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The Royal Institution of Great Britain was established in London on this date in 1799 with funding from the Society for Bettering the Conditions and Improving the Comforts of the Poor. Its purposes, said its charter, were "diffusing the knowledge, and facilitating the general introduction, of useful mechanical inventions and improvements; and . . . teaching, by courses of philosophical lectures and experiments, the application of science to the common purposes of life." In 1994, Baroness Susan Adele Greenfield, a member of the House of Lords who is a researcher into brain physiology and a popular writer and broadcaster about science, was invited to be the first woman to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture. She was appointed to head the Institution as director in 1998, and served until the position was abolished as "no longer affordable" in 2010. Greenfield is a strong advocate of science education and "democratization" through such organizations as Science for Humanity. In 2011 she made controversial statements warning that modern technology, especially social media, might have an adverse effect on brain development in children.
"A world without long-term relationships, where people are unable to understand the consequences of their actions or empathize with one another . . . is a plausible future." —Susan Greenfield
JEWDAYO ROCKS! Peter Wolf (Blankfield), lead singer for the J. Geils Band and solo blues artist, was born in the Bronx on this date in 1946. To hear him singing Otis Rush's "Homework," see below.