On the Point of a Sharp Small Needle

Robert Hooke  (1635–1703)

Above: one of Hooke’s drawings from Micrographia

Hooke's Microscope

Hooke’s Microscope

First published in 1665, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia was the first important work on microscopy. The intricately detailed drawings which Hooke made of the specimens he examined under his microscope, such as a fly, were reproduced as copperplate engravings. Thanks to the U.S. Library of Medicine and the internet, you can see the original and turn the pages yourself to admire Hooke’s drawings.

The point of a needle “is indeed, for the most part, made so sharp that the naked eye cannot distinguish any parts of it. . . But if view’d with a very good Microscope, we may find that the top of a Needle (though as to the sense very sharp) appears a broad, blunt, and very irregular end . . . [The point]  appeared through the microscope above a quarter of an inch broad, not round nor flat, but irregular and uneven; so that it seem’d to have been big enough to have afforded a hundred armed Mites room enough to be rang’d by each other without endangering the breaking one another’s necks, by being thrust off on either side. . .”

 I read Hooke’s description of the head of a sharp needle for Volume 26 of the Nonfiction Collection.


You might enjoy an account of another inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, and his wireless telegraph.