JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
So, while reading in the Annals of Philosophy--an interesting and curious journal with some important original contributions and a large selection of other interesting papers previously printed elsewhere and which was later absorbed by the more-prestigious Philosophical Magazine--for 1824, after finishing trying to figure out what Gay-Lussac was doing with lightning conductors, I stumbled my way through the journal's monthly section of "scientific notices". The "notices" are usually very brief and give enough info so that the reader can make their way to the original source to read the report in-full. This is how I came upon the great J.J. Berzelius and this note on the taste of positive and negative electricity, which I admit I've never thought of before--I was curious about what the "distinction" would be, and then was surprised by what he wrote:
By the way, it was determined in 1822 by some governing committee in France that all large churches in France needed to be protected by lightning conductors--the use of lightning conductors was established during Ben Franklin's time. This evidently became an issue following a particularly bad bit of weather during which numerous churches were damaged, including the Rouen cathedral. Gay-Lussac notes elsewhere that the fear of thunder makes no sense, because the lightning event has already occurred, and that nothing can happen at this point. He points out that people struck by lightning never hear it coming, and have no idea what happened to them--small is that comfort.