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View Resource Discovery of the Magnetic Compass

First of several linked files, telling the early history of the compass (discovered in China) and how Robert Norman in 1581 showed the magnetic force was not horizontal but slanted downwards, followed by William Gilbert's demonstration that the Earth behaved like a giant magnet; two reviews of Gilbert's 1600 book "De Magnete" follow, as well as a modern version of one of Gilbert's experiments....

View Resource Oersted and the Discovery of Electromagnetism

This page, authored and curated by David P. Stern, and its annex describes, in trivial terms, the physics of magnetic fields and the history of its discovery. Included is the work of Halley, Oersted, Ampere and Maxwell. It also describes a way of demonstrating it in the classroom, using a vu-graph projector. Later sections #5, #5a and #6 extend this to magnetic field lines and electromagnetism....

View Resource The Lodestones

This web page, authored and curated by David P. Stern, describes the causes of naturally occurring magnetite magnets, or 'lodestones.' It explains theories about the function of lightening and heat in such processes, and the possibility of magnetized iron. It is part of a larger work, "The Great Magnet, the Earth", that outlines to history and the study of magnetic fields and the earth's...

View Resource The Sun

This material uses the Sun as an example of diverse parts of physics. Topics include weather and climate, magnetism and the interplanetary field, color, spectra and the electromagnetic spectrum, nuclear energy and its release in stars and on Earth, and stellar evolution. This is part of a wider site "From Stargazers to Starships" which has related lesson plans, glossary, timeline, problems, and...

View Resource Electrons, Ions and Plasmas

This series of web pages provides information on a range of topics regarding charged particles. Starting with the properties of atomic electrons, this material describes the Edison and photoelectric effects, the interaction between charged particles and magnetic fields, and the creation of plasmas and positive ions. Other topics, including the history of research on charges, are covered in...

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