– by Saru ajith

Contributions of Benjamin Franklin to modern science and technology.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest “

-Benjamin Franklin

Yes! Benjamin Franklin was a well known American statesman, author, publisher and scientist. He is also known as “The first American” for his campaigning fir colonial unity. Franklin contributed to the American Revolution and building of a new nation. He was an ever-corious mind, constantly seeking to understand the inner workings of the universe and devise clever means to use this scientific understanding to advantage through invention and innovation.

Benjamin Franklin was born on 17 january 1706 in Boston Massachusetts. Due to financial constraints he could not graduate from Boston Latin School. However, he was a voracious reader and this compensated for formal education. His love for science started in 1743 after attending a lecture by Dr. Archibald Spencer.

We all studied about Franklin’s kite experiment in lower classes. Besides that one he did many other experiments and invented many equipments.

We all are familiar with Bifocal spectacles. And these bifocals was a contribution of Ben Franklin. Bifocals are commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia, a condition that Franklin suffered. Franklin wrote, in 1784 to his friend George Whatley, that he was in the invention of double spectacles.

Franklin discovered many things about electricity. Before Franklin started his scientific experimentation, it was thought that electricity consisted of two opposing forces. Franklin showed that electricity consisted of a “common element” which he named “electric fire”. Further, electricity was a “fluid” like a liquid.

Franklin’s work become the basis for single fluid theory. Some of the electrical terms which Franklin coined during his experiments include:

  • Battery
  • Conductor
  • Positively
  • Negatively
  • Charge
  • Plus
  • Minus
  • Armature

Another great invention by Franklin is Lightning Rod. A Lightning rod is simply, is a rod attached to the top of a building, connected to the ground through a wire. The electric charge from lightening strikes the rod and the change is conducted harmlessly into the ground. This protects houses from burning down and people from electrocution.

Another one is Franklin Stove . In colonial America, homes were warmed by a fireplace. The Franklin stove, invented in 1742, is a metal-lined fireplace that stands in the middle of a room. It has rear baffles for improved airflow. If provides more heat and less smoke than an open fireplace and uses less wood. This cast-iron furnace would radiate heat from the middle of room in all directions, and the iron walls even absorbed heat, providing warmth to the room longer after the fire went out.

Franklin made eight voyages across the Atlantic Ocean between the colonies and Europe. He wondered why jorneys eastward were faster than return trips. His curiosity led him to be the first to map the gulf stream. The Gulf Stream, along with the North Atlantic Drift, is the Ocean current that orginates in the Gulf of Mexico, exists through the Strait of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Another interesting invention by Franklin is Slim Fins. Benjamin Franklin was an avid swimmer from a very young age. Throughout his life he consistently promoted its healthful benefits. At the ripe old age of 11 he invented a pair of swim fins. However, unlike today’s foot flippers, these were attached one’s hands. His advocacy for Swimming Hall of Frame in 1968.

Glass Armonica: A popular entertainment in England in the early, 18th century was playing music on upright wine goblets, with tones made by rubbing ones finger around the lip of glasses filled with different quantities of fluid. In 1761, Franklin created a mechanized version, and called it the Armonica (after the italian word for harmony.) Franklin worked with glass blower by Charles James to build his Armonica, and it had its world premiere in early 1762 played by Marianne Davies.

Franklin’s foot-treadle-operated instrument held 37 glass bowls.

Flexible Urinary Catheter: In Franklin’s day, catheters(tubes inserted through the urethra into the bladder to drain urine from the body) were quite painful. Franklin devised a catheter with a flexible tube. John, Franklin’s older brother, suffered from kidney stones, and so Franklin found a way to ease some of the discomfort for his brother.

Another interesting invention by Benjamin Franklin is Odometer . Franklin was curious as to how far he was travelling by carriage, in his role as postmaster, for his travels between Philadelphia and Boston. While the concept of Odometer dates back to ancient times, Franklin did create his own version. The concept was to attach the device near the wheels of a carriage, determine the circumstance of the wheel and the number of Revolutions required to travel a mile, and have the device register the distance travelled.

Franklin was a great lover of books. However, reaching books on high shelves was a challenge. So, in 1786, the ever resourceful Franklin solved the problem by inventing the “long arm”, which is simply a wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end. Simple, clever, effective.

During Benjamin Franklin’s time, Leyden jars were used to store and transfer electricity. These jars were made of glass, covered with metal foil on the inner and outer surfaces and filled with water. Franklin did expensive experiments with metal foil on the inner and outer surfaces and filled with water. Franklin did extensive experiments with Layden Jars and discovered that the electricity was stored in the jar rather than water, as was believed. He found that jars could be made of any material. However the amount of electricity stored would depend on the type of material used.

Ben Franklin was not only a political philosopher but also a great Scientist. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity.

Benjamin Franklin’s life and his proficiency in various fields have excited citizens and historians for centuries.

His life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of the America’s most influential founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honoured more than two centuries after his death on the fifty-cent piece, the 100 dollar bill, warships, and the names of many towns, centuries, educational institutes, and corporations.

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