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Magdeburg hemispheres

From Academic Kids

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Gaspar Schott's sketch of Otto von Guericke's Magdeburg hemispheres experiment.

The Magdeburg hemispheres were one of Otto von Guericke's most interesting experiments, designed to demonstrate the air pump he invented. They were two hollow copper hemispheres a little over a foot in diameter which fitted together so well that they could hold a vacuum. The air was pumped out from between them, and the air pressure of the surrounding atmosphere then held them together firmly.

The demonstration was presented to the Reichstag and the Emperor Ferdinand III in 1654 in Regensburg, where 30 horses, in two teams of 15, could not separate the hemispheres until the vacuum was released. (Encyclopdia Britannica, 1911) In 1656 he repeated the demonstration with 16 horses (2X8)in his hometown of Magdeburg, where he was mayor. In 1657, Gaspar Schott was the first to describe the experiment in print in his Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica. In 1663 the demonstration was given in Berlin to the Elector of Brandenburg with 24 horses. (disputed: 1661 before Elector Friedrich Wilhelm?)

Reports of the number of horses in each experiment vary widely. This confusion is due in part to the multiple repetitions of this experiment, but also to the unnecessary use of two opposing teams of horses. Two teams of X horses pulling against each other cannot generate any more force than a single team of X horses pulling against an immovable object.

The original hemispheres are maintained by the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Many copies of the Magdeburg hemispheres (usually smaller) have been made to illustrate the principle of air pressure to students. The Otto von Guericke Society performs re-enactments of the 1654 experiment in locations around the world. The experiment has been commemorated on at least two German stamps.

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References

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External Links

http://physics.kenyon.edu/EarlyApparatus/Pneumatics/Magdeburg_Hemispheres/Magdeburg_Hemispheres.htmles:Hemisferios de Magdeburgo de:Magdeburger Halbkugeln fr:Hmisphres de Magdebourg nl:Maagdenburger halve bollen ja:マグデブルグの半球 pl:Półkule magdeburskie sl:Magdeburški polkrogliTemplate:Physics-stub

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