Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin, a great contributor to our society, is one of the most influencing scientists and inventors in the world along with Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Nikola Tesla. It was Franklin’s curiosity that made possible of his inventions. One of his famous quotes says “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”¹ The ability to wonder and think about how objects work as well as to take interest in things that other people did not look into were the things that enabled him to make his inventions unique. Being a philosopher himself, Franklin constantly made hypothesis and put them into experiments. The lightening rod, bifocals, Franklin stove, and the odometer are such examples of Benjamin Franklin ². During his lifetime, this great inventor had only one goal in mind; to contribute his inventions and knowledge to the future generations.

Insights and Influences

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Picture courtesy of www.americaslibrary.gov


The era Benjamin Franklin lived in was a world full of patriotism. Benjamin Franklin’s involvement with politics for the freedom of the American colonies from the British was the major footstep to his studies in science. The corrupted society of British congressmen and the royals turned Franklin's view of Great Britain from admiration to disgust. The society of England made him focus on the improvements of American colonies he had promised years ago when he first became the representative of Pennsylvania. The enthusiasm from the Americans to be free from Great Britain made Franklin realize that the independence was possible. When he returned from England, he began to contribute to the colonies by organizing the first library system in America, fire insurance, and the American Philosophical Society ³. He hoped America could be a free country where everyone could have equal rights. Such idea, which differed from Britain society, was what made him an enlightened person. With new ideas, Franklin contributed to America by not only being in politics, but also by inventing the Franklin Stove, bifocals, odometer, and many other things to help the lives of the American colonists ². Such patriotism for America eventually led him to discover the true nature of electricity as well through his famous experiment with the lightening rod. The idea of out ruling Britain and making America the ideal country for everyone were what influenced Franklin to dedicate a great amount of inventions that later became the basis of diverse topics in science we learn today.

Major Contributions


We live in a world that our forefathers have created. For example, Albert Einstein created an equation "E= mc²" which gave an impact to the entire world. The equation eventually became the base formula for making the atomic bomb and resulted the devastations in Hiroshima, Japan; Pearl Harbor, U.S.A. in World War II; and the Cold War. If Einstein had not discovered such an equation, our history books would be very different. Just like Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin is one of the people who changed the major course of history. Before his time, the nature of electricity and its potentials were a mere interest to the people who were fighting taxations with the British. People knew there was such power as electricity, but they did not know what things they could do with something that would shock them. Franklin was the first to study deeply about electricity. His purpose in studying about this field was to prevent fires caused by lightening. Franklin knew lightening had the same characteristics as electricity and made an experiment with kites to find out how such dangerous power could be controlled. Through this kite experiment, Franklin proved that lightening has the same nature as electricity. This experiment nearly threatened his life, but with this experiment, Franklin was able to invent the lightening rod. This metal rod enabled the electricity from lightening to be sent directly to the ground, so no houses would be on fire. The lightening rod became so popular that there are museums and internet sites dedicated to Benjamin Franklin and his study in electricity.
Benjamin Franklin was also the first to propose the Daylight Savings Time. Having lived in London and Philadelphia, Benjamin knew how inconvenient it was to work during winter. He thought the misty London and cold Philadelphia during the winter affected with transportation as well as people's mood. With such thoughts, Franklin increased one hour during the summer and decreased the same amount during the winter to provide the world a greater opportunity of doing productive work during the summer as opposed to the cold days of winter. Until this day, we still keep his tradition going in the U.S.A.³
It was not until the late 1750s that Franklin started to take interest in science. Before that time, Benjamin Franklin gave all of his attentions to politics. The American Independence from Great Britain was his only goal. Being a representative to the state of Pennsylvania, he made possible of the support from the foreign countries and was one of the delegates to sign the Declarations of Independence. Without Franklin's change of heart for the support of the American colonies, the Americans might have lost an enlightened politician who made possible of our celerbration in July 4th.


Affects and Effects


Benjamin Franklin is not only renowned for his inventions and contributions to the United States, but is admired greatly by the people for his ethics, humor, and patriotism. Born in January 17th, 1706, Benjamin Franklin was born to a tenth son of a British shoe maker. His family moved to the new found land (present day United States) when he was a child. His father, Josiah, recognized how smart his son was and planned to send him to a school where he would eventually become a clergy, but had to give up that dream because of the expensive tuition. Instead of sending him to a clergy school, Benjamin's father decided to let him work under his older son's newspaper store. It is known that Benjamin Franklin never received proper education to read and write, but actually taught himself by reading books and papers from his brother's newspaper store. Franklin's life with the books at an early age influenced him greatly later on with his achievements.
Because of his desire to read and write was great, young Benjamin started out his career as a writer/politician at the age of fifteen. He wrote his views about the situations during his time and placed the letters under the doormat of his brother's workshop under the name of Silence Dogood. Benjamin kept on writing his letters anonymously because he thought his brother would not permit it. After his first writing career, Benjamin ran away from the harsh treatment from his brother and settled in Philadelphia. There, Franklin bought his own bookstore and was successful from it. During his career as a bookstore owner, Franklin fathered a son, William. Who William's mother is has not been found out. William was very loyal to England and later served as a Royal Governor of New Jersey. That was what tore the father and son relationship; one was loyal to America and one was loyal to England. In 1730, Benjamin Franklin married Deborah Read. They had two children, Francis and Sarah. After his marriage, Franklin was deeply sickened by the British royals and high officials. That was when he was really motivated to support the independence of the American colonies from the British. With such enthusiasm, Benjamin wrote a paper The Brave Men at Fires. This book talks about how people in the colonies should have patriotism and fight for the independence.

The Things He Left Behind


Although Franklin left many legacies behind such as twenty estates to his daughter Sarah, the legacy he left to the world became a path that led to a brighter future. Franklin is most renowned for his experiment with the lightning rod. Through that experiment, he proved that electricity and lightning have the same nature and found ways to prevent buildings, boat, and even people from lighting shocks. With that discovery, there were fewer house fires in the American colonies which was a major contribution to the people, because during the 18th century, house fire was very common. Also Franklin named many terms we use in the 21st century - battery, conductor, charger, discharger, and electrician. Through those names, we are able to communicate with others about our most valuable power source - electricity. Even though he is not the person who discovered electricity, Benjamin Franklin was one of the first scientists to bring attention to that subject. Proving how electricity could be helpful, he encouraged the American colonies to do further studies with electricity. For example, Benjamin Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, to give young students opportunities to get proper educations. University of Pennsylvania is now one of the Ivy League schools and is producing numerous students who will contribute their lives in researches in many diverse fields. The school will stand in the ground of Pennsylvania as long as there are students who want to attend that school. By leaving a new subject to study about - electricity- as well as a magnificent school that will last for centuries, Franklin has left our world one thing we could only hope for; the motivation and encouragement for the students who will become leaders in next generations.


References


1. Benjamin Franklin Quotes
2. Benjamin Franklin and His Inventions
3. Quick Biography of Benjamin Franklin
4. Franklin's Kite
5. Benjamin Franklin: An Enlightened American
6. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
7. Benjamin Franklin- Lightening Rod
8. University of Pennsylvania