Monday, 8 December 2014

Who Electrocuted Some Turkeys For Science?

Can you Guess

If your from the UK he's not exactly a household name...

Benjamin Franklin's famous kite-flying in a thunder storm dude. Before that, he tested electric shocks on some farmyard birds. As he wrote to botanist Peter Collinson in a letter dated 1749, "A Turkey is to be killed for our Dinners by the Electrical Shock.

Unfortunately, he did not entirely kill the turkeys, at first. "The turkeys, though thrown into violent convulsions and then lying as dead for some minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of an hour," Watson wrote. Another shock did kill the 10-pound birds. "[Franklin] conceited, as himself says, that the birds killed in this manner eat uncommonly tender."

A Turkey is to be killed for our Dinners by the Electrical Shock; and roasted by the electrical Jack
Franklin also accidentally electrocuted himself that day, receiving a shock nearly as large as the one that killed his hens. He described the experience in a letter dated 1750:

The Company present (whose talking to me, and to one another I suppose occasioned my Inattention to what I was about) Say that the flash was very great and the crack as loud as a Pistol; yet my Senses being instantly gone, I neither Saw the one nor heard the other . . . . I then felt what I know not how well to describe; an universal Blow thro'out my whole Body from head to foot . . . . that part of my hand and fingers which held the Chain was left white as tho' the Blood had been Driven Out, and Remained so 8 or 10 Minutes After, feeling like Dead flesh . . . .
He stayed sore for a week.

Franklin's work, including several experiments besides the turkey one, was a boon to science, Watson concluded in his report, which the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A published. "Upon the whole, Mr. Franklin appears in the work before us to be a very able and ingenious man," Watson, a fellow of the Royal Society, wrote. He continued:

He has a head to conceive and a hand to carry into execution, whatever he thinks may conduce to enlighten the subject matter of which he is treating; and although there are in this work some few opinions in which I cannot perfectly agree with him, I think scarce any body is better acquainted with the subject of electricity than himself.

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