President of the Royal Society. On his death in 1754, Sloane's collections, including much Royal Society-related material, became the core of the British Museum.

Sloane

1736

The Royal Society Copley Medal is established from an endowment of £100 received from the estate of Sir Godfrey Copley in 1709. It is Britain's oldest scientific honour, a prestigious forerunner of the Nobel Prize. Winners of this award include Charles Darwin, for his work in geology, zoology and botanical physiology, and then later his son George, for his tidal research.

Medal

1752

Benjamin Franklin demonstrates the electrical nature of lightning using a kite and key in a paper to the Royal Society. It is still the world's most famous scientific experiment.

Lightning

1768

The Royal Society backs an expedition to observe the transit of Venus from Tahiti. The vessel Endeavour, commanded by Lieutenant James Cook, reaches Australia and New Zealand.

Venus

1769

The geologist Rudolf Eric Raspe is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His most enduring work relates the fantastic and unreliable Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1785).

Raspberry

c.1778

President of the Society Joseph Banks began 'conversaziones' as an opportunity for Fellows to demonstrate their cutting edge research to the rest of the Fellowship. Paid for entirely out of his own pocket, and held at his house, these have since developed into the annual public Summer Science Exhibition.

1778

1774

The Royal Society publishes letters on ornithology by curate Gilbert White. His systematic records will create the Natural History of Selborne (1784), the most popular nature book of all.

Bird

1781

William Herschel discovers a new body in the solar system. Sensationally it is a planet, reported to the Royal Society as Georgium Sidus [George's Star] by 1783 and eventually renamed Uranus.

Herschel

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To recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

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