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The aeolipile, as described by Hero of Alexandria in the first century C.E., is a simple engine that spins when the water it contains is heated. In time, it would be seen as a precursor of the steam engine. This unmarked example came from the University of Santa Clara in California, and was probably used in physics demonstrations.
Ref: Hamilton L. Smith, Natural Philosophy for the Use of Schools and Academies (New York, 1852), p. 157.
C. Martin, “The aeolipile as experimental model in early modern natural Philosophy,” Perspectives on Science 24 (2016): 264-284.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
nineteenth century
overall: 20 cm x 15 cm x 11 cm; 7 7/8 in x 5 29/32 in x 4 11/32 in
overall: 8 in x 6 in x 4 5/8 in; 20.32 cm x 15.24 cm x 11.7475 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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