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The First Professional Scientist: Robert Hooke and the Royal Society of London

Robert D. Purrington
Publisher: 
Birkhäuser
Publication Date: 
2009
Number of Pages: 
281
Format: 
Hardcover
Series: 
Science Networks Historical Studies 39
Price: 
169.00
ISBN: 
9783034600361
Category: 
Monograph
BLL Rating: 

The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Herbert E. Kasube
, on
08/11/2010
]

When most people think about Robert Hooke, two things usually spring to mind:

  • Hooke’s Law
  • Hooke’s feud with Isaac Newton

This book paints in the rest of the picture. For example, in 1666 the Great Fire of London devastated the city. Hooke assisted Christopher Wren in rebuilding London, yet he is given little recognition for this. Even “The Monument” on Fish Street Hill that marks the starting point of the fire ignores Hooke’s contributions. This text presents them.

Hooke also played a major role in the early years of the Royal Society of London. Without Hooke’s contributions this great organization might never have flourished as it did. This book describes these contributions in detail. And yes, Hooke’s Law and Hooke’s relationship to Newton and Newton’s Principia are presented.

Each chapter is abundantly annotated.  These annotations do more than just give a source: they are often quite descriptive in themselves. The book includes numerous illustrations that range from Hooke’s drawing of a female gnat (page 47) to a map showing the devastation from London’s Great Fire of 1666 (page 51) and a figure from Hooke’s published lecture “De Restitutiva or Of Spring” (page 111).

This book describes the life of Hooke as well as his scientific contributions. Reading this book will enable one to see Hooke as the eclectic gentleman that he was.  Anyone interested in Hooke or the London scientific community of the 17th century will certainly enjoy perusing it.

 


 

Herb Kasube is Professor of Mathematics at Bradley University in Peoria, IL.

 


Acknowledgments.- Preface.- Restoring Robert Hooke.- Robert Hooke: Indefaticable Genius: Hooke and London.- Promoting Physico-Mathematical-Experimental Learning: Founding the Royal Society of London.- Society of the Muses: The First Decade.- Crisis and Consolidation: 1672-1687.- The Society after the Principia: 1688-1703.- Scientific Virtuoso: Hooke 1655-1687.- And All Was Light: Hooke and Newton on Light and Color.- The Nature of Things Themselves: Robert Hooke, Natural Philosopher.- The System of the World: Hooke and Universal Gravitation, the Inverse-Square Law, and Planetary Orbits.- The Omnipotence of the Creator: Robert Hooke, Astronomer.- The Last Remain: Hooke after the Principia, 1687-1703.-Epilogue.- Bibliography.- Index

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