Saturday, November 28, 2009

An electric turn of phrase

A view past a lightning conductor from inside the tower of the Duomo, Florence.
"upright Rods of Iron, made sharp as a Needle and gilt to prevent Rusting, and from the Foot of those Rods a Wire down the outside of the Building into the Ground;...Would not these pointed Rods probably draw the Electrical Fire silently out of a Cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible Mischief!"
Benjamin Franklin

In Response to Sahlah's comment below:
As is often the case as an editor I was distracted while checking a fact on the web. After establishing, as my author had claimed, that Benjamin Franklin had indeed invented the lightning conductor, I was impressed by his writing about it; including the scattering of capital letters and what is to us an antique vocabulary of concerns - yet he achieves a clarity that few designers today manage - what will they expect for their bright ideas a century or two hence?

Benjamin was on any measure a remarkable man, one of the many that I didn't get to learn about at school in England, because he was on the 'other side' of that war.

We never learned about the incredible courage required to challenge a government and king and seeking independence as Franklin's fellows and he did (just though we were taught their cause was). The American War of Independence, was important, however it is but one event of Benjamin Franklin's life and works. His achievements, intellect and virtue are exceptional, on the level of a true Renaissance man - so much so that it's a relief he had a face like a second-hand pear, with spectacles, for if he had good looks as well, he'd have been all-too-much.

Where are our Benjamin Franklin's today?

James

1 comment:

sahlah said...

Interesting thing lighting rods. Here is a list of lighting rod patents - mostly because the accompanying illustrations are so interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lightning_rod_patents