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Otto von Guericke

Magdeburg 20.November.1602-Hamburg 11.May.1686


Biographical notes


Edited by    L' Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze, Italia


Descendant of a wealthy family of Magdeburgo, studied law to the universityof Lipsia (1617-1620), Helmstedt (1620) and Jena (1621-1622), in order then to o to Leida, where, beside the legal studies, she attended mathematics course and she began to take care itself of engineering problems. After to have covered various governmental functions in its city born them, in 1631, he moved himself to Erfurt, in order to work like engineer for the Swedish government, passing, therefore, in 1635, to the service of the Constituent of Sassonia. In the years     between 1646 and 1676, held the charge of mayor of Magdeburgo. Although its time widely was absorbed from the public life and from the relative burdens, von Guericke continued, however, to take care itself of science experiences them, and came soon to acquaintance of the new connected developments of the physical debate to the innovative Cartesian theories and the barometric experiments of Torricelli. In order to put to the test “the pleniste” theses (that they denied the existence of the empty one) of Descartes, von Guerické devised and realized - also between many failures - various models of pumps in order to produce the empty one. In the same years, it was engaged also to repeat the barometric experiments and to study to bottom the problem of the pressure of the air.  It is within these interests that, in 1657, von Guericke realized its more famous experiment. Two semisphere ones of bronze of approximately 50 cm. of diameter perfectly superimposed came joined one to the other after that, to their inside, it had been produced the empty one by means of a pneumatic pump. Incredibly, in order to separate the two members it was necessary the combined force of two couples of 8 horses, that they pulled in directions opposed.    evocative experiment, initially described in the hydraulic-pneumatic Mechanical of Gaspar Schott (1657) and then spectacularly repeated in front of the Berliner court in 1663, served to confirm the torricelliane discoveries and to evidence the amazing effects of the atmospheric pressure.

Experimenta Nova (ut vocantur) Magdegurgica de Vacuo  Spatio  Otto vonGuericke 1672