The object in the figure is called Aeolipile, and it is the first known steam machine, a steam turbine that was invented in the first century AD. It was invented by Hero of Alexandria, a mathematician and engineer who is also known for the Hero's formula (recall geometry and the area of a triangle, given the lengths of its sides).
During my high school years, my history teacher mentioned Aeolipile, originitating from Aeolus, being the Greek god of the air and wind, and pile, being the Greek word for a ball. I was fascinated, stunned, almost 1500 years of separation between Aeolipile and the first steam engine. I could not stop thinking about why this happened. So many other paths of science have flourished, and this potential was lost. Even today, I am still thinking about how many wonders are left undiscovered, potentials unseized, how many scripts from the library of Alexandria were destroyed ...
Thinking about this, I experience one major feeling, something called "yugen", which is
"an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words”That very feeling seems to be the greatest driver of many scientists throughout the history of human kind. An amazing feeling! Felt it so many times when I would just glaze upon the Milky Way in the night.
I believe that a good scientist/researcher/engineer must be and must stay extremely curious, must be very determined, and must change the point of view constantly in order to avoid missing the potential of his/hers creation, or rather miss the new paths of truth that can be taken. Who knows how many times has humanity been on the verge of a great discovery, a huge progress boost, a great path, that is missed due to inability of changing the perspective of observation.
Thus, Aeolipile remains a great story in my mind, a constant remainder to go further, go wider, and as Robert Frost nicely wrote it, while Robin Williams nicely said it, in a great movie called "Dead poets society"...
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."