# Who is Heron of Alexandria?

June 25, 2021He was an ancient Greek mathematician and engineer.

He lived in Alexandria, Egypt during Roman times. Considered one of the greatest experimenters of Antiquity, Heron became the pioneer of Hellenistic traditional science with his work. It is known that at least 13 of his books have survived. Heron is credited with being the inventor of a steam-powered device called the Aeolipile, but he is the inventor of the Windmill, the earliest example of onshore wind power. Some of his ideas were inspired by “Ctesibius”.

It is almost certainly known that Heron studied and taught in many places, including the famous Library of Alexandria, because much of what he wrote appears to be lecture notes for mathematics, mechanics, physics, and pneumatics. Such is the work of Heron, although this was not formalized until the 20th century. In particular, his work on automated devices and cybernetics is represented as his first official research.

Information about Heron’s life is almost non-existent. BC for the time period he lived. 150 with İ.S. Dates ranging between 250 were given, and then it was concluded that he lived in 62, based on a lunar eclipse described in his book “Dioptra”. Estimates of his scientific personality are also contradictory. Some experts, especially based on his book Pneumatika (“Pneumatics”), claimed that he was only a researcher and technician, while others claimed that he was one of the best mathematicians of his time. However, the fact that it is not known exactly how many of the thirteen books thought to be Heron actually belonged to Heron, shows the uncertainty in the information about Heron.

Comparing Heron with Archimedes and Apollonios as a mathematician, in a sense, in Greek mathematics, BC. It reveals the collapse that started in the 3rd century. In particular, the practical approach of Heron, a mathematician with all the knowledge of his time, as evidenced by his Metrika (“Measurement”), documents that Greek mathematics lost its tendency to theoretical perfection. The first volume of Metrika, which came to light with a copy of it in Istanbul in 1896, deals with the calculation of triangles, quadrilaterals, regular polygons up to dodecagon, circle, circle segments, ellipse and parabolic segments, and the surfaces of cylinders, cones, spheres and sphere segments. devoted to related techniques.

Some of the most important discoveries of Heron, who lived in Alexandria under the rule of the Roman Empire in Antiquity and was considered one of the most important scientists of his time; automatic opening door, water vending machine, air-powered organ and steam engine. Heron, who also invented a device called Aeolipile working with steam power, is shown as the inventor of the windmill, which is the earliest example of utilizing wind energy on land.

Only three of Heron’s works, Mechanica, Pneumatica and Metrica, have survived. In these studies, the ways of making use of air, water and steam (pneumatika), the construction of some automata (automata) and tools such as levers, reels, cranes, grape presses (mechanika) are explained. Mechanica; Consisting of three books, it was written to be useful to architects or construction work in general. Heron dealt with movement, statics and balance in the first book of Mechanica. In the second book, he proposed mechanisms for lifting heavy objects and worked on calculating the centroids of planar objects. In the third book, he explained the operation of machines that we can call cranes and discussed how heavy objects can be transported after lifting them.

After the first part of Pneumatika, which contains partially correct and sometimes completely wrong theories about fluid pressure, there is a description of many mechanical tools that are thought to be used for no purpose other than toys. The first part of Metrica, which consists of three books, is very important. In this book, Heron gives formulas for finding the areas of different geometric bodies. Heron’s effort to show the area of a regular polygon as the square of the side length multiplied by a certain constant, and the fact that the square root algorithm he used was known to the Babylonians 2000 years ago, shows that he was under the influence of Babylon and differed from other Ancient Greek mathematicians. Although the Babylonians used the same idea to find the area of a regular polygon, their coefficients are different from Heron’s.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM

Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook