Science Art: Hero’s Steam Turbine, 1903

A scientific illustration of Hero's Steam Turbine, from New Conceptions in Science, 1903

A scientific illustration of Hero's Steam Turbine, from  New Conceptions in Science, 1903

A machine that converts heat into motion – an amazing feat – from the book New Conceptions in Science by Carl Snyder, found in the Wellcome Collection. In this case, the steam isn’t making a piston move, it’s just making a ball roll on an axle (which is also the pipe pushing steam into the ball). But still – a thing that was immobile is stationary no longer! We can move things around without using our muscles!

Hero (his name is sometimes rendered as “Heron”) lived in Alexandria in the first century C.E. His steam engine is also sometimes called an “aeolipile.”