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. 2016 Mar 20;70(1):23-44.
doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2015.0057.

CRAFTING THE MICROWORLD: HOW ROBERT HOOKE CONSTRUCTED KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SMALL THINGS

Free PMC article

CRAFTING THE MICROWORLD: HOW ROBERT HOOKE CONSTRUCTED KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SMALL THINGS

Ian Lawson. Notes Rec R Soc Lond. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

This paper investigates the way in which Robert Hooke constructed his microscopical observations. His Micrographia is justifiably famous for its detailed engravings, which communicated Hooke's observations of tiny nature to his readers, but less attention has been paid to how he went about making the observations themselves. In this paper I explore the relationship between the materiality of his instrument and the epistemic images he produced. Behind the pictures lies an array of hidden materials, and the craft knowledge it took to manipulate them. By investigating the often counter-theoretical and conflicting practices of his ingenious microscope use, I demonstrate the way in which Hooke crafted the microworld for his readers, giving insight into how early modern microscopy was understood by its practitioners and audience.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Hooke's microscope, detail from Micrographia scheme 1, opposite p. 1. The objects that Hooke has labelled ‘Fig:4’ and ‘Fig:5’ are instruments described below.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Filippo Bonanni's horizontal microscope, from his Observationes circa Viventia, Quae in Rebus Non Viventibus Reperiuntur (Rome, 1691), p. 28. (Image courtesy of Université de Strasbourg, Service Commun de la Documentation (France).)
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
Micrographia, scheme 33, opposite p. 207.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
Draft of ‘A Kind of Teek’. Detail from John Covel, ‘Natural history and commonplace notebook’, ca. 1660. (Copyright © The British Library Board, Add. 57495, f. 113v; reproduced with permission.)

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