The Gyroscope

The idea of the gyroscope and its possibilities as a stabilizing agent was evolved from the spectacle of a spin­ning top, which operates on the same prin­ciple of physics. The gyroscope represents in fact the multiplied power of many spin­ning tops. Its name was given to it by Leon Foucault, a noted French scientist of the 19th century, and is derived from two Greek words signifying a turning or rev­olution and a viewing of the same, be­cause the spinning wheel of a gyroscope reminded Foucault of the revolving mo­tion of the Earth.

A practical application of the gyroscopic principle was made by Elmer A. Sperry, an American engineer, who perfected the gyro-compass, which has been of great service to mariners. This compass ob­tains its directive force from the rota­tion of the earth and always points to the true or geographic north. It is invaluable in iron and steel ships, where the deviation of the old magnetic compass formerly caused considerable trouble. Mr. Sperry's first gyro-compass was installed on a steamship in 1911, and proved so succesful that entire United States Navy was soon equipped with it, and other naval nations followed suit.