Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin
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Franklin was one of the first and most famous scientists in America. He
was a man of many talents and interests. Franklin was always curios about
they way things work, and he always tried to find ways to make them work
better. Even though he started out as a published, he was always interested
in science. However this interest soon became a passion to Franklin. He
even retired from his publishing business to work in a laboratory with
his mostly homemade equipment. Throughout his life Benjamin Franklin made
many important discoveries and theories which greatly influenced future
scientists and inventors.


Franklin was born in Boston Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He was
the seventh child in his family. Franklin started going to school when
he was ten, and became an apprentice to his older brother who owned a
printing firm in Philadelphia. He quickly became well known throughout
the American colonies as the publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette, a
newspaper, and of Poor Richard's Almanac, an annual compilation of information
and witticisms (Grolier 90). Even though he did not attend school for
a long time, Franklin began interested in science. He was particularly
interested in electricity . Even though there were already many experiments
being conducted in this field, none of them had fully explained this phenomenon.

soon left his printing business and built a laboratory to spend more time
studying electricity. In the subsequent decade he plunged into his scientific
investigations and into provincial politics with equal zest (Morris 15).

While he was in Boston, he met Dr. Spence who had arrived from Scotland
and showed Franklin several experiments. They were not perfectly performed
since Dr. Spence was not an expert, but they did surprise and interest

Franklin. Some time later he had received a glass tube and some information
on how to perform experiments with it. Franklin soon became practical
in performing such experiments, and also invented some of his own. People
from all over the town even came to witness them.


Franklin developed a theory that every object had an "electrical fluid".

He believed that some objects had too much of this fluid, while others
did not. By putting his theories together, he invented the electrical
battery. It was made out of glass, lead plates, silk thread, and some
wire. He was also the first to explain the electric force produced from
friction. Franklin realized that if a piece of silk were rubbed against
a glass, the glass would have a positive charge. Other scientists at that
time believed that rubbing produced electricity, however Franklin said
that it was just the "electric fluid" being transferred from the silk
to the glass. This is known today as the law of conservation of change
and it is one of the basic principles of physics.

published his theories in a book titled "Experiments and Observations
on Electricity Made at Philadelphia". It became a best seller in Europe
as well as in the colonies. The main topic of this book was Franklin's
theory that lightning was electrical energy. This was not a new idea,
but Benjamin Franklin was the first to perform an experiment on it. He
said that if a metal rod was to be placed on top of a tower or a tall
building, it would be struck by lightning and hold an electrical charge.

Many scientists in Europe tried this experiment, and some had successful
results. When a French scientist, De Lor, attempted to repeat one of the
proposed experiments from the book a huge crowd of curious people had
gathered in Paris to see it.

In 1752 Franklin
devised another experiment to test if lighting has an electrical charge.

He flied a kite carrying a pointed wire in a thunderstorm and attempted
to test his theory that atmospheric lightning is an electrical phenomenon
similar to the spark produced by an electrical frictional machine (Bruno
406). To the kite Franklin attached a silk thread with a metal key. This
was a very dangerous procedure, because if he failed to ground the wire
he could have been easily killed by the electric current. His experiment
was successful, and whenever the lightning hit the key, it produced sparks
just like Franklin theorized. By performing this experiment, he has demonstrated

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Related Topics

Fellows of the Royal Society, Lightning, Benjamin Franklin, Lightning rod, Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, Electricity, Electric spark, Kite, Franklin's electrostatic machine, Kite experiment

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