Askesian Society

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The Askesian Society was a debating club for scientific thinkers, established in 1796 in London. The name was taken from the Greek term Askesis, meaning 'training' or 'application'. It was founded by William Allen, who allowed the use of his laboratory at No. 2 Plough Court for the Society's scientific experiments. The other two principal founders were Richard Phillips and William Haseldine Pepys, both Quakers from the Lombard Street area.

The club was formed to fill the void after the departure of Bryan Higgins and his chemistry lectures.

Members had to present a paper or pay a fine, which led to Luke Howard's 1802 presentation On The Modification of Clouds, which established the still used terms "stratus," "cumulus," and "cirrus."

They often held theatres for "laughing gas evenings", where members would watch as fellows would sup nitrous oxide and stumble around the stage.

The Society disbanded in 1807, with many of its members going on to join the Mineralogical Society, the Geological Society, the Linnean Society and the Royal Society of London.

Society proceedings resumed again in 2007 on the 200th anniversary of the society's 1807 dissolution. Meeting in London, young scientists and philosophers express original theory, or pay a fine of seven pounds. Laboratory facilities will soon be available for society members at the original address of No.2 Plough Court.


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