A Conversation for The Quite Interesting Society

QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 1

Icy North

QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

As everyone knows, the eminent scientist Benjamin Franklin famously once flew a metallic kite in a thunderstorm, so proving that lightning was naturally occurring electricity (more at A520200).

But what was his proposal for taming the wind?

smiley - cheers Icy


(ps. I'm not sure how well this one's known - please keep stumm if it's obvious smiley - ok)


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 2

Orcus

A cork up the jacksie?


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 3

Orcus

Eat fewer lentils?


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 4

Orcus

I'll get me coat...

smiley - run


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 5

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

Instead of flying a kite in an electrical storm, he proposed flying an electric motor in a wind storm.

No?

smiley - shrug


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 6

Geggs

I might know this. Obviously, I won't know for certain that I know it until the answer is revealed, but I do remember one proposed method of wind-taming which may or may not be the venerable Ben's.

I'll keep quiet for now.


Geggs


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 7

toybox

He built windtraps?


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 8

Secretly Not Here Any More

Did he give each of his hundreds of slaves a bag in which to catch the wind, before retiring to put his name to a hypocritical document that pretended all men were created equal?


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 9

Icy North

I can't tell from Geggs' post 6 whether or not he knows the answer. It has the whiff of intrigue about it. Can you give a clue? smiley - smiley

I'll leave this one going for a little longer, as nobody's sprung a klaxon yet smiley - smiley


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 10

Argon0 (back for a bit)

Klaxon Bait: Did he suggest using Kites in some way?

(I won't say Windmills, as these were in use some considerable time before BF).


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 11

Geggs

Leave a clue? I'll have to think about how to word it. Admittedly the idea I'm thinking of is barking, so it might not be Ben's.


Geggs


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 12

Argon0 (back for a bit)

Barking? Something to do with Seals flying Kites while chasing Dogs on treadmills?


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 13

lil ~ Auntie Giggles with added login ~ returned


Was it something like the water pumping windmill?

http://www.ironmanwindmill.com/


lil xx


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 14

Icy North

I'm not really looking for ways to harness wind, rather ways to reduce the strength of it (if that helps?)


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 15

toybox

Blowing very hard in the opposite direction?

smiley - puff


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 16

Icy North

No, but hold that thought. I might ask a corollary question later smiley - smiley


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 17

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

I don't think this was Franklin's idea, but I've read about how two lines of trees near a house can help with heating and cooling. You plant a line of evergreens to the North of the house to block the winter winds, and a line of leafy shade trees to the South (Northern hemisphere specific, reverse for antipodeans) which will block the sun in the summer, but allow it to warm the home in the winter.


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 18

Mu Beta

I suspect Orcus is closer that he realises.

Wasn't Franklin the man who came up with the concept of odour-neutral suppositories?

No...really.

B


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 19

toybox

smiley - raisedeyebrow


QI: Taming the Forces of Nature

Post 20

Icy North

Yes, really. We have a winner! smiley - applause

Mu Beta is correct (mostly). In the 1770s, Franklin concerned himself greatly with the problem of how to neutralise the odour of flatulence (or, to put it in other words, the strength of the wind).

When the Royal Academy of Brussels announced it was to fund a prize for 'useful science', Franklin wrote them a letter urging them to consider this very topic. He didn't suggest suppositories as such, rather a dietary solution:

"...My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix'd with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes".

The letter itself is side-splittingly funny, yet for some unfathomable reason isn't more widely known. Fortunately, you can read it online here:

http://mith.umd.edu/eada/html/display.php?docs=franklin_bagatelle2.xml&action=show

Enjoy smiley - smiley


Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more