Robert Hooke – 23rd October 2003

Rob Warren from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, gave us a talk about Robert Hooke. This year is the 300th anniversary of Hooke’s death, and there is a special exhibition at the R.O.G. until January. Hooke is best remembered for his book “Micrographia“, but he played a part in many scientific and architectural endeavours during the later part of the 17th century. He worked with many of the great scientists and architects of the time. He was one of the group who formed the Royal Society, and was for a while its Curator. After the Great Fire he was responsible for a significant part of the re-building of London, and helped Wren with the design of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Monument was largely Hooke’s work, and the zenith telescope inside it, though not a success itself, was the inspiration for Flamsteed’s Well Telescope at Greenwich. Hooke was responsible for the 8 foot quadrant there, He undoubtedly had a profound effect on the growth in the understanding of science, very probably contributing to many of the developments made by his contemporaries, but he did not himself publish or patent as much as he might have done, and he was critical of some of his contemporaries. Flamsteed and Newton were both targets of his criticism. Today, perhaps, he should be recognised for far more than just “Micrographia“.

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