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Compass, and paper in ancient times was invented by the Chinese. In the III century BC Chinese philosopher Han FEI-Tzu described a device contemporary compass: it was kind of ladle spoons of magnetite with a thin stalk and a spherical, highly-polished convex part. This convex part of the spoon was mounted on an equally carefully polished copper or wooden plate, so that the shaft does not touch the plate, and hanging loosely over it, and the spoon could easily rotate around the axis of its convex base. On the plate were caused to refer to the countries of the world, in a cyclic zodiac signs. Pushing the handle of his spoon, brought it into rotary motion. Reassured, the compass is pointed with the handle (which played the role of the magnetic needle) just to the South. This was the most ancient instrument for determining directions.

In the eleventh century in China appeared first on the floating compass needle is made of an artificial magnet. Usually it was done in the form of fish. This fish was lowered into a container of water. Here it is free floated, pointing his head to the side, where the South. Several varieties of compass was invented in the same XI century by the Chinese scientist Shen Gua, who worked on the study of the properties of the magnetic needle. He suggested, for example, to magnetize a magnet on natural regular sewing needle, then attach it with wax in the center of the body to a freely hanging silk threads. The compass showed the direction more accurately than floating, as they experienced much less resistance when turning. Other design compass proposed by Shen Gua was even closer to modern: a magnetized needle here was put on the stud. During his experiments Shen Gua found that the compass needle shows not exactly to the South, and with some deviation, and correctly explained the reason for this phenomenon is that the magnetic and geographical meridians do not coincide with each other, and form an angle. Scientists who lived after Shen Gua, already knew how to calculate this angle (called magnetic declination) for different regions of China. In the XI century, many Chinese ships were equipped with a floating compass. They are installed typically on the nose and aft of ships, so that captains in any kind of weather could keep the right course, in accordance with their instructions.

In this Chinese compass in the twelfth century, borrowed by the Arabs. In the beginning of XIII century the "floating needle" became known to Europeans. First it was adopted from the Arabs by Italian sailors. From them the compass was passed to the Spaniards, the Portuguese and the French and later the Germans and the British. At first compass consisted of a magnetized needle and a piece of wood (cork), which floated in a vessel of water. Soon guessed to close the glass vessel to protect the float from the action of the wind. In the middle of the XIV century was invented a magnetic needle placed on edge in the middle of the round paper (card). Then the Italian Flavio Gioia perfected the compass, providing it with kartoshkoy divided into 16 parts (compass points) four on every part of the world. This simple device was a major step in the improvement of the compass. Later the circle was divided into 32 equal sectors. In the XVI century to reduce the effect of pitching the arrow became fixed on a cardan suspension, and a century later, the compass was supplied by rotating a ruler with a sight on the end, allowing more precisely to count direction.

Compass made a revolution in sailing, what is the gunpowder in the military, and peredelany process in metallurgy. He was the first navigation device, which allowed us to set a course in the open sea. Armed with a compass, Spanish and Portuguese sailors in the late fifteenth century ventured on a long voyage. They left the sea coast (to which sailing was linked for several millennia) and set sail across the ocean.

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