Copyright 2002 Jigyungsa Ltd, Korea.
Capturing the Lightning,
page 1, page 2, page 3.
When I was growing up in Singapore, my grandfather read me Chinese stories of famous people and the feats they accomplished on the other side of the world, away from Singapore. One such person he talked about was Ben Franklin, a myth in his own proportions.
I've since learned a lot about Franklin, who celebrates his 301st birthday on January 17, 2007. We all know that he helped write the Declaration of Independence and was one of the signers, but do you know that he was also...
Franklin won hearts under the pseudonym 'Silence Dogood.'
When Franklin was 15, his brother started a newspaper that printed opinion articles, advertisements and news of ship schedules. Young Franklin, an avid writer, wanted to contribute to the newspaper too, but he knew his brother would never allow it.
To get around this problem Franklin wrote articles under the pseudonym Silence Dogood, a fictional widow. Every night he would slide an article underneath the print shop door, to be printed in the morning.
The articles addressed important world issues, especially concerning the treatment of women. The public, especially women, loved them!
King of Maxims
Have you heard or used the phrase, "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise"? Or perhaps you have been encouraged to take risks because "he that would fish must venture his bait"? Franklin was famous for these maxims, and others.
"Does thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of," says Franklin. Indeed, he spent all his spare time reading, observing and doing.
Besides being creative with words, Franklin was also a great inventor of objects that must have seemed rather strange for his time.
No matter what his age, Franklin kept inventing useful things.
Have you ever:
- Used a library stepstool to reach your favorite book?
- Enhanced your swimming abilities with a pair of swim fins?
- Produced notes on a glass "armonica"?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, Benjamin Franklin has played a part in improving your life.
All of Franklin's inventions have a long line of experiments behind them, some of them rather... outlandish! Like the lightning rod.
His invention of the lightning rod was essentially the product of his interest in storms.
In 1755, at the age of 49, witnesses saw him chasing a tornado on horseback, repeatedly lashing out with a whip in an attempt to dissipate the storm!
His other experiments with lightning were no less eccentric! He knocked himself out twice—once in an effort to treat a paralyzed man with electric shock and another when attempting to kill a turkey by electric shock!
Benjamin Franklin had wonderful ideas that are still being used today...