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Pat Shingleton: "Dalibard was the First, not Ben!"

7 years 1 month 2 weeks ago Tuesday, October 20 2015 Oct 20, 2015 October 20, 2015 3:00 AM October 20, 2015 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

Previous columns have noted Ben Franklin's expertise as an inventor, including his experiments with lightning and related electrical experiments.  Franklin was inspired by other inventors and scientists’ especially French academic, Thomas Dalibard, who actually performed the first lightning experiment.  Franklin wanted to duplicate Dalibard’s attempts and did so from Philadelphia's Christ Church on October 19, 1752.  According to notes from his diary, Franklin made a cross of two light sticks, reaching the four corners of a handkerchief.(The Handkerchief must have been a big one to cover those sticks.)  Attached to the top of the stick was a sharp pointed wire, to the end of the sticks, he attached twine, a silk ribbon and a key. The weather cooperated with his test as thundershowers gave him "charge" on that Fall afternoon. The exact location of Franklin's later attempts places it possibly in mid-June in a now vacant lot near the intersection of Eighteenth and Spring streets in Philadelphia.


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