Thursday, January 17, 2013
Writer, Founding Father, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706, the tenth son of soap maker. A major inventor, he discovered or developed the lightning rod, glass armonica (a musical instrument), the Franklin stove and bifocal eyeglasses. He refused to patent his inventions, believing they should “serve others … freely and generously.” He independently developed bifocals as corrective lenses for everyday use, and wore them regularly after 1776. He had an intense interest in electricity and confirmed the previously mysterious idea that lightning is electrical in nature (via his kite experiment, 1752). He wrote about the lightning rod in 1749, the first of which protected a steeple in 1752. His design was widely used through the 18th and 19th centuries, virtually unchanged. An advocate of “air bathing,” Franklin favored sitting naked each morning before an open window.