Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ben Franklin Pt.2 ???

Back in my primary school days when I was quite obsessed with the idea of becoming a white lab coat wearing scientist, one of my favourite stories was the one about the pioneering scientist Benjamin Franklin and his kite experiment. Benjamin Franklin wanted to prove to the world that lightning was not an expression of the wrath of God but the end result of a huge voltage difference between two clouds. So he sent up a kite with silk thread (Good conductor of electricity that it was) on a cloudy day and at great personal, possibly fatal risk brought a metallic object (A key) close to the thread. Sparks emitted by the key proved that there was indeed a great amount of electricity in between the clouds and that there was no angry old bearded man hiding behind the dark clouds waiting to strike down any and all sinners. Point well proven, albeit a little on the edge proof.

Today on the 2nd of May 2010, the evening saw Calcutta consumed by an especially oppressive heat that precedes the Kal-Boishakhi (North-wester winds) thunderstorm. The air was still, the clouds were dark & low and the first little flashes of lightning with the grumble of thunder were already in progress. Then it was, as I strolled onto my third floor terrace that I saw the kite! Yes, a lone plastic red spotted kite being flown by some foolhardy braveheart at that totally unsuitable time from some distant terrace. Most of the human race knows by this point in time & history that lightning is nothing but murderous amounts of high electrostatic discharge. What our brave adventurer/scientist was out to prove lies totally beyond my conjecture. All I can pray and hope for is that by the time the storm was done venting it's anger at the human race at about 10:00 in the night, we do not have to mourn for another martyr to the cause of science.

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