William Gilbert

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

Gilbert, William,

1544–1603, English scientist and physician. He studied medicine at Cambridge (M.D., 1569), where he was elected a Fellow of St. John's College, and set up practice in London, becoming president of the College of Physicians (1599) and court physician to Queen Elizabeth I (1600) and later also to James I. He is best known, however, for his studies of electricity and magnetism. He coined the word electricity (from the Greek for "amber"), was the first to distinguish clearly between electric and magnetic phenomena, and published (1600) De Magnete, the most important work on magnetismmagnetism,
force of attraction or repulsion between various substances, especially those made of iron and certain other metals; ultimately it is due to the motion of electric charges.
..... Click the link for more information.
 until the early 19th cent. In it he described his methods for strengthening natural magnets (lodestones) and for using them to magnetize steel rods by stroking; he also outlined his investigations of the earth's magnetic field, from which he concluded that the earth as a whole behaves like a giant magnet with its poles near the geographic poles. He found that an iron bar that is left in alignment with the earth's magnetic field will slowly become magnetized, and that sufficient heating will cause a magnet to lose its magnetism.


See translations of his De Magnete by P. F. Mottelay (1893, repr. 1958) and S. P. Thompson (1901, repr. 1958).

Gilbert, William


Born May 24, 1544, in Colchester; died Nov. 30, 1603, in London or Colchester. English physicist. Court physician.

Gilbert advanced the first theory of magnetic phenomena. He was the first to make the assumption that the earth is a large magnet, and by magnetizing an iron sphere he showed that it acted upon a magnetic needle in the same manner as the earth. He suggested that the magnetic poles of the earth coincided with the geographic poles. Gilbert established that many bodies, like amber, have the ability to attract light objects after being rubbed. He investigated these characteristics and called them electrical (the Greek word for amber is elektron), for the first time introducing this term into the scientific vocabulary. Gilbert was also the first in England to criticize the teachings of Aristotle and to support the studies of Copernicus.


De magnete, magneticisque corporibus et de magno magnete tellure. Physiologia nova. London, 1600.
De mundi nostri sublunaris philosophia nova. Amsterdam, 1651.
In Russian translation:
O magnite, magnitnykh telakh i o bol’shom magnite—Zemle. Novaia fiziologiia, dokazannaia mnozhestvom argumentov i opytov. Moscow, 1956.


Lebedev, V. I. Istoricheskie opyty po fizike. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
D. R. “Uul’iam Gil’bert: K 350-letiiu so dnia smerti.” Elektrichestvo, 1953, no. 12.
References in periodicals archive ?
8) By the time of the inaugural meeting, eighty-seven members had already signed up, many of whom were gathered in the chambers of the Society of Arts that afternoon to hear Silvanus Phillips Thompson describe the eminence and importance of William Gilbert of Colchester (1544-1603), the doctor whose early experimental investigations "constituted the absolute starting-point of the science of electricity.
Additional Reading:For details about William Gilbert, De Magnete, and later studies of the earth's magnetism (up to our time), see: www.
Peter Davies was 13 when his father, William Gilbert Davies, drowned with the rest of the Mumbles RNLI lifeboat crew, and the crew of the stricken Samtampa they had gone to rescue off Porthcawl in April 1947.
00 on rrp) BY happy coincidence, the phenomenal cricketing career of William Gilbert ("W G") Grace began only a year after Wisden was first published.
Dr William Gilbert Grace, the legendary WG, was approaching 60 when he played his last game at Easter 1908, for the Gentlemen of England versus Surrey at the Oval.
This month, Greater Worcester Opera has brilliantly conceived and staged two single-act operas: "Gianni Schicchi," which Giacomo Puccini wrote at the very end of his career, and "Trial by Jury," which William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan wrote at the beginning of their collaboration.
Earlier, the book echoes its predecessor in giving an account of William Gilbert and William Harvey as pioneers of modern experimental science (the chapter on the former has an account of Galileo Galilei thrown in).
IN THE NAVY: The satirically inclined musical duo of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan might have enjoyed the liberties being taken with their operetta ``H.
THIS is radical new ground for director Mike Leigh - a gorgeous bio-pic of Gilbert and Sullivan starring Jim Broadbent as the eternally gloomy William Gilbert and Alun Cordoner as the bon viveur Arthur Sullivan.
In Topsy-Turvy, practically all these talented successful people have unhappy personal lives: take William Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) who may write some of the funniest lyrics of his age, but in person he's an old grump.
Take, for instance, the figure of William Gilbert, variously known as "the Father of Experimental Science," as an animist obsessed with "our common mother" the Earth, as an accomplished humanist, or again as tireless observer of the lowly workers of England's flourishing mining, metallurgical, and navigational industries, but never as a thinker notable from a religious standpoint.
For example, John Dee, Henry Briggs, and William Gilbert (author of De Magnete in 1600) were alumni of St.