Benjamin Franklin's involvement in colonial politics is an important contribution to American history. So too are his many, and often lesser known, inventions and scientific discoveries. Many of his observations and inventions helped pave the way for future scientists and inventors. Franklin discovered at a young age that he had a talent for writing. At the age of 15, while working as his brother's printing apprentice, Franklin began writing a series of letters under the name of "Silence Dogood." He published these in his brother's paper, The New England Courant. In 1729 Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette and included many of his own writings in its printings, often under aliases. He began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack in 1733, which included such witty phrases as "A penny saved is a penny earned" and "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." As a young man, Franklin took an interest in the public good. He organized the Junto, a young working-man's group dedicated to self and civic improvement. He joined the Masons, was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia, and helped found such companies and organizations as The Library Company, the American Philosophical Society, and the Pennsylvania Hospital; all are still in existence today. He also organized Philadelphia's first fire department, the Union Fire Company. Franklin's experiments with electricity, including his famous kite experiment, helped explore the nature of electricity and lightning. He was also the first scientist to study and map the Gulf Stream. He measured wind speeds, and the current depth, speed, and temperature. He described the Gulf Stream as a river of warm water. His discoveries led to faster shipping. One of his greatest observations had to do with hours of daylight. During a trip to Paris, France, he noticed that there were more hours of daylight in the summer months. He thought that by moving the clocks an hour ahead in the spring and an hour back in the fall, the people of Paris would use fewer candles thus saving them hundreds of dollars a year. Daylight Savings Time is used all over the world today. Among Franklin's many inventions are: the Franklin stove (an iron stove that efficiently heated homes); swim fins; bifocals; the glass armonica (a musical instrument); a simple odometer; the catheter; and the lightning rod. Franklin never patented any of his inventions; they were his contribution to the public good.


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