Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke is one name that didn’t draw as much attention as Newton’s did, though both were contemporaries; but his work has been no less significant and diverse. The famous Hooke’s Law in elasticity came from him in 1678 in his statement translated to English as ” As the extension, so the force”.

Robert Hooke is also considered as the father of microscopy. Though mainly dealing with biological specimen, he put down his observations meticulously in the book Micrographia in the year 1665, which is now available to us as an e-book. It contains a series of images which might interest materials scientists as much as it would interest biologists.  He suggested right then that artificial silks could be made by mimicking spider silks to get good strength and toughness, a feat that is coming to see the light of the day only now. He said ” nd I have often thought, that probably there might be a way found out, to make an artificial glutinous composition, much resembling, if not full as good, nay better, then that Excrement, or whatever other substance it be out of which, the Silk-worm wire-draws his clew. If such a composition were found, it were certainly an easie matter to find very quick ways of drawing it out into small wires for use. I need not mention the use of such an Invention, nor the benefit that is likely to accrue to the finder, they being sufficiently obvious. This hint therefore, may, I hope, give some Ingenious inquisitive Person an occasion of making some trials, which if successfull, I have my aim, and I suppose he will have no occasion to be displeas’d.”

Accounts of his friction with Newton and the disappearance of his portrait from the Royal Society makes up for a scandalous story as well!.

A sample piece of one of his images is here:

Fine waled silk or Taffety


About jayabhat

Research student, Dept of Materials Engg, IISc, Bangalore
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