student profile: Ms Cindy Eric


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Hooke's Vibrative Pulse Communicated.

Supervisors: John SCHUSTER , Ofer GAL

Thesis abstract:

This thesis reconstructs Robert Hooke’s (1635-1703) vibratory matter theory, which although a lifelong preoccupation of Hooke’s, culminated in his treatise on elastic bodies, Of Spring (1678). In Of Spring Hooke also formulated the spring law (Hooke’s law), yet the history of how he constructed this natural law, and his understanding and application of it, remains murky. By extension, I aim to clarify this matter. Specifically, I focus on Hooke’s studies of vibrating bodies, vibrations and resonance, his contributions to the development of acoustics, and his belief in replacing the human senses with artificial instruments that go beyond the senses to expand knowledge. By investigating Hooke’s studies of strings and other elastic bodies within the context of his matter theory, I show that, in an epistemological inversion, Hooke used 'microcosm' instruments to produce macroscopic and celestial knowledge, and vice versa. Moreover, Hooke’s work, which is more often than not misrepresented as haphazard, is a cohesive whole centered around his studies of the similitudes between vibrating phenomena. Hooke was both the Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society and the Gresham Professor of Geometry; his critics usually focus on the former, and belittle the latter. I argue that Hooke’s mechanical-geometrical methodology equipped him with the means to handle these inversions in support of his metaphysics of vibration. By constructing natural laws from physical reality, thereby implying that nature, artificial instruments, and laws such as the spring law are related, Hooke legitimized the application of instruments and mathematics to the study of nature.

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