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Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), Greek philosopher and scientist: considered the creation of a vacuum impossible - nothing could not be something. The same idea was held by Plato (424 BC - 348 BC), Greek philosopher, who found the idea of a vacuum inconceivable.
Hero of Alexandria (10 AD - 70 AD), Greek mathematician and engineer: was the first to challenge Aristotle's belief (see above) but his attempts to create an artificial vacuum failed.
Al-Farabi (Alpharabius) (872 -950), Muslim physicist and philosopher: investigated plungers in water and concluded that air's volume can expand to fill available space and suggested that the concept of perfect vacuum was incoherent.
Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965-1039), Muslim physicist: disagreed with Aristotle and Al-Farabi (see above), and supported the existence of a void. Using geometry, Ibn al-Haytham mathematically demonstrated that place is the imagined three-dimensional void between the inner surfaces of a containing body.
René Descartes (1596 - 1650), French philosopher and mathematician: argued against the existence of a vacuum: "Space is identical with extension, but extension is connected with bodies; thus there is no space without bodies and hence no empty space (vacuum).
Jean Buridan (1300 - 1358), French priest and scientist: reported that ten horses could not pull open bellows (a device for delivering pressurized air) when the port was sealed, apparently because of vacuum power.
Evangelista Torricelli (1608 - 1647), Italian physicist and mathematician: built the first mercury barometer in 1643 and wrote a convincing argument that the space at the top was a vacuum.
Otto von Guericke (1602 - 1686), German scientist and inventor: invented the first vacuum pump in 1654 and conducted his famous Magdeburg hemispheres experiment, showing that teams of horses could not separate two hemispheres from which the air had been evacuated.
Warren De la Rue (1815 - 1889), British astronomer and chemist: enclosed a coiled platinum filament in a vacuum tube, in an attempt to improve incandescent light bulbs, in 1840, and passed an electric current through it thus improving its longevity since the evacuated chamber would contain fewer gas molecules to react with the platinum filament and burn it.
Daniel Hess, American inventor: invented a vacuum cleaner, in 1860, calling it a carpet sweeper.
Lee De Forest (1873 - 1961), American inventor: invented the vacuum tube (audion, triode) in 1906.
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), German-American theoretical physicist: concluded in his theory of special relativity, from 1905, that the speed of light in a vacuum is always constant.
Paul Dirac (1902 - 1984), English theoretical physicist: proposed in 1930 a model of vacuum as an infinite sea of particles possessing negative energy, called the Dirac sea. This theory predicted the existence of the positron, discovered two years later in 1932. Despite this early success, the idea was soon abandoned in favour of the more elegant quantum field theory.
Vacuum Scientist Biographies