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The Humble Beginnings of the Compass

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

The compass is a navigational device used for determining direction in the Earth's magnetic poles. It has provided navigational ability to seafarers since the 12th century B.C. and has been instrumental in discovering different lands, helping guide merchants to import and export goods and keeping people alive on the sea where they may have been stranded before. But where and when did it first arrive?
The first version of the modern day compass was discovered in China around the 4th century. The Chinese used lodestones (an iron oxide that aligns itself to the north and south) in a bowl of water to determine where to place things in your home for austerity. This was the ancient art of Feng Shui had come 3,500 years before the discovery of the compass but was instrumental in leading to the invention.
Once it was discovered that it could be used as a navigational device on the sea's, the invention opened up a whole new world. Once relying only upon the position of the sun, seafarer's now had a more accurate device to tell them in which direction they were headed. Explorer's now were able to navigate the sea's further away from home to discover other lands and civilizations.
In the 12th century an Englishman began using steel needles, after discovering that they held a magnetic charge longer, instead of the heavy lodestones and the compass became a more compact device that could be carried in a pocket. The evolution of the compass now gave countries the ability to import and export goods from other lands that they had never before had access to.
Through the years seemingly small inventions have contributed to the growth of the world today. Without the invention of the compass we may not know that any other lands or civilizations exist. Imports that we get from other countries that are possibly life saving, would have never been traded or sold and we may have never tasted the foods of another land. Through exploration and ingenuity of the compass and other devices like the cool Gerber tool we have access to the discovery of new ways of life.



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