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Structure of Management Information

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Robert Hooke

In Europe, between the 14 and the 17th centuries prevailed one of magnificent epochs in human history - the Age of Renaissanace. The human mind got liberated from the burden of aeons-old superstition, ignorance and thoughtlessness. People in European countries started wondering about, thinking, exploring and investigating the world around them in a sytematic and impactful manner. True, the Greek philosopher

s too possessed the spirit of enquiry and a passion for reason, 2000 years well before the great men of Renaissance and Enlightenment; however, the Greeks' approach to the world was fatally flawed by the lack of empiricism. For example, Aristotle maintained that women had lesser teeth than men - to which conclusion he seemed to have eagerly jumped after counting his wife's teeth! The simple thought never occurred to the famous philosopher

that he may need further corroboration to his obsevation before he could state it as a universal fact. The Greeks could see, but their vision was severely limited, there was not much of scope, and there were no scientific instruments. And even that breadth and depth of thinking among men of the ancient Western civilization died out with the advent of religious dogmatism, at which point the dark ages began.

But fortunately, though these medieval times of nescience lasted for a long time, they did not last forever. The Greek spirit eventually revived. The glorious age of Renaissance began, men again began to think and look at the world around them with a new clarity. Soon they began to see farther than anyone had before them. Much much farther -- through the telescope. They began to see a litte deeper too, and deeper: through a microscope. It was all about vision. And a man of science who lived towards the end of Renaissance, and who most perfectly represented this expanding vision of human mind was Robert Hooke. His advances in material science, astronomy and micrography paved way to the 19th and 20th century science in a significant way. Robert Hooke was the quintessential renaissance man, ever curious, ever exploring, ceaselessly seeking answers, studying, theorizing, inventing, and relentlessly pursuing knowledge in general. Some have called him the greatest experimental scientist of the 17th century.

A prolific inventor and designer of scientific instruments besides being a natural philosopher par excellence, Robert Hooke is best known to modern students of physics through Hooke's law of elasticity, and to students of biology as a pioneer of cell theory. However, these aspects reflect but a minor part of Hooke's immense achievement in an astonishingly wide variety of scientific fields -- in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, astronomy, and geology. He was also in a big way into architecture and naval technology, and in a smaller way into sundry items of scientific interest.

But, by far the most interesting, and sadly the most unfortunate, fact about Robert Hooke is that he remained a forgotten genius for a long time even well into the twentieth century. It is thanks to a remarkable biography of Mrs. Margaret Espinasse in the 1950's that students of scientific history have been able to recognize the true scale of Robert Hooke's immense contribution to science. More recent times have seen a spate of important books on Robert Hooke, books such as "Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange & Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703" by Stephen Inwood, "England's Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution" by Allan Chapman, "Robert Hooke and the Rebuilding of London" by Michael Cooper, "Robert Hooke: Creative Genius, Scientist, Inventor" by Mary Gow, "The Curious Life of Robert Hooke : The Man Who Measured London" by Lisa Jardine. Most recently, " Robert Hooke: Tercentennial Studies" have also been published. The sheer number of works published on Robert Hooke is an indication clear enough as to the real scope of his scientific caliber. But the big question remains: How come, if Robert Hooke is such a versatile genius, that he remained in the sidelines for so long a time?

Basically, the answer to this question is simple. Hooke made a crucial mistake in his life - he held himself at loggerheads with no less figure than Sir Issac Newton. In the end, this enmity proved too costly for him. As a biographer put it succinctly in her Robert Hooke, "But to make an enemy of Newton was fatal. For Newton, right or wrong, was implacable."1 And indeed that's where things went wrong.

It is very difficult for us to imagine two scientists of such gigantic stature as Newton and Hooke indulging in bloody hatred for one another. After all, common sense tells us that birds of same feather flock together. Although they may have been of quite different temperaments, both the scientists shared an equally monumental thirst for knowledge. As it happens, intellectual rivalry can surface between scientists on occasions, but rarely to the exclusion of all mutual respect and regard. The animosity Newton and Hooke harbored for each other was of legendary proportions. Though normally we don't associate emotions with scientific minds, and tend to imagine them to be untouched by emotional excesses, especially of the negative kind, the fact remains that they too are human beings, and can be as susceptible to bouts of pettiness and meanness as any other less mortals.

An Einstein or a Bohr -- we cannot imagine them to be so virulently antagonistic to each other, in spite of belonging to widely divergent scientific persuasions. Einstein stubbornly resisted to accept quantum mechanical interpretation of the world all his life, but regardless never had to descend into petty rivalry with his fellow scientists, whether Bohr, Heisenberg or anyone else. The situation between Newton and Hooke, in a way, was a unique phenomenon in the history of science - what explains the intensity of ill-will that engendered between these two scientists? An interesting fact to note here is that Newton was a strict bachelor for life. In contrast, Einstein was a flamboyant philanderer and Bohr, for example, was a happily married man. Naturally a doubt arises in this regard, that whether it could not have been the complete lack of normal kind of love in the life of the greatest figure in the modern science that may have compulsively driven them to focus all his emotional energies into destructive negative tendencies! Robert Hooke of course reciprocated the hatred. (Though Hooke was a bachelor, he was involved in liaisons

to an interesting degree.) Whatever be the truth, Robert Hooke was almost vengefully suppressed by Issac Newton, and the remained



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