Charting the Gulf Stream
Produced by a More Perfect Union for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary’s traveling exhibition, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World.”
Context: On his transatlantic voyages, Franklin noted changes in water temperature and atmospheric conditions and the presence of whales feeding on plankton in the warm water of the Gulf Stream. He also noticed that similar ships taking different routes across the Atlantic made the crossing at different speeds––and that the shortest course was not necessarily the fastest. This all made sense when his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket sea captain, told him about the Gulf Stream and drew its location on a chart of the Atlantic. The Franklin/Folger Gulf Stream Chart was amazingly accurate.
Having since crossed this stream several times in passing between America and Europe, I . . . know when one is in it; and besides the gulph weed with which it is interspersed, I find that it is always warmer than the sea on each side of it, and that it does not sparkle in the night .
Source: Benjamin Franklin, “Maritime Observations,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 1786
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