Benjamin Franklin is a very well known public figure in American history. He “was a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat” (History). He lived from 1706- 1790 and made an extravagant impact on our modern world today. He was a man of great creativity who put his brilliant ideas to life by making many important inventions that you may even find that you may recognize yourself. Despite his success throughout his lifetime, many people are unaware of his Franklin’s story and how he became the successful scientific genius that he became.
Ben Franklin was born in Boston, and was one of 17 children, him being the youngest. His father’s Josiah Franklin was a candle and soap maker, and his mother’s name was Abiah Folger. Franklin’s father had high hopes for him, he wanted his son to attend a clergy or “body of all people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church” (Google) but he could only afford to send him to school for one year when multiple years are required. When things did not go to plan, Franklin went to work for his father in the candle making business.
From a young age, Benjamin Franklin was always very intellectually gifted and book smart, however, he did not finish school. He had an outstanding work ethic and the mind of a genius that was always eager to learn more. This personality trait was recognized by his father, so to put his intelligence and creativity to good use, his father acquired him a job with his son James at a printing shop. Ben Franklin learned a lot from his job with his brother in the period of time that he worked for him, but because of how Franklin was being mistreated by his older sibling, he decided to leave and move to New York for a bit of time before he moved to Philadelphia where he then lived for the rest of his life.
One writer puts it this way, “The journey of Benjamin Franklin and electricity began in 1743 when Ben attended a lecture on electricity given by Scottish Dr. Archibald Spencer while on a trip to Boston” (Revolutionary War and Beyond). However, during Ben Franklin’s time electricity was an entirely new concept that many people looked at as a source of entertainment rather than how we view it today. Scientists such as Ben Franklin looked at electricity and did not view it as a way of entertainment, he knew that it held the potential to do much more than that. With him determination and creativity, he was then capable of many findings.
Around 1747, Franklin was conducting many experiments during his research to help better his understanding on electricity and how it works. During this period of time he discovered the different electrical charges, positive and negative. He was the first scientist to differentiate and name the two charges by these names, they typically were referred to as vitreous and resinous.
‘During this point in time, scientists believed that electricity was a result of friction when a cloth rubs against another object, but this theory was soon shot down with the discovery of the principle of conservation of electric charge” (Revolutionary War and Beyond). The principle of the conservation of an electric charge states that rather than an object creating electricity, it passes from one object to another. Franklin’s findings about electricity put scientists many steps ahead with his findings, which led to the creation of many inventions, ideas, theories and experiments.
During Benjamin Franklin’s time, the thought was floating around that there is a possibility that lightning and electricity correlate with one another, but there was no solid evidence to back up this theory. However, Franklin did find that the two had at least twelve similarities which include: “giving light, color of the light, crooked direction, swift motion, being conducted by metals, crack or noise in exploding, subsisting in water or ice, rending bodies it passes through destroying animals, melting metals, firing inflammable substance, and that they both have a sulfurous smell” (Revolutionary War and Beyond).
One of Benjamin Franklin’s most well known and most successful experiments is the kite in a thunderstorm experiment. The materials necessary for this experiment included “a large silk handkerchief, a hemp string, and a silk string. He also had a house key, a Leyden jar (a device that could store an electrical charge for later use), and a sharp length of wire” (Franklin Experiment). Alongside him he had his 21 year old son who assisted him throughout the experiment. One writer stated that Franklin did this experiment “To demonstrate, in the completest manner possible, the sameness of the electric fluid with the matter of lightning, Dr. Franklin, astonishing as it must have appeared, contrived actually to bring lightning from the heavens, by means of an electrical kite” (Franklin Institute).
Another additional scientist that is known for their incredible intellectual abilities as an inventor is a man named Alexander Graham Bell. He was born on March 3rd, 1847 and died on August 2nd of 1922. What did Bell do you may be asking yourself? Well, Alexander Graham Bell is credited with invention of the telephone in the year of 1876. In addition to inventing the first telephone, Bell was the first man to own and have the first ever telephone company in 1877 named “the Bell Telephone Company” (Biography). Because of him we are able to keep improving technology in phones, we are able to mass sell phones, talk to someone halfway around the world, get a job, all because of Alexander Graham Bell’s endless hours engulfed in research and extensive study.
Fail after fail, Bell finally got things down to a T and made his first telephone call on March 10th of 1876. However, this project was not simple. Instead of taking on the task alone, Bell gathered a few colleagues together to really hit the nail on the head. A man named Thomas A Augustus Watson assisted Bell in perfecting the invention of the telephone primarily from 1874 and 1875, which led to the final product being invented, perfected, and patented (Biography).
With time and diligence, Alexander Graham Bell “began to promote the telephone in a series of public demonstrations. At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, in 1876, Bell demonstrated the telephone to the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro, who exclaimed, “My God, it talks!” Other demonstrations followed, each at a greater distance than the last” (Biography). People were in complete and utter awe in Bell and Watson’s findings. They managed to shapeshift the way things operate in our world today. Before telephones were invented people typically wrote letters as a way of communication, and had to wait several days if not more to get a response; nowadays people like myself and many others get frustrated when they do not get a response within minutes.
Overall, these two very intelligent and talented inventors did what others did not and stepped up to the plate and invented something entirely new. From my own personal opinion, I believe that it is important to be educated and aware of inventors and people that have made an impact on the world we live in today. It’s because of inventors and goal getters such as Alexander Graham Bell and Benjamin Franklin, that put in the necessary time and concentration to ultimately leave an impact on society forever.
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