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Do lightning rods attract lightning?


Lightning rods, first invented by Benjamin Franklin, do not attract lightning, although a lot of people think they do. If lightning strikes a house or a tree, it could cause a lot of damage. Lightning rods can handle the huge electric current in a bolt of lightning. They're usually an inch (2.54 cm) wide and they're joined to a thick copper or aluminum wire that's about as thick as the rod. The wire goes to a grid that's underneath the ground. 

Lightning looks for the easiest path to travel and lightning rods are good conductors of electrical current. If lightning strikes the rod, the electrical current is moved away from the house and is safely gotten rid of underground. Sometimes lightning strikes and then jumps around a bit, looking for a better path. If a lightning rod is nearby, the lightning can move over to it. This avoids more damage after the lightning has already struck.