The American author, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was indeed a man of multiple talents. He was also one of the significant Founding Fathers of the United States who for later generations served as both a spokesman and a model for the national character. As a scientist, he was one of the prominent figures in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his findings and theories regarding electricity. His inventions include: the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’. He devoted most of his life towards the development of his people and left an ineffaceable mark on the emerging nation.
Early Years of Life:
Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706. He was the fifteenth child of Josiah Franklin, candlemaker and a skillful mechanic and Abiah Folger (Josiah’s second wife). He received his primary education from Boston Latin School. At the age of ten he left school because of the poor financial conditions of his family and continued his education through voracious reading. When he was twelve was apprenticed to his older brother James, a printer who taught him the printing trade. Franklin always wanted to be independent and hated being ordered about so he ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was seventeen. There he established his own printing office in partnership with Hugh Meredith in 1728.
Life as a Scientist:
Benjamin Franklin was an extraordinary scientist and inventor. His creations that received a lot of recognition include: lightning rod, glass armonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. His inventions also comprised of social innovations, such as paying forward. All his efforts towards science were directed towards enhancing competence and bringing human improvement. One such improvement was his effort to expedite news services through his printing presses.
Franklin began his investigations on electricity and was the first person to discover he principle of conservation of charge. He also conducted his famous kite experiment, in which he flew a kite with the wire attached to a key during a thunderstorm. From this experiment he further established that laboratory-produced static electricity was similar to a previously unexplained and frightening natural phenomenon.
Wave Theory of Light
Franklin was among the very few scientists who greatly supported the Christiaan Huygens’ wave theory of light. This theory was later proved to be true after experiments performed by other scientists in the 18th century.
Franklin also noted the behavior of winds and he found out storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind. This concept gained a great significance in meteorology.
Franklin also conducted his experiments on the non-conduction of ice which received a great acceptance by other popular scientists such as Michael Faraday.
At the age of eighty-four this famous personality died on April 17, 1790 and was buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.
Franklin was a true philosopher who was interested in all facets of the natural world. He learned through his own experimentation and his conversation with those who shared his interests.