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Ancient Rome
Heron of Alexandria



Heron of Alexandria
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.86

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    coin-operated, automation, scant, water-powered, omen, aeolipile, equate, compute, fathom, notion, formula, mathematician, revenue, dubbed, notable, supposedly
     content words:    Industrial Revolution, Had Heron


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Heron of Alexandria
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Our society today is a society of convenience. Many things we do involve using automated processes in one form or another. For example, when we are hungry, we can use microwaves to heat up food. When we are in shopping malls, we can take escalators to different floors. Or when we are struggling with our homework, we can use computers or surf the Internet for solutions. Modern marvels such as those have completely transformed our lives. They are very addictive. Now that we have grown accustomed to their convenience, we simply cannot fathom how people in the past could make do without the help of technology. To many people, the idea of living in a time several hundred years ago would equate to a total nightmare. But could it be really that bad? Well, surprisingly, it might not. Automation, as it turned out, was not a new concept. A Greek inventor named Heron (or Hero) already contemplated the notion some 2,000 years ago. He alone created the world's first automatic doors, the world's first vending machine, and the world's first steam engine. His innovations helped to pave the road that eventually led to the comforts that we are now taking for granted.
 
2     Heron was a rather mysterious figure in history. Of the scant information we have about him, we know that he was probably born in 10 A.D. and died around 70 A.D. We have no idea where he spent his childhood years. We only know that he eventually wound up living in Alexandria, Egypt, then a city controlled by the Romans. This particular choice of residence later became part of his identity. In time, people started to call him Heron of Alexandria.
 
3     Heron was a famous mathematician of his era. During his lifetime, he published many books documenting geometric formulas that he had either created or painstakingly collected from other sources. He supposedly found a way to compute the area of a triangle given only the lengths of the sides. That acclaimed formula, dubbed as Heron's formula, may actually be the work of another notable Greek mathematician, Archimedes (287 B.C. - 212 B.C.).

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