Magnetism

Discussion

history

Outline of the story told historically. Basic ideas that even young children now know. Keep everything to an introductory level.

First comes Thales of Miletus (635–543 BCE) Greece (Ionia). Miletus is now on the western coast of Turkey in what was then a region of Greece known as Ionia (source of the chemical term ion, but that's another story).

A nice quote from Thales would be nice here.

Some minerals such as magnetite (Fe3O4) are obviously magnetic.

Chinese navigators knew that magnetic rocks align themselves north-south (the south-pointing spoon).

The compass in real sense was created by a Chinese geomantic omen master in late Tang Dynasty, who originally used it for divination.

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The north magnetic pole of a compass points in the general direction of the north geographic pole of the earth. Since opposite magnetic poles attract, this means that the south magnetic pole of the earth is very near to its north geographic pole.

Next comes Peter Peregrinus (as he is known in English) a.k.a. Pierre Pèlerin de Maricourt (presumably his proper french name) a.k.a. Petrus Peregrinus de Maharncuria (his latin title, which means "Peter the Pilgrim of Maricourt"). Peter wrote what is commonly known as the Epistole de Magnete or Letter on the Magnet. It's full title is Epistola Petri Peregrini de Maricourt ad Sygerum de Foucaucourt, militem, de magnete (Letter on the Magnet of Peter Peregrinus of Maricourt to Sygerus of Foucaucourt, Soldier"). It was written on 8 August 1269 during the siege of the city of Lucera — the last remaining stronghold of Islam on the "calf muscle" of the boot-shaped peninsula that is now called Italy.

Peter's work was so complete that no further studies on the properties of magnets were done until the monumental work of William Gilbert in 1600 — Tractatus sive Physiologia Nova de Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et Magno Magnete Tellure (On the Magnet, Magnetic Bodies, and the Great Magnet of the Earth). De Magnete was the text in which Gilbert revealed the results of his research on magnetism and attempted to explain the nature of magnets and the five motions associated with magnetic phenomena. The work met with great acclaim and was republished in 1628 and 1633.

William Gilbert (1544–1603) England

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