Robert Hooke

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to Robert Hooke: Rudolf Virchow, Anton van Leeuwenhoek

Hooke, Robert

(ho͝ok), 1635–1703, English physicist, mathematician, and inventor. He became curator of experiments for the Royal Society (1662), professor of geometry at Gresham College (1665), and city surveyor of London after the great 1666 fire. Considered the greatest mechanic of his age, he made many improvements in astronomical instruments and in watches and clocks, was the first to formulate the theory of planetary movements as a mechanical problem, and anticipated universal gravitation. In 1684 he devised a practicable system of telegraphy. He invented the spiral spring in watches and the first screw-divided quadrant and constructed the first arithmetical machine and Gregorian telescope. He also stated Hooke's law (see elasticityelasticity,
the ability of a body to resist a distorting influence or stress and to return to its original size and shape when the stress is removed. All solids are elastic for small enough deformations or strains, but if the stress exceeds a certain amount known as the elastic
..... Click the link for more information.
), and in his pioneering book Micrographia (1665) he described his microscopic observations of plant tissues and coined the term cell.


See biography by L. Jardine (2004); studies by M. 'Espinasse (1956) and F. F. Centore (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hooke, Robert


Born July 18, 1635, on the Isle of Wight; died Mar. 3, 1703, in London. British natural philosopher. Member of the Royal Society in London (1663).

In 1653, Hooke entered Oxford University, where he later became an assistant to R. Boyle. In 1665 he became a professor at Gresham College, and from 1677 to 1683 he was secretary of the Royal Society in London. A resourceful scientist and inventor, Hooke dealt with many aspects of natural science in his work. In 1659 he constructed an air pump. Around 1660 he and C. Huygens established fixed points for the thermometer—the melting point of ice and the boiling point of water. Hooke improved the barometer and the reflecting telescope, used a terrestrial telescope to measure angles, and constructed an instrument for measuring the force of the wind, a machine for dividing a circle, and other instruments.

In 1660, Hooke made the very important discovery that the force applied to an elastic body is proportional to its deformation. This is known as Hooke’s law. He stated the concept that all celestial bodies attract one another, and he gave a general picture of planetary motion. Hooke anticipated Newton’s law of universal gravitation, and in 1679 he expressed the opinion that if the attractive force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance, a planet should move in an ellipse. He believed in the wave theory of light, questioned the corpuscular theory, and considered heat the result of the mechanical motion of particles of a substance.

Using a microscope that he had perfected, Hooke observed the structure of plants and made a clear drawing that was the first to show the cellular structure of cork. (Hooke introduced the term “cell.”) He also described the structure of cells of the elder, dill, and carrot.

In Hooke’s opinion, changes in the earth’s surface entailed changes in fauna. He considered fossils to be the remains of organisms that had once existed and believed that they could be used to reconstruct the earth’s history.

Hooke was also known as an architect. He designed several buildings, most of which are in London.


Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies. . . . London, 1665.
Lectures de Potentia Restitutiva. London, 1678.
An Attempt to Prove the Motion of the Earth From Observations. London, 1674.
Lectiones Cutlerianae. London, 1679.
Posthumous Works. London, 1705.
In Russian translation:
Obshchaia skhema, ili ideia nastoiashchego sostoianiia estestvennoi filosofii. In Nauchnoe nasledstvo: Estestvenno-nauchnaia seriia, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(The evidence appears to have been provided by the work of Boyle's assistant, Robert Hooke, but Boyle helped to ensure his own place in history by being the first to publish the findings.) Indeed, Boyle's contribution to the enormous development of science that took place in the 17th century lies not so much in his elucidation of the properties of air, or even in the entire corpus of his wide-ranging studies of colour, cold, hydrostatics, chemical analysis, and medicine; his contribution lies in his rigorous use of controlled experiments to study natural phenomena and in his meticulous documentation of those experiments.
Sawday moves easily from canonical to quotidian examples; he has readings or brief discussions of all the major English authors of the period and many others besides: Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Donne, Bacon, Dekker, Greene, and Jonson, not to mention major sections on Leonardo, Montaigne, the Italian engineer Domenico Fontana, and Robert Hooke. Within the broad umbrella of his topic, Sawday has a number of smaller problems he wants to cover: the importance of anatomy, printing and book history, the centrality of water as a resource, Freud's theory of the machine as compensatory device, seventeenth-century instrumentation and calculating devices, and transformations in the philosophy of mechanics, among many others.
She adopts a colloquial, button-holing, grating style, sometimes anachronistic (Robert Hooke might seem a 'creepy hypochondriacal nerd' [p.
The day that Robert Hooke, steeped in the emerging body of thought that gave rise to the scientific method, used the newly invented microscope to examine living tissues and saw that life emerges from the hierarchical assembly of imperceptible building blocks--cells--the idea that disease is caused by "malodorous exhalations" began to the.
Their hope, as Robert Hooke expressed it in his 1665 manifesto Micrographia, was that "by rectifying the operations of the Senses," these instruments would put knowledge on a new and more certain foundation.
Within the body of the book, chapters describe the work and travels of Robert Hooke (1635-1703), who was perhaps best known for his microscope work, but also for his investigations into many other areas of science.
Shadwell's Gimcrack is drawn from the popular conception of the Royal Society practitioners and alludes to the famous experimental philosopher, Robert Hooke, author of Micrographia (1665), which was one of the first two books published by the Royal Society; he also served as the Royal Society's Curator of Experiments (1662), Cutlerian Lector in Mechanics (1664), and Gresham Professor in Geometry (1664).
Robert Hooke, elsewhere viewed as a serious thinker and designer, is here 'a creepy hypochondriacal nerd'.
In the 1660s, when the 28-year-old Robert Hooke looked through one of the first microscopes, he found, to his surprise, that plant tissue was divided up into little units.
Instead of considering literature and science as both fabricated and true, Spiller argues that the insights of Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Robert Hooke, and Margaret Cavendish were accompanied by a recognition that "distortion is the basis for all acts of perception" (103).