A Common Miscitation of William Gilbert
Article first published online: 22 APR 2014
©2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 95, Issue 16, page 137, 22 April 2014
How to Cite
2014), A Common Miscitation of William Gilbert, Eos Trans. AGU, 95(16), 137.(
- Issue published online: 22 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 22 APR 2014
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Dozens of scientific textbooks [e.g., Spaldin, 2011, p. v; Krijgsman and Langereis, 2009, p. 252; Prölls, 2004, p. 211; Merrill et al., 1996, p. 7; Livingston, 1996, p. 27; Blakely, 1996, pp. xiv, 154; Gillmor, 1990, p. 9] attribute the famous dictum magnus magnes ipse est globus terrestris (“the terrestrial globe is itself a big magnet”) to the English physician and scientist William Gilbert (1544–1603). It is repeatedly claimed that these words were contained in the title of Gilbert's book or one of his chapters [e.g., Carlowicz and Lopez, 2002, n.p.; Courtillot, 2002, pp. 26, 49; Lang and Whitney, 1991, p. 120]. Certainly, they convey the thrust of Gilbert's De Magnete, in which it was argued for the first time that the Earth sustains its own magnetic dipole field, on the basis of experimentation on magnets.