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Q & A: primitive compass

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Most recent answer: 03/16/2008
Q:
Is it possible to make a primitive compass by rubbing a needle/piece of iron with a silk or "statically charged" cloth? This was used in a recent "Man vs Wild" segment and in the movie "The Edge" with Anthony Hopkins. Is this possible..or is it "urban myth"? Thanks Dale Lowdermilk
- Dale (age 60)
Santa Barbara, CA
A:
I don't think it would work. Static electric charge does not experience a force in a magnetic field.

It's barely conceivable that currents stirred up as you generate this static charge would somehow magnetize the iron, but it sounds more like urban legend.

Mike W.

(published on 03/16/2008)

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