Thomas-François Dalibard

Thomas-François Dalibard (born in Crannes-en-Champagne, France in 1709, died in 1778) was a French physicist who performed the first lightning rod experiment.[1] He was married to the novelist and playwright Françoise-Thérèse Aumerle de Saint-Phalier.[2]

Relationship with Benjamin FranklinEdit

He first met U.S. scientist Benjamin Franklin in 1767[3] during one of Franklin's visits to France and it is said that they became friends.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin published a proposal for an experiment to determine if lightning was electricity. He proposed extending a conductor into a cloud that appeared to have the potential to become a thunderstorm. If electricity existed in the cloud, the conductor could be used to extract it.

Experiments with electricityEdit

T1- d527 - Fig. 267. — Expérience Dalibard - Marly

Dalibard, who at the suggestion of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, translated Franklin's Experiments and Observations on Electricity into French, performed Franklin's proposed experiment using a 40-foot-tall metal rod at Marly-la-Ville on 10 May 1752. It is said that Dalibard used wine bottles to ground the pole, and he successfully extracted electricity from a low cloud. It is not known whether Franklin ever performed his proposed experiment.[4][5]


Dalibard was the author of Florae Parisiensis Prodromus, ou catalogue des plantes qui naissent dans les environs de Paris (Florae Parisiensis Prodromus, or catalog of plants native to the area around Paris) (Paris, 1749).


  1. ^ A letter written by his widow
  2. ^ Kennedy, Theresa Varney (2018). Women's Deliberation: The Heroine in Early Modern French Women's Theater (1650–1750). Routledge. ISBN 9781317153368.
  3. ^ "Franklin Papers". Archived from the original on 2018-07-27. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  4. ^ "Lightning! | Museum of Science, Boston".
  5. ^ Tucker, Tom (2003). Bolt of Fate: Benjamin Franklin and His Electric Kite Hoax. ISBN 1891620703.

Further readingEdit

Hamamdjian, Pierre G. (1970–1980). "Dalibard, Thomas François". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 535. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.