Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ben Franklin's Birthday

January 17 is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, born this date in 1706. He was a scientist, diplomat, and printer. He also studied sunspots. In a letter to Humphry Marshall he wrote "It is however remarkable that tho’ large Spots are seen gradually to become small ones, no one has observ’d a small Spot gradually to become a large one; at least I do not remember to have met with such an Observation."

This letter was sent in February 1773 from Franklin in London to Marshall in Pennsylvania. At this time an ongoing scientific debate was whether science in England was the same as science in the North American colonies. Franklin synchronized experiments on both sides of the Atlantic to explore whether electricity behaved the same. Observations of the Sun were part of this effort.

Happy Birthday, Ben!