Robert Hooke

early member of the Royal Society Of London

author of MicroGraphia including some classic detailed drawings

chief assistant to Christopher Wren in the rebuilding of London after the fire of 1666.

long-running dispute with Isaac Newton - Hooke had similar ideas on Gravity prior to Newton's publication of his work, and Newton never credited him.

Allan Chapman calls him "England's Leonardo Da Vinci"

  • As a mechanist, Hooke needed a medium of some sort if a cause were to produce an effect, for without a physical connecting agent, no matter how tenuous, one was no better off than the magicians who happily explained cause and effect by means of occult sympathies. One fundamental way in which Hooke differs from modern (or post-Newtonian) scientists is in his concern with active principles and connecting mediums, for like most other seventeenth-century researchers, he was still a "philosopher" who was interested in the causes of things. Though he, like Robert Boyle, Descartes and Gassendi, had abandoned the Greek qualitative approach to nature, in favour of a mechanical, quantitative approach, his thought processes were still haunted by the sources of cause and effect, albeit re-dressed in mechanical garb. It took Isaac Newton and the scientists of the eighteenth century to bequeath causes to the metaphysicians, and concentrate on expressing the nature of effects in precise mathematical terms.

  • But it was in his "Attempt to prove the Motion of the Earth" in 1674 that Hooke made some of the most pertinent remarks about gravitation that were made before Newton.

  • It was Newton's refusal to acknowledge Hooke's insight into this Inverse Square Law of Gravitation, following the publication of Principia in 1687, that led to the appalling debacle which broke out in the Royal Society.

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