Hero of Alexandria

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Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria (Greek: Ἥρων ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς) (c. 10–70 AD) was an ancient Greek mathematician who was a resident of a Roman province (Ptolemaic Egypt); he was also an engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity[1] and his work is representative of the Hellenistic scientific tradition.[2]

Hero published a well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile (hence sometimes called a "Hero engine"). Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land.[3][4] He is said to have been a follower of the Atomists. Some of his ideas were derived from the works of Ctesibius.

Much of Hero's original writings and designs have been lost, but fortunately, some of his works were preserved in Arab manuscripts.



Due to strong Babylonian influence in Hero's work, it was once speculated by a minority of scholars that Hero may have been a Greek of Egyptian or Phoenician origin,[5] but the modern scholarly consensus is that he was ethnically Greek.[1][6][7] The historian of mathematics C. B. Boyer explains that Hero's identification as an Egyptian or a Phoenician was largely due to the strong Babylonian influence on his work. However at least from the days of Alexander the Great to the close of the classical world, there undoubtedly was much intercommunication between Greece and Mesopotamia, and it seems to be clear that the Babylonian arithmetic and algebraic geometry continued to exert considerable influence in the Hellenistic world.[6]

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