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Benjamin Franklin. Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), American experimental scientist and statesman. Franklin proved the distinction between positive and negative charge. Showing that light- ning is comprised of electricity, he invented the lightning conductor to protect buildings. He also discovered the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and its high temperature; he suggested that ships use a thermometer to navigate it. He also investigated the ability of different colours to absorb solar heat and invented bifocal spectacle lenses. Franklin was also an active politician and was one of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.
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