Gawain O'Connor submitted these notes on the Royal Society's Copley Medal. Thanks!
Copley medal Awarded to Mendeleev
The news this week mentioned that Professor Peter Higgs has won the world's oldest scientific prize - the Royal Society's Copley Medal - for his work on the theory of the Higgs boson. That aroused my curiosity, since I had heard about the medal before in The E-Sylum.
It “was first awarded by the Royal Society in 1731, 170 years before the first Nobel Prize”. So I dutifully looked it up on Wikipedia, which showed the one awarded to Mendeleev in 1905. Yes, that Russian chemist who formulated the periodic table of elements. (He appears on a Russia 2 rubles commemorative of 2009).
Wayne mentioned that one early recipient was Benjamin Franklin – in 1753 "On account of his curious Experiments and Observations on Electricity". He, of course, appears on or is responsible for all kinds of numismatic fun. Did anyone ever locate where his example of the Copley medal is now?
Another notable recipient with lots of numismatic interest was Captain James Cook in 1776: "For his Paper, giving an account of the method he had taken to preserve the health of the crew of H.M. Ship the Resolution, during her late voyage round the world. Whose communication to the Society was of such importance to the public".
The Copley Medal now alternates each year between the physical and the biological sciences, but in the past it was once awarded for numismatic scholarship – in 1771 to Matthew Raper "For his paper entitled, An Enquiry into the value of ancient Greek and Roman Money", which thanks to the Internet can be accessed online:
An Inquiry into the Value of the Ancient Greek and Roman Money: By Matthew Raper, Esq; F. R. S.
To read the complete Peter Higgs article, see:
Prof Peter Higgs wins the Royal Society's Copley Medal
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: FEBRUARY 12, 2012
Wayne Homren, Editor
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