Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment

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University of California Press, 2003 M10 14 - 397 páginas
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.

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Contenido

THE FRANKLIN PHENOMENON
1
IN THE BEGINNING
12
A COMING OF AGE
33
GOING PUBLIC
67
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
91
LIFE AND DEATH
107
FIRST DO NO HARM
133
AN ELECTRICAL WORLD
161
PROPERTY PROTECTORS
184
A NEW ALCHEMY
206
VISIONARY INVENTORS
226
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER A BEHAVIORAL FRAMEWORK
257
Notes
271
References Cited
333
Index
365
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Página 8 - Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. ORDER Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. RESOLUTION Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. FRUGALITY Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; ie, waste nothing.
Página 188 - I say, if these things are so, may not the knowledge of this power of points be of use to mankind, in preserving houses, churches, ships, &c. from the stroke of lightning, by directing us to fix, on the highest parts of those edifices, 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, or down round one of the shrouds of a ship, and down her side till it reaches the water?
Página 323 - I declined it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., that as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.
Página 8 - INDUSTRY Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. SINCERITY Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. JUSTICE Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 9. MODERATION Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Página 256 - The rapid progress true science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter.
Página 323 - One would not, therefore, of all faculties or qualities of the mind, wish for a friend or a child that he should have that of invention. For his attempts to benefit mankind in that way, however well imagined, if they do not succeed, expose him, though very unjustly, to general ridicule and contempt; and if they do succeed, to envy, robbery, and abuse.
Página 8 - Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable. 12. CHASTITY. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another's Peace or Reputation. 13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Página 322 - Air,' and it commences with stating, not that those experiments were undertaken with any view to the water formed by burning inflammable air, but that they were made " with a view to find out the cause of the diminution which common air is well known to suffer by all the various ways in which it is phlogisticated...
Página 106 - I busied myself to think of a story - a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror - one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.

Acerca del autor (2003)

Michael Brian Schiffer is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. His many books include The Material Life of Human Beings (1999), Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America (1994), Technological Perspectives on Behavioral Change (1992), and The Portable Radio in American Life (1991).

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