Ben Franklin's Kite Was Struck By Lightning?
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Thread: Ben Franklin's Kite Was Struck By Lightning?

  1. #1
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    Ben Franklin's Kite Was Struck By Lightning?

    Here is an intersting web page...

    I think this story has some truth to it...
    http://amasci.com/miscon/eleca.html#frkel
    this part is at the bottom:

    BEN FRANKLIN'S KITE WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING? Never happened!
    Many people believe that Ben Franklin's kite was hit by a lightning bolt, and think that this was how he proved that lightning was electrical. A number of books and even some encyclopedias say the same thing. They are wrong. When lightning strikes a kite, the spreading electric currents in the ground can kill anyone standing nearby, to say nothing of the person holding the string! So what did Franklin actually do? He showed that a kite would collect a tiny bit of electric charge out of the sky during a thunderstorm. Electric leakage through the air caused his kite and string to become electrified and so the hairs on the twine stood outwards. Twine is slightly conductive, so the imbalanced charge spread to all parts of the kite string. Franklin used the twine to electrify a metal key, and tiny sparks could then be drawn from the key. (He used a metal object because sparks cannot be directly drawn from the twine, it's not conductive enough.) This suggested that some stormclouds carry strong electrical net-charge. It IMPLIED that lightning was just a large electric spark.

    The common belief that Franklin easily survived a lightning strike is not just wrong, it is dangerous: it may convince kids that it's OK to duplicate the kite experiment as long as they "protect" themselves by holding a silk ribbon. Make no mistake, Franklin's experiment was extremely dangerous, and if lightning had actually hit his kite, he certainly would have been killed.
    What do you think, did Ben ever get strike by ligthing? ??

    I dont think he got hit, it was probably something that happend by accident( just like most all discoveries ) or something..

    Cheers



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  2. #2
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Hmmm,

    Would that be your Lockheed P.38 or the English Electric F-1 Lightning?

    Either way........he is dead....if you shoot straight (1x20mm +3x .50 cal.........or 4x20mm?)

    Airspeed and endurance are slightly different?

    Cheers

  3. #3
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Hrmm.. the references I saw always had Ben Franklin standing beside a key that was placed into the ground. The kite twine was tied to the eyehole of the key. I don't think I've seen too many references indicating that he actually held the twine.
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    heheh, LOL look at addicts for my exploits with a key this weekend.

    LMAO when I seen this.

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    ......uuuuuhhhhhmmmmmm........ yeah sure( sarcastic )
    Beware, you who seek first and final principles, for you are
    trampling the garden of an angry God and he awaits you just beyond the last theorem.

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    i was never under the impression it was struck by lighting but picked up the charge from the atmosphere during a storm although the artists renderings always show him holding the string with a sparking key which could set a poor example i suppose. he probably could have gotten better results with a 40 meter dipole though
    Bukhari:V3B48N826 “The Prophet said, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.’”

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    seeing that the key would be a lot more conductive then the string or the person I would say that it could have happened....more over many people survive a lightning hit each year.....but Idoubt that the ykey or the kite would have been the most conductive thing out there making it unlikely that any of it was actualy hit by lightning.
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    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone with advance electronic backgrounds would argue there are some oversimplifications in the electron theory. In fact not everyone teaches electron flow to be negative to positive. As we learn... more things change, but the basis of electron flow is a theory that fits quite nice. The problam is, we can't see small enough to know for 100 percent sure. Just measure results. And you can measure the flow of energy from a negative to a positive. You can argue that the flow of electrons isn't a flow of energy if you like. But let your toaster know that when you stick your hand inside it's exited element at around the equivelent to 500 degrees F. of NON-Flowing energy. I use the term flow because it fits. Sure the electrons aren't actually jumping out of the wires in your toaster but they are transfering atomic energy, so why not call it flow? Afterall it's just a theory to teach the masses how electricty works. You could just as easily use a fire hose to describe it's effect. They are only misconceptions if you are an advanced particle theorists but the article is excellent in describing current understanding.

    I am not sure how you could deduce that the kite and key wouldn't be the most conductive thing in a field. After all there were no radio towers, telephone poles etc. and I would guess only trees around the perimeter. Also It's easier to state the kite was hit by electricuty versus explaining how charges can be collected from the atmoshere etc. But who knows, a bolt could have struck near bye etc. That is just an educated guess, regardless of the circumstance the key and kite experiment lead to the understanding that lightening was sort of an electric spark and now we have computers that operate off the stuff.
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    AO Guinness Monster MURACU's Avatar
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    IMHO anyone silly enough to go out flying a kite in the middle of a lighting storm deserves to be hit by not only one bolt but many. Then again if Newton was living on a tropical island we might never had a working model for gravity as the coconut would have crushed his skull. (joke).
    There are always popular myths around most of the greatest inovations to help the non scientific population understand them.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Lol, Muracu - remember all those funny looking contraptions that men would strap themselves into and try to fly. Sometimes launching off cliffs or castle walls. It seems curiousity, or lack of understanding, and the drive to achieve a goal outweigh common sense.

    It's a miracle we are still here.
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