I have put in a fair amount of searching for this but have come up empty. I specifically remember the story printed from my childhood like 30-40 years ago, but I wanted to see if there's any source transcribed on the internet.

The printed account states that (I thought it was James Watt) was trying to figure out how (at that time) to make perfectly round ball bearings. He had a dream supposedly of an iron woman (no relation to Iron Maiden) crying metal tears and it was raining or some such similar detail.

Watt or whatever inventor then dropped molten iron of a specific quantity into a high vertical tank of water, and the resulting bearings came out perfectly or near perfectly round at the bottom.

Can anyone corroborate any portion of this? And give a reference? Thanks!

--- EDIT ---

I have found a book online, but it provides no further reference.

Here is another reference, but it states that he was walking in the rain but it was raining iron.

  • 1
    Researching "shot tower" leads to one William Watt, not James... and lead shot, not ball bearings... – DJohnM Jan 25 '16 at 3:30
  • The two URLs I referenced after clarify what I was looking for, but I don't know their sources per se. Seems to be pretty well historically accepted. I just don't like repeating urban legends. – Oliver Williams Jan 25 '16 at 14:35
  • 4
    I'm of the opinion this is on-topic here. However, the poster might be interested to know that there is in fact another stack covering specifically the history of science and math. – T.E.D. Jan 25 '16 at 15:57

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