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Q & A: First man-made magnets

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Most recent answer: 09/10/2011
Q:
What were the first man made magnets made of?
- Natalie (age 11)
London
A:
Hello Natalie,

I'm not quite sure what you mean when you mention "man made magnets"? But I assume that you are referring to the natural magnets that humans have used in the past.

The Chinese, Greeks, and  Olmecs, used small thin pieces of natural magnetic rocks, called lodestones, to make simple compasses which they used for land and sea navigation.

These early magnets contain magnetite, a type of magnetic iron ore (Fe3O4).

I got most of the information from these webpages:
http://www.rare-earth-magnets.com/t-history-of-magnets.aspx
http://inventors.about.com/od/cstartinventions/a/Compass.htm
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/189/4205/753.abstract

Maurice

(published on 09/10/2011)

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