Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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The Magdeburg hemispheres

In 1654, Otto von Guericke, burgomeister of Magdeburg and inventor of the air pump, gave a demonstration in which two teams of eight horses could not pull apart two brass hemispheres held together only by the pressure of the outside air. The sphere was about the size of a basketball. Estimate the force the teams of horses would have had to exert to pull the hemispheres apart.

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Page last modified October 9, 2002: M03