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Exploring Electrical Technology. Benjamin Franklin. Background of life (1706-1790) . Family Large (10 th son and 15 child) Poor (father made candles & soap) Education Quit during 1 st year (unable to pay tuition) Helped for awhile in his father’s shop

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background of life 1706 1790
Background of life (1706-1790)
  • Family
    • Large (10th son and 15 child)
    • Poor (father made candles & soap)
  • Education
    • Quit during 1st year (unable to pay tuition)
    • Helped for awhile in his father’s shop
    • Devoured books generally, but especially on
      • Science
      • Philosophy
ben franklin s education
Ben Franklin’s Education
  • Capitalized on his love of books
    • Became a book dealer
    • Established 1st public library in Philly
  • Developed his literary skills
    • Wrote much of a newspaper
      • Published himself
      • Under the pseudonym Silence Dogood
    • Published Poor Richard’s Almanac
franklin s business experience
Franklin’s Business Experience
  • Began at age 17 (1723)
    • Became a journeyman printer
    • Gained responsibility quickly
  • After 6 years
    • Entered a partnership
    • Worked on press & newspaper of Pennsylvania Gazette
franklin s business experience1
Franklin’s Business Experience
  • Eventually owned a shop that sold
    • Stationary, books and writing supplies
    • Food & medicine
    • Cloth & stoves
  • Successful
    • Retired at age 42 (1748)
    • Then had time to write an autobiography
some of the many benefits franklin first left to society
Some of the Many Benefits Franklin First Left to Society
  • Book Borrowing: Began 1st subscription library
  • Foreign Pub.: 1st German language news
  • Rhetoric: 1st debating club (Junto)
  • Education: Organized 1st college
    • Philadelphia Academy in 1749
    • Later University of Pennsylvania
  • Daily life
    • Proposed daylight savings time
    • Laid plans for lighting streets of PA
ben franklin s travels
Ben Franklin’s Travels
  • Often took him across the ocean from America to
    • England
    • France
    • Holland
  • Distinguished him from early Americans
    • International perspective
    • Social contacts
franklin as scientist inventor
Franklin as Scientist & Inventor
  • Career with Electricity (began ~1745)
    • Preceded retirement from business at age 40
    • Grew despite lack of spec. training in science
    • Aided by his inventive spirit
    • Included experiments, thinking & writing
    • Ended abruptly in 1754 after ~9 years
      • Became postmaster general of American colonies
      • Travel commitments continued to keep his atten.
franklin as public servant
Franklin as Public Servant
  • As a PA representative, sent to
    • Albany, NY (1754): resolve French & Indian wars
    • England (1757): to request taxes due
  • While in England
    • His reputation preceded him
    • Statesmanship not always successful
    • Esp. enjoyed Scotland, but toured continent
  • Returned to PA in 1762
franklin gains prestige
Franklin Gains Prestige
  • During travels in Europe
    • Received an honorary doctorate
      • From St. Andrews of Edinborough, Scotland
      • Making him officially Dr. Franklin
    • Met van Musschenbroek in Holland
  • Propelled him over 28 years (1757-1785)
    • 24 of these years spent overseas
    • In France, his scientific reputation helped make him an excellent ambassador
closer look franklin s consultations contributions
Closer Look: Franklin’s Consultations & Contributions
  • 1st introduction to electricity
    • 1743 in Boston
    • Via lecture and demonstration by Spencer
  • Before his retirement from business
    • Received a glass tube like Hawksbee’s
    • Knew of the Leiden jar
closer look franklin s consultations contributions1
Closer Look: Franklin’s Consultations & Contributions
  • Collinson: assisted Franklin
    • A friend and agent
    • Received correspondence in London
    • Member of RSL
    • Sent Franklin
      • The glass tube
      • A periodical that described electrical experiments
  • Collinson: read Franklin’s letters to RSL
franklin s publication on electricity
Franklin’s Publication on Electricity
  • Actually a collection of his letters
    • Compiled in 1751 by Collinson with a friend
    • Became “Experiments and Observations on Electricity”
      • One of the most widely reprinted books of the entire enlightenment (!)
      • Translated into French, German & Italian
  • Resulting Honors
    • Copley medal in 1753
    • Membership into RSL in 1756
    • Foreign assoc. Academie of Science in Paris by 1773
summary conclusions for today
Summary & Conclusions for Today
  • Franklin benefited from favorable factors
    • Family
    • Self-education: wide & specialized reading
    • Business: developed skills and income
    • Electricity as a 2nd career
    • Travels that brought him
      • Key contacts
      • Wide-spread international reputation
summary conclusions for today1
Summary & Conclusions for Today
  • While Franklin seemed the right person at the right time to promote electricity, many others helped him either as friend or foe.
  • Next time: electricity & the controversial lightning rod in theory and practice