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History of the Compass



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Every creation in this world has a history. Things we take for granted in daily life have played a major role in bringing us where we are today. The compass is a valuable instrument used universally in this modern world. Although it is under shadowed by many large inventions before and after its time, its role in history is not small like its size.  The creation of a compass has motivated people to cross over their borders and lead to discovery of several continents. Before this ingenious invention, sailors and explorers relied on the sky and the stars for navigation, something that became harder in overcast weathers and thunderstorms. For these reasons, travel became harder as people were reluctant to leave the safety of their homes to venture into the unknown.

There has been a delay of many years to the first recorded use of the compass, alarmingly up to 1400 years. The compass was first used in China around 4th Century BC, in feng shui. It was a simple piece of lodestone, a naturally occurring magnetic core, which floated on water and pointed to south. As time passed, iron replaced the lodestone and indicated a north-south direction.

In the 6th century this was replaced by a needle. Rumours flew around the 12th Century but the use of the compass was first recorded in Europe around 1190. It was first similar to the Chinese lodestone creation but then changed by the English by mounting a needle on a pin around the 13th Century.

Interestingly enough many tales and superstitions have surrounded this small instrument. Some ship captains believed that if their crew ate onions it will affect the magnetism of this object. The creation of the compass engendered many ventures and exploration of the world. Men used this instrument to navigate them through the sea and the forests.

As years passed, in 17th Century, it was changed into a parallelogram shape that was easier to balance on the pin. In 1745, the compass consisted of a steel needle that held its magnetism for longer periods of time.  Gowin Knight was the inventor behind this Knight compass, which was an improvement from the previous inventions.

Today, the compass is used in camping trips, sea voyages and many great explorations. Alterations have been made to improve this clever device. Even after many years to its creation, it continues to guide people across the unknowns of this world.

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