You can almost picture the wide-eyed, inquisitive five-year-old carefully taking hold of the pocket compass that his father had brought to his bedside for him to see.
What impressed the boy most about the compass was not that the needle pointed in the same direction regardless of which way he turned the case; rather it was that whatever was acting on the needle was something outside the case, something in space, "the space that had always been considered empty."
From this account of young Albert Einstein's first encounter with the effect of the North Pole, we get a peek into the early life of a great discoverer, someone who looked at an ordinary compass—even ordinary time and space—and discovered something extraordinary. See Ronald W Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (New York: Avon Books, 1984), pp. 28-29.