Benjamin Franklin and the Lightning Rod

Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790

On June 15, 1752, Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity and invented the lightning rod through his experiments with kites.

As you might know for sure, Benjamin Franklin wasn’t only an enthusiastic scientist, inventor, and author, but also one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His roots lay back in Boston, where he was born in 1706 as the son of a chandler. Therefore the family could not afford the adequate education for their 17 children. Franklin attended school for about two years, then educated himself through books and started an apprenticeship to become a printer at the age of 15. Not satisfied with his situation, he ran away and started a new life in Philadelphia, where he founded the Library Company of Philadelphia and hired the very first librarian in America. He became famous for the books he wrote himself and gained popularity in the State of Pennsylvania and beyond.

Throughout his life, Franklin accomplished many inventions, but never held a patent. In his autobiography it says

That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously“.

To his most famous inventions belongs the lightning rod. In 1750 he started his experiments with electricity, and presumed that lightning is electricity. Only two years later he performed a kite experiment, which led to the extraction of sparks from clouds. Being aware of the immense danger of lightening from there, he was able to invent the lightening rod.

Franklin once said “if you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing” and the people around the globe know that he has accomplished both. He has been honored by the Royal Society in 1753 and again at its 350th anniversary, celebrated in 2010. At Yovisto you may watch the speech given by Bill Bryson on occasion of the 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society at Gresham College. The famous American author first introduces the Royal Society, its accomplishments as well as its meaning for today’s life. Then he presents – as he puts it – the ‘An even shorter History of nearly Everything’, starting with the great achievements of Benjamin Franklin.

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