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Biography

Robert Hooke  was born on July 18th, 1635, in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, the son of The Rev.  John Hooke, curate of Freshwater.  Young Robert was to follow in his father's footsteps, but his weak disposition and ill health keep him at home, where he occupies himself by building mechanical toys. 

 In October of 1648, John Hooke, afflicted by many illnesses such as jaundice and palsy, decides he has had enough suffering and hangs himself; the 13 year old Robert goes to London to study painting under Sir Peter Lely, but an allergy to paint fumes forces him to abandon painting.  He then enters Westminster School in  Dr. Richard Busby's house, where he learnt Latin and Greek. 5 years later, he enters Christ Church, Oxford, and becomes a close friend of  Sir Christopher Wren.

In 1655, he communicates "Artifices for Flying" to John Wilkins - Wadham College, studies astronomy with Seth Ward, assists Thomas Willis in Chemistry and is recommended by him to Robert Boyle.  He then goes on to assist Boyle in constructing an air pump.  In 1658, he applies the conical pendulum to watches, but he  refuses terms of a patent negotiated by Boyle.  The discovery remains unknown until 1675.

In 1661, Hooke publishes an article on capillary attraction, which he later includes in Micrographia.  In the Fall of 1662, he is appointed to the post of Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, and  granted lodging at Gresham College.  He is then elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FSR) in June of 1663; in October of that same year, Royal Society's Repository is committed to Hooke's care.

On May 9th, 1664, Hooke, who is quite knowledgeable in astronomy,  is the first to infer the rotation of Jupiter.  In June, Sir John Cutler hires Robert Hooke to lecture on mechanics, but Hooke has trouble getting paid by Cutler, and has to take him to court.  Hooke then gives astronomical lectures at Gresham College as locum for Dr Pope between 1664 and 1665. 

In July of 1664, Hooke calculates the number of vibrations for the musical notes, and in September of that same year, he discovers the fifth star in the Orion trapezium.  In 1665, Hooke's position as Curator of Experiments is made permanent. Hooke studies the nature of air and its relationship to respiration and combustion, the laws of falling bodies,  improvements to diving-bells, telegraphy, the weather,  he sets the thermometrical zero at the freezing point of water, and also invents a machine for cutting gear wheels.

On March 20th 1665, Hooke is nominated as professor of Geometry at Gresham College.  It is around that time he publishes Micrographia, his seminal work on microscopy.  The book's contents include, amongst other things, the  earliest investigation of the colors of thin plates of mica with an explanation based on interference; comment on the 'black spot' in soap bubbles, as well as richly detailed illustrations of micro fauna such as fleas and other small insects.  This publication brings Hooke well deserved worldwide scientific acclaim.

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