Who first discovered a substance with magnetic properties?


Quick Answer

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory notes that the discovery of a substance with magnetic properties is not attributed to one person. Ancient Greeks first mentioned that lodestone had magnetic properties around 600 BC. Thales of Miletus, a philosopher, noted that lodestone, also known as magnetite, attracts iron.

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Full Answer

The first practical use of magnetic properties is attributed to the Chinese around the fourth century BC. The Chinese created the first compass, a board with a lodestone shaped like a ladle that pointed due south. Rather than using the compass for navigation, the compass was used as a fortune-telling divining tool. The first recorded use of the compass in navigation was by the Chinese in 1086.

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