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Lightning Lights Up the Sky on Benjamin Franklin's Birthday

January 17, 2012, 10:09:03 AM EST

Lightning is striking from the Gulf Coast to Midwest today on Benjamin Franklin's 306th birthday.

Franklin was born on Jan. 17, 1706. He is famous for his contributions to science, politics and his numerous inventions. His experiments on electricity are his most famous, and they resulted in many of his inventions, including the lightning rod.


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In 1750, Franklin flew a kite in a storm to prove that lightning is electricity.

The Lightning Rod: One of Ben Franklin's Inventions

Lightning rods are often referred to as Franklin Rods, because they were invented by Franklin during his famous and groudbreaking explorations of electricity.

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Besides endangering people caught outside in a thunderstorm, lightning can cause severe problems such as fires and destroying electrical devices if a house or building is struck.


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Lightning rods are used to create a zone of protection on homes and other buildings. A lightning rod is mounted on the top of buildings and is connected to the ground by a wire.

This structure helps to protect the building from a lightning strike because the lightning strikes the rod, sending electricity from the rod to the wire to the ground. This allows the charge to become safely dispersed in the ground.

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