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Man on the Ocean

R. M. Ballantyne

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Flavio Gioia, a Neapolitan captain or pilot, who lived about the beginning of the fourteenth century, was generally recognised throughout Europe as the inventor of this useful instrument; but time and research have thrown new light on this subject. Probably the Neapolitan pilot was the first who brought the compass into general notice in Europe; but long before 1303 (the year in which it was said to have been invented) the use of the magnetic needle was known to the Chinese.

Loadstone, that mineral which has the mysterious power of attracting iron, and also of imparting to iron its own attractive power, was known to the Chinese before the year 121, in which year a famous Chinese dictionary was completed, wherein the word magnet is defined as “the name of a stone which gives direction to a needle.” This proves not only that they knew the attractive properties of the loadstone, and its power of imparting these properties to metal, but also that they were aware of the . . . Read More