What Did William Gilbert Discover?


Quick Answer

William Gilbert, an English doctor, discovered the science of magnetism and coined the word "electricity." His findings regarding the Earth's magnetic properties explained for the first time how a compass, invented hundreds of years earlier, actually worked.

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What Did William Gilbert Discover?
Credit: Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Gilbert is known as the father of both electricity and magnetism. In 1600, he published "De Magnete, Magneticisique Corporibus" in which he explained his theories of magnetism and the Earth. In so doing, he cast serious doubt on the previously accepted theory that the Earth was in a fixed position at the center of the universe. Galileo built on Gilbert's premises to further the world's knowledge of the Earth and its relationship to the universe.

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