King's College London
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To scrutinize the whole of Nature: The Royal Society and its fellows 1660-1730

Stephen Hales

Experiment on plant physiology, from Stephen Hales's Statical essays: containing vegetable staticks,or,an account of some statical experiments on the sap in vegetables…London: printed for Wilson and Nicol, T. Durham,G. Keith, and Robinson and Roberts, 1769 [Rare Books Collection QK711 HAL]Experiment on plant physiology, from Stephen Hales's Statical essays: containing vegetable staticks,or,an account of some statical experiments on the sap in vegetables…London: printed for Wilson and Nicol, T. Durham,G. Keith, and Robinson and Roberts, 1769 [Rare Books Collection QK711 HAL]The clergyman Stephen Hales (1677-1761) was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1719, after reading a paper on the circulation of sap in trees in response to sunlight.

He later extended these experiments to investigations of capillary action and transpiration in plants and in so doing founded the discipline of plant physiology.

Hales’ belief in the ascent of sap through forces of attraction has been traced to a suggestion by Roger Cotes, whose lectures Hales had attended when he was a student at Cambridge and from whom he imbibed Newtonianism.

Hales’ work greatly extended the exploratory ideas of Nehemiah Grew on the circulation of sap. His experiments were performed without the benefit of microscopy.

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