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Magdeburg hemispheres, 1761.

Magdeburg hemispheres, 1761.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm


In the mid 17th century Otto von Guericke used an air pump to remove the air from between two large close-fitting hemispheres. Teams of horses could not separate them. A scaled down version carried out with air pumps became a standard demonstration. If the air was removed from between the hemispheres, a weight of 40 lb was required to separate them. However, if they were placed in a bell jar and the air was removed, they fell apart. These hemispheres were made by George Adams, instrument maker to the king.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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