• The University traces the Royal Society's history in a single exhibition

    October 16, 2011

    The Library will show some of the scientists' 'jewels' which have revolutionized the world in the "Transacciones" exhibition.

     Ramón y Cajal's top-hat and other objects
    The first microscope of the history, Newton's old watch, the top-hat which probably, was worn by Ramón y Cajal when he got his Nobel Prize, the first telescope model designed by Herschel, a map of Colombia drawn by Felipe Bauzá, work notebooks belonging to Severo Ochoa and García Bellido... are some of the valuable and curious pieces that can be seen in the "Transacciones. España en la historia de la Royal Society" (Transactions. Spain in the Royal Society's history). This single exhibition, which includes pieces that are exposed for the very first time in our country, can be visited freely in the Central Hall of the University Library, at the LAUDEO Cultural Centre "The Old University of Oviedo" (San Francisco Street, nº1, Oviedo).

    Organized by the University of Oviedo and Príncipe de Asturias Foundation, in collaboration with diverse entities, the exhibition aims to tribute the participation of Spanish scientists in the Royal Society's history, an institution created in 1660 and which has been awarded with the Príncipe de Asturias Prize of Communication and Humanities.

    Through more than one hundred original pieces and an expositive speech structured in four sections, visitors will learn more about the work done by scientists who have made history. Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson, Pasteur, Fleming or Stephen Hawking are some of the Royal Society's proper names, which has counted with the participation of 23 Spanish scientists such as Ramón y Cajal, Severo Ochoa, Antonio García Bellido, whose families have lent part of their personal materials for this exhibition.

    The title "Transacciones: España en la historia de la Royal Society" is inspired in the Royal Society's magazine, Philosophical Transactions (which have been steadily edited since the XVII century and, it is, therefore, the scientific publication with the longest uninterrupted life ever). Its curate, Armando Menéndez Viso, teacher of Philosophy at the University of Oviedo, has explained that further than objects and documents, the exhibition portraits a way of understanding science and progress. The main idea is to trace Royal Society's history until today, but "this is more about showing what the Royal provides to society, which its role is to make science flourish than seeing the discoveries".

    The exhibition is an interesting journey by the scientific adventure of the last centuries through some of its most outstanding protagonists. The first microscope, a Newton's lock of hair, scientific annotations, the model of a spectacular giant telescope, maps from the Spanish most eminent marines of the XVIII centuries, botanical and zoological illustrations, Ramón y Cajal's diary, laboratory preparations, portraits, diplomas, diaries and instruments which belonged to some of the most outstanding figures of modern science are some of the objects that can be seen these days at the University of Oviedo. "Transacciones" satisfies the exchanging idea among diverse disciplines, divided in four sections:

    Transactions between Theory and Practice

    This is the section dedicated to the Royal Society's origins, through its drivers and Bacon's principles. This is the step, as Armando Menéndez has affirmed, in which the scientific theory was faced with the practice, in which the experimental science started to excel.

    Transactions between Science and Politics

    In this section, research funded by the Crown and the Spanish marine expeditions of the XVIII century are deeply described. This is the period of the great sailings to America or the voyages to Horn Cape to determine which the Earth's length, the borders or even astronomical measurements. This is one of the most profitable stages, according to the curate of the exhibition, and the one which counts with a great number of Spanish in the Royal Society, with scientists like Jorge Juan, Ulloa, Mendoza y Ríos, Bauzá, Cervi or Gómez Ortega.

    Transactions between scientific and technical disciplines

    Here, the trips carried out by Royal Society's members to Spain in order to study the Teide. The exhibition includes a list of experiments done in this mountain. Besides determining its height, scientists were interested in checking the pressure, the behaviour of air, the flight of birds or how the sound propagated at that height. This is the moment in which Spain became highlighted as object of study for the Royal Society's members.

    Transactions between science and society

    This is the period of the Spanish doctors at the Royal; Ramón y Cajal, Severo Ochoa or García- Bellido's stage, and this is also the moment in which they aim to show a new vision of science as a tool to improve society's life. Here, notebooks, personal objects, drawings, instruments, microscopes and even the letter which the Asturian Nobel Prize, Severo Ochoa, received when he was admitted as a member in the Royal Society.

    The exhibition is completed, at the entry of the Central Hall of the Library, with a space dedicated to the grantees of this institution, in a kind of transaction between present and future. The exhibition counts with the collaboration of the Royal Society, the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia, Cajal-CSIC Institute, the National Geographical Institute, the Hydrographic Institute of Marine, the National Museum of Natural Sciences- CSIC, the Royal Academy of Medicine of Seville, the Royal Economical Science of Country's Friends, Juan Fernández Santarén, Antonio García Bellido and Santiago Ramón y Cajal's heirs.

    The exhibition, whose access is free, can be seen at the Central Hall of the Library, located in the Historical Building of the University, up the 13th of November with the following schedule: Mondays to Saturdays from 11:- 14:30 and 17:00- 20:30h and Sundays from 11:00 to 14:00.