Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, ITALY

                      The main characters                   
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Robert Hooke (1635-1702) Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680)

Robert Hooke.


Born at Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight, he was one of the most brilliant and versatile English scientists of the seventeenth century. He frequented, without ever graduating, Oxford University, where he was in contact with the group of natural philosophers (John Wilkins, John Wallis, Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, amongst others), who would then go on to make up the nucleus of the Royal Society. He was an extremely talented inventor and instrument maker (his name is linked to a kind of microscope) He formulated, too, a wave-theory of light which he clearly announced in his Micrographia of 1665. Having carried out his duties as Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society for around fifteen years (1662-1677), he became Secretary in 1677, holding the post until 1682.
In the field of pneumatics, Hooke's name is linked, in particular, to the construction of a perfected version of Otto von Guericke's air-pump, which was then described by Boyle, whose assistant he was between 1657 and 1662 - in the New Experiments Physico-Mechanical (1660). Through an ingenious series of experiments conducted with this instrument, Boyle and Hooke demonstrated that the observable effects in the torricellian experiment were really due to the air and its pressure, that sound was impossible in a vacuum, and that air was permanently elastic.





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