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Your present of an electric tube has put several of us on making electrical experiments...we have observed some peculiar phenomena.

In the 1700s, a scientist was someone who thought about the way things work and tried to figure out ways to make things work better. Today, that definition is still true. Every time Ben Franklin saw a question and tried to answer it, he was a scientist. Every time you ask a question and try to get an answer, you too are a scientist. Ben is most famous for his questions about electricity, but he also experimented with many other ideas in nature.

In 1743, Ben observed that northeast storms begin in the southwest. He thought it was odd that storms travel in an opposite direction to their winds. He predicted that a storm's course could be plotted. Ben rode a horse through a storm and chased a whirlwind three-quarters of a mile in order to learn more about storms. So, in a way, Ben was a weatherman too! He even printed weather forecasts in his almanack. Today's meteorologists don't chase storms on horseback, but they do continue to plot the course of storms.

Since Ben spent so much time sailing to Europe across the Atlantic Ocean, he became very interested in both ocean currents and shipbuilding. Ben was actually one of the first people to chart the Gulf Stream. He measured its temperature on each of his eight voyages and was able to chart the Stream in detail.

In November of 1783, Ben happened to be in Paris, France working on a peace treaty to end the American war against England. From his hotel window, he was able to watch the world's first known hot air balloon flight. The balloon lifted the Montgolfier brothers off of the ground as the first human beings ever known to fly. Ben was very interested in the idea of flight, predicting that one day balloons would be used for military spy flights and dropping bombs during battle. Soon, balloons were actually being used for recreation, military, and scientific purposes. Even though they could not yet be steered, many people volunteered to take a ride just for fun! Sadly, Ben Franklin died three years before the first American hot air balloon voyage. In 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard lifted off from the Walnut Street Prison Yard in Philadelphia, beginning the hot air balloon craze in America.

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