London: C. Davis, 1753.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003427
4to (218 x 170 mm). Entire volume 47, for the Years 1751 and 1752 offered: , 571,  pp., 20 engraved plates (19 folding), folding table, text illustration and diagrams. Bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, spine with gilt lettered morocco label, red-sprinkled edges, lower board with cental gilt supralibros and blind tooling (upper board and joints restored, spine soiled and darkend with gilt decoration mostly rubbed off, board leather scratched, corners worn). Text somewhat browned, minor dust-soiling, some scattered spotting of text and plates. Collated and complete. ----
FIRST EDITION of both letters in which Franklin describes his lightning experiment and in which he proves that lightning is an electrical phenomenon. "Benjamin Franklin was the first American to win an international reputation in pure science and the first man of science to gain fame for work done wholly in electricity. His principle achievement was the formulation of a widely used theory of general electrical 'action' (explaining or predicting the outcome of manipulations in electrostatics: charge production charge transfer, charging by electrostatic induction). He advanced the concept of a single 'fluid' of electricity, was responsible for the principle of conservation of charge, and analyzed the distribution of charges in the Leyden jar, a capacitor. He introduced into the language of scientific discourse relating to electricity such technical words as 'plus' and 'minus,' 'positive' and 'negative,' 'charges' and battery. By experiment he showed that the lightning discharge is an electrical phenomenon, and upon this demonstration (together with his experimental findings concerning the action of grounded and of pointed conductors) he based his invention of the lightning rod . . . Franklin devised a second experiment to test the electrification of clouds, one which has become more popularly known: the lightning kite. Franklin reported this experiment to Collinson in a letter of 1 October 1752, written after Franklin had read 'in the publick papers from Europe, of the success of the Philadelphia-Experiment for drawing the electrick fire from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high buildings. . . .' Actually, Franklin appears to have flown his electrical kite prior to having learned of Dalibard's successful execution of the sentry-box experiment. The kite letter, published in the philosophical Transactions, referred to the erection of lightning rods on public buildings in Philadelphia. The lightning experiments caused Franklin's name to become known throughout Europe to the public at large and not merely to men of science. Joseph Priestley, in his History . . . of Electricity, characterized the experimental discovery that the lightning discharge is an electrical phenomenon as 'the greatest, perhaps, since the time of Sir Isaac Newton.' Of course, one reason for satisfaction in this discovery was that it subjected one of the most mysterious and frightening natural phenomena to rational explanation. It also proved that Bacon had been right in asserting that a knowledge of how nature really works might lead to a better control of nature itself: that valuable practical innovations might be the fruit of pure disinterested scientific research." (DSB V, pp. 129, 134-135). - Visit our website to see more images!
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