The Royal Society has just put Robert Hooke’s folio online.
The 320-year-old notebook, which had been missing for centuries, was discovered in January of last year. In it, Hooke provides details of his experiments, and of the workings of the newly-formed Royal Society, of which he was first administrator and then secretary.
Hooke was a contemporary – and a rival – of Isaac Newton. He was a polymath who made major contributions to many scientific disciplines, including astronomy, palaeontology, physics, and biology. For example, he was one of the first people to examine cells under the microscope.
In this passage from his 1665 book Micrographia, Hooke describes the appearance of cork, and uses the word “cell” for the first time.
…I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous, much like a Honey-comb, but that the pores of it were not regular…these pores, or cells…were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I had not met with any Writer or Person, that had made any mention of them before this…