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Background history of benjamin franklin

Benjamin Franklin - 3 Minute History

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Tea Leaves. His honesty and ambition won him the confidence of friends with the resources to fund a print shop, and his diligence and work ethic made the business a success. In his autobiography, Franklin noted that he often worked past 11pm to get a job done, and that if necessary, he would stay overnight to redo it. Even as a young tradesman, Franklin sought to improve himself and his community. He organized weekly meetings of a small group of other tradesmen and artisans, called a Junto. At the age of thirty, by which time his Pennsylvania Gazette was the most widely read newspaper in the colonies, Franklin campaigned to be made clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly.

This job was so boring that he often whiled away the time by making up mathematical puzzles, but it helped him make valuable connections. He used them to his advantage in bidding for lucrative government printing work. Franklin, like his peers, could be relatively certain of his income from commissioned work, which included legal forms, contracts, licenses, sermons and pamphlets. But for bigger rewards, printers had to take bigger risks, by acting as publishers.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

If he misjudged his market, he could easily be left with a stack of unsold volumes on his hands. Franklin published all these types of material, but when his calculations convinced him that his investment in more daring ventures would be returned, he was prepared to take the risk. This resulted in several profitable bestsellers, but sometimes things still went wrong — for example, when he was left with an edition of the Psalms of David on his hands for two years!

Franklin came up with solutions that turned potential problems into silver linings. In , Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society. In those days, scientists were called philosophers. In summer , Franklin visited his hometown of Boston. Always seeking new knowledge, he visited a science show. There he saw Dr. Archibald Spencer, who had arrived from Scotland, demonstrating a variety of scientific phenomena.

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The electrical part of the show intrigued Franklin most: it featured the effects of static electricity. Franklin left the show determined to learn more about electricity. It seemed to him that Dr. This, of course, was true: nobody understood it! It was more a source of entertainment than a science.

In , Franklin got hold of a long glass tube for the efficient generation of static electricity from Peter Collinson in London. He identified that there was an electrical fluid that could flow from A to B. To describe the process he coined the terms positive and negative to describe the difference between A and B after the electrical fluid had flowed. Of course, today we would call the electrical fluid electrons , but remember: this was ; J.

It means that you cannot create or destroy electric charge.

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Franklin was also the first person to use the words electrical battery. His meaning was not the same as ours though. His battery was made of capacitors known as Leyden jars wired together in series to store more charge than one alone could. This enabled Franklin to produce a bigger discharge of static electricity in his experiments.


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In , Franklin published the fruits of his labors in a book called Experiments and Observations on Electricity , which was widely read in Britain and then Europe, shaping a new understanding of electricity. In , Franklin carried out his most famous scientific work, proving that lightning is electricity.

Benjamin Franklin - Quotes, Inventions & Facts - Biography

He did this using one of his own discoveries: that static electricity discharges to a sharp, pointed object more readily than to a blunt object. From the middle of the stand, let an iron rod rise and pass bending out of the door, and then upright 20 or 30 feet, pointed very sharp at the end.


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If the electrical stand be kept clean and dry, a man standing on it when such clouds are passing low might be electrified and afford sparks, the rod drawing fire to him from a cloud. If any danger to the man should be apprehended although I think there would be none let him stand on the floor of his box, and now and then bring near to the rod a loop of wire that has one end fastened to the leads he his holding by a wax handle; so the sparks, if the rod is electrified, will strike from the rod to the wire and not affect him.

Franklin himself carried out similar work in , using a kite with a metal key connected to a Leyden Jar to prove his theory. The significance of the lightning rod experiments was that they established the study of electricity as a serious scientific discipline. Franklin had shown how to prove that electrical phenomena, such as lightning, were a fundamental force of nature. Electricity would never again be thought of as just an interesting plaything for scientists and showmen to conjure up using glass rods.


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Very soon, in , when he was aged 47, the transformation in science that Franklin had brought about was recognized. A building protected by a lightning rod. A cable carries electricity from lightning to ground.