Benjamin Franklin’s Electricity Day

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Benjamin Franklin

Sailing

Benjamin Franklin’s electricity day was June 15, 1752.  His flying kite experiment during an electrical storm verified the identity of electricity in lightning.   During his eighty-five years, Benjamin Franklin accomplished many things on both sides of the Atlantic.  While recognized as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, his fame extended well beyond the borders of a young nation.  His scientific inventions and scientific inquiries were as remarkable as his political prowess.

Benjamin Franklin contributed to the emerging science of demography or population studies, linking the rate of growth to the availability of food supplies. During his stint as deputy postmaster, he researched the North Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns, curious that it took British packet ships departing from Falmouth, Cornwall, several weeks longer to reach New York than an average merchant ship, departing London, to reach Newport, Rhode Island.  This led to his famous Gulf Stream Chart published in 1770 in England, 1778 in France and 1786 in the US, which was virtually ignored.  As for the sea captains who could have shaved off 2 weeks of sailing, it took years for them to embrace his suggestion.

Franklin had many ideas:  the concept of cooling, observations on electrical conductivity, oceanography, meteorology and geo-engineering.  My personal favourite, and one that I read every time I must make an important decision, is his letter to Joseph Priestley which outlines the concept of “Pro and Con.” 

… my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: Read full letter here.

Benjamin Franklin

32 thoughts on “Benjamin Franklin’s Electricity Day

    • I have been fascinated with Benjamin Franklin ever since I read his first quote when I was in grade 4 – “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man (woman) happy, wealthy and wise.” I even tried waking up early to see if I was any wealthier…:)

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      • maybe because there was less knowledge, but some of these men were such great thinkers – wonder why we don’t know of the current batch. maybe they aren’t suited to 15 minutes of fame, or have actual accomplishments.

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      • When I read the biography of George Washington – His Excellency, by Joseph J Ellis – I remember thinking: How did so many smart people come together at the same time in history? John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette, Ben Franklin. You are so right – they were great thinkers. I hope they think the same thing about our generation a couple hundred years from now!!🙂

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      • we home-schooled our kids. Avoided many issues.

        My opinion of public education is that it is a corporation, that values the kids less than the power and assets that it controls.

        I will have to check out the RSA – thanks🙂

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      • Isn’t that interesting. Our son was “home-schooled” as well via the public school system. It was the best of all worlds for us. We had the syllabus of educational requirements, the technology to connect with the teachers and other students, and the flexibility to explore other ways in which to integrate knowledge and experience. Actually, this type of system is gaining more acceptance. We are all looking a new ways in which to educate our children and ourselves!

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    • He was! And yet, very few people really took advantage of his knowledge. Ben Franklin is my reminder to keep my mind open to new possibilities, even if they seem a little far-fetched and just a little intimidating. I understand that when he was angry he would write a long letter outlining his complaints. He would then rip the letters up rather than dispatching them to the intended recipient. It seemed to clear up the angst.

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  1. Prudential algebra! Wonderful. I didn’t know that Benjamin Franklin invented the Pro/con lists. The other day I read about Perturbation theory which I didn’t understand at all. Prudential algebra is much easier to grasp.

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    • Perturbation theory – I had to look it up and found it has to do with quantum mechanics. Is this something you do in your spare time!!!? I am very impressed🙂 There is always something to learn – now I have added something more to my bucket list of “things to research.”

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    • There is always something to celebrate – without electricity, we would not be connected. So for bloggers, it is always electricity day! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments.

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    • “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.”
      ― Eleanor Roosevelt

      I often think of this quote through the years. To me, curiosity opens the door to so many opportunities. The blogging community as a whole, demonstrates this principle. Lots of curious bloggers out there…

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  2. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I’ve never seen that quote by such a remarkable man before. It feels to me as both a challenge and a curse for the writer.🙂

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    • I love how Ben Franklin used so few words to get across big ideas. When I read about his time in France, I remember that everywhere he went, he would somehow find a printing press close by. If anyone knew the power of the press, it was him! He had a remarkable way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary!!

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    • I remember when I first read this letter about 5 years ago. It was one of my ah ha moments – a reminder that we owe a great deal to the past. We like to take credit for being a smart generation – I have a feeling that there were some pretty smart people that came before us…🙂 Your comments are very much appreciated. Thank you!

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