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5000 знаков. Benjamin Franklin - файл Английский вариант.doc

5000 знаков. Benjamin Franklin
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Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a genius, recognized as such at home and abroad in his own time and still today. George Washington referred to him as "that great philosopher." Thomas Jefferson called him "the greatest man of the age and country in which he lived." John Adams said of him: "Franklin had a great genius, original, sagacious, and inventive, capable of discoveries in science no less than of improvements in the fine arts and the mechanical arts....His reputation was more universal than that of Leibnitz or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire." Much of Franklin's reputation was a result of his phenomenal demonstration of capturing lightning from the sky and bringing it safely to the ground without harming people or property. Before this, according to Adams, grown men would hide under their beds in superstitious fear during storms of lightning and thunder. In ancient times, lightning was believed to be the javelins that the god Jove hurled at his enemies, and was referred to as Jove's thunderbolts. In more modern times lightning was believed to be God's method of punishing people for their sins. So Franklin was widely considered a great magician who, with his rod, had removed the danger from Jove's thunderbolts. With Franklin's demonstration, the world began to look upon natural phenomena in a different light, recognizing man's ability to understand and control them through science and invention.

The lightning rod was the most spectacular, but it was only one of Franklin's many transformative inventions. Most inventions are improvements upon prior art, but there was nothing before Franklin's rod to capture lightning. It was absolutely new and original, without precursors or forerunners. And what makes this Franklin invention even more monumental is that despite the great advances in technology, the lightning rod in use today is essentially the same as when Franklin invented it.

The lightning rod was the result of a flash of genius that came to Franklin after years experimenting with electricity. Another of his original creations, bifocal eyeglasses, was very simple and came to him without any previous experimentation. One contemporary claimed Franklin invented them so he could watch the girls across the room while still keeping his eyes on the one next to him. His own explanation was less salacious. When traveling, he said, he had to carry two pairs of spectacles, which he shifted when he wanted to read or when he wanted to take in the view of the countryside. "Finding this change troublesome," he said, "I had the glasses cut, and half of each kind associated in the same circle....

By this means, as I wear my spectacles constantly, I have only to move my eyes up or down, as I want to see distinctly far or near, the proper glasses being always ready. This I find more particularly convenient since my being in France, the glasses that serve the best at table to see what I eat, not being the best to see the faces of those on the other side of the table who speak to me. And when one's ears are not well accustomed to the sounds of a language, a sight of the movements in the features of him that speaks, helps....So I understand French better by the help of my spectacles.

A third original invention of Franklin's is daylight saving time, which gives extra hours of daylight to enjoy in the evening. A stickler for economy, Franklin's dictum "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise" urged his fellow countrymen to work during daylight and sleep after dark, saving money on candles. He calculated that if all the families of Paris who caroused until late at night and then slept until noon would arise with the sun six hours earlier, 64 million pounds of candle wax would be saved in six months' time. With tongue in cheek, he proposed "to ring church bells at sunrise, and if that was not enough, let canon [sic] be fired in every street to wake the sluggards." Congress has never gone to that extreme, but over the decades -- the recent spike in energy costs providing the latest example -- it has heeded Franklin's intent and extended the number of days covered by daylight saving time.

From utilitarian ideas to the world of art, Franklin was a force. Mozart and Beethoven wrote music for an instrument invented by Franklin. The idea for him was not something he had dreamed up out of the blue. Franklin loved music, enjoyed singing and played the harp, guitar and violin. During his stay in London, he heard a concert played on musical glasses and was delighted by the sound they made. The performer had a number of glasses on the table; each glass held a different amount of water that produced a different tone when he rubbed his wet finger over the rim. Franklin was "charmed by the sweetness of its tones and the music produced." However, he thought the process was inefficient. The player's finger had to run all around the rim of each glass and then had to jump to other glasses to play a melody. Furthermore, the glasses had to be filled precisely and tuned before each performance.

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