Lightning rods, 19th century

Lightning rods, 19th century

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Lightning rods. Historical illustration of ornate designs for 19th-century lightning rods. Lightning rods (for use on buildings) were invented in the 1750s, both in the USA and Europe. The tips (shown here) would be at the highest point of the building. A strip of metal would lead from the tip down to the ground, providing a route for the electric charge to safely dissipate. This helps to prevent the fires that can be caused by such lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. The one at centre includes a decorative weather vane. Artwork from 'Electricite' (1911) by Max de Nansouty, part of the 'Les merveilles de la science' series of 1867-1891 by Louis Figuier.

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