The Magnet Compass Research Paper
Many people believe that the magnetic compass is one of the most important inventions ever created, next to penicillin and the panini maker. It turns out that there is an entire story that lies behind this marvelous invention’s history and how it works. When most people think about a compass, they think of “that thing that shows which way is north”. But the truth is that it’s much, much more than that. This is an example of how much we take the things we have today for granted.
Around 770-476 BC, Chinese miners found lodestone, a special rock that aligns itself with Earth’s magnetic field. Soon people realized that this rock could show direction, so they crafted the lodestones into a spoon shape and put them atop a flat, square shape bronze plate that represented Earth. Because of the material of lodestone, the pointy edge of the spoon always pointed south. The bronze plate itself had different characters that represented the different directions: north, south, east, west…
At first, Chinese people used the magnetic compass to determine which way to place their deceased. The proper alignment of a dead body was and still is an important part of Chinese culture. The early compass was also used for people who performed Feng Shui, so they could align their furniture accordingly. The original magnetic compass was never actually used at sea due to its unsteadiness. Compasses weren’t brought to the ocean until it was discovered that a iron needle could be rubbed with lodestone and hung by a string to tell the direction. This new and improved compass allowed the Chinese to taking sea voyages as far as Africa.
Even today, the compass is still a important tool for many people. For that, we owe a big thanks to the Chinese for creating such a wonderful invention. From now on, when looking at the small, versatile compasses of today, just remember that that little thing has come a long way from a spoon on a metal plate....
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