Walking around St. Paul’s Cathedral I saw this ‘Robert Hooke Biodiversity Bell’ by chance.
Hooke was probably the first man who realised that extinction of species was really possible.
The Robert Hooke Biodiversity Bell
The bell was designed by sculptor, Marcus Vergette and cast at Taylor’s Bell Founders in Loughborough from a mould of the same fossil-rich Portland limestone of which the base, St. Paul’s, and so much of central London, is made.
This is the final scale model for a much larger ‘geological’ bell to be tolled whenever a species goes extinct worldwide and will be sited at the MEMO Project on the Isle of Portland. During the aftermath of the Great Fire of London Robert Hooke first deduced that species could go extinct from giant ammonite fossils in Portland stone […]
Location: Robert Hooke Biodiversity Bell (map)
The Astronomical Revolution is visited after the Greek books and Copernicus (1473-1543) and his De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium are the next couple to study:
He was born in Poland in a very rich family. His parents died and his uncle (bishop of Warmia) took care of him. He went to the University of Krakow and he studied Canonic Law in Bologna some years later. He was under the Italian Humanism there and he began to have interest for Astronomy. He completed his studies and also Mechanics in Padova and read his doctoral dissertation in Canonic Law in the University of Ferrara. After this, he came back to his country and entered the Bishop’s court. In 1513 he wrote the Commentariolus – manuscript which circulated anonymously- where astronomers could read his new astronomical system. He was invited to reform the Julian calendar. He wrote his great work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium inthe last days of his life and he defended the heliocentrical hypothesis in it. His disciple Rheticus brought a copy of the manuscript to the printing in 1542 and it was published in 1543. Copernicus died in Frombork and his theory was condemned by the Church in 1616 and was in the List of Prohibited Books until 1748.
I think that I’m going to go to Poland next holidays!
One of the most important followers of the heliocentrism was Johannes Kepler (1571-1630):
The scientist who opened the way to the modern astronomy was born in Weil der Stadt, Germany. He suffered from myopia and double vision caused from smallpox and this wasn’t a problem for him to discover the laws which explain the movements of the planets around the Sun. He studied Theology in the University of Tubingen under his teacher Michael Mastlin and he soon noticed his unusual skills reading Ciopernicus’ heliocentrism. He mainly lived in Graz, Prague and Linz. He met Tycho Brahe in Prague and some years later he became Imperial Mathematician under Rudolph II’s protection. It wa sin this period when he developed his great works: Tabulae Rudolphinae and Astronomia Nova (1609). In Astronomia Nova he explained two of the three fundamental laws describing the movement of the planets; the third one was explained in Harmonices Mundi Libri V (1619). Kepler was the first scientific in needing phisician demonstrations to the celestial phenomena.
Who is the next? Galileo (1564-1642), of course!
His book is the Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano (1632). In this book he defended the Copernicanism against the Ptolemaic system although the book was prohibited by the Inquisition and he was condemned to house arrest.
Galileo died in 1642 and Newton (1642-1727) was born some months after his death. His Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica was one of the most important scientific books of all the History of Science. I am not going to talk about Newton and his book after my visit to Englang last holidays but here you have his portrait:
The other scientists of this epoch are Vesalius (De humani corporis fabrica), Harvey (Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguini), Linneo (Systema naturae) and Hooke (Macrographia):
There is another important mathematician from the 17th century but… it will be presented tomorrow!
One of my last visits in England in August was Woolsthorpe Manor House which is Newton’s birthplace. We had to take the flight in the afternoon but we got up early and we drove until we arrived to this sacred place!
Of course almost all the objects of the house are reproductions of the original ones which were used by Newton and his family. There also is a room dedicated to explaining his life and scientific contribution…
…where it’s possible to find a lock of his hair:
The room where he was born is absolutely reconstructed and a plaque remembers us the great date:
There is the famous apple tree outside:
A tree with a place in history
Woolsthorpe is the home of the Flower of Kent tree connected with Newton’s story of how he discovered the law of gravitation -a story told by Newton himself to William Stukeley, one of his biographers, in 1726:
“…after dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden, & drank tea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to himself: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a contemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it…”
The tree adquired a local reputation and after Newton’s death people would make the pilgrimage to the Manor House and to see the tree in the orchard. In 1820 the tree blew down after a storm. Sketches were made of it and the broken wood was used to make snuff boxes and small trinkets. Fortunately the tree remained rooted and re-grew strongly -this is the tree we have now.
There are descendants of the tree planted throughout the world, including at Trinity College, Cambridge, at the Massachussets Institute of Technology in the United States, and at Tianjin University in China. There are also several in this orchars, so that when the tree comes to the natural end of its life there will be descendants to carry on the story.
In another house there is a little exhibition about Newton’s experiments and discoveries:
There is also little information about other contemporany scientists like Leibniz, Hooke or Flamsteed:
Finally, there is a sundial in the orchard (of course!):
A new building for the Bodleian Library is being built opposite the old building. It will be finished in 2015 but until then we can see long fence that obscures the works. Why I am saying this? Because there are some pictures on it refering different books of the Library qnd the E is for Euclid and the H for Hooke!
This wall in High Street A420 in Oxford has a plaque that says:
In a house on this site between 1655 and 1663 lived ROBERT BOYLE. Here he discovered BOYLE’S LAW and made experiments with an AIR PUMP designed by his assistant ROBERT HOOKE, Inventor, Scientist and Architect who made a MICROSCOPE and thereby first identified the LIVING CELL.
Location: High Street in Oxford (map)
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren. It was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.
A lot of very important English men like Lord Nelson or the Duke of Wellington are buried here but among all these names we notice that the great Christopher Wren was also buried here under the crypt:
On the wall next to the grave there is this plaque written in Latin:
Christopher Wren is buried under the founder of this church and of the city. He lived beyond the age of ninety, not to himself but for the public good reader. If you seek his monument, look around you.
Died February 25, 1723, s. 91.
There is also a memorial plaque for “one of the most ingenious men who ever lived”: Robert Hooke.
It’s forbidden to take pictures in the cathedral but it’s always possible to find a guard who allows you to take a pair of them. Thank you very much anonymous guard!