Scientist and inventor.
Long before Ben Franklin took up the cause of American independence, he was known as a scientist, an inventor, and a scholar. He was famous throughout Europe and America for his experiments with electricity and his invention of the lightning rod.
People knew that electricity, existed, but they didn't understand it. Franklin devoted several years to studying it. Figuring out how to store its power, he invented the electric battery.
In 1749, Franklin discovered that lightning's energy could be channeled safely to the ground. In his 1752 experiment, he proved that lightning was a form of electricity. He is said to have flown a silk kite that had a metal wire at the top and a metal key attached to the string. With the knowledge he gained, Franklin invented the lightning rod. It has saved countless lives by preventing devastating fires--once commonplace--caused by lightning strikes to buildings.
Franklin had long been interested in preventing deadly fires. In 1736, he had organized the first fire department, to put out flames quickly enough to keep them from spreading to other buildings. He also invented the Franklin stove, a cast-iron stove that heated much more efficiently than an open fireplace.
Franklin never sought patents for his inventions. He wanted his creations to benefit the public and be available to everyone.
A Knack for Knowledge
Franklin had little formal schooling. His discoveries and inventions were born of curiosity, a love of reading, and careful study of the world around him. At age 12, he taught himself to swim by following directions in a book. Then, to swim even better, he invented flipperlike paddles for his hands and feet.
A firm believer in the value of reading, Franklin created the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731.
It was the first lending library in the Colonies. As postmaster, he improved the postal system for the city and, later, throughout the Colonies.
Why did sailing from America to England take less time than going the opposite way? That question led Franklin to study and chart the Gulf Stream, a strong ocean current that flows along the North American coast from the Caribbean Sea and Florida Gulf to Newfoundland, Canada.
Have you ever made sounds by rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a glass? Franklin used that idea to invent the armonica, a musical instrument made of glass, that worked in a similar fashion.
At age 79, Franklin designed his last great invention: "double spectacles," which we call bifocals. Still used today, they enable wearers to see well both near and far.
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|Title Annotation:||SKILLS MASTER 3|
|Date:||Oct 31, 2005|
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