The first blog entirely devoted to the history of physics.

Anecdotes, philosophical issues, great discoveries, and much more from first-hand participants.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The electric force, the very basic

''Now in order clearly to understand how such attraction takes place, and what those substances may be that so attract other bodies (and in the case of many of these electrical substances, though the bodies influenced by them lean toward them, yet because of the feebleness of the attraction they are not drawn clean up to them, but are easily mode to rise), make yourself a rotating‐needle (electroscope ‐ versorium) of any sort of metal, three or four fingers long, pretty light, and poised on a sharp point after the manner of a magnetic pointer. Bring near to one end of it a piece of amber or a gem, lightly rubbed, polished and shining: at once the instrument revolves. Several objects are seen to attract not only natural objects, but things artificially prepared, or manufactured, or form by mixture. Nor is this a rare property possessed by one object or two (as is commonly supposed), but evidently belongs to a multitude of objects, both simple and compound, e.g., sealing‐wax and other unctuous mixtures.''

In Gilbert, De Magnete, p. 79.

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