Franklin's lightning experiment, 1752

Franklin's lightning experiment, 1752

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Benjamin Franklin's lightning experiment. Coloured artwork of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and his 21-year-old son William, performing their famous experiment on 15 June 1752, flying a kite in a thunderstorm. A metal wire on the kite attracted a lightning strike and electricity flowed down the string to a key, charging a Leyden jar (capacitor) seen near Franklin's hand. This experiment proved that lightning was an electrical phenomenon, and supported Franklin's invention of lightning rods. Some scientists died repeating the experiment, and the Franklins were lucky they were not killed themselves. Artworks such as this are based on the description Franklin gave to Joseph Priestley. This artwork is from A Travers l'Electricite (G. Dary, Paris, 1900).

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