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Robert Hooke (1635-1703)
By Mary Bellis

Robert Hooke's drawing of a fleaIn 1665, the English physicist Robert Hooke looked at a sliver of cork through a microscope lens and noticed some "pores" or "cells" in it. Robert Hooke believed the cells had served as containers for the "noble juices" or "fibrous threads" of the once-living cork tree. He thought these cells existed only in plants, since he and his scientific contemporaries had observed the structures only in plant material.

Robert Hooke wrote Micrographia, the first book describing observations made through a microscope. The drawing to the top left was created by Hooke. Hooke was the first person to use the word "cell" to identify microscopic structures when he was describing cork. Hooke also wrote Hooke's Law -- a law of elasticity for solid bodies.

Robert Hooke Biography
Robert Hooke, the English father of microscopy, re-confirmed Antony van Leeuwenhoek's discoveries of the existence of tiny living organisms found under the microscope in a drop of water. Hooke made a copy of Leeunwenhoek's microscope and used it to confirm other observations reported by Leeunwenhoek and to improve upon his design.

Robert Hooke
Robert Hooke invented the universal joint, the iris diaphragm, and an early prototype of the respirator; invented the anchor escapement and the balance spring, which made more accurate clocks possible, invented or improved meteorological instruments such as the barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer; and so on.

Robert Hooke
Robert Hooke is one of the most neglected natural philosophers of all time. The inventor of, amongst other things, the iris diaphragm in cameras, the universal joint used in motor vehicles, the balance wheel in a watch.

The Legacy of Robert Hooke
"He was of an active, restless, indefatigable Genius even almost to the last, and always slept little to his death, seldom going to sleep till two three, or four a Clock in the Morning, and seldomer to Bed, often continuing his Studies all Night, and taking a nap in the day. His temper was Melancholy...."

Hooke's Law - Coil Springs
"Hooke's Law" is about stretching springs and wires.

Return to The History of Microscopes

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