British Association for the Advancement of Science


British Association for the Advancement of Science

The British Association or the British Association for the Advancement of Science or the BA is a learned society with the object of promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters, and facilitating interaction between scientific workers. Membership is open to all.

History

It was founded in 1831 and modelled on the German Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte [The German organisation was founded in 1822, see (German language Wikipedia article).] . The prime mover was William Vernon Harcourt, following a suggestion by Sir David Brewster, who was disillusioned with the elitist and conservative attitude of the Royal Society. The first meeting was held in York on 27 September 1831 [ [http://www.the-ba.net/the-ba/AbouttheBA/HistoryoftheBA/BriefHistory1.htm BA website - History page part 1] ] . From that date a meeting was held annually at some place chosen at a previous meeting.

One of the more memorable meetings held by the association, was the 1860 meeting at Oxford, where the now famous debate between Thomas Henry Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce took place (see the 1860 Oxford evolution debate). This meeting is widly viewed as the turning point in the evolution debate.

Ironically, perhaps the BA's most momentous influence on science was in 1878 when a committee of the BA recommended against constructing Charles Babbage's analytical engine [ [http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/baas.html Report of the BA committee on the Analytical Engine of Charles Babbage: "appointed to consider the advisability and to estimate the expense of constructing Mr. Babbage's Analytical Machine, and of printing Tables by its means".] .] .

The Association's major emphasis in recent decades has been on public engagement in science. Its annual meeting, now called the Festival of Science, is the largest public showcase for science in the U.K. and attracts a great deal of media attention.

In addition to the Festival of Science, the BA organises the UK National Science and Engineering Week, an opportunity for people of all ages to get involved in science, engineering and technology activities.

The Association also has a young people's programme, which seeks to involve school students in science beyond the school curriculum, and to encourage them to consider higher education and careers in science.

Recent Presidents of the BA

* 2007-08: David King
* 2006-07: John Browne, Lord Browne of Madingley
* 2005-06: Frances Cairncross
* 2004-05: Professor Robert Winston, Lord Winston of Hammersmith
* 2003-04: Dame Julia Higgins
* 1993-94: Dame Anne McLaren
* 1980-81: HRH the Duke of Kent
* 1979-80: Frederick Dainton, Baron Dainton

ee also

*Café Scientifique
*Royal Institution
*Science Abstracts
*Science Festival
*National Science Week
*Scandinavian Scientist Conference (1839-1936)
*1860 Oxford evolution debate

External links

* [http://www.the-ba.net/ British Association for the Advancement of Science.]
* [http://www.the-ba.net/the-ba/AbouttheBA/HistoryoftheBA/index.htm BA page on the history of the BA.]

Reports of the meetings 1877-90 are available on
* [http://gallica.bnf.fr/ Gallica]

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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