(Smithsonian Libraries, The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology)
Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments
1751, Smithsonian Libraries
Before he was a founding father, he put America on the scientific map
Using devices fashioned largely from household items, Franklin came up with a theory about positive and negative charges, posited that lightning was electrical in nature, invented the grounded lightning rod and even described the concept of the electrical battery. “I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and my time,” the 41-year-old wrote to London scientist Peter Collinson in 1747. Such letters, published by the Royal Society a year before he was ever said to fly a kite in a thunderstorm, won Franklin international acclaim as America’s first accomplished scientist.