Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other people named William Gilbert, see William Gilbert (disambiguation)
William Gilbert (or William Gylberde) born May 24, 1544, Colchester, England died of bubonic plague December 10, 1603, London? English physician to Elizabeth I and James I and scientific researcher into magnetism and electricity.
His primary work was De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure (On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and on That Great Magnet the Earth) published in 1600. In this work he describes many of his experiments with his model earth called the terrella. From the experiments, he concluded that the Earth was magnetic and that this was the cause for the compass to point north (previously, it was thought that it was the Polaris or a large magnetic island on the north pole that attracted the compass). In his book, he also studied static electricity using amber; amber is called elektron in Greek, so Gilbert decided to call it electricity.
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