On the Magnet, by William Gilbert

Chap. xxxvi.

How a more robust Loadstone may be recognized.

V ery powerful loadstones sometimes lift into the air a weight of iron equal to their own; a weak one barely attracts a slender wire. Those therefore are more robust which appeal to and retain larger bodies, if there is no defect in their form, or the pole of the stone is not suitably moved up. Moreover, when placed in a boat a keener influence turns its own poles round more quickly to the poles of the earth or the limits of variation on the horizon. One which performs its function more feebly indicates a defect and an effete nature. There must always be a similar preparation, a similar figure, and a like size; for in such as are very dissimilar and unlike, the experiment is doubtful. The method of testing the strength is the same also with a versorium in a place somewhat remote from a loadstone; for the one which is able to turn the versorium round at the greater distance, that one conquers and is held the more potent. Rightly also is the force of a loadstone weighed in a balance by B. Porta; a piece of loadstone is placed in one scale-pan, in the other just as much weight of something else, so that the scale-pans hang level. Soon a piece of iron lying on the table is adjusted so that it sticks to the loadstone placed in the scale, and they cling together most perfectly, according to their friendly points; into the other scale-pan sand is gradually thrown, and that until the scale in which the loadstone is placed is separated from the iron. Thus by weighing the weight of sand, the magnetick force becomes known. Similarly also it will be pleasing to try with another stone, in equilibrium, the weight of the sand being observed, and to find out the stronger by means of the weights of sand. Such is the experiment of Cardinal Cusan in his De Staticis185, from whom it would seem that B. Porta learnt the experiment. The better loadstones turn themselves round more quickly toward the poles or points of variation; then they also lead along and turn round more quickly, according to the greater quantity and mass of wood, a boat and other stuff. In a declination instrument, the more powerful force of a loadstone is looked for and required. Those therefore are more lively when they get through their work readily, and pass through and come back again with speed, and swiftly at length settle at their own point. Languid and effete ones move more sluggishly186, settle more tardily, adhære more uncertainly, and are easily disturbed from their possession.

185 Page 108, line 26. Page 108, line 31. Cusani in staticis.— See the note to p. 64, line 16.

186 Page 108, line 33. Page 108, line 41. Languidi . . . tardiùs acquiescunt.— The editions of 1628 and 1633 omit these seven words.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 22:17