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Royal Society papers provide science, history resources

The 350th anniversary of Britain's Royal Society (making it the world's oldest scientific institution) will be marked by the release of a vast library of papers online from the likes of Sir Isacc Newton and Benjamin Franklin. This isn't just science nerd stuff, though.

The 350th anniversary of Britain's Royal Society (making it the world's oldest scientific institution) will be marked by the release of a vast library of papers online from the likes of Sir Isacc Newton and Benjamin Franklin. This isn't just science nerd stuff, though. This is a treasure trove of history that is easily connected to modern scientific thought.

The library itself can be found at trailblazing.royalsociety.org and is remarkable in its extensiveness. As usual, I'm reading a bunch of books and making miniscule progress on each. However, one that has my interest is The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, a steampunk alternate history involving key figures in the 19th century Royal Society. If I cared to know more about the real advances with which the Society was involved, their Trailblazing website would be a fine place to start.

The site has more modern content, as well, featuring some of Stephen Hawking's early writings on black holes and an article on geo-engineering. One criticism? The site doesn't currently have search capabilities. However, the timeline presentation at least makes for a good class-opening exercise or some interesting exploration for students.

According to the site,

Trailblazing is a user-friendly, ‘explore-at-your-own-pace’, virtual journey through science. It showcases sixty fascinating and inspiring articles selected from an archive of more than 60,000 published by the Royal Society between 1665 and 2010.

However, Royal Society Publishing provides much more extensive resources and is worth adding to a short list of sites to check for research and supplemental class materials.

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