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Drawing Lightning from a Cloud - 1752

Drawing Lightning from a Cloud - 1752 STEM World History Famous Historical Events

Following a recommended experiment suggested by Benjamin Franklin, Frenchman Thomas-Francois Dalibard erected a 40-foot (12 meter)-tall iron rod intended to attract electrical sparks from a thundercloud.  

On the 10th of May, 1752, Dalibard proved Benjamin Franklin’s underlying hypothesis - that lightning is a form of electrical discharge -  when the lightning-rod experiment proceeded as Franklin had predicted.  

With the lightning rod anchored in a wine bottle - where the electrical charge (if it came through the metal rod) could be stored (for later study) - Dalibard’s device performed perfectly.  When lightning hit the top of the rod, it produced a spark.  Electricity passed through the metal rod, to the wine bottle which served as a kind of Leyden Jar.

This image depicts an illustration of the famous experiment at Marly-la-Ville (north of Paris). It is from Les Merveilles de la Science, by Louis Figuier, published in Paris during 1867.

Click on the image for a much-larger view (to examine the details of Dalibard's device).


Media Credits

Image online courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

 

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