Franklin may have flown kite, but knowledge of electricity predates him

Did Ben Franklin really discover electricity when he flew his kite in a lightning storm? Sorry, Buzzkillers, it’s a myth. Good old Ben was thousands of years late. Various ancient cultures discovered static electricity. Excavations of Roman sites in the 1930s found pots with sheets of copper inside containing iron rods. Scientific archaeologists think these may have been ancient batteries. Similar excavations in Baghdad found that the ancient Persians also developed an early form of batteries. In the early 1600s, two English scientists used different terms for the phenomenon that people had known about for years. William Gilbert called it “electricus” and Thomas Browne called it “electricity.” So what did Franklin do? U.S. explains one of Franklin’s contributions: “Franklin showed that electricity consisted of a ‘common element’ which he named ‘electric fire.’ Further, electricity was ‘fluid’ like a liquid. It passed from one body to another–however it was never destroyed.’ And that’s today’s Mini-Myth. It’s electric!

Did Ben Franklin Discover Electricity?

“BenFranklinDuplessis” by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis. Via Wikimedia Commons.