Dr Robert Hooke (1635 – 1703)

Robert Hooke was an English inventor, microscopist, physicist, surveyor, astronomer, biologist and artist, who played an important role in the scientific revolution, through both theoretical and experimental work.

Robert Hooke was born July 18, 1635, at Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight, the son of John Hooke, curate at All Saints’ Church. He was apparently largely educated at home by his father, and was able to enter Westminster School at the age of thirteen. In 1653, Hooke secured a chorister’s place at Christ Church, Oxford, where some of the best scientists in England were working at the time. Hooke impressed them with his skills at designing experiments and building equipment, and soon became an assistant to the chemist Robert Boyle.In 1660, he discovered Hooke’s law of elasticity, which describes the linear variation of tension with extension in an elastic spring. In 1662 Hooke was named Curator of Experiments of the newly formed Royal Society of London — meaning that he was responsible for experiments performed at the Society’s weekly meetings. In 1665, he published a book entitled Micrographia. Hooke devised the compound microscope and illumination system – one of the best such microscopes of his time, and used it in his demonstrations at the Royal Society’s meetings. Also in 1665 he gained appointment as Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London. A year later, he achieved fame as Surveyor to the City of London and chief assistant of Christopher Wren, helping to rebuild London after the Great Fire. He worked on designing the Monument, Royal Greenwich Observatory, St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose dome uses a method of construction conceived by Hooke, and Bethlem Royal Hospital. His health deteriorated over the last decade of his life and died in London on March 3, 1703.

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