Electric Current
Electricity and Magnetism

Benjamin Franklin’s turkey shocker…

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

Though his experiment with a kite in a thunderstorm is well known, Benjamin Franklin put electricity to some other strange uses.

He describes an attempt to electrocute a turkey with a shock from a Leyden jar, resulting in the unfortunate scientist inadvertently shocking himself. He reports that those with him observed: “…that the flash was very great, and the crack as loud as a pistol”, but that “his senses being gone”, he didn’t see or hear anything. He described a “universal blow throughout my whole body from head to foot, which seemed within as well as without.”


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