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Royal Society Publishes Rare Scientific Studies Online

November 30, 2009

The Royal Society said on Monday that historic manuscripts by Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and other groundbreaking scientists would be published online for the first time.

As part of celebrations to mark its 350th anniversary, the world’s oldest scientific institution will release famous literature on the web that it has published in its journals over the centuries.

Among the important works being published online are a 1770 scientific study confirming that composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a genius and, more recently, acclaimed scientist Stephen Hawking’s early writings on black holes.

The interactive site, which is being called “Trailblazing,” contains 60 articles chosen from among the 60,000 that have appeared in the Royal Society’s journals.

A gruesome account of a 17th-century blood transfusion will be published on the site, as well as Newton’s theory on light and colors in the 1600s — that continues to provide the basis for theoretical physics.

Also appearing on the site will be a paper by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, which detailed his experiment to fly his kite in a storm to prove that lightning is electricity rather than a supernatural force.

Rees said the Royal Society will also be running events over the next year to celebrate its anniversary and to inspire scientists, families, young people and interested members of the public alike to see further into science.

The Royal Society was established on November 28, 1660, when 12 members met at London’s Gresham College to discuss the ideas of the philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon.

The society then met weekly to witness experiments and discuss scientific topics. The name “Royal Society” first appeared in print in 1661.

The society now supports young scientists and influences scientific debate.

“The scientific papers on Trailblazing represent a ceaseless quest by scientists over the centuries, many of them Fellows of the Royal Society, to test and build on our knowledge of humankind and the universe,” said Royal Society president Lord Martin Rees.

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