Monday, 4 July 2011

The First American!

The 4th of July was made to celebrate the declaration of independence from the British.  One of the committee of five was Benjamin Franklin.  He was honored as being the first American for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity.  Benjamin also holds a large place in science.  He was a pretty great physicist.  Many people thought it was just a hobby but his contributions to science were quite astounding.  He made several inventions, scientific experiments and scientific queiries viz. wave theory of light, meteorology, lightning rod which later helped understanding electricity, oceanography and self assembly of monolayers. 

Franklin’s made an early account of monolayers by doing the oil-drop experiment to self-assembled monolayer structures.  Franklin must have read something from Pliny the Great whose ships at the back had smoother sailing then the ones at the front due to the cooks throwing large amounts of oil into ocean which collected on the trailing ships.  On a tour to England, Benjamin Franklin ventured out to a pond called Clapham where he stated that, “I fetched out a cruet of oil and dropped a little of it on the water. I saw it spread itself with surprising swiftness upon the surface… Though not more than a teaspoonful, produced an instant calm over a space several yards square which spread amazingly and extended itself gradually till it reached the lee side, making all that quarter of the pond, perhaps half an acre, as smooth as a looking glass.”“After this I contrived to take with me, whenever I went into the country, a little oil in the upper hollow joint of my bamboo cane, with which I might repeat the experiment and I found it constantly to succeed." 

This simple but pioneering experiment led to calculating the thickness of the monolayer, to making the langmuir-blodgett trough, discovering that cells are a bilayer, to lithography and material science to well, who knows?  Benjamin Franklin should be celebrated not just for his political savvy leading to independent America but also for his early monolayer work.  From stilling the raging seas to monolayers that are all the rage.  Benjamin Franklin's legacy continues