Did You Know?

The Father of Electrical Engineering

While the tremendously talented Electrical Engineers on PHC’s Engineering Team are pioneering new and innovative manufacturing solutions, they are not the pioneers of electrical engineering itself. That title belongs to William Gilbert.

Born in 1544, William Gilbert was an English physician, physicist and natural philosopher who penned the book De Magnete in 1600. In De Magnete, Gilbert made the first well-defined distinction between magnetism and the amber effect (static electricity). He also likened the polarity of a magnet to Earth’s polarity – he went as far as to establish a magnetic philosophy based on this analogy. De Magnete was widely accepted and regarded throughout Europe as the standard work on electrical and magnetic phenomena. The book held particular importance, given the time period in which it was released. Long sea voyages were common and sailors relied upon the magnetic compass to stay on course and avoid the peril that resulted from going adrift.

Gilbert is also credited as being one of the originators of the word “Electricity”. First used in 1646, the word “electricity” is derived from Gilbert’s use of the word electricus, meaning "like amber".

To honor Gilbert’s contributions to the field of electrical engineering, a unit of magnetic potential is named the Gilbert in his honor.


Did You Know? was posted to Words in Motion - A blog created by Product Handling Concepts, your source for conveyor, conveyor equipment, and automation solutions.