IN THE MIRACULOUS first century of the modern world - the seventeenth century, which began with Shakespeare, Galileo, Descartes, Bacon and Hobbes, and ended with Newton, Wren, Dryden, Locke and the Glorious Revolution - there were many significant beginnings, but none of them (even if you include the beginning of constitutional forms of government) so important as the rise of modern science. It was an age of genius and geniuses, to such an extent that highly gifted individuals could be lost in the crowd. of their peers. This indeed happened, not least to the subject of Lisa Jardine's absorbing new book: Robert Hooke, the man who - among other achievements, some of them unrecognised - discovered the principle of gravity, before Newton.
Hooke's reputation lies somewhat in shadow, chiefly because he quarrelled with Newton over the question of who first understood, and stated, that the gravitational attraction between two bodies is inversely proportional to the square of the distance