Windmill | East Hampton, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

A windmill is a mill that converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Centuries ago, windmills usually were used to mill grain, pump water, or both. Thus they often were gristmills, windpumps, or both. The majority of modern windmills take the form of wind turbines used to generate electricity, or windpumps used to pump water, either for land drainage or to extract groundwater.

The windwheel of the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the first century is the earliest known instance of using a wind-driven wheel to power a machine. Another early example of a wind-driven wheel was the prayer wheel, which has been used in Tibet and China since the fourth century. It has been claimed that the Babylonian emperor Hammurabi planned to use wind power for his ambitious irrigation project in the seventeenth century BCE. Read more

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