The Royal Institution of Australia is a sister organisation to the world-renowned Royal Institution of Great Britain (RiGB) and, as such, shares in its impressive tradition. The RiGB was established in 1799 by a group of distinguished scientists who met at the home of Joseph Banks, famed explorer and naturalist, who was a botanist on board HMS Endeavour, Captain James Cook’s first scientific expedition to the South Pacific.
For more than 200 years, the RiGB has been at the centre of scientific research and the communication of science in the UK. Scientists at the RiGB have been awarded 14 Nobel Prizes and have identified 10 chemical elements.
Many major discoveries have been made within RiGB’s walls. These include the identification of sodium and potassium by Humphry Davy; electromagnetic induction by Michael Faraday; the structure of benzene by Kathleen Lonsdale (under William Henry Bragg as Director); and the first determination of enzyme structure by David Phillips (under William Lawrence Bragg). Indeed, Adelaide’s Nobel Laureate father and son team, William and Lawrence Bragg provide an enduring link between our two institutions.
Many of the scientists associated with RiGB were excellent communicators who could inspire audiences with an appreciation of science. It is this tradition which The Royal Institution of Australia aspires to continue in Australia.