In a letter to President Sir Joseph Banks, Matthew Flinders suggests that New Holland should be termed Australia. The name appears in the 1806 Philosophical Transactions




The Royal Society approves Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, a mechanical means of computing mathematical tables. Babbage goes on to design Analytical Engines capable of storing programs.


Gideon Mantell, a physician from Lewes in Sussex, describes for the Society some ancient bones he has found while on medical rounds in 1822. The creature is Iguanodon, the first land dinosaur.


William Henry Fox Talbot communicates his process of photogenic drawing to the Royal Society. His colleague Sir John Herschel promptly renames it photographyT the first new art form in centuries.


The British Government awards the Royal Society its first annual Government Grant of £1,000 to be distributed for private individual scientific research. Today, funding scientific research is one of the main roles of the Society.


Charles Darwin receives the Copley Medal. On the Origin of Species (1859) is controversially excluded from the citation, but a speech affirms it is with that work that the public will naturally recollect the honour.


Krakatoa explodes killing an estimated 40,000 people. The Royal Society solicits observations from the public and letters pour in from many nations describing this global phenomenon.


William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh agree to research atmospheric gases in the aftermath of a Royal Society lecture. Ramsay discovers argon, helium, neon, krypton and xenon in a research tour-de-force.

Highlights from our history

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