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Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke The English scientist, inventor, artist and architect Robert Hooke (1635–1703) is most famous for his pioneering work using the first microscopes. He was the first to use the term “cells” to describe the basic building blocks of life. He also invented or improved a number of scientific instruments, including the anchor escapement mechanism (used in a pendulum clock) and the balance spring (used in a pocket watch). His scientific studies extended across the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. As well as his ideas on gravity and fossilization, he put forward Hooke’s Law, which states that the tension force in a spring increases in direct proportion to the length it is stretched to.

Robert Hooke as a child

Early years

Robert Hooke was born on the Isle of Wight in 1635. For most of his childhood, and throughout his whole life, his health was poor. As a young boy, he showed impressive skill in drawing and working on delicate instruments such as clocks. In 1648, the 13-year-old boy enrolled at Westminster School in London, where he learned Greek and Latin and studied mathematics and mechanics. In 1653, he became a chorister at Christ Church College, Oxford, where he studied experimental science.

Accomplished in so many different scientific disciplines as well as being a mathematician, architect and engineer, Robert Hooke has been described as “England’s Leonardo”.


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