The fall of 1783 saw a rash of ballooning experiments in Paris. Franklin witnessed the first unmanned balloon ascend in Paris, and later signed his name to a report witnessing the first ascent of human passengers in a free balloon. He famously remarked when onlookers questioned the ultimate utility of ballooning, “Eh! à quoi bon l’enfant qui vient de naître?” (“What use is a newborn baby?”)
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Merck litmus paper, 1934
©2010 Chemical Heritage Foundation