Nullius in verba, abuntantia imprimitus

by Greg Mayer

The title of this post is recycled from an earlier one (which you should go back to and read), with a linguistic upgrade from reader Shuggy. The Royal Society, the oldest scientific society in the English-speaking world, is marking International Open Access Week by making all of its 350+ years of publications open access from now until November 6. I am especially happy to report that this includes many publications by “Mr. Anthony van Leeuwenhoek”, (also known as “Leeuwenhoeck” and “Leewenhoeck”), including those papers mentioned earlier today in celebratory remarks by Matthew commemorating van Leeuwenhoek’s birthday.

The full set of publications, available as pdfs which may be downloaded and saved for perusal at leisure, can be accessed from the Society’s publications webpage. Go and sample the abuntantia for yourself!

Image result for nullius in verba tattoo

The motto of the Royal Society, meaning roughly “nothing upon another’s word”, was a radically empirical challenge to the prevailing reliance upon the acceptance of authority. (From Pinterest.)


  1. Posted October 24, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “the oldest scientific society in the English-speaking world”

    What’s older? Something Italian, I guess? Or French or German?

    • Posted October 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      There’s the “Lincean Academy” which is sort of one, which had Galileo as a member. 1603 founding, according to Wikipedia. (I’d have to check the biography of Galileo I have to verify.)

      • teacupoftheapocalypse
        Posted October 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        The Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany was founded about 8 years earlier than the Royal Society and claims to be “the oldest continuously existing learned society in the world.”

        • Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          The “continuously existing” is the difference, I guess, since the Lincean has existed intermittently.

  2. Ron DeBry
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Royal Society Publishing do have some open access journals. But pricing for their flagship journals is so high that both our university and our large state consortium stopped subscribing many years ago.

  3. Posted October 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink


    However, the “radical challenge” was perhaps curtailed – a little – by the RS refusal to discuss religion or “politicks”.

    (I always find the 17-18th century spelling of words with “ic” amusing for some reason.)

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 24, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    copia in scriptam?? What about that Latin? Also, no commas in Latin.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      No commas in Latin? Interesting; I never noticed. Does that help to explain why Julius Caesar’s writing seems so linear?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Latin didn’t really need them. They had “que” to add to the end of things and “sic” and all that.

        • Richard Bond
          Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink


    • Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Also, it should be in ALL CAPS.


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Only if it were an inscription. Latin usually wrote in all lowercase except for proper nouns.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Further to Diana’s comment, there are substantial corporea (?) of native Latin speakers writing in ink, on parchment or bark, and using a cursive script. See, for example, the interminable whinging of Syrian and Dalmatian Auxiliaries preserved in the peat sough at Vindolanda, on “Hadrian’s Wall”
        Begging letters for woolly socks and warm loincloths to keep the North wind out of the lorica segmenta – the poor Mediterranean home-boys almost sound unhappy about their posting.

  5. Posted October 27, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Ready the leeuwenhoek stuff makes me want to see the very first papers…and scroll from there. for fun. but i can’t seem to get a search term that gives me anything very old. there must be some old, obscure paper on the weight of souls or the flammability of witches. does anyone have any suggestions?

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