Robert Hooke was born in 1635 and made a name for himself at the tender age of 25 as the physicist who discovered the law of elasticity in 1660, which came to be known as Hooke’s Law, as a result of his extensive research in several different fields.
The law states the stretching of a solid body is proportional to the force applied to it – or, as an equation, F = kx, where F represents the applied force which is equal to k (a constant) multiplied by the displacement of length – referred to as x. This law of elasticity directly applies to our work at JB Springs. The diagram below depicts this equation.
However, despite this eponymous law being Hooke’s most famous contribution to science, he also lent his names to many other publications and discoveries. For example, in 1665, he published Micrographia (“Small Drawings”) – now considered to be his most well-known pieces. Micrographia is a published compilation of his research, findings and drawings illustrating the make-up of snowflakes. Hooke first became interested in drawing at a very young age and as a child made materials out of iron ore, chalk and coal.
Robert Hooke is also credited with the first use of the term ‘cell’ to mean an organism unit. He first discovered the existence of cells as a result of observing cork through his microscope and noticing the presence of numerous cavities – and his work researching microscopic fossils which led to him becoming an initial advocate of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Among his other notable findings, Hooke is considered the inventor of balance springs used in watches and the universal joint (also called Hooke’s joint). Despite the existence of mechanisms resembling universal joints before Hooke’s lifetime, he was the one to discover that consistent rotation of the input resulted in the inconsistent rotation of the output (it was previously incorrectly described by German scientist Gaspar Schott as a constant-velocity joint). He also realised that the varying rate correlated with a shadow passing across a sundial, leading to his proposal of a mechanical sundial which later proved to be successful. Hooke’s use of the phrase ‘universal joint’ in his 1676 book Helioscopes is the first recorded usage of the phrase.
However, Hooke was known to have numerous disagreements with renowned physicist Isaac Newton. The recognition each received for scientific developments and discoveries were challenged by the other – for example, gravity and optics. Following Hooke’s death, Newton queried Hooke’s notability and – as President of the Royal Society – allegedly either intentionally ruined or at least failed to protect the single portrait of Hooke in existence!
To find out more about Robert Hooke and his work in physics, have a read through our 11 Facts you probably didn’t know about Robert Hooke blog post. Or to discover more about springs and our work manufacturing them in all shapes and sizes, visit our other webpages or get in touch using the contact form at the bottom of this page.