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Heron of Alexandria

Heron of Alexandria (hērˈŏn) [key] or Hero, mathematician and inventor. The dates of his birth and death are unknown; conjecture places them between the 2d cent. B.C. and the 3d cent. A.D. He is believed to have lived in Alexandria; although he wrote in Greek, his origin is uncertain. Several of his works survive either in Greek or in Latin translation. He wrote on the measurement of geometric figures, and a formula for finding the area of a triangle has been ascribed to him. Known for his study of mechanics and pneumatics, he invented many contrivances operated by water, steam, or compressed air; these include a fountain, a fire engine, siphons, and an engine in which the recoil of steam revolves a ball or a wheel.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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