By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (June 10, 2022) – In Issue 2022-105 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, he tells a striking story of electrostatic discharge.


On June 10, 1752, Ben Franklin conducted an experiment using a kite to capture lightning.  He was unsuccessful.  If successful, his tombstone might have noted his life span as 1706-1752 and not the actual 1706-1790.  Most hit directly by lightning do die, but those close to a strike often can survive. 

Lightning is electrostatic discharge that occurs about 45 times per second on our earth.

The amount of energy instantly discharged per average lightning is about 1 gigajoule, which equates to the electricity consumption of an average U.S. home in nine (9) days. 

A mind experiment would suggest that, sadly,  in the best case, only 650,000 US homes could be powered by fully harnessing all the lightning occurring in the US annually.  Not a real good option for green energy.

Back to Franklin.  Aside from his scientific work, he was a statesman, diplomat, postmaster, writer, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  

Here is Desilver’s map of Franklin’s “home state” of Pennsylvania from 1856.  Philadelphia and the Lehigh Coal region are the insets.

Pewnnsylvania – 1856 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.