Compasses were first developed by the Chinese as a method of measuring the flow of energy, or Chi, throughout the universe. It was soon discovered that the needle in a compass always points in one direction, and was widely used in China’s sailing fleets by the middle of the eleventh century AD.
Date of Invention:
Importance to Chinese civilization:
Was widely used as a method of determining location, especially at sea, thereby allowing China’s boat fleet to trade more effectively with far-away places. Also, was used to measure Chi for religious purposes.
Importance to other civilizations:
Was used to determine location for the purpose of trade and map-making, as in China. Also aided early electromagnetic experiments due to their sensitivity to magnetism in amounts that other methods could not detect. Continues to be used for determining location today and is only beginning to be replaced with GPS systems.
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