The Ingenious Dr. Franklin
Selected Scientific Letters of Benjamin FranklinUniversity of Pennsylvania Press Pennsylvania Paperbacks
An outstanding collection of Benjamin Franklin's scientific correspondence, The Ingenious Dr. Franklin has long been unavailable yet deserves a place beside his Autobiography as essential reading for everyone interested in history, wit, and invention. Portioned into three sections, "Practical Schemes and Suggestions," "Diverse Experiments and Observations," and "Scientific Deductions and Conjectures," these letters discuss an extraordinary range of topics, including the art of procuring pleasant dreams, choosing eye glasses, the first human flight, the character of clouds, the behavior of oil and water, smallpox and cancer, the cause of colds, charting the Gulf Stream, and prehistoric animals of the Ohio.
Culled from ponderous volumes of collected works or private collections, these engaging and unabridged letters were assembled to allow readers to discover for themselves Benjamin Franklin's vigorous personality, his humanity, and his penetrating intelligence.
"Dr. Franklin's own excited, uproariously witty reports to his family, his friends, and his scientific colleagues in Europe and America create an incomparable portrait of science in the eighteenth century. Reading these letters fosters a new affection for our country's foremost and most beloved inventor."—Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter
"This marvelous collection helps rescue Ben Franklin from our impression of him as a genial tinkerer flying kites in the rain. In fact, he was a serious scientist whose letters reveal the scope of his ideas, ranging from daylight savings time to bifocals to magnetism. This book crackles with his wonderful mental energy."—Walter Isaacson, managing editor of Time