Born: 17 January 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, British colony
Died: 17 April 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
to see nine larger pictures
|Main Index||Biographies index|
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, but spent most of his life in Philadelphia (punctuated by residences in London and Passy, France). His formal education lasted less than two years, and so he was mainly self-educated, aided by the convenient access to books provided by an apprenticeship in the printing business.
Franklin is best known in the popular imagination for his nonscientific pursuits: printer, American revolutionary, ambassador, to mention only a few roles he played. His scientific reputation rests mainly on his accomplishments as an inventor and as a pioneering theorist in the physics of electricity, but his interests were also mathematical. His version of magic square - a variant now termed the Franklin magic square - was inspired by the work of Stifel and Frénicle, both of whose magic squares were of a more traditional variety. He also drew magic circles.
His first published magic square and his only published magic circle appeared in a 1767 book which also included unrelated excerpts from work by Thomas Simpson. Two years later, Franklin published this square:
Franklin enjoyed close personal and professional relationships with quite a few of the important thinkers of his day, such as Hume, Priestley, Lavoisier and Condorcet. He was a member of the learned societies of many nations. Among these were the Royal Society, which awarded him its prestigious Copley medal for his work in electricity, and the American Philosophical Society, of which he was a founder. He received several honorary degrees, including a doctorate from St. Andrews.
Article by: Paul C Pasles, Villanova University,USA.
Click on this link to see a list of the Glossary entries for this page
List of References (3 books/articles)
Some Quotations (10)
A Poster of Benjamin Franklin
Mathematicians born in the same country
Additional Material in MacTutor
- Obituary: The Times
- An entry in The Mathematical Gazetteer of the British Isles
- Another entry in The Mathematical Gazetteer
(Click the link below for those honoured in this way)
|1.||Royal Society Copley Medal||1753|
|2.||Fellow of the Royal Society||1756|
|3.||Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh||1783|
Cross-references in MacTutor
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Other Web sites
- Kevin Brown
- J Allen
- Paul C Pasles