Renaissance Engineers

  • J. S. Rao
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 20)


Medieval and Renaissance Europe possessed only one effective heat engine, the combustion engine in the form of the cannon (Figure 6.1) [1].

The credit for making pressure exerted by the atmosphere entirely explicit belongs to Otto von Guericke (reprint 1963), who in 1672 published the famous book in which he described his air pump and the experiments that he made with it from the mid 1650s onwards. His famous demonstration is illustrated in Figure 6.2. Once it was understood that atmosphere exerts pressure, it was a matter of creating a vacuum and allowing the atmospheric pressure to move the piston in a cylinder.


Coal Mine Check Valve Safety Valve Pressure Cooker Steam Engine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Balasubramaniam, R., et al.: A Marvel of Medieval Indian Metallurgy: Thanjavur’s Forge-Welded Iron Cannon. Journal of Metallurgy, 17 (January 1, 2004)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cardwell, D.S.L.: From Watt to Clausius. Cornell University Press, Ithaca (1971)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Debus, A.G.: Man and Nature in the Renaissance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1978)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jenkins, Rhys: Savery, Newcomen and the Early History of the Steam Engine. In: The Collected Papers of Rhys Jenkins, p. 48. Newcomen Society, Cambridge (1936)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    McConnell, A.: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Papin, Denis (1647–1712?). Oxford University Press, Oxford (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    von Guericke, Otto: Experimentanova Magdeburgica, Amsterdam (1672); reprinted Otto Zeller, Aalen (1963)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Savery, Thomas: The Miner’s Friend: Or, an Engine to Raise Water by Fire. S. Crouch (1702)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Valenti, P.: Leibniz, Papin and the Steam Engine: A Case Study of British Sabotage of Science (1979); printed in The American Almanac (1996); first version published in Fusion Magazine (December 1979)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. Rao

    There are no affiliations available

    Personalised recommendations