Thursday, September 20, 2012

The American Association for the Advancement of Science...founded 164 years ago today

The Writer's Almanac...

The American Association for the Advancement of Science was established in Philadelphia on this date in 1848. Its stated purpose was to "procure for the labors of scientific men, increased facilities and a wider usefulness."

The term "scientist" had been coined in English just 15 years earlier, and all over the world scientists were making important new discoveries and formulating new ideas. Europe tended to be the center for the great theorists of science — in the year 1848, Léon Foucault set up his first rudimentary pendulum to demonstrate the Earth's rotation, Darwin was at work on his theory of evolution, Michael Faraday was at the height of his work on electromagnetism. But America was cut off from Europe, and it was hard to compete with the scientific community there. Instead, there was an interest in invention and science that supported industry. Just four years earlier, the first telegraph line was installed, stretching from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. Trains were popping up all over the country, and in the year 1848, four times as many train tracks were laid as in 1847. In 1845, Elias Howe had invented the mechanical sewing machine. The inventor Cyrus McCormick had sold the patent for his McCormick Reaper in the 1830s.

Earlier in the century, Lewis and Clark's journey was the first to make science an exciting and visible aspect of discovering new territory. They observed the weather, the topography, and the geography. They described 182 plant species and 120 animals in their travels; they sent back specimens to the East Coast, a few of them live, including a prairie dog that lived in the White House. By the 1840s, the botanists Asa Gray and George Engelmann were actively cataloguing the plants of the American West. At the same time, anthropology was starting to emerge as its own field, separate from natural history.

There were only 87 members when the American Association for the Advancement of Science was formed, but it grew to a membership of more than 2,000 by 1860. And in 1880, the AAAS began publishing the journal Science, which today is one of the world's top scientific journals. The AAAS is the largest general scientific society in the world.

From The American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science,
"Triple A-S" (AAAS), is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

AAAS History

Founded in 1848, AAAS serves some 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

AAAS is a global organization, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, U.K., and award-winning news correspondents reporting from an array of countries. The U.S. headquarters facility, designed by renowned architect Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, was dedicated in September 1997 as the William T. Golden Center for Science and Engineering, in honor of the Association's long-time treasurer. In 2009, the AAAS headquarters facility became the first existing, not newly constructed facility in the District of Columbia to earn a gold-level certification through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership Environmental & Energy Design program.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association for the Advancement of Science [Wikipedia]

No comments: