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The First Steam Engine

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year the aeolipile was first described by Hero of Alexandria. Hero, or Heron depending on who's translating, was a mathematician and engineer from the city of Alexandria, Egypt, which was under the rule of Rome at the time. This is essentially a sphere with 2 right angle nozzles sticking out from it, which is then filled with water and put over a fire, where in the water heats up and the steam will spin the sphere. (Pictured below) This word was also used to describe a device from the 1st century BC, however consensus is that that was a different device, as it lacked any moving parts. While it might be possible to have used this device to power something, at the time it was likely merely a novelty, especially for use in temples, like many of the other devices described in his book Pneumatica. It was also used as a scientific instrument to investigate the "divine truth lurking in the laws of the heavens".

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Most of Heron's work has been lost to history. Most of his works that survived until today were preserved in Arabic manuscripts. It's amazing how much of Heron's works were able to survive the 19-20 centuries; at least 7 of his manuscripts have survived in whole or in part. These were written on a large varieties of subjects, ranging from machines powered by air, steam or water to a writing on a description of war machines to a collections of methods to measure lengths, where in devices similar to today's odometer, and theodolite are described. It is also interesting to note that the aolipile was memorialized, up until October 1996, as the U.S. Navy's rating badge for the Boiler Technician, before the rating was merged with the Machinist's mate's rating and thus the insignia is no longer in use.

The Inauguration of the Colosseum

Contributed by David Verne

The Colosseum is completed this year, after 10 years of construction. After the natural disasters of 79 A.D., the Romans are ready to relax, and Titus inaugurates the grand opening with 100 days of gladiatorial matches, animal hunts, and chariot races. A mock naval battle also takes place, but historians are divided on whether this took place in the Colosseum or a nearby lake. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Throughout history, humanity has always loved a party, and it shouldn't of surprised me when I learned about George Washington's farewell party. His soldiers threw him a farewell party on September 15, 1787, two days before the Constitutional Convention ratified the Constitution. 54 of his friends attended, including Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. Their bar tab included 55 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 22 bottles of porter, 12 bottles of beer, 8 bottles of hard cider, 8 bottles of whiskey, and 7 bowls of spiked punch that were," large enough for ducks to swim around." The total came to $15,000 in today's money with an extra 2% fee for damages.

See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (November 15, 2009). 74- Friends, I Have Wasted a Day.

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