Lightning Rod

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lightning-rod-diagram.svg

Diagram of a simple lightning protection system

A lightning rod (US, AUS) or lightning conductor (UK) is a metal rod mounted on a structure and intended to protect the structure from a lightning strike. If lightning hits the structure, it will preferentially strike the rod and be conducted to ground through a wire, instead of passing through the structure, where it could start a fire or cause electrocution. Lightning rods are also called finials, air terminals or strike termination devices.

In a lightning protection system, a lightning rod is a single component of the system. The lightning rod requires a connection to earth to perform its protective function. Lightning rods come in many different forms, including hollow, solid, pointed, rounded, flat strips or even bristle brush-like. The main attribute common to all lightning rods is that they are all made of conductive materials, such as copper and aluminum. Copper and its alloys are the most common materials used in lightning protection.

History


The principle of the lightning rod was first detailed by Benjamin Franklin in Pennsylvania in 1749, who in the subsequent years developed his invention for household application (published in 1753) and further improvements towards a reliable system around 1760.

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Nevyansk Tower in Russia crowned with a metallic rod grounded through a complex system of rebars (some are seen at the basement)

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“Machina meteorologica” invented by Diviš worked like a lightning rod

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Franklin’s earliest papers on electricity

As buildings become taller, lightning becomes more of a threat. Lightning can damage structures made of most materials, such as masonry, wood, concrete and steel, because the huge currents and voltages involved can heat materials to high temperature, causing a potential for fire.

Russia

A lightning conductor may have been intentionally used in the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk. The spire of the tower is crowned with a metallic rod in the shape of a gilded sphere with spikes. This lightning rod is grounded through the rebar carcass, which pierces the entire building.

The Nevyansk Tower was built between 1721 and 1745, on the orders of industrialist Akinfiy Demidov. The Nevyansk Tower was built 28 years before Benjamin Franklin’s experiment and scientific explanation. However, the true intent behind the metal rooftop and rebars remains unknown.

Europe

The church tower of many European cities, which was usually the highest structure in the city, was likely to be hit by lightning. Early on, Christian churches tried to prevent the occurrence of the damaging effects of lightning by prayers. Peter Ahlwardts (“Reasonable and Theological Considerations about Thunder and Lightning”, 1745) advised individuals seeking cover from lightning to go anywhere except in or around a church.

There is an ongoing debate over whether a “metereological machine”, invented by Premonstratensian priest Prokop Diviš and erected in Přímětice near Znojmo, Moravia (now Czech Republic) in June 1754, does count as an individual invention of the lightning rod. Diviš’s apparatus was, according to his private theories, aimed towards preventing thunderstorms altogether by constantly depriving the air of its superfluous electricity. The apparatus was, however, mounted on a free-standing pole and probably better grounded than Franklin’s lightning rods at that time, so it served the purpose of a lightning rod. After local protests, Diviš had to cease his weather experiments around 1760.

America

In what later became the United States, the pointed lightning rod conductor, also called a lightning attractor or Franklin rod, was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749 as part of his groundbreaking exploration of electricity. Although not the first to suggest a correlation between electricity and lightning, Franklin was the first to propose a workable system for testing his hypothesis. Franklin speculated that, with an iron rod sharpened to a point,

“The electrical fire would, I think, be drawn out of a cloud silently, before it could come near enough to strike….”

Franklin speculated about lightning rods for several years before his reported kite experiment. This experiment, it is said, took place because he was tired of waiting for Christ Church in Philadelphia to be completed so he could place a lightning rod on top of it.  

In the 19th century, the lightning rod became a decorative motif. Lightning rods were embellished with ornamental glass balls (now prized by collectors). The ornamental appeal of these glass balls has been used in weather vanes. The main purpose of these balls, however, is to provide evidence of a lightning strike by shattering or falling off. If after a storm a ball is discovered missing or broken, the property owner should then check the building, rod, and grounding wire for damage.

Balls of solid glass occasionally were used in a method purported to prevent lightning strikes to ships and other objects. The idea was that glass objects, being non-conductors, are seldom struck by lightning. Therefore, goes the theory, there must be something about glass that repels lightning. Hence the best method for preventing a lightning strike to a wooden ship was to bury a small solid glass ball in the tip of the highest mast. The random behavior of lightning combined with observers’ confirmation bias ensured that the method gained a good bit of credence even after the development of the marine lightning rod soon after Franklin’s initial work.

The first lightning conductors on ships were supposed to be hoisted when lightning was anticipated, and had a low success rate. In 1820 William Snow Harris invented a successful system for fitting lightning protection to the wooden sailing ships of the day, but despite successful trials which began in 1830, the British Royal Navy did not adopt the system until 1842, by which time the Imperial Russian Navy had already adopted the system.

In the 1990s, the ‘lightning points’ were replaced as originally constructed when the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. was restored. The statue was designed with multiple devices that are tipped with platinum. The Washington Monument also was equipped with multiple lightning points, and the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor gets hit by lightning, which is shunted to ground.

Lightning Protection System


A lightning protection system is designed to protect a structure from damage due to lightning strikes by intercepting such strikes and safely passing their extremely high currents to ground. A lightning protection system includes a network of air terminals, bonding conductors, and ground electrodes designed to provide a low impedance path to ground for potential strikes.

Lightning protection systems are used to prevent or lessen lightning strike damage to structures. Lightning protection systems mitigate the fire hazard which lightning strikes pose to structures. A lightning protection system provides a low-impedance path for the lightning current to lessen the heating effect of current flowing through flammable structural materials. If lightning travels through porous and water-saturated materials, these materials may literally explode if their water content is flashed to steam by heat produced from the high current. This is why trees are often shattered by lightning strikes.

Because of the high energy and current levels associated with lightning (currents can be in excess of 150,000 amps), and the very rapid rise time of a lightning strike, no protection system can guarantee absolute safety from lightning. Lightning current will divide to follow every conductive path to ground, and even the divided current can cause damage. Secondary “side-flashes” can be enough to ignite a fire, blow apart brick, stone, or concrete, or injure occupants within a structure or building. However, the benefits of basic lightning protection systems have been evident for well over a century.

Laboratory-scale measurements of the effects of [any lightning investigation research] do not scale to applications involving natural lightning. Field applications have mainly been derived from trial and error based on the best intended laboratory research of a highly complex and variable phenomenon.

The parts of a lightning protection system are air terminals (lightning rods or strike termination devices), bonding conductors, ground terminals (ground or “earthing” rods, plates, or mesh), and all of the connectors and supports to complete the system. The air terminals are typically arranged at or along the upper points of a roof structure, and are electrically bonded together by bonding conductors (called “down conductors” or “downleads”), which are connected by the most direct route to one or more grounding or earthing terminals. Connections to the earth electrodes must not only have low resistance, but must have low self-inductance.

An example of a structure vulnerable to lightning is a wooden barn. When lightning strikes the barn, the wooden structure and its contents may be ignited by the heat generated by lightning current conducted through parts of the structure. A basic lightning protection system would provide a conductive path between an air terminal and earth, so that most of the lightning’s current will follow the path of the lightning protection system, with substantially less current traveling through flammable materials.

A controversy over the assortment of operation theories dates back to the 18th century, when Benjamin Franklin himself stated that his lightning protectors protected buildings by dissipating electric charge. He later retracted the statement, stating that the device’s exact mode of operation was something of a mystery at that point.  

Originally, scientists believed that such a lightning protection system of air terminals and “downleads” directed the current of the lightning down into the earth to be “dissipated”. However, high speed photography has clearly demonstrated that lightning is actually composed of both a cloud component and an oppositely charged ground component. During “cloud-to-ground” lightning, these oppositely charged components usually “meet” somewhere in the atmosphere well above the earth to equalize previously unbalanced charges. The heat generated as this electric current flows through flammable materials is the hazard which lightning protection systems attempt to mitigate by providing a low-resistance path for the lightning circuit. No lightning protection system can be relied upon to “contain” or “control” lightning completely (nor thus far, to prevent lightning strikes entirely), but they do seem to help immensely on most occasions of lightning strikes.

Steel framed structures can bond the structural members to earth to provide lightning protection. A metal flagpole with its foundation in the earth is its own extremely simple lightning protection system. However, the flag(s) flying from the pole during a lightning strike may be completely incinerated.

The majority of lightning protection systems in use today are of the traditional Franklin design. The fundamental principle used in Franklin-type lightning protections systems is to provide a sufficiently low impedance path for the lightning to travel through to reach ground without damaging the building. This is accomplished by surrounding the building in a kind of Faraday cage. A system of lightning protection conductors and lightning rods are installed on the roof of the building to intercept any lightning before it strikes the building.

Structure Protectors


Lightingrodplacement

Landscape suited for purpose of explanation: (1) Represents Lord Kelvin’s “reduced” area of the region; (2) Surface concentric with the Earth such that the quantities stored over it and under it are equal; (3) Building on a site of excessive electrostatic charge density; (4) Building on a site of low electrostatic charge density. (Image via U.S. Patent 1,266,175.)

Lightning arrester

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Lightning rod on a statue.

In telegraphy and telephony, a lightning arrester is a device placed where wires enter a structure, in order to prevent damage to electronic instruments within and ensuring the safety of individuals near the structures. Lightning arresters, also called surge protectors, are devices that are connected between each electrical conductor in a power or communications system, and the ground. They help prevent the flow of the normal power or signal currents to ground, but provide a path over which high-voltage lightning current flows, bypassing the connected equipment. Arresters are used to limit the rise in voltage when a communications or power line is struck by lightning or is near to a lightning strike.

Protection of electric distribution systems

In overhead electric transmission (high-tension) systems, one or two lighter gauge conductors may be mounted to the top of the pylons, poles, or towers not specifically used to send electricity through the grid. These conductors, often referred to “static”, “pilot” or “shield” wires are designed to be the point of lightning termination instead of the high-voltage lines themselves. These conductors are intended to protect the primary power conductors from lightning strikes.

These conductors are bonded to earth either through the metal structure of a pole or tower, or by additional ground electrodes installed at regular intervals along the line. As a general rule, overhead power lines with voltages below 50 kV do not have a “static” conductor, but most lines carrying more than 50 kV do. The ground conductor cable may also support fibre optic cables for data transmission.

In some instances, these conductors are insulated from direct bonding with earth and may be used as low voltage communication lines. If the voltage exceeds a certain threshold, such as during a lightning termination to the conductor, it “jumps” the insulators and passes to earth.

Protection of electrical substations is as varied as lightning rods themselves, and is often proprietary to the electric company.

Lightning protection of mast radiators

Radio mast radiators may be insulated from the ground by a gap at the base. When lightning hits the mast, it jumps this gap. A small inductivity in the feed line between the mast and the tuning unit (usually one winding) limits the voltage increase, protecting the transmitter from dangerously high voltages. The transmitter must be equipped with a device to monitor the antenna’s electrical properties. This is very important, as a charge could remain after a lightning strike, damaging the gap or the insulators. The monitoring device switches off the transmitter when the antenna shows incorrect behavior, e.g. as a result of undesired electrical charge. When the transmitter is switched off, these charges dissipate. The monitoring device makes several attempts to switch back on. If after several attempts the antenna continues to show improper behavior, possibly as result of structural damage, the transmitter remains switched off.

Lightning conductors and grounding precautions

Ideally, the underground part of the assembly should reside in an area of high ground conductivity. If the underground cable is able to resist corrosion well, it can be covered in salt to improve its electrical connection with the ground. While the electrical resistance of the lightning conductor between the air terminal and the Earth is of significant concern, the inductive reactance of the conductor could be more important. For this reason, the down conductor route is kept short, and any curves have a large radius. If these measures are not taken, lightning current may arc over a resistive or reactive obstruction that it encounters in the conductor. At the very least, the arc current will damage the lightning conductor and can easily find another conductive path, such as building wiring or plumbing, and cause fires or other disasters. Grounding systems without low resistivity to the ground can still be effective in protecting a structure from lightning damage. When ground soil has poor conductivity, is very shallow, or non-existent, a grounding system can be augmented by adding ground rods, counterpoise (ground ring) conductor, cable radials projecting away from the building, or a concrete building’s reinforcing bars can be used for a ground conductor (Ufer ground). These additions, while still not reducing the resistance of the system in some instances, will allow the [dispersion] of the lightning into the earth without damage to the structure.

Additional precautions must be taken to prevent side-flashes between conductive objects on or in the structure and the lightning protection system. The surge of lightning current through a lightning protection conductor will create a voltage difference between it and any conductive objects that are near it. This voltage difference can be large enough to cause a dangerous side-flash (spark) between the two that can cause significant damage, especially on structures housing flammable or explosive materials. The most effective way to prevent this potential damage is to ensure the electrical continuity between the lightning protection system and any objects susceptible to a side-flash. Effective bonding will allow the voltage potential of the two objects to rise and fall simultaneously, thereby eliminating any risk of a side-flash.

Lightning protection system design

Considerable material is used to make up lightning protection systems, so it is prudent to consider carefully where an air terminal will provide the greatest protection. Historical understanding of lightning, from statements made by Ben Franklin, assumed that each lightning rod protected a cone of 45 degrees. This has been found to be unsatisfactory for protecting taller structures, as it is possible for lightning to strike the side of a building.

A modeling system based on a better understanding of the termination targeting of lightning, called the Rolling Sphere Method, was developed by Dr Tibor Horváth. It has become the standard by which traditional Franklin Rod systems are installed. To understand this requires knowledge of how lightning ‘moves’. As the step leader of a lightning bolt jumps toward the ground, it steps toward the grounded objects nearest its path. The maximum distance that each step may travel is called the critical distance and is proportional to the electric current. Objects are likely to be struck if they are nearer to the leader than this critical distance. It is standard practice to approximate the sphere’s radius as 46 m near the ground.

An object outside the critical distance is unlikely to be struck by the leader if there is a solidly grounded object within the critical distance. Locations that are considered safe from lightning can be determined by imagining a leader’s potential paths as a sphere that travels from the cloud to the ground. For lightning protection, it suffices to consider all possible spheres as they touch potential strike points. To determine strike points, consider a sphere rolling over the terrain. At each point, a potential leader position is simulated. Lightning is most likely to strike where the sphere touches the ground. Points that the sphere cannot roll across and touch are safest from lightning. Lightning protectors should be placed where they will prevent the sphere from touching a structure. A weak point in most lightning diversion systems is in transporting the captured discharge from the lightning rod to the ground, though. Lightning rods are typically installed around the perimeter of flat roofs, or along the peaks of sloped roofs at intervals of 6.1 m or 7.6 m, depending on the height of the rod. When a flat roof has dimensions greater than 15 m by 15 m, additional air terminals will be installed in the middle of the roof at intervals of 15 m or less in a rectangular grid pattern.

Rounded versus pointed ends

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Pointed lightning rod on a building

The optimal shape for the tip of a lightning rod has been controversial since the 18th century. During the period of political confrontation between Britain and its American colonies, British scientists maintained that a lightning rod should have a ball on its end, while American scientists maintained that there should be a point. As of 2003, the controversy had not been completely resolved. It is difficult to resolve the controversy because proper controlled experiments are nearly impossible, but work performed by Charles B. Moore, et al., in 2000 has shed some light on the issue, finding that moderately rounded or blunt-tipped lightning rods act as marginally better strike receptors. As a result, round-tipped rods are installed on most new systems in the United States, though most existing systems still have pointed rods. According to the study,

[c]alculations of the relative strengths of the electric fields above similarly exposed sharp and blunt rods show that while the fields are much stronger at the tip of a sharp rod prior to any emissions, they decrease more rapidly with distance. As a result, at a few centimeters above the tip of a 20-mm-diameter blunt rod, the strength of the field is greater than over an otherwise similar, sharper rod of the same height. Since the field strength at the tip of a sharpened rod tends to be limited by the easy formation of ions in the surrounding air, the field strengths over blunt rods can be much stronger than those at distances greater than 1 cm over sharper ones.

The results of this study suggest that moderately blunt metal rods (with tip height to tip radius of curvature ratios of about 680:1) are better lightning strike receptors than sharper rods or very blunt ones.

In addition, the height of the lightning protector relative to the structure to be protected and the Earth itself will have an effect.

Charge Transfer theory

The Charge Transfer theory states that a lightning strike to a protected structure can be prevented by reducing the electrical potential between the protected structure and the thundercloud. This is done by transferring electric charge (such as from the nearby Earth to the sky or vice versa). Transferring electric charge from the Earth to the sky is done by installing engineered products composed of many points above the structure. It is noted that pointed objects will indeed transfer charge to the surrounding atmosphere and that a considerable electric current can be measured through the conductors as ionization occurs at the point when an electric field is present, such as happens when thunderclouds are overhead.

In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) does not currently[when?] endorse a device that can prevent or reduce lightning strikes. The NFPA Standards Council, following a request for a project to address Dissipation Array[tm] Systems and Charge Transfer Systems, denied the request to begin forming standards on such technology (though the Council did not foreclose on future standards development after reliable sources demonstrating the validity of the basic technology and science were submitted).

Early streamer emission (ESE) theory

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ESE lightning rod mounted at the Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas (Μονή του Αγίου Νικολάου), Meteora, Greece

The theory of early streamer emission proposes that if a lightning rod has a mechanism producing ionization near its tip, then its lightning capture area is greatly increased. At first, small quantities of radioactive isotopes (radium-226 or americium-241) were used as sources of ionization between 1930 and 1980, later replaced with various electrical and electronic devices. According to an early patent, since most lightning protectors’ ground potentials are elevated, the path distance from the source to the elevated ground point will be shorter, creating a stronger field (measured in volts per unit distance) and that structure will be more prone to ionization and breakdown.

AFNOR, the French national standardization body, issued a standard, NF C 17-102, covering this technology. The NFPA also investigated the subject and there was a proposal to issue a similar standard in the USA. Initially, an NFPA independent third party panel stated that “the [Early Streamer Emission] lightning protection technology appears to be technically sound” and that there was an “adequate theoretical basis for the [Early Streamer Emission] air terminal concept and design from a physical viewpoint”.) The same panel also concluded that “the recommended [NFPA 781 standard] lightning protection system has never been scientifically or technically validated and the Franklin rod air terminals have not been validated in field tests under thunderstorm conditions.”

In response, the American Geophysical Union concluded that “[t]he Bryan Panel reviewed essentially none of the studies and literature on the effectiveness and scientific basis of traditional lightning protection systems and was erroneous in its conclusion that there was no basis for the Standard.” AGU did not attempt to assess the effectiveness of any proposed modifications to traditional systems in its report. The NFPA withdrew its proposed draft edition of standard 781 due to a lack of evidence of increased effectiveness of Early Streamer Emission-based protection systems over conventional air terminals.

Members of the Scientific Committee of the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) have issued a joint statement stating their opposition to Early Streamer Emission technology. ICLP maintains a web page with information related to ESE and related technologies. Still, the number of buildings and structures equipped with ESE lightning protection systems is growing as well as the number of manufacturers of ESE air terminals from Europe, Americas, Middle East, Russia, China, South Korea, ASEAN countries, and Australia.

Analysis of Strikes


Lightning strikes to a metallic structure can vary from leaving no evidence, except perhaps, a small pit in the metal, to the complete destruction of the structure. When there is no evidence, analyzing the strikes is difficult. This means that a strike on an uninstrumented structure must be visually confirmed, and the random behavior of lightning renders such observations difficult. There are also inventors working on this problem, such as through a lightning rocket. While controlled experiments may be off in the future, very good data is being obtained through techniques which use radio receivers that watch for the characteristic electrical ‘signature’ of lightning strikes using fixed directional antennas. Through accurate timing and triangulation techniques, lightning strikes can be located with great precision, so strikes on specific objects often can be confirmed with confidence.

The energy in a lightning strike is typically in the range of 1 to 10 billion joules. This energy is released usually in a small number of separate strokes, each with duration of a few tens of microseconds (typically 30 to 50 microseconds), over a period of about one fifth of a second. The great majority of the energy is dissipated as heat, light and sound in the atmosphere.

Aircraft Protectors


Lightning protection for aircraft is provided by mounting devices on the aircraft structure. The protectors are provided with extensions through the structure of the aircraft’s outer surface and within a static discharger. Protection systems for use in aircraft must protect critical and non-critical electronic equipment. Aircraft lightning protection provides an electrical path having a plurality of conductive segments, continuous or discontinuous, that upon exposure to a high voltage field form an ionization channel due to the system’s breakdown voltage. Various lightning protection systems must reject the surge currents associated with the lightning strikes. Lightning protection means for aircraft include components which are dielectrics and metallic layers applied to the ordinarily lightning-accessible surfaces of composite structures. Various ground connection means to the layers comprises a section of wire mesh fusing the various layers to an attachment connecting the structure to an adjacent ground structure. Composite-to-metal or composite-to-composite structural joints are protected by making the interface areas conductive for transfer of lightning current.

Some aircraft lightning protection systems use a shielded cable system. These systems consist of one or more conductors enclosed by a conductive shield. The cable has both conductors of one end connected to a grounding element. This is intended to provide protection from electromagnetic interference. Such systems reduce the electromagnetically induced voltage in a shielded conductor. This is intended to provide protection against induced electromagnetic interference from lightning. This network provides a normally-high impedance which breaks down to a very low impedance in response to a momentary voltage surge electromagnetically induced in the shield. This establishes a conductive path between the shield and ground. Any surge voltage from lightning creates a current through the cable. This results in an electromagnetic field of the opposite direction, which cancels or reduces the magnitude of the electromagnetic field within the shielded cable.

Watercraft Protectors


A lightning protection installation on a watercraft comprises a lightning protector mounted on the top of a mast or superstructure, and a grounding conductor in contact with the water. Electrical conductors attach to the protector and run down to the conductor. For a vessel with a conducting (iron or steel) hull, the grounding conductor is the hull. For a vessel with a non-conducting hull, the grounding conductor may be retractable, attached to the hull, or attached to a centerboard.

Risk Assessment


Some structures are inherently more or less at risk of being struck by lightning. The risk for a structure is a function of the size (area) of a structure, the height, and the number of lightning strikes per year per mi² for the region. For example, a small building will be less likely to be struck than a large one, and a building in an area with a high density of lightning strikes will be more likely to be struck than one in an area with a low density of lightning strikes. The National Fire Protection Association provides a risk assessment worksheet in their lightning protection standard.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) lightning risk-assessment comprises four parts: loss of living beings, loss of service to public, loss of cultural heritage, and loss of economic value. Loss of living beings is rated as the most important and is the only loss taken into consideration for many nonessential industrial and commercial applications.

Standards


Several lightning protection masts can be seen in the background of this photo of a rocket launch site.

The introduction of lightning protection systems into standards allowed various manufactures to develop protector systems to a multitude of specifications. There are multiple international, national, corporate and military lightning protection standards.

  • NFPA-780: “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems” (2014)
  • M440.1-1, Electrical Storms and Lightning Protection, Department of Energy
  • AFI 32-1065 – Grounding Systems, U. S. Air Force Space Command
  • FAA STD 019e, Lightning and Surge Protection, Grounding, Bonding and Shielding Requirements for Facilities and Electronic Equipment
  • UL standards for lightning protection
    • UL 96: “Standard of Lightning Protection Components” (5th Edition, 2005)
    • UL 96A: “Standard for Installation Requirements for Lightning Protection Systems” (Twelfth Edition, 2007)
    • UL 1449: “Standard for Surge Protective Devices” (Fourth Edition, 2014)
  • IEC standards
    • EN 61000-4-5/IEC 61000-4-5: “Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 4-5: Testing and measurement techniques – Surge immunity test”
    • EN 62305/IEC 62305: “Protection against lightning”
    • EN 62561/IEC 62561: “Lightning Protection System Components (LPSC)”
  • ITU-T K Series recommendations: “Protection against interference”
  • IEEE standards for grounding
    • IEEE SA-142-2007: “IEEE Recommended Practice for Grounding of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems.” (2007)
    • IEEE SA-1100-2005: “IEEE Recommended Practice for Powering and Grounding Electronic Equipment” (2005)
  • AFNOR NF C 17-102: “Lightning protection – Protection of structures and open areas against lightning using early streamer emission air terminals” (1995)

Michael Faraday

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Michael Faraday FRS (/ˈfæ.rəˌdeɪ/; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

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Although Faraday received little formal education, he was one of the most influential scientists in history. It was by his research on the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a direct current that Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principles of electromagnetic induction and diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology.

As a chemist, Faraday discovered benzene, investigated the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, invented an early form of the Bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularised terminology such as “anode”, “cathode”, “electrode” and “ion”. Faraday ultimately became the first and foremost Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution, a lifetime position.

Faraday was an excellent experimentalist who conveyed his ideas in clear and simple language; his mathematical abilities, however, did not extend as far as trigonometry and were limited to the simplest algebra. James Clerk Maxwell took the work of Faraday and others and summarized it in a set of equations which is accepted as the basis of all modern theories of electromagnetic phenomena. On Faraday’s uses of lines of force, Maxwell wrote that they show Faraday “to have been in reality a mathematician of a very high order – one from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive valuable and fertile methods.” The SI unit of capacitance is named in his honour: the farad.

Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on his study wall, alongside pictures of Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell. Physicist Ernest Rutherford stated, “When we consider the magnitude and extent of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and of industry, there is no honour too great to pay to the memory of Faraday, one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.”

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Faraday’s Laboratory at the Royal Institution (1870 engraving)

Personal Life


Early Life

“How fortunate for civilization, that Beethoven, Michelangelo, Galileo and Faraday were not required by law to attend schools where their total personalities would have been operated upon to make them learn acceptable ways of participating as members of “the group.”

—Joel H. Hildebrand’s Education for Creativity in the Sciences speech at New York University, 1963.

Michael Faraday was born on 22 September 1791 in Newington Butts, which is now part of the London Borough of Southwark but was then a suburban part of Surrey. His family was not well off. His father, James, was a member of the Glassite sect of Christianity. James Faraday moved his wife and two children to London during the winter of 1790 from Outhgill in Westmorland, where he had been an apprentice to the village blacksmith. Michael was born in the autumn of that year. The young Michael Faraday, who was the third of four children, having only the most basic school education, had to educate himself.

At the age of 14 he became an apprentice to George Riebau, a local bookbinder and bookseller in Blandford Street. During his seven-year apprenticeship Faraday read many books, including Isaac Watts’s The Improvement of the Mind, and he enthusiastically implemented the principles and suggestions contained therein. He also developed an interest in science, especially in electricity. Faraday was particularly inspired by the book Conversations on Chemistry by Jane Marcet.

Adult Life

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Portrait of Faraday in his late thirties, ca. 1826

In 1812, at the age of 20 and at the end of his apprenticeship, Faraday attended lectures by the eminent English chemist Humphry Davy of the Royal Institution and the Royal Society, and John Tatum, founder of the City Philosophical Society. Many of the tickets for these lectures were given to Faraday by William Dance, who was one of the founders of the Royal Philharmonic Society. Faraday subsequently sent Davy a 300-page book based on notes that he had taken during these lectures. Davy’s reply was immediate, kind, and favourable. In 1813, when Davy damaged his eyesight in an accident with nitrogen trichloride, he decided to employ Faraday as an assistant. Coincidentally one of the Royal Institution’s assistants, John Payne, was sacked and Sir Humphry Davy had been asked to find a replacement; thus he appointed Faraday as Chemical Assistant at the Royal Institution on 1 March 1813. Very soon Davy entrusted Faraday with the preparation of nitrogen trichloride samples, and they both were injured in an explosion of this very sensitive substance.

Faraday-Millikan-Gale-1913

Michael Faraday, ca. 1861, aged about 70.

In the class-based English society of the time, Faraday was not considered a gentleman. When Davy set out on a long tour of the continent in 1813–15, his valet did not wish to go, so instead, Faraday went as Davy’s scientific assistant and was asked to act as Davy’s valet until a replacement could be found in Paris. Faraday was forced to fill the role of valet as well as assistant throughout the trip. Davy’s wife, Jane Apreece, refused to treat Faraday as an equal (making him travel outside the coach, eat with the servants, etc.), and made Faraday so miserable that he contemplated returning to England alone and giving up science altogether. The trip did, however, give him access to the scientific elite of Europe and exposed him to a host of stimulating ideas.

Faraday married Sarah Barnard (1800–1879) on 12 June 1821. They met through their families at the Sandemanian church, and he confessed his faith to the Sandemanian congregation the month after they were married. They had no children.

Faraday was a devout Christian; his Sandemanian denomination was an offshoot of the Church of Scotland. Well after his marriage, he served as deacon and for two terms as an elder in the meeting house of his youth. His church was located at Paul’s Alley in the Barbican. This meeting house relocated in 1862 to Barnsbury Grove, Islington; this North London location was where Faraday served the final two years of his second term as elder prior to his resignation from that post. Biographers have noted that “a strong sense of the unity of God and nature pervaded Faraday’s life and work.”

Later Life

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Three Fellows of the Royal Society offering the presidency to Faraday, 1857

In June 1832, the University of Oxford granted Faraday a Doctor of Civil Law degree (honorary). During his lifetime, he was offered a knighthood in recognition for his services to science, which he turned down on religious grounds, believing that it was against the word of the Bible to accumulate riches and pursue worldly reward, and stating that he preferred to remain “plain Mr Faraday to the end”. Elected a member of the Royal Society in 1824, he twice refused to become President. He became the first Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution in 1833.

In 1832, Faraday was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1838, and was one of eight foreign members elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1844. In 1849 he was elected as associated member to the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, which two years later became the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and he was subsequently made foreign member.

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Michael Faraday’s grave at Highgate Cemetery, London

Faraday suffered a nervous breakdown in 1839 but eventually returned to his investigations into electromagnetism. In 1848, as a result of representations by the Prince Consort, Faraday was awarded a grace and favour house in Hampton Court in Middlesex, free of all expenses and upkeep. This was the Master Mason’s House, later called Faraday House, and now No. 37 Hampton Court Road. In 1858 Faraday retired to live there.

Having provided a number of various service projects for the British government, when asked by the government to advise on the production of chemical weapons for use in the Crimean War (1853–1856), Faraday refused to participate citing ethical reasons.

Faraday died at his house at Hampton Court on 25 August 1867, aged 75. He had some years before turned down an offer of burial in Westminster Abbey upon his death, but he has a memorial plaque there, near Isaac Newton’s tomb. Faraday was interred in the dissenters’ (non-Anglican) section of Highgate Cemetery.

Scientific Achievements


Chemistry

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Equipment used by Faraday to make glass on display at the Royal Institution in London

Faraday’s earliest chemical work was as an assistant to Humphry Davy. Faraday was specifically involved in the study of chlorine; he discovered two new compounds of chlorine and carbon. He also conducted the first rough experiments on the diffusion of gases, a phenomenon that was first pointed out by John Dalton. The physical importance of this phenomenon was more fully revealed by Thomas Graham and Joseph Loschmidt. Faraday succeeded in liquefying several gases, investigated the alloys of steel, and produced several new kinds of glass intended for optical purposes. A specimen of one of these heavy glasses subsequently became historically important; when the glass was placed in a magnetic field Faraday determined the rotation of the plane of polarisation of light. This specimen was also the first substance found to be repelled by the poles of a magnet.

Faraday invented an early form of what was to become the Bunsen burner, which is in practical use in science laboratories around the world as a convenient source of heat. Faraday worked extensively in the field of chemistry, discovering chemical substances such as benzene (which he called bicarburet of hydrogen) and liquefying gases such as chlorine. The liquefying of gases helped to establish that gases are the vapours of liquids possessing a very low boiling point and gave a more solid basis to the concept of molecular aggregation. In 1820 Faraday reported the first synthesis of compounds made from carbon and chlorine, C2Cl6 and C2Cl4, and published his results the following year. Faraday also determined the composition of the chlorine clathrate hydrate, which had been discovered by Humphry Davy in 1810. Faraday is also responsible for discovering the laws of electrolysis, and for popularizing terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion, terms proposed in large part by William Whewell.

Faraday was the first to report what later came to be called metallic nanoparticles. In 1847 he discovered that the optical properties of gold colloids differed from those of the corresponding bulk metal. This was probably the first reported observation of the effects of quantum size, and might be considered to be the birth of nanoscience.

Electricity and Magnetism

Faraday is best known for his work regarding electricity and magnetism. His first recorded experiment was the construction of a voltaic pile with seven ha’penny coins, stacked together with seven disks of sheet zinc, and six pieces of paper moistened with salt water. With this pile he decomposed sulfate of magnesia (first letter to Abbott, 12 July 1812).

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Electromagnetic rotation experiment of Faraday, ca. 1821

In 1821, soon after the Danish physicist and chemist Hans Christian Ørsted discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetism, Davy and British scientist William Hyde Wollaston tried, but failed, to design an electric motor. Faraday, having discussed the problem with the two men, went on to build two devices to produce what he called “electromagnetic rotation”. One of these, now known as the homopolar motor, caused a continuous circular motion that was engendered by the circular magnetic force around a wire that extended into a pool of mercury wherein was placed a magnet; the wire would then rotate around the magnet if supplied with current from a chemical battery. These experiments and inventions formed the foundation of modern electromagnetic technology. In his excitement, Faraday published results without acknowledging his work with either Wollaston or Davy. The resulting controversy within the Royal Society strained his mentor relationship with Davy and may well have contributed to Faraday’s assignment to other activities, which consequently prevented his involvement in electromagnetic research for several years.

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One of Faraday’s 1831 experiments demonstrating induction. The liquid battery (right) sends an electric current through the small coil (A). When it is moved in or out of the large coil (B), its magnetic field induces a momentary voltage in the coil, which is detected by the galvanometer (G).

From his initial discovery in 1821, Faraday continued his laboratory work, exploring electromagnetic properties of materials and developing requisite experience. In 1824, Faraday briefly set up a circuit to study whether a magnetic field could regulate the flow of a current in an adjacent wire, but he found no such relationship. This experiment followed similar work conducted with light and magnets three years earlier that yielded identical results. During the next seven years, Faraday spent much of his time perfecting his recipe for optical quality (heavy) glass, borosilicate of lead, which he used in his future studies connecting light with magnetism. In his spare time, Faraday continued publishing his experimental work on optics and electromagnetism; he conducted correspondence with scientists whom he had met on his journeys across Europe with Davy, and who were also working on electromagnetism. Two years after the death of Davy, in 1831, he began his great series of experiments in which he discovered electromagnetic induction, recording in his laboratory diary on 28 October 1831 he was; “making many experiments with the great magnet of the Royal Society”.

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A diagram of Faraday’s iron ring-coil apparatus

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Built in 1831, the Faraday disk was the first electric generator. The horseshoe-shaped magnet (A) created a magnetic field through the disk (D). When the disk was turned, this induced an electric current radially outward from the center toward the rim. The current flowed out through the sliding spring contact m, through the external circuit, and back into the center of the disk through the axle.

Faraday’s breakthrough came when he wrapped two insulated coils of wire around an iron ring, and found that upon passing a current through one coil a momentary current was induced in the other coil. This phenomenon is now known as mutual induction. The iron ring-coil apparatus is still on display at the Royal Institution. In subsequent experiments, he found that if he moved a magnet through a loop of wire an electric current flowed in that wire. The current also flowed if the loop was moved over a stationary magnet. His demonstrations established that a changing magnetic field produces an electric field; this relation was modelled mathematically by James Clerk Maxwell as Faraday’s law, which subsequently became one of the four Maxwell equations, and which have in turn evolved into the generalization known today as field theory. Faraday would later use the principles he had discovered to construct the electric dynamo, the ancestor of modern power generators and the electric motor.

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Faraday (right) and John Daniell (left), founders of electrochemistry.

In 1832, he completed a series of experiments aimed at investigating the fundamental nature of electricity; Faraday used “static”, batteries, and “animal electricity” to produce the phenomena of electrostatic attraction, electrolysis, magnetism, etc. He concluded that, contrary to the scientific opinion of the time, the divisions between the various “kinds” of electricity were illusory. Faraday instead proposed that only a single “electricity” exists, and the changing values of quantity and intensity (current and voltage) would produce different groups of phenomena.

Near the end of his career, Faraday proposed that electromagnetic forces extended into the empty space around the conductor. This idea was rejected by his fellow scientists, and Faraday did not live to see the eventual acceptance of his proposition by the scientific community. Faraday’s concept of lines of flux emanating from charged bodies and magnets provided a way to visualize electric and magnetic fields; that conceptual model was crucial for the successful development of the electromechanical devices that dominated engineering and industry for the remainder of the 19th century.

Diamagnetism

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Faraday holding a type of glass bar he used in 1845 to show magnetism affects light in dielectric material.

In 1845, Faraday discovered that many materials exhibit a weak repulsion from a magnetic field: a phenomenon he termed diamagnetism.

Faraday also discovered that the plane of polarization of linearly polarized light can be rotated by the application of an external magnetic field aligned with the direction in which the light is moving. This is now termed the Faraday effect. In Sept 1845 he wrote in his notebook, “I have at last succeeded in illuminating a magnetic curve or line of force and in magnetising a ray of light”.

Later on in his life, in 1862, Faraday used a spectroscope to search for a different alteration of light, the change of spectral lines by an applied magnetic field. The equipment available to him was, however, insufficient for a definite determination of spectral change. Pieter Zeeman later used an improved apparatus to study the same phenomenon, publishing his results in 1897 and receiving the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics for his success. In both his 1897 paper and his Nobel acceptance speech, Zeeman made reference to Faraday’s work.

Faraday Cage

In his work on static electricity, Faraday’s ice pail experiment demonstrated that the charge resided only on the exterior of a charged conductor, and exterior charge had no influence on anything enclosed within a conductor. This is because the exterior charges redistribute such that the interior fields emanating from them cancel one another. This shielding effect is used in what is now known as a Faraday cage.

Royal Institution and Public Service


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Michael Faraday meets Father Thames, from Punch (21 July 1855)

Faraday had a long association with the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He was appointed Assistant Superintendent of the House of the Royal Institution in 1821. He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1824. In 1825, he became Director of the Laboratory of the Royal Institution. Six years later, in 1833, Faraday became the first Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a position to which he was appointed for life without the obligation to deliver lectures. His sponsor and mentor was John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, who created the position at the Royal Institution for Faraday.

Beyond his scientific research into areas such as chemistry, electricity, and magnetism at the Royal Institution, Faraday undertook numerous, and often time-consuming, service projects for private enterprise and the British government. This work included investigations of explosions in coal mines, being an expert witness in court, and along with two engineers from Chance Brothers c.1853, the preparation of high-quality optical glass, which was required by Chance for its lighthouses. In 1846, together with Charles Lyell, he produced a lengthy and detailed report on a serious explosion in the colliery at Haswell County Durham, which killed 95 miners. Their report was a meticulous forensic investigation and indicated that coal dust contributed to the severity of the explosion. The report should have warned coal owners of the hazard of coal dust explosions, but the risk was ignored for over 60 years until the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster of 1913.

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Lighthouse lantern room from mid-1800s

As a respected scientist in a nation with strong maritime interests, Faraday spent extensive amounts of time on projects such as the construction and operation of light houses and protecting the bottoms of ships from corrosion. His workshop still stands at Trinity Buoy Wharf above the Chain and Buoy Store, next to London’s only lighthouse where he carried out the first experiments in electric lighting for lighthouses.

Faraday was also active in what would now be called environmental science, or engineering. He investigated industrial pollution at Swansea and was consulted on air pollution at the Royal Mint. In July 1855, Faraday wrote a letter to The Times on the subject of the foul condition of the River Thames, which resulted in an often-reprinted cartoon in Punch. (See also The Great Stink).

Faraday assisted with the planning and judging of exhibits for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. He also advised the National Gallery on the cleaning and protection of its art collection, and served on the National Gallery Site Commission in 1857.

Education was another of Faraday’s areas of service; he lectured on the topic in 1854 at the Royal Institution, and in 1862 he appeared before a Public Schools Commission to give his views on education in Great Britain. Faraday also weighed in negatively on the public’s fascination with table-turning, mesmerism, and seances, and in so doing chastised both the public and the nation’s educational system.

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Michael Faraday delivering a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institution in 1856.

Before his famous Christmas lectures, Faraday delivered chemistry lectures for the City Philosophical Society from 1816 to 1818 in order to refine the quality of his lectures. Between 1827 and 1860 at the Royal Institution in London, Faraday gave a series of nineteen Christmas lectures for young people, a series which continues today. The objective of Faraday’s Christmas lectures was to present science to the general public in the hopes of inspiring them and generating revenue for the Royal Institution. They were notable events on the social calendar among London’s gentry. Over the course of several letters to his close friend Benjamin Abbott, Faraday outlined his recommendations on the art of lecturing: Faraday wrote “a flame should be lighted at the commencement and kept alive with unremitting splendour to the end”.His lectures were joyful and juvenile, he delighted in filling soap bubbles with various gasses (in order to determine whether or not they are magnetic) in front of his audiences and marveled at the rich colors of polarized lights, but the lectures were also deeply philosophical. In his lectures he urged his audiences to consider the mechanics of his experiments: “you know very well that ice floats upon water … Why does the ice float? Think of that, and philosophise”. His subjects consisted of Chemistry and Electricity, and included: 1841 The Rudiments of Chemistry, 1843 First Principles of Electricity, 1848 The Chemical History of a Candle, 1851 Attractive Forces, 1853 Voltaic Electricity, 1854 The Chemistry of Combustion, 1855 The Distinctive Properties of the Common Metals, 1857 Static Electricity, 1858 The Metallic Properties, 1859 The Various Forces of Matter and their Relations to Each Other.

Commemorations


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Michael Faraday statue in Savoy Place, London. Sculptor John Henry Foley RA.

A statue of Faraday stands in Savoy Place, London, outside the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Also in London, the Michael Faraday Memorial, designed by brutalist architect Rodney Gordon and completed in 1961, is at the Elephant & Castle gyratory system, near Faraday’s birthplace at Newington Butts. Faraday School is located on Trinity Buoy Wharf where his workshop still stands above the Chain and Buoy Store, next to London’s only lighthouse.

Faraday Gardens is a small park in Walworth, London, not far from his birthplace at Newington Butts. This park lies within the local council ward of Faraday in the London Borough of Southwark. Michael Faraday Primary school is situated on the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth.

A building at London South Bank University, which houses the institute’s electrical engineering departments is named the Faraday Wing, due to its proximity to Faraday’s birthplace in Newington Butts. A hall at Loughborough University was named after Faraday in 1960. Near the entrance to its dining hall is a bronze casting, which depicts the symbol of an electrical transformer, and inside there hangs a portrait, both in Faraday’s honour. An eight-story building at the University of Edinburgh’s science & engineering campus is named for Faraday, as is a recently built hall of accommodation at Brunel University, the main engineering building at Swansea University, and the instructional and experimental physics building at Northern Illinois University. The former UK Faraday Station in Antarctica was named after him.

“Without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur and no Lister.”

—Albert Einstein’s speech on intellectual freedom at the Royal Albert Hall, London after having fled Nazi Germany, 3 October 1933.

Streets named for Faraday can be found in many British cities (e.g., London, Fife, Swindon, Basingstoke, Nottingham, Whitby, Kirkby, Crawley, Newbury, Swansea, Aylesbury and Stevenage) as well as in France (Paris), Germany (Berlin-Dahlem, Hermsdorf), Canada (Quebec; Deep River, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario), and the United States (Reston, Virginia).

A Royal Society of Arts blue plaque, unveiled in 1876, commemorates Faraday at 48 Blandford Street in London’s Marylebone district. From 1991 until 2001, Faraday’s picture featured on the reverse of Series E £20 banknotes issued by the Bank of England. He was portrayed conducting a lecture at the Royal Institution with the magneto-electric spark apparatus. In 2002, Faraday was ranked number 22 in the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote.

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion derives its name from the scientist, who saw his faith as integral to his scientific research. The logo of the Institute is also based on Faraday’s discoveries. It was created in 2006 by a $2,000,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to carry out academic research, to foster understanding of the interaction between science and religion, and to engage public understanding in both these subject areas.

Faraday’s life and contributions to electromagnetics was the principal topic of the tenth episode, titled “The Electric Boy”, of the 2014 American science documentary series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which was broadcast on Fox and the National Geographic Channel.

Faraday Prizes & Medals


In honor and remembrance of his great scientific contributions, several institutions have created prizes and awards in his name. This include:

  • The IET Faraday Medal
  • The Royal Society of London Michael Faraday Prize
  • The Institute of Physics Faraday Medal and Prize
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry Faraday Lectureship Prize

Gallery


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Michael Faraday in his laboratory, ca. 1850s.

 

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Michael Faraday’s study at the Royal Institution.

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Michael Faraday’s flat at the Royal Institution.

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Artist Harriet Jane Moore who documented Faraday’s life in watercolours.

Bibliography


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Chemische Manipulation, 1828

Faraday’s books, with the exception of Chemical Manipulation, were collections of scientific papers or transcriptions of lectures. Since his death, Faraday’s diary has been published, as have several large volumes of his letters and Faraday’s journal from his travels with Davy in 1813–1815.

  • Faraday, Michael (1827). Chemical Manipulation, Being Instructions to Students in Chemistry. John Murray. 2nd ed. 1830, 3rd ed. 1842
  • Faraday, Michael (1839). Experimental Researches in Electricity, vols. i. and ii. Richard and John Edward Taylor.; vol. iii. Richard Taylor and William Francis, 1855
  • Faraday, Michael (1859). Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 0-85066-841-7.
  • Faraday, Michael (1861). W. Crookes, ed. A Course of Six Lectures on the Chemical History of a Candle. Griffin, Bohn & Co. ISBN 1-4255-1974-1.
  • Faraday, Michael (1873). W. Crookes, ed. On the Various Forces in Nature. Chatto and Windus.
  • Faraday, Michael (1932–1936). T. Martin, ed. Diary. ISBN 0-7135-0439-0. – published in eight volumes; see also the 2009 publication of Faraday’s diary
  • Faraday, Michael (1991). B. Bowers and L. Symons, ed. Curiosity Perfectly Satisfyed: Faraday’s Travels in Europe 1813–1815. Institution of Electrical Engineers.
  • Faraday, Michael (1991). F. A. J. L. James, ed. The Correspondence of Michael Faraday. 1. INSPEC, Inc. ISBN 0-86341-248-3. – volume 2, 1993; volume 3, 1996; volume 4, 1999
  • Faraday, Michael (2008). Alice Jenkins, ed. Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises: An Artisan Essay Circle in Regency London. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press.
  • Course of six lectures on the various forces of matter, and their relations to each other London; Glasgow: R. Griffin, 1860.
  • The Liquefaction of Gases, Edinburgh: W. F. Clay, 1896.
  • The letters of Faraday and Schoenbein 1836–1862. With notes, comments and references to contemporary letters London: Williams & Norgate 1899. (Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf)

Albert Einstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

albert-einstein (3)

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Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). Einstein’s work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. Einstein is best known by the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”). He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”, a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory.

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Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led him to develop his special theory of relativity during his time at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern (1902–1909), Switzerland. However, he realized that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields and—with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916—he published a paper on general relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the large-scale structure of the universe.

Between 1895 and 1914, he lived in Switzerland (except for one year in Prague, 1911–12), where he received his academic diploma from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zürich (later the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH) in 1900. He later taught there at the same institute as a professor of theoretical physics between 1912 and 1914 before he left for Berlin. In 1901, after being stateless for more than five years, Einstein acquired Swiss citizenship, which he kept for the rest of his life. In 1905, Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich. The same year, his annus mirabilis (miracle year), he published four groundbreaking papers, which were to bring him to the notice of the academic world, at the age of 26.

He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and—being Jewish—did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type” and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research. This eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported defending the Allied forces, but generally denounced the idea of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.

Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius”.

Life and Career


Early life and Education

A young boy with short hair and a round face, wearing a white collar and large bow, with vest, coat, skirt and high boots. He is leaning against an ornate chair.

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Einstein at the age of 3 in 1882

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Albert Einstein in 1893 (age 14)

Einstein’s matriculation certificate at the age of 17. The heading reads “The Education Committee of the Canton of Aargau”. His scores were German 5, French 3, Italian 5, History 6, Geography 4, Algebra 6, Geometry 6, Descriptive Geometry 6, Physics 6, Chemistry 5, Natural History 5, Art Drawing 4, Technical Drawing 4. The scores are 6 = excellent, 5 = good, 4 = sufficient, 3 = poor, 2 = very poor, 1 = unusable.

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Einstein’s matriculation certificate at the age of 17, showing his final grades from the Argovian cantonal school (Aargauische Kantonsschule, on a scale of 1–6, with 6 being the highest possible mark)

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire, on 14 March 1879. His parents were Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer, and Pauline Koch. In 1880, the family moved to Munich, where Einstein’s father and his uncle Jakob founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current.

The Einsteins were non-observant Ashkenazi Jews and Albert attended a Catholic elementary school in Munich, from the age of 5, for three years. At the age of 8, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium (now known as the Albert Einstein Gymnasium), where he received advanced primary and secondary school education until he left the German Empire seven years later.

In 1894, Hermann and Jakob’s company lost a bid to supply the city of Munich with electrical lighting because they lacked the capital to convert their equipment from the direct current (DC) standard to the more efficient alternating current (AC) standard. The loss forced the sale of the Munich factory. In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and a few months later to Pavia. When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium. His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school’s regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought was lost in strict rote learning. At the end of December 1894, he travelled to Italy to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor’s note. During his time in Italy he wrote a short essay with the title “On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field”.

Contrary to popular belief, Einstein never failed math. He had learned integral and differential calculus on his own before he was 15 years old.

In 1895, at the age of 16, Einstein took the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zürich (later the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH). He failed to reach the required standard in the general part of the examination, but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics. On the advice of the principal of the Polytechnic, he attended the Argovian cantonal school (gymnasium) in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1895–96 to complete his secondary schooling. While lodging with the family of professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with Winteler’s daughter, Marie. (Albert’s sister Maja later married Winteler’s son Paul.) In January 1896, with his father’s approval, Einstein renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service. In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades, including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1–6. At 17, he enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the Zürich Polytechnic. Marie Winteler, who was a year older, moved to Olsberg, Switzerland, for a teaching post.

Einstein’s future wife, Mileva Marić, also enrolled at the Polytechnic that year. She was the only woman among the six students in the mathematics and physics section of the teaching diploma course. Over the next few years, Einstein and Marić’s friendship developed into romance, and they read books together on extra-curricular physics in which Einstein was taking an increasing interest. In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zürich Polytechnic teaching diploma, but Marić failed the examination with a poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions.There have been claims that Marić collaborated with Einstein on his 1905 papers, known as the Annus Mirabilis papers, but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.

Marriages and children

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Albert Einstein in 1904 (age 25)

The discovery and publication in 1987 of an early correspondence between Einstein and Marić revealed that they had had a daughter, called “Lieserl” in their letters, born in early 1902 in Novi Sad where Marić was staying with her parents. Marić returned to Switzerland without the child, whose real name and fate are unknown. Einstein probably never saw his daughter. The contents of his letter to Marić in September 1903 suggest that the girl was either given up for adoption or died of scarlet fever in infancy.

Einstein, looking relaxed and holding a pipe, stands next to a smiling, well-dressed Elsa who is wearing a fancy hat and fur wrap. She is looking at him.

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Einstein with his wife Elsa, 1921

Einstein and Marić married in January 1903. In May 1904, their first son, Hans Albert Einstein, was born in Bern, Switzerland. Their second son, Eduard, was born in Zürich in July 1910. In April 1914 they moved to Berlin. After a few months his wife returned to Zürich with their sons, after learning that Einstein’s chief romantic attraction was his first and second cousin Elsa. They divorced on 14 February 1919, having lived apart for five years. Eduard, whom his father called “Tete” (for petit), had a breakdown at about age 20 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mother cared for him and he was also committed to asylums for several periods, finally being committed permanently after her death.

In letters revealed in 2015, Einstein wrote to his early love, Marie Winteler, about his marriage and his still-strong feelings for Marie. In 1910 he wrote to her that “I think of you in heartfelt love every spare minute and am so unhappy as only a man can be” while his wife was pregnant with their second child. Einstein spoke about a “misguided love” and a “missed life” regarding his love for Marie.

Einstein married Elsa Löwenthal in 1919, after having had a personal relationship with her since 1912. She was a first cousin maternally and a second cousin paternally. In 1933, they emigrated to the United States. In 1935, Elsa Einstein was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems; she died in December 1936.

Friends

Among Einstein’s well-known friends were Michele Besso, Paul Ehrenfest, Marcel Grossmann, János Plesch, Maurice Solovine, and Stephen Wise.

Patent office

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Olympia Academy founders: Conrad Habicht, Maurice Solovine and Einstein.

After graduating in 1900, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post. He acquired Swiss citizenship in February 1901, but was not conscripted for medical reasons. With the help of Marcel Grossmann’s father, he secured a job in Bern at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant examiner – level III.

Einstein evaluated patent applications for a variety of devices including a gravel sorter and an electromechanical typewriter. In 1903, his position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he “fully mastered machine technology”.

Much of his work at the patent office related to questions about transmission of electric signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization of time, two technical problems that show up conspicuously in the thought experiments that eventually led Einstein to his radical conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time.

With a few friends he had met in Bern, Einstein started a small discussion group in 1902, self-mockingly named “The Olympia Academy”, which met regularly to discuss science and philosophy. Their readings included the works of Henri Poincaré, Ernst Mach, and David Hume, which influenced his scientific and philosophical outlook.

First scientific papers

Einstein’s official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics

In 1900, Einstein’s paper “Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen” (“Conclusions from the Capillarity Phenomena”) was published in the journal Annalen der Physik. On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor. As a result, Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich, with his dissertation “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions”.

In that same year, which has been called Einstein’s annus mirabilis (miracle year), he published four groundbreaking papers, on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of mass and energy, which were to bring him to the notice of the academic world, at the age of 26.

Academic career

By 1908, he was recognized as a leading scientist and was appointed lecturer at the University of Bern. The following year, after giving a lecture on electrodynamics and the relativity principle at the University of Zürich, Alfred Kleiner recommended him to the faculty for a newly created professorship in theoretical physics. Einstein was appointed associate professor in 1909.

Einstein became a full professor at the German Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague in April 1911, accepting Austrian citizenship in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to do so. During his Prague stay, he wrote 11 scientific works, five of them on radiation mathematics and on the quantum theory of solids. In July 1912, he returned to his alma mater in Zürich. From 1912 until 1914, he was professor of theoretical physics at the ETH Zurich, where he taught analytical mechanics and thermodynamics. He also studied continuum mechanics, the molecular theory of heat, and the problem of gravitation, on which he worked with mathematician and friend Marcel Grossmann.

On 3 July 1913, he was voted for membership in the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Max Planck and Walther Nernst visited him the next week in Zurich to persuade him to join the academy, additionally offering him the post of director at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which was soon to be established. (Membership in the academy included paid salary and professorship without teaching duties at the Humboldt University of Berlin.) He was officially elected to the academy on 24 July, and he accepted to move to the German Empire the next year. His decision to move to Berlin was also influenced by the prospect of living near his cousin Elsa, with whom he had developed a romantic affair. He joined the academy and thus the Berlin University on 1 April 1914. As World War I broke out that year, the plan for Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics was aborted. The institute was established on 1 October 1917, with Einstein as its Director. In 1916, Einstein was elected president of the German Physical Society (1916–1918).

Based on calculations Einstein made in 1911, about his new theory of general relativity, light from another star should be bent by the Sun’s gravity. In 1919, that prediction was confirmed by Sir Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919. Those observations were published in the international media, making Einstein world famous. On 7 November 1919, the leading British newspaper The Times printed a banner headline that read: “Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown”.

In 1920, he became a Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1922, he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. While the general theory of relativity was still considered somewhat controversial, the citation also does not treat the cited work as an explanation but merely as a discovery of the law, as the idea of photons was considered outlandish and did not receive universal acceptance until the 1924 derivation of the Planck spectrum by S. N. Bose. Einstein was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1921. He also received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1925.

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Einstein’s official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics

1921–1922: Travels abroad

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Albert Einstein at a session of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (League of Nations) of which he was a member from 1922 to 1932.

Einstein visited New York City for the first time on 2 April 1921, where he received an official welcome by Mayor John Francis Hylan, followed by three weeks of lectures and receptions. He went on to deliver several lectures at Columbia University and Princeton University, and in Washington he accompanied representatives of the National Academy of Science on a visit to the White House. On his return to Europe he was the guest of the British statesman and philosopher Viscount Haldane in London, where he met several renowned scientific, intellectual and political figures, and delivered a lecture at King’s College London.

He also published an essay, “My First Impression of the U.S.A.,” in July 1921, in which he tried briefly to describe some characteristics of Americans, much as had Alexis de Tocqueville, who published his own impressions in Democracy in America (1835). For some of his observations, Einstein was clearly surprised: “What strikes a visitor is the joyous, positive attitude to life . . . The American is friendly, self-confident, optimistic, and without envy.”

In 1922, his travels took him to Asia and later to Palestine, as part of a six-month excursion and speaking tour, as he visited Singapore, Ceylon and Japan, where he gave a series of lectures to thousands of Japanese. After his first public lecture, he met the emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace, where thousands came to watch. In a letter to his sons, he described his impression of the Japanese as being modest, intelligent, considerate, and having a true feel for art.

Because of Einstein’s travels to the Far East, he was unable to personally accept the Nobel Prize for Physics at the Stockholm award ceremony in December 1922. In his place, the banquet speech was held by a German diplomat, who praised Einstein not only as a scientist but also as an international peacemaker and activist.

On his return voyage, he visited Palestine for 12 days in what would become his only visit to that region. He was greeted as if he were a head of state, rather than a physicist, which included a cannon salute upon arriving at the home of the British high commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel. During one reception, the building was stormed by people who wanted to see and hear him. In Einstein’s talk to the audience, he expressed happiness that the Jewish people were beginning to be recognized as a force in the world.

Einstein visited Spain for two weeks in 1923, where he briefly met Santiago Ramón y Cajal and also received a diploma from King Alfonso XIII naming him a member of the Spanish Academy of Sciences.

From 1922 to 1932, Einstein was involved in the works of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations, in Geneva, an organisation created to promote international exchange between scientists, researchers, teachers, artists and intellectuals. His former physics professor Hendrik Lorentz and the french chemist Marie Curie were also members of this committee.

1930–1931: Travel to the U.S.

In December 1930, Einstein visited America for the second time, originally intended as a two-month working visit as a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. After the national attention he received during his first trip to the U.S., he and his arrangers aimed to protect his privacy. Although swamped with telegrams and invitations to receive awards or speak publicly, he declined them all.

After arriving in New York City, Einstein was taken to various places and events, including Chinatown, a lunch with the editors of the New York Times, and a performance of Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was cheered by the audience on his arrival. During the days following, he was given the keys to the city by Mayor Jimmy Walker and met the president of Columbia University, who described Einstein as “the ruling monarch of the mind”. Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor at New York’s Riverside Church, gave Einstein a tour of the church and showed him a full-size statue that the church made of Einstein, standing at the entrance. Also during his stay in New York, he joined a crowd of 15,000 people at Madison Square Garden during a Hanukkah celebration.

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Einstein (left) and Charlie Chaplin at the Hollywood premiere of City Lights, January 1931

Einstein next traveled to California, where he met Caltech president and Nobel laureate, Robert A. Millikan. His friendship with Millikan was “awkward”, as Millikan “had a penchant for patriotic militarism,” where Einstein was a pronounced pacifist. During an address to Caltech’s students, Einstein noted that science was often inclined to do more harm than good.

This aversion to war also led Einstein to befriend author Upton Sinclair and film star Charlie Chaplin, both noted for their pacifism. Carl Laemmle, head of Universal Studios, gave Einstein a tour of his studio and introduced him to Chaplin. They had an instant rapport, with Chaplin inviting Einstein and his wife, Elsa, to his home for dinner. Chaplin said Einstein’s outward persona, calm and gentle, seemed to conceal a “highly emotional temperament,” from which came his “extraordinary intellectual energy”.

Chaplin’s film, City Lights, was to premiere a few days later in Hollywood, and Chaplin invited Einstein and Elsa to join him as his special guests. Walter Isaacson, Einstein’s biographer, described this as “one of the most memorable scenes in the new era of celebrity”. Chaplin visited Einstein at his home on a later trip to Berlin, and recalled his “modest little flat” and the piano at which he had begun writing his theory. Chaplin speculated that it was “possibly used as kindling wood by the Nazis.”

1933: Emigration to the U.S.

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Cartoon of Einstein, who has shed his “Pacifism” wings, standing next to a pillar labeled “World Peace”. He is rolling up his sleeves and holding a sword labeled “Preparedness” (by Charles R. Macauley, c. 1933).

In February 1933 while on a visit to the United States, Einstein knew he could not return to Germany with the rise to power of the Nazis under Germany’s new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

While at American universities in early 1933, he undertook his third two-month visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He and his wife Elsa returned to Belgium by ship in March, and during the trip they learned that their cottage was raided by the Nazis and his personal sailboat confiscated. Upon landing in Antwerp on 28 March, he immediately went to the German consulate and surrendered his passport, formally renouncing his German citizenship. The Nazis later sold his boat and converted his cottage into a Hitler Youth camp.

Refugee Status

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Albert Einstein’s landing card (26 May 1933), when he landed in Dover (United Kingdom) from Ostende (Belgium) to visit Oxford.

In April 1933, Einstein discovered that the new German government had passed laws barring Jews from holding any official positions, including teaching at universities. Historian Gerald Holton describes how, with “virtually no audible protest being raised by their colleagues”, thousands of Jewish scientists were suddenly forced to give up their university positions and their names were removed from the rolls of institutions where they were employed.

A month later, Einstein’s works were among those targeted by the German Student Union in the Nazi book burnings, with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proclaiming, “Jewish intellectualism is dead.” One German magazine included him in a list of enemies of the German regime with the phrase, “not yet hanged”, offering a $5,000 bounty on his head. In a subsequent letter to physicist and friend Max Born, who had already emigrated from Germany to England, Einstein wrote, “… I must confess that the degree of their brutality and cowardice came as something of a surprise.” After moving to the U.S., he described the book burnings as a “spontaneous emotional outburst” by those who “shun popular enlightenment,” and “more than anything else in the world, fear the influence of men of intellectual independence.”

Einstein was now without a permanent home, unsure where he would live and work, and equally worried about the fate of countless other scientists still in Germany. He rented a house in De Haan, Belgium, where he lived for a few months. In late July 1933, he went to England for about six weeks at the personal invitation of British naval officer Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, who had become friends with Einstein in the preceding years. To protect Einstein, Locker-Lampson had two assistants watch over him at his secluded cottage outside London, with photo of them carrying shotguns and guarding Einstein, published in the Daily Herald on 24 July 1933.

Locker-Lampson took Einstein to meet Winston Churchill at his home, and later, Austen Chamberlain and former Prime Minister Lloyd George. Einstein asked them to help bring Jewish scientists out of Germany. British historian Martin Gilbert notes that Churchill responded immediately, and sent his friend, physicist Frederick Lindemann to Germany to seek out Jewish scientists and place them in British universities. Churchill later observed that as a result of Germany having driven the Jews out, they had lowered their “technical standards” and put the Allies’ technology ahead of theirs.

Einstein later contacted leaders of other nations, including Turkey’s Prime Minister, İsmet İnönü, to whom he wrote in September 1933 requesting placement of unemployed German-Jewish scientists. As a result of Einstein’s letter, Jewish invitees to Turkey eventually totaled over “1,000 saved individuals”.

Locker-Lampson also submitted a bill to parliament to extend British citizenship to Einstein, during which period Einstein made a number of public appearances describing the crisis brewing in Europe. In one of his speeches he denounced Germany’s treatment of Jews, while at the same time he introduced a bill promoting Jewish citizenship in Palestine, as they were being denied citizenship elsewhere. In his speech he described Einstein as a “citizen of the world” who should be offered a temporary shelter in the U.K. Both bills failed, however, and Einstein then accepted an earlier offer from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, in the U.S., to become a resident scholar.

Resident scholar at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study

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Portrait taken in 1935 in Princeton

In October 1933 Einstein returned to the U.S. and took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study, noted for having become a refuge for scientists fleeing Nazi Germany. At the time, most American universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Yale, had minimal or no Jewish faculty or students, as a result of their Jewish quota which lasted until the late 1940s.

Einstein was still undecided on his future. He had offers from several European universities, including Christ Church, Oxford where he stayed for three short periods between May 1931 and June 1933 and was offered a 5-year studentship, but in 1935 he arrived at the decision to remain permanently in the United States and apply for citizenship.

Einstein’s affiliation with the Institute for Advanced Study would last until his death in 1955. He was one of the four first selected (two of the others being John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel) at the new Institute, where he soon developed a close friendship with Gödel. The two would take long walks together discussing their work. Bruria Kaufman, his assistant, later became a physicist. During this period, Einstein tried to develop a unified field theory and to refute the accepted interpretation of quantum physics, both unsuccessfully.

World War II and the Manhattan Project

In 1939, a group of Hungarian scientists that included émigré physicist Leó Szilárd attempted to alert Washington to ongoing Nazi atomic bomb research. The group’s warnings were discounted. Einstein and Szilárd, along with other refugees such as Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, “regarded it as their responsibility to alert Americans to the possibility that German scientists might win the race to build an atomic bomb, and to warn that Hitler would be more than willing to resort to such a weapon.” To make certain the U.S. was aware of the danger, in July 1939, a few months before the beginning of World War II in Europe, Szilárd and Wigner visited Einstein to explain the possibility of atomic bombs, which Einstein, a pacifist, said he had never considered. He was asked to lend his support by writing a letter, with Szilárd, to President Roosevelt, recommending the U.S. pay attention and engage in its own nuclear weapons research.

The letter is believed to be “arguably the key stimulus for the U.S. adoption of serious investigations into nuclear weapons on the eve of the U.S. entry into World War II”. In addition to the letter, Einstein used his connections with the Belgian Royal Familyand the Belgian queen mother to get access with a personal envoy to the White House’s Oval Office. President Roosevelt could not take the risk of allowing Hitler to possess atomic bombs first. As a result of Einstein’s letter and his meetings with Roosevelt, the U.S. entered the “race” to develop the bomb, drawing on its “immense material, financial, and scientific resources” to initiate the Manhattan Project. The U.S. became the only country to successfully develop nuclear weapons during World War II and also remains the only country to have used them in combat, against Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively, towards the end of the war.

For Einstein, “war was a disease … [and] he called for resistance to war.” By signing the letter to Roosevelt, he went against his pacifist principles. In 1954, a year before his death, Einstein said to his old friend, Linus Pauling, “I made one great mistake in my life—when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification—the danger that the Germans would make them …”

U.S. Citizenship

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Einstein accepting U.S. citizenship certificate from judge Phillip Forman

Einstein became an American citizen in 1940. Not long after settling into his career at the Institute for Advanced Study (in Princeton, New Jersey), he expressed his appreciation of the meritocracy in American culture when compared to Europe. He recognized the “right of individuals to say and think what they pleased”, without social barriers, and as a result, individuals were encouraged, he said, to be more creative, a trait he valued from his own early education.

Personal life

Supporter of civil rights

Einstein was a passionate, committed antiracist and joined National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Princeton, where he campaigned for the civil rights of African Americans. He considered racism America’s “worst disease,” seeing it as “handed down from one generation to the next”. As part of his involvement, he corresponded with civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois and was prepared to testify on his behalf during his trial in 1951. When Einstein offered to be a character witness for Du Bois, the judge decided to drop the case.

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Einstein in 1947

In 1946 Einstein visited Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a historically black college, where he was awarded an honorary degree. (Lincoln was the first university in the United States to grant college degrees to African Americans; alumni include Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall.) Einstein gave a speech about racism in America, adding, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.” A resident of Princeton recalls that Einstein had once paid the college tuition for a black student.

Assisting Zionist causes

Einstein was a figurehead leader in helping establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which opened in 1925, and was among its first Board of Governors. Earlier, in 1921, he was asked by the biochemist and president of the World Zionist Organization, Chaim Weizmann, to help raise funds for the planned university. He also submitted various suggestions as to its initial programs.

Among those, he advised first creating an Institute of Agriculture in order to settle the undeveloped land. That should be followed, he suggested, by a Chemical Institute and an Institute of Microbiology, to fight the various ongoing epidemics such as malaria, which he called an “evil” that was undermining a third of the country’s development. Establishing an Oriental Studies Institute, to include language courses given in both Hebrew and Arabic, for scientific exploration of the country and its historical monuments, was also important.

Chaim Weizmann later became Israel’s first president. Upon his death while in office in November 1952 and at the urging of Ezriel Carlebach, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion offered Einstein the position of President of Israel, a mostly ceremonial post. The offer was presented by Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Abba Eban, who explained that the offer “embodies the deepest respect which the Jewish people can repose in any of its sons”. Einstein declined, and wrote in his response that he was “deeply moved”, and “at once saddened and ashamed” that he could not accept it.

Love of music

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Einstein (right) with writer, musician and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, 1930

Einstein developed an appreciation for music at an early age, and later wrote: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

His mother played the piano reasonably well and wanted her son to learn the violin, not only to instill in him a love of music but also to help him assimilate into German culture. According to conductor Leon Botstein, Einstein is said to have begun playing when he was 5, although he did not enjoy it at that age.

When he turned 13, he discovered the violin sonatas of Mozart, whereupon “Einstein fell in love” with Mozart’s music and studied music more willingly. He taught himself to play without “ever practicing systematically”, he said, deciding that “love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.” At age 17, he was heard by a school examiner in Aarau as he played Beethoven’s violin sonatas, the examiner stating afterward that his playing was “remarkable and revealing of ‘great insight’.” What struck the examiner, writes Botstein, was that Einstein “displayed a deep love of the music, a quality that was and remains in short supply. Music possessed an unusual meaning for this student.”

Music took on a pivotal and permanent role in Einstein’s life from that period on. Although the idea of becoming a professional musician himself was not on his mind at any time, among those with whom Einstein played chamber music were a few professionals, and he performed for private audiences and friends. Chamber music had also become a regular part of his social life while living in Bern, Zürich, and Berlin, where he played with Max Planck and his son, among others. He is sometimes erroneously credited as the editor of the 1937 edition of the Köchel catalogue of Mozart’s work; that edition was prepared by Alfred Einstein, who may have been a distant relation.

In 1931, while engaged in research at the California Institute of Technology, he visited the Zoellner family conservatory in Los Angeles, where he played some of Beethoven and Mozart’s works with members of the Zoellner Quartet. Near the end of his life, when the young Juilliard Quartet visited him in Princeton, he played his violin with them, and the quartet was “impressed by Einstein’s level of coordination and intonation”.

Political and religious views

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Albert Einstein with his wife Elsa Einstein and Zionist leaders, including future President of Israel Chaim Weizmann, his wife Vera Weizmann, Menahem Ussishkin, and Ben-Zion Mossinson on arrival in New York City in 1921

Einstein’s political view was in favor of socialism and critical of capitalism, which he detailed in his essays such as “Why Socialism?”. Einstein offered and was called on to give judgments and opinions on matters often unrelated to theoretical physics or mathematics. He strongly advocated the idea of a democratic global government that would check the power of nation-states in the framework of a world federation. The FBI created a secret dossier on Einstein in 1932, and by the time of his death his FBI file was 1,427 pages long.

Einstein spoke of his religious outlook in a wide array of original writings and interviews. Einstein stated that he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza. He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naïve. He clarified however that, “I am not an atheist”, preferring to call himself an agnostic, or a “deeply religious nonbeliever”. When asked if he believed in an afterlife, Einstein replied, “No. And one life is enough for me.”

Death

On 17 April 1955, Einstein experienced internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which had previously been reinforced surgically by Rudolph Nissen in 1948. He took the draft of a speech he was preparing for a television appearance commemorating the State of Israel’s seventh anniversary with him to the hospital, but he did not live long enough to complete it.

Einstein refused surgery, saying: “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” He died in Princeton Hospital early the next morning at the age of 76, having continued to work until near the end.

During the autopsy, the pathologist of Princeton Hospital, Thomas Stoltz Harvey, removed Einstein’s brain for preservation without the permission of his family, in the hope that the neuroscience of the future would be able to discover what made Einstein so intelligent. Einstein’s remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location.

In a memorial lecture delivered on 13 December 1965, at UNESCO headquarters, nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer summarized his impression of Einstein as a person: “He was almost wholly without sophistication and wholly without worldliness … There was always with him a wonderful purity at once childlike and profoundly stubborn.”

Scientific Career


Throughout his life, Einstein published hundreds of books and articles. He published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones. On 5 December 2014, universities and archives announced the release of Einstein’s papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique documents. Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius”. In addition to the work he did by himself he also collaborated with other scientists on additional projects including the Bose–Einstein statistics, the Einstein refrigerator and others.

1905 – Annus Mirabilis papers

The Annus Mirabilis papers are four articles pertaining to the photoelectric effect (which gave rise to quantum theory), Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity, and E = mc2 that Einstein published in the Annalen der Physik scientific journal in 1905. These four works contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter. The four papers are:

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Thermodynamic fluctuations and statistical physics

Einstein’s first paper submitted in 1900 to Annalen der Physik was on capillary attraction. It was published in 1901 with the title “Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen”, which translates as “Conclusions from the capillarity phenomena”. Two papers he published in 1902–1903 (thermodynamics) attempted to interpret atomic phenomena from a statistical point of view. These papers were the foundation for the 1905 paper on Brownian motion, which showed that Brownian movement can be construed as firm evidence that molecules exist. His research in 1903 and 1904 was mainly concerned with the effect of finite atomic size on diffusion phenomena.

General principles

He articulated the principle of relativity. This was understood by Hermann Minkowski to be a generalization of rotational invariance from space to space-time. Other principles postulated by Einstein and later vindicated are the principle of equivalence, general covariance and the principle of adiabatic invariance of the quantum number.

Theory of relativity and E = mc²

Einstein’s “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”) was received on 30 June 1905 and published 26 September of that same year. It reconciles Maxwell’s equations for electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics, by introducing major changes to mechanics close to the speed of light. This later became known as Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Consequences of this include the time–space frame of a moving body appearing to slow down and contract (in the direction of motion) when measured in the frame of the observer. This paper also argued that the idea of a luminiferous aether—one of the leading theoretical entities in physics at the time—was superfluous.

In his paper on mass–energy equivalence, Einstein produced E = mc2 from his special relativity equations. Einstein’s 1905 work on relativity remained controversial for many years, but was accepted by leading physicists, starting with Max Planck.

Photons and energy quanta

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The photoelectric effect. Incoming photons on the left strike a metal plate (bottom), and eject electrons, depicted as flying off to the right.

In a 1905 paper, Einstein postulated that light itself consists of localized particles (quanta). Einstein’s light quanta were nearly universally rejected by all physicists, including Max Planck and Niels Bohr. This idea only became universally accepted in 1919, with Robert Millikan’s detailed experiments on the photoelectric effect, and with the measurement of Compton scattering.

Einstein concluded that each wave of frequency f is associated with a collection of photons with energy hf each, where h is Planck’s constant. He does not say much more, because he is not sure how the particles are related to the wave. But he does suggest that this idea would explain certain experimental results, notably the photoelectric effect.

Quantized atomic vibrations

In 1907, Einstein proposed a model of matter where each atom in a lattice structure is an independent harmonic oscillator. In the Einstein model, each atom oscillates independently—a series of equally spaced quantized states for each oscillator. Einstein was aware that getting the frequency of the actual oscillations would be difficult, but he nevertheless proposed this theory because it was a particularly clear demonstration that quantum mechanics could solve the specific heat problem in classical mechanics. Peter Debye refined this model.

Adiabatic principle and action-angle variables

Throughout the 1910s, quantum mechanics expanded in scope to cover many different systems. After Ernest Rutherford discovered the nucleus and proposed that electrons orbit like planets, Niels Bohr was able to show that the same quantum mechanical postulates introduced by Planck and developed by Einstein would explain the discrete motion of electrons in atoms, and the periodic table of the elements.

Einstein contributed to these developments by linking them with the 1898 arguments Wilhelm Wien had made. Wien had shown that the hypothesis of adiabatic invariance of a thermal equilibrium state allows all the blackbody curves at different temperature to be derived from one another by a simple shifting process. Einstein noted in 1911 that the same adiabatic principle shows that the quantity which is quantized in any mechanical motion must be an adiabatic invariant. Arnold Sommerfeld identified this adiabatic invariant as the action variable of classical mechanics.

Wave–particle duality

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Einstein during his visit to the United States

Although the patent office promoted Einstein to Technical Examiner Second Class in 1906, he had not given up on academia. In 1908, he became a Privatdozent at the University of Bern. In “Über die Entwicklung unserer Anschauungen über das Wesen und die Konstitution der Strahlung” (“The Development of our Views on the Composition and Essence of Radiation”), on the quantization of light, and in an earlier 1909 paper, Einstein showed that Max Planck’s energy quanta must have well-defined momenta and act in some respects as independent, point-like particles. This paper introduced the photon concept (although the name photon was introduced later by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1926) and inspired the notion of wave–particle duality in quantum mechanics. Einstein saw this wave–particle duality in radiation as concrete evidence for his conviction that physics needed a new, unified foundation.

Theory of critical opalescence

Einstein returned to the problem of thermodynamic fluctuations, giving a treatment of the density variations in a fluid at its critical point. Ordinarily the density fluctuations are controlled by the second derivative of the free energy with respect to the density. At the critical point, this derivative is zero, leading to large fluctuations. The effect of density fluctuations is that light of all wavelengths is scattered, making the fluid look milky white. Einstein relates this to Rayleigh scattering, which is what happens when the fluctuation size is much smaller than the wavelength, and which explains why the sky is blue. Einstein quantitatively derived critical opalescence from a treatment of density fluctuations, and demonstrated how both the effect and Rayleigh scattering originate from the atomistic constitution of matter.

Zero-point energy

In a series of works completed from 1911 to 1913, Planck reformulated his 1900 quantum theory and introduced the idea of zero-point energy in his “second quantum theory”. Soon, this idea attracted the attention of Einstein and his assistant Otto Stern. Assuming the energy of rotating diatomic molecules contains zero-point energy, they then compared the theoretical specific heat of hydrogen gas with the experimental data. The numbers matched nicely. However, after publishing the findings, they promptly withdrew their support, because they no longer had confidence in the correctness of the idea of zero-point energy.

General relativity and the equivalence principle

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Eddington’s photograph of a solar eclipse

General relativity (GR) is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Einstein between 1907 and 1915. According to general relativity, the observed gravitational attraction between masses results from the warping of space and time by those masses. General relativity has developed into an essential tool in modern astrophysics. It provides the foundation for the current understanding of black holes, regions of space where gravitational attraction is so strong that not even light can escape.

As Einstein later said, the reason for the development of general relativity was that the preference of inertial motions within special relativity was unsatisfactory, while a theory which from the outset prefers no state of motion (even accelerated ones) should appear more satisfactory. Consequently, in 1907 he published an article on acceleration under special relativity. In that article titled “On the Relativity Principle and the Conclusions Drawn from It”, he argued that free fall is really inertial motion, and that for a free-falling observer the rules of special relativity must apply. This argument is called the equivalence principle. In the same article, Einstein also predicted the phenomena of gravitational time dilation, gravitational red shift and deflection of light.

In 1911, Einstein published another article “On the Influence of Gravitation on the Propagation of Light” expanding on the 1907 article, in which he estimated the amount of deflection of light by massive bodies. Thus, the theoretical prediction of general relativity can for the first time be tested experimentally.

Gravitational waves

In 1916, Einstein predicted gravitational waves, ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, traveling outward from the source, transporting energy as gravitational radiation. The existence of gravitational waves is possible under general relativity due to its Lorentz invariance which brings the concept of a finite speed of propagation of the physical interactions of gravity with it. By contrast, gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, which postulates that the physical interactions of gravity propagate at infinite speed.

The first, indirect, detection of gravitational waves came in the 1970s through observation of a pair of closely orbiting neutron stars, PSR B1913+16. The explanation of the decay in their orbital period was that they were emitting gravitational waves. Einstein’s prediction was confirmed on 11 February 2016, when researchers at LIGO published the first observation of gravitational waves, on Earth, exactly one hundred years after the prediction.

Hole argument and Entwurf theory

While developing general relativity, Einstein became confused about the gauge invariance in the theory. He formulated an argument that led him to conclude that a general relativistic field theory is impossible. He gave up looking for fully generally covariant tensor equations, and searched for equations that would be invariant under general linear transformations only.

In June 1913, the Entwurf (“draft”) theory was the result of these investigations. As its name suggests, it was a sketch of a theory, less elegant and more difficult than general relativity, with the equations of motion supplemented by additional gauge fixing conditions. After more than two years of intensive work, Einstein realized that the hole argument was mistaken and abandoned the theory in November 1915.

Physical cosmology

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In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to the structure of the universe as a whole. He discovered that the general field equations predicted a universe that was dynamic, either contracting or expanding. As observational evidence for a dynamic universe was not known at the time, Einstein introduced a new term, the cosmological constant, to the field equations, in order to allow the theory to predict a static universe. The modified field equations predicted a static universe of closed curvature, in accordance with Einstein’s understanding of Mach’s principle in these years. This model became known as the Einstein World or Einstein’s static universe.

Following the discovery of the recession of the nebulae by Edwin Hubble in 1929, Einstein abandoned his static model of the universe, and proposed two dynamic models of the cosmos, The Friedmann-Einstein universe of 1931 and the Einstein–de Sitter universe of 1932. In each of these models, Einstein discarded the cosmological constant, claiming that it was “in any case theoretically unsatisfactory”.

In many Einstein biographies, it is claimed that Einstein referred to the cosmological constant in later years as his “biggest blunder”. The astrophysicist Mario Livio has recently cast doubt on this claim, suggesting that it may be exaggerated.

In late 2013, a team led by the Irish physicist Cormac O’Raifeartaigh discovered evidence that, shortly after learning of Hubble’s observations of the recession of the nebulae, Einstein considered a steady-state model of the universe. In a hitherto overlooked manuscript, apparently written in early 1931, Einstein explored a model of the expanding universe in which the density of matter remains constant due to a continuous creation of matter, a process he associated with the cosmological constant. As he stated in the paper, “In what follows, I would like to draw attention to a solution to equation (1) that can account for Hubbel’s [sic] facts, and in which the density is constant over time” … “If one considers a physically bounded volume, particles of matter will be continually leaving it. For the density to remain constant, new particles of matter must be continually formed in the volume from space.”

It thus appears that Einstein considered a steady-state model of the expanding universe many years before Hoyle, Bondi and Gold. However, Einstein’s steady-state model contained a fundamental flaw and he quickly abandoned the idea.

Modern quantum theory

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Newspaper headline on 4 May 1935

Einstein was displeased with quantum theory and quantum mechanics (a theory he had helped create), despite its acceptance by other physicists, stating that God “is not playing at dice.” Einstein continued to maintain his disbelief in the theory, and attempted unsuccessfully to disprove it until he died at the age of 76.

In 1917, at the height of his work on relativity, Einstein published an article in Physikalische Zeitschrift that proposed the possibility of stimulated emission, the physical process that makes possible the maser and the laser. This article showed that the statistics of absorption and emission of light would only be consistent with Planck’s distribution law if the emission of light into a mode with n photons would be enhanced statistically compared to the emission of light into an empty mode. This paper was enormously influential in the later development of quantum mechanics, because it was the first paper to show that the statistics of atomic transitions had simple laws.

Einstein discovered Louis de Broglie’s work, and supported his ideas, which were received skeptically at first. In another major paper from this era, Einstein gave a wave equation for de Broglie waves, which Einstein suggested was the Hamilton–Jacobi equation of mechanics. This paper would inspire Schrödinger’s work of 1926.

Bose–Einstein statistics

In 1924, Einstein received a description of a statistical model from Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, based on a counting method that assumed that light could be understood as a gas of indistinguishable particles. Einstein noted that Bose’s statistics applied to some atoms as well as to the proposed light particles, and submitted his translation of Bose’s paper to the Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein also published his own articles describing the model and its implications, among them the Bose–Einstein condensate phenomenon that some particulates should appear at very low temperatures. It was not until 1995 that the first such condensate was produced experimentally by Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman using ultra-cooling equipment built at the NIST–JILA laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Bose–Einstein statistics are now used to describe the behaviors of any assembly of bosons. Einstein’s sketches for this project may be seen in the Einstein Archive in the library of the Leiden University.

Energy momentum pseudotensor

General relativity includes a dynamical spacetime, so it is difficult to see how to identify the conserved energy and momentum. Noether’s theorem allows these quantities to be determined from a Lagrangian with translation invariance, but general covariance makes translation invariance into something of a gauge symmetry. The energy and momentum derived within general relativity by Noether’s presecriptions do not make a real tensor for this reason.

Einstein argued that this is true for fundamental reasons, because the gravitational field could be made to vanish by a choice of coordinates. He maintained that the non-covariant energy momentum pseudotensor was in fact the best description of the energy momentum distribution in a gravitational field. This approach has been echoed by Lev Landau and Evgeny Lifshitz, and others, and has become standard.

The use of non-covariant objects like pseudotensors was heavily criticized in 1917 by Erwin Schrödinger and others.

Unified field theory

Following his research on general relativity, Einstein entered into a series of attempts to generalize his geometric theory of gravitation to include electromagnetism as another aspect of a single entity. In 1950, he described his “unified field theory” in a Scientific American article titled “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation”. Although he continued to be lauded for his work, Einstein became increasingly isolated in his research, and his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In his pursuit of a unification of the fundamental forces, Einstein ignored some mainstream developments in physics, most notably the strong and weak nuclear forces, which were not well understood until many years after his death. Mainstream physics, in turn, largely ignored Einstein’s approaches to unification. Einstein’s dream of unifying other laws of physics with gravity motivates modern quests for a theory of everything and in particular string theory, where geometrical fields emerge in a unified quantum-mechanical setting.

Wormholes

In 1935, Einstein collaborated with Nathan Rosen to produce a model of a wormhole, often called Einstein–Rosen bridges. His motivation was to model elementary particles with charge as a solution of gravitational field equations, in line with the program outlined in the paper “Do Gravitational Fields play an Important Role in the Constitution of the Elementary Particles?”. These solutions cut and pasted Schwarzschild black holes to make a bridge between two patches.

If one end of a wormhole was positively charged, the other end would be negatively charged. These properties led Einstein to believe that pairs of particles and antiparticles could be described in this way.

Einstein–Cartan theory

Einstein, sitting at a table, looks up from the papers he is reading and into the camera.

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Einstein at his office, University of Berlin, 1920

In order to incorporate spinning point particles into general relativity, the affine connection needed to be generalized to include an antisymmetric part, called the torsion. This modification was made by Einstein and Cartan in the 1920s.

Equations of motion

The theory of general relativity has a fundamental law—the Einstein equations which describe how space curves, the geodesic equation which describes how particles move may be derived from the Einstein equations.

Since the equations of general relativity are non-linear, a lump of energy made out of pure gravitational fields, like a black hole, would move on a trajectory which is determined by the Einstein equations themselves, not by a new law. So Einstein proposed that the path of a singular solution, like a black hole, would be determined to be a geodesic from general relativity itself.

This was established by Einstein, Infeld, and Hoffmann for pointlike objects without angular momentum, and by Roy Kerr for spinning objects.

Other investigations

Einstein conducted other investigations that were unsuccessful and abandoned. These pertain to force, superconductivity, and other research.

Collaboration with other scientists

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The 1927 Solvay Conference in Brussels, a gathering of the world’s top physicists. Einstein is in the center.

In addition to longtime collaborators Leopold Infeld, Nathan Rosen, Peter Bergmann and others, Einstein also had some one-shot collaborations with various scientists.

Einstein–de Haas experiment

Einstein and De Haas demonstrated that magnetization is due to the motion of electrons, nowadays known to be the spin. In order to show this, they reversed the magnetization in an iron bar suspended on a torsion pendulum. They confirmed that this leads the bar to rotate, because the electron’s angular momentum changes as the magnetization changes. This experiment needed to be sensitive, because the angular momentum associated with electrons is small, but it definitively established that electron motion of some kind is responsible for magnetization.

Schrödinger gas model

Einstein suggested to Erwin Schrödinger that he might be able to reproduce the statistics of a Bose–Einstein gas by considering a box. Then to each possible quantum motion of a particle in a box associate an independent harmonic oscillator. Quantizing these oscillators, each level will have an integer occupation number, which will be the number of particles in it.

This formulation is a form of second quantization, but it predates modern quantum mechanics. Erwin Schrödinger applied this to derive the thermodynamic properties of a semiclassical ideal gas. Schrödinger urged Einstein to add his name as co-author, although Einstein declined the invitation.

Einstein refrigerator

In 1926, Einstein and his former student Leó Szilárd co-invented (and in 1930, patented) the Einstein refrigerator. This absorption refrigerator was then revolutionary for having no moving parts and using only heat as an input. On 11 November 1930, U.S. Patent 1,781,541 was awarded to Einstein and Leó Szilárd for the refrigerator. Their invention was not immediately put into commercial production, and the most promising of their patents were acquired by the Swedish company Electrolux.

Bohr versus Einstein

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Einstein and Niels Bohr, 1925

The Bohr–Einstein debates were a series of public disputes about quantum mechanics between Einstein and Niels Bohr who were two of its founders. Their debates are remembered because of their importance to the philosophy of science. Their debates would influence later interpretations of quantum mechanics.

Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox

In 1935, Einstein returned to the question of quantum mechanics. He considered how a measurement on one of two entangled particles would affect the other. He noted, along with his collaborators, that by performing different measurements on the distant particle, either of position or momentum, different properties of the entangled partner could be discovered without disturbing it in any way.

He then used a hypothesis of local realism to conclude that the other particle had these properties already determined. The principle he proposed is that if it is possible to determine what the answer to a position or momentum measurement would be, without in any way disturbing the particle, then the particle actually has values of position or momentum.

This principle distilled the essence of Einstein’s objection to quantum mechanics. As a physical principle, it was shown to be incorrect when the Aspect experiment of 1982 confirmed Bell’s theorem, which had been promulgated in 1964.

Non-scientific Legacy


While traveling, Einstein wrote daily to his wife Elsa and adopted stepdaughters Margot and Ilse. The letters were included in the papers bequeathed to The Hebrew University. Margot Einstein permitted the personal letters to be made available to the public, but requested that it not be done until twenty years after her death (she died in 1986). Einstein had expressed his interest in the plumbing profession and was made an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. Barbara Wolff, of The Hebrew University’s Albert Einstein Archives, told the BBC that there are about 3,500 pages of private correspondence written between 1912 and 1955.

Corbis, successor to The Roger Richman Agency, licenses the use of his name and associated imagery, as agent for the university.

In Popular Culture


In the period before World War II, The New Yorker published a vignette in their “The Talk of the Town” feature saying that Einstein was so well known in America that he would be stopped on the street by people wanting him to explain “that theory”. He finally figured out a way to handle the incessant inquiries. He told his inquirers “Pardon me, sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein.”

Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many novels, films, plays, and works of music. He is a favorite model for depictions of mad scientists and absent-minded professors; his expressive face and distinctive hairstyle have been widely copied and exaggerated. Time magazine’s Frederic Golden wrote that Einstein was “a cartoonist’s dream come true”.

Awards and Honors


Main article: Einstein’s awards and honors

Einstein received numerous awards and honors and in 1922 he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. None of the nominations in 1921 met the criteria set by Alfred Nobel, so the 1921 prize was carried forward and awarded to Einstein in 1922.]

Publications


The following publications by Einstein are referenced in this article. A more complete list of his publications may be found at List of scientific publications by Albert Einstein.

  • Einstein, Albert (1901) [Manuscript received: 16 December 1900], written at Zurich, Switzerland, “Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen” [Conclusions Drawn from the Phenomena of Capillarity] (PDF), Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German), Hoboken, NJ (published 14 March 2006), 309 (3), pp. 513–523, Bibcode:1901AnP…309..513E, doi:10.1002/andp.19013090306 – via Wiley Online Library
  • Einstein, Albert (1905a) [Manuscript received: 18 March 1905], written at Berne, Switzerland, “Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt” [On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light] (PDF), Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German), Hoboken, NJ (published 10 March 2006), 322 (6), pp. 132–148, Bibcode:1905AnP…322..132E, doi:10.1002/andp.19053220607 – via Wiley Online Library
  • Einstein, Albert (1905b) [Completed 30 April and submitted 20 July 1905]. Written at Berne, Switzerland, published by Wyss Buchdruckerei. Eine neue Bestimmung der Moleküldimensionen [A new determination of molecular dimensions] (PDF). Dissertationen Universität Zürich (PhD Thesis) (in German). Zurich, Switzerland: ETH Zürich (published 2008). doi:10.3929/ethz-a-000565688 – via ETH Bibliothek.
  • Einstein, Albert (1905c) [Manuscript received: 11 May 1905], written at Berne, Switzerland, “Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen” [On the Motion – Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat – of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid] (PDF), Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German), Hoboken, NJ (published 10 March 2006), 322 (8), pp. 549–560, Bibcode:1905AnP…322..549E, doi:10.1002/andp.19053220806, hdl:10915/2785 Freely accessible – via Wiley Online Library
  • Einstein, Albert (1905d) [Manuscript received: 30 June 1905], written at Berne, Switzerland, “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” [On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies] (PDF), Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German), Hoboken, NJ (published 10 March 2006), 322 (10), pp. 891–921, Bibcode:1905AnP…322..891E, doi:10.1002/andp.19053221004, hdl:10915/2786 Freely accessible – via Wiley Online Library
  • Einstein, Albert (1905e) [Manuscript received: 27 September 1905], written at Berne, Switzerland, “Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig?” [Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?] (PDF), Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German), Hoboken, NJ (published 10 March 2006), 323 (13), pp. 639–641, Bibcode:1905AnP…323..639E, doi:10.1002/andp.19053231314 – via Wiley Online Library
  • Einstein, Albert (1915) [Published 25 November 1915], “Die Feldgleichungen der Gravitation” [The Field Equations of Gravitation] (Online page images), Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften (in German), Berlin, Germany, pp. 844–847 – via ECHO, Cultural Heritage Online, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
  • Einstein, Albert (1917a), “Kosmologische Betrachtungen zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie” [Cosmological Considerations in the General Theory of Relativity], Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin (in German)
  • Einstein, Albert (1917b), “Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung” [On the Quantum Mechanics of Radiation], Physikalische Zeitschrift (in German), 18, pp. 121–128, Bibcode:1917PhyZ…18..121E
  • Einstein, Albert (1923) [First published 1923, in English 1967]. Written at Gothenburg. Grundgedanken und Probleme der Relativitätstheorie [Fundamental Ideas and Problems of the Theory of Relativity] (PDF) (Speech). Lecture delivered to the Nordic Assembly of Naturalists at Gothenburg, 11 July 1923. Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901–1921 (in German (1923) and English (1967)). Stockholm: Nobelprice.org (published 3 February 2015) – via Nobel Media AB 2014.
  • Einstein, Albert (1924) [Published 10 July 1924], “Quantentheorie des einatomigen idealen Gases” [Quantum theory of monatomic ideal gases] (Online page images), Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Physikalisch-Mathematische Klasse (in German), Munich, Germany: Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin: 261–267 – via ECHO, Cultural Heritage Online, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. First of a series of papers on this topic.
  • Einstein, Albert (12 March 1926) [Cover Date 1 March 1926], written at Berlin, “Die Ursache der Mäanderbildung der Flußläufe und des sogenannten Baerschen Gesetzes” [On Baer’s law and meanders in the courses of rivers], Die Naturwissenschaften (in German), Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 14 (11): 223–224, Bibcode:1926NW…..14..223E, doi:10.1007/BF01510300, ISSN 1432-1904 – via SpringerLink
  • Einstein, Albert (1926b), written at Berne, Switzerland, R. Fürth, ed., Investigations on the Theory of the Brownian Movement (PDF), Translated by A. D. Cowper, USA: Dover Publications (published 1956), ISBN 978-1-60796-285-4, retrieved 2015-01-04
  • Einstein, Albert; Podolsky, Boris; Rosen, Nathan (15 May 1935) [Received 25 March 1935], “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” (PDF), Physical Review, American Physical Society, 47 (10): 777–780, Bibcode:1935PhRv…47..777E, doi:10.1103/PhysRev.47.777 Freely accessible – via APS Journals
  • Einstein, Albert (9 November 1940), “On Science and Religion”, Nature, Edinburgh: Macmillan Publishers Group, 146 (3706): 605–607, Bibcode:1940Natur.146..605E, doi:10.1038/146605a0, ISBN 0-7073-0453-9
  • Einstein, Albert; et al. (4 December 1948), “To the editors of the New York Times”, New York Times, Melville, New York: AIP, American Inst. of Physics, ISBN 0-7354-0359-7
  • Einstein, Albert (May 1949), “Why Socialism? (Reprise)”, Monthly Review, New York: Monthly Review Foundation (published May 2009), vol. 61 no. 01 (May), archived from the original on 11 January 2006, retrieved 16 January 2006 – via MonthlyReview.org
  • Einstein, Albert (1950), “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation”, Scientific American, CLXXXII (4): 13–17, Bibcode:1950SciAm.182d..13E, doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0450-13
  • Einstein, Albert (1954), Ideas and Opinions, New York: Random House, ISBN 0-517-00393-7
  • Einstein, Albert (1969), Albert Einstein, Hedwig und Max Born: Briefwechsel 1916–1955 (in German), Munich: Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, ISBN 3-88682-005-X
  • Einstein, Albert (1979), Autobiographical Notes, Paul Arthur Schilpp (Centennial ed.), Chicago: Open Court, ISBN 0-87548-352-6. The chasing a light beam thought experiment is described on pages 48–51.
  • Collected Papers: Stachel, John; Martin J. Klein; A. J. Kox; Michel Janssen; R. Schulmann; Diana Komos Buchwald; et al., eds. (21 July 2008) [Published between 1987–2006], “The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein”, Einstein’s Writings, Princeton University Press, 1–10. Further information about the volumes published so far can be found on the webpages of the Einstein Papers Project and on the Princeton University Press Einstein Page

Isaac Newton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sir Isaac Newton PRS (/ˈnjuːtən/; 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, astronomer, theologian and physicist (described in his own day as a “natural philosopher”) who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made pathbreaking contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.

Newton’s Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated scientists’ view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. By deriving Kepler’s laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, and using the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System and demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be accounted for by the same principles. Newton’s theoretical prediction that the Earth is shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the geodetic measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, thus convincing most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.

Newton also built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the colours of the visible spectrum. Newton’s work on light was collected in his highly influential book Opticks, first published in 1704. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling, made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.

Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout but unorthodox Christian, who privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and who, unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, refused to take holy orders in the Church of England. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of alchemy and biblical chronology, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. Politically and personally tied to the Whig party, Newton served two brief terms as Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge, in 1689–90 and 1701–02. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and he spent the last three decades of his life in London, serving as Warden (1696–1700) and Master (1700–1727) of the Royal Mint, as well as president of the Royal Society (1703–1727).

Life


Early life

Isaac Newton was born (according to the Julian calendar, in use in England at the time) on Christmas Day, 25 December 1642 (NS 4 January 1643) “an hour or two after midnight”, at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. His father, also named Isaac Newton, had died three months before. Born prematurely, Newton was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug. When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabas Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and maintained some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.” Newton’s mother had three children from her second marriage.

From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at The King’s School, Grantham, which taught Latin and Greek and probably imparted a significant foundation of mathematics. He was removed from school, and by October 1659, he was to be found at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, where his mother, widowed for a second time, attempted to make a farmer of him. Newton hated farming. Henry Stokes, master at the King’s School, persuaded his mother to send him back to school so that he might complete his education. Motivated partly by a desire for revenge against a schoolyard bully, he became the top-ranked student, distinguishing himself mainly by building sundials and models of windmills.

In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, on the recommendation of his uncle Rev William Ayscough, who had studied there. He started as a subsizar—paying his way by performing valet’s duties—until he was awarded a scholarship in 1664, guaranteeing him four more years until he could get his MA. At that time, the college’s teachings were based on those of Aristotle, whom Newton supplemented with modern philosophers such as Descartes, and astronomers such as Galileo and Thomas Street, through whom he learned of Kepler’s work. He set down in his notebook a series of “Quaestiones” about mechanical philosophy as he found it. In 1665, he discovered the generalised binomial theorem and began to develop a mathematical theory that later became calculus. Soon after Newton had obtained his BA degree in August 1665, the university temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished as a Cambridge student, Newton’s private studies at his home in Woolsthorpe over the subsequent two years saw the development of his theories on calculus, optics, and the law of gravitation.

In April 1667, he returned to Cambridge and in October was elected as a fellow of Trinity. Fellows were required to become ordained priests, although this was not enforced in the restoration years and an assertion of conformity to the Church of England was sufficient. However, by 1675 the issue could not be avoided and by then his unconventional views stood in the way. Nevertheless, Newton managed to avoid it by means of a special permission from Charles II (see “Middle years” section below).

His studies had impressed the Lucasian professor Isaac Barrow, who was more anxious to develop his own religious and administrative potential (he became master of Trinity two years later); in 1669 Newton succeeded him, only one year after receiving his MA. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1672.

Middle years

Mathematics

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Isaac Newton (Bolton, Sarah K. Famous Men of Science. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1889)

Newton’s work has been said “to distinctly advance every branch of mathematics then studied”. His work on the subject usually referred to as fluxions or calculus, seen in a manuscript of October 1666, is now published among Newton’s mathematical papers. The author of the manuscript De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum infinitas, sent by Isaac Barrow to John Collins in June 1669, was identified by Barrow in a letter sent to Collins in August of that year as:

Mr Newton, a fellow of our College, and very young … but of an extraordinary genius and proficiency in these things.

Newton later became involved in a dispute with Leibniz over priority in the development of calculus (the Leibniz–Newton calculus controversy). Most modern historians believe that Newton and Leibniz developed calculus independently, although with very different notations. Occasionally it has been suggested that Newton published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704, while Leibniz began publishing a full account of his methods in 1684. (Leibniz’s notation and “differential Method”, nowadays recognised as much more convenient notations, were adopted by continental European mathematicians, and after 1820 or so, also by British mathematicians.) But such a suggestion fails to account for the content of calculus in Book 1 of Newton’s Principia itself (published 1687) and in its forerunner manuscripts, such as De motu corporum in gyrum (“On the motion of bodies in orbit”) of 1684; this content has been pointed out by critics of both Newton’s time and modern times. The Principia is not written in the language of calculus either as we know it or as Newton’s (later) ‘dot’ notation would write it. His work extensively uses calculus in geometric form based on limiting values of the ratios of vanishing small quantities: in the Principia itself, Newton gave demonstration of this under the name of ‘the method of first and last ratios’ and explained why he put his expositions in this form, remarking also that ‘hereby the same thing is performed as by the method of indivisibles’.

Because of this, the Principia has been called “a book dense with the theory and application of the infinitesimal calculus” in modern times and “lequel est presque tout de ce calcul” (‘nearly all of it is of this calculus’) in Newton’s time. His use of methods involving “one or more orders of the infinitesimally small” is present in his De motu corporum in gyrum of 1684 and in his papers on motion “during the two decades preceding 1684”.

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Newton in a 1702 portrait by Godfrey Kneller

Newton had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared controversy and criticism. He was close to the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. In 1691, Duillier started to write a new version of Newton’s Principia, and corresponded with Leibniz. In 1693, the relationship between Duillier and Newton deteriorated and the book was never completed.

Starting in 1699, other members of the Royal Society (of which Newton was a member) accused Leibniz of plagiarism. The dispute then broke out in full force in 1711 when the Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was Newton who was the true discoverer and labelled Leibniz a fraud. This study was cast into doubt when it was later found that Newton himself wrote the study’s concluding remarks on Leibniz. Thus began the bitter controversy which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter’s death in 1716.

Newton is generally credited with the generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton’s identities, Newton’s method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler’s summation formula) and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series. Newton’s work on infinite series was inspired by Simon Stevin’s decimals.

When Newton received his MA and became a Fellow of the “College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity” in 1667, he made the commitment that “I will either set Theology as the object of my studies and will take holy orders when the time prescribed by these statutes [7 years] arrives, or I will resign from the college.” Up till this point he had not thought much about religion and had twice signed his agreement to the thirty-nine articles, the basis of Church of England doctrine.

He was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669 on Barrow’s recommendation. During that time, any Fellow of a college at Cambridge or Oxford was required to take holy orders and become an ordained Anglican priest. However, the terms of the Lucasian professorship required that the holder not be active in the church (presumably so as to have more time for science). Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was needed, accepted this argument. Thus a conflict between Newton’s religious views and Anglican orthodoxy was averted.

Optics

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Replica of Newton’s second Reflecting telescope that he presented to the Royal Society in 1672

In 1666, Newton observed that the spectrum of colours exiting a prism in the position of minimum deviation is oblong, even when the light ray entering the prism is circular, which is to say, the prism refracts different colours by different angles. This led him to conclude that colour is a property intrinsic to light—a point which had been debated in prior years.

From 1670 to 1672, Newton lectured on optics. During this period he investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that the multicoloured spectrum produced by a prism could be recomposed into white light by a lens and a second prism. Modern scholarship has revealed that Newton’s analysis and resynthesis of white light owes a debt to corpuscular alchemy.

He showed that coloured light does not change its properties by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects, and that regardless of whether reflected, scattered, or transmitted, the light remains the same colour. Thus, he observed that colour is the result of objects interacting with already-coloured light rather than objects generating the colour themselves. This is known as Newton’s theory of colour.

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Illustration of a dispersive prism decomposing white light into the colours of the spectrum, as discovered by Newton

From this work, he concluded that the lens of any refracting telescope would suffer from the dispersion of light into colours (chromatic aberration). As a proof of the concept, he constructed a telescope using reflective mirrors instead of lenses as the objective to bypass that problem. Building the design, the first known functional reflecting telescope, today known as a Newtonian telescope, involved solving the problem of a suitable mirror material and shaping technique. Newton ground his own mirrors out of a custom composition of highly reflective speculum metal, using Newton’s rings to judge the quality of the optics for his telescopes. In late 1668 he was able to produce this first reflecting telescope. It was about eight inches long and it gave a clearer and larger image. In 1671, the Royal Society asked for a demonstration of his reflecting telescope. Their interest encouraged him to publish his notes, Of Colours, which he later expanded into the work Opticks. When Robert Hooke criticised some of Newton’s ideas, Newton was so offended that he withdrew from public debate. Newton and Hooke had brief exchanges in 1679–80, when Hooke, appointed to manage the Royal Society’s correspondence, opened up a correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions, which had the effect of stimulating Newton to work out a proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector (see Newton’s law of universal gravitation – History and De motu corporum in gyrum). But the two men remained generally on poor terms until Hooke’s death.

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Facsimile of a 1682 letter from Isaac Newton to Dr William Briggs, commenting on Briggs’ “A New Theory of Vision”

Newton argued that light is composed of particles or corpuscles, which were refracted by accelerating into a denser medium. He verged on soundlike waves to explain the repeated pattern of reflection and transmission by thin films (Opticks Bk.II, Props. 12), but still retained his theory of ‘fits’ that disposed corpuscles to be reflected or transmitted (Props.13). However, later physicists favoured a purely wavelike explanation of light to account for the interference patterns and the general phenomenon of diffraction. Today’s quantum mechanics, photons, and the idea of wave–particle duality bear only a minor resemblance to Newton’s understanding of light.

In his Hypothesis of Light of 1675, Newton posited the existence of the ether to transmit forces between particles. The contact with the theosophist Henry More, revived his interest in alchemy. He replaced the ether with occult forces based on Hermetic ideas of attraction and repulsion between particles. John Maynard Keynes, who acquired many of Newton’s writings on alchemy, stated that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason: He was the last of the magicians.” Newton’s interest in alchemy cannot be isolated from his contributions to science. This was at a time when there was no clear distinction between alchemy and science. Had he not relied on the occult idea of action at a distance, across a vacuum, he might not have developed his theory of gravity. (See also Isaac Newton’s occult studies.)

In 1704, Newton published Opticks, in which he expounded his corpuscular theory of light. He considered light to be made up of extremely subtle corpuscles, that ordinary matter was made of grosser corpuscles and speculated that through a kind of alchemical transmutation “Are not gross Bodies and Light convertible into one another, … and may not Bodies receive much of their Activity from the Particles of Light which enter their Composition?” Newton also constructed a primitive form of a frictional electrostatic generator, using a glass globe.

In an article entitled “Newton, prisms, and the ‘opticks’ of tunable lasers” it is indicated that Newton in his book Opticks was the first to show a diagram using a prism as a beam expander. In the same book he describes, via diagrams, the use of multiple-prism arrays. Some 278 years after Newton’s discussion, multiple-prism beam expanders became central to the development of narrow-linewidth tunable lasers. Also, the use of these prismatic beam expanders led to the multiple-prism dispersion theory.

Subsequent to Newton, much has been amended. Young and Fresnel combined Newton’s particle theory with Huygens’ wave theory to show that colour is the visible manifestation of light’s wavelength. Science also slowly came to realise the difference between perception of colour and mathematisable optics. The German poet and scientist, Goethe, could not shake the Newtonian foundation but “one hole Goethe did find in Newton’s armour, … Newton had committed himself to the doctrine that refraction without colour was impossible. He therefore thought that the object-glasses of telescopes must for ever remain imperfect, achromatism and refraction being incompatible. This inference was proved by Dollond to be wrong.”

Mechanics and gravitation

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Newton’s own copy of his Principia, with hand-written corrections for the second edition

In 1679, Newton returned to his work on (celestial) mechanics by considering gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets with reference to Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. This followed stimulation by a brief exchange of letters in 1679–80 with Hooke, who had been appointed to manage the Royal Society’s correspondence, and who opened a correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions. Newton’s reawakening interest in astronomical matters received further stimulus by the appearance of a comet in the winter of 1680–1681, on which he corresponded with John Flamsteed. After the exchanges with Hooke, Newton worked out proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector (see Newton’s law of universal gravitation – History and De motu corporum in gyrum). Newton communicated his results to Edmond Halley and to the Royal Society in De motu corporum in gyrum, a tract written on about nine sheets which was copied into the Royal Society’s Register Book in December 1684. This tract contained the nucleus that Newton developed and expanded to form the Principia.

The Principia was published on 5 July 1687 with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this work, Newton stated the three universal laws of motion. Together, these laws describe the relationship between any object, the forces acting upon it and the resulting motion, laying the foundation for classical mechanics. They contributed to many advances during the Industrial Revolution which soon followed and were not improved upon for more than 200 years. Many of these advancements continue to be the underpinnings of non-relativistic technologies in the modern world. He used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation.

In the same work, Newton presented a calculus-like method of geometrical analysis using ‘first and last ratios’, gave the first analytical determination (based on Boyle’s law) of the speed of sound in air, inferred the oblateness of Earth’s spheroidal figure, accounted for the precession of the equinoxes as a result of the Moon’s gravitational attraction on the Earth’s oblateness, initiated the gravitational study of the irregularities in the motion of the moon, provided a theory for the determination of the orbits of comets, and much more.

Newton made clear his heliocentric view of the Solar System—developed in a somewhat modern way, because already in the mid-1680s he recognised the “deviation of the Sun” from the centre of gravity of the Solar System. For Newton, it was not precisely the centre of the Sun or any other body that could be considered at rest, but rather “the common centre of gravity of the Earth, the Sun and all the Planets is to be esteem’d the Centre of the World”, and this centre of gravity “either is at rest or moves uniformly forward in a right line” (Newton adopted the “at rest” alternative in view of common consent that the centre, wherever it was, was at rest).

Newton’s postulate of an invisible force able to act over vast distances led to him being criticised for introducing “occult agencies” into science. Later, in the second edition of the Principia (1713), Newton firmly rejected such criticisms in a concluding General Scholium, writing that it was enough that the phenomena implied a gravitational attraction, as they did; but they did not so far indicate its cause, and it was both unnecessary and improper to frame hypotheses of things that were not implied by the phenomena. (Here Newton used what became his famous expression “hypotheses non-fingo”).

With the Principia, Newton became internationally recognised. He acquired a circle of admirers, including the Swiss-born mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier.

Classification of cubics

Descartes was the most important early influence on Newton the mathematician. Newton classified the cubic curves in the plane. He found 72 of the 78 species of cubics. He also divided them into four types, satisfying different equations, and in 1717 Stirling, probably with Newton’s help, proved that every cubic was one of these four types. Newton also claimed that the four types could be obtained by plane projection from one of them, and this was proved in 1731.

Later life

In the 1690s, Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal and symbolic interpretation of the Bible. A manuscript Newton sent to John Locke in which he disputed the fidelity of 1 John 5:7 and its fidelity to the original manuscripts of the New Testament, remained unpublished until 1785.

Even though a number of authors have claimed that the work might have been an indication that Newton disputed the belief in Trinity, others assure that Newton did question the passage but never denied Trinity as such. His biographer, scientist Sir David Brewster, who compiled his manuscripts for over 20 years, wrote about the controversy in well-known book Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, where he explains that Newton questioned the veracity of those passages, but he never denied the doctrine of Trinity as such. Brewster states that Newton was never known as an Arian during his lifetime, it was first William Whiston (an Arian) who argued that “Sir Isaac Newton was so hearty for the Baptists, as well as for the Eusebians or Arians, that he sometimes suspected these two were the two witnesses in the Revelations,” while other like Hopton Haynes (a Mint employee and Humanitarian), “mentioned to Richard Baron, that Newton held the same doctrine as himself”.

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Isaac Newton in old age in 1712, portrait by Sir James Thornhill

Later works—The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728) and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733)—were published after his death. He also devoted a great deal of time to alchemy (see above).

Newton was also a member of the Parliament of England for Cambridge University in 1689–90 and 1701–2, but according to some accounts his only comments were to complain about a cold draught in the chamber and request that the window be closed. He was however noted by Cambridge diarist Abraham de la Pryme as having rebuked students who were frightening local residents by claiming that a house was haunted.

Newton moved to London to take up the post of warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, a position that he had obtained through the patronage of Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He took charge of England’s great recoining, somewhat treading on the toes of Lord Lucas, Governor of the Tower (and securing the job of deputy comptroller of the temporary Chester branch for Edmond Halley). Newton became perhaps the best-known Master of the Mint upon the death of Thomas Neale in 1699, a position Newton held for the last 30 years of his life. These appointments were intended as sinecures, but Newton took them seriously, retiring from his Cambridge duties in 1701, and exercising his power to reform the currency and punish clippers and counterfeiters.

As Warden, and afterwards Master, of the Royal Mint, Newton estimated that 20 percent of the coins taken in during the Great Recoinage of 1696 were counterfeit. Counterfeiting was high treason, punishable by the felon being hanged, drawn and quartered. Despite this, convicting even the most flagrant criminals could be extremely difficult. However, Newton proved equal to the task.

Disguised as a habitué of bars and taverns, he gathered much of that evidence himself. For all the barriers placed to prosecution, and separating the branches of government, English law still had ancient and formidable customs of authority. Newton had himself made a justice of the peace in all the home counties—there is a draft of a letter regarding this matter stuck into Newton’s personal first edition of his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica which he must have been amending at the time. Then he conducted more than 100 cross-examinations of witnesses, informers, and suspects between June 1698 and Christmas 1699. Newton successfully prosecuted 28 coiners.

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Coat of arms of the Newton family of Gunnerby, Lincolnshire, afterwards used by Sir Isaac

As a result of a report written by Newton on 21 September 1717 to the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury the bimetallic relationship between gold coins and silver coins was changed by Royal proclamation on 22 December 1717, forbidding the exchange of gold guineas for more than 21 silver shillings. This inadvertently resulted in a silver shortage as silver coins were used to pay for imports, while exports were paid for in gold, effectively moving Britain from the silver standard to its first gold standard. It is a matter of debate as whether he intended to do this or not. It has been argued that Newton conceived of his work at the Mint as a continuation of his alchemical work.

Newton was made President of the Royal Society in 1703 and an associate of the French Académie des Sciences. In his position at the Royal Society, Newton made an enemy of John Flamsteed, the Astronomer Royal, by prematurely publishing Flamsteed’s Historia Coelestis Britannica, which Newton had used in his studies.

In April 1705, Queen Anne knighted Newton during a royal visit to Trinity College, Cambridge. The knighthood is likely to have been motivated by political considerations connected with the Parliamentary election in May 1705, rather than any recognition of Newton’s scientific work or services as Master of the Mint. Newton was the second scientist to be knighted, after Sir Francis Bacon.

Newton was one of many people who lost heavily when the South Sea Company collapsed. Their most significant trade was slaves, and according to his niece, he lost around £20,000.

Towards the end of his life, Newton took up residence at Cranbury Park, near Winchester with his niece and her husband, until his death in 1727. His half-niece, Catherine Barton Conduitt, served as his hostess in social affairs at his house on Jermyn Street in London; he was her “very loving Uncle”, according to his letter to her when she was recovering from smallpox.

Newton died in his sleep in London on 20 March 1727 (OS 20 March 1726; NS 31 March 1727) and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Voltaire may have been present at his funeral. A bachelor, he had divested much of his estate to relatives during his last years, and died intestate. His papers went to John Conduitt and Catherine Barton. After his death, Newton’s hair was examined and found to contain mercury, probably resulting from his alchemical pursuits. Mercury poisoning could explain Newton’s eccentricity in late life.

Personal relations

Although it was claimed that he was once engaged, Newton never married. The French writer and philosopher Voltaire, who was in London at the time of Newton’s funeral, said that he “was never sensible to any passion, was not subject to the common frailties of mankind, nor had any commerce with women—a circumstance which was assured me by the physician and surgeon who attended him in his last moments”. The widespread belief that he died a virgin has been commented on by writers such as mathematician Charles Hutton, economist John Maynard Keynes, and physicist Carl Sagan.

Newton did have a close friendship with the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, whom he met in London around 1689. Their intense relationship came to an abrupt and unexplained end in 1693, and at the same time Newton suffered a nervous breakdown. Some of their correspondence has survived.

In September of that year, Newton had a breakdown which included sending wild accusatory letters to his friends Samuel Pepys and John Locke. His note to the latter included the charge that Locke “endeavoured to embroil me with woemen”.

After Death


Fame

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Newton’s tomb monument in Westminster Abbey

The mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange said that Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived, and once added that Newton was also “the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish.” English poet Alexander Pope wrote the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;

God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

Newton was relatively modest about his achievements, writing in a letter to Robert Hooke in February 1676:

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Two writers think that the above quotation, written at a time when Newton and Hooke were in dispute over optical discoveries, was an oblique attack on Hooke (said to have been short and hunchbacked), rather than—or in addition to—a statement of modesty. On the other hand, the widely known proverb about standing on the shoulders of giants, published among others by seventeenth-century poet George Herbert (a former orator of the University of Cambridge and fellow of Trinity College) in his Jacula Prudentum (1651), had as its main point that “a dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees farther of the two”, and so its effect as an analogy would place Newton himself rather than Hooke as the ‘dwarf’.

In a later memoir, Newton wrote:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

In 1816, a tooth said to have belonged to Newton was sold for £730 (us$3,633) in London to an aristocrat who had it set in a ring. The Guinness World Records 2002 classified it as the most valuable tooth, which would value approximately £25,000 (us$35,700) in late 2001. Who bought it and who currently has it has not been disclosed.

Albert Einstein kept a picture of Newton on his study wall alongside ones of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. Newton remains influential to today’s scientists, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of members of Britain’s Royal Society (formerly headed by Newton) asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton or Einstein. Royal Society scientists deemed Newton to have made the greater overall contribution. In 1999, an opinion poll of 100 of today’s leading physicists voted Einstein the “greatest physicist ever;” with Newton the runner-up, while a parallel survey of rank-and-file physicists by the site PhysicsWeb gave the top spot to Newton.

Commemorations

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Newton statue on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Newton’s monument (1731) can be seen in Westminster Abbey, at the north of the entrance to the choir against the choir screen, near his tomb. It was executed by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770) in white and grey marble with design by the architect William Kent. The monument features a figure of Newton reclining on top of a sarcophagus, his right elbow resting on several of his great books and his left hand pointing to a scroll with a mathematical design. Above him is a pyramid and a celestial globe showing the signs of the Zodiac and the path of the comet of 1680. A relief panel depicts putti using instruments such as a telescope and prism. The Latin inscription on the base translates as:

Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race! He was born on 25 December 1642, and died on 20 March 1726/7.—Translation from G.L. Smyth, The Monuments and Genii of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and of Westminster Abbey (1826), ii, 703–4.

From 1978 until 1988, an image of Newton designed by Harry Ecclestone appeared on Series D £1 banknotes issued by the Bank of England (the last £1 notes to be issued by the Bank of England). Newton was shown on the reverse of the notes holding a book and accompanied by a telescope, a prism and a map of the Solar System.

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Eduardo Paolozzi’s Newton, after William Blake (1995), outside the British Library

A statue of Isaac Newton, looking at an apple at his feet, can be seen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. A large bronze statue, Newton, after William Blake, by Eduardo Paolozzi, dated 1995 and inspired by Blake’s etching, dominates the piazza of the British Library in London.

Religious views


Although born into an Anglican family, by his thirties Newton held a Christian faith that, had it been made public, would not have been considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity; in recent times he has been described as a heretic.

By 1672 he had started to record his theological researches in notebooks which he showed to no one and which have only recently been examined. They demonstrate an extensive knowledge of early church writings and show that in the conflict between Athanasius and Arius which defined the Creed, he took the side of Arius, the loser, who rejected the conventional view of the Trinity. Newton “recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him.” He was especially interested in prophecy, but for him, “the great apostasy was trinitarianism.”

Newton tried unsuccessfully to obtain one of the two fellowships that exempted the holder from the ordination requirement. At the last moment in 1675 he received a dispensation from the government that excused him and all future holders of the Lucasian chair.

In Newton’s eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin.  Historian Stephen D. Snobelen says, “Isaac Newton was a heretic. But … he never made a public declaration of his private faith—which the orthodox would have deemed extremely radical. He hid his faith so well that scholars are still unravelling his personal beliefs.” Snobelen concludes that Newton was at least a Socinian sympathiser (he owned and had thoroughly read at least eight Socinian books), possibly an Arian and almost certainly an anti-trinitarian.

In a minority view, T.C. Pfizenmaier argues that Newton held the Eastern Orthodox view on the Trinity. However, this type of view ‘has lost support of late with the availability of Newton’s theological papers’, and now most scholars identify Newton as an Antitrinitarian monotheist.

Although the laws of motion and universal gravitation became Newton’s best-known discoveries, he warned against using them to view the Universe as a mere machine, as if akin to a great clock. He said, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

Along with his scientific fame, Newton’s studies of the Bible and of the early Church Fathers were also noteworthy. Newton wrote works on textual criticism, most notably An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture and Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John. He placed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at 3 April, AD 33, which agrees with one traditionally accepted date.

He believed in a rationally immanent world, but he rejected the hylozoism implicit in Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza. The ordered and dynamically informed Universe could be understood, and must be understood, by an active reason. In his correspondence, Newton claimed that in writing the Principia “I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity”. He saw evidence of design in the system of the world: “Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice”. But Newton insisted that divine intervention would eventually be required to reform the system, due to the slow growth of instabilities. For this, Leibniz lampooned him: “God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”

Newton’s position was vigorously defended by his follower Samuel Clarke in a famous correspondence. A century later, Pierre-Simon Laplace’s work “Celestial Mechanics” had a natural explanation for why the planet orbits do not require periodic divine intervention.

Effect on religious thought

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Newton, by William Blake; here, Newton is depicted critically as a “divine geometer”. This copy of the work is currently held by the Tate Collection.

Newton and Robert Boyle’s approach to the mechanical philosophy was promoted by rationalist pamphleteers as a viable alternative to the pantheists and enthusiasts, and was accepted hesitantly by orthodox preachers as well as dissident preachers like the latitudinarians. The clarity and simplicity of science was seen as a way to combat the emotional and metaphysical superlatives of both superstitious enthusiasm and the threat of atheism, and at the same time, the second wave of English deists used Newton’s discoveries to demonstrate the possibility of a “Natural Religion”.

The attacks made against pre-Enlightenment “magical thinking”, and the mystical elements of Christianity, were given their foundation with Boyle’s mechanical conception of the Universe. Newton gave Boyle’s ideas their completion through mathematical proofs and, perhaps more importantly, was very successful in popularising them.

Occult

In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 (never intended to be published) he mentions the date of 2060, but it is not given as a date for the end of days. It has been falsely reported as a prediction]. The passage is clear, when you read the date in context. He was against date setting for the end of days, concerned that this would put Christianity into disrepute.

“So then the time times & half a time [sic] are 42 months or 1260 days or three years & an half, recconing twelve months to a year & 30 days to a month as was done in the Calender of the primitive year. And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of [long-]lived kingdoms the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings A.C. 800, will end 2060. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner.”

“This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, and it is not for us to know the times and seasons which God hath put into his own breast”

He later revised this date to 2016.

Alchemy

In the character of Morton Opperly in “Poor Superman” (1951), speculative fiction author Fritz Leiber says of Newton, “Everyone knows Newton as the great scientist. Few remember that he spent half his life muddling with alchemy, looking for the philosopher’s stone. That was the pebble by the seashore he really wanted to find.”

Of an estimated ten million words of writing in Newton’s papers, about one million deal with alchemy. Many of Newton’s writings on alchemy are copies of other manuscripts, with his own annotations. Alchemical texts mix artisanal knowledge with philosophical speculation, often hidden behind layers of wordplay, allegory, and imagery to protect craft secrets. Some of the content contained in Newton’s papers could have been considered heretical by the church.

In 1888, after spending sixteen years cataloging Newton’s papers, Cambridge University kept a small number and returned the rest to the Earl of Portsmouth. In 1936, a descendant offered the papers for sale at Sotheby’s. The collection was broken up and sold for a total of about £9,000. John Maynard Keynes was one of about three dozen bidders who obtained part of the collection at auction. Keynes went on to reassemble an estimated half of Newton’s collection of papers on alchemy before donating his collection to Cambridge University in 1946.

All of Newton’s known writings on alchemy are currently being put online in a project undertaken by Indiana University: “The Chymistry of Isaac Newton”.

Newton’s fundamental contributions to science include the quantification of gravitational attraction, the discovery that white light is actually a mixture of immutable spectral colors, and the formulation of the calculus. Yet there is another, more mysterious side to Newton that is imperfectly known, a realm of activity that spanned some thirty years of his life, although he kept it largely hidden from his contemporaries and colleagues. We refer to Newton’s involvement in the discipline of alchemy, or as it was often called in seventeenth-century England, “chymistry.”

Enlightenment philosophers


Enlightenment philosophers chose a short history of scientific predecessors – Galileo, Boyle, and Newton principally – as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of nature and natural law to every physical and social field of the day. In this respect, the lessons of history and the social structures built upon it could be discarded.

It was Newton’s conception of the universe based upon natural and rationally understandable laws that became one of the seeds for Enlightenment ideology. Locke and Voltaire applied concepts of natural law to political systems advocating intrinsic rights; the physiocrats and Adam Smith applied natural conceptions of psychology and self-interest to economic systems; and sociologists criticised the current social order for trying to fit history into natural models of progress. Monboddo and Samuel Clarke resisted elements of Newton’s work, but eventually rationalised it to conform with their strong religious views of nature.

Apple incident


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Reputed descendants of Newton’s apple tree (from top to bottom) at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and the Instituto Balseiro library garden

Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree. Although it has been said that the apple story is a myth and that he did not arrive at his theory of gravity in any single moment, acquaintances of Newton (such as William Stukeley, whose manuscript account of 1752 has been made available by the Royal Society) do in fact confirm the incident, though not the cartoon version that the apple actually hit Newton’s head. Stukeley recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life a conversation with Newton in Kensington on 15 April 1726:

we went into the garden, & drank thea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

John Conduitt, Newton’s assistant at the Royal Mint and husband of Newton’s niece, also described the event when he wrote about Newton’s life:

In the year 1666 he retired again from Cambridge to his mother in Lincolnshire. Whilst he was pensively meandering in a garden it came into his thought that the power of gravity (which brought an apple from a tree to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from earth, but that this power must extend much further than was usually thought. Why not as high as the Moon said he to himself & if so, that must influence her motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit, whereupon he fell a calculating what would be the effect of that supposition.

In similar terms, Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Epic Poetry (1727), “Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree.”

It is known from his notebooks that Newton was grappling in the late 1660s with the idea that terrestrial gravity extends, in an inverse-square proportion, to the Moon; however it took him two decades to develop the full-fledged theory. The question was not whether gravity existed, but whether it extended so far from Earth that it could also be the force holding the Moon to its orbit. Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon’s orbital period, and get good agreement. He guessed the same force was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it “universal gravitation”.

Various trees are claimed to be “the” apple tree which Newton describes. The King’s School, Grantham, claims that the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster’s garden some years later. The staff of the (now) National Trust-owned Woolsthorpe Manor dispute this, and claim that a tree present in their gardens is the one described by Newton. A descendant of the original tree can be seen growing outside the main gate of Trinity College, Cambridge, below the room Newton lived in when he studied there. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale can supply grafts from their tree, which appears identical to Flower of Kent, a coarse-fleshed cooking variety.

Works


Published in his lifetime

  • De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum infinitas (1669, published 1711)
  • Method of Fluxions (1671)
  • Of Natures Obvious Laws & Processes in Vegetation (unpublished, c. 1671–75)
  • De motu corporum in gyrum (1684)
  • Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687)
  • Scala graduum Caloris. Calorum Descriptiones & signa (1701)
  • Opticks (1704)
  • Reports as Master of the Mint (1701–25)
  • Arithmetica Universalis (1707)
  • Published posthumously
  • The System of the World (1728)
  • Optical Lectures (1728)
  • The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728)
  • De mundi systemate (1728)
  • Observations on Daniel and The Apocalypse of St. John (1733)
  • An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture (1754)

Primary sources

  • Newton, Isaac. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. University of California Press, (1999)
    • Brackenridge, J. Bruce. The Key to Newton’s Dynamics: The Kepler Problem and the Principia: Containing an English Translation of Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Book One from the First (1687) Edition of Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, University of California Press (1996)
  • Newton, Isaac. The Optical Papers of Isaac Newton. Vol. 1: The Optical Lectures, 1670–1672, Cambridge University Press (1984)
    • Newton, Isaac. Opticks (4th ed. 1730) online edition
    • Newton, I. (1952). Opticks, or A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections & Colours of Light. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Newton, I. Sir Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and His System of the World, tr. A. Motte, rev. Florian Cajori. Berkeley: University of California Press (1934)
  • Whiteside, D.T. (1967–82). The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-07740-0. – 8 volumes.
  • Newton, Isaac. The correspondence of Isaac Newton, ed. H.W. Turnbull and others, 7 vols (1959–77)
  • Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings edited by H.S. Thayer (1953; online edition)
  • Isaac Newton, Sir; J Edleston; Roger Cotes, Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, including letters of other eminent men, London, John W. Parker, West Strand; Cambridge, John Deighton (1850, Google Books)
  • Maclaurin, C. (1748). An Account of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries, in Four Books. London: A. Millar and J. Nourse
  • Newton, I. (1958). Isaac Newton’s Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy and Related Documents, eds. I. B. Cohen and R. E. Schofield. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • Newton, I. (1962). The Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton: A Selection from the Portsmouth Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, ed. A. R. Hall and M. B. Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    Newton, I. (1975). Isaac Newton’s ‘Theory of the Moon’s Motion’ (1702). London: Dawson

Alexander Graham Bell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone and founding the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.

Bell’s father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. Bell considered his invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.

Many other inventions marked Bell’s later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics. Although Bell was not one of the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society, he had a strong influence on the magazine while serving as the second president from January 7, 1898, until 1903.

Early Life


Alexander Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. The family home was at 16 South Charlotte Street, and has a stone inscription marking it as Alexander Graham Bell’s birthplace. He had two brothers: Melville James Bell (1845–70) and Edward Charles Bell (1848–67), both of whom would die of tuberculosis. His father was Professor Alexander Melville Bell, a phonetician, and his mother was Eliza Grace (née Symonds). Born as just “Alexander Bell”, at age 10, he made a plea to his father to have a middle name like his two brothers. For his 11th birthday, his father acquiesced and allowed him to adopt the name “Graham”, chosen out of respect for Alexander Graham, a Canadian being treated by his father who had become a family friend. To close relatives and friends he remained “Aleck”.

First Invention

As a child, young Bell displayed a natural curiosity about his world, resulting in gathering botanical specimens as well as experimenting even at an early age. His best friend was Ben Herdman, a neighbour whose family operated a flour mill, the scene of many forays. Young Bell asked what needed to be done at the mill. He was told wheat had to be dehusked through a laborious process and at the age of 12, Bell built a homemade device that combined rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes, creating a simple dehusking machine that was put into operation and used steadily for a number of years. In return, Ben’s father John Herdman gave both boys the run of a small workshop in which to “invent”.

From his early years, Bell showed a sensitive nature and a talent for art, poetry, and music that was encouraged by his mother. With no formal training, he mastered the piano and became the family’s pianist. Despite being normally quiet and introspective, he revelled in mimicry and “voice tricks” akin to ventriloquism that continually entertained family guests during their occasional visits. Bell was also deeply affected by his mother’s gradual deafness (she began to lose her hearing when he was 12), and learned a manual finger language so he could sit at her side and tap out silently the conversations swirling around the family parlour. He also developed a technique of speaking in clear, modulated tones directly into his mother’s forehead wherein she would hear him with reasonable clarity. Bell’s preoccupation with his mother’s deafness led him to study acoustics.

His family was long associated with the teaching of elocution: his grandfather, Alexander Bell, in London, his uncle in Dublin, and his father, in Edinburgh, were all elocutionists. His father published a variety of works on the subject, several of which are still well known, especially his The Standard Elocutionist (1860), which appeared in Edinburgh in 1868. The Standard Elocutionist appeared in 168 British editions and sold over a quarter of a million copies in the United States alone. In this treatise, his father explains his methods of how to instruct deaf-mutes (as they were then known) to articulate words and read other people’s lip movements to decipher meaning. Bell’s father taught him and his brothers not only to write Visible Speech but to identify any symbol and its accompanying sound. Bell became so proficient that he became a part of his father’s public demonstrations and astounded audiences with his abilities. He could decipher Visible Speech representing virtually every language, including Latin, Scottish Gaelic, and even Sanskrit, accurately reciting written tracts without any prior knowledge of their pronunciation.

Education

As a young child, Bell, like his brothers, received his early schooling at home from his father. At an early age, he was enrolled at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland, which he left at the age of 15, having completed only the first four forms. His school record was undistinguished, marked by absenteeism and lacklustre grades. His main interest remained in the sciences, especially biology while he treated other school subjects with indifference, to the dismay of his demanding father. Upon leaving school, Bell travelled to London to live with his grandfather, Alexander Bell. During the year he spent with his grandfather, a love of learning was born, with long hours spent in serious discussion and study. The elder Bell took great efforts to have his young pupil learn to speak clearly and with conviction, the attributes that his pupil would need to become a teacher himself. At the age of 16, Bell secured a position as a “pupil-teacher” of elocution and music, in Weston House Academy at Elgin, Moray, Scotland. Although he was enrolled as a student in Latin and Greek, he instructed classes himself in return for board and £10 per session. The following year, he attended the University of Edinburgh; joining his older brother Melville who had enrolled there the previous year. In 1868, not long before he departed for Canada with his family, Bell completed his matriculation exams and was accepted for admission to University College London.

First Experiments with Sound

His father encouraged Bell’s interest in speech and, in 1863, took his sons to see a unique automaton developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone based on the earlier work of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen. The rudimentary “mechanical man” simulated a human voice. Bell was fascinated by the machine and after he obtained a copy of von Kempelen’s book, published in German, and had laboriously translated it, he and his older brother Melville built their own automaton head. Their father, highly interested in their project, offered to pay for any supplies and spurred the boys on with the enticement of a “big prize” if they were successful. While his brother constructed the throat and larynx, Bell tackled the more difficult task of recreating a realistic skull. His efforts resulted in a remarkably lifelike head that could “speak”, albeit only a few words. The boys would carefully adjust the “lips” and when a bellows forced air through the windpipe, a very recognizable “Mama” ensued, to the delight of neighbours who came to see the Bell invention.

Intrigued by the results of the automaton, Bell continued to experiment with a live subject, the family’s Skye Terrier, “Trouve”. After he taught it to growl continuously, Bell would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog’s lips and vocal cords to produce a crude-sounding “Ow ah oo ga ma ma”. With little convincing, visitors believed his dog could articulate “How are you, grandma?” Indicative of his playful nature, his experiments convinced onlookers that they saw a “talking dog”. These initial forays into experimentation with sound led Bell to undertake his first serious work on the transmission of sound, using tuning forks to explore resonance.

At age 19, Bell wrote a report on his work and sent it to philologist Alexander Ellis, a colleague of his father (who would later be portrayed as Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion). Ellis immediately wrote back indicating that the experiments were similar to existing work in Germany, and also lent Bell a copy of Hermann von Helmholtz’s work, The Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music.

Dismayed to find that groundbreaking work had already been undertaken by Helmholtz who had conveyed vowel sounds by means of a similar tuning fork “contraption”, Bell pored over the German scientist’s book. Working from his own erroneous mistranslation of a French edition, Bell fortuitously then made a deduction that would be the underpinning of all his future work on transmitting sound, reporting: “Without knowing much about the subject, it seemed to me that if vowel sounds could be produced by electrical means, so could consonants, so could articulate speech.” He also later remarked: “I thought that Helmholtz had done it … and that my failure was due only to my ignorance of electricity. It was a valuable blunder … If I had been able to read German in those days, I might never have commenced my experiments!”

Family Tragedy

In 1865, when the Bell family moved to London, Bell returned to Weston House as an assistant master and, in his spare hours, continued experiments on sound using a minimum of laboratory equipment. Bell concentrated on experimenting with electricity to convey sound and later installed a telegraph wire from his room in Somerset College to that of a friend. Throughout late 1867, his health faltered mainly through exhaustion. His younger brother, Edward “Ted,” was similarly bed-ridden, suffering from tuberculosis. While Bell recovered (by then referring to himself in correspondence as “A. G. Bell”) and served the next year as an instructor at Somerset College, Bath, England, his brother’s condition deteriorated. Edward would never recover. Upon his brother’s death, Bell returned home in 1867. His older brother Melville had married and moved out. With aspirations to obtain a degree at University College London, Bell considered his next years as preparation for the degree examinations, devoting his spare time at his family’s residence to studying.

Helping his father in Visible Speech demonstrations and lectures brought Bell to Susanna E. Hull’s private school for the deaf in South Kensington, London. His first two pupils were deaf-mute girls who made remarkable progress under his tutelage. While his older brother seemed to achieve success on many fronts including opening his own elocution school, applying for a patent on an invention, and starting a family, Bell continued as a teacher. However, in May 1870, Melville died from complications due to tuberculosis, causing a family crisis. His father had also suffered a debilitating illness earlier in life and had been restored to health by a convalescence in Newfoundland. Bell’s parents embarked upon a long-planned move when they realized that their remaining son was also sickly. Acting decisively, Alexander Melville Bell asked Bell to arrange for the sale of all the family property, conclude all of his brother’s affairs (Bell took over his last student, curing a pronounced lisp), and join his father and mother in setting out for the “New World”. Reluctantly, Bell also had to conclude a relationship with Marie Eccleston, who, as he had surmised, was not prepared to leave England with him.

Canada


The_Bell_Homestead_National_Historic_Site,_Brantford,_Ontario,_Canada,_incl._Visitor_Ctr,_Henderson_Home,_Carriage_House_and_Dreaming_Place_IMG_0039_09

Melville House, the Bells’ first home in North America, now a National Historic Site of Canada

In 1870, aged 23, Bell, together with Bell’s brother’s widow, Caroline Margaret Ottaway, and his parents travelled on the SS Nestorian to Canada. After landing at Quebec City, the Bells transferred to another steamer to Montreal and then boarded a train to Paris, Ontario, to stay with the Reverend Thomas Henderson, a family friend. After a brief stay with the Hendersons, the Bell family purchased a farm of 10.5 acres (42,000 m2) at Tutelo Heights (now called Tutela Heights), near Brantford, Ontario. The property consisted of an orchard, large farmhouse, stable, pigsty, hen-house, and a carriage house, which bordered the Grand River.

At the homestead, Bell set up his own workshop in the converted carriage house near to what he called his “dreaming place”, a large hollow nestled in trees at the back of the property above the river. Despite his frail condition upon arriving in Canada, Bell found the climate and environs to his liking, and rapidly improved. He continued his interest in the study of the human voice and when he discovered the Six Nations Reserve across the river at Onondaga, he learned the Mohawk language and translated its unwritten vocabulary into Visible Speech symbols. For his work, Bell was awarded the title of Honorary Chief and participated in a ceremony where he donned a Mohawk headdress and danced traditional dances.

After setting up his workshop, Bell continued experiments based on Helmholtz’s work with electricity and sound. He also modified a melodeon (a type of pump organ) so that it could transmit its music electrically over a distance. Once the family was settled in, both Bell and his father made plans to establish a teaching practice and in 1871, he accompanied his father to Montreal, where Melville was offered a position to teach his System of Visible Speech.

Work with the deaf


Bell_at_the_Pemberton_Avenue_School_for_the_Deaf,_Boston,_from_the_Library_of_Congress._00837v

Bell, top right, providing pedagogical instruction to teachers at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes, 1871. Throughout his life, he referred to himself as “a teacher of the deaf”.

Bell’s father was invited by Sarah Fuller, principal of the Boston School for Deaf Mutes (which continues today as the public Horace Mann School for the Deaf), in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, to introduce the Visible Speech System by providing training for Fuller’s instructors, but he declined the post in favour of his son. Travelling to Boston in April 1871, Bell proved successful in training the school’s instructors. He was subsequently asked to repeat the programme at the American Asylum for Deaf-mutes in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Returning home to Brantford after six months abroad, Bell continued his experiments with his “harmonic telegraph”. The basic concept behind his device was that messages could be sent through a single wire if each message was transmitted at a different pitch, but work on both the transmitter and receiver was needed.

Unsure of his future, he first contemplated returning to London to complete his studies, but decided to return to Boston as a teacher. His father helped him set up his private practice by contacting Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the president of the Clarke School for the Deaf for a recommendation. Teaching his father’s system, in October 1872, Alexander Bell opened his “School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech” in Boston, which attracted a large number of deaf pupils, with his first class numbering 30 students. While he was working as a private tutor, one of his pupils was Helen Keller, who came to him as a young child unable to see, hear, or speak. She was later to say that Bell dedicated his life to the penetration of that “inhuman silence which separates and estranges”. In 1893, Keller performed the sod-breaking ceremony for the construction of Bell’s new Volta Bureau, dedicated to “the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf”.

Several influential people of the time, including Bell, viewed deafness as something that should be eradicated, and also believed that with resources and effort, they could teach the deaf to speak and avoid the use of sign language, thus enabling their integration within the wider society from which many were often being excluded. Owing to his efforts to suppress the teaching of sign language, Bell is often viewed negatively by those embracing Deaf culture.

Continuing Experimentation


In the following year, Bell became professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at the Boston University School of Oratory. During this period, he alternated between Boston and Brantford, spending summers in his Canadian home. At Boston University, Bell was “swept up” by the excitement engendered by the many scientists and inventors residing in the city. He continued his research in sound and endeavored to find a way to transmit musical notes and articulate speech, but although absorbed by his experiments, he found it difficult to devote enough time to experimentation. While days and evenings were occupied by his teaching and private classes, Bell began to stay awake late into the night, running experiment after experiment in rented facilities at his boarding house. Keeping “night owl” hours, he worried that his work would be discovered and took great pains to lock up his notebooks and laboratory equipment. Bell had a specially made table where he could place his notes and equipment inside a locking cover. Worse still, his health deteriorated as he suffered severe headaches. Returning to Boston in fall 1873, Bell made a fateful decision to concentrate on his experiments in sound.

Deciding to give up his lucrative private Boston practice, Bell retained only two students, six-year-old “Georgie” Sanders, deaf from birth, and 15-year-old Mabel Hubbard. Each pupil would play an important role in the next developments. George’s father, Thomas Sanders, a wealthy businessman, offered Bell a place to stay in nearby Salem with Georgie’s grandmother, complete with a room to “experiment”. Although the offer was made by George’s mother and followed the year-long arrangement in 1872 where her son and his nurse had moved to quarters next to Bell’s boarding house, it was clear that Mr. Sanders was backing the proposal. The arrangement was for teacher and student to continue their work together, with free room and board thrown in. Mabel was a bright, attractive girl who was ten years Bell’s junior but became the object of his affection. Having lost her hearing after a near-fatal bout of scarlet fever close to her fifth birthday, she had learned to read lips but her father, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Bell’s benefactor and personal friend, wanted her to work directly with her teacher.

Telephone


By 1874, Bell’s initial work on the harmonic telegraph had entered a formative stage, with progress made both at his new Boston “laboratory” (a rented facility) and at his family home in Canada a big success. While working that summer in Brantford, Bell experimented with a “phonautograph”, a pen-like machine that could draw shapes of sound waves on smoked glass by tracing their vibrations. Bell thought it might be possible to generate undulating electrical currents that corresponded to sound waves. Bell also thought that multiple metal reeds tuned to different frequencies like a harp would be able to convert the undulating currents back into sound. But he had no working model to demonstrate the feasibility of these ideas.

In 1874, telegraph message traffic was rapidly expanding and in the words of Western Union President William Orton, had become “the nervous system of commerce”. Orton had contracted with inventors Thomas Edison and Elisha Gray to find a way to send multiple telegraph messages on each telegraph line to avoid the great cost of constructing new lines. When Bell mentioned to Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders that he was working on a method of sending multiple tones on a telegraph wire using a multi-reed device, the two wealthy patrons began to financially support Bell’s experiments. Patent matters would be handled by Hubbard’s patent attorney, Anthony Pollok.

In March 1875, Bell and Pollok visited the scientist Joseph Henry, who was then director of the Smithsonian Institution, and asked Henry’s advice on the electrical multi-reed apparatus that Bell hoped would transmit the human voice by telegraph. Henry replied that Bell had “the germ of a great invention”. When Bell said that he did not have the necessary knowledge, Henry replied, “Get it!” That declaration greatly encouraged Bell to keep trying, even though he did not have the equipment needed to continue his experiments, nor the ability to create a working model of his ideas. However, a chance meeting in 1874 between Bell and Thomas A. Watson, an experienced electrical designer and mechanic at the electrical machine shop of Charles Williams, changed all that.

With financial support from Sanders and Hubbard, Bell hired Thomas Watson as his assistant, and the two of them experimented with acoustic telegraphy. On June 2, 1875, Watson accidentally plucked one of the reeds and Bell, at the receiving end of the wire, heard the overtones of the reed; overtones that would be necessary for transmitting speech. That demonstrated to Bell that only one reed or armature was necessary, not multiple reeds. This led to the “gallows” sound-powered telephone, which could transmit indistinct, voice-like sounds, but not clear speech.

The race to the patent office

In 1875, Bell developed an acoustic telegraph and drew up a patent application for it. Since he had agreed to share U.S. profits with his investors Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, Bell requested that an associate in Ontario, George Brown, attempt to patent it in Britain, instructing his lawyers to apply for a patent in the U.S. only after they received word from Britain (Britain would issue patents only for discoveries not previously patented elsewhere).

Portrait

Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent drawing, March 7, 1876

Meanwhile, Elisha Gray was also experimenting with acoustic telegraphy and thought of a way to transmit speech using a water transmitter. On February 14, 1876, Gray filed a caveat with the U.S. Patent Office for a telephone design that used a water transmitter. That same morning, Bell’s lawyer filed Bell’s application with the patent office. There is considerable debate about who arrived first and Gray later challenged the primacy of Bell’s patent. Bell was in Boston on February 14 and did not arrive in Washington until February 26.

Bell’s patent 174,465, was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876, by the U.S. Patent Office. Bell’s patent covered “the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically … by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound” Bell returned to Boston the same day and the next day resumed work, drawing in his notebook a diagram similar to that in Gray’s patent caveat.

On March 10, 1876, three days after his patent was issued, Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work, using a liquid transmitter similar to Gray’s design. Vibration of the diaphragm caused a needle to vibrate in the water, varying the electrical resistance in the circuit. When Bell spoke the sentence “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you” into the liquid transmitter, Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.

Although Bell was, and still is, accused of stealing the telephone from Gray, Bell used Gray’s water transmitter design only after Bell’s patent had been granted, and only as a proof of concept scientific experiment, to prove to his own satisfaction that intelligible “articulate speech” (Bell’s words) could be electrically transmitted. After March 1876, Bell focused on improving the electromagnetic telephone and never used Gray’s liquid transmitter in public demonstrations or commercial use.

The question of priority for the variable resistance feature of the telephone was raised by the examiner before he approved Bell’s patent application. He told Bell that his claim for the variable resistance feature was also described in Gray’s caveat. Bell pointed to a variable resistance device in Bell’s previous application in which Bell described a cup of mercury, not water. Bell had filed the mercury application at the patent office a year earlier on February 25, 1875, long before Elisha Gray described the water device. In addition, Gray abandoned his caveat, and because he did not contest Bell’s priority, the examiner approved Bell’s patent on March 3, 1876. Gray had reinvented the variable resistance telephone, but Bell was the first to write down the idea and the first to test it in a telephone.

The patent examiner, Zenas Fisk Wilber, later stated in an affidavit that he was an alcoholic who was much in debt to Bell’s lawyer, Marcellus Bailey, with whom he had served in the Civil War. He claimed he showed Gray’s patent caveat to Bailey. Wilber also claimed (after Bell arrived in Washington D.C. from Boston) that he showed Gray’s caveat to Bell and that Bell paid him $100. Bell claimed they discussed the patent only in general terms, although in a letter to Gray, Bell admitted that he learned some of the technical details. Bell denied in an affidavit that he ever gave Wilber any money.

Later developments

Continuing his experiments in Brantford, Bell brought home a working model of his telephone. On August 3, 1876, from the telegraph office in Mount Pleasant five miles (eight km) away from Brantford, Bell sent a tentative telegram indicating that he was ready. With curious onlookers packed into the office as witnesses, faint voices were heard replying. The following night, he amazed guests as well as his family when a message was received at the Bell home from Brantford, four miles (six km) distant, along an improvised wire strung up along telegraph lines and fences, and laid through a tunnel. This time, guests at the household distinctly heard people in Brantford reading and singing. These experiments clearly proved that the telephone could work over long distances.

Alexander_Graham_Telephone_in_Newyork

Bell at the opening of the long-distance line from New York to Chicago in 1892

Bell and his partners, Hubbard and Sanders, offered to sell the patent outright to Western Union for $100,000. The president of Western Union balked, countering that the telephone was nothing but a toy. Two years later, he told colleagues that if he could get the patent for $25 million he would consider it a bargain. By then, the Bell company no longer wanted to sell the patent. Bell’s investors would become millionaires while he fared well from residuals and at one point had assets of nearly one million dollars.

Bell began a series of public demonstrations and lectures to introduce the new invention to the scientific community as well as the general public. A short time later, his demonstration of an early telephone prototype at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia brought the telephone to international attention. Influential visitors to the exhibition included Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. Later, Bell had the opportunity to demonstrate the invention personally to Sir William Thomson (later, Lord Kelvin), a renowned Scottish scientist, as well as to Queen Victoria, who had requested a private audience at Osborne House, her Isle of Wight home. She called the demonstration “most extraordinary”. The enthusiasm surrounding Bell’s public displays laid the groundwork for universal acceptance of the revolutionary device.

The Bell Telephone Company was created in 1877, and by 1886, more than 150,000 people in the U.S. owned telephones. Bell Company engineers made numerous other improvements to the telephone, which emerged as one of the most successful products ever. In 1879, the Bell company acquired Edison’s patents for the carbon microphone from Western Union. This made the telephone practical for longer distances, and it was no longer necessary to shout to be heard at the receiving telephone.

In January 1915, Bell made the first ceremonial transcontinental telephone call. Calling from the AT&T head office at 15 Dey Street in New York City, Bell was heard by Thomas Watson at 333 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. The New York Times reported:

On October 9, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson talked by telephone to each other over a two-mile wire stretched between Cambridge and Boston. It was the first wire conversation ever held. Yesterday afternoon [on January 25, 1915], the same two men talked by telephone to each other over a 3,400-mile wire between New York and San Francisco. Dr. Bell, the veteran inventor of the telephone, was in New York, and Mr. Watson, his former associate, was on the other side of the continent.

Competitors

As is sometimes common in scientific discoveries, simultaneous developments can occur, as evidenced by a number of inventors who were at work on the telephone. Over a period of 18 years, the Bell Telephone Company faced 587 court challenges to its patents, including five that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but none was successful in establishing priority over the original Bell patent and the Bell Telephone Company never lost a case that had proceeded to a final trial stage. Bell’s laboratory notes and family letters were the key to establishing a long lineage to his experiments. The Bell company lawyers successfully fought off myriad lawsuits generated initially around the challenges by Elisha Gray and Amos Dolbear. In personal correspondence to Bell, both Gray and Dolbear had acknowledged his prior work, which considerably weakened their later claims.

On January 13, 1887, the U.S. Government moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation. After a series of decisions and reversals, the Bell company won a decision in the Supreme Court, though a couple of the original claims from the lower court cases were left undecided. By the time that the trial wound its way through nine years of legal battles, the U.S. prosecuting attorney had died and the two Bell patents (No. 174,465 dated March 7, 1876, and No. 186,787 dated January 30, 1877) were no longer in effect, although the presiding judges agreed to continue the proceedings due to the case’s importance as a precedent. With a change in administration and charges of conflict of interest (on both sides) arising from the original trial, the US Attorney General dropped the lawsuit on November 30, 1897, leaving several issues undecided on the merits.

During a deposition filed for the 1887 trial, Italian inventor Antonio Meucci also claimed to have created the first working model of a telephone in Italy in 1834. In 1886, in the first of three cases in which he was involved, Meucci took the stand as a witness in the hopes of establishing his invention’s priority. Meucci’s evidence in this case was disputed due to a lack of material evidence for his inventions as his working models were purportedly lost at the laboratory of American District Telegraph (ADT) of New York, which was later incorporated as a subsidiary of Western Union in 1901. Meucci’s work, like many other inventors of the period, was based on earlier acoustic principles and despite evidence of earlier experiments, the final case involving Meucci was eventually dropped upon Meucci’s death. However, due to the efforts of Congressman Vito Fossella, the U.S. House of Representatives on June 11, 2002, stated that Meucci’s “work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged”, even though this did not put an end to a still contentious issue. Some modern scholars do not agree with the claims that Bell’s work on the telephone was influenced by Meucci’s inventions.

The value of the Bell patent was acknowledged throughout the world, and patent applications were made in most major countries, but when Bell delayed the German patent application, the electrical firm of Siemens & Halske (S&H) set up a rival manufacturer of Bell telephones under their own patent. The Siemens company produced near-identical copies of the Bell telephone without having to pay royalties. The establishment of the International Bell Telephone Company in Brussels, Belgium in 1880, as well as a series of agreements in other countries eventually consolidated a global telephone operation. The strain put on Bell by his constant appearances in court, necessitated by the legal battles, eventually resulted in his resignation from the company.

Family Life


A distinguished bearded man, his young elegant wife next to him and their two young daughters poise for a formal portrait

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Alexander Graham Bell, his wife Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, and their daughters Elsie (left) and Marian ca. 1885

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The Brodhead-Bell mansion, the Bell family residence in Washington, D.C., from 1882 to 1889

On July 11, 1877, a few days after the Bell Telephone Company was established, Bell married Mabel Hubbard (1857–1923) at the Hubbard estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His wedding present to his bride was to turn over 1,487 of his 1,497 shares in the newly formed Bell Telephone Company. Shortly thereafter, the newlyweds embarked on a year-long honeymoon in Europe. During that excursion, Bell took a handmade model of his telephone with him, making it a “working holiday”. The courtship had begun years earlier; however, Bell waited until he was more financially secure before marrying. Although the telephone appeared to be an “instant” success, it was not initially a profitable venture and Bell’s main sources of income were from lectures until after 1897. One unusual request exacted by his fiancée was that he use “Alec” rather than the family’s earlier familiar name of “Aleck”. From 1876, he would sign his name “Alec Bell”. They had four children:

Elsie May Bell (1878–1964) who married Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor of National Geographic fame.

Marian Hubbard Bell (1880–1962) who was referred to as “Daisy”. Married David Fairchild.

Two sons who died in infancy (Edward in 1881 and Robert in 1883).

The Bell family home was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until 1880 when Bell’s father-in-law bought a house in Washington, D.C.; in 1882 he bought a home in the same city for Bell’s family, so they could be with him while he attended to the numerous court cases involving patent disputes.

Bell was a British subject throughout his early life in Scotland and later in Canada until 1882 when he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1915, he characterized his status as: “I am not one of those hyphenated Americans who claim allegiance to two countries.” Despite this declaration, Bell has been proudly claimed as a “native son” by all three countries he resided in: the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

By 1885, a new summer retreat was contemplated. That summer, the Bells had a vacation on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, spending time at the small village of Baddeck. Returning in 1886, Bell started building an estate on a point across from Baddeck, overlooking Bras d’Or Lake. By 1889, a large house, christened The Lodge was completed and two years later, a larger complex of buildings, including a new laboratory, were begun that the Bells would name Beinn Bhreagh (Gaelic: beautiful mountain) after Bell’s ancestral Scottish highlands. Bell also built the Bell Boatyard on the estate, employing up to 40 people building experimental craft as well as wartime lifeboats and workboats for the Royal Canadian Navy and pleasure craft for the Bell family. He was an enthusiastic boater, and Bell and his family sailed or rowed a long series of vessels on Bras d’Or Lake, ordering additional vessels from the H.W. Embree and Sons boatyard in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. In his final, and some of his most productive years, Bell split his residency between Washington, D.C., where he and his family initially resided for most of the year, and at Beinn Bhreagh where they spent increasing amounts of time.

Until the end of his life, Bell and his family would alternate between the two homes, but Beinn Bhreagh would, over the next 30 years, become more than a summer home as Bell became so absorbed in his experiments that his annual stays lengthened. Both Mabel and Bell became immersed in the Baddeck community and were accepted by the villagers as “their own”. The Bells were still in residence at Beinn Bhreagh when the Halifax Explosion occurred on December 6, 1917. Mabel and Bell mobilized the community to help victims in Halifax.

Further information: Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia

Later Inventions


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Alexander Graham Bell in his later years

Although Alexander Graham Bell is most often associated with the invention of the telephone, his interests were extremely varied. According to one of his biographers, Charlotte Gray, Bell’s work ranged “unfettered across the scientific landscape” and he often went to bed voraciously reading the Encyclopædia Britannica, scouring it for new areas of interest. The range of Bell’s inventive genius is represented only in part by the 18 patents granted in his name alone and the 12 he shared with his collaborators. These included 14 for the telephone and telegraph, four for the photophone, one for the phonograph, five for aerial vehicles, four for “hydroairplanes”, and two for selenium cells. Bell’s inventions spanned a wide range of interests and included a metal jacket to assist in breathing, the audiometer to detect minor hearing problems, a device to locate icebergs, investigations on how to separate salt from seawater, and work on finding alternative fuels.

Bell worked extensively in medical research and invented techniques for teaching speech to the deaf. During his Volta Laboratory period, Bell and his associates considered impressing a magnetic field on a record as a means of reproducing sound. Although the trio briefly experimented with the concept, they could not develop a workable prototype. They abandoned the idea, never realizing they had glimpsed a basic principle which would one day find its application in the tape recorder, the hard disc and floppy disc drive, and other magnetic media.

Bell’s own home used a primitive form of air conditioning, in which fans blew currents of air across great blocks of ice. He also anticipated modern concerns with fuel shortages and industrial pollution. Methane gas, he reasoned, could be produced from the waste of farms and factories. At his Canadian estate in Nova Scotia, he experimented with composting toilets and devices to capture water from the atmosphere. In a magazine interview published shortly before his death, he reflected on the possibility of using solar panels to heat houses.

Photophone

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Photophone receiver, one half of Bell’s wireless optical communication system, ca. 1880

Bell and his assistant Charles Sumner Tainter jointly invented a wireless telephone, named a photophone, which allowed for the transmission of both sounds and normal human conversations on a beam of light. Both men later became full associates in the Volta Laboratory Association.

On June 21, 1880, Bell’s assistant transmitted a wireless voice telephone message a considerable distance, from the roof of the Franklin School in Washington, D.C., to Bell at the window of his laboratory, some 213 metres (700 ft) away, 19 years before the first voice radio transmissions.

Bell believed the photophone’s principles were his life’s “greatest achievement”, telling a reporter shortly before his death that the photophone was “the greatest invention [I have] ever made, greater than the telephone”. The photophone was a precursor to the fiber-optic communication systems which achieved popular worldwide usage in the 1980s. Its master patent was issued in December 1880, many decades before the photophone’s principles came into popular use.

Metal Detector

Bell is also credited with developing one of the early versions of a metal detector in 1881. The device was quickly put together in an attempt to find the bullet in the body of U.S. President James Garfield. According to some accounts, the metal detector worked flawlessly in tests but did not find the assassin’s bullet partly because the metal bed frame on which the President was lying disturbed the instrument, resulting in static. The president’s surgeons, who were skeptical of the device, ignored Bell’s requests to move the president to a bed not fitted with metal springs. Alternatively, although Bell had detected a slight sound on his first test, the bullet may have been lodged too deeply to be detected by the crude apparatus.

Bell’s own detailed account, presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1882, differs in several particulars from most of the many and varied versions now in circulation, by concluding that extraneous metal was not to blame for failure to locate the bullet. Perplexed by the peculiar results he had obtained during an examination of Garfield, Bell “proceeded to the Executive Mansion the next morning … to ascertain from the surgeons whether they were perfectly sure that all metal had been removed from the neighborhood of the bed. It was then recollected that underneath the horse-hair mattress on which the President lay was another mattress composed of steel wires. Upon obtaining a duplicate, the mattress was found to consist of a sort of net of woven steel wires, with large meshes. The extent of the [area that produced a response from the detector] having been so small, as compared with the area of the bed, it seemed reasonable to conclude that the steel mattress had produced no detrimental effect.” In a footnote, Bell adds, “The death of President Garfield and the subsequent post-mortem examination, however, proved that the bullet was at too great a distance from the surface to have affected our apparatus.”

Hydrofoils

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Bell HD-4 on a test run ca. 1919

The March 1906 Scientific American article by American pioneer William E. Meacham explained the basic principle of hydrofoils and hydroplanes. Bell considered the invention of the hydroplane as a very significant achievement. Based on information gained from that article, he began to sketch concepts of what is now called a hydrofoil boat. Bell and assistant Frederick W. “Casey” Baldwin began hydrofoil experimentation in the summer of 1908 as a possible aid to airplane takeoff from water. Baldwin studied the work of the Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini and began testing models. This led him and Bell to the development of practical hydrofoil watercraft.

During his world tour of 1910–11, Bell and Baldwin met with Forlanini in France. They had rides in the Forlanini hydrofoil boat over Lake Maggiore. Baldwin described it as being as smooth as flying. On returning to Baddeck, a number of initial concepts were built as experimental models, including the Dhonnas Beag (Scottish Gaelic for little devil), the first self-propelled Bell-Baldwin hydrofoil. The experimental boats were essentially proof-of-concept prototypes that culminated in the more substantial HD-4, powered by Renault engines. A top speed of 54 miles per hour (87 km/h) was achieved, with the hydrofoil exhibiting rapid acceleration, good stability, and steering, along with the ability to take waves without difficulty. In 1913, Dr. Bell hired Walter Pinaud, a Sydney yacht designer and builder as well as the proprietor of Pinaud’s Yacht Yard in Westmount, Nova Scotia to work on the pontoons of the HD-4. Pinaud soon took over the boatyard at Bell Laboratories on Beinn Bhreagh, Bell’s estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Pinaud’s experience in boat-building enabled him to make useful design changes to the HD-4. After the First World War, work began again on the HD-4. Bell’s report to the U.S. Navy permitted him to obtain two 350 horsepower (260 kilowatts) engines in July 1919. On September 9, 1919, the HD-4 set a world marine speed record of 70.86 miles per hour (114.04 kilometres per hour), a record which stood for ten years.

Aeronautics

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AEA Silver Dart ca. 1909

In 1891, Bell had begun experiments to develop motor-powered heavier-than-air aircraft. The AEA was first formed as Bell shared the vision to fly with his wife, who advised him to seek “young” help as Bell was at the age of 60.

In 1898, Bell experimented with tetrahedral box kites and wings constructed of multiple compound tetrahedral kites covered in maroon silk. The tetrahedral wings were named Cygnet I, II, and III, and were flown both unmanned and manned (Cygnet I crashed during a flight carrying Selfridge) in the period from 1907–1912. Some of Bell’s kites are on display at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

Bell was a supporter of aerospace engineering research through the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), officially formed at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, in October 1907 at the suggestion of his wife Mabel and with her financial support after the sale of some of her real estate. The AEA was headed by Bell and the founding members were four young men: American Glenn H. Curtiss, a motorcycle manufacturer at the time and who held the title “world’s fastest man”, having ridden his self-constructed motor bicycle around in the shortest time, and who was later awarded the Scientific American Trophy for the first official one-kilometre flight in the Western hemisphere, and who later became a world-renowned airplane manufacturer; Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, an official observer from the U.S. Federal government and one of the few people in the army who believed that aviation was the future; Frederick W. Baldwin, the first Canadian and first British subject to pilot a public flight in Hammondsport, New York, and J. A .D. McCurdy–Baldwin and McCurdy being new engineering graduates from the University of Toronto.

The AEA’s work progressed to heavier-than-air machines, applying their knowledge of kites to gliders. Moving to Hammondsport, the group then designed and built the Red Wing, framed in bamboo and covered in red silk and powered by a small air-cooled engine. On March 12, 1908, over Keuka Lake, the biplane lifted off on the first public flight in North America. The innovations that were incorporated into this design included a cockpit enclosure and tail rudder (later variations on the original design would add ailerons as a means of control). One of the AEA’s inventions, a practical wingtip form of the aileron, was to become a standard component on all aircraft.  The White Wing and June Bug were to follow and by the end of 1908, over 150 flights without mishap had been accomplished. However, the AEA had depleted its initial reserves and only a $15,000 grant from Mrs. Bell allowed it to continue with experiments. Lt. Selfridge had also become the first person killed in a powered heavier-than-air flight in a crash of the Wright Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia, on September 17, 1908.

Their final aircraft design, the Silver Dart, embodied all of the advancements found in the earlier machines. On February 23, 1909, Bell was present as the Silver Dart flown by J. A. D. McCurdy from the frozen ice of Bras d’Or made the first aircraft flight in Canada. Bell had worried that the flight was too dangerous and had arranged for a doctor to be on hand. With the successful flight, the AEA disbanded and the Silver Dart would revert to Baldwin and McCurdy who began the Canadian Aerodrome Company and would later demonstrate the aircraft to the Canadian Army.

Eugenics


Bell was connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. In his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences on November 13, 1883, he noted that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children and tentatively suggested that couples where both parties were deaf should not marry. However, it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan’s Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders’ Association. The committee unequivocally extended the principle to humans. From 1912 until 1918, he was the chairman of the board of scientific advisers to the Eugenics Record Office associated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and regularly attended meetings. In 1921, he was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Organizations such as these advocated passing laws (with success in some states) that established the compulsory sterilization of people deemed to be, as Bell called them, a “defective variety of the human race”. By the late 1930s, about half the states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, and California’s compulsory sterilization law was used as a model for that of Nazi Germany.

Legacy and Honors


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Bell statue by A. E. Cleeve Horne, similar in style to the Lincoln Memorial, in the front portico of the Bell Telephone Building of Brantford, Ontario, The Telephone City. (Courtesy: Brantford Heritage Inventory, City of Brantford, Ontario, Canada)

Honors and tributes flowed to Bell in increasing numbers as his invention became ubiquitous and his personal fame grew. Bell received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities to the point that the requests almost became burdensome. During his life, he also received dozens of major awards, medals, and other tributes. These included statuary monuments to both him and the new form of communication his telephone created, including the Bell Telephone Memorial erected in his honor in Alexander Graham Bell Gardens in Brantford, Ontario, in 1917.

A large number of Bell’s writings, personal correspondence, notebooks, papers, and other documents reside in both the United States Library of Congress Manuscript Division (as the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers), and at the Alexander Graham Bell Institute, Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia; major portions of which are available for online viewing.

A number of historic sites and other marks commemorate Bell in North America and Europe, including the first telephone companies in the United States and Canada. Among the major sites are:

  • The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, maintained by Parks Canada, which incorporates the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, close to the Bell estate Beinn Bhreagh
  • The Bell Homestead National Historic Site, includes the Bell family home, “Melville House”, and farm overlooking Brantford, Ontario and the Grand River. It was their first home in North America;
  • Canada’s first telephone company building, the “Henderson Home” of the late 1870s, a predecessor of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada (officially chartered in 1880). In 1969, the building was carefully moved to the historic Bell Homestead National Historic Site in Brantford, Ontario, and was refurbished to become a telephone museum. The Bell Homestead, the Henderson Home telephone museum, and the National Historic Site’s reception centre are all maintained by the Bell Homestead Society;
  • The Alexander Graham Bell Memorial Park, which features a broad neoclassical monument built in 1917 by public subscription. The monument depicts mankind’s ability to span the globe through telecommunications;
  • The Alexander Graham Bell Museum (opened in 1956), part of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site which was completed in 1978 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Many of the museum’s artifacts were donated by Bell’s daughters;

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The Bell Museum, Cape Breton, part of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

In 1880, Bell received the Volta Prize with a purse of 50,000 francs (approximately US$260,000 in today’s dollars) for the invention of the telephone from the Académie française, representing the French government. Among the luminaries who judged were Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. The Volta Prize was conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801, and named in honor of Alessandro Volta, with Bell receiving the third grand prize in its history. Since Bell was becoming increasingly affluent, he used his prize money to create endowment funds (the ‘Volta Fund’) and institutions in and around the United States capital of Washington, D.C.. These included the prestigious ‘Volta Laboratory Association’ (1880), also known as the Volta Laboratory and as the ‘Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory’, and which eventually led to the Volta Bureau (1887) as a center for studies on deafness which is still in operation in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. The Volta Laboratory became an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery, and the very next year it improved Edison’s phonograph by substituting wax for tinfoil as the recording medium and incising the recording rather than indenting it, key upgrades that Edison himself later adopted. The laboratory was also the site where he and his associate invented his “proudest achievement”, “the photophone”, the “optical telephone” which presaged fibre optical telecommunications while the Volta Bureau would later evolve into the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (the AG Bell), a leading center for the research and pedagogy of deafness.

In partnership with Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Bell helped establish the publication Science during the early 1880s. In 1898, Bell was elected as the second president of the National Geographic Society, serving until 1903, and was primarily responsible for the extensive use of illustrations, including photography, in the magazine. he also became a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution (1898–1922). The French government conferred on him the decoration of the Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honor); the Royal Society of Arts in London awarded him the Albert Medal in 1902; the University of Würzburg, Bavaria, granted him a PhD, and he was awarded the Franklin Institute’s Elliott Cresson Medal in 1912. He was one of the founders of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1884 and served as its president from 1891–92. Bell was later awarded the AIEE’s Edison Medal in 1914 “For meritorious achievement in the invention of the telephone”.

The bel (B) and the smaller decibel (dB) are units of measurement of sound intensity invented by Bell Labs and named after him. Since 1976, the IEEE’s Alexander Graham Bell Medal has been awarded to honor outstanding contributions in the field of telecommunications.

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~ A.G. Bell issue of 1940 ~

In 1936, the US Patent Office declared Bell first on its list of the country’s greatest inventors, leading to the US Post Office issuing a commemorative stamp honoring Bell in 1940 as part of its ‘Famous Americans Series’. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held on October 28 in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where Bell spent considerable time on research and working with the deaf. The Bell stamp became very popular and sold out in little time. The stamp became and remains to this day, the most valuable one of the series.

The 150th anniversary of Bell’s birth in 1997 was marked by a special issue of commemorative £1 banknotes from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The illustrations on the reverse of the note include Bell’s face in profile, his signature, and objects from Bell’s life and career: users of the telephone over the ages; an audio wave signal; a diagram of a telephone receiver; geometric shapes from engineering structures; representations of sign language and the phonetic alphabet; the geese which helped him to understand flight; and the sheep which he studied to understand genetics. Additionally, the Government of Canada honored Bell in 1997 with a C$100 gold coin, in tribute also to the 150th anniversary of his birth, and with a silver dollar coin in 2009 in honor of the 100th anniversary of flight in Canada. That first flight was made by an airplane designed under Dr. Bell’s tutelage, named the Silver Dart. Bell’s image, and also those of his many inventions have graced paper money, coinage, and postal stamps in numerous countries worldwide for many dozens of years.

Alexander Graham Bell was ranked 57th among the 100 Greatest Britons (2002) in an official BBC nationwide poll, and among the Top Ten Greatest Canadians (2004), and the 100 Greatest Americans (2005). In 2006, Bell was also named as one of the 10 greatest Scottish scientists in history after having been listed in the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Scottish Science Hall of Fame’. Bell’s name is still widely known and used as part of the names of dozens of educational institutes, corporate namesakes, street and place names around the world.

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Bell, an alumnus of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) at the university in 1906

Honorary degrees

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Alexander Graham Bell, who could not complete the university program of his youth, received at least a dozen honorary degrees from academic institutions, including eight honorary LL.D.s (Doctorate of Laws), two Ph.D.s, a D.Sc., and an M.D.:

  • Gallaudet College (then named National Deaf-Mute College) in Washington, D.C. (Ph.D.) in 1880
  • University of Würzburg in Würzburg, Bavaria (Ph.D.) in 1882
  • Heidelberg University in Heidelberg, Germany (M.D.) in 1886
  • Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts (LL.D.) in 1896
  • Illinois College, in Jacksonville, Illinois (LL.D.) in 1896, possibly 1881
  • Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts (LL.D.) in 1901
  • St. Andrew’s University in St Andrews, Scotland (LL.D) in 1902
  • University of Oxford in Oxford, England (D.Sc.) in 1906
  • University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland (LL.D.) in 1906
  • George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (LL.D.) in 1913
  • Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (LL.D.) in 1908
  • Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (LL.D.) in 1913, possibly 1914

Innovators awarded in his name


Aegis Graham Bell Award are consistuted to recognise good work by innovators in India. Since 2010 awards are being given to innovators in IT and Telecom sector. Companies like Mahendra Tech, Data Infosys, CDOT, Infosys etc. have been awarded for the same.

Portrayal in film and television


  • The 1939 film The Story of Alexander Graham Bell was based on his life and works.
  • The 1992 film The Sound and the Silence was a TV film.
  • Biography aired an episode Alexander Graham Bell: Voice of Invention on 6 August 1996.

Death


Bell died of complications arising from diabetes on August 2, 1922, at his private estate in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, at age 75. Bell had also been afflicted with pernicious anemia. His last view of the land he had inhabited was by moonlight on his mountain estate at 2:00 a.m. While tending to him after his long illness, Mabel, his wife, whispered, “Don’t leave me.” By way of reply, Bell signed “no…”, lost consciousness, and died shortly after.

On learning of Bell’s death, the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, cabled Mrs. Bell, saying:

My colleagues in the Government join with me in expressing to you our sense of the world’s loss in the death of your distinguished husband. It will ever be a source of pride to our country that the great invention, with which his name is immortally associated, is a part of its history. On the behalf of the citizens of Canada, may I extend to you an expression of our combined gratitude and sympathy.

Bell’s coffin was constructed of Beinn Bhreagh pine by his laboratory staff, lined with the same red silk fabric used in his tetrahedral kite experiments. To help celebrate his life, his wife asked guests not to wear black (the traditional funeral color) while attending his service, during which soloist Jean MacDonald sang a verse of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Requiem”:

  • Under a wide and starry sky,
  • Dig the grave and let me lie.
  • Glad did I live and gladly die
  • And I laid me down with a will.

Upon the conclusion of Bell’s funeral, “every phone on the continent of North America was silenced in honor of the man who had given to mankind the means for direct communication at a distance”.

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell was buried atop Beinn Bhreagh mountain, on his estate where he had resided increasingly for the last 35 years of his life, overlooking Bras d’Or Lake. He was survived by his wife Mabel, his two daughters, Elsie May and Marian, and nine of his grandchildren.

Benjamin Franklin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Benjamin Franklin FRS, FRSE (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was a renowned polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.” To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”. After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British policies.

He pioneered and was first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.

He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the Revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750s, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.

Ancestry


Benjamin Franklin’s father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler, a soap-maker and a candle-maker. Josiah was born at Ecton, Northamptonshire, England on December 23, 1657, the son of Thomas Franklin, a blacksmith-farmer, and Jane White. Benjamin’s mother, Abiah Folger, was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1667, to Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher, and his wife, Mary Morrell Folger, a former indentured servant.

Benjamin’s father and all four of his grandparents were born in England.

Josiah had seventeen children with his two wives. He married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated with her to Boston in 1683; they had three children before immigrating, and four after. Following her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689 in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin’s fifteenth child and tenth and last son.

Benjamin’s mother, Abiah, was born into a Puritan family that was among the first Pilgrims to flee to Massachusetts for religious freedom, when King Charles I of England began persecuting Puritans. They sailed for Boston in 1635. Her father was “the sort of rebel destined to transform colonial America.” As clerk of the court, he was jailed for disobeying the local magistrate in defense of middle-class shopkeepers and artisans in conflict with wealthy landowners. Ben Franklin followed in his grandfather’s footsteps in his battles against the wealthy Penn family that owned the Pennsylvania Colony.

Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin


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Early life in Boston


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Franklin’s birthplace on Milk Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Franklin’s birthplace site directly across from Old South Meeting House on Milk Street is commemorated by a bust above the second floor facade of this building.
Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, and baptized at Old South Meeting House. He was one of seventeen children born to Josiah Franklin, and one of ten born by Josiah’s second wife, Abiah Folger; the daughter of Peter Foulger and Mary Morrill. Among Benjamin’s siblings were his older brother James and his younger sister Jane.

Josiah wanted Ben to attend school with the clergy, but only had enough money to send him to school for two years. He attended Boston Latin School but did not graduate; he continued his education through voracious reading. Although “his parents talked of the church as a career” for Franklin, his schooling ended when he was ten. He worked for his father for a time, and at 12 he became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade. When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies.

When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of “Silence Dogood”, a middle-aged widow. Mrs. Dogood’s letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courant’s readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother. Franklin was an advocate of free speech from an early age. When his brother was jailed for three weeks in 1722 for publishing material unflattering to the governor, young Franklin took over the newspaper and had Mrs. Dogood (quoting Cato’s Letters) proclaim: “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.” Franklin left his apprenticeship without his brother’s permission, and in so doing became a fugitive.

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Franklin’s birthplace site directly across from Old South Meeting House on Milk Street is commemorated by a bust above the second floor facade of this building.

Philadelphia


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La scuola della economia e della morale (1825)

At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city. When he first arrived, he worked in several printer shops around town, but he was not satisfied by the immediate prospects. After a few months, while working in a printing house, Franklin was convinced by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London, ostensibly to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith’s promises of backing a newspaper empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer’s shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in the Smithfield area of London. Following this, he returned to Philadelphia in 1726 with the help of Thomas Denham, a merchant who employed Franklin as clerk, shopkeeper, and bookkeeper in his business.

Junto and Library

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” The Junto was a discussion group for issues of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia. The Junto was modeled after English coffeehouses that Franklin knew well, and which had become the center of the spread of Enlightenment ideas in Britain.

Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library initially assembled from their own books after Franklin wrote:

A proposition was made by me that since our books were often referr’d to in our disquisitions upon the inquiries, it might be convenient for us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we lik’d to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole.

This did not suffice, however. Franklin conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library.

Newspaperman

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Benjamin Franklin (center) at work on a printing press. Reproduction of a Charles Mills painting by the Detroit Publishing Company.

Upon Denham’s death, Franklin returned to his former trade. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredith; the following year he became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations. Over time, his commentary, and his adroit cultivation of a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man, earned him a great deal of social respect. But even after Franklin had achieved fame as a scientist and statesman, he habitually signed his letters with the unpretentious ‘B. Franklin, Printer.’

In 1732, Ben Franklin published the first German-language newspaper in America – Die Philadelphische Zeitung – although it failed after only one year, because four other newly founded German papers quickly dominated the newspaper market. Franklin printed Moravian religious books in German. Franklin often visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania staying at the Moravian Sun Inn. In a 1751 pamphlet on demographic growth and its implications for the colonies, he called the Pennsylvania Germans “Palatine Boors” who could never acquire the “Complexion” of the English settlers and to “Blacks and Tawneys” as weakening the social structure of the colonies. Although Franklin apparently reconsidered shortly thereafter, and the phrases were omitted from all later printings of the pamphlet, his views may have played a role in his political defeat in 1764.

Franklin saw the printing press as a device to instruct colonial Americans in moral virtue. Frasca argues he saw this as a service to God, because he understood moral virtue in terms of actions, thus, doing good provides a service to God. Despite his own moral lapses, Franklin saw himself as uniquely qualified to instruct Americans in morality. He tried to influence American moral life through construction of a printing network based on a chain of partnerships from the Carolinas to New England. Franklin thereby invented the first newspaper chain. It was more than a business venture, for like many publishers since, he believed that the press had a public-service duty.

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Coat of Arms of Benjamin Franklin

When Franklin established himself in Philadelphia, shortly before 1730, the town boasted two “wretched little” news sheets, Andrew Bradford’s The American Weekly Mercury, and Samuel Keimer’s Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences, and Pennsylvania Gazette. This instruction in all arts and sciences consisted of weekly extracts from Chambers’s Universal Dictionary. Franklin quickly did away with all this when he took over the Instructor and made it The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette soon became Franklin’s characteristic organ, which he freely used for satire, for the play of his wit, even for sheer excess of mischief or of fun. From the first, he had a way of adapting his models to his own uses. The series of essays called “The Busy-Body”, which he wrote for Bradford’s American Mercury in 1729, followed the general Addisonian form, already modified to suit homelier conditions. The thrifty Patience, in her busy little shop, complaining of the useless visitors who waste her valuable time, is related to the ladies who address Mr. Spectator. The Busy-Body himself is a true Censor Morum, as Isaac Bickerstaff had been in the Tatler. And a number of the fictitious characters, Ridentius, Eugenius, Cato, and Cretico, represent traditional 18th-century classicism. Even this Franklin could use for contemporary satire, since Cretico, the “sowre Philosopher”, is evidently a portrait of Franklin’s rival, Samuel Keimer.

As time went on, Franklin depended less on his literary conventions, and more on his own native humor. In this there is a new spirit—not suggested to him by the fine breeding of Addison, or the bitter irony of Swift, or the stinging completeness of Pope. The brilliant little pieces Franklin wrote for his Pennsylvania Gazette have an imperishable place in American literature.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, like most other newspapers of the period, was often poorly printed. Franklin was busy with a hundred matters outside of his printing office, and never seriously attempted to raise the mechanical standards of his trade. Nor did he ever properly edit or collate the chance medley of stale items that passed for news in the Gazette. His influence on the practical side of journalism was minimal. On the other hand, his advertisements of books show his very great interest in popularizing secular literature. Undoubtedly his paper contributed to the broader culture that distinguished Pennsylvania from her neighbors before the Revolution. Like many publishers, Franklin built up a book shop in his printing office; he took the opportunity to read new books before selling them.

Franklin had mixed success in his plan to establish an inter-colonial network of newspapers that would produce a profit for him and disseminate virtue. He began in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1731. After the second editor died, his widow Elizabeth Timothy took over and made it a success, 1738–46. She was one of the colonial era’s first woman printers. For three decades Franklin maintained a close business relationship with her and her son Peter who took over in 1746. The Gazette had a policy of impartiality in political debates, while creating the opportunity for public debate, which encouraged others to challenge authority. Editor Peter Timothy avoided blandness and crude bias, and after 1765 increasingly took a patriotic stand in the growing crisis with Great Britain. However, Franklin’s Connecticut Gazette (1755–68) proved unsuccessful.

Freemason

In 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic lodge. He became Grand Master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania. That same year, he edited and published the first Masonic book in the Americas, a reprint of James Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.

Common-law marriage to Deborah Read

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Deborah Read Franklin
(c. 1759). Common-law wife of Benjamin Franklin

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Sarah Franklin Bache (1743–1808). Daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read

At age 17 in 1723, Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read while a boarder in the Read home. At that time, Read’s mother was wary of allowing her young daughter to marry Franklin, who was on his way to London at Governor Sir William Keith’s request, and also because of his financial instability. Her own husband had recently died, and she declined Franklin’s request to marry her daughter.

While Franklin was in London, his trip was extended, and there were problems with Sir William’s promises of support. Perhaps because of the circumstances of this delay, Deborah married a man named John Rodgers. This proved to be a regrettable decision. Rodgers shortly avoided his debts and prosecution by fleeing to Barbados with her dowry, leaving her behind. Rodgers’s fate was unknown, and because of bigamy laws, Deborah was not free to remarry.

Franklin established a common-law marriage with Deborah Read on September 1, 1730. They took in Franklin’s recently acknowledged young illegitimate son William and raised him in their household. They had two children together. Their son, Francis Folger Franklin, was born in October 1732 and died of smallpox in 1736. Their daughter, Sarah “Sally” Franklin, was born in 1743 and grew up to marry Richard Bache, have seven children, and look after her father in his old age.

Deborah’s fear of the sea meant that she never accompanied Franklin on any of his extended trips to Europe, and another possible reason why they spent so much time apart is that he may have blamed her for preventing their son Francis from being vaccinated against the disease that subsequently killed him. Deborah wrote to him in November 1769 saying she was ill due to “dissatisfied distress” from his prolonged absence, but he did not return until his business was done. Deborah Read Franklin died of a stroke in 1774, while Franklin was on an extended mission to England; he returned in 1775.

William Franklin

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William Franklin

In 1730, 24-year-old Franklin publicly acknowledged the existence of his son William, who was deemed “illegitimate,” as he was born out of wedlock, and raised him in his household. His mother’s identity is unknown. He was educated in Philadelphia. Beginning at about age 30, William studied law in London in the early 1760s. He fathered an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, born February 22, 1762. The boy’s mother was never identified, and he was placed in foster care. Franklin later that year married Elizabeth Downes, daughter of a planter from Barbados. After William passed the bar, his father helped him gain an appointment in 1763 as the last Royal Governor of New Jersey.

A Loyalist, William and his father eventually broke relations over their differences about the American Revolutionary War. The elder Franklin could never accept William’s position. Deposed in 1776 by the revolutionary government of New Jersey, William was arrested at his home in Perth Amboy at the Proprietary House and imprisoned for a time. The younger Franklin went to New York in 1782, which was still occupied by British troops. He became leader of the Board of Associated Loyalists—a quasi-military organization, headquartered in New York City. They initiated guerrilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city. When British troops evacuated from New York, William Franklin left with them and sailed to England. He settled in London, never to return to North America. In the preliminary peace talks in 1782 with Britain, “… Benjamin Franklin insisted that loyalists who had borne arms against the United States would be excluded from this plea (that they be given a general pardon). He was undoubtedly thinking of William Franklin.”

Success as an Author

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Franklin’s The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle (Jan. 1741)

In 1733, Franklin began to publish the noted Poor Richard’s Almanack (with content both original and borrowed) under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, on which much of his popular reputation is based. Franklin frequently wrote under pseudonyms. Although it was no secret that Franklin was the author, his Richard Saunders character repeatedly denied it. “Poor Richard’s Proverbs”, adages from this almanac, such as “A penny saved is twopence dear” (often misquoted as “A penny saved is a penny earned”) and “Fish and visitors stink in three days”, remain common quotations in the modern world. Wisdom in folk society meant the ability to provide an apt adage for any occasion, and Franklin’s readers became well prepared. He sold about ten thousand copies per year—it became an institution. In 1741 Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America, the first such monthly magazine of this type published in America.

In 1758, the year he ceased writing for the Almanack, he printed Father Abraham’s Sermon, also known as The Way to Wealth. Franklin’s autobiography, begun in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the classics of the genre.

Daylight saving time (DST) is often erroneously attributed to a 1784 satire that Franklin published anonymously. Modern DST was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895.

Inventions and scientific inquiries


Further information: Social contributions and studies by Benjamin Franklin
Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod, glass harmonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography he wrote, “… 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.”

Electricity

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Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky c. 1816 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Benjamin West

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Franklin and Electricity vignette engraved by the BEP (c. 1860).

Franklin started exploring the phenomenon of electricity in 1746 when he saw some of Archibald Spencer’s lectures using static electricity for illustrations. Franklin proposed that “vitreous” and “resinous” electricity were not different types of “electrical fluid” (as electricity was called then), but the same “fluid” under different pressures. (The same proposal was made independently that same year by William Watson.) Franklin was the first to label them as positive and negative respectively, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge. In 1748 he constructed a multiple plate capacitor, that he called an “electrical battery” (not to be confused with Volta’s pile) by placing eleven panes of glass sandwiched between lead plates, suspended with silk cords and connected by wires.

In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1753, and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th-century Americans elected as a Fellow of the Society. He received honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale universities (his first). The cgs unit of electric charge has been named after him: one franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb.

Franklin advised Harvard University in its acquisition of new electrical laboratory apparatus after the complete loss of its original collection, in a fire which destroyed the original Harvard Hall in 1764. The collection he assembled would later become part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, now on public display in its Science Center.

Kite experiment and lightning rod

In 1750, he published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm that appeared capable of becoming a lightning storm. On May 10, 1752, Thomas-François Dalibard of France conducted Franklin’s experiment using a 40-foot-tall (12 m) iron rod instead of a kite, and he extracted electrical sparks from a cloud. On June 15 Franklin may possibly have conducted his well-known kite experiment in Philadelphia, successfully extracting sparks from a cloud. Franklin described the experiment in the Pennsylvania Gazette on October 19, 1752, without mentioning that he himself had performed it. This account was read to the Royal Society on December 21 and printed as such in the Philosophical Transactions. Joseph Priestley published details in his 1767 History and Present Status of Electricity. Franklin was careful to stand on an insulator, keeping dry under a roof to avoid the danger of electric shock. Others, such as Prof. Georg Wilhelm Richmann in Russia, were indeed electrocuted during the months following Franklin’s experiment.

In his writings, Franklin indicates that he was aware of the dangers and offered alternative ways to demonstrate that lightning was electrical, as shown by his use of the concept of electrical ground. Franklin did not perform this experiment in the way that is often pictured in popular literature, flying the kite and waiting to be struck by lightning, as it would have been dangerous. Instead he used the kite to collect some electric charge from a storm cloud, showing that lightning was electrical. On October 19 in a letter to England with directions for repeating the experiment, Franklin wrote:

When rain has wet the kite twine so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it streams out plentifully from the key at the approach of your knuckle, and with this key a phial, or Leyden jar, may be charged: and from electric fire thus obtained spirits may be kindled, and all other electric experiments [may be] performed which are usually done by the help of a rubber glass globe or tube; and therefore the sameness of the electrical matter with that of lightening completely demonstrated.

Franklin’s electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod. He noted that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point could discharge silently, and at a far greater distance. He surmised that this could help protect buildings from lightning by attaching “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!” Following a series of experiments on Franklin’s own house, lightning rods were installed on the Academy of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in 1752.

Population Studies

Franklin had a major influence on the emerging science of demography, or population studies. Thomas Malthus is noted for his rule of population growth and credited Franklin for discovering it. Kammen (1990) and Drake (2011) say Franklin’s “Observations on the Increase of Mankind” (1755) stands alongside Ezra Stiles’ “Discourse on Christian Union” (1760) as the leading works of eighteenth-century Anglo-American demography; Drake credits Franklin’s “wide readership and prophetic insight.”

In the 1730s and 1740s, Franklin began taking notes on population growth, finding that the American population had the fastest growth rates on earth. Emphasizing that population growth depended on food supplies—a line of thought later developed by Thomas Malthus—Franklin emphasized the abundance of food and available farmland in America. He calculated that America’s population was doubling every twenty years and would surpass that of England in a century. In 1751, he drafted “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” Four years later, it was anonymously printed in Boston, and it was quickly reproduced in Britain, where it influenced the economists Adam Smith and later Thomas Malthus. Franklin’s predictions alarmed British leaders who did not want to be surpassed by the colonies, so they became more willing to impose restrictions on the colonial economy.

Franklin was also a pioneer in the study of slave demography, as shown in his 1755 essay.

Atlantic Ocean Currents

As deputy postmaster, Franklin became interested in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns. While in England in 1768, he heard a complaint from the Colonial Board of Customs: Why did it take British packet ships carrying mail several weeks longer to reach New York than it took an average merchant ship to reach Newport, Rhode Island? The merchantmen had a longer and more complex voyage because they left from London, while the packets left from Falmouth in Cornwall.

Franklin put the question to his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket whaler captain, who told him that merchant ships routinely avoided a strong eastbound mid-ocean current. The mail packet captains sailed dead into it, thus fighting an adverse current of 3 miles per hour (5 km/h). Franklin worked with Folger and other experienced ship captains, learning enough to chart the current and name it the Gulf Stream, by which it is still known today.

Franklin published his Gulf Stream chart in 1770 in England, where it was completely ignored. Subsequent versions were printed in France in 1778 and the U.S. in 1786. The British edition of the chart, which was the original, was so thoroughly ignored that everyone assumed it was lost forever until Phil Richardson, a Woods Hole oceanographer and Gulf Stream expert, discovered it in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 1980. This find received front-page coverage in the New York Times.

It took many years for British sea captains to adopt Franklin’s advice on navigating the current; once they did, they were able to trim two weeks from their sailing time. In 1853, the oceanographer and cartographer Matthew Fontaine Maury noted that while Franklin charted and codified the Gulf Stream, he did not discover it:

Though it was Dr. Franklin and Captain Tim Folger, who first turned the Gulf Stream to nautical account, the discovery that there was a Gulf Stream cannot be said to belong to either of them, for its existence was known to Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, and to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in the 16th century.

Wave theory of light

Franklin was, along with his contemporary Leonhard Euler, the only major scientist who supported Christiaan Huygens’s wave theory of light, which was basically ignored by the rest of the scientific community. In the 18th century Newton’s corpuscular theory was held to be true; only after Young’s well-known slit experiment in 1803 were most scientists persuaded to believe Huygens’s theory.

Meteorology

On October 21, 1743, according to popular myth, a storm moving from the southwest denied Franklin the opportunity of witnessing a lunar eclipse. Franklin was said to have noted that the prevailing winds were actually from the northeast, contrary to what he had expected. In correspondence with his brother, Franklin learned that the same storm had not reached Boston until after the eclipse, despite the fact that Boston is to the northeast of Philadelphia. He deduced that storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, a concept that greatly influenced meteorology.

After the Icelandic volcanic eruption of Laki in 1783, and the subsequent harsh European winter of 1784, Franklin made observations connecting the causal nature of these two separate events. He wrote about them in a lecture series.

Traction kiting

Though Benjamin Franklin has been most noted kite-wise with his lightning experiments, he has also been noted by many for his using kites to pull humans and ships across waterways. The George Pocock in the book A TREATISE on The Aeropleustic Art, or Navigation in the Air, by means of Kites, or Buoyant Sails noted being inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s traction of his body by kite power across a waterway. In his later years he suggested using the technique for pulling ships.

Concept of cooling

Franklin noted a principle of refrigeration by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one. To understand this phenomenon more clearly Franklin conducted experiments. In 1758 on a warm day in Cambridge, England, Franklin and fellow scientist John Hadley experimented by continually wetting the ball of a mercury thermometer with ether and using bellows to evaporate the ether. With each subsequent evaporation, the thermometer read a lower temperature, eventually reaching 7 °F (−14 °C). Another thermometer showed that the room temperature was constant at 65 °F (18 °C). In his letter Cooling by Evaporation, Franklin noted that, “One may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on a warm summer’s day.”

Temperature’s effect on electrical conductivity

According to Michael Faraday, Franklin’s experiments on the non-conduction of ice are worth mentioning, although the law of the general effect of liquefaction on electrolytes is not attributed to Franklin. However, as reported in 1836 by Prof. A. D. Bache of the University of Pennsylvania, the law of the effect of heat on the conduction of bodies otherwise non-conductors, for example, glass, could be attributed to Franklin. Franklin writes, “… A certain quantity of heat will make some bodies good conductors, that will not otherwise conduct …” and again, “… And water, though naturally a good conductor, will not conduct well when frozen into ice.”

Oceanography findings

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An illustration from Franklin’s paper on “Water-spouts and Whirlwinds”

An aging Franklin accumulated all his oceanographic findings in Maritime Observations, published by the Philosophical Society’s transactions in 1786. It contained ideas for sea anchors, catamaran hulls, watertight compartments, shipboard lightning rods and a soup bowl designed to stay stable in stormy weather.

Decision-making

In a 1772 letter to Joseph Priestley, Franklin lays out the earliest known description of the Pro & Con list, a common decision-making technique, now sometimes called a decisional balance sheet:

… my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly.

Oil on water

While traveling on a ship, Franklin had observed that the wake of a ship was diminished when the cooks scuttled their greasy water. He studied the effects on a large pond in Clapham Common, London. “I fetched out a cruet of oil and dropt a little of it on the water … though not more than a teaspoon full, produced an instant calm over a space of several yards square.” He later used the trick to “calm the waters” by carrying “a little oil in the hollow joint of my cane”.

Musical endeavors


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Glass harmonica

Franklin is known to have played the violin, the harp, and the guitar. He also composed music, notably a string quartet in early classical style. He developed a much-improved version of the glass harmonica, in which the glasses rotate on a shaft, with the player’s fingers held steady, instead of the other way around; this version soon found its way to Europe.

Chess


Franklin was an avid chess player. He was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies. His essay on “The Morals of Chess” in Columbian magazine in December 1786 is the second known writing on chess in America. This essay in praise of chess and prescribing a code of behavior for the game has been widely reprinted and translated. He and a friend also used chess as a means of learning the Italian language, which both were studying; the winner of each game between them had the right to assign a task, such as parts of the Italian grammar to be learned by heart, to be performed by the loser before their next meeting.

Franklin was able to play chess more frequently against stronger opposition during his many years as a civil servant and diplomat in England, where the game was far better established than in America. He was able to improve his playing standard by facing more experienced players during this period. He regularly attended Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in London for chess and socializing, making many important personal contacts. While in Paris, both as a visitor and later as ambassador, he visited the famous Café de la Régence, which France’s strongest players made their regular meeting place. No records of his games have survived, so it is not possible to ascertain his playing strength in modern terms.

Franklin was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1999. The Franklin Mercantile Chess Club in Philadelphia, the second oldest chess club in the U.S., is named in his honor.

Public Life


Early steps in Pennsylvania

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Join, or Die: This political cartoon by Franklin urged the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War).

In 1736, Franklin created the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America. In the same year, he printed a new currency for New Jersey based on innovative anti-counterfeiting techniques he had devised. Throughout his career, Franklin was an advocate for paper money, publishing A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency in 1729, and his printer printed money. He was influential in the more restrained and thus successful monetary experiments in the Middle Colonies, which stopped deflation without causing excessive inflation. In 1766 he made a case for paper money to the British House of Commons.

As he matured, Franklin began to concern himself more with public affairs. In 1743, he first devised a scheme for The Academy, Charity School, and College of Philadelphia. However, the person he had in mind to run the academy, Rev. Richard Peters, refused and Franklin put his ideas away until 1749, when he printed his own pamphlet, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania. He was appointed president of the Academy on November 13, 1749; the Academy and the Charity School opened on August 13, 1751.

In 1743, Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories. He began the electrical research that, along with other scientific inquiries, would occupy him for the rest of his life, in between bouts of politics and moneymaking.

In 1747, Franklin (already a very wealthy man) retired from printing and went into other businesses. He created a partnership with his foreman, David Hall, which provided Franklin with half of the shop’s profits for 18 years. This lucrative business arrangement provided leisure time for study, and in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with educated persons throughout Europe and especially in France.

Franklin became involved in Philadelphia politics and rapidly progressed. In October 1748, he was selected as a councilman, in June 1749 he became a Justice of the Peace for Philadelphia, and in 1751 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly. On August 10, 1753, Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster-general of British North America, (see below). His most notable service in domestic politics was his reform of the postal system, with mail sent out every week.

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Pennsylvania Hospital by William Strickland, 1755

In 1751, Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital in what was to become the United States of America.

In 1752, Franklin organized the Philadelphia Contributionship, the first homeowner’s insurance company in what would become the United States.

Between 1750 and 1753, the “educational triumvirate” of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the American Dr. Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut, and the immigrant Scottish schoolteacher Dr. William Smith built on Franklin’s initial scheme and created what Bishop James Madison, president of the College of William & Mary, called a “new-model” plan or style of American college. Franklin solicited, printed in 1752, and promoted an American textbook of moral philosophy from the American Dr. Samuel Johnson titled Elementa Philosophica to be taught in the new colleges to replace courses in denominational divinity.

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Seal of the College of Philadelphia

In June 1753, Johnson, Franklin, and Smith met in Stratford. They decided the new-model college would focus on the professions, with classes taught in English instead of Latin, have subject matter experts as professors instead of one tutor leading a class for four years, and there would be no religious test for admission. Johnson went on to found King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York City in 1754, while Franklin hired Smith as Provost of the College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1755. At its first commencement, on May 17, 1757, seven men graduated; six with a Bachelor of Arts and one as Master of Arts. It was later merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to become the University of Pennsylvania. The College was to become influential in guiding the founding documents of the United States: in the Continental Congress, for example, over one third of the college-affiliated men who contributed the Declaration of Independence between September 4, 1774, and July 4, 1776, were affiliated with the College.

In 1753, both Harvard and Yale awarded him honorary degrees.

In 1754, he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress. This meeting of several colonies had been requested by the Board of Trade in England to improve relations with the Indians and defense against the French. Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union for the colonies. While the plan was not adopted, elements of it found their way into the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

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Sketch of the original Tun Tavern

In 1756, Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia (see “Associated Regiment of Philadelphia” under heading of Pennsylvania’s 103rd Artillery and 111th Infantry Regiment at Continental Army). He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Native American uprisings that beset the American colonies. Reportedly Franklin was elected “Colonel” of the Associated Regiment but declined the honor.

Decades in London

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Franklin in London, 1767, wearing a blue suit with elaborate gold braid and buttons, a far cry from the simple dress he affected at the French court in later years. Painting by David Martin, displayed in the White House.

From the mid 1750s to the mid 1770s, Franklin spent much of his time in London. Officially he was there on a political mission, but he used his time to further his scientific explorations as well, meeting many notable people.

In 1757, he was sent to England by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a colonial agent to protest against the political influence of the Penn family, the proprietors of the colony. He remained there for five years, striving to end the proprietors’ prerogative to overturn legislation from the elected Assembly, and their exemption from paying taxes on their land. His lack of influential allies in Whitehall led to the failure of this mission.

At this time, many members of the Pennsylvania Assembly were feuding with William Penn’s heirs, who controlled the colony as proprietors. After his return to the colony, Franklin led the “anti-proprietary party” in the struggle against the Penn family, and was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House in May 1764. His call for a change from proprietary to royal government was a rare political miscalculation, however: Pennsylvanians worried that such a move would endanger their political and religious freedoms. Because of these fears, and because of political attacks on his character, Franklin lost his seat in the October 1764 Assembly elections. The anti-proprietary party dispatched Franklin to England again to continue the struggle against the Penn family proprietorship. During this trip, events drastically changed the nature of his mission.

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Pennsylvania colonial currency printed by Franklin in 1764

In London, Franklin opposed the 1765 Stamp Act. Unable to prevent its passage, he made another political miscalculation and recommended a friend to the post of stamp distributor for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians were outraged, believing that he had supported the measure all along, and threatened to destroy his home in Philadelphia. Franklin soon learned of the extent of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act, and he testified during the House of Commons proceedings that led to its repeal.

With this, Franklin suddenly emerged as the leading spokesman for American interests in England. He wrote popular essays on behalf of the colonies. Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts also appointed him as their agent to the Crown.

Franklin lodged in a house in Craven Street, just off The Strand in central London. During his stays there, he developed a close friendship with his landlady, Margaret Stevenson, and her circle of friends and relations, in particular her daughter Mary, who was more often known as Polly. Their house, which he used on various lengthy missions from 1757 to 1775, is the only one of his residences to survive. It opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House museum in 2006.

Whilst in London, Franklin became involved in radical politics. He belonged to a gentleman’s club (which he called “the honest Whigs”), which held stated meetings, and included members such as Richard Price, the minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church who ignited the Revolution Controversy, and Andrew Kippis.

In 1756, Franklin had become a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (now the Royal Society of Arts or RSA), which had been founded in 1754 and whose early meetings took place in Covent Garden coffee shops. After his return to the United States in 1775, Franklin became the Society’s Corresponding Member, continuing a close connection. The RSA instituted a Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1956 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth and the 200th anniversary of his membership of the RSA.

The study of natural philosophy (what we would call science) drew him into overlapping circles of acquaintance. Franklin was, for example, a corresponding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which included such other scientific and industrial luminaries as Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin; on occasion he visited them.

In 1759, the University of St Andrews awarded Franklin an honorary doctorate in recognition of his accomplishments. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University in 1762. Because of these honors, Franklin was often addressed as “Dr. Franklin.”

Franklin also managed to secure an appointed post for his illegitimate son, William Franklin, by then an attorney, as Colonial Governor of New Jersey.

While living in London in 1768, he developed a phonetic alphabet in A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling. This reformed alphabet discarded six letters Franklin regarded as redundant (c, j, q, w, x, and y), and substituted six new letters for sounds he felt lacked letters of their own. His new alphabet, however, never caught on, and he eventually lost interest.

Travels around Britain and Ireland

Franklin used London as a base to travel. In 1771, he made short journeys through different parts of England, staying with Joseph Priestley at Leeds, Thomas Percival at Manchester and Erasmus Darwin at Lichfield.

In Scotland, he spent five days with Lord Kames near Stirling and stayed for three weeks with David Hume in Edinburgh. In 1759, he visited Edinburgh with his son, and recalled his conversations there as “the densest happiness of my life”. In February 1759, the University of St Andrews awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. From then he was known as “Doctor Franklin”. In October of the same year he was granted Freedom of the Borough of St Andrews.

He had never been to Ireland before, and met and stayed with Lord Hillsborough, who he believed was especially attentive. Franklin noted of him that “all the plausible behaviour I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides.” In Dublin, Franklin was invited to sit with the members of the Irish Parliament rather than in the gallery. He was the first American to receive this honor. While touring Ireland, he was moved by the level of poverty he saw. Ireland’s economy was affected by the same trade regulations and laws of Britain that governed America. Franklin feared that America could suffer the same effects should Britain’s “colonial exploitation” continue.

Visits to Europe

Franklin spent two months in German lands in 1766, but his connections to the country stretched across a lifetime. He declared a debt of gratitude to German scientist Otto von Guericke for his early studies of electricity. Franklin also co-authored the first treaty of friendship between Prussia and America in 1785.

In September 1767, Franklin visited Paris with his usual traveling partner, Sir John Pringle. News of his electrical discoveries was widespread in France. His reputation meant that he was introduced to many influential scientists and politicians, and also to King Louis XV.

Defending the American cause

One line of argument in Parliament was that Americans should pay a share of the costs of the French and Indian War, and that therefore taxes should be levied on them. Franklin became the American spokesman in highly publicized testimony in Parliament in 1766. He stated that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire. He said local governments had raised, outfitted and paid 25,000 soldiers to fight France—as many as Britain itself sent—and spent many millions from American treasuries doing so in the French and Indian War alone.

In 1773, Franklin published two of his most celebrated pro-American satirical essays: “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One”, and “An Edict by the King of Prussia”.

Hutchinson letters leak

In June 1773 Franklin obtained private letters of Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, that proved they were encouraging the Crown to crack down on Bostonians. Franklin sent them to America, where they escalated the tensions. The letters were finally leaked to the public in the Boston Gazette in mid-June 1773, causing a political firestorm in Massachusetts and raising significant questions in England. The British began to regard him as the fomenter of serious trouble. Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, 1774. He returned to Philadelphia in March 1775, and abandoned his accommodationist stance.

Coming of revolution

In 1763, soon after Franklin returned to Pennsylvania from England for the first time, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac’s Rebellion. The Paxton Boys, a group of settlers convinced that the Pennsylvania government was not doing enough to protect them from American Indian raids, murdered a group of peaceful Susquehannock Indians and marched on Philadelphia. Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob. He met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse. Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice of the Paxton Boys. “If an Indian injures me”, he asked, “does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?”

He provided an early response to British surveillance through his own network of counter-surveillance and manipulation. “He waged a public relations campaign, secured secret aid, played a role in privateering expeditions, and churned out effective and inflammatory propaganda.”

Declaration of Independence

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John Trumbull depicts the Committee of Five presenting their work to the Congress.

By the time Franklin arrived in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, after his second mission to Great Britain, the American Revolution had begun—with fighting between colonials and British at Lexington and Concord. The New England militia had trapped the main British army in Boston. The Pennsylvania Assembly unanimously chose Franklin as their delegate to the Second Continental Congress. In June 1776, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several “small but important” changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson.

At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by Hancock that they must all hang together: “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Postmaster

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Benjamin Franklin First US postage stamp Issue of 1847

Well known as a printer and publisher, Franklin was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, holding the office until 1753, when he and publisher William Hunter were named deputy postmasters–general of British North America, the first to hold the office. (Joint appointments were standard at the time, for political reasons.) Franklin was responsible for the British colonies from Pennsylvania north and east, as far as the island of Newfoundland. A post office for local and outgoing mail had been established in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by local stationer Benjamin Leigh, on April 23, 1754, but service was irregular. Franklin opened the first post office to offer regular, monthly mail in what would later become Canada, at Halifax, on December 9, 1755. Meantime, Hunter became postal administrator in Williamsburg, Virginia and oversaw areas south of Annapolis, Maryland. Franklin reorganized the service’s accounting system, then improved speed of delivery between Philadelphia, New York and Boston. By 1761, efficiencies led to the first profits for the colonial post office.

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Benjamin Franklin on a Canada Post stamp of 2013, with colonial Quebec City in background

When the lands of New France were ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the new British province of Quebec was created among them, and Franklin saw mail service expanded between Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, and New York. For the greater part of his appointment, Franklin lived in England (from 1757 to 1762, and again from 1764 to 1774)—about three-quarters of his term. Eventually, his sympathies for the rebel cause in the American Revolution led to his dismissal on January 31, 1774.

On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General. Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position. He had just returned from England and was appointed chairman of a Committee of Investigation to establish a postal system. The report of the Committee, providing for the appointment of a postmaster general for the 13 American colonies, was considered by the Continental Congress on July 25 and 26. On July 26, 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, the first appointed under the Continental Congress. It established a postal system that became the United States Post Office, a system that continues to operate today.

Ambassador to France: 1776–1785

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Franklin, in his fur hat, charmed the French with what they perceived as rustic New World genius.

In December 1776, Franklin was dispatched to France as commissioner for the United States. He took with him as secretary his 16-year-old grandson, William Temple Franklin. They lived in a home in the Parisian suburb of Passy, donated by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, who supported the United States. Franklin remained in France until 1785. He conducted the affairs of his country toward the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in 1778 and negotiating the Treaty of Paris (1783).

Among his associates in France was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau—a French Revolutionary writer, orator and statesman who in early 1791 would be elected president of the National Assembly. In July 1784, Franklin met with Mirabeau and contributed anonymous materials that the Frenchman used in his first signed work: Considerations sur l’ordre de Cincinnatus. The publication was critical of the Society of the Cincinnati, established in the United States. Franklin and Mirabeau thought of it as a “noble order”, inconsistent with the egalitarian ideals of the new republic.

During his stay in France, Benjamin Franklin was active as a Freemason, serving as Venerable Master of the Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs from 1779 until 1781. He was the 106th member of the Lodge. In 1784, when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of “animal magnetism” which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it. These included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, the physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly, and Benjamin Franklin. In 1781, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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While in France Franklin designed and commissioned Augustin Dupré to engrave the medallion “Libertas Americana” minted in Paris in 1783.

Franklin’s advocacy for religious tolerance in France contributed to arguments made by French philosophers and politicians that resulted in Louis XVI’s signing of the Edict of Versailles in November 1787. This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleau, which had denied non-Catholics civil status and the right to openly practice their faith.

Franklin also served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country. He negotiated a treaty that was signed in April 1783. On August 27, 1783, in Paris, Franklin witnessed the world’s first hydrogen balloon flight. Le Globe, created by professor Jacques Charles and Les Frères Robert, was watched by a vast crowd as it rose from the Champ de Mars (now the site of the Eiffel Tower). Franklin became so enthusiastic that he subscribed financially to the next project to build a manned hydrogen balloon. On December 1, 1783, Franklin was seated in the special enclosure for honoured guests when La Charlière took off from the Jardin des Tuileries, piloted by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert.

Constitutional Convention

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Franklin’s return to Philadelphia, 1785, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

When he returned home in 1785, Franklin occupied a position only second to that of George Washington as the champion of American independence. Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Duplessis, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. After his return, Franklin became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves. He eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

In 1787, Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. He held an honorary position and seldom engaged in debate. He is the only Founding Father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris and the United States Constitution.

In 1787, a group of prominent ministers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, proposed the foundation of a new college named in Franklin’s honor. Franklin donated £200 towards the development of Franklin College (now called Franklin & Marshall College).

Between 1771 and 1788, he finished his autobiography. While it was at first addressed to his son, it was later completed for the benefit of mankind at the request of a friend.

Franklin strongly supported the right to freedom of speech:

In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech … Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man …

— Silence Dogood no. 8, 1722
President of Pennsylvania

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Franklin autograph check signed during his Presidency of Pennsylvania

Special balloting conducted October 18, 1785, unanimously elected Franklin the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, replacing John Dickinson. The office was practically that of governor. Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the constitutional limit of three full terms. Shortly after his initial election he was reelected to a full term on October 29, 1785, and again in the fall of 1786 and on October 31, 1787. In that capacity he served as host to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.

Virtue, religion, and personal beliefs


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A bust of Franklin by Jean-Antoine Houdon

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Voltaire blessing Franklin’s grandson, in the name of God and Liberty, by Pedro Américo

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Benjamin Franklin by Hiram Powers

Like the other advocates of republicanism, Franklin emphasized that the new republic could survive only if the people were virtuous. All his life he explored the role of civic and personal virtue, as expressed in Poor Richard’s aphorisms. Franklin felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended religious services himself. When Franklin met Voltaire in Paris and asked his fellow member of the Enlightenment vanguard to bless his grandson, Voltaire said in English, “God and Liberty”, and added, “this is the only appropriate benediction for the grandson of Monsieur Franklin.”

Franklin’s parents were both pious Puritans. The family attended the Old South Church, the most liberal Puritan congregation in Boston, where Benjamin Franklin was baptized in 1706. Franklin’s father, a poor chandler, owned a copy of a book, Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good, by the Puritan preacher and family friend Cotton Mather, which Franklin often cited as a key influence on his life. Franklin’s first pen name, Silence Dogood, paid homage both to the book and to a widely known sermon by Mather. The book preached the importance of forming voluntary associations to benefit society. Franklin learned about forming do-good associations from Cotton Mather, but his organizational skills made him the most influential force in making voluntarism an enduring part of the American ethos.

Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in 1728. It did not mention many of the Puritan ideas as regards belief in salvation, the divinity of Jesus, and indeed most religious dogma. He clarified himself as a deist in his 1771 autobiography, although he still considered himself a Christian. He retained a strong faith in a God as the wellspring of morality and goodness in man, and as a Providential actor in history responsible for American independence.

It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:

… In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. … And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance. I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: … I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

However, the motion met with resistance and was never brought to a vote.

Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical minister George Whitefield during the First Great Awakening. Franklin did not subscribe to Whitefield’s theology, but he admired Whitefield for exhorting people to worship God through good works. Franklin published all of Whitefield’s sermons and journals, thereby earning a lot of money and boosting the Great Awakening.

When he stopped attending church, Franklin wrote in his autobiography:

… Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.

Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently. He had a “passion for virtue”. These Puritan values included his devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity and community spirit.

The classical authors read in the Enlightenment period taught an abstract ideal of republican government based on hierarchical social orders of king, aristocracy and commoners. It was widely believed that English liberties relied on their balance of power, but also hierarchal deference to the privileged class. “Puritanism … and the epidemic evangelism of the mid-eighteenth century, had created challenges to the traditional notions of social stratification” by preaching that the Bible taught all men are equal, that the true value of a man lies in his moral behavior, not his class, and that all men can be saved. Franklin, steeped in Puritanism and an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical movement, rejected the salvation dogma, but embraced the radical notion of egalitarian democracy.

Franklin’s commitment to teach these values was itself something he gained from his Puritan upbringing, with its stress on “inculcating virtue and character in themselves and their communities.” These Puritan values and the desire to pass them on, were one of Franklin’s quintessentially American characteristics, and helped shape the character of the nation. Franklin’s writings on virtue were derided by some European authors, such as Jackob Fugger in his critical work Portrait of American Culture. Max Weber considered Franklin’s ethical writings a culmination of the Protestant ethic, which ethic created the social conditions necessary for the birth of capitalism.

One of Franklin’s notable characteristics was his respect, tolerance and promotion of all churches. Referring to his experience in Philadelphia, he wrote in his autobiography, “new Places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary Contribution, my Mite for such purpose, whatever might be the Sect, was never refused.” “He helped create a new type of nation that would draw strength from its religious pluralism.” The evangelical revivalists who were active mid-century, such as Franklin’s friend and preacher, George Whitefield, were the greatest advocates of religious freedom, “claiming liberty of conscience to be an ‘inalienable right of every rational creature.'” Whitefield’s supporters in Philadelphia, including Franklin, erected “a large, new hall, that … could provide a pulpit to anyone of any belief.” Franklin’s rejection of dogma and doctrine and his stress on the God of ethics and morality and civic virtue made him the “prophet of tolerance.” Franklin composed “A Parable Against Persecution”, an apocryphal 51st chapter of Genesis in which God teaches Abraham the duty of tolerance. While he was living in London in 1774, he was present at the birth of British Unitarianism, attending the inaugural session of the Essex Street Chapel, at which Theophilus Lindsey drew together the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in England; this was somewhat politically risky, and pushed religious tolerance to new boundaries, as a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity was illegal until the 1813 Act.

Although Franklin’s parents had intended for him to have a career in the Church, Franklin as a young man adopted the Enlightenment religious belief in deism, that God’s truths can be found entirely through nature and reason. “I soon became a thorough Deist.” As a young man he rejected Christian dogma in a 1725 pamphlet A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain, which he later saw as an embarrassment, while simultaneously asserting that God is “all wise, all good, all powerful.” He defended his rejection of religious dogma with these words: “I think opinions should be judged by their influences and effects; and if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded that he holds none that are dangerous, which I hope is the case with me.” After the disillusioning experience of seeing the decay in his own moral standards, and those of two friends in London whom he had converted to Deism, Franklin turned back to a belief in the importance of organized religion, on the pragmatic grounds that without God and organized churches, man will not be good. Moreover, because of his proposal that prayers be said in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, many have contended that in his later life Franklin became a pious Christian.

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Dr Richard Price, the radical minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, holding a letter from Franklin

According to David Morgan, Franklin was a proponent of religion in general. He prayed to “Powerful Goodness” and referred to God as “the infinite”. John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: “The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker.” Whatever else Franklin was, concludes Morgan, “he was a true champion of generic religion.” In a letter to Richard Price, Franklin stated that he believed that religion should support itself without help from the government, claiming, “When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

In 1790, just about a month before he died, Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University, who had asked him his views on religion:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.

On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed a three-member committee composed of Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to design the Great Seal of the United States. Franklin’s proposal (which was not adopted) featured the motto: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” and a scene from the Book of Exodus, with Moses, the Israelites, the pillar of fire, and George III depicted as pharaoh. The design that was produced was never acted upon by Congress, and the Great Seal’s design was not finalized until a third committee was appointed in 1782.

Thirteen Virtues

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Franklin bust in the Archives Department of Columbia University in New York City

Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:

  • “Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
    “Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
  • “Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
  • “Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
  • “Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
  • “Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
  • “Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
  • “Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
  • “Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
  • “Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.”
  • “Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
  • “Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
  • “Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week “leaving all others to their ordinary chance.” While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues, and by his own admission he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”

Slavery


When Franklin was young, African slavery was common and virtually unchallenged throughout the British colonies. During his lifetime slaves were numerous in Philadelphia. In 1750, half the persons in Philadelphia who had established probate estates owned slaves. Dock workers in the city consisted of 15% slaves. Franklin owned as many as seven slaves, two males who worked in his household and his shop. Franklin posted paid ads for the sale of slaves and for the capture of runaway slaves and allowed the sale of slaves in his general store. Franklin profited from both the international and domestic slave trade, even criticizing slaves who had run off to join the British Army during the colonial wars of the 1740s and 1750s. Franklin, however, later became a “cautious abolitionist” and became an outspoken critic of landed gentry slavery. In 1758, Franklin advocated the opening of a school for the education of black slaves in Philadelphia. After returning from England in 1762, Franklin became more anti-slavery. By 1770, Franklin had freed his slaves and attacked the system of slavery and the international slave trade. Franklin, however, refused to publicly debate the issue of slavery at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Franklin tended to take both sides of the issue of slavery, never fully divesting himself from the institution.

In his later years, as Congress was forced to deal with the issue of slavery, Franklin wrote several essays that stressed the importance of the abolition of slavery and of the integration of blacks into American society. These writings included:

  • An Address to the Public (1789)
  • A Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks (1789)
  • Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the Slave Trade (1790)

In 1790, Quakers from New York and Pennsylvania presented their petition for abolition to Congress. Their argument against slavery was backed by the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society and its president, Benjamin Franklin.

Death


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The grave of Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Franklin suffered from obesity throughout his middle-aged and later years, which resulted in multiple health problems, particularly gout, which worsened as he aged. In poor health during the signing of the US Constitution in 1787, he was rarely seen in public from then until his death.

Benjamin Franklin died from pleuritic attack at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790, at age 84. His death is described in the book The Life of Benjamin Franklin, quoting from the account of Dr. John Jones:

… when the pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthume, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had power; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed; a calm, lethargic state succeeded; and on the 17th instant (April 1790), about eleven o’clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months.

Approximately 20,000 people attended his funeral. He was interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. In 1728, aged 22, Franklin wrote what he hoped would be his own epitaph:

The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.

Franklin’s actual grave, however, as he specified in his final will, simply reads “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin”.

Legacy


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Franklin on the Series 2009 hundred dollar bill

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Marble memorial statue, Benjamin Franklin National Memorial

A signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Franklin is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His pervasive influence in the early history of the nation has led to his being jocularly called “the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States.” Franklin’s likeness is ubiquitous. Since 1928, it has adorned American $100 bills, which are sometimes referred to in slang as “Benjamins” or “Franklins.” From 1948 to 1963, Franklin’s portrait was on the half dollar. He has appeared on a $50 bill and on several varieties of the $100 bill from 1914 and 1918. Franklin appears on the $1,000 Series EE Savings bond. The city of Philadelphia contains around 5,000 likenesses [vague] of Benjamin Franklin, about half of which are located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway (a major thoroughfare) and Benjamin Franklin Bridge (the first major bridge to connect Philadelphia with New Jersey) are named in his honor.

In 1976, as part of a bicentennial celebration, Congress dedicated a 20-foot (6 m) marble statue in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute as the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Many of Franklin’s personal possessions are also on display at the Institute, one of the few national memorials located on private property.

In London, his house at 36 Craven Street, which is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, was first marked with a blue plaque and has since been opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House. In 1998, workmen restoring the building dug up the remains of six children and four adults hidden below the home. The Times reported on February 11, 1998:

Initial estimates are that the bones are about 200 years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: “I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest.”

The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House (the organization responsible for the restoration) note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson, who lived in the house for two years and who had built a small anatomy school at the back of the house. They note that while Franklin likely knew what Hewson was doing, he probably did not participate in any dissections because he was much more of a physicist than a medical man.

Bequest

Franklin bequeathed £1,000 (about $4,400 at the time, or about $112,000 in 2011 dollars) each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, in trust to gather interest for 200 years. The trust began in 1785 when the French mathematician Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour, who admired Franklin greatly, wrote a friendly parody of Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” called “Fortunate Richard”. The main character leaves a smallish amount of money in his will, five lots of 100 livres, to collect interest over one, two, three, four or five full centuries, with the resulting astronomical sums to be spent on impossibly elaborate utopian projects. Franklin, who was 79 years old at the time, wrote thanking him for a great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest of 1,000 pounds each to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia. By 1990, more than $2,000,000 had accumulated in Franklin’s Philadelphia trust, which had loaned the money to local residents. From 1940 to 1990, the money was used mostly for mortgage loans. When the trust came due, Philadelphia decided to spend it on scholarships for local high school students. Franklin’s Boston trust fund accumulated almost $5,000,000 during that same time; at the end of its first 100 years a portion was allocated to help establish a trade school that became the Franklin Institute of Boston, and the whole fund was later dedicated to supporting this institute.

Franklin on U.S. postage

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Issue of 1861

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Issue of 1895

Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure in American history comparable to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, and as such he has been honored on U.S. postage stamps many times. The image of Franklin, the first Postmaster General of the United States, occurs on the face of U.S. postage more than any other notable American save that of George Washington.

Franklin appeared on the first U.S. postage stamp (displayed above) issued in 1847. From 1908 through 1923 the U.S. Post Office issued a series of postage stamps commonly referred to as the Washington-Franklin Issues where, along with George Washington, Franklin was depicted many times over a 14-year period, the longest run of any one series in U.S. postal history. Along with the regular issue stamps Franklin however only appears on a few commemorative stamps. Some of the finest portrayals of Franklin on record can be found on the engravings inscribed on the face of U.S. postage.

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Issue of 1918

Bawdy Ben

“Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress” is a letter written by Benjamin Franklin, dated June 25, 1745, in which Franklin gives advice to a young man about channeling sexual urges. Due to its licentious nature, the letter was not published in collections of Franklin’s papers during the nineteenth century. Federal court decisions from the mid-to-late twentieth century cited the document as a reason for overturning obscenity laws, using it to make a case against censorship.

Exhibitions

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Life-size bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin (seated) in the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

“The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin and the Age of Enlightenment” exhibition opened in Philadelphia in February 2006 and ran through December 2006. Benjamin Franklin and Dashkova met only once, in Paris in 1781. Franklin was 75, and Dashkova was 37. Franklin invited Dashkova to become the first woman to join the American Philosophical Society; she was the only woman so honored for another 80 years. Later, Dashkova reciprocated by making him the first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Places and things named after Benjamin Franklin

As a founding father of the United States, Franklin’s name has been attached to many things. Among these are:

  • The State of Franklin, a short-lived independent state formed during the
  • American Revolutionary War
  • Counties in at least 16 U.S. states
  • Several major landmarks in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Franklin’s longtime home, including:
    • Franklin and Marshall College in nearby Lancaster
    • Franklin Field, a football field once home to the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League and the home field of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers since 1895
    • The Benjamin Franklin Bridge across the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey
  • Several US Navy ships have been named the USS Franklin or the USS Bonhomme Richard, the latter being a French translation of his penname “Poor Richard”. Two aircraft carriers, USS Franklin (CV-13) and USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), were simultaneously in commission and in operation during World War II, and Franklin therefore had the distinction of having two simultaneously operational US Navy warships named in his honor. The French ship Franklin (1797) was also named in Franklin’s honor.
  • CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, a Chinese-built French owned Explorer-class container ship

Caisim

by Meilisa Kusumawati

Daun Caisim 1

Daun Caisim Adalah

Daun caisim adalah sayuran jenis sawi berwarna hijau namun berbentuk lebih pendek. Daun caisim sering disebut dengan pok coy atau sawi hijau. Daun caisim berbentuk seperti mahkota dengan daun berlapis-lapis dan berwarna kehijauan. Daun caisim biasanya digunakan dalam masakan Asia seperti sup, tumisan mie, dan sebagainya. Daun caisim mudah tumbuh di daerah yang dekat dengan pantai atau pegunungan. Agar daun caisim lebih segar, daun caisim ditanam di daerah bersuhu sejuk. Daun caisim tidak hanya cantik karena berbentuk seperti mahkota, namun juga mempunyai segudang manfaat yang baik untuk tubuh. Untuk mendapatkan daun caisim ini, Anda bisa mengunjungi swalayan atau pasar tradisional. Daun caisim umumnya dijual dengan keadaan organik.

Fungsi

Daun caisim mengandung vitamin K, vitamin A, asam folat, vitamin E, dan serat yang tinggi. Tak heran daun caisim sangat dianjurkan dikonsumsi oleh ibu hamil untuk membantu menyuplai gizi pada janin. Selain itu, daun caisim juga bagus untuk membantu regenerasi kulit. Kandungan vitamin A yang cukup tinggi membuat daun caisim baik untuk kesehatan mata. Daun caisim juga bagus dikonsumsi rutin dalam program diet penurunan berat badan.

Daun caisim dalam bidang kuliner terkenal sebagai sawi bakso. Daun caisim memang umumnya dicampurkan dalam hidangan bakso. Selain itu, daun caisim juga lezat diolah menjadi campuran sup. Daun caisim tidak hanya enak dimakan. Bentuknya yang unik membuat sayur ini digunakan untuk hiasan dalam beberapa hidangan seperti tumisan, cah, dan sebagainya.

Cara Mengolah

Daun caisim hendaknya selalu disimpan dalam keadaan segar dan segera diolah. Daun caisim bisa digunakan untuk sup dengan cara memisahkan daun dari tangkainya dan memotong-motong sesuai selera. Daun caisim juga bisa dikonsumsi mentah atau dalam keadaan rebusan sebagai lalapan. Rasa daun caisim yang tidak terlalu pahit sesuai untuk dijadikan lalapan. Daun caisim juga bisa dibuat hiasan dengan menjadikannya alas di atas piring dan menyiramkan masakan yang telah matang di atasnya. Daun caisim tak hanya cantik namun lezat dan kaya manfaat.

 

 

Sawi Hijau

by Maria Alphonsa

Sawi Hijau-Hidroponik

Sawi Hijau Adalah

Sawi hijau merupakan salah satu dari sekian banyak sayuran yang banyak digemari masyarakat luas. Selain karena kemudahan di dapat, sawi hijau juga memiliki banyak kasiat di dalamnya. Sawi hijau banyak digunakan sebagai bahan pelengkap masakan. Di kalangan masyarakat, sawi hijau juga dikenal dengan nama caisim. Berkembang di negara China, kini sawi hijau menjadi perhatian masyarakat karena rasa manisnya dan juga kemudahan mengembangbiakkanya. Sawi hijau dipanen bersamaan dengan batangnya.

Fungsi

Masyarakat kerap kali menjadikan sawi hijau sebagai sayuran lezat untuk menu makan siang mereka. Seperti kebanyakan sayuran lainnya, sawi hijau juga memiliki kegunaan yang serupa. Selain menjadi sumber kalsium, sawi hijau juga bisa digunakan sebagai bahan kecantikan. Dengan mengkonsumsi sawi hijau secara teratur, dapat berkhasiat terhadap kesehatan kulit dan rambut bagi mereka yang mengkonsumsinya.

Namun, segala khasiat dalam sawi hijau, juga terdapat sisi yang harus diperhatikan masyarakat. Sawi hijau memiliki enzim tertentu yang tidak baik jika dimakan oleh orang yang menderita batu ginjal. Selain itu dalam jumlah yang banyak sawi hijau juga bisa berakibat tidak baik bagi mereka yang memiliki masalah dengan kelenjar tiroid mereka. Akan tetapi, dalam jumlah yang cukup dan dengan mengkonsumsi secara bijak, tentunya tidak akan membahayakan masyarakat.

Cara Mengolah

Untuk menjadikan sawi hijau sebagai sayuran sederhana, Anda tinggal memasukkan sawi hijau ke dalam air panas. Kemudian bumbui air tersebut. Dalam sekejap Anda bisa menyajikan olahan sayur sawi hijau ini sebagai alternatif makan si kecil. Bagi orang dewasa, menumis sawi hijau merupakan cara yang sangat praktis. Jika Anda berencana melakukan acara masak shabu-shabu di kediaman sendiri, sawi hijau merupakan sayuran wajib yang digunakan sebagai pemanis alami bagi kaldu di dalamnya. Cukup dengan mencelupkan sawi hijau selama beberapa saat bisa meninggalkan rasa manis di kuah tersebut.

Cara penyimpanan sawi hijau yang belum digunakan adalah dengan memasukkannya dalam plastik bersih. Namun, jangan menyimpan sawi hijau terlalu lama karena akan membuat bagian batang menjadi berair dan busuk.

 

 

Zacharias Janssen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Zacharias Janssen (also Zacharias Jansen or Sacharias Jansen) (1585 – pre-1632) was a Dutch spectacle-maker from Middelburg associated with the invention of the first optical telescope. Janssen is sometimes also credited for inventing the first truly compound microscope. However, the origin of the microscope, just like the origin of the telescope, is a matter of debate.

Opera Snapshot_2018-01-04_073818_en.wikipedia.orgZacharias

Biography


Zacharias Janssen was born in The Hague. Local records seem to indicate he was born in 1585 although a date of birth as early as 1580 or as late a 1588 are also given. His parents were Hans Martens (who may have had the occupation of a peddler) and Maeyken Meertens, both probably from Antwerp, Belgium. He grew up with his sister Sara in Middelburg, at the time the second most important city of the Netherlands. He was known as a “street seller” who was constantly in trouble with the local authorities.

He stated he was born in The Hague on the marriage file of his first marriage, with Catharina de Haene, on October 23, 1610. When this file was refound by Cornelis de Waard in 1906, De Waard found the following excerpt: Sacharias Jansen, j.g. uut Den Haag, “Zacharias Jansen, bachelor from The Hague” Before, it was often thought that Janssen was a native of Middelburg. In 1612, Zacharias and Catharina had a son they named Johannes Zachariassen.

In 1615 Zacharias was appointed guardian of two children of Lowys Lowyssen “geseyt Henricxen brilmakers” (called Henry the spectacle maker). It is surmised that Zacharias also took possession of Lowys Lowyssen’s spectacle-making tools because the first record of Zacharias Janssen being a spectacle maker appears in 1616. The family had to move to Arnemuiden in 1618 after Zacharias’s counterfeiting activities were exposed. There Zacharias was again accused of counterfeiting in 1619 causing him to be on the move again, ending up back in Middleburg in 1621.

A year after the death of Janssen’s first wife in 1624, he married Anna Couget from Antwerp, who was the widow of a Willem Jansen (probably a relative of Janssen). He moved to Amsterdam in November 1626 with a profession of a spectacle maker, but was bankrupt by 1628. Janssen has been given a death date as late as 1638 although his sister said he was dead in 1632 testimony and his son Johannes declared his parents had died by the time of his marriage in April 1632.

Claimed Inventions


Over the years there have been claims Zacharias Janssen invented the telescope and/or the microscope in Middelburg between 1590 and 1618. Zacharias worked for some period of his life as spectacle-maker (a very competitive and secretive trade) and at one time lived next door to Middelburg spectacle maker Hans Lippershey, also claimed to have invented the telescope. Janssen’s attribution to these discoveries is debatable since there is no concrete evidence as to the actual inventor, and there are a whole series of confusing and conflicting claims from the testimony of his son and fellow countrymen, in different testimony in 1634 and 1655.

Microscope

Janssen has been associated with the invention of the single-lens (simple) optical microscope and the compound (2 or more lens) 9x magnification optical microscope, sometimes claimed to have been devised with the help of his father (or sometimes said to have been built entirely by his father) with a date of invention commonly given as 1590 (or sometimes 1595), while trying to find a way to make magnification even greater to help people with seriously poor eyesight.

Telescope

Janssen is one of three people who have been associated with the invention of the telescope in the Netherlands in 1608. That year Hans Lippershey filed the first known patent for the device on October 2 with the States General of the Netherlands, followed a few weeks later by a second patent application by Jacob Metius of Alkmaar. Both were turned down because there were counter claims for the invention.

Varying accounts are cited to support Janssen as a possible inventor of the telescope. German astronomer Simon Marius wrote an account to his patron Johan Philip Fuchs von Bimbach about meeting an unnamed Dutchman at the 1608 Autumn Frankfurt Fair (which ran the month of September) who tried to sell him a device that sounded like a telescope. Given his history as a street seller, there is speculation this unnamed Dutchman could have been Zacharias Janssen, which would mean Janssen had a telescope at least a month before Lippershey’s October 2, 1608 patent date. William de Boreel, who visited Middelburg to research the invention in 1655, interviewed Janssen’s son Johannes. Boreel concluded that Janssen’s telescope was finished about 1610. His research was referenced by Pierre Borel in De vero telescopii inventore. There are other claims that Janssen constructed the first telescope in 1604, or even earlier. Janssen’s son Johannes testified under oath that Hans Lippershey had stolen his father’s invention of the telescope, and that his father had invented the device in 1590.

Controversy

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Reproduction of an optical device that Zacharias Snijder in 1841 claimed was an early telescope built by Jansen. Dutch biologist and naturalist Pieter Harting claimed in 1858 that this was an early microscope which he also attributed to Janssen, perpetuating the Janssen claim to both devices. Its actual function and creator has been disputed.

The confusion surrounding the claim to invention of the telescope and the microscope arises in part from the (sometimes conflicting) testimony of Zacharias Janssen’s son, Johannes Zachariassen. Johannes claims include that his father invented the telescope in 1590, that his father invented the telescope in 1604, that he and his father invented the telescope in 1618, and that Jacob Metius and Cornelis Drebbel bought a telescope from him and his father in 1620 and copied it. Johannes also seems to have lied about his own date of birth, maybe so he could stake his own claim as inventor of the telescope along with his father.

The 1655 investigation by William Boreel (who may have been a childhood friend of Zacharias Zachariassen) added to the confusion over invention. The people he interviewed were trying to recount details 50 or 60 years after the fact and Boreel may have confused the names of spectacle makers from his childhood. He may have also been confused about a microscope built by another optician for Drebbel, claiming it was built by Zacharias Janssen.

Albert Van Helden, Sven Dupré, Rob Van Gent, and Huib Zuidervaart in their book “Origins of the Telescope” came to the conclusion that Janssen may not have become an optician until 1616 and that the claims surrounding him as the inventor of the telescope and the microscope were the fabrications of his own son, Johannes Zachariassen, who claimed it as a matter of fame and for possible financial gain.

Illegal Activities


In the years 1613–1619, Janssen was tried several times for counterfeiting coins. Janssen grew up right next to the Middleburg mint where his brother-in-law worked. These circumstances made it very easy for Janssen to mimic the process of manufacturing money. He fled to the neighbouring village of Arnemuiden to avoid the high penalties for counterfeiting coins.

However, he continued counterfeiting coins in Arnemuiden. In 1619 he was apprehended for owning several devices he counterfeited coins with. Normally, one would have been sentenced to death for this crime. However, since the father of the Arnemuiden bailiff was found to be an accessory, he was pardoned from this punishment. Thanks to this, the process was delayed to such an extent that Janssen was able to flee again. Eventually, the case was dismissed. Janssen returned to Middleburg in 1621.

Historical Record


Janssen’s life was documented by the many investigations on the subject before the Second World War. Many of the Middelburg archives were destroyed by a bombing of Middelburg on May 17, 1940, during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. Without these earlier studies, very little would be known of Janssen’s life at all, since all original files were lost in the fires following the bombardment.

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