Someone check my math on this one. I believe a typical Leyden jar can store about one nanofarad (1 nF) of power. How many farads does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment is one of those things you learn about as a kid and start to think is silly and made-up as an adult, but this was actually a real experiment that Franklin was fascinated by and far more interesting than the watered down children’s version. Of course, accounts may vary on whether or not he actually performed it himself, but by his own writings he saw to carrying it out in 1752 with the help of his son, William (who would later become Governor of New Jersey and then imprisoned for being a British loyalist and spy during the Revolutionary War, but that’s another story entirely).

The experiment wasn’t to “discover electricity” (we already knew about it) but rather to study if lightning was electric. In proving that it was, and figuring out potential practical uses for it through further experimentation, Benjamin Franklin was integral in the development of our modern world.