When The Royal Society was founded in 1660, life for the average person in the UK was unimaginably different from today. For one thing, largely owing to lack of understanding of infectious diseases, life expectancy at birth was roughly half today's. The intervening centuries have seen huge changes, both in scientific understanding and in its effects on everyday life. People have, of course, been trying for thousands of years to make sense of how the natural world works. But with the advent of the fact-based experimental approach – affirmed in The Royal Society's motto Nullius in verba – the lights started to turn on, and science began its continuing journey out from the mists of superstition, dogma, and the apodictic utterances of authority.