The splinter indicating north

Do you remember the last time when you held a compass in your hand or used it as app on your mobile phone? Perhaps, during the last hiking, biking, fishing trip in a remote region?  But actually, we do not need any longer a compass in our  everyday life. In a stroll through town, no one would look after the red needle. You have just to pay attention to the road and street signs. Moreover, GPS makes the compass completely useless. However, when you find yourself in a place where neither a map nor the GPS could help, in some of these remote regions without connectivity and road signs, you’ll need a compass and you’ll have to know how to read it.

The compass has been throughout many centuries an important tool for many professions and vital for navigators as there are no road signs on the ocean… but thanks to the little red needle that is attracted to the polarity of the North Pole, navigators got to the right destination. In the airplane, as soon as the plane is above the clouds, passengers loose the sense of direction. Even in our GPS era, ships and airplanes are still equiped with highly sophisticated compasses. You never know….

But who has invented the compass ? It is unlikely that a genius tinkerer somewhere in ancient Greece developed a compass in order to facilitate navigation and orientation. China, however, is labeled as the first place where the first compass was created. Europeans invented the dry compass in 1300: It’s a magnetized needle that will pivot in order to show the direction or course that a ship or person is taking and sailors were able to put them to use to help them navigate better. In this way, the compass directly contributed to the Age of Discovery.

And who is still using the compass today?  The unconditional pathfinder who are convinced that learning how to use a compass is still an important outdoor skill. Whether you are hiking, biking, hunting, fishing,  it’s important to find your way without the high-tech stuff.


12. Juli 2013