Four Great Inventions: Compass

Around 100 B.C., some clever Chinese with a little time on their hands discovered that a properly shaped lodestone would situate itself along a north-south axis when placed on a metal plate.

At the time, the Chinese were satisfied to use the “south governor” as it was called as a part of their superstitious FengShui (wind-water) techniques and fortune telling. Thus for a few hundred years the invention was used for nothing more than finding good or “auspicious” burial plots and determining how certain buildings were to be constructed.

Then suddenly out of nowhere during the time of the Song dynasty, the Chinese began using a similar south-pointing device in navigation, recommending the tool as handy for getting around in the dark of night.

This invention is of course what we in the modern world term the compass (or the “point south needle” if you are Chinese).

So the next time you use a compass to get around on trails while camping or are using a GPS to find that new restaurant across town, please remember to pray for China.

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