Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Gilbert (1544-1603)

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William Gilbert (1544?-1603), natural philosopher

In recognition of his coining the word electricitas (derived from the Greek word for amber) and for expanding the range of electrics and electrostatic experiments, Gilbert has been called the "father of electricity". This designation misses the point that Gilbert's purpose was to distinguish magnetic attraction from its traditional occult partner by showing that electricity was a material property of many substances, whereas magnetism was immaterial and unique.

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of William Gilbert, ODNB