Benjamin Franklin, US scientist

Benjamin Franklin, US scientist

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Credit: GEORGE BERNARD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American scientist, inventor and statesman. As well as his numerous scientific discoveries, Franklin was one of the signatories of the US Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a scientist, he showed that lightning is electricity in a famous experi- ment in which he flew a kite carrying a metal key during a thunderstorm. This led to his invention of the lightning rod to protect buildings from lightning strikes. He also mapped the Gulf Stream ocean current, which carries warm water north to Europe; suggesting that ships use a thermometer as a navigational aid. Published in 1849.

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