Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, ITALY

              The historical experiments              
The void within a void The Magdeburg Hemispheres Bells in the void

Magdeburg hemispheres experiment.
Gaspar Schott, Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, Würzburg 1657



Otto von Guericke completed, around 1655, a pump which could extract the air from air-tight containers. With this new instrument, von Guericke was able to perform, at Magdeburg, in 1657, a spectacular experiment with the aid of a large number of his townsfolk. He demonstrated that the weight of air pushed together two perfectly sealed hemispheres, which had a vacuum created between them by the pneumatic pump, with such force that it needed two teams of 16 horses to separate them. Von Guericke understood that the weight of air was a force which could be put to work, to lift weights, for example. He thus initiated a line of research which led to the steam engine of James Watt (1736-1819).




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