In my latest novel, Full Steam Ahead, my hero, Darius Thornton is determined to discover the possible causes of steamboat boiler explosions by conducting various experiments. In his quest for greater scientific understanding and to keep abreast of the latest scientific discoveries in the area, he subscribes to the Journal of the Franklin Institute, an actual publication that is still in print today.
The Franklin Institute was founded in 1824 for the promotion of the mechanic arts and the exploration of science. It is housed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and yes, it was named for the great Benjamin Franklin. It maintained a museum, and in 1826, started publishing a scientific journal which focused on the field of engineering and mechanics.
Darius turned to this journal to read up on the latest scientific theories regarding boiler construction and safety protocols. However, this journal also contained accounts of many of the explosions themselves, steamboats destroyed by an exploding boiler.
In my research, I found some wonderful old scans of the Journal from back in the same period in which my story takes place. In fact, articles in these old journals inspired many of the ideas I had for ways in which Darius could run his own experiments.
I love that the Franklin Institute is still alive and well today and that it is still centered on scientific education and investigation. Maybe someday I’ll get to see it in person. If they had old journals on display, I’d probably find myself looking for the article that Darius and Nicole submitted somewhere among their 1852 collection.
- Do you have a museum close to your home that you enjoy visiting?
- What scientific invention are you most grateful for?