Importance of the Compass

In the search for new directions, men faced the waters of the seas that surrounded them, and for this, they needed the help of instruments that, with great ingenuity and a great deal of genius, invented and became key factors of the changes and advances in the history of Humanity. This is the case of the compass , which allowed navigators to improve navigation and from it, arrive at new lands, which allowed them to establish commercial agreements, as well as, contributed to the expansion of great civilizations and empires.

The Roman Empire would not have had any splendor if it had not managed to venture into the waters of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic , and today America would be very different (who knows how) if Christopher Columbus and his successors (such as the case of Americo Vespucci ) had not crossed a whole ocean to get to America.

The compass was invented in China in the 9th century and, over time , its compositional elements were improved, which made it more practical and functional to the needs of navigators. Anyway, although it was mainly invented to aid navigation, and in fact its contribution was great, it is true that a compass can be used by anyone who wants to find a point of orientation .

In principle the compass consisted of a jug with water in which a magnetized needle floated that indicated the magnetic points of the Earth, towards the north and towards the south. But of course, this orienting mug was impractical for sailors, and then compasses were created that could be easily held in one hand, covered with glass, as we know them today.

It is true that in current times, the compass has been largely displaced by a transcendental invention, just as the compass was in that 9th century China: the satellite geo-location system (GPS) that does not need or magnetized needle, much less a jug full of water. By the use of satellitesIt allows the person to observe their position and even in many cases, search and know what places are nearby. Even so, in the case of maritime navigation, and even when the GPS is not missing, the compass is not missing either. It may be a symbolic presence, but it is also true that in case the GPS fails (as it may happen, due to the fact that it is an electronic device) the compass will always indicate the position of the ship with respect to the Earth’s poles .


by Abdullah Sam
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