The Royal Society has made its archives available for free online and it’s an incredible trove. Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle introduced me to the early days of the organization and those like Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren who were there in the very beginning. The release of these 60,000 documents got me thinking again about that time period of free discovery and how exciting it must have been – an entirely uncharted world of science, begging for exploration.
Still, no one says it has to stop now that we’ve made such huge strides during the centuries since it was founded. I can’t imagine we’ll ever understand everything or conquer every troubling problem. To some, that might be troubling – but I can’t help but feel a bit of the same excitement that they probably felt. There is a sense of empowerment stemming from the notion that there’s so much to learn and so much that we can still accomplish.
That craving drive to explore and expand knowledge is the real legacy of the Royal Society.