Benjamin Franklin and Future
Presentations in Adobe PDF format
from a special history session
Held November 16, 2006, at the AVS 53rd International Symposium &
Moscone West Convention Center, San Francisco, California
To celebrate the
300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth, AVS held a “Special
Session for the Franklin Tercentenary (1706–2006): Franklin and the
Scientists and historians of science agree that Franklin was not
only a founding father of the United States but a founding father of
modern science. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1782 that “no one of the
present age has made more important discoveries, nor has enriched
philosophy with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phenomena
By establishing that lightning is electrical and that electricity
involves charge, Franklin simplified electrical theory and opened
the way to new discoveries.
in due course led to the future-oriented science and technology
presentations seen in San Francisco and now available below as PDF
Also available is a
write-up in layman’s language covering all of the presentations.
To begin the history session, a distinguished historian of science,
Joyce Chaplin of Harvard University, set the context. Her book
The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of
Genius had appeared earlier in 2006. She spoke on
Benjamin Franklin’s Science—In
Public and Private.
The session also included future-oriented presentations on:
Monolayer Films, from
Franklin’s Oil-Drop Experiment to Self-Assembled Monolayer
Structures, by Geraldine Richmond, a Materials Scientist
from the University of Oregon.
The Outlook for
Electrophotography, the Best Known Modern Application of
Electrostatics, by Lawrence B. Schein, an independent
consultant and former Xerox and IBM Research Scientist.
From Lightning to
Lighting: Physics and Technology Discharged from Franklin’s Kite
Experiment, by Robert McGrath, Senior Vice President for
research at Ohio State University.
Progress and Prospects in
the Generation of High Voltages, by H.F. Dylla, Chief
Technology Officer at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator
Facility, Newport News, Virginia.
The history session was conceived by Chief Technology Officer H.F.
Dylla of Jefferson Lab and was organized and moderated by Theodore
E. Madey, State of New Jersey Professor of Surface Science at
Rutgers University, with considerable assistance from Steven T.
Corneliussen, a Jefferson Lab science writer. It was sponsored by:
- AVS Vacuum
- AVS History
- Center for
the History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics