Please find below some excerps frm the book ” A History of the growth of the steam-engine”, written by Egbert Tiiukston in 1886
periodical, described the new machinery which was built at Newport, R. L, by John Babcock and Robert L. Thurs-on, for one of the first steamboats that ever ran between that city and New York. He prefaced his description with a frequently-quoted remark to the effect that, as Minerva sprang, mature in mind, in full stature of body, and completely armed, from the head of Jupiter, so the steam-engine came forth, perfect at its birth, from the brain of James Watt. But we shall see, as we examine the records of its history, that, although James Watt was an inventor, and probably the greatest of the inventors of the steam-engine, he was still but one of the many men who have aided in perfecting it, and who have now made us so familiar with it, and its tremendous power and its facile adaptations, that we have almost ceased to admire it, or to wonder at the workings of the still more admirable intelligence that has so far perfected it.Twenty-one centuries ago, the political power of Greece was broken, although Grecian civilization had risen to its zenith. Rome, ruder than her polished neighbor, was growing continually stronger, and was rapidly gaining territory by absorbing weaker states. In Alexandria, the home of Euclid, the great geometrician, and possibly contemporary with that talented engineer and mathematician, Archimedes, a learned writer, called Hero, produced a manuscript which he entitled “Spiritalia seu Pneumatica.”It is quite uncertain whether Hero was the inventor of any number of the contrivances described in his work. It is most probable that the apparatus described are prin- cipally devices which had either been long known, or which were invented by Ctesibus, an inventor who was famous for the number and ingenuity of the hydraulic and pneumatic machines that he devised. Hero states, in his Introduction, his intention to describe existing machines and earlier inventions, and to add his own. Nothing in the text, however, indicates to whom the several machines are to be ascribed. The first part of Hero’s work is devoted to applicationsof the syphon. The llth proposition is the first application of heat to produce motion of fluids. An altar and its pedestal are hollow and air-tight. A liquid is poured into the pedestal, and a pipe inserted, of which the lower end passes beneath the surface of the
liquid, and the upper extremity leads through a figure standing at the altar, and terminates in a vessel inverted above this altar. When a fire is made on the altar, the heat produced expands the confined air, and the liquid is driven up the tube, issuing from the vessel in the hand of the figure standing by the altar, which thus seems to be offering a libation. This toy embodies the essential principle of all modern heat-engines the change of energy from the form known as heat-energy into mechanical energy, or work. It is not at all improbable that this prototype of the modern wonder-working machine may have been known centuries
before the time of Hero.
Another contrivance is next described, in which the bucket is replaced by an air-tight bag, Avhich, expanding as the heated air enters it, contracts vertically and actuates the mechanism, which in other respects is similar to that just described. In these devices the spherical vessel is a perfect anticipation of the vessels used many centuries later by several so-called inventors of the steam-engine.
A strong, close vessel, A JB C D, forms a pedestal, on which are mounted a spherical vessel, E F, and a basin.
A pipe, H If, is led from the bottom of the larger vessel into the upper part of the sphere, and another pipe from the lower part of the latter, in the form of a syphon, over to the basin, M. A drain-pipe, N 0, leads from the basin to the reservoir, A D. The whole contrivance is called ” A fountain which is made to flow by the action of the sun’s rays.”
It is operated thus : The vessel, JEF, being filled nearly to the top with water, or other liquid, and exposed to the action of the sun’s rays, the air above the water expands, and drives the liquid over, through the syphon, Gr, into the basin, M t and it will fall into the pedestal, A B C D, Hero goes on to state that, on the removal of the sun’s rays, the air in the sphere will contract, and that the water will be returned to the sphere from the pedestal. This can,evidently, only occur when the pipe G is closed previous to the commencement of this cooling. No such cock is mentioned, and it is not unlikely that the device only existed on paper.
A more mechanical and more generally-known form of this device is that which is frequently described as the ” First Steam Engine.” The sketch from Stuart is similar in general form, but more elaborate in detail, than that copied by Greenwood, which is here also reproduced, as representing more accurately the simple form which the mechanism of the ” Eolipile,” or Ball of Eolus, assumed in those early times.
The cauldron, A B, contains water, and is covered by the steam-tight cover, CD. A globe is supported above the cauldron by a pair of tubes, terminating, the one, C M, in a pivot, L, and the other, E F, opening directly into the sphere at G. Short, bent pipes, II and 1C, issue from points diametrically opposite each other, and are open at their extremities.
A fire being made beneath the cauldron, steam is formed and finds exit through the pipe, E F G, into the globe, and thence rushes out of the pipes, HIT, turning the globe on its axis, G L, by the unbalanced pressure thus produced.
The more elaborate sketch which forms the frontispiece represents a machine of similar character. Its design
and ornamentation illustrate well the characteristics of ancient art, and the Greek idea of the steam-engine.
This “Eolipile ” consisted of a globe, X, suspended between trunnions, G 0, through one of which steam enters from the boiler, P, below. The hollow, bent arms, W and Z, cause the vapor to issue in such directions that the reac- tion produces a rotary movement of the globe, just as the rotation of reaction water-wheels is produced by the out-flowing water.
It is quite uncertain whether this machine was ever more than a toy, although it has been supposed by some
authorities that it was actually used by the Greek priests for the purpose of producing motion of apparatus in their temples.
Hieronymus Cardan, a wonderful mathematical genius, a most eccentric philosopher, and a distinguished physician, about the middle of the sixteenth century called attention, in his writings, to the power of steam, and to the facility with which a vacuum can be obtained by its condensation. This Cardan was the author of ” Cardan’s Formula,” or rule for the solution of cubic equations, and was the inventor of the ” smoke-jack.” He has been called a ” philosopher, juggler, and madman.” He was certainly a learned mathematician, a skillful physician, and a good mechanic.