Several years ago, after reading Neal Stephenson‘s incredible Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), I developed an interest in the activities of Natural Philosophers in England in the late 17th Century. I picked up several biographies of the times including names like Sir Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren, Thomas Willis and Robert Boyle and am completely fascinated with what they were able to achieve. When you think about the difficulty many people today have even understanding the acheivements of these great minds, it is even more amazing to consider that they had to come up with these ideas on their own.
In a press release today, the Royal Society announced that the complete archive of the Royal Society journals, including papers from that period, is to be made freely available electronically for the first time beginning today (14th September 2006) for a two month period.
The archive contains seminal research papers including accounts of Michael Faraday’s groundbreaking series of electrical experiments, Isaac Newton’s invention of the reflecting telescope, and the first research paper published by Stephen Hawking.
The Society’s online collection, which until now only extended back to 1997, contains every paper published in the Royal Society journals from the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions in 1665, to the most recent addition, Interface.
Considering the price of a regular subscription, this is a great deal, especially if you just want to take a quick glance at a couple of key papers. This is an even better deal if you want to do some serious reading and research. As if my reading list isn’t long enough!
I learned of this through a post on Slashdot this morning.