Today’s blog is in honour of the great microscopist Robert Hooke. Born on 18 July 1685 (which is actually the 28 July today due to the shift to the Gregorian calendar in Britain in 1752), Robert Hooke – although not as famous as some of his counterparts such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton – was to have a huge impact on the scientific community. He was a curious individual, always observing, noting, and drawing what he saw. This drive and curiosity resulted in this ‘caulkhead’ (native of the Isle of Wight, UK) producing in 1665 at the tender age of 30 years, one of my favorite books – ‘Micrographia or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries thereupon’.
My very own copy of the great book Micrographia
Not the snappiest of subtitles, I concur, but contained within the pages of this book are some of the earliest but arguably still scientifically important drawings/diagrams of life as seen under a microscope.
Fleas are some of the oddest insects and sit in a strange position when it comes to how the public feel about them. Fleas are hated for their feeding activities and disease transmission whilst their aesthetics have long been admired thanks to mostly the works of Robert Hooke and his diagrams in Micrographia.
The illustration of a flea in Robert Hooke’s Micrographia
Hooke writes ‘the strength and beauty of this small creature, had it no other relation at all to man, would deserve a description’. Wonderfully phrased, this sentence sums up the feelings I have when looking at these small creatures.
Science Uncovered 2015 is rapidly approaching and, as usual, the Library and Archives team will be contributing to the night this Friday 25 September. And not just at the Museum in South Kensington but also at our sister Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire.
“The Courtship of Pisaura mirabilis” by Arthur Smith
South Kensington (between 17.00 – 21.00)
We’ll be in the Earth Sciences Library in the Red Zone (the door is within the Lasting Impressions gallery). This collection space is not usually open to the public, so it’s a very rare opportunity to have a peek inside.
This year we’ll be showing off some our favourite items from the Library: books, artworks, archives and artefacts that highlight the amazing diversity of our collections and our work.