Ben Franklin was a father of reproducibility. It's the idea that a scientific result must be reproducible by another scientist from reading the original paper.

Franklin retired at 42 to invest in himself, read, reason, discuss ideas, write, and perform scientific experiments. It was the age of electricity as a salon phenomena. Franklin devised experiments to understand the nature of static electricity, lightning, and capture it in a Leiden jar. He wrote to the Royal Society about his experiments. Louis XV asked his court scientists to reproduce the ideas from the article, and they did. When Franklin arrived in Europe to represent the young US, he was already famous as the father of electricity. Now we know he was a pioneer of reproducibility too.

Ben Franklin was a real American. Perhaps the first alive American spirit we come across in so many ways. I was lucky to live in Philadelphia right where he lived, in the old city. I walked past his jaunts every day — the Independence Hall, the mutual contributorship against fire, the philosophical society (the Junto).

Although we know Ben as an old guy, on the $100 bill and the iconic portraits, he was a dashing, tall young man. His future wife Deborah Read saw him disembarking and laughed. He waited a long time to marry her, angling for a dowry from richer brides and decamping to London in between. He left her and their daughter along for years, setting up a mirror substitute family in London, with a mother and daughter, Polly. Polly was intellectual and flirtatious. She asked Franklin whether she should marry or continue their conversations. Franklin told her to do both. She was at his bedside when he died.

Franklin retired at 42, selling his printing business to his partner David Hall with the condition of getting a $650/year rent for 18 years. He bought time and started his scientific pursuits, becoming a world-renown Dr Franklin (honorary degree from Oxford and elsewhere).