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BBC Documentaries: Season 2009

2009x138 Robert Hooke: Victim of Genius
TV-PG

  • 2009-08-13T22:00:00+02:00 on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

The untold story of how a giant of science was erased from history by the jealous rival who owed him more than most - Isaac Newton. A drama revealing the extraordinary, prolific, bizarre and conflict-riddled life of Robert Hooke, one of the greatest scientists in English history, on the tercentenary of his death.

In science, Hooke was a colossus. As Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society he wrote the laws of elasticity (Hooke's Law), built a radical reflecting telescope and found major new stars, made the first powerful microscope, coined the word cell, wrote the first science best-seller, Micrographia and co-discovered the diffraction of light with Newton, but got no credit.

New research confirms that Hooke stated an inverse square law of gravitation years before Newton's legendary Principia. However, he not only got no credit but also became the target of the most protracted, vitriolic campaign of character assassination in the history of science.

The main plot of the film presents a disturbing portrait of the dark side of Isaac Newton, revealing for the first time how heavily he borrowed from Hooke and how, after fermenting in neurotic isolation, he conspired to have his reputation destroyed and his memory erased from history.

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