Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. It is one of three major museums on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the others being the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Natural History Museum's main frontage, however, is on Cromwell Road. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, mineralogy and zoology; the museum is a centre of research specialising in taxonomy and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin; the museum is famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture—sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature—both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast that dominated the vaulted central hall before it was replaced in 2017 with the skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling.

The Natural History Museum Library contains extensive books, journals and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments. The museum is recognised as the pre-eminent centre of natural history and research of related fields in the world. Although referred to as the Natural History Museum, it was known as British Museum until 1992, despite legal separation from the British Museum itself in 1963. Originating from collections within the British Museum, the landmark Alfred Waterhouse building was built and opened by 1881 and incorporated the Geological Museum; the Darwin Centre is a more recent addition designed as a modern facility for storing the valuable collections. Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Natural History Museum does not charge an admission fee; the museum is an exempt charity and a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture and Sport. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is a patron of the museum.

There are 850 staff at the museum. The two largest strategic groups are Science Group; the foundation of the collection was that of the Ulster doctor Sir Hans Sloane, who allowed his significant collections to be purchased by the British Government at a price well below their market value at the time. This purchase was funded by a lottery. Sloane's collection, which included dried plants, animal and human skeletons, was housed in Montagu House, Bloomsbury, in 1756, the home of the British Museum. Most of the Sloane collection had disappeared by the early decades of the nineteenth century. Dr George Shaw sold many specimens to the Royal College of Surgeons and had periodic cremations of material in the grounds of the museum, his successors applied to the trustees for permission to destroy decayed specimens. In 1833 the Annual Report states that, of the 5,500 insects listed in the Sloane catalogue, none remained; the inability of the natural history departments to conserve its specimens became notorious: the Treasury refused to entrust it with specimens collected at the government's expense.

Appointments of staff were bedevilled by gentlemanly favouritism. J. E. Gray complained of the incidence of mental illness amongst staff: George Shaw threatened to put his foot on any shell not in the 12th edition of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae; the huge collection of the conchologist Hugh Cuming was acquired by the museum, Gray's own wife had carried the open trays across the courtyard in a gale: all the labels blew away. That collection is said never to have recovered; the Principal Librarian at the time was Antonio Panizzi. The general public was not encouraged to visit the museum's natural history exhibits. In 1835 to a Select Committee of Parliament, Sir Henry Ellis said this policy was approved by the Principal Librarian and his senior colleagues. Many of these faults were corrected by the palaeontologist Richard Owen, appointed Superintendent of the natural history departments of the British Museum in 1856, his changes led Bill Bryson to write that "by making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our expectations of what museums are for".

Owen saw that the natural history departments needed more space, that implied a separate building as the British Museum site was limited. Land in South Kensington was purchased, in 1864 a competition was held to design the new museum; the winning entry was submitted by the civil engineer Captain Francis Fowke, who died shortly afterwards. The scheme was taken over by Alfred Waterhouse who revised the agreed plans, designed the façades in his own idiosyncratic Romanesque style, inspired by his frequent visits to the Continent; the original plans included wings on either side of the main building, but these plans were soon abandoned for budgetary reasons. The space these would have occupied are now taken by the Earth Galleries and Darwin Centre. Work began in 1873 and was completed in 1880; the new museum opened in 1881, although the move from the old museum was not completed until 1883. Both the interiors and exteriors of the Waterhouse building make exten


In theology and philosophy, probabilism is an ancient Greek doctrine of academic skepticism. It holds; the term can refer to a 17th-century religious thesis about ethics, or a modern physical-philosophical thesis. In ancient Greek philosophy, probabilism referred to the doctrine which gives assistance in ordinary matters to one, skeptical in respect of the possibility of real knowledge: it supposes that though knowledge is impossible, a man may rely on strong beliefs in practical affairs; this view was held by the skeptics of the New Academy. Academic skeptics accept probabilism. In modern usage, a probabilist is someone who believes that central epistemological issues are best approached using probabilities; this thesis is neutral with respect to whether knowledge entails certainty or whether skepticism about knowledge is true. Probabilist doctrines continue to be debated in the context of artificial general intelligence, as a counterpoint to the use of non-monotonic logic, as the proper form for knowledge representation remains unclear.

In moral theology Catholic, it refers to the view in casuistry that in difficult matters of conscience one may safely follow a doctrine, probable, for example is approved by a recognized Doctor of the Church if the opposite opinion is more probable. This view was advanced by the Spanish theologian Bartolomé de Medina and defended by many Jesuits such as Luis Molina, it was criticised by Blaise Pascal in his Provincial Letters and by St. Alphonsus Ligourí in his Theologia Moralis, as leading to moral laxity. Opposed to probabilism is probabiliorism, which holds that when there is a preponderance of evidence on one side of a controversy one is obliged to follow that side, tutiorism, which holds that in case of doubt one must take the morally safer side. A more radical view, "minus probabilissimus", holds that an action is permissible if a single opinion allowing that action is available if the overwhelming weight of opinion proscribes it; the doctrine became popular at the start of the 17th century, as it could be used to support any position or council any advice.

By mid-century, such thinking, termed Laxism, was recognized as scandalous. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed.. "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. Probabilism This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Probabilism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. Cambridge University Press. P. 376. J. Franklin, The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal, ch. 4 Probabilism

Alan Sargeson

Alan McLeod Sargeson FAA FRS was an Australian inorganic chemist. Sargeson was born at Australia, he was educated at the University of Sydney and received his Ph. D. supervised by Francis Patrick Dwyer at Sydney in 1956. His first academic appointment was at the University of Adelaide and in 1958 he rejoined Dwyer at the Australian National University. Sargeson was best known as a coordination chemist with an interest in bioinorganic chemistry. In early work with Dwyer and throughout his career, he studied stereochemistry, his research group investigated the reactions of amine ligands, culminating in the synthesis of the clathrochelates called "sepulchrates". He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983 and the Australian Academy of Science, a corresponding member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences