Hey, Camp Fans!
We’ve talked about the history of a lot of different things on this Blog, but my favorite subjects are the histories behind camping gear. That’s why today, I’m talking about the history behind the magnetic compass. Nobody really knows just how old the compass is, but that’s not to say that we don’t know much about its history. Check it out:
Before the compass was truly invented, the discovery of magnetism was already a popular fascination. It was William Gilbert (physician to Queen Elizabeth I in the early 1600’s) who first began to form the basic laws of magnetism. It was he who first speculated that the planet itself was one BIG magnet—which, it turns out, the earth’s core generates an impressive magnetic field.
Not to take credit away from Mr. Gilbert, but his theory of earth’s magnetism was written all over the place. After all, it was already common knowledge that magnets were made from magnetic rock called magnetite which occurs NATURALLY. The ancient Chinese were well aware of magnetite.
Chinese fortune tellers used the natural magnet, magnetite, to build their fortune-telling boards; they would use a piece of magnetite stone that would mysteriously shift, supposedly offering predictions for someone’s future. For a long time there was nothing but mysticism attached to magnetite’s behavior, but, eventually, it was seen for what it truly is: magnetism.
Linking this magnetism to a practical means of navigation, the invention of the compass was realized in China and made popular by the 3rd Century. Now perfected, the compass is a simple, lightweight device featuring a magnetized needle that sits on a free-rotating pivot to always show you with direction you’re facing.
Pick out your own magnetic compass from Everything Summer Camp and never lose your way again! As always, thanks for reading!