Staircase - Royal Institution - London
The Royal Institution of Great Britain (often abbreviated as the Royal Institution or RI) is an organization devoted to scientific education and research, based in London. It was founded in 1799 by the leading British scientists of the age, including Henry Cavendish and its first president, George Finch, the 9th Earl of Winchilsea, for "diffusing the knowledge, and facilitating the general introduction, of useful mechanical inventions and improvements; and for teaching, by courses of philosophical lectures and experiments, the application of science to the common purposes of life." Much of its initial funding and the initial proposal for its founding were given by the Society for Bettering the Conditions and Improving the Comforts of the Poor, under the guidance of philanthropist Sir Thomas Bernard and American-born British scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. Since its founding it has been based on Albemarle Street in Mayfair. Its Royal Charter was granted in 1800.
Throughout its history, the Institution has supported public engagement with science through a programme of lectures, many of which continue today. The most famous of these are the annual Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, founded by Michael Faraday.
The Institution has had an instrumental role in the advancement of British science since its founding. Notable scientists who have worked there include Sir Humphry Davy (who discovered sodium and potassium), Michael Faraday, Sir Lawrence Bragg (who won the Nobel prize for his work on x-ray diffraction), and more recently Lord George Porter. In the 19th century Faraday carried out much of the research which laid the groundwork for the practical exploitation of electricity at the Royal Institution. Fourteen of the Royal Institution's resident scientists have won Nobel Prizes. Ten chemical elements including sodium were discovered at the Institution, as well as the electric generator and the atomic structure of crystals.