Item description for The Forgotten Genius: Biography of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 by Stephen Inwood...
Overview A study of the life and times of seventeenth-century scientist Robert Hooke captures the diverse facets of his life as an astronomer, inventor, anatomist, and diarist.
Publishers Description Robert Hooke stood out as an inventive, versatile, and prolific scientist and architect in an age of brilliant minds. But for three hundred years his reputation has been overshadowed by those of his two greatest contemporaries, his friend Sir Christopher Wren and his rival Sir Isaac Newton. Historian Dr. Stephen Inwood re-creates the many facets of Hooke's life as an inventor, astronomer, and anatomist, candid diarist, braggart, and hoarder of money and secrets.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 7.5" Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Release Date Apr 19, 2004
ISBN 1931561567 ISBN13 9781931561563
Availability 0 units.
More About Stephen Inwood
Stephen Inwood is an associate professor of New York University in London and the author of "A History of London" and "The Man Who Knew too Much,"
Reviews - What do customers think about The Forgotten Genius: Biography of Robert Hooke 1635-1703?
Evocative History of Science Feb 7, 2007
A thoroughly readable and enjoyable book about the intellectual colleague and contemporary of Christopher Wren and Isaac Newton in 17th century London. The writing is witty and engaging and provides a vivid look at the social, scientific and physical structure of London after the Great Fire. I especially enjoyed the author's humorous descriptions of the machinations behind the scenes of the Royal Society and the often dangerous and bizarre experiments that Hooke and others would perform for the Society. A great peep into the development of many engineering, physics, astronomical chemistry and architectural discoveries.
A biography well worth your time Apr 6, 2006
This book provides a great deal of information about Robert Hooke not only as a contributor to modern science, but as a person during his lifetime. The issue of Newton being an antagonistic force in Hooke's life is emphasized greatly, and helps the reader understand how much power Hooke had to exert in order to make his ideas and discoveries known.
The book is enjoyable due to the fact that it does not solely focus on the science related aspect of Hooke's career. Having known little about him before I opened the book, I was surprised to find that he had a great deal of influence on structural architecture during the seventeenth century. The book provided me with a substantial amount of knowledge regarding Hooke's inventions and discoveries, as well as his personal feelings and reactions to certain people or occurrences, through the many quotations of his present throughout the reading.
This book is a fantastic source for one who is interested in learning about every aspect of Hooke's life, from the contributions to science as a general subject to his contributions to architecture and his involvement in technology during his time period. Not only was I able to gain a better understanding of the scientist and inventor within Hooke, but I was also able to understand him as a person and his life as well.
The Man Who Knew Too Much Nov 11, 2004
As a physics teacher, I had been well aware of Robert Hooke. Every year I teach Hooke's Law of elasticity to my students. Additionally, I had been aware of the importance of his book Micrographia and, since I consider myself a bit of a student on Isaac Newton, I had known something of his conflict with Newton over the Principia. However, I admit my knowledge of Hooke was sketchy. As a student of scientific history, I wanted that rectified so I turned to this book. It was certainly a rewarding experience.
Without a doubt, I learned much more than I ever knew about Robert Hooke and I gained a new respect for the man. Hooke's areas of interest were wide and his curiosity unbounded. I was completely unaware of his work with Christopher Wren and his own contributions to architecture and the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire. Additionally, I came to admire his willingness to stand behind the virtues of science (as in his prescient speculations on evolution) in the face of religious prejudice. And, apart from learning about Hooke, this book gives a deeper understanding of what it was like to be a working scientist in the early years of scientific exploration. It is certainly an excellent example of scientific biography.
There are a couple weaknesses with the book that kept coming back to me as I read, however. The first has to do with style; particularly, the style that I've noticed most often in British histories of science. Namely, the overabundance of information. This book is packed with detail. Much more detail than is really necessary in telling Hooke's story. Inwood often used Hooke's diary to make excellent points about the man often with respect to his day-to-day life, relationships and personalities but he also used it to excess in describing the myriad details of Hooke's work and investigations. Fortunately, I'm used to this style of writing and even enjoy it to an extent but even I found some of the lists of Hooke's doings and travels tedious going.
Still, it is the second flaw I find to be much more serious. One of Inwood's main goals seems to be to rehabilitate Hooke and give him his rightful place among history's great scientists. In this, I feel Inwood failed. In England this book was published as The Man Who Knew Too Much and this seems to me to be about right. But in America we say "a jack of all trades and a master of none." Hooke never comes across to me as a genius. Extraordinarily energetic and technically brilliant, he didn't seem to me to have the kind of mind that Newton and Huygens had. Perhaps if he had focused his abilities more he would have had their kind of triumphs but I doubt it.
And Inwood did nothing to dispel the image of Hooke as a bitter man who tried to claim the better work of others as his own. The repetition of Hooke's own claims to priority in his diary, letters and in the Royal Society records are probably only a fraction of the claims he made in his life and these alone are tedious. Inwood tries to make the point that the bitter man history describes could not have maintained the kind of friendships Hooke did in his life but I find that to be an argument without merit. Even the worst men have friends and Hooke was by no means a bad man. Inwood's book gives a picture of a lower class man trying throughout his life to gain the respect of the upper class and basically failing. We can sympathize with Hooke's struggles but that does not change the fact that, though often unfairly treated, many of his problems were of his own making.
In the final analysis, however, this is a very worthwhile book for anyone interested in the history of science. Hooke was, in his own way, an amazing man and it is fascinating to see this revolutionary time in science through the eyes of one of its most important supporters. In Hooke we see the forerunner of every man and woman who puts their all into science and tries tirelessly to make great discoveries. He may not be at the pinnacle but he deserves his place in scientific history.