Who invented the vacuum?

review - The doctrine of a vacuum

The year is 1654. The Mayor of Magdeburg Otto von Guericke was sent to the Reichstag in Regensburg. His penchant for experimentation did not remain hidden for long on the political stage either - after all, von Guericke had been developing the idea of ​​researching vacuum space and the existence of a vacuum for a long time. More and more participants in the Reichstag wanted to see his attempts to do so.

As a prelude, Guericke chose an experiment in which he conjured up a small fountain in an empty glass ball. The inventor had set up a vat of water on a table, inside of which was a glass ball on a tripod - only its mouthpiece protruded into the water. Guericke dipped his hand into the water, grabbed the tap on the mouthpiece of the ball and opened it. Immediately the water jumped up into the interior of the sphere with great force and boiled like boiling water.

The author Klaus Liebers. Source: Josephine Mühln

More than 300 years after this little demonstration, Klaus Liebers from Bergholz-Rehbrücke (Potsdam-Mittelmark) has dedicated a book to the former Magdeburg mayor and scientist: "Otto von Guericke and the vacuum adventure". In his opinion, Guericke deserves an appreciation: "He had to put up with a lot of failures and other researchers might have given up afterwards, but von Guericke was convinced of his idea and followed it to the last detail."

Klaus Liebers has always been a fan of Otto von Guericke, he says. The 78-year-old had copied many of the inventor's experiments at the University of Potsdam - where he worked as a professor for many years - and showed them in various places in Germany. So he learned a lot about von Guericke and finally came up with the idea of ​​writing a book about the inventor.

Returning from his trip to Regensburg, Guericke got into a frenzy of new experiments with the so-called Magdeburg hemispheres. The most famous was his experiment with 16 horses: Guericke placed two hemispherical shells made of copper so that they formed a ball. A leather strip soaked in wax and turpentine served as a seal between the spherical shells. Then he withdrew the air from the cavity created in this way. The air pressure, which now only acted on the ball from the outside, compressed it so strongly that it could no longer be pulled apart even with 16 horses

“The book was only made possible with the support of the Otto von Guericke Foundation in Magdeburg,” says the former professor. “This is a real treasure trove in terms of original writings by Guericke.” The greatest challenge in writing the book was “not to write a pure textbook, but a story that gives the reader the feeling of being an eyewitness right in the middle of the action . "

About the author of the book

Klaus Liebers was born in 1937 in Chemnitz, Saxony.

He studied Mathematics and Physics in Potsdam and later also worked as a teacher in these subjects.

Liebers wrote More than 150 books as sole author, co-author or co-editor for science lessons and was also editor of all texts for the Ozeaneum in Stralsund, which opened in 2008.

A good year and a half it took me to write the book about von Guericke, says Liebers.

Reading tip: Klaus Liebers: Otto von Guericke and the vacuum adventure. epubli Verlag Berlin, 184 pages, 11.90 euros.

The pensioner succeeded in doing this. The reader is always by Guericke's side, accompanies him on his travels through Germany and is there when he has to accept setbacks or deal with doubters. The individual episodes are illustrated by 30 copperplate engravings - also from the von Guericke Foundation. They ensure that the detailed explanations of the experiments are also easier to understand for laypeople.

You don't have to prove a full-blown passion for physics to read the book, but you shouldn't approach scientific experiments with complete disinterest.

Incidentally, Klaus Liebers financed the publication of the book himself. He had 250 copies printed for the first edition. The advantage of this independent publication is that you can “get started overnight” without asking anyone. “The disadvantage is that after printing you have to advertise your work independently,” says Liebers. And that is actually no longer the author's task. "I've learned that a book isn't finished when it's printed, but only when it's sold."

By Josephine Mühln