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compass


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A small magnet pivoted at its central point to revolve in a horizontal plane. In the earth's magnetic field the magnet (called the compass needle) aligns itself so that its north-seeking end points to the earth's magnetic north pole. A scale (called a compass card) is placed below the needle for use in navigation. In some navigation compasses the entire card is pivoted, indicating direction by a fixed mark on the casing. Such compasses are often filled with alcohol to provide damping. Magnetic compasses suffer from being affected by magnetic metals in their vicinity and to a large extent they have been replaced by gyrocompasses. The compass was invented in ancient China.

Subjects: History


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