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Nature volume 29, pages 433434 | Download Citation



THE recent changes introduced into the constitution of the Accademia dei Lincei, followed by its removal to new and sumptuous quarters in Trastevere, seem to call for more than a passing notice. There are certainly many other famous societies scattered over the Peninsula, all the large towns of which have long possessed one or more scientific, literary, or artistic corporations. But, with perhaps the single exception of the Florentine Academy, none of them have been so intimately identified with the progress of the physical sciences since the “Renaissance” as this oldest of still existing learned institutions. Founded on August 17, 1603, by the young prince, Federigo Cesi, for the express purpose of cultivating “le scienze matematiche e filoso-fiche,” it began its useful career forty years before the birth of Newton, and six before Galileo had rendered Jansen's telescope a suitable instrument for astronomic observation. The very name of the Lincei, or “Lynxeyed,”1 breathes the quaint spirit of the times, when every capital in Italy had its centres of intellectual movement, bearing such eccentric titles as the Accademia dei Sonnacchiosi (“The Drowsy”), dei Sitibondi (“The Thirsty”), dei Svegliati (“The Wide-Awake”), degli Ottusi (“The Dull”), degli Innomati (“The Nameless”), dei Storditi (“The Dazed”), dei Tenebrosi (“The Darklings”), and so forth. But while most of these ephemeral corporations have left little but their names behind them, the Lincei have gone on prospering and continually widening the field of their utility until the Academy now finds itself formally constituted the chief national exponent of the natural sciences in Italy, thus taking rank with the French Institute and the Royal Society of London.

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