Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences

Founded in 1917

Perhaps the beginnings of a Venezuelan Academy date back to 1857-1869 when the botanist Adolfo Ernst (1832-1899) led, together with other Venezuelan scientists, the creation of the Society of Physical and Natural Sciences. It was during the years 1857-1869 the first Venezuelan scientific journals were founded.

The Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales) was founded on 19 June 1917 by the president of Venezuela, Victorino Márquez Bustillos, who acted for the Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gómez who ruled the country from 1908 to 1935. The aim of the Academy was:-
... to make an effort so that the Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences reach the greatest development and advancement in the country.
The founding documents required the Academy to have 30 full members, 20 Venezuelan corresponding members, and 30 foreign corresponding members. It was to be run by a board consisting of the President, two Vice Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Librarian. All were to serve for two years. This sounded very good, but no appointments were made, so for many years the Academy only existed as a name. It appears that (see [5]):-
... the cause of such a late appointment was, mainly, the lack of agreement that existed within the Government for the selection of the thirty full members who, in accordance with the Law, would be appointed the first time by the President of the Republic.
It was not until 1933, two years before the death of dictator Juan Vicente Gómez, that members were appointed and the Academy began to operate.

Luis Vélez, an engineer, was appointed as the first President. He did not complete his two year appointment 1933-35, however, since he died in May 1935 before his term was completed. The 30 full members appointed in 1933 consisted of 22 engineers, 5 doctors, 1 mathematician, 1 geologist and 1 agronomist. The large number of engineers is explained by the fact that the majority of Venezuelan scientists at this time were engineers.

The Academy published a Bulletin, Boletín de la Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales, beginning in 1934. The first scientific article published there is a contribution to the study of the tides in the Venezuelan coasts, whose author Manuel Cipriano Pérez (1860-1937), a civil engineer and cartographer, was one of the full members of the Academy appointed in 1933. As an example from the latest volume of the Bulletin at the time this MacTutor article was written, volume 82 published in 2022, there is the paper Olimpiadas Matemáticas en Venezuela (1976-2021) by Rafael Sánchez Lamoneda. It has the following Abstract:-
The Venezuelan Mathematical Olympiad (OMV) began as a project presented to the National Centre for the Improvement of Science Teaching by Professor Saulo Rada Aranda in the 1975-76 academic year. Since then, a lot of history has passed and the Mathematical Olympiads are an extracurricular activity that, with ups and downs, has advanced in the Venezuelan educational community to be on par with more than a hundred countries distributed throughout the five continents that annually organise these school competitions. In this article we will make a brief historical account from the beginning of the OMV to the present day, including the participation of Venezuelan students in different mathematical competitions around the world.
Today the costs of printing the Bulletin are so high that it is only possible for the Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences to publish it in digital format.

Adolfo Ernst, whom we mentioned at the beginning of this article, said:-
While our political disturbances last ... there is no hope for the sciences and the arts making marked and positive progress: the muses flee from the din of arms.
Gioconda Cunto De San Blas in [5] relates the difficulties of Ernst's times with those of the present day (2019):-
Today in our country there will be those who think that the muses are once again silent due to the din of weapons, as Ernst protested in the time of the rule of the Monagas brothers. They, the muses, will have their reasons. We, on the other hand, cannot at this time accept the artificial peace of fear and silence in the face of abuses against citizens, in exchange for an apparent calm or normality for the development of our work. Therefore, and while we remain active in our work, we are obliged to speak out firmly. Countless times in our Academies we have raised a united voice of protest in defence of autonomy, academic freedom and freedom of thought as the guiding principles of university and academic life. We have condemned the acts of violence or repression by officials of the State security forces and claimed the citizen's right to protest peacefully, with the conviction that society is impoverished with regressions to an oppressive past and, on the contrary, progresses in freedom and democracy. ...

Let's not forget that the search for knowledge and its applications to reality are an ever-expanding path, which forces us to move forward in perpetuity. Stopping is, in fact, going backwards. In that journey there will always be contributions to give, especially when the nightmare is over. Then each contribution will be decisive, from collecting rubble to building new foundations and institutions. Scientists, technologists and innovators, all academics, will be there, contributing to the return of civility and the civil world. Do not have the slightest doubt.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela, The Interacademy Partnership.
  2. Centenario de la Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales (ACFIMAN), Tribuna del Investigador 20 (1-2) (2019).
  3. A Mendoza-Leon, Centenario de la Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales (ACFIMAN), Tribuna del Investigador 20 (1-2) (2019).
  4. Reseña Historica, Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales.
  5. G C De San Blas, La Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales, Civilidad y Progreso, Tribuna del Investigador 20 (1-2) (2019).

Last Updated February 2023