In Europe, the Universities and Polytechnics begin to educate young people according to the new acquisition of science: it is thus formed a group of more and more efficient technicians, on one side, and on the other, one of specialized teachers. Some remain at the universities attracted by the passion and curiosity for research.
The interest to discuss and compare scientific results pushes scholars to join scientific associations, such as Chemische Gesellschaft in Germany, the Physical Society in Great Britain and Sociètè Chimique in France.They mainly issue print periodicals for the publication of works and research, thus contributing to the divulgation of science in the world. Academies, usually under the generous protection of the sovereign, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, include scientists from various disciplines, and enable them to perform experiments, and especially to discuss the results of such experiments among specialists in all areas of science.
Their commitment to promote research, and the protection of the figure of the research scientist was responsible for the scientific and technological progress that boomed at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The followers of science are now too numerous to expose and discuss their results in the context of the academies and scientific societies. Under these conditions, in Germany, a movement arises that will lead to the accomplishment of annual meetings of professors and students of natural sciences, starting from 1822, on the initiative of naturalist Lorenz Oken and with the support of the German princes. The United Kingdom is to follow suit, where the Association for the Advancement of Sciences holds its first meeting in York, in 1832, under the chairmanship of physicist David Brewster. Italy, from a political standpoint, in those years can be compared to Germany, where even the lack of a strong unitary state (such as those in France and England) cannot stop a strong national consciousness. In Italy, where the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of Lombardo-Veneto Trento and Trieste, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the United Church, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, coexist – foreign interests do not permit any form of association between the different states. Nonetheless, a group of eminent men of Science and Letters, in the face of such promising results at the meeting of German scientists (which was also open to foreign guests), take the initiative to follow this example and convenes in Pisa, for the fall of 1839, the first meeting of Italian scientists, celebrated also by poet Giusti, in the famous verses: With such a noble congress / rejoices with itself / the entire human race.
Promoters of the meeting are: Carlo Luciano Bonaparte (zoologist, nephew of Napoleon I), Vincenzo Antinori (director of the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History in Florence), Giovanni Battista Amici, (physic, naturalist and astronomer at the Grand Duke of Tuscany), Gaetano Giorgini (administrator general of the Royal University of Pisa), Paolo Savi (professor of natural history at the University of Pisa) and Maurizio Bufalini (professor of clinical medicine at the Arcispedale of Florence). The success of the event is also due to the sensitivity of Leopold II Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The meeting involved 421 scientists, academics and engineers of various specialization, engineers belonging to civilian and military institutions, doctors, agronomists. Although adverse times and the hostility of the governments that oppress Italy does not allow to establish a stable partnership, the recurrence of the meetings contribute to the formation of the spiritual unity of the nation, the premise and foundation of the subsequent political unity .
We find confirmation of the events in the Proceedings of the meetings, and the testimonies of the writers of the time, Italian and foreign. The nine meetings held in the nineteenth century are, in order, chaired by: Ranieri Gerbi (Pisa, 1839); Alessandro Saluzzo di Monesiglio (Torino, 1840); Cosimo Ridolfi (Firenze, 1841); Andrea Cittadella Vigodarzere (Padova, 1842); Antonio Mazzarosa (Lucca, 1843); Vitaliano Borromeo (Milano, 1844); Niccola Santangelo (Napoli, 1845); Antonio Brignole Sale (Genova, 1846); Andrea Giovannelli (Venezia, 1847). Rulers can not overlook the importance of the issues discussed in this conference because the turmoil for independence and unity are no longer hidden by scientists and men of culture. During the ninth meeting of 1847, the Austrian police expels Carlo L. Bonaparte from Venice and after ten days, instead of the fifteen planned, prohibits any further continuation of the meeting itself. This first intervention, followed by revolutions, and finally by the war of 1848-49, which involves the whole of Italy, prevents the continuation of the conference activities, even after the restoration of 1849. Only shortly after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, exactly 14 years after the meetings in Venice and Florence, during late September - early October, 1861, it is held an extraordinary congress, chaired by Cosimo Ridolfi. In Siena, September 14 to 28, 1862, they held the tenth meeting, chaired by philosopher and writer Terenzio Mamiani della Rovere, to celebrate the long-awaited unification . In this meeting, Stanislao Cannizzaro proposes to set up the Italian Society for the Advancement of Science so to have stable and regular meetings of Italian scientists.
A peculiarity of the meetings, that would travel to the universities throughout the Peninsula, is the broad participation of a well-educated audience alongside scholars that were among the most famous and distinguished teachers.
The statute of this Society is approved in Palermo, in 1875, during the twelfth meeting of Italian scientists: notably, among other things, it allows access to women. Risen under the favorable hopes of the Risorgimento, the Italian Society for the Advancement of Science (SIPS), after that last meeting remains long inactive, mainly because of the abstract internationalism and the particular historical period the country is going through.
On the occasion of the Congress of Italian naturalists, organized in Milan, September 15, 1906, it was finally reconstituted as SIPS with a new statute, born from the pressing need to promote progress in the country, as well as the coordination and dissemination of science and its applications, and to foster relations and cooperation among scholars. The reconstituted Society, in the first decade of the twentieth century holds the first, second and third respectively in Parma (1907), Florence (1908) and Padua (1909), under the chairmanship of famous mathematician Vito Volterra , who also participates in almost all the Councils for the Chairmanship of the Company, until the meeting of January 9, 1926. By royal decree, on October 15, 1908, the Italian Society for the Advancement of Science is built in a charitable trust. The councils of Naples in 1910 and Rome in 1911 are chaired by chemist Giacomo Ciamician.
Vittorio Scialoja, lawyer and politician, chaired the sixth meeting of Genoa and the seventh of Siena. The histologist and pathologist Camillo Golgi, Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1907, presides over the Company in the years 1913-1916. Over a period of time ranging from 1917 to the present day, thanks to the forward-looking presidencies of Ferdinando Lori, Raffaele Nasini, Pietro Bonfante, Carlo Somigliana, Filippo Bottazzi, Giancarlo Blanc, Mariano D' Amelio, Lucio Silla, Francesco Saverio Nitti, Vincenzo Arangio Ruiz, Gaetano Martino, Antono Carrelli, Daniel Bovet and Arnaldo M. Angelini, the meetings of the Italian Society for the Advancement of Science become open to all ideas based on the method of research, and the experimentation in direct relationship to the human needs, and contribute to the integration process of the two cultures. The cultural and scientific activities carried out by SIPS is applauded by academies, cultural institutions, sister companies, as well as various scientific and professional associations.
In 1937, Guglielmo Marconi, also in accord with previous votes of the Directory of CNR (Consiglio Nazionale per la Ricerca - National Research Council n.d.t.), allows the Company to transfer its offices at the National Research Council. From the registry records of the Presidency Council of SIPS of January 16 1937 held at the Bank of Italy, we read that “Mariano D' Amelio (President) informs Enrico Fermi and Pietro Rondoni (Vice-Presidents), Lucio Silla (General Secretary), Riccardo V. Ceccherini and Pietro Teofilato (Assistant Secretaries), Vincenzo Azzolini (Administrator), Tito Rapi (Treasurer), that beginning the 1st of January, the offices of the Society have moved into part of the local second floor of the new building of the National Research Council; the restyling of the rooms has been done at the expense of the administration of the CNR, with the obligation of repayment, by the Society, at a rate of Lire 5,000 per year.”
The Library would be arranged, thanks to engineer Mr. Ceccherini, Director of the Library of the National Research Council, on the same premises of the Library Council. In this way, the President, on behalf of the Society, sends his gratitude to Mr. Marconi, President of CNR, which would give the Society a welcome new home in the Palace of the CNR, thus solving, happily, a problem that had waited thirty years for a solution.
On the occasion of the solemn celebration of the centenary of the historic First Meeting, which was held in Pisa in 1939, SIPS publishes "A Century of Italian Scientific Progress", a fundamental work in seven volumes, which summarizes admirably one hundred years of scientific research and examination of the relationship between humanistic culture and scientific knowledge.
The Italian Society for the Advancement of Science develops a mission of scientific synthesis at the highest level, specifically defined by its contributions in the fields of information and public awareness to cultural and scientific problems, by means of:
a) the organization of conferences, and the timely publication and dissemination of the volumes of related proceedings;
b) the publishing of “Science and Technology”, a periodical publication of cultural, technical and scientific interests.
SIPS meetings aim to improve and expand the understanding of the concepts, the language and the scientific method, stimulating reflections on the fundamental relations which emphasize the unitary nature of science. The work of promoting progress coordination and dissemination of science and their applications is governed by statutes approved respectively by : RD October 29, 1908 , n . DXXII , published by the Official Gazette January 12, 1909 , n . 8; R.D. May 11, 1931 , n . 640 ( Official Gazette June 17, 1931 , n . 138 ) ; R.D.16 October 1934 - XII , n . 2206 ( Official Gazette 28 January 1935 , n . 23 ) ; D. L. gt . April 26, 1946 , n . 457 ( OJ Special Edition - June 10, 1946 , n . 1339 ).
SIPS activities may be articulated in three classes, and more precisely:
Class A: mathematics, actuarial mathematics, astronomy, geodesy, physics, geophysics, meteorology, chemistry, engineering, geography, geology, mineralogy.
Class B: plant biology (morphology, physiology, genetics, pathology, microbiology), animal biology (morphology, physiology, genetics, pathology, microbiology, entomology), zootechnics, anthropology, ethnology.
Class C: legal, economic and social sciences; archeology, philology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, history, history of science, history of religions; science education; televiosion, radio and cinematography for scientific research and demonstration.
With the 49th meeting of Siena (1967), dedicated to the problems of preservation of nature and of the archeological treasures, the Italian Society for the Advancement of Science starts the practice of multidisciplinary meetings for the study of issues such as: energy resources of Italy (Pescara/Chieti, 1969); high velocities, space, time and Man (Pugnochiuso, 1971); transportation and its social and econological impact (Padua, 1973).
With the Presidential Decree of 18 June 1974 , n . 434, SIPS changes its statute by establishing, among other things, to base its actions on the sharing of various cultural competences inspired by the current problems of contemporary society, therefore adapting its activity according to certain guidelines that respond distinctly to the needs of modern times distinctly, namely:
a) to organize multidisciplinary meetings to discuss issues of deep and immediate actuality, with a special attention to social, economic and cultural interests of the country;
b) to connect the world of culture, science and research with economic, industrial and agricultural operators;
c) to divulge solid information in the technical and scientific fields among an ever-increasing general audience;
d) to maintain relations with academic and scientific institutions (in Italy and abroad), in order to promote the culture, science and technology of our country.
Consequently, all the meetings that followed would debate interdisciplinary themes such as: Electronic Data Processing in the Modern World (Pisa, 1975); Environmental Resources of Nutrition (Brescia, 1977); Sciences to Improve the Quality of Life (Turin, 1979); The City as a System (Lecce, 1981); Science, Industry and Politics, and Addressing the Problems of Society (Ancona, 1983); Demographic and Environmental Perspectives (Parma, 1985); the Sea Environment and Human Life (Genoa, 1987), the Age of the Revolution and the Progress of Science (Bologna, 1989); Water: Current Situation and Prospects (Catania, 1991); Innovative Aspects in the Progress of Life Sciences (Viterbo, 1993); Man: Between Nature and Culture (Urbino, 1995); Science for the Cultural Heritage (Rome, 1997).
Given the gradual increase of cultural activities and the rising fragmentation of science in many different lines of research, the meetings of SIPS are a valuable opportunity for scholars to discuss new trends and scientific discoveries.
Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of the events promoted by SIPS is well-regarded, especially now that many disciplines converge in the study of the fundamental relationships that highlight the ever-changing confines of the physical world.
Also, The Society has participated (directly or indirectly), to aiding the life of numerous institutions, some of which were created by the Commission itself: the Italian Oceanographic Committee, the Italian Committee for the Study of Glaciers, the Institute for the Study of South Tyrol, the Institute of Legislative Studies and the Scialoja Foundation for Legal Studies.
The Society is concretely active in the Institute of Studies of the Adriatic, in the Institute of Italian Studies in Prague, the Institute of Human Paleontology in Florence, the Institute for Applied Mathematics, and the Italian Bibliography.
Lastly, the Society has administered three foundations governed by specific statutes, namely: the Marconi Foundation, the Foundation for the work of James Ciamician in Pure and Applied Chemistry, and the Foundation Massimo Piccinini.
Those who gave - on the basis of little information on display - an overview of the life of SIPS, can safely conclude that it is essentially a compact body, alive and active, thanks to the community members and vivid minds that have joined the institution in a spirit of understanding and intent of friendly collaboration by giving impetus to the organization of meetings, the publication and circulation of books of Acts of the Society, that for more than a century and a half is one of the largest items in the landscape of culture and science.