The best is enemy of the good.
The profoundest truths are paradoxical.
Monday, July 29, 2019
Ben Franklin's Comment On The First Hot Air Balloon
Joseph Montgolfier (born in Annonay, France, 1740) was in the paper manufacturing business.
One night, staring into his fireplace with brother Etienne, Joseph wondered what caused the sparks to rise. He made a bag out of silk and lit a fire under the opening and watched it rise. He thought it was smoke that lifted it. He didn't know it was simply heated air.
So the Montgolfier brothers decided to build a contraption for flight. At that time the only creatures who had ever flown were birds and insects. But in 1783, they made a huge bag out of cloth and paper, held the opening over a fire, and inflated the bag to a height of 110 feet. When it was full, they released it, and it rose more than 3,000 feet into the air. Then they sent up a balloon with a sheep, a duck, and a rooster in a basket under the balloon, with the king and queen of France watching. The balloon landed, and the animals were okay.
So on November 21, 1783, the Montgolfier brothers sent up the first human beings to take flight. Deciding not to do it themselves, they sent up two volunteers, one of whom was a major in the French army. A half a million people came to watch in Paris.
One of the people watching was Benjamin Franklin, and when someone asked him what practical purpose this contraption might have, Benjamin Franklin said, "What use is a newborn baby?"