By Isaac Asimov
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Extra info for 66 Essays On the Past, Present & Future
The house would therefore not be hit by lightning. " Every year, he published an almanac in which he included information about all sorts of things. In the 1753 edition, he described how to put a lightning rod on houses and barns to keep them from being hit by lightning. It was such a simple thing to do, and people were so afraid of lightning that soon after the almanac came out lightning rods began to be placed on houses all over the colonies. They were used in Europe, too. And it wasn't a superstition; it worked For the first time in the history of mankind, one of the terrors of the world was beaten-and it was beaten by science.
Franklin had an uncharged Leyden jar with him. He brought it near the key and electricity flowed from the clouds into the key and from the key into the Leyden jar. The Leyden jar was charged with electricity from the sky and it behaved as though the electricity had been produced on Earth. Franklin thought that this meant that the lightning in the sky would follow the same rules that electricity on Earth would. During a thunderstorm, the ground could become filled with a charge of electricity. If it did, there might eventually be a huge discharge-a lightning bol.
And they were held every four years thereafter without a break for nearly twelve centuries, until the Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius put an end to them because they were a pagan festival (which they were). During the twelve-century interval in which they were celebrated, the Olympic games were open to contestants from every Greek-speaking city, wherever it might be located, from the Crimea to Spain. The games were, in fact, one of the three great bonds that held together the thousand independent cities of Greece.