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Database: Kite and Key

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Benjamin Franklin is probably most famous for flying a kite with a metal key attached to the bottom through some storm clouds.

Without the science, that actually makes him just sound a bit simple.

So here's what he was doing: He was trying to see whether he could pick up an electrical charge - thus proving some of his theories about electricity (namely that lightning was electricity, which might seem obvious now but which hadn't been proven at the time). The experiment was successful - the kite picked up a charge that caused visible sparks when a person touched the key.

Of course, the popular myth is that Franklin flew the kite into the middle of a storm, and it was struck by lightning. That's obviously false, since it would have killed Franklin - or, if you believe popular comic books, turned him into some sort of superhero formed of pure electricity, which literally none of the history books seems to claim.

I'll keep looking. It's got to be in there somewhere.

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