Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism

2007 Edition
| Editors: David Gubbins, Emilio Herrero-Bervera

Norman, Robert (flourished 1560–1585)

  • Allan Chapman
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4423-6_223

Nothing is known of the birth and death dates, parentage, or precise marital status of Robert Norman. All that we have to go on, from information contained in his two published works and a few other scattered fragments, is that he served at sea for 18 or 20 years before settling in the seafaring district of Ratcliff, on the north bank of the Thames, London, as a maker of navigational instruments, and in particular of marine compasses. It was to be in this latter profession that he won both a contemporary and an enduring fame in the history of geomagnetism. In The Newe Attractive (London, 1581), Norman published the first serious study of the magnetic dip. For while the dip had been discovered by the German Georg Hartmann around 1544, Hartmann had only communicated his discovery in a private letter that was not to become known to the wider world until 1831, so that Robert Norman's discovery, announced in print in 1581, can be rightly credited as independent and original.

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  1. Bennett, J.A., 2004. Robert Norman. New DNB. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chapman, A., 1998. Gresham College: Scientific instruments and the advancement of useful knowledge in seventeenth‐century England. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, 56: 6–13.Google Scholar
  3. Norman, R., 1581. The Newe Attractive. London.Google Scholar
  4. Taylor, E.G.R., (1954, 1968). The Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England 1485–1714. London: Cambridge University Press, p. 173 no. 29.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag 2007

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  • Allan Chapman

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