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Branca stream engine, 17th century

Branca stream engine, 17th century


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50.9 MB (2.1 MB compressed)

4476 x 3974 pixels

37.8 x 33.5 cm ⏐ 14.9 x 13.2 in (300dpi)

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Giovanni Branca (April 22, 1571 - January 24, 1645) was an Italian engineer and architect, chiefly remembered today for what some commentators have taken to be an early steam engine. He designed many different mechanical inventions, a collection of which were published in book form at Rome in 1629, under the title Le machine. Branca's steam engine has a wheel with flat vanes like a paddlewheel, shown being rotated by steam produced in a closed vessel and directed at the vanes through a pipe. He suggested that it might be used for powering pestles and mortars, grinding machines, raising water, and sawing wood. It bears no relation to any later application of steam power and is not much of an advance over the aeolipile described by Hero of Alexandria in the first century AD.

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