Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment
University of California Press, Oct 14, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 383 pages
Most of us know—at least we've heard—that Benjamin Franklin conducted some kind of electrical experiment with a kite. What few of us realize—and what this book makes powerfully clear—is that Franklin played a major role in laying the foundations of modern electrical science and technology. This fast-paced book, rich with historical details and anecdotes, brings to life Franklin, the large international network of scientists and inventors in which he played a key role, and their amazing inventions. We learn what these early electrical devices—from lights and motors to musical and medical instruments—looked like, how they worked, and what their utilitarian and symbolic meanings were for those who invented and used them. Against the fascinating panorama of life in the eighteenth century, Michael Brian Schiffer tells the story of the very beginnings of our modern electrical world.
The earliest electrical technologies were conceived in the laboratory apparatus of physicists; because of their surprising and diverse effects, however, these technologies rapidly made their way into many other communities and activities. Schiffer conducts us from community to community, showing how these technologies worked as they were put to use in public lectures, revolutionary experiments in chemistry and biology, and medical therapy. This story brings to light the arcane and long-forgotten inventions that made way for many modern technologies—including lightning rods (Franklin's invention), cardiac stimulation, xerography, and the internal combustion engine—and richly conveys the complex relationships among science, technology, and culture.
1 THE FRANKLIN PHENOMENON
2 IN THE BEGINNING
3 A COMING OF AGE
4 GOING PUBLIC
5 POWER TO THE PEOPLE
6 LIFE AND DEATH
7 FIRST DO NO HARM
8 AN ELECTRICAL WORLD
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accessories activities Adams apparatus artifacts atmospheric electricity Beccaria Benjamin Benjamin Franklin Bennet Bertholon 1787 brass catalog at end Cavallo Cavendish chapter charge chemistry Cohen cold fusion demonstrations Desaguliers devices Dibner discharge disk early effects eighteenth century eighteenth-century electrical elec electrical machine electrical technology electriﬁed electrometer electrophorus electrophysicists electrostatic electrotherapists employed Enlightenment example experiment books experimental ﬁeld ﬁg ﬁgures ﬁnd ﬁndings ﬁre ﬁrst ﬂuid Francis Hauksbee Franklin furnished Galvani Gentleman’s glass tube globe Graham Gray Guericke Hauksbee Heilbron human inﬂuence Ingen-Housz instrument makers insulated invention investigators Jallabert Joseph Priestley Kinnersley kite later Lavoisier lectures Leyden jar lightning conductors Marum ment metal Musschenbroek Nairne natural philosophy Nollet performance characteristics perhaps Philosophical Priestley Priestley’s prime conductor resin rods Royal Humane Society Royal Society Schiffer scientiﬁc scientists Seiferheld shock signiﬁcant spark speciﬁc Stephen Gray surprisingly theory tion trical tricity Volta’s Wilson wire