There was a moment in history when the greatest minds of the day came together to meet once a month on the Monday closest to the full moon in order to do nothing more than eat, drink, and discuss the most interesting intellectual and scientific developments of the time. This nerd’s paradise called themselves the Lunar Society, or sometimes the “lunatics,” and was based at The Soho House in Birmingham, England from 1765-1813.
The group was extremely selective about who could join and had only fourteen core members at any given time, each chosen for their areas of unique expertise. At one time the group included—but was not limited to—industrialist Matthew Boulton, inventor of the steam engine James Watt, genius physician and polymath Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles), and discoverer of carbon dioxide Joseph Priestly. Honorary members also included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who would attend meetings when in the area.
The society was not political or religious in nature (and in fact, politics and religion were generally never discussed). Its members met in order to debate how advances in thought and science could better the world around them. It’s been said that the Lunar Society was second only to the Royal Society in terms of its intellectual significance at the time.