Benjamin Franklin was one of the most famous Americans of his era, and even today he remains one of the most adored and respected of Americans of all time. People around the world know the story of his famous kite flight, and even before the American Revolution he was already well-loved in Europe. When most of us hear his name, it evokes many things: his several groundbreaking inventions, some of America's first newspapers and libraries, America's first fire department, his crucial role in the War for Independence and the Constitutional Convention, and a huge body of clever words of wisdom. These are the most well-known aspects of his life, but Benjamin Franklin was an extraordinarily complex man. There are many extremely interesting, even paradoxical, things we know about his life that aren't common knowledge, both in his public life and in his private life.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
Many of Benjamin Franklin's most well-known inventions are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. If you wear glasses, there's a reasonable chance you have bifocals. Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals. If you live in a tall building, it probably has a lightning-rod to keep it safe from lightning, and of course the lightning rod is arguably Franklin's most famous invention. You've probably heard a thousand times the story of his famous experiments with storing electric charge derived from a kite (and later a metal pole) pointing up into the sky.
Even within science he contributed to multiple fields, being the first person to chart out the paths of the Atlantic currents. He realized that what people thought were two different types of electricity were actually different aspects of the same thing, which he named "positive" and "negative." To this day, that's the reason why each end of a battery is labeled with a plus sign and a minus sign. He was also one of the few intellectuals of his time to support the wave theory of light, which would later gain popularity and be reconciled with the particle theory of light in the form of quantum mechanics.
Beyond his contributions to science, Franklin had an impact in many other arenas as well. He was the first chess player known by name in the American Colonies and contributed articles on the game to various publications. His autobiography is also one of the most famous and most well-respected autobiographies ever written, and his contributions to the printing industry in America are immeasurable. He started many of the earliest and most significant printing shops in the Colonies, and many of his written works, especially his Almanack, are considered major contributions to world culture. He was also known to dabble in music, inventing a mechanized version of the glass armonica and composing a bit in the classical style.
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Benjamin Franklin: A Biography
+ Background & Upbringing
+ Major Accomplishments
+ Sex and Romance Advice from Ben Franklin
+ ...and much more