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The German engineer and physicist Otto Guericke

The German engineer and physicist Otto Guericke

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Portrait of the German engineer and physicist Otto von Guericke (1602-1686). Guericke was attracted by the philosophic dispute concerning the existence of a vacuum. Aristotle had denied such an idea by saying that a body would move with infinite speed in a vacuum. Guericke tackled the problem by devising an air vacuum pump. Using the pump he showed that in the resulting vacuum the sound of a ringing bell could not be heard and that a flame was extinguished. Guericke also showed that when two large metal hemispheres were placed together and the air within was pumped out they could not be separated by two teams of eight horses.

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