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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Gilbert, William"

Gilbert, William [Astro*Index]

(1544-1603) English physician and physicist.

He was elected president of the College of Physicians, in 1600, and was appointed court physician to Queen Elizabeth I the following year. He published a work, De Magnete (Concerning Magnets), which was a significant improvement over the earlier efforts of Peregrinus, as it contained much of the experimental evidence gathered by Gilbert. He demonstrated that the compass needle, in addition to pointing approximately north and south, also points downward toward the earth (the Magnetic Dip). He studied special substances, such as amber and iron, and demonstrated their various magnetic properties. He studied the writings of Copernicus, and was first to inquire as to causal factors which would keep the planets in their courses, if the celestial spheres (invented by Pythagoras) were proved not to exist, deciding that it was some form of magnetic attraction.


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine