Robert Hooke, the greatest experimental scientist and architect of the seventeenth century, was born on 18th July 1635; he was son of John Hooke. He has been called “one of the most creative geniuses people have ever seen”, but he is also one of lesser know scientist. Hooke was an exceptionally gifted child, he was enrolled at Westminster School where he completed and mastered Euclid's six books of geometry in single week and invented various ways of flying.
He used to live in Westminster School during his stay at school, and used to work in the household of the headmaster Dr. Busby, who became his best friend. In 1653 he moved to Oxford, for higher education, and later obtained his MA (Master of Arts) degree.
In Oxford, Hooke was lucky to secure the guidance and sponsorship of John Wilkins, the supervisor of Wadham College Wilkins had gathered around him a group of Royal Society students who were mostly superior to Hooke in status and age. Wilkins encouraged him to acquire their friendship, trust and appreciation, which turned out to be very important for his future. In 1658, Willis, a chemist, who also employed Hooke as an assistant for his experiments, recommended him to Boyle, the greatest sponsor of Restoration science, to attend to his laboratory, near University College in London, and Hooke practically started his scientific career.
In 1660, after the Restoration of Charles II, Hooke became Curator of Experiments to the Royal Society, a post which he held until his death, he was in charge for demonstrating new experiments at the weekly meetings of Royal Society. Later he also joined Gresham College London as Professor of Geometry, where he had couple of rooms and lived for the rest of his life.
In 1667, after the great fire of London, he was also appointed as Surveyor for the City of London. His responsibilities were to help plan and oversee the building of bridges, canals, and quays.
Hooke’s list of inventions and discoveries is really impressive. In 1672 he suggested that the vibrations in light might be perpendicular to the direction of propagation. He invented the air-pump which was the predecessor of the internal combustion engine and steam engine. He was the first scientist to notice that plants have a cellular structure. Hooke also discovered Hook's Law, regarding power in springs, and he used it to invent a portable watch using a balance-spring instead of an old pendulum concept. He also invented the universal joint which is a key part of all modern cars.
His health was very poor over the last decade of his life, although his biographers wrote that he as active and restless till his last moment. He died on March 3, 1703.