It all started like this - History of magnetism 

Period 1: 600BC - 1775


Ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks were thinkers and philosophers, but they did not perform experiments to quantify electric and magnetic phenomena.


China, Compass

Earliest records show a spoon shaped compass made of lodestone or magnetite ore, referred to as a "South-pointer" dating back to sometime during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC to 2nd century CE).


Chinese scientist Shen Kuo

Shen Kuo or Shen Kua (Chinese; pinyin: Shěn Kuò) (1031–1095) was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (960–1279).


Alexander Neckam

Alexander Neckam (sometimes spelled "Nequam") (September 8, 1157 – 1217, Hertfordshire, England), was an English theologian, philosopher, teacher, scientist, and geographer.


Petrus (Peter) Peregrinus de Maricourt

Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt conducted the first systematic experiments on magnetism and invented improved nautical compasses. He was one of the few medieval scientists to have conducted experimental inquires.


1501 - 1576, Girolamo Cardano

Girolamo Cardano was a doctor, astrologer, mathematician, and natural philosopher who helped create modern algebra and invented the universal joint.


Livio Sanuto

He was an Italian geographer and first notes the idea that the Earth has two magnetic poles.


Robert Norman

Robert Norman was a compass maker in London. In those days, this is how you made a compass.


William Gilbert

The English physician and physicist William Gilbert (1544-1603), an investigator of electrical and magnetic phenomena, is principally noted for his "Demagnete," one of the first scientific works based on observation and experiment.


Niccolò Cabeo

Niccolò Cabeo, an Italian natural philosopher, was born Feb. 26, 1586. Cabeo was a Jesuit, and like many Jesuits, he was interested in magnetism. 


René Descartes

Magnetism, long considered the exemplar of an occult, spiritual power, posed a challenge to mechanical philosophers like Descartes.


Gowin Knight

Gowin Knight, (baptized Sept. 10, 1713, Corringham, Lincolnshire, Eng.—died June 8, 1772, London), English scientist and inventor whose work in the field of magnetization led to significant improvements in the magnetic compass.


Mesmer Franz Anton

Franz Anton Mesmer, (born May 23, 1734, Iznang, Swabia [Germany]—died March 5, 1815, Meersburg, Swabia), German physician whose system of therapeutics, known as mesmerism, was the forerunner of the modern practice of hypnotism.

It all started like this - History of magnetism

Period 2: 1819 - 1919


Hans Christian Oersted

Hans Christian Oersted began a new scientific epoch when he discovered that electricity and magnetism are linked.


Faraday Michael

Michael Faraday did not directly contribute to mathematics. He had worked almost entirely on chemistry topics yet one of his interests from his days as a bookbinder had been electricity.


William Sturgeon

William Sturgeon (22 May 1783 – 4 December 1850) was an English physicist and inventor who made the first electromagnets, and invented the first practical English electric motor.


Joseph Henry

Well into the nineteenth century American science existed, where it existed at all, either as a genteel pastime.


Carl Friedrich Gauss

Born April 30th, 1777, in Brunswick (Germany),Karl Friedrich Gauss was perhaps one of the most influential mathematical minds in history.


1847 Wilhelm Weber

Wilhelm Eduard Weber, (born Oct. 24, 1804, Wittenberg, Ger.—died June 23, 1891, Göttingen), German physicist .


William Thomson, Lord Kelvin

Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) was an eminent physicist with a wide range of interests and enthusiasms.


James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell (1831 - 1879) was a physicist born June 13,1831, in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Emil Warburg

In 1863, aged seventeen, Warburg began to study science at the University of Heidelberg.


Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla, (born July 9/10, 1856, Smiljan, Austrian Empire [now in Croatia]—died January 7, 1943, New York, New York, U.S.), Serbian American inventor and engineer.


Heinrich Hertz

In a series of brilliant experiments Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves and established that James Clerk Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism is correct.


Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie was born in Paris, where his father was a general medical practitioner, on May 15, 1859.


Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford (1871 - 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist and recipient of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry."


Paul Langevin

Paul Langevin has been an emblematic figure in the first half of the 20th century. He has been a principal player in all the major scientific revolutions.


Pierre-Ernest Weiss

Pierre-Ernest Weiss, (born March 25, 1865, Mulhouse, Fr.—died Oct. 24, 1940, Lyon), French physicist who investigated magnetism.


Heinrich Georg Barkhausen

Heinrich Georg Barkhausen, (born Dec. 2, 1881, Bremen, Ger.—died Feb. 20, 1956, Dresden, E.Ger. [Germany]), German physicist who discovered the Barkhausen effect.


Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg was born on 5th December, 1901, at Würzburg. He was the son of Dr. August Heisenberg and his wife Annie Wecklein.

It all started like this - History of magnetism

Period 3: 1936 - Today


Emile Thellier

One of the main researchers on rock magnetism and archeomagnetism (though certainly not paleomagnetism in its modern sense as we will soon see) in the 1930s was doubtlessly Emile Thellier (1904–1987).


Niels Bohr

Recognition of his work on the structure of atoms came with the award of the Nobel Prize for 1922.


Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich, where he later on began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium.


An Wang

An Wang, developer of the basic concept of the ferrite core memory, and founder of Wang Laboratories, which developed the first desktop computer.


Louis Néel

Néel's forte was phenomenological theory — understanding complex magnetic phenomena in terms of simple and solvable models that allowed 'back of the envelope' calculations.


1957 John Bardeen

John Bardeen, (born May 23, 1908, Madison, Wis., U.S.—died Jan. 30, 1991, Boston, Mass.), American physicist who was cowinner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in both 1956 and 1972.


Leon N. Cooper

When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance.


Bertram N. Brockhouse

Advances in science often start with abstract and difficult ideas — Mendel's gene or Dalton's atom come to mind. Only much later, through defining experiments.


Paul Lauterbur

Paul C. Lauterbur, a pioneer in the development of magnetic resonance imaging and a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Klaus von Klitzing

Klaus von Klitzing received the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics for a discovery that has had a decisive impact on today’s measuring technology.


John J. Croat

John J. Croat obtained a Ph.D. (1972) degree in Metallurgy from Iowa State University in 1972. Following graduation he joined the Physics Department of the General Motors Research Laboratories.


Georg Bednorz

In the summer of 1972, a bright and energetic earth sciences student named Georg Bednorz walked into the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland.


What’s Next?

The twentieth century has taught us that all natural phenomena are based on two physical principles, quantum mechanics and relativity.