The Weight of the Air
The miners of Renaissance Europe, digging ever deeper into the earth in the search of ore, invariably found another, less welcome substance – water. Everywhere they dug, it found them, seeping into tunnels and shafts. If it could not be removed at least as quickly as it entered, it would flood the mine and make it useless. The deeper the mine, the more of a problem water presented, and by the later part of the middle ages, some miners were delving very deep indeed. Over the centuries, miners had devised numerous contrivances to remove this nuisance, from simple bucket brigades to complex lifting machinery, many of them documented in Agricola’s De re metallica of 1556, a treatise on the extraction of metals from the earth.