Benjamin Franklin: the life of the scientist and his inventions

No one should doubt that learning and knowledge meet in books. Anyone can become an eminence, as long as they have a little willpower and a lot of books.

This is the case of Benjamin Franklin: he had to stop studying when he was very young, which did not prevent him from becoming a famous scientist and an ingenious inventor. Let's get to know the exciting life of Benjamin Franklin and his inventions.

Benjamin Franklin: biography

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, the capital of the state of Massachusetts (United States of America), on January 17, 1706. He dropped out of school at the age of 10 to help his brother's printing press.

At just 17 years old, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, already working as a printer. His most popular publication was Poor Richard's Almanack.

That almanac included sayings and verses written by Franklin himself. One of the best known is "going to bed early and getting up early, makes a man rich, wise and healthy".

A secular version of the famous Christian saying that "he who gets up early, God helps him". We suppose that the sleepers will not agree very much neither with Franklin nor with the proverb.

Benjamin Franklin was self-taught and over the years became a great thinker, scientist and inventor. Furthermore, he became a respected political leader in the years leading up to the American Revolution; his position in favor of the abolition of slavery is known.

As a politician, Franklin was the driving force behind many public services in Philadelphia, including a fire department, a hospital, and a library. He also founded a college that would later become the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1775, the United States was still a British colony but war against Great Britain was already being prepared. Benjamin Franklin was one of the politicians who drafted the Declaration of Independence North America.

In 1776 he traveled to France seeking help for the American Revolution and in 1787 he signed the Constitution, the germ of the nation we now know as the United States of America.

In his last years he wrote his autobiography, and he died in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790.

Discoveries and inventions of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's inventions have helped make this distinguished American politician a legend. All of them are still used today, more or less evolved:

The lightning rod

Benjamin Franklin's obsession with electricity culminated in the invention of the lightning rod.

Observing the storms in which lightning struck, Franklin came to suppose that the origin of the lightning was electrical in nature.

With the intention of proving this theory, he performed a series of experiments. One of them consisted of tying a pointed metal bar to a kite and raising it into the sky in the middle of a storm. Attached to the end of the kite string was a metal key that touched the ground.

Indeed, the lightning struck the metallic tip of the kite, electrifying the key that was on the ground. This is the origin of the lightning rod, a safety device that today is considered essential.

And the truth is that, with today's knowledge, there is agreement in pointing out that, given the riskiness of Franklin's experiment, the strange thing is that no one was singed in the set .

The swimming fins

Franklin was only 11 years old when he invented swimming fins for the hands: they consisted of two pieces of wood that provided an extra boost in the water.He also tried foot fins, but found they weren't as effective

The invention is documented and commented on in an essay entitled On the art of swimming, written by the artist himself Franklin.

The Harmonica

This is how Franklin referred to the musical instrument he designed in 1761: "Of all my inventions, the glass harmonica has given me the most personal satisfaction."

The harmonica remains an emblem of traditional North American music, and its use has spread throughout much of the planet.

Franklin's Stove

In 1742, Franklin invented a new way to heat rooms in houses. The Franklin stove was a metal-clad hearth, designed to sit just inches from the fireplace.

A hollow baffle at the rear allowed the heat from the fire to mix with the air more quickly, and an inverted siphon helped extract more heat, producing less smoke than a traditional fireplace.

These types of stoves are still used today and current coal stoves are based on the deflector system devised by Franklin.

Bifocal lenses

Franklin was myopic, that is, he saw poorly at a distance but well up close. With age he began to suffer from presbyopia, which also impeded his near vision.

Tired of alternating between two pairs of glasses, one to see up close and the other to see far away, he invented the double lenses that we now call bifocals and which are the forerunner of sophisticated glasses progressive.

The urinary catheter

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin observed the suffering of his brother, who had kidney disease, when he had to undergo treatments and interventions.

The catheters of the time were completely rigid metal tubes that caused enormous pain in patients.

Franklin devised a flexible catheter that a goldsmith made by joining segments of articulated tubing. He sent the instrument to his brother and the results were so good that their use of it quickly became widespread.

As we have seen, Benjamin Franklin and his inventions are proof that the main virtue of an engineer is to have ingenuity . So if you have it, our advice is to let yourself be carried away by it. Perhaps one day one of your inventions will be considered a must-have tool, like Franklin did.


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