Pontificia accademia delle scienze
|Type||Catholic, Research institute, Pontifical University|
|President||Joachim von Braun|
Casina Pio IV
00120 Vatican City
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The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Italian: Pontificia accademia delle scienze, Latin: Pontificia Academia Scientiarum) is a scientific academy of the Vatican City, established in 1936 by Pope Pius XI. Its aim is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences and the study of related epistemological problems. ("Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes"), founded in 1847 as a more closely supervised successor to the Accademia dei Lincei ("Academy of Lynxes") established in Rome in 1603 by the learned Roman Prince, Federico Cesi (1585–1630), who was a young botanist and naturalist, and which claimed Galileo Galilei as its president. The Accademia dei Lincei survives as a wholly separate institution.
The Academy of Sciences, one of the Pontifical academies at the Vatican in Rome, is headquartered in the Casina Pio IV in the heart of the Vatican Gardens.
Cesi wanted his academicians to adhere to a research methodology based upon observation, experimentation, and the inductive method. He thus called his academy "dei lincei" because its members had "eyes as sharp as lynxes," scrutinizing nature at both microscopic and macroscopic levels. The leader of the first academy was the famous scientist Galileo Galilei.
Academy of Lynxes was dissolved after the death of its founder, but was re-created by Pope Pius IX in 1847 and given the name Accademia Pontificia dei Nuovi Lincei ("Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes"). It was later re-founded in 1936 by Pope Pius XI and given its current name. Pope Paul VI in 1976 and Pope John Paul II in 1986 subsequently updated its statutes.
Since 1936, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has been concerned both with investigating specific scientific subjects belonging to individual disciplines and with the promotion of interdisciplinary co-operation. It has progressively increased the number of its academicians and the international character of its membership. The Academy is an independent body within the Holy See and enjoys freedom of research. The statutes of 1976 express its goal: "The Pontifical Academy of Sciences has as its goal the promotion of the progress of the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues."
Since the Academy and its membership is not influenced by factors of a national, political, or religious character it represents a valuable source of objective scientific information which is made available to the Holy See and to the international scientific community. Today the work of the Academy covers six main areas:
The disciplines involved are sub-divided into eight fields: the disciplines of physics and related disciplines; astronomy; chemistry; the earth and environmental sciences; the life sciences (botany, agronomy, zoology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, the neurosciences, surgery); mathematics; the applied sciences; and the philosophy and history of sciences.
Principal among the many publications produced by the Academy are:
With the goal of promoting scientific research, the Pius XI Medal is awarded by the Academy every two years to a young scientist who is under the age of 45 and shows exceptional promise. A few of the winners have also become members of the Academy.
The goals and hopes of the Academy were expressed by Pope Pius XI in the motu proprio "In multis solaciis" which brought about its re-foundation in 1936:
Forty years later (10 November 1979), John Paul II once again emphasized the role and goals of the Academy, on the 100th anniversary (centenary) of the birth of Albert Einstein:
On 8 November 2012 Pope Benedict XVI told members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:
The new members of the Academy are elected by the body of Academicians and chosen from men and women of every race and religion based on the high scientific value of their activities and their high moral profile. They are then officially appointed by the Roman Pontiff. The Academy is governed by a President, appointed from its members by the Pope, who is helped by a scientific Council and by the Chancellor. Initially made up of 80 Academicians, 70 who were appointed for life. In 1986 John Paul II raised the number of members for life to 80, side by side with a limited number of Honorary Academicians chosen because they are highly qualified figures, and others who are Academicians because of the posts they hold, including: the Chancellor of the Academy, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, the Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives.
The president of the Academy is appointed from its members by the Pope. The current president is Joachim von Braun, as of 21 June 2017. who takes over from Werner Arber, who is a Nobel Prize Laureate and was the first Protestant to hold the position.