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The Innovation of the Lightning Rod

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1 The Innovation of the Lightning Rod
A PowerPoint presentation by Zach Tobash

2 Who was Ben Franklin? Ben Franklin was creative and from a very young age was interested in electricity and storms. His interest began during a show where he saw tricks and his research lead to one of his greatest inventions. He questioned whether lightning was electricity. He learned through a process that included a Leyden jar, the invention of the battery and a kite experiment the answer to that question. It also led to one of his greatest inventions, the one that made him famous…. the Lightning Rod.

3 Young Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts. Ben’s father Josiah Franklin was a candle and soap maker. Ben stopped going to school at 10 years old but continued to read and be creative. He worked in his Dad’s candle shop, but didn’t like it. Josiah encouraged him to apprentice in his older brother’s (James) printing shop. At 12 years old, Ben agreed to be his brother’s apprentice until he was 21 years of age. For 8 years, he would work for only food, lodging and training. He wouldn’t get paid until his last year of work. In 1721, James started his own newspaper. Ben wanted to write but James wouldn’t let him. Ben disguised himself as Silence Dogood, a widow with funny opinions (Roop 32).

4 Young Benjamin Franklin (continued)
Ben revealed himself to James which made him angry. Ben wanted to end his apprenticeship but was unable to do so. James then got into trouble and had to print the newspaper in Ben’s name. Ben wanted to stop working for James but was unable to find a job because James told the other printers not to hire him. So Ben sold his books for money and went to New York. He was 17, penniless and alone.

5 New York 1723 Franklin sought out to find William Bradford when he arrived in New York. He was a well-known printer. Bradford had no work but thought his brother Andrew who lived in Philadelphia may hire him.

6 Philadelphia Ben decided to go to Philadelphia to find work. He eventually found work with another printer named Samuel Keimer. The governor of Pennsylvania, Sir William Keith, wanted Ben to help him start a printing shop. Sir William suggested that Ben ask his family for financial help. He did but his father said “no.” When he returned to Philadelphia he told the governor. The governor told Ben to go to London to get equipment. The governor told him there would be letters waiting on the ship for him so he could get the money from the bank in London (Krensky 29). After the ship sailed Ben found out there were no letters. Again he was penniless but this time he was heading to London.

7 London 1724 Ben had no money and was unable to pay for a return trip to Philadelphia. He then found work in a printing shop. Franklin was offered a ride back to Philadelphia, if he agreed to be a clerk at Thomas Denham’s Store. He had met him on the voyage to London. Ben readily agreed and headed back to Philadelphia.

8 Philadelphia Unfortunately, three months after working for Mr. Denham he died and the business ended. In 1728 he started his own newspapers. It was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. Ben got married in 1730 to his long-time love Debby Read (Krensky 40). In 1732, he published Poor Richard’s Almanak (the k was dropped later). It was a mixture of facts, weather predication, poems and jokes. Franklin created the character Richard Saunders who introduced the almanac. Poor Richard was successful and the advice was thoughtful and humorous. An example of the writing: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten”, said Poor Richard, “either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing” (Krensky 42).

9 Ben Franklin-The Man Franklin did his best to live by the virtues he wrote on his trip to London in He hoped they would anchor his behavior then and in the future. They did become the cornerstone of who he was and became. They were according to Krensky, (46-47): Temperance: Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Order: Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. Frugality: Make no expense but do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary action. Sincerity: Use no harmful deceit; think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly. Justice : Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Moderation: Avoid extremes ; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or by accidents common or unavoidable.

10 Ben Franklin-The Man (Continued)
Franklin was intrigued by anything that could be tested. He concentrated on practical things. An example of this is the invention of the Franklin Stove. It was a stove that also served as a heater. Franklin also cared about the welfare of others and organized the first volunteer fire company. He shared his ideas with anyone who was interested and that is why none of his inventions were ever patented.

11 The Beginnings of Electricity
In 1743 Franklin went to Boston and saw a demonstration by Dr. Archibald Spencer, from Scotland. He suspended a boy from the ceiling with numerous silken cords and rubbed his bare feet with glass tubes until sparks flew. Franklin was so intrigued that he bought all Spencer’s devices. During that time it was believed that there was only two types of electricity. Franklin believed that there was only one kind of electricity. He felt it, “was not created by friction, but collected being an Element diffused among and attracted by other matter particularly water and metal” (Krensky 54). He further believed electricity must be composed of few particles that could move easily though metals.

12 1746- First Thoughts About Electricity
Franklin started taking an interest in electricity. He devoted his spare time learning and understanding electricity. At first he used electricity for entertainment. Always a scientist, he started experimenting in his study with the items he had bought.

13 1746- First Thoughts About Electricity
Items he bought and had in his study: (Fleming 49)

14 Electrical Experiments
In order to complete his own electrical experiments, Franklin created an laboratory in his upstairs study. He used a Leyden Jar. This was a cork topped jar which had recently been invented at the University of Leyden in Holland. The jar also had a glass tube inside it that was covered with metal foil. The foil was also on the outside of the jar. The jar could hold a single electric charge (Fleming 52). Franklin added some water to the bottom of the jar, then connected the rod to his “electrostatic machine”. (Fleming 52)

15 Electrical Experiments (continued)
The “electrostatic machine” was created to supply more than or two charges. The machine spun a glass globe against a piece of chamois cloth. This created static electricity inside the globe. The charge was then drawn off by a set of knitting needles and stored in the Leyden jar (Fleming, Almanac 49). The rod transferred the electrical charge. The glass jar became the insulator and carried the positive charge (Fleming , Almanac 49). Consequently, when the cork and the rod were removed ,no shock was delivered. However when he touched the glass he received a shock. (Fleming 49)

16 Electrical Experiments (Continued)
Initially Franklin believed that the electricity was in the water. However, there was no shock. He determined that the electricity was stored in the glass. In 1748 Ben Franklin retired from the printing business to spend devote more time to his experiments.

17 Electrical experiments (continued)
Franklin then expanded on the Leyden jar and created an electrical battery. The way in which charges moved through items and the directional flow became known as “positive” and “negative”. These terms are still being used today. Other terms and principles he introduced include but are not limited to (Roop, Ben Franklin 64): Charge Discharge Condenser Conductor Electrical shock Electrify Minus Uncharged Nonconductor

18 1749- Electrical experiments
Franklin decided to have a “electric picnic.” He planned to kill a turkey by “electrical shock” then roast it in an electrical fire. He tried to shock the turkey with electricity used from his batteries. Instead, the two wires touched and he received the shock. His body vibrated from head to toe, and smoke curled from one of his buckled shoes. It took him hours to recover. He wrote that he felt “ashamed to have been guilty of so notorious a blunder “ (Roop 66).

19 1751 In 1751, a comprehensive account of Franklin's electrical experiments was published in London. The 86-page pamphlet was called Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America by Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Scientists who read it were very impressed. It was translated into German, French, Italian and Russian. (Fleming 50)

20 1751 (continued) One of the potential experiments that Franklin wrote about questioned whether clouds that produced lightning contained electricity. He provided a description and instructions on how to perform such a test. However, before he could test his theory himself, a French scientist named Thomas Francois Dalibard, completed the experiment. It was successful and Franklin did get the credit for his idea. (Dash 74-75)

21 1751 (continued) Lightning was viewed by the religious world as a symbol of divine anger. Thunder and lightning had accompanied Jehovah’s giving of the Ten Commandments (Dash 62). When thunderstorms occurred it was common to ring the church bells to warn everyone .Over 100 documented church bell ringers were killed by lightning in the mid-eighteenth century (Dash 62). While showmen performed electric tricks no one ever suggested that lightning and electricity were the same. Ben Franklin had suggested it and now it was being discussed in the scientific community.

22 1752 Franklin believed that electricity and lightning were the same and devoted his time and energy to proving that. He studied the amount of light, direction, smell and how lightning is attracted to points.

23 The Kite Franklin decided to create a specialized kite to find his answer. Firstly, the body of the kite was made out of silk. He felt that silk would handle being wet and the wind best. Secondly, he placed a small poking metal rod from its top. He felt that it would conduct electricity. Thirdly, he took hemp twine and attached it from the body of the kite to the ground. He used hemp twine because when it became wet, it conducted electricity freely. Fourthly, at the bottom of the twine he placed a brass key. The key was used to absorb electric charges that ran down the string. Lastly he placed a silk handkerchief on the end of the twine. This would insulate and protect his hand (Dash 81).

24 June 1752 One day, on a June afternoon, Franklin saw a storm approaching. He decided to take his kite into the heart of the storm. Franklin and his son William raced to a close field. While Ben waited in the shed, William raced three times across the field until the kite took flight. Then he handed the kite string to Ben (Krensky 58).

25 June 1752 (Continued)

26 June 1752 (Continued) Franklin flew his kite into the cloud.
Initially when he took his knuckle to the key nothing happened. Then he looked and saw the loose threads on the kite standing up straight. This time when he touched the key again and he felt an electric shock (Krensky 58). He said nothing to anyone for several months. Their has been much speculation as to why but many felt it was because he was waiting to also introduce his lightning rod.

27 October 19, 1752 Franklin published his findings in The Pennsylvania Gazette. (Dash 84-85)

28 The Lightning Rod His son, William, was also interested in lightning. He tracked the path of a lightning bolt that had hit a home in Philadelphia. Franklin used all the information that he and William collected to design and develop the lightning rod. (Fleming 53)

29 The Lightning Rod (continued)
Franklin suggested placing a long piece of metal shaped like a needle approximately six to eight feet above the highest point of a building. Then he stated to place a wire attached to the rod down the outside of the building and planting it three to four feet into the ground. This he believed would take the current and put it into the ground (Krensky 59). Franklin described his lightning rod in Poor Richard’s Almanak in 1753 for everyone to read.

30 The Lightning Rod (continued)
He placed a lightning rod on his own roof in September 1753. (Krensky 59)

31 The Lightning Rod (continued)
He was met with some opposition and many believed that lightning strikes were God’s will. Others believed that all of the lightning was going to collect in the earth and cause earthquakes. Franklin did not defend his invention. Instead he also designed the umbrella which utilizes the lightning rod. (Krensky 60)

32 The Lightning Rod (continued)
Franklin did win kudos and recognition for his findings and observations on electricity. Honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard and Yale. The Copley Medal from the Royal Society in England. This was the most distinguished prize for science. Honorary Doctorate of Law from Oxford University. William was also awarded a Masters of Arts for helping his father.

33 Benjamin Franklin- The Innovator
Innovation begins with an idea. Ben Franklin created ways to improve everyone’s life. He became interested in protecting people from fires in the when he established the first volunteer fire company . He later invented the Lightning Rod. This invention did many things. They include: Saving lives. Saving homes. Communities continued to grow . Providing education. This invention changed thinking. It taught people that being struck by lightning was not God’s will or a supernatural punishment . When used, it protected oneself, their families and homes. He also shared with the world that lightning is electricity. This opened the door for continued innovation. Furthermore, Ben Franklin gained worldwide respect and admiration. Although this was never what he wanted, it made him famous. Therefore, anything he did in the future was greeted by the scientific community.

34 Conclusion As you just read, the Lightning Rod was one of the biggest inventions in the 1700’s. Ben Franklin was a innovator and a person who cared about others. He was a brilliant scientist and always wanted to learn new things. He went on to invent many things after his invention of the lightning rod. His invention changed history because it saved lives and homes. Scientific and religious beliefs also changed. Benjamin Franklin will always be remembered as a important innovator in the history of the United States .

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