The Pontifical Academy of Sciences dates back four centuries to its creation as the Accademia dei Lincei in 1603. Pope Pius IX changed the name to the Pontifical Academy of the New Lincei in 1847 to signify its new status as an official institution of the Pontifical State. Nearly a century later, it was reorganized as the Pontifical Academy of Science on October 28, 1936, by Pope Pius XI in a Motu proprio In multis solaciis (Latin "Among the many consolations").
Although it reports directly to the Pontiff, the Academy has considerable freedom in conducting its mission: the study of Science and the possible consequences for the human condition. Christian belief is not a prerequisite for membership to the Academy, because first and foremost, it is a legitimate Scientific body that follows the Scientific Method. As of 2003 more than two dozen Nobel Prize winners (including Professor Ahmed Zewail, Chemistry 1999) and several Field Medal winners were counted as members. Plenary sessions are interdisciplinary events held every other year to review new developments and discus progress made towards their mission. Common working groups include astronomy and cosmology, cognition and brain science, and genetics.
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Casina Pio IV, home of the academy