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Spotlighting...

Feel the electricity in the air! There is a current of excitement running through our Museum's walls and computers' wires. A permanent exhibit entitled Franklin...He's Electric! premieres at The Franklin Institute in March 1999, devoted to Ben Franklin and his far-ranging scientific legacy. It includes objects, models, and inventions from The Institute's science and technology collections, and takes a special look at Franklin's work and what it has meant to the history of science. Ben's spark of genius gave birth to many wonderful things, including his famous electricity experiment and his original lightning rod, which you can find in our Attic this month.

Electricity is most simply defined as the movement of charged particles, or a form of energy associated with moving electrons and protons. It can be very dangerous, particularly in the form of lightning, but without it, we would be left in the dark! Nobody "invented" electricity, but people have created many inventions to put its power to use. Throughout history, scientists have worked with electricity to develop such things as light bulbs, batteries, circuits, and motors. Without power stations that provide electrical energy, you wouldn't be able to switch on a lamp, cook on your electric stove, or plug in your stereo to listen to music.

Benjamin Franklin devised the lightning rod after performing his kite and key experiment in 1752. He discovered that lightning was an electrical current, and thought that if he channeled it with the rod, it would protect people, buildings, ships, and other objects from getting struck by lightning. Take a trip to Langmuir Lab to see how scientists there are working with lightning and lightning rods.

Electricity is an incredible power, which must be understood and used carefully if it is to be helpful. Whether you are a scientist studying electricity, lightning, and currents or are just fascinated by the energy that turns your television set on, there is always something that will amaze you about this truly electrifying wonder!

Franklin's Kite Electricity and Magnetism
The World of Electronics for Children Lightning and Atmospheric Electricity Research

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