In 1508, Leonardo Vinci, notes of his folio 16v of MS F, sketched a gunpowder engine (see: da Vinci engine), based on an inverted cannon barrel, which detonated gunpowder in, enabling the device to lift a weight through a vertical height; he described his device as such:
- “A mechanism to lift heavy weights. To lift a heavy weight with fire, like a cupping glass. And the vessel should be one braccio [about 2 feet] wide and ten long, and should be strong. It should be lit from below like a bombard [cannon] and the touchhole rapidly and immediately closed on top. The bottom [thing], that has a very strong leather [seal], like a bellow, will rise and this is the way to lift any heavy weight.”
- — Leonardo Vinci (1508), “note on device to lift heavy weight with fire”, Folio 16v of MS F
In Oct 1675, Robert Hooke, in his A Description of Helioscopes and some other Instruments, presented his future invention he intended to publish or make, invention number nine of which was a “New Invention in Mechanics of Prodigious Use, Exceeding the Chimera’s of Perpetual Motions for Several Uses”, the secret of which, when decoded by Hooke out of his Latin anagram, was: "Pondere premit aer vacuum quod ab igne relictum est" which translates as:
- “The ‘vacuum’ left by fire lifts a weight.”
Or in word-for-word translation:
- “Hooke’s ‘pondere [weight] premit [exerts] aer [air] vacuum [vacuum] quod ab igne [from] relictum [left] est [it is]’ is one of the principles upon which Savery's late invented engine for raising water is founded.”
- — Richard Waller (1705), The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke (pg. xxi)
The following diagram shows the timeline of vacuum-based lifting devices or engines, in respect to what Hooke might have known or been aware of, in 1675, in respect to what sort of "new mechanical invention" he had in mind, in respect to his cypher hidden fire-based vacuum-formation weight-lifting device:
While it is doubtful that Hooke was aware of the da Vinci engine, we do know that in 1659, he was Robert Boyle's chief engine building assistant, and that Boyle was keenly aware of the Galileo engine (1632) and the various Guericke engines (1650s). We also know that Huygens learned the basics of vacuum principles from Boyle, and that in 1673, when Huygens had made his first combusting engine, which lifted a weight by the vacuum formed from the fire of combustion, that Denis Papin had become Huygens new assistant. We also know, that in 1679, Papin became Hooke’s amanuensis and experimental assistant, and that during this year the two of them were demonstrating the Papin digester and testing the Boyle–Mariotte law; and that in 1690, Papin, via his Papin engine design, became the first to draft out the plans for the first operational steam engine. Hooke, it seems, was also responsible for the promotion of French physicist Denis Papin’s steam engine theories in England, as found in Papin’s 1690 treatise "A New Method to Obtain Very Great Motive Powers at Small Cost", particularly in Hooke’s failed efforts to dissuade English engineer Thomas Newcomen to erect a machine on Papin’s theory of making a speedy vacuum under a piston, by attempting to fault Papin’s theory.
Hence, whatever the case, it is difficult to see exactly what type of engine Hooke had in mind here, but it could have been a gunpowder engine, or combustion engine, a Papin engine (1690), or possibly a Hero engine of some sort?
The following are related quotes:
- “This [Hooke engine principle], which was restated by Jean de Hautefeuille  and Huygens  in the late 1670s, was regarded by some of Hooke’s admirers as the principle behind the invention of the steam pump by Thomas Savery in the 1690s.”
- — Stephen Inwood (2002), The Main Who Knew Too Much (pg. 211)
- Thims, Libb. (2021). Human Chemical Thermodynamics — Chemical Thermodynamics Applied to the Humanities: Meaning, Morality, Purpose; Sociology, Economics, Ecology; History, Philosophy, Government, Anthropology, Politics, Business, Jurisprudence; Religion, Relationships, Warfare, and Love (pdf) (§9: Da Vinci Gunpowder Engine (1508); §14.1: Vacuum Lifts a Weight). Publisher.
- Thims, Libb. (66AE). Abioism: No Thing is Alive, On the Non-Existence of Life (pdf). Publisher.
- Da Vinci engine – Hmolpedia 2020.
- Inwood, Stephen. (2003). The Man Who Knew Too Much: the Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1653-1703 ("lifts a weight", pg. 198). Pan MacMillan.