A compass built by Georg Joachim Rheticus was used by him to experiment with human teleportation. The compass was inscribed with a series of instructions necessary for successful teleportation. Joshua Donovan had attempted to use the compass in a dangerous experiment which left him trapped between dimensions, the compass disappearing along with him.
By itself, the compass appears to be effectively harmless, serving merely as an extremely complex Renaissance-era tool. However, the compass itself also serves as the focal point of Rheticus' experiments in human teleportation. However, Rheticus's rules and equations were not all kept in the same place. As part of his love of the search for order in chaos, Rheticus had a love of puzzles, and so, hid parts of his equation. Agents Pete and Myka discovered parts of his rules inscribed in or on various possessions that belonged to Rheticus, including a hidden panel around the rim of a brass Armillary Sphere. When Joshua tried to recreate Rheticus' experiment he didn't know all the rules, so when he tried to duplicate it he got stuck between dimensions; somewhere between where he was and where he was trying to go.
The compass itself is composed, at least in part, of an unusual mineral that is integral for the experiment, and had been replaced by Claudia during her attempts to recreate Joshua's experiment. As Artie explained though, an artifact cannot simply be replaced; there is always an unknown variable -- an 'X Factor' -- possessed by artifacts.
Joshua was able to contact Artie and Claudia because they were both at the lab when Joshua performed his original experiment, and he was able to manifest himself using their energy. When Arthur Nielsen and Claudia Donovan reproduced the experiment, they joined Joshua in the immaterial interspace, and Artie found the compass, but couldn't decode the inscription showing how to open the hidden panel. Claudia suggested he use the word THOMAS, after a poem about Rheticus' lost love, someone named Thomas. The name opened the panel. Inside were instructions (in Latin) to explain how to turn the dial concealed underneath the panel. When they touched the compass together and turned the dial 90 degrees towards the axis, Artie, Claudia and Joshua were returned to the corporeal world.
Real-World ConnectionsEditGeorg Joachim Rheticus was an expert cartographer, mathematician, and teacher, and best known for his complex trigonometric tables and being the sole pupil of Nicholas Copernicus. As such, he was the one who facilitated the printing of Copernicus' missive De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) which provided a counterpoint to Ptolemy's geocentric
(Earth-Centered) model of the solar system.
Rheticus claimed to have owned a compass, but nobody ever saw it and it was assumed to be a myth.