The beginnings of Michael Faraday’s ideas about magnetism started over 200 years before in a book titled Of Magnets by English scientist William Gilbert.
It was published in 1600 and was probably the first great scientific work written in England.
Gilbert was a remarkable scientist who was centuries ahead of his time in many fields.
He lived during the age of exploration, so he undertook the study of magnetism to try to come up with a better compass and other navigational tools. He was the first to study the lines of force around magnets, which became Faraday’s fields.
Gilbert theorized that Earth was a large magnet and exerted a magnetic influence (gravity) throughout the solar system.
He was the first scientist to use the term “electric” to describe one substance’s power to attract other objects. He made the first electroscope, an instrument that detects the presence of an electric charge.
Gilbert was also the first scientist in England to support the Copernican system of the universe, and he rejected the idea that the stars were all the same distance from Earth.
He was also personal physician to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.
Faraday studied electric fish, like electric eels, very closely and measured the strength of their electrical shock.
He found that, like a battery, electric fish have a positive end in their head and a negative end in their tail.