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A Baghdad battery. Source: science Humans have known about electricity for thousands of years and, in fact, there may have been attempts to harness electricity as far back as antiquity. Archaeologists have unearthed a strange artifact that dates back to around AD.

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It is a ceramic vase that holds a copper tube and iron rod. It was discovered that, if an acidic liquid like vinegar was poured into the vase, an electrical charge is generated.

This discovery has been named the Baghdad battery. Many other scientists have studied electrical energy and wrote about their experiments. Peter Collinson. Source: amazon. He sent Franklin an electricity tube. Franklin studied the tube and noted how the positive and negative charged particles interacted to create a spark, that reminded Franklin of lightning he had observed in the sky during storms.

He developed the theory that lightning was actually electricity.

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A storm, he believed, created negative and positive charges that created a huge spark that we call lightning. Source: weather. In it, he wrote about how he could find out if there was, indeed, a connection between lightning and electricity. The experiment would require that he get up close and personal with a lightning strike. In his letter to Collinson, he proposed climbing to the top of a tall building, like a nearby church, and mounting a foot metal pole high in the air. The lightning, he believed, would be drawn to the metal pole.

To himself, though, Franklin wondered if the pole would be long enough to reach into the storm. He came up with another idea…using a kite.


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Thomas-Francois Dalibard successfully performed Franklin's experiment a month before he did it. Source: howrichcelebs. Source: cpvw. Franklin Flies His Kite Benjamin Franklin determined that a kite could reach higher into the sky than a metal rod, so he prepared for his experiment.

The Experimental and Historical Foundations of Electricity (Volume 2)

He built a kite out of silk mounted on a string of hemp. He attached a silk ribbon to the string and brought along a metal house key and a Leyden jar, an old device that was used to store electrical charges. Both Mary and Percy Shelley certainly knew about this debate — Lawrence was their doctor. By the time Frankenstein was published in , its readers would have been familiar with the notion that life could be created or restored with electricity.


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Just a few months after the book appeared, the Scottish chemist Andrew Ure carried out his own electrical experiments on the body of Matthew Clydesdale, who had been executed for murder. His own account of them was certainly quite deliberately written to highlight their more lurid elements.

Frankenstein might look like fantasy to modern eyes, but to its author and original readers there was nothing fantastic about it. The science behind Frankenstein reminds us that current debates have a long history — and that in many ways the terms of our debates now are determined by it.

Newton and Electricity

It was during the 19th century that people started thinking about the future as a different country, made out of science and technology. Novels such as Frankenstein, in which authors made their future out of the ingredients of their present, were an important element in that new way of thinking about tomorrow.


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  5. Thinking about the science that made Frankenstein seem so real in might help us consider more carefully the ways we think now about the possibilities — and the dangers — of our present futures. Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.

    Electricity: from generation to distribution; Historical aspects and didactic proposal for teaching

    Iwan Morus , Aberystwyth University. The Times newspaper reported: On the first application of the process to the face, the jaw of the deceased criminal began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. Wikimedia The idea that electricity really was the stuff of life and that it might be used to bring back the dead was certainly a familiar one in the kinds of circles in which the young Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley — the author of Frankenstein — moved. Philosophy Frankenstein Mary Shelley. Comet in the sky, Wellcome Collection.

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