The Franklin stove
In Franklin’s days going through the winter in Philadelphia was not an easy task. In order to warm the cold homes fireplaces were stuffed with wood from the surrounding areas as a result of which the fireplace started to become fuel consuming less efficient machine which needed to be replaced and fast. As we know fireplaces are woefully inefficient: They consume fuel uncontrollably, and most of the heat shoots up the chimney.
Franklin solved these problems by enclosing the fire in a cast-iron box positioned in the center of the room. The stove radiated heat from all four sides, and users could control the rate at which wood burned by adjusting the stove’s airflow. Safely enclosed, the stove also eliminated the risk of fires being ignited by stray sparks. Versions of Franklin’s original design are now a staple of cabins and cottages around the globe.
Bifocals are eyeglasses with an upper and lower half, the upper for distance, and the lower for reading. Bifocals are commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia, a condition that Franklin suffered. He went out with his glasses outside but if he had to read something when outside he would have to switch the lenses or switch the glasses. He then had a marvelous idea of why not cut these two lenses in half and put them into one frame and Eureka! he had invented the bifocal glasses.
Franklin wrote, in August 1784 to his friend George Whitley, that he was “happy in the invention of double spectacles, which serving for distant objects as well as near ones, make my eyes as useful to me as ever they were.” And it wasn’t just his life that had changed but this invention is changing the lives of patients of presbyopia from around the world for good until this very moment.
Lightning was a supernatural scourge to the wooden cities of the 18th century. Churches were particularly susceptible, since they were often the tallest structures around, and a single electrical storm was known to lay waste to buildings across entire regions. In Franklin’s lifetime, a bolt of lightning even killed 3,000 people in Italy after it struck a church basement packed with gunpowder. Aside from fervent praying, no one knew how to protect buildings from this “electrical fire.”
Franklin retired from the publishing business at 42 to work full time on electrical experiments. After countless hours spent tinkering with static electricity, Franklin figured that if a metal rod could be fixed to the top of a building and wired to the ground with a cable, it could gently extract the “fire” from a cloud before it had a chance to do any damage. He came up with this in 1750 but it wasn’t until 1753 that he perfected the design and saved lives and protected the people from the wrath of the sky.
So if we look back at what this guy did 3 centuries ago was he didn’t just invent stuff, of course he did that but there’s much more to it than just that. He didn’t have patents as he said it was a gift to the society. We can see that he had an equally important humanitarian point of view too. He was indeed a noble genius whose name shall never be forgotten. Franklin’s inventions are all models of practicality. Its one thing for a team of engineers to design the Segway, but quite another for an elderly, 18th century man to think of throwing a set of stairs on a library chair.
Most of the items in this list likely had fellow colonists slapping their foreheads and exclaiming, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And so it was the start of the story America and the start of the age of exploration, invention and learning, and definitely Benjamin Franklin was also the founder of this new age of using science to contribute to the society and in turn to the world.