Everybody has heard the famous story of how pioneeringexperimenter–and part-time foundingfather–Ben Franklin tied a key to a kite string and flew thekite in a thunderstorm.
The kite was hit by lightning, and zap! Franklin had discovered electricity.
Well, it makes a better story than it does an experiment.
The danger is that lightning is notsomething you want to play with, and you certainly don'twant to attract it to yourself!
Were thisstory to be true, I'm afraid, the result would have been fried Franklin.
What Ben actually did in his famous 1752 experiment was to cause some excess electricalchargenear a storm cloud to ground out through his kite string–still an impressivedemonstration, but amuch less powerful prospect than an actual lightning strike.
Nor is it true that Franklin discovered electricity, as people tend to say.
What he was trying to dowas to demonstrate that lightning itself is simply a powerful electricdischarge between the cloudsand the earth.
In this he was entirely correct.
Now, did you know that two of the basic terms we use even today to describe electricchargewere coined by Franklin? Next time.