William Gilbert was an English physician, natural philosopher, and physicist.
He rejected both the Scholastic system of university teaching and Aristotelian philosophy, and he is best known for his book De Magnete.
Gilbert's first major discovery is that the Earth is a giant magnet. He demonstrated this with model experiments.
He also proposed that the Earth is a magnetic field. But these discoveries didn't become widely known until more than 300 years after his death.
The lack of a proper understanding of Gilbert's discoveries led many to ignore them.
In his De Magnete, Gilbert describes several different types of magnetic movements.
He also distinguished between a lodestone and an amber.
Gilbert established a large number of "electrics" and was credited as the father of electrical science.
William Gilbert studied the properties of magnetic bodies and electrical attraction.
He received inspiration for his work from Robert Norman.
Gilbert's findings helped explain why the compass needle points north in its rest position.
His predecessors had concluded that this was due to an island magnetic attraction. Gilbert's work proved their theories wrong. He also discovered that the earth's core is made of pure iron.
Gilbert's book 'De Magnete' was published in 1600 and became the standard work in Europe on electrical phenomena.
Gilbert was the first to distinguish between static electricity and magnetism.
He also compared the magnetic effect to the Earth's polarity. This analogy would become the basis of his magnetic philosophy.