The earliest-known compass dates from China, during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC - 2nd century AD). This early compass was made from lodestone, a naturally-magnetic variety of magnetite ore. A spoon-shaped piece of lodestone was placed upon a bronze disk, and the lodestone always pointed north. This early compass was not used for navigation at first; it was used for divination (like Feng Shui), to determine fortuitous placement of buildings, etc.

Cardinal Points
North, South, East and West are known as the Cardinal Points.

Collateral Points
North-East, North-West, South-East and South-West are known as the Collateral Points.
Historical Notes
271 Chinese mathematicians invented the magnetic compass.
1086 The domesday Book was written. Shen Kua, a Chinese scientist, writes his Dream Pool Essays,in these he outlines the principles of erosion, sedimentation and uplift which are still used in earth science today. He also makes the first known reference to the use of a magnetic compass for navigation.
1199 Alexander Neckam from St Albans writes De naturis rerum ("On natural things") and makes the first known Western reference to the magnetic compass.
1269 Maricourt used compass to discover that a magnet is encircled by lines which terminate on two poles.

See also: Magnet.

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Subjects: Physics