He anticipated Laplace by more than thirty years in the discovery that the planets and planetary motion are derived from the sun; and while his hypothesis differs essentially from that of Laplace, it is experimentally illustrated by De Plateau's celebrated experiment of a rotating fluid mass relieved from the action of gravity.
He also discovered the animation of the brain; its coincidence during formation with the systole and diastole of the heart, and, after birth, with the respiration of the lungs; and, incidental to this, the universal motion generated by the lungs and distributed to the whole animal machine.
It is now a well recognized law of physical science, that Action and Reaction are equal, simultaneous and contrary. Prof. Bartlett, late of the United States Military Academy at West Point, nearly a quarter of a century ago, used the above law expressed in a single formula, from which he derived all the consequences of the action of force upon matter. He says (referring to its introduction in 1856):
- Bartlett's Analytical Mechanics, 9th edition.
tracted the other's notice, or enjoyed his acquaintance, the following letter from Franklin, written in 1788, shows that he was familiar with his illustrious contempory's scientific works, and shared the accepted opinion of their value and practical importance. Franklin to Benjamin Chambers and others, Chambersburg:
On the Water Blast for Furnaces.
Philada., Sept. 20, 1788.
Gentlemen: I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me, respecting what was supposed a new invention, the blowing of furnaces by a fall of water. Cohen W. Zantzinger delivered me your letter. I told him that I had several books in my library, which described the same contrivance, and have since shewn them to him. They are "The French Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences;" Swedenborg's Latin Treatise on Iron Works, and the French work Des Arts et des Meliers, in the article "Forges." Those descriptions are all accompanied with figures in copper plate, which demonstrate the invention to be the same precisely, in all its essential parts; and in the accounts of it, it is said to have been first practised in Italy, about 100 years since; whence it was brought into France, where it is now much used; thence into Sweden and Germany; and I remember to have been informed by a Spaniard, who was here forty years ago and gave me a drawing of it, that it was practised in some parts of Mexico, in their furnaces for smelting their silver ore. This being the case, you see, gentlemen, that Mr. McClintock cannot properly be recommended to the Assembly, as something new, etc.—
Bigelow's Complete Works of Franklin, under date of Sept. 20, 1788.