Heron Of Alexandria

by GMoulden

Heron, also known as ‘Hero’, of Alexandria was a famous matmatician who lived in the Roman province of Ptolemactic Egypt. He was born around 20 A.D. and died approximately 62 A.D. Although he only lived to an estimated forty-two years old, Heron made contributions to mathematics and physics, as well as other studies. Many of these contributions were made in the forms of his famous inventions.
Some of his most famous inventions included the aeoliplie, the wind wheel, the very first vending machine, and the automata.

His invention of the aeoliplie is possibly his best-known invention. The aeoliplie is the fist known steam operated machine, and was invented approximately two millennia before the Industrial Revolution. The aeoliplie consisted of an airtight ball suspended over a fire. The ‘ball’ rotates on a bearing of some sort, with nozzles projecting from it on either side. The water is heated in the chamber below the ball, and the steam is funneled up to the ball via connecting pipes. Due to the rocket principle, a torque is formed, causing the ball to spin rapidly. This device wasn’t much more than a diversion in Heron’s lifetime, and of less use than another machine he invented, which displaced water to cause temple doors to open. It was considered to be a remarkable toy and little else. The Greeks did not consider this for an engine possibility because of its low efficiency. Few other steam-powered devices were invented until Richer Trevithick introduced engines using high-pressure steam.

Heron of Alexandria also initially created the first vending machine. Instead of the vending machines we see nowadays, the original vending machine was used to dispense Holy Water. A patron of a temple would drop a small coin through a small slot in the machine’s side. When the coin fell through, it landed on a small tray. The weight of the coin tipped the tray, switching a lever. The lever then flipped open a door, through which the Holy Water flowed. The tray eventually tipped far enough that the coin fell off into a basket, and closed the door back up again, shutting off the water flow. The principle is generally the same as with our own modern day vending machines.

Heron’s inventions were not limited to just scientific advancement. He also contributed to the theatre in his invention of the automata. This inventor created a ten minute long play consisting of simple machines that all tripped up one another, insuring that they kept going independently and on time. The play was a drama that took place at sea, in the midst of a colossal storm. The thunder was created by a machine, which dropped metal balls onto a drum. On a side note, the main character was a Trojan warrior, who had displeased the goddess Athena and was doomed to suffer the wrath of a goddess.

Heron’s inventions made several contributions to science, and were later developed into something truly useful to man. These inventions operated independently without any help from the inventor. Heron was the first ‘programmer’ in this regard. He was the first to create objects that moved by their own violation, clearing the way for new aspiring inventors.

Wikipedia (search ‘Heron’ or ‘Hero of Alexandria’)
Some Inventions-http://www.quazen.com/Reference/Biography/Heron.212457
Biography, Inventions-http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/HeronAlexandria.htm

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