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The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World


The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World Cover


Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

The story of the compass is shrouded in mystery and myth, yet most will agree it begins around the time of the birth of Christ in ancient China. A mysterious lodestone whose powers affected metal was known to the Chinese emperor. When this piece of metal was suspended in water, it always pointed north. This unexplainable occurrence led to the stone's use in feng shui, the Chinese art of finding the right location. However, it was the Italians, more than a thousand years later, who discovered the ultimate destiny of the lodestone and unleashed its formidable powers. In Amalfi sometime in the twelfth century, the compass was born, crowning the Italians as the new rulers of the seas and heralding the onset of the modern world. Retracing the roots of the compass and sharing the fascinating story of navigation through the ages, The Riddle of the Compass is Aczel at his most entertaining and insightful.

Book News Annotation:

Popular science writer Aczel explores the series of riddles behind the origin and spread of the technology that launched the commercial revolution of the late 13th century. The journey spans from ancient to modern times in China, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Arabia, Africa, and the New World.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

Amir D. Aczel, Ph.D. grew up on a ship and was navigating straits in the Mediterranean long before he could drive a car. The author of Fermat's Last Theorem, God's Equation, The Mystery of the Aleph, and Probability 1, he lives with his wife and daughter in the Boston area and teaches at Bentley College.

Product Details

Aczel, Amir D.
Harvest Books
Aczel, Amir D., PH.D.
San Diego, Calif.
Scientific Instruments
History of Science-General
Edition Number:
1st Harvest ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
20 black-and-white illustrations in text
8 x 5.31 in 0.44 lb

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Related Subjects

Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Electricity and Magnetism
Transportation » General
Transportation » Nautical » Navigation and Piloting

The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World Used Trade Paper
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