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The Wonders of Magnetism (1915)

A series of demonstrations that illustrate some of the scientific principles involved in magnetism.




The lode stone's attraction for iron was well known to the Greeks as early as 500 B.C., and is mentioned by Homer, Plato and Aristotle in their writings. It was the original magnet, and was followed, in course of time, by a suspending needle, which has been touched by a lode stone, in order to give it magnetic properties. This was the elementary compass, and was used by Chinese mariners about 1000 A.D. At that time people considered these two magnets as bewitched, and it was not until William Gilbert. a scientist, in the year 1600 A.D., announced that the earth itself was an enormous magnet, that people began to realize the possibilities of magnetism. Today there are two kinds of magnets in common use, the electro-magnet and the steel magnet. The steel magnet is a bar of steel that appears to hold its charge of magnetic force indefinitely, although the force actually is diminishing, but never seems to arrive at a zero quantity. This magnet is used for light work, where electricity is ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Documentary | Short


Not Rated






Release Date:

20 January 1915 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edison Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Released as a split reel along with the comedy A Weighty Matter for a Detective (1915). See more »


Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Good Documentary For Its Time
27 September 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This Edison Company documentary makes very good use of the resources of its time, in presenting a series of demonstrations that illustrate the principles of magnetism. The names of the director and everyone else who was involved seem unfortunately to have become lost over the years, but all involved did a good job. Edison himself at one time had a considerable interest in magnetic ores, so it's conceivable that he may even have been involved himself in some capacity or other.

The documentary is presented in a style that is still familiar in many movies of its kind. The point of each demonstration is announced (here via inter-titles), and then a demonstration or experiment is carried out that illustrates the principle. In later years, the use of spoken narration would have allowed such a movie to explain everything in much more detail, but little if anything is lost, because each demonstration is set up with noticeable care. The title cards and labels make sure that nothing of importance is missed.

This would still hold up well as a presentation of the basic ideas involved, and in its time it would have been among the best and most informative features of its kind.

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