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What was Robert Hooke's contribution to the spring scale?

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September 14, 2009 5:06PM

Robert Hooke was a huge loser - he never married - and honestly, he didn't do much. But, he did figure out that F=-kx. This is the law of elasticity which means the restoring force of a spring (F) is equal to a spring constant (k) multiplied by the distance (x) that you stretch it. The negative is there because it explains that the restoring force (which is a vector) points in the opposite direction that you pull it in. Someone needs to get up to speed. Bob Hooke assisted Bob Boyle. Boyle wan't all that good at math. Hooke was. Who do you think really wrote up Boyle's Law, hmm? Hooke got noticed by the crew that was hanging out at Oxford, and this core of men - including Hooke - started the Royal Society. They were bleeding edge natural philosophers (what we today call scientists) of the 17th century. Ever use the term "cell" to talk about the basic unit of life in a living thing? The term was coined by Hooke. Hooke is the father of microscopy. Maybe he just got that title out of a Cracker Jacks box, ya think? On point, Hooke was the guy behind Hooke's law of elasticity. And that's what a spring is all about. A spring is elastic. If we apply a force, it is deformed in proportion to the applied force. More force, more deformation. His ideas on this and on related basic concepts in physics underpin the development of the spring scale as a useful tool. A tool that continued to enjoy heavy use up to and through almost all of the 20th century. Only now are we replacing spring scales with electronic ones. That doesn't mean the spring scales aren't good. They really aren't that bad. They're not as accurate as electronic scales, but they're not bad. It's just that technology as caught up with them and passed them. Much of the power of the modern electronic scale (aside from a bit of an increase in accuracy) is its ability to be integrated into computing systems by having been made "smart" through the installation of a little microprocessor. That way the scale can talk to a printer to get a label inked for that package of ground beef you just bought. Or it can talk to the computer at the cash register and tell it the weight of the grapes you just purchased so the computer can price them. Back in the day, Hooke was the man. Why not use the link and see the depth and breadth of his contributions to science as we know it? Wikipedia has the facts, and they're provided free of charge. Help yourself.