- from Ben Franklin
What made Ben Franklin, who had only two years of schooling, a leading scientist of the eighteenth century?
The answer is simple. He was curious. Ben would ask, “Why does it do that?” or “How does that work?”
Gypsum is a chalklike substance. It is found in rocks. Ben saw that spreading gypsum on a field made grass grow greener. He suggested farmers put it on their crops. That’s why he gets credit for the idea of using artificial fertilizer. He was also one of the first to figure out why so many printers, painters, and plumbers were getting sick. They all had lead poisoning.
Why did it take so much longer to sail from Britain to America than the other way around? Ben wanted to know. So he asked whaling captains from Nantucket. They told him there was a fast current that runs through the Atlantic. We now call it the Gulf Stream. Franklin decided to chart this current. He crossed the Atlantic many times. As he did, he recorded the water temperature several times a day. He discovered that, “a stranger may know when he is in the Gulf Stream by the warmth of the water, which is much greater than that of the water on each side of it.”