Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Minute Bodies




MICROGRAPHIA: OR SOME Physiological Descriptions of MINUTE BODIES MADE BY MAGNIFYING GLASSES with OBSERVATIONS and INQUIRIES thereupon. 1665.

Robert Hooke (1635-1703) could list in his not inconsiderable curriculum vitae, inventor, physicist, astronomer, biologist and architect among other talents. Sir Isaac Newton, who was mutually despised by Hooke, first wrote "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" as a sarcastic barb in a letter to Hooke, who was short in stature.

When he published Micrographia in 1665, Samuel Pepys described it as "the most ingenious book I have ever read in my life." Hooke accurately described his observations from use of a compound microscope in it and it was very popular following release.

About the flea image above he wrote:

"..a'dorned with a curiously polished suite of sable Armour, neatly jointed.."
and in relation to the cork cell illustration above he observed:
"..I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous, much like a Honey-comb, but that the pores of it were not regular....these pores,....or cells,...were indeed the first microscopial pores I ever saw, and perhaps that were ever seen.."
which announced the discovey of the cell. The third image is the head of a fly.

Hooke was also notable in being the official Surveyor of London following the Great Fire of 1666 and, together with Sir Christopher Wren, designed a number of replacement buildings in and around London. Curiously, no known portrait of Robert Hooke exists.

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