On June 10, 1752—262 years ago today—Benjamin Franklin flew a kite in a storm and captured an electrical charge in a Leyden jar after lightning struck his kite. But this wasn't the first time Franklin had dabbled with electricity; for more than a decade prior the scientist managed to survive "self-inflicted" shock treatments. And how did he do that? Many say, sheer luck: Franklin apparently never incurred a strong enough charge to put him six feet under, but he reportedly knocked himself out a few times.
In honor of this curious, brave, and extraordinary man with many titles to his name, we wanted to look at a handful of random facts that made him a game changer in history.
1) He made up words when there weren't words to describe the nature of his work. In keeping with the subject of electricity, Franklin's experimentation was so groundbreaking there wasn't even terminology for what he was discovering. Terms like "conductor," "battery," "positively," and "negatively" were all thanks to him. (Guess he really paid attention in those Latin classes.)
2) He was a money maker. Literally. Some of you may have known Franklin owned his own printing press and newspaper, but did you know that he helped print currency for the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware? He was all about the Benjamins, baby, even if he didn't live to see his face printed on them.
3) He was a pseudonym collector. Franklin loved the art of disguise and didn't mind gender bending his identity in letters and gossip columns from time to time. While Richard Saunders was his most famous of pen names, here are some of our other favorites that revealed the guy had a great sense of humor: Silence Dogwood; Caelia Shortface; Anthony Afterwit; Alice Addertongue; and Busy Body.
4) He was a citizen of the world. Franklin was not only an inventor, but he also was one of the most influential diplomats of his time. When most people barely traveled 20 miles from their place of birth, Franklin traversed the Atlantic eight times and visited 10 countries, creating treaties with Great Britain, France, Spain, and Sweden, among others. In fact he hopscotched around the civilized world so much that he spent 27 of his 84 years of life overseas.
5) He invented heaps of practical stuff. As a man of sound logic and practicality, it makes sense that Franklin created knick knacks that would make everyday life a little bit easier. Among his smaller inventions, he's credited for: a mechanical arm to reach books on high shelves; the rocking chair; a library stepstool (a chair that could be folded into a ladder); a smokeless fireplace, bifocal glasses, and a pulley system that allowed him to lock/unlock his bedroom door right from his bed.