Imagine going on a trip to a place where you don’t have any idea of its location. Thankfully you have your GPS and modern technology to guide you with directions. In today’s world, it is much easier to travel not just because of the advanced transportation, but also because of the high-tech devices which provide help for us to reach our destination.
However, we may come to imagine the struggle of ancient people, hundreds of years before these devices came to existence. During these times, GPS, as well as satellites, were not yet invented. Interestingly, some people still managed to travel the world and went on voyages across the vast oceans. Without modern technology, how was this possible?
For starters, ancient people do not travel to distant places without any guide or information about the place. They use any means of directions available for them to reach their destination. One of the most common means which ancient people used was the compass.
The compass originated hundreds of years ago and paved its way throughout history. Until today, some people still use the compass for navigation.The compass helped several explorers during the Age of Exploration to travel across the sea, as well as land. Without the invention of the compass, ancient people may have difficulties in discovering some of our modern lands, and may not have discovered them in the first place. The compass has a significant impact on our history.
How exactly does the compass start? Mainly, who invented the compass? And, how accurate is this device in giving directions to its user?
The History of Compass
There is no definite account as to who invented the compass. However, some claims state that the use of a magnetized needle originated one thousand years ago in China, wherein they used it to find directions. The earlier versions of the compass consist of the naturally magnetized mineral called the lodestone. Ancient people first used this compass during the Han dynasty China.
Years later, the compass reached the Song dynasty, wherein they used it for navigation during the 11th century. Since then, different designs of compasses came to existence, including those made of iron needles, along with lodestone.
During the 14th century, the earlier models of the compass had an upgrade. During this time, the use of dry compass started to rise in the Middle Ages in Europe. This version of the compass is what some explorers used in their voyages during the age of exploration.
Interestingly, the compass reached our modern world with a much durable and efficient design. Most compasses that we use today still includes the typical magnetized needle inside a capsule. This capsule is filled with liquid, such as lamp oil, mineral oil, white spirits, purified kerosene, or ethyl alcohol, depending on the design. Modern designs of the compass show more accurate results and longer life-span, and because of its brilliant design, we can say that a compass is a tool that we would use for more generations to come.
Does the compass never show North and South accurately?
Despite the efficiency of the compass, some people say that it is not as incredible as it seems. There are claims about the compass, which state that it does not provide an accurate direction of North and South. It is further stated that the drawback of the compass could be misleading and cause confusion. How true is this claim?
Because the Earth itself is a gigantic magnet sphere, the needle or dial of a compass will always point at its pole. On the other hand, the compass does not show our planet’s geographic poles. This feature is what causes confusion, and for some, could seem inaccurate. However, one thing to consider when using a compass is that the geographical and magnetic poles of the Earth are not at the same location.
In the north, the geographic pole has a distance of 1,600 kilometers from the magnetic pole. The same thing goes in the south; wherein there is a distance of 2,570 kilometers between the geographic and magnetic poles. The people using a compass should calculate only after considering these differences.