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Micrographia 350: new ages of microscopy 1665 to 2015

Podcasts of the event now available

Friday 2nd October 2015
in the Blue Boar Lecture Room,
Christ Church


A half-day symposium to mark the 350th anniversary of the publication of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, thought to be the first handbook of microscopy, and to applaud recent new developments in molecular-scale microscopy as recognised by the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the 2014 Centenary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The event will be held at Christ Church, Oxford, where Robert Hooke was an undergraduate from 1653 to 1658. The afternoon will include lectures on both the history and science of microscopy given by distinguished speakers, including TV science historian and expert on Robert Hooke Professor Allan Chapman, and Professor Eiichi Nakamura, 2014 RSC Centenary Prize winner, who is a pioneer of single molecule dynamic microscopy. The historical context of Micrographia will be described by resident academics of Christ Church, while other invited scientists will give perspectives on modern microscopy, including super-resolution microscopy (nanoscopy), of which Hooke could have had no conception. Following the lectures there will be a wine reception in the world famous Christ Church Picture Gallery, which houses many Old Masters. A selection of Hooke memorabilia will be available to view, including copies of the first edition of Micrographia held by the College Library.

This event is organised by the Christ Church Chemists’ Affinity Group and is supported by the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry.


13:30-14:00 Registration
14:00-14:05 Welcome (Dr Martin Grossel, Christ Church)
14:05-14:25 Judith Curthoys (Archivist, Christ Church) "Christ Church in the Commonwealth: Hooke’s college"
14:25-15:15 Dr Allan Chapman (Science Historian, Wadham College): "Robert Hooke's Micrographia: 350 years on"
15:15-15:30 Dr Anna Camilleri (English Fellow, Christ Church) "On Closer Inspection: placing Hooke's Language under the Microscope"
15:30-16:10 Tea & Poster Exhibition
16:10-16:15 Introduction (Prof. David Dunmur, Christ Church)
16:15-16:50 Dr Steven Lee (Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge): "Multi-dimensional Super Resolution Imaging"
16:50-17:45 Prof. Eiichi Nakamura (Department of Chemistry, University of Tokyo): "Atomic-resolution Electron Microscopy for Chemistry: From Brain and Fancy to plainness of Observations"
17:45-18:00 Concluding remarks (Prof. Dirk Aarts, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford and Chemistry Fellow, Christ Church)
18:00-19:00 Reception – Christ Church Picture Gallery

Biographies of speakers

Judith Curthoys MSt, DAA, has been archivist at Christ Church since 1994. During that time, she was co-editor of Christ Church: a portrait of the House (2006), contributed articles to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), and was for ten years reviews editor of Oxoniensia. Her own history of Christ Church, The Cardinal's College, was published in 2012.

Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University, based at Wadham College, and since 2009 a Member of Christ Church SCR, with special interests in the history of astronomy and of medicine and the relationship between science and Christianity. He is the author of 13 books, over 130 academic papers, and numerous popular articles, and has made several television programmes. He has been awarded honorary doctorates for his work in the history of astronomy by the University of Central Lancashire (2004) and Salford University (2010), and in 2014 received an 'Outstanding Alumnus' award from Lancaster University. This year, 2015, he was presented with the Jackson-Gwilt Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society - the first time since its inauguration in 1897 that the medal has been awarded to a historian of astronomy. His books include: Dividing the Circle: The History of Precise Angular Measurement in Astronomy, 1500-1850 (Ellis Horwood 1990, Wiley-Praxis 1995); The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920 (Wiley-Praxis 1998); England’s Leonardo. Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution (Institute of Physics 2005); Robert Hooke and the English Renaissance (co-edited with Paul Kent, Gracewing 2005); and Stargazers: Copernicus, Galileo, the Telescope, and the Church. The Astronomical Renaissance, 1500-1700 (Lion Hudson 2014).

Dr Anna Camilleri is based at Christ Church, where she is a Career Development Fellow in English Literature (1650 to the Present Day). Her research interests are in poetic form and genre, critical theory (particularly C18 and C19 Aesthetics), and theories of gender. She is currently working on her first book on Byron and Genre-Hybridity in the C19.

Dr Steven F Lee is currently a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He received his D. Phil in physical chemistry from the University of Sussex in 2009 in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Osborne, working on photodynamics of single quantum dots. From 2009-2011 he worked as a post-doctoral scholar in the laboratory of Prof. W.E. Moerner at Stanford University, USA, where he developed super-resolution imaging techniques to better understand spatial patterning of regulatory proteins in live bacteria. In 2014 Prof Moerner shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Eric Betzig and Stefan Hell for the development of super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Steven Lee’s current research interests at Cambridge involve "building new tools to study single biomolecules" primarily using single-molecule fluorescence imaging applied to important biological questions, including: visualising protein aggregates in human bio-fluids and their relevance to neurodegenerative disease and understanding the molecular origins of human adaptive immunity at the single receptor level.

Professor Eiichi Nakamura obtained his PhD in chemistry at Tokyo Institute of Technology. After postdoctoral work at Columbia University, he returned in 1980 to his Alma Mater as an assistant professor, eventually being promoted to full professor. Since 1995, he has been Professor of Physical Organic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry in the University of Tokyo and was designated as Special Professor in January 2014.

His research interests span synthetic, physical, materials chemistry and organic solar cells. He has recently focused on the use of transmission electron microscopy for imaging the motions and reactions of single organic molecules and molecular assemblies.

He has received the Chemical Society of Japan Award in 2003, the Humboldt Research Award in 2006, The Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon in 2009 and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of The American Chemical Society in 2010. In 2014 Professor Nakamura was the Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Prize Winner. He has been a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1998, a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry since 2005, an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2008, and a Member of the Science Council of Japan since 2008.

Professor Dirk Aarts is Professor of Chemistry at the Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory (Oxford) and a Student (Fellow) of Christ Church. Dirk Aarts graduated from the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) in Chemistry and conducted his PhD research at the same institution, obtaining his degree in 2005 under the supervision of Prof H.N.W. Lekkerkerker. He subsequently moved to the Laboratoire de Physique Statistique, Ecole Normale Supérieure as a Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellow working with Prof D. Bonn. He obtained a lecturership in 2007 and was made a professor in 2013 in the University of Oxford. He has been studying the behaviour of colloidal dispersions both experimentally and theoretically covering an wide range of topics, including diffusion in complex networks, phase and interface behaviour, wetting and hydrodynamic instabilities.