Most people learn about Robert Hooke when they learn about the “cell” in high school. He is credited with coining the term in the most important publication that he’d ever produce, a manuscript called “Micrographia.” In that particular passage, Hooke detailed the structure of a cork. He went on further to discuss other observations like a fly and a snowflake.
Hooke made quite a few advancements in science. He is today considered a true polymath, with disciplines ranging from astronomy to human memory. He also experimented with the properties of air, and kept a journal of all his work.
Hooke is also known for his theory of elasticity. He described the contraction and expansion of a spring, saying that the force necessary to extend or compress is equal to the distance of that action. This discovery eventually led him to create the first spring-regulated watch.
Hooke’s personal life suggests that he was an introvert. His father had clearly favored his brother in the family will, but Robert had been the one to prosper over time. Though Robert was a sickly child, he managed to outlive his brother.
However, the fact that Robert never married and that he maintained relationships with most of his housemaids suggested that he was also a rather timid fellow. Yet this seems contradictory to Hooke’s fervor within the scientific community. Especially with regards to Isaac Newton, who he sparred with intellectually on a regular basis.
Hook died of symptoms that appear today to be diabetes at the age of 62.
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