The Steam Engine Is Around 2,000 Years Old

News: The Curiosity Podcast is here! Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud and RSS.

Hero of Alexandria, a Greek inventor who lived during the first century AD, was responsible for several groundbreaking inventions. Among them was the aeolipile: a kind of steam engine made from a water-filled sphere with two attached nozzles. (There are other, older references to aeolipiles in history, but Hero was the first to describe the process of making one.) Heating up the water inside the sphere would cause steam to exit the nozzles, resulting in torque that spins the sphere.

Advertisement

Love getting smarter? Sign up to our newsletter and get our best content in your inbox!

Advertisement