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Robert Hooke

Born on July 18th 1635 on the Isle of Wight, he was the son of a curate, John Hooke. He was a sickly child, who wasn't really expected to live, and had a lot of dietary intollerences. Until he reached seven, he was pretty much left to do a he wished.

After then, when it became obvious that he was going to live, his father made some rudimentary effort to give him an education, but by this time his own health was failing, so progress was not that significant.

After the visit of an artist to the island, Hooke decided that he could do the same thing, and after making his own paints, became sufficiently competent that after his father's death in 1648 he was given an inheritance of 100 and sent to london to be an apprentice to the artist Sir Robert Lely.

He decided that he could learn painting by himself, so it seemed silly to waste the money on an apprenticeship, so he used the money to send himself to pay for an education at Westminster School, where as well as his regular studies he learnt to play the organ.

At school he showed a talent for geometry and music, which formed the basis for his wave based theory of reality, but was always hard up for money and had to work as a servent.

When he went to university, he continued to work as a servent, and was a member of the philosophical society which included christopher wren.

Shortly after the return of the monarchy, this society moved to london, where they became the royal society, and he became the first archivist.

One of his duties was to show multiple experiments per day, which he did for many years. This made him the first professional research scientist.

He invented the air pump, using the cream of the technical artisans of the time, gunsmiths for the cylinders, glass blowers for the bowl, carpenters for the frame and watchmakers for the gears.

He spent years improving the nature of optical instruments, becoming the best designer of them in london until newton.

He created the best microscopes, and did a lot of observational work, resulting in the publication of a book, the micrographica

He did a lot of work on springs, including discovering the fundamental laws which still bear his name.

He even went as far as to suggest that a dual sprung balance could form the basis for a sea watch, decades before harrison solved the problem using just that method.

He fell out with the secretary of the society, oldhamburg, accusing him of plaguarism and profiteering after christien Huygens created a watch based upon hooke's ideas, offering to give the rights to exploit it in england to the secretary in return for help securing a patent.

This dispute poisoned his relationship with the then unknown newton, as the secretary repeatedly misrepresented hooke to newton.

After an initially dismissive response to this unknown with a new telescope design, he eventually made overtures towards reconciliation with newton, prompting newton's famous "on the shoulders of giants" quote (which might have been a caustic reference to the small height of hook).

This lead newton to do his work on optics, but he refused to publish it until after hooke's death.

After the great fire of london in 1666, he got the job of chief surveyor, which made him over 8,000 (nearly a million in modern money). He also helped wren with the design of some of the buildings.

He also designed a lot of public buildings and churches, some of which have been mis-identified as being done by his old friend christopher wren.

He also postulated an inverse quare law for gravity, and tried to use the special features which he included in the construction of the monument to weigh the difference in gravity with the change in the height. Unfortunately, the balances of the time were not sufficiently sensitive to confirm this idea.

The monument was also designed to be used as a transit telescope to measure the paralax of gamma scorpii.

He communicated this law to newton, asking for his opinion, but newton didn't bother to reply.

When newton published his principia mathematica, describing the universal gravitation and the inverse square law, hooke took this to be another instance of plaguarism, and went through and anotated all the ideas which were taken from him (but not credited). He then published this list with the accusation of plaguarism, which permenently soured relations with newton, and with newtons increased influence, with the royal society.

After his death, newton systematically tried to write him out of all the history of the royal society.

He helped create the royal observatory at greenwhich, and equiped it with the best instruments he could design.

He was a genius at the creation of scientific instruments.

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last modified 00:30 2006/03/18