The story of the lightening rod is a fascinating one that luckily ended on a happy note. The man in question is Benjamin Franklin, the storm chaser.
He was obsessed with storms from a young age, and loved to study more about them. Because of him, we are able to live safely today without being struck by lightning.
Back in 1746, Franklin busied himself with many electrical experiments, based on the work on electricity by scientists before him.
During some of his experiments he would even accidently electrocute himself but he still continued.
About three years after that his studies on electricity, and the facts he gathered during his storm chases led him to believe that lightening and electricity had many common factors.
Some of some similarities were the colour of the light, the fact that it struck in a crooked direction, and that it crackled. He set about proving his theory.
During this time, he was also interested in protecting people and buildings from lightening as in those days many accidents from lightening hits used to happen.
In 1752, he saw that the steeple on top of a church roof would be close enough to storm clouds to be able to conduct electricity. He also observed that if this rod is connected to the ground, it would conduct electricity harmlessly into the earth.
Some believe that the turning point came when he was flying a kite with his son in a field during stormy weather.
One end of the thread was attached to the kite, while the other was wound around a copper key that Franklin held in his hand. The kite and thread were rather wet from rain.
Franklin soon noticed little pinpricks of current, and realized that the lightning was travelling down the wet thread, through the copper key, right through him into the ground.
The birth of the lightening rod was the coupling of the church steeple and the kite in the rain.
The lightening rod is made out of a highly conductive metal (a metal that is able to conduct electricity very well) that is able to attract and carry current better than any other objects that surround it.
Lightning rods are not made of plastic or glass because they cannot conduct electricity strongly enough.
When lightning strikes it, the current travels right through it safely to the ground so that things that could easily catch fire or are damaged, are saved.
During stormy weather, electrical charges build up in the atmosphere and look for the closest shortest method to release itself.
The lightning rod is placed on a very high place so that when the electrical charge has built up enough it channels itself quicker through the high rod than from trees and people.
When the lightning rod is fixed on top of the building, a path is also created for the electricity to travel to the ground. This means the electricity is not all over the place but is channelled in a safe and proper manner all the time.
Even though at first people did not accept his lightening rod, eventually it was found to be protecting many buildings and homes.
The lightning rod is also called the “Franklin Rod” in honour of its creator, Benjamin’s Franklin.