William Gilbert



William Gilbert, also known as Gilbard (Colchester, England, May 24, 1544London, England, November 30, 1603) was an English physician and a natural philosopher. He was an early Copernican, and passionately rejected both the prevailing Aristotelian philosophy and the Scholastic method of university teaching. After gaining his MD from Cambridge in 1569, and a short spell as bursar of St John's College, Cambridge, he left for practice in London and in 1600 was elected President of the College of Physicians (not by that point granted a royal charter). From 1601 until his death in 1603, he was Elizabeth I's own physician, and James VI and I renewed his appointment.

Scientifically, Gilbert is known for his investigations of magnetism and electricity. Gilbert is credited as one of the originators of the term "electricity", and many regard him as the father of electrical engineering or father of electricity.[1]

His primary work was De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure (On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and on the Great Magnet the Earth) published in 1600. In this work he describes many of his experiments with his model earth called the terrella. From his experiments, he concluded that the Earth was itself magnetic and that this was the reason compasses pointed north (previously, some believed that it was the pole star (Polaris) or a large magnetic island on the north pole that attracted the compass).

The English word "electricity" was first used in 1646 by Sir Thomas Browne, derived from Gilbert's 1600 New Latin electricus, meaning "like amber". The term was in use since the 1200s, but Gilbert was the first to use it to mean "like amber in its attractive properties". He recognized that friction with these objects removed an "effluvium", which would cause the attraction effect in returning to the object, though he did not realize that this substance (electric charge) was universal to all materials.[2]

In his book, he also studied static electricity using amber; amber is called elektron in Greek, so Gilbert decided to call its effect the electric force.

Like others of his day, he believed that "crystal" (quartz) was an especially hard form of water, formed from compressed ice:

Gilbert argued that electricity and magnetism were not the same thing. For evidence, he (incorrectly) pointed out that, while electrical attraction disappeared with heat, magnetic attraction did not. It took James Clerk Maxwell to show that both effects were aspects of a single force: electromagnetism. Even then, Maxwell simply surmised this in his A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism after much analysis. By keeping clarity, Gilbert's strong distinction advanced science for nearly 250 years.

Gilbert's magnetism was the invisible force that many other natural philosophers, such as Kepler, seized upon, incorrectly, as governing the motions that they observed. While not attributing magnetism to attraction among the stars, Gilbert pointed out the motion of the skies were due to earth's rotation, and not the rotation of the spheres, 20 years before Galileo (see external reference below).

A unit of magnetomotive force, also known as magnetic potential, was named the gilbert in his honor.

Gilbert died on November 30, 1603. His cause of death is thought to have been the bubonic plague.[3][4]

Whilst today he is generally referred to as William Gilbert, he also went under the name of William Gilberd. The latter was used in his and his father's epitaph, the records of the town of Colchester, the Biographical Memoir in De Magnete, and the name of The Gilberd School in Colchester, named after Gilbert.

Further reading

1. ^ Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000, CD-ROM, version 2.5.
2. ^ Niels H. de V. Heathcote (December 1967). "The early meaning of electricity: Some Pseudodoxia Epidemica - I". Annals of Science 23 (4): pp. 261-275. DOI:10.1080/00033796700203316. Retrieved on 2007-07-16. 
3. ^ William Gilbert brief biography at National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
4. ^ William Gilbert brief biography at bbc.co.uk

External links

William Gilbert may be:
  • William Gilberd (1544-1603), English physicist
  • William Gilbert (Rugby) (1799-1877), British cobbler & rugby-ball maker
  • William Gilbert (author) (1804-1890), English novelist & surgeon (and father of W. S. Gilbert)
  • W. S.

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Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. Sometimes contrasted by critics with the rationalism and idealism of Plato, Aristotelianism is understood by its proponents as critically developing Plato’s theories.
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St John's College

                             
College name The College of Saint John the Evangelist of the University of Cambridge
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Royal College of Physicians of London was the first medical institution in England to receive a Royal Charter. It was founded in 1518 and is one of the most active of all medical professional organisations.
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Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England, France (in name only), and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. She is sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess
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James VI and I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI, and King of England and King of Ireland as James I.

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magnetism is one of the phenomena by which materials exert attractive or repulsive forces on other materials. Some well known materials that exhibit easily detectable magnetic properties (called magnets) are nickel, iron and their alloys; however, all materials are influenced to
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Electricity (from New Latin ēlectricus, "amberlike") is a general term for a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. This includes many well-known physical phenomena such as lightning, electromagnetic fields and electric currents,
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Electrical engineering (sometimes referred to as electrical and electronic engineering) is an engineering field that deals with the study and/or application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism.
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Electricity (from New Latin ēlectricus, "amberlike") is a general term for a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. This includes many well-known physical phenomena such as lightning, electromagnetic fields and electric currents,
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De Magnete, Magneticisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure (On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and on That Great Magnet the Earth) is a scientific work published in 1600 by the English physician and scientist William Gilbert and also by his partner
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terrella (meaning "little earth") is a small magnetised model ball representing the Earth, that is thought to have been invented by Englishman physician William Gilbert while investigating magnetism, and further developed 300 years later by the Norwegian scientist and explorer
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Earth's magnetic field (and the surface magnetic field) is approximately a magnetic dipole, with one pole near the north pole (see Magnetic North Pole) and the other near the geographic south pole (see Magnetic South Pole).
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magnetism is one of the phenomena by which materials exert attractive or repulsive forces on other materials. Some well known materials that exhibit easily detectable magnetic properties (called magnets) are nickel, iron and their alloys; however, all materials are influenced to
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COMPASS is an acronym for COMPrehensive ASSembler. COMPASS is a macro assembly language on Control Data Corporation's 3000 series, and on the 60-bit CDC 6000 series, 7600 and
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Polaris (α UMi / α Ursae Minoris / Alpha Ursae Minoris), more commonly known as The North Star or simply North Star, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor.
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Sir Thomas Browne (October 19, 1605 – October 19, 1682) was an English author of varied works which disclose his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric.
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New Latin}}}
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ISO 639-2: lat
ISO 639-3: lat New Latin (or Neo-Latin) is a post-medieval version of Latin, used approximately in the period 1600–1900.
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Flavour in particle physics
 

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Quartz (from German Quarz  [1]) is the second most common mineral in the Earth's continental crust, feldspar being the first.
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