On the day after Christmas, the largest container ship to call at a US port will stop by the Port of Los Angeles, the largest port in the US. But it’s largely just a PR event: Like many US ports, the Port of LA is not completely ready to welcome this size megaship, which will soon be standard on the high seas.
It’s one of those Thanksgiving fun facts I loved repeating when I was a kid: Ben Franklin liked turkeys so much that he wanted them to be our national bird, instead of the bald eagle. It’s a popular fun fact. But I was shattered to learn as an adult that this little nugget of trivia isn’t quite true.
Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents—but safeguarding state secrets was not among them. According to a recently released article by a CIA analyst, when Franklin was on a diplomatic mission in France, he allowed his offices to be penetrated by British spies during a crucial period in the American Revolution.
The Glass Harmonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761 and has been making creepy music ever since. Take a listen!
While flipping back through Richard Holmes's great book Falling Upwards, I reread his short description of a speculative machine—an almost-invention—by Benjamin Franklin. The Founding Father, electrical experimenter, and prolific inventor came up with something Holmes describes a "patent balloon icebox," a…
How could Benjamin Franklin be a writer, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, civic activist, statesman, diplomat and create a new country all at the same time? Using his productivity tricks, described here.
Benjamin Franklin first shocked himself in 1746, while conducting experiments on electricity with found objects from around his house. Six years later and exactly 261 years ago today, the founding father flew a kite attached to a key and a silk ribbon in a thunderstorm and effectively trapped lightning in a jar. The…
Benjamin Franklin's perspicacity never fails to amaze. In few places is his mental acuity more evident than his letters of correspondence, wherein Franklin frequently ruminated on topics scientific, technical and philosophical. What follows is an excerpt from one such letter, originally addressed to a scientific…
In 1998, a group called the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House began renovations on Franklin's London residence, No. 36 Craven Street, and discovered a nasty surprise: 1,200 pieces of bone from 10 bodies, six of which were children. And the bodies were buried in the basement around the time Franklin was living in the…
When it comes to old academic societies, there isn't an organization on Earth that can hold a candle to Britain's Royal Society. Founded all the way back in 1660, The Royal Society has been pumping out peer-reviewed scientific literature since 1665, when the first edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal…
Much of the southeastern US is struggling with Chinese tallow trees, an invasive species that is overrunning the Gulf Coast and wreaking havoc on the natural habitat. And, until now, people figured it was that big jerk Benjamin Franklin's fault.
That, at least, was Benjamin Franklin's theory. (He also said we should be early to rise, because he was a jerk, I guess.) But when scientists put this old maxim to the test, did they find any truth to it?
Pop quiz time! An evil botanist from 1760 has time-traveled to the present and conspires to take over modernity with an army of mutant carrots. Who are you going to call? Benjamin "Poor Richard" Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte, duh!
Are you one of those people that likes to doodle on a dollar bill? Deface the president with a goatee? If so, then you must participate in the Make Your Franklin Project.
The Declaration of Independence, Washington crossing the Delaware, the Constitutional Convention: all great moments in America's history. But you know what would have made them better? Alchemical guns and airships. Let's look at some alternate stories of the American Revolution.