index to Blue plaques  |  Links  |  Contacts

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke
Born: 18 July 1635 Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: 3 March 1703 Gresham College, London
Educated at Westminster School and Christchurch, Oxford
1662 First Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, London
Room at IOP headquarters named after him.
Other memorials are listed on the website
While at Oxford he acted as assistant to Robert Boyle, constructing the air pump for him. He made many discoveries, including his law of elasticity, showed that thermal expasion is a general property of matter, designed a balance spring for use in watches. In 1665 he published Micrographia which was a fully illustrated account of his investigations with his improved microscope. It also contained theories of colour, and of light, which he suggested was wavelike. He was also a capable architect having written the theory of the arch and designed a method of constructing the dome of St Paul's cathedral for his friend Christopher Wren. He also designed an improved plan for rebuilding London afer the great fire, but his rival Isaac Newton refused to add Hooke's name to the Monument commemmorating the rebulding. Fortunately, during the redevelopment of the Monument Yard in 2007, a memorial granite paving stone was carved which acknowledges Hooke's work as "Natural Philosopher & England's Leonardo. Horologist Astronomer Microscopist Geologist Physiologist Architect".

There is now a Robert Hooke Society with Headquarters at The Island Planetarium, Fort Victoria, the Isle of Wight. They have a website with pages describing further monuments to him, including the Biodiversity Bell on the Dorset coast commemmorating his discovery of fossils in Portland stone of now extinct animals and the 'Robert Hooke Trail' describing his activities in a walk beside the River Yar in the Isle of WIght.

Further details can be found in:
The Man Who Knew Too Much. The Strange and Inventive life of Robert Hooke 1635 - 1703 by Stephen Inwood. Publisher: Macmillan 2002 ISDN 0 333 78286 0

Page last updated 19 December 2014