Royal Society seeking 'white knight'

An urgent plea has gone out from Britain's Royal Society, calling for a ?white knight? to buy some notes written by Robert Hooke in the late 1600s and make them available to researchers. Hooke worked with Robert Boyle, coined the term 'cell' and helped rebuild London, among other things. He was an early secretary of the Royal Society and the papers in question are annotated and draft minutes from early meetings.

By | February 14, 2006

An urgent plea has gone out from Britain's Royal Society, calling for a ?white knight? to buy some notes written by Robert Hooke in the late 1600s and make them available to researchers. Hooke worked with Robert Boyle, coined the term 'cell' and helped rebuild London, among other things. He was an early secretary of the Royal Society and the papers in question are annotated and draft minutes from early meetings. Given all of which, it seems a shame that the Royal Society isn't in a financial position to buy the notes itself. But that apparently is the case. On February 9 the Society's president, Martin Rees, issued a press release calling for someone to buy the collection so they aren't lost to 'researchers on the early history of the Royal Society, and its role in the development of modern science.' There have been a few high profile cases of important historical documents being bought and made available by folks in recent times. Bill Gates purchased Leonardo's Codex Leicester back in the 1990s and had it displayed in the Seattle Art Museum, while Craig Venter last year snapped up a collection of early genetics documents which he plans to include in an archive that will be available to reserachers. Perhaps the Royal Society is hoping something similar will happen with the Hooke notes. As Rees said in the press release, 'It is a great pity that the Royal Society cannot itself afford to purchase them so that they could be restored to our collection of documents, from which they were removed at some point during our early history.' Hint, hint. Either way, we'll find out when they go under the hammer on March 28.

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