More likely than not, you’ve heard about Robert Hooke and learned about his contributions to science. But do you know anything about the man behind the scientific discoveries and innovations? If your answer is “No”, read on to find out more about Hooke.
1. He Showed Talent At An Early Age.
Hooke was born on July 18, 1635, in the Isle of Wright. His parents were John (a minister) and Cecily Hooke. When Robert was young, his father tried to convince him to work in church ministry, but it was obvious that he was meant for other things. He liked to paint and was attracted to the concepts of mechanics. His early achievements included being able to create a working wooden replica of a clock and, later on, he proceeded to create his own mechanical toys.
2. He Interacted With Brilliant People.
Hooke first studied at Westminster School, where he mastered Latin and Greek and immersed himself in geometry and mathematics. After learning all he could in Westminster, he moved to Oxford, where he met some of the greatest names in math, science, and other fields. These people (some of whom were still students while others had already made a name for themselves) regularly met to discuss scientific matters, and soon Hooke was able to join the group. He eventually had the opportunity to work as an assistant to doctor and neuroanatomist Thomas Willis and later to chemist and physicist Robert Boyle.
3. He Came Up With The Term “Cell.”
Hooke wrote a book titled “Micrographia”, in which he described the numerous observations that he had made using a microscope and even included highly detailed and well-drawn observations. In this book, Hooke used the word “cell” to describe the structure of a cork, and the term later became used to refer to basic biological structures.
4. He Had a Difficult Relationship With Newton.
Although Hooke had made a lot of friends in the scientific community, Isaac Newton was not one of them. They argued mainly about the theory of light, which started when Newton sent his research papers to the Royal Society and Hooke was called upon to comment on it. He rejected Newton’s work, which lead to the latter publishing a scathing reply. Hooke later claimed that Newton’s work was based on his book “Micrographia”.
5. He Became a City Surveyor.
The Great Fire in the 1600s destroyed a large part of London, which had to be rebuilt. Because of his background in mathematics and mechanics, Hooke was appointed as a city surveyor and had to work with Christopher Wren to assess the damage that the fire caused and create a design for the streets and buildings. Hooke came up with the plan to lay out the city on a rectangular grid, which garnered the approval of leaders.
6. He Developed “Hooke’s Law.”
Hooke came up with the theory of elasticity (also known as Hooke’s Law), which states that the force required in the extension or compression of a spring is proportional to the weight that hangs from it. This isn’t really a major discovery, but Hooke was the first one to express the statement explicitly.
Robert Hooke wasn’t perfect, but it can’t be denied that he dedicated almost all his life to mechanics and to science as a whole.