Foretelling The Future. The Science of Hooke and Higgs

Science of Hooke and Higgs Foretelling the Future of Higgs Boson.

With the discovery of Higg’s Boson so many years after Professor Peter Higgs published his theory for the existence of such a particle, it is interesting to reflect on other great scientists who have predicted or meditated on possible future discoveries or set their mind to ponder where science needs to go to next to advance it’s knowledge base.

One of the greatest scientists in the last 400 years was Robert Hooke. He was a polymath and was, in his time, recognized as England’s Leonardo. It is a great shame that he is not as fully recognized as he should be because his ability to think about the problems scientists would need to solve in the future was nothing short of brilliant.

He wrote down a collection of twenty four thoughts or musings, setting out areas of scientific advance that he thought would enhance man’s experience and knowledge of the world and improve upon it.

    • He began with the problem of life expectancy, which at the time Hooke was writing c1655, was not quite 40 years. He considered it vital that science should consider how life could be prolonged and it’s quality improved. He even suggested that a means for making false teeth would eventually be possible as this would improve the quality of life.
    • He was fascinated by the art of flying and predicted mans capability to achieve powered flight.
    • Another of his notes expressed his wish for a way to ‘cure wounds at a distance, or at least by transplantation’
    • He turned his mind to shipping, an important part of C17th trade and hoped scientists would find a way to build a ship ‘to sail with all the winds and not be sunk’ and he anticipated the invention of chronometers as he pondered the question of ‘a practicable and certain way of finding longitude’.
    • Other questions he threw up for consideration were how we might get by on less sleep, his note entitled ‘freedom from necessity of much sleeping exemplified by the operation of tea and what happens in madmen’, the reference to tea meaning observations of the effect of caffeine on the system. His desire for scientists to look for drugs to kill pain or alter the state of the mind, was also in his notes.
    • He turned his thoughts to crop production, how might scientists improve yields and alter the rate of growth of crops and then to warfare, how science might develop materials that were light but incredibly strong, to act as armour.

This collection of thoughts might not seem to be that incredible four hundred years down the line but they were thoughts totally out of line with the time in which he was living and most of his ideas have been realised just three to four hundred years later.

Hooke’s Microscope

Aside from his 24 notes of his hoped for scientific developments, he  theorized on the nature of the wave theory of light, his work on lenses and microscopy allowed him to see what others had never seen, he had discovered the cell, thus opening a whole new field of science.

He worked on the gravitational force and it was he who explained that it applied to all celestial bodies and he who wrote to Newton about the inverse square law and gravity thus giving Newton the tools to claim his great theory (not appreciated by Hooke).

In essence like so many brilliant scientists, he put he ideas out there in the hope that others would pick them up and develop them. So it has been for Peter Higgs, he theorized, questioned and suggested what scientists coming after him might look for. As Peter Higgs said, he never expected the Higg’s Boson, if it existed, to be discovered in his lifetime.

Hooke, must have thought the same and he was right….


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