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The Early History of Magnetism

    Naturevolume 13pages523524 (1876) | Download Citation



    THE earliest references to the properties of the magnet occur in the annals of the Chinese nation, who used it as a means of guiding the wayfarer over the vast and trackless plains of Eastern Asia, long before it was applied to maritime purposes. To the Emperor Hoang-Ti, who lived 2,000 years before our era, is attributed the invention of a chariot, upon which stood an elevated figure pointing to the south, independently of any position of the chariot. Nearly ten centuries later, we find the learned Tchéou-Koung presenting and teaching the use of the tchi-nân-kiu, or chariot indicating the south, to some envoys from Youé-tchâng, a southern maritime province. The compass, or, as it is even now called in Chinese, tchi-nân, appears to have been first used at sea by this remarkable nation about the third century of our era, during the Tsin dynasty.

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