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by Tom Tucker


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Tom Tucker’s most popular book is Bolt Of Fate: Benjamin Franklin And His Electric Kite Hoax.

Tom Tucker’s most popular book is Bolt Of Fate: Benjamin Franklin And His Electric Kite Hoax. Brainstorm!: The Stories of Twenty American Kid Inventors by. Tom Tucker, Richard Loehle (Illustrations).

Tom Tucker is an award-winning author who writes often about the history of invention. He lives in Rutherfordton, North Carolina with his family.

Now we have Tom Tucker's take on Franklin the "electrical scientist Mr. Tucker also points out that Franklin was not averse to a bit of self-promotion.

Now we have Tom Tucker's take on Franklin the "electrical scientist. Gosh, we haven't even gotten to the tricentennial of Franklin's birth, which will be in 2006. Mr. well, he wasn't going to disabuse them of the notion.

бесплатно, без регистрации и без смс. Every schoolchild in America knows that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1752

бесплатно, без регистрации и без смс. Every schoolchild in America knows that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1752. Electricity from the clouds above traveled down the kite's twine and threw a spark from a key that Franklin had attached to the string. He thereby proved that lightning and electricity were one. What many of us do not realize is that Franklin used this breakthrough in his day's intensely competitive field of electrical science to embarrass his French and English rivals. His kite experiment was an international event and the Franklin.

Every schoolchild in America knows that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1752. You're getting the VIP treatment! With the purchase of Kobo VIP Membership, you're getting 10% off and 2x Kobo Super Points on eligible items. Your Shopping Cart is empty. There are currently no items in your Shopping Cart.

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it proved that lightning was electricity.

Yet, as Tom Tucker argues convincingly in Bolt of Fate, the . Book DescriptionNow in paperback: "This is Franklin unmasked" ( The New Yorker ) Benjamin Franklin flying his electric kite is one of the most celebrated images of any Founding Father's life. Yet, as Tom Tucker argues convincingly in Bolt of Fate, the kite may never have existed and that, oddly enough, its absence tells us more about Franklin than its presence might. Franklin was an enthusiastic and capable hoaxer-regularly running stories from fabricated personalities in his own periodicals. He was also sly, witty, and used to outthinking the competition.

Benjamin Franklin famously flew a kite in a thunderstorm in 1752, an occasion on which he proved that lightning and electricity were one. But was Franklin's story merely a hoax to get revenge on the scientific establishment? Bolt of Fate investigates this and other 18th century experiments.

Comments: (7)

generation of new
What does this author offer that cannot be found in any of the numerous biographies of Benjamin Franklin? The subtitle says it all – he claims to show that Franklin never performed his famous kite experiment; it was a hoax. The book is 285 pages long including 47 pages of notes. There is very little first-hand information known about the actual experiment, so most of this material is simply "filler" used by the author to describe Franklin's life, mainly outside of science, and to set the stage for his claim of a hoax.
Franklin first described the kite experiment in a letter to Peter Collinson in 1752. This short description also appeared in print in, among other places, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Pennsylvania Gazette. Later in 1767, Joseph Priestley described Franklin's kite experiment in more detail in his book History and Present State of Electricity. Priestley was a friend of Franklin's, and it is generally assumed that Franklin supplied the details of the experiment to Priestley. These two writings contain all of the first-hand information known about the experiment (I. B. Cohen, Benjamin Franklin's Science, Harvard, Cambridge, MA, 1990, pp. 67-70).
In his article Franklin says that the "experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia." For the author to say the kite experiment was never performed is to call Franklin a liar. I can see only two ways his claim could be justified:
1.) First-hand evidence from the period shows that the experiment was not performed. For example, Priestley says Franklin's son, William Franklin, helped with the experiment. If a statement from William could be found denying this; the author's claim could be justified. However, no such evidence has been found.
2.) Modern scientific investigations show that the experiment, as described by Franklin, could not be successful. Using physical arguments, the author tries to show that a kite constructed to what he thinks are Franklin's specifications could not fly. One has to ask: Why would a shrewd individual like Franklin describe the kite used in his experiment as one that would not fly? Franklin knew about kites; he describes flying a kite as a boy; he used the kite to pull himself across a pond while lying on his back in the water (C. Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin, Book-of-the-Month Club, 1980, NY, Reprint of book from 1938, pp. 18-19). After Franklin announced his kite experiment, others successfully performed similar experiments.
When there is more than one interpretation for an occurrence in Franklin's life, the author selects the one that will favor his claim. At times this leads to a rather tenuous and sometimes unbelievable chain of events. For me his reconstruction of history does not provide sufficient evidence for his claim of a hoax. Apart from that claim, the book presents information about Franklin and eighteenth century electrostatics that can be found in other places.
Alianyau
In the last couple of years we've had major biographies of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands, Walter Isaacson, and Edmund Morgan. Now we have Tom Tucker's take on Franklin the "electrical scientist." (Gosh, we haven't even gotten to the tricentennial of Franklin's birth, which will be in 2006. One wonders what's in the publishing pipeline!) This book has quite a few pros and cons. Here are the pros: Because of the 3 recent general biographies, we probably didn't need another one. Mr. Tucker has done us a service by electing to concentrate on Franklin the scientist. And although Mr. Tucker's background is in writing about science, he has an engaging "popular" style. There's nothing dry about this book. Another plus is that Mr. Tucker goes to great pains to show us how myth becomes enshrined as reality. He makes a pretty good case that Franklin never actually flew his "electric kite." Looking carefully at the primary sources, we see that Franklin gave instructions on how to construct such a kite, but never actually claimed to have conducted the "kite in a thunderstorm" experiment himself. He was also uncharacteristically evasive when questioned about details of the experiment. Mr. Tucker also points out that Franklin was not averse to a bit of self-promotion. If people wanted to assume that he had flown a kite in a thunderstorm....well, he wasn't going to disabuse them of the notion. Likewise, although Franklin came up with the idea and "blueprint" for the lightning rod, he apparently tooted his own horn by lying to his European "colleagues" when he claimed that lightning rods were being attached to public buildings in Philadelphia earlier than the historical evidence shows they were. Franklin was presumably miffed that the Royal Society in London had been virtually ignoring the papers he had written on electricity up to this point, and was trying to gain some respect. (There is also evidence that Royal Society member William Watson was trying to claim some of Franklin's theories and experiments had originated, independently, with himself.) So, those are the pros. What are the cons? Perverse as it may seem, zeroing in on Franklin the scientist is one of them. Frankly, (sorry, I couldn't resist) there isn't a whole lot to zero in on. Taking 237 pages to prove that Franklin didn't fly a kite in a thunderstorm, and that he lied about when the first domestic lightning rod was constructed, can tax your patience. Also, anyone who has read anything previous on Franklin won't be surprised by the author's comments that Franklin was fond of hoaxes, practical jokes, and that he was a lot more sophisticated than his public persona. However, the most grievous "negative" is that the author tries to assert that Franklin was responsible for our victory in the Revolutionary War. The logic is as follows: Franklin's self-promotion as an "electrical scientist" resulted in his being immensely popular in France. He parlayed this popularity into gaining a great deal of influence with Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, et al. Bingo....he convinced the French to form an alliance with the upstart Americans, which enabled us to win the war. While it is true that Franklin was popular and had influence, it is a long stretch to say that he was single-handedly responsible for the French coming in on the American side. Other Americans, such as John Adams, played key roles, and the French had excellent reasons of their own to enter the fray. Mr. Tucker may have felt that the basic theme of his book didn't quite pack enough of a wallop, and so he decided to "jazz" the narrative up with "The French Connection." But, he took things a bit too far. In any case, this book is worth reading for its exploration of myth vs. reality and for its elucidation of 18th century professional jealousy and backbiting within the world of the "electrical scientists."
Purebinder
This book is not written in scientific prose. It is a literary text, foremost. It is not a history or chronicle of the investigations into electricity during Franklin's time, so do not expect to read of the reasoning or structured experimentation behind the electrical displays, behind the silk thread, the Leyden jars, the glass rods and cork balls.

The subtitle of the book refers to the famous kite experiment reported by Franklin in 1752 (chapter 14 introduces the story). The author's research finds no evidence of Franklin having conducted the experiment. A theme running through the book is that Franklin was not above the expedient lie. It is an interesting book, but it cannot stand on its own as a study of 18th century electrical science or of Franklin's role in it.

I was surprised to read (p 136) that Immanuel Kant called Franklin the Modern Prometheus, a nomination that Mary Shelly used as the subtitle of her 1818 novel Frankenstein. Was she intending a reference to Franklin, using this subtitle and naming her scientist Frankenstein? (Franklin/Frankenstein)
Bolt of Fate download epub
Historical
Author: Tom Tucker
ISBN: 0750936800
Category: Biographies & Memoris
Subcategory: Historical
Language: English
Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd; UK ed. edition (January 1, 1980)
Pages: 297 pages