Athens Academy

The Academy of Athens

The Academy of Athens was officially founded on 18 March 1926 with the first President being Fokion Negris, a geologist and politician. The first meeting of the Academy took place on 25 March 1925, a day of great significance in Greece since it is the date on which the Greeks officially declared their revolt against the Ottoman occupation in 1821.

Like many academies, the official founding came after several attempts to found an academy over many years. In fact the earliest attempt was in 1824 while the Greek revolt against the Ottoman occupation was still taking place. There followed a series of attempts by Alexandros Rizos-Ranghavis (1809-1892). Rizos-Ranghavis was Professor of Archaeology at the University of Athens (1844-1866) and a founding member of the Archaeological Association becoming its first Secretary (1837-1851). He was active in founding the Athens National Observatory and the National Library but his attempts to found the Academy of Athens did not materialise. Another person whose attempts to found the Academy proved to be particularly important in the long term was Simon Sinas (1810-1876). Sinas was born in Austria into a Greek family and made much money in banking. He made major donations to various educational and scientific foundations, in particular donating much to the founding of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. In 1856 he gave a major donation to erect a neoclassical building to form an academy. Building began in August 1859 and it was completed by March 1887 when it was handed over to the Greek government. With no Academy existing at this time, the building served as a museum from 1890 onwards. This so-called "Sinaea Academy" building was handed over to the newly formed Academy of Athens on 24 March 1926, six days after the Academy was officially founded, and the first meeting of the Academy, which we mentioned above, took place on the following day in this building which had been the Academy's home ever since. We note that this building was one of three buildings funded by Simon Sinas, the other two being the University of Athens and the National Library.

The original set up of the Academy gave it three divisions, namely Natural Sciences, Letters and Arts, Moral and Political Sciences. Its purpose was to undertake scientific research and to cultivate the Humanities and Fine Arts. It retains these aims today, but its independence has been challenged a number of times due to major events in Greek history.

Greece came under occupation by forces from Germany and Italy during World War II. Italy began an action against Greece in October 1940 and, when it was totally bogged down, in April 1941 German troops began an attack on Greece which was occupied by June of that year. There arose several different groups of National Resistance to this occupation, some giving armed resistance, others applying political pressure. Many hostages were taken from resistance movements, mostly young people, and were held as prisoners. In 1943, the Academy of Athens supported freeing these hostages and it also attempted to bring relief to large numbers of starving Greek people. It refused to condemn the National Resistance as demanded by the Government of Occupation, as the President, Spyridon Dontas (1878-1958) Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Athens, made clear in his reply. As a consequence, Dontas was suspended from his position as President of the Academy for three months.

On 21 April 1967 there was a military coup in Greece in which the government was taken over by a military junta. In 1972 the Junta attempted to abolish the independence of the Academy of Athens, under the pretext of modernizing and reorganizing it. In its response to the relevant Questionnaire that it received, the Academy defended its independence: it did not enter into negotiations with the regime, but restricted itself to merely restating its purpose and to developing its destiny:-

The Academy ... feels the need to boldly declare that its work to date is only partly the result of its members' personal labour; it is also due to the autonomy and independence that its founders gave it ... This autonomy and independence guarantee the continued election of new members according to the principles of science and freedom of conviction. It is mainly through these new members that this House of the Spirit continues to be renewed and updated.
The present Academy of Athens consists of fourteen research centres, two of which are particularly relevant to this Archive, namely the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics, and the Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics. We give some information concerning these taken from the websites [2] and [3].

Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics.

The foundation of the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics was decided unanimously at the plenary session of the Academy of Athens during the session Number 2510. It constitutes an upgrading of the Research Office of Pure Mathematics, which operated since 1992 under the supervision of the Academician Professor Nikolaos K Artemiadis.

The aim of the Centre is to promote scientific research in Pure and Applied Mathematics. This is to be achieved through:

a) The conduct of research in well determined mathematical topics.
b) The scientific cooperation with appropriate national and international scientific establishments.
c) The implementation of a series of scientific talks or seminars by the researchers of the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics, as well as, by other scientists.

In addition, the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics continues to inform the general public about mathematical developments through non-technical scientific talks.

In addition, the Research Centre of Pure and Applied Mathematics coordinates the activities of the National Mathematical Committee of the Academy of Athens. This Committee is the only proper body representing Greece in international mathematical organisations, such as the International Mathematical Union, in which, as a rule, other countries are also represented by their national academies.

Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics.

The Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics was established in 1959 initially as the "Office for Research and Calculations", to promote scientific research in Astronomy and Applied Mathematics and to perform calculations related to these topics. In 1966, it was renamed "Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics".

The first supervisor of the "Office for Research and Calculations", and later of the "Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics", was Academician Professor John Nikita Xanthakis, until his death on 10 July 1994. During the years 1994-1997 the Research Centre was supervised by Academician Professor Nikolaos Artemiadis.

The current working areas of the Centre are:

(i) Dynamical Astronomy, Nonlinear phenomena and applications of Chaos Theory in Astronomy.
(ii) Galactic Dynamics and Galactic Morphology.
(iii) Solar Physics and Relations between Solar and Terrestrial Phenomena
(iv) Cosmology and Gravitation.
(v) Mathematical Applications in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The scientists in the Centre are working towards comparing theoretical results with observational data from ground based as well as from space observatories (VLT, Solar Orbiter etc.). The main scientific goals include the study of the role of Chaos in supporting structures in N-body simulations, the Dynamics of the Milky Way and other galaxies, the study of the magnetic connectivity in the active-regions of the solar atmosphere, the investigation of particle acceleration in the pulsar magnetosphere and the time profiles of the resulting high energy radiation, the formation and evolution of Structures in Cosmology as well as the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Many young graduate students and researchers join the Institute and successfully complete their PhD and Masters Theses. The courses "Nonlinear Dynamics" for Masters' students at the University of Athens is taught by members of this Institute.

Since 1997, the Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics organizes a weekly seminar with leading scientists from Greece and abroad as speakers. The talks are attended by many researchers, university professors and young scientists. In 2007 the Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics organized an international conference on "Chaos in Astronomy" as a continuation of another conference organized in 2002. The success of this series of conferences had led to plans to continue it during the next years. Another conference organized with remarkable success by the Institute was the conference "Classical and Quantum Gravity", held in Crete in 2009. The Research Centre for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics has also organized, with remarkable success, a series of talks for the general public in the Academy of Athens during 2009 in the spirit of the International Year of Astronomy. Many other talks for the general public are given every year.

List of References (3 books/articles)

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