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British Association for the Advancement of Science

British Association for the Advancement of Science. This peripatetic body, founded in 1831, with an open membership, has been very important in promoting public awareness of science. The Royal Society was London-based and like a gentleman's club; the Royal Institution, where Humphry Davy and then Michael Faraday lectured, fashionable and expensive. In Germany, with then no single capital city, meetings were organized each year in a different city: and this became the model for Great Britain and Ireland. Provincial pride and fear of scientific decline were important factors; the first meeting was in York, then came Oxford and Cambridge (where the word scientist was coined), and then commercial and industrial cities: by 1914 there had also been meetings in Montreal, Cape Town, and Melbourne. Cities competed to attract meetings, often opening museums or mechanics' institutes; famous debates took place there; and women were, rather grudgingly, admitted. The proceedings were widely reported, and subsequently published; research grants were awarded; and office-holding became an important part of a scientist's career.

David Knight

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