Home SCIENCE Magdeburg Hemispheres Pulling Apart Experiment

Magdeburg Hemispheres Pulling Apart Experiment


The Magdeburg hemispheres are a pair of large copper hemispheres, with mating rims. They were used to demonstrate the power of atmospheric pressure. When the rims were sealed with grease and the air was pumped out, the sphere contained a vacuum and could not be pulled apart by teams of horses in a famous first public demonstration in 1654.

source/image: The Action Lab

The Magdeburg hemispheres were invented by German scientist and mayor of Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke, to demonstrate the air pump that he had invented, and the concept of atmospheric pressure. In this video youtuber The Action Lab puts the Magdeburg hemispheres to the test, where he tries to pull it apart.

The Magdeburg hemispheres, around 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter,were designed to demonstrate the vacuum pump that Guericke had invented. One of them had a tube connection to attach the pump, with a valve to close it off. When the air was sucked out from inside the hemispheres, and the valve was closed, the hose from the pump could be detached, and they were held firmly together by the air pressure of the surrounding atmosphere.


The force holding the hemispheres together was equal to the area bounded by the joint between the hemispheres, a circle with a diameter of 50 cm, multiplied by the difference in air pressure between the inside and the outside.