The Info List - Ctesibius

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or Ktesibios or Tesibius (Greek: Κτησίβιος; fl. 285–222 BC) was a Greek inventor and mathematician in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt.[1] He wrote the first treatises on the science of compressed air and its uses in pumps (and even in a kind of cannon). This, in combination with his work on the elasticity of air On pneumatics, earned him the title of "father of pneumatics." None of his written work has survived, including his Memorabilia, a compilation of his research that was cited by Athenaeus. Ctesibius' most commonly known invention today is a pipe organ (hydraulis), on which the invention of the piano was later based.


1 Inventions 2 Reputation 3 References 4 Further reading

Inventions[edit] Ctesibius
was probably the first head of the Museum of Alexandria. Very little is known of his life, but his inventions were well known. It is said (possibly by Diogenes Laertius) that his first career was as a barber. During his time as a barber, he invented a counterweight-adjustable mirror. His other inventions include the hydraulis, a water organ that is considered the precursor of the modern pipe organ, and improved the water clock or clepsydra ("water thief"). For more than 1,800 years the clepsydra was the most accurate clock ever constructed, until the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens detailed the use of pendulums to regulate clocks in the year AD 1656, when he actually built a working prototype. Ctesibius
described one of the first force pumps for producing a jet of water, or for lifting water from wells, and examples have been found at various Roman sites, such as at Silchester
in Britain. The principle of the siphon has also been attributed to him. According to Diogenes Laertius, Ctesibius
was miserably poor. Laertius details this by recounting the following concerning the philosopher Arcesilaus:

When he had gone to visit Ctesibius
who was ill, seeing him in great distress from want, he secretly slipped his purse under his pillow; and when Ctesibius
found it, "This," said he, "is the amusement of Arcesilaus."

Reputation[edit] Ctesibius's work is chronicled by Vitruvius, Athenaeus, Pliny the Elder, and Philo of Byzantium who repeatedly mention him, adding that the first mechanicians such as Ctesibius
had the advantage of being under kings who loved fame and supported the arts. Proclus (the commentator on Euclid) and Hero of Alexandria
(the last of the engineers of antiquity) also mention him. References[edit]

^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Ctesibius. "Greek physicist and inventor, the first great figure of the ancient engineering tradition of Alexandria, Egypt."

Further reading[edit]

Landels, J.G. (1978). Engineering in the ancient world. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03429-5.  Lloyd, G.E.R. (1973). Greek science after Aristotle. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-04371-1.  Vitruvius
(1914). The Ten Books on Architecture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 7774763 GND: 102386129

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Ancient Greek mathematics


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