Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ben Franklin... of course

Here's a tidbit of science history. It's widely believed the Benjamin Franklin did not actually preform his famous key tied to a kite string experiment. But had written a paper accurately describing that lightning was in fact electricity, and one could produce electrical sparks from the key if the experiment were conducted.

A few lesser-known and shorter-lived scientists who attempted the experiment in the years following Franklin's paper, posthumously proved Franklin's theory was correct. This would have been a nice way to eliminate the competition for patents, but Franklin also never sought any patents for the numerous inventions he fathered in his lifetime. He felt it was his greatest privilege to serve the benefits of his fellow man.

If Ben had tried the experiment himself, we may never have had bi-focals, lightning rods, catamarans, refrigeration or a public library system.

No comments:

Post a Comment