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The Magnet

from Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori - STORIES FROM PHYSICS





I.

In olden days there was a shepherd whose name was Magnes. Magnes lost a
sheep. He went to the mountains to find it. He came to a place where
there were barren rocks. He walked over these rocks, and felt that his
boots were sticking to them. He touched them with his hand, but they
were dry and did not stick to his hand. He started to walk again, and
again his boots stuck to the rocks. He sat down, took off one of his
boots, took it into his hand, and touched the rocks with it.

Whenever he touched them with his skin, or with the sole of his boot,
they did not stick; but when he touched them with the nails, they did
stick.

Magnes had a cane with an iron point.

He touched a rock with the wood; it did not stick; he touched it with
the iron end, and it stuck so that he could not pull it off.

Magnes looked at the stone, and he saw that it looked like iron, and he
took pieces of that stone home with him. Since then that rock has been
known, and has been called Magnet.


II.

Magnet is found in the earth with iron ore. Where there is magnet in the
ore, the iron is of the best quality. The magnet resembles iron.

If you put a piece of iron on a magnet, the iron itself begins to
attract other iron. And if you put a steel needle on a magnet, and hold
it thus for awhile, the needle will become a magnet, and will attract
iron. If two magnets are brought together at their ends, one side will
turn away from the other, while the other sides will be attracted.

If a magnetic rod is broken in two, each half will attract at one end,
and will turn away at the other end. Cut it again, and the same will
happen; cut it again, as often as you please, and still the same will
happen: equal ends will turn away from each other, while opposite ends
will be attracted, as though the magnet were pushing away at one end,
and pulling in at the other. No matter how you may break it, it will be
as though there were a bump at one end, and a saucer at the other.
Whichever way you put them together,--a bump and a saucer will meet, but
a bump and a bump, or a saucer and a saucer will not.


III.

If you magnetize a needle (holding it for awhile over a magnet), and
attach it in the middle to a pivot in such a way that it can move freely
around, and let it loose, it will turn with one end toward midday
(south), and with the other toward midnight (north).

When the magnet was not known, people did not sail far out to sea. When
they went out far into the sea, so that land was not to be seen, they
could tell only by the stars and the sun where they had to sail. But
when it was dark, and the sun or stars could not be seen, they did not
know which way to sail. And a ship was borne by the winds and carried on
rocks and wrecked.

So long as the magnet was not known, they did not sail far from the
shore; but when the magnet was discovered, they made a magnetic needle
on a pivot, so that it should move around freely. By this needle they
could tell in which direction to sail. With the magnetic needle they
began to sail farther away from the shores, and since then they have
discovered many new seas.

On ships there is always a magnetic needle (compass), and there is a
measuring-rope with knots at the stern of a ship. This rope is fixed in
such a way that when it unrolls, they can tell how far the ship has
travelled. And thus, in sailing in a boat, they always know in what spot
it is, whether far from the shore, and in what direction it is sailing.





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