These notes have been written to support your learning. They are not a susbtitute for attending the lectures. At the lectures you will see demonstrations, carry out simple experiments, discuss the underlying physical process in greater depth and obtain lecture diagrams not included in these notes, in order to complete your learning experience.
There is a story that a Cretan shepherd by the name of Magnés, whilst tending sheep on the slopes of Mount Ida, found that his iron tipped crook and the nails of his boots were attracted to the ground. To find the source of the attraction he dug up the ground to find stones that we now refer to as lodestones (also spelled loadstone; lode means to lead or to attract) which contain magnetite, a natural magnetic material Fe3O4. The story may be apocryphal but the earliest discovery of the properties of lodestone was either by the Greeks or Chinese. Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD Roman) wrote of a hill near the river Indus that was made entirely of a stone that attracted iron.
The unexplained nature of the magnetic attraction was ripe for exploitation by story tellers and it became difficult to separate fact from fancy.
Posted by Jay Roberts at 06:12 AM | Permalink