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Galvani and Volta

Galvani, Volta... and Animal Electricity

Two hundred and twenty years ago, at the University of Bologna, Luigi Galvani published scientific results that would astonish the world.

For years scientists and non-scientists alike had debated difficult questions such as what was the actual difference between animated and inert matter – what was the source of motive energy that apparently separated life from death?

Then, basing his theory on his (now famous) studies on muscular twitches in frogs, Galvani deduced that animal tissue generates its own electrical force – and that this was the motivating essence of all animal life. Indeed he had built an easily reproducible electrochemical apparatus wherein electrical current appeared to emanate from a frog.

His contemporary Alessandro Volta of Pavia University called the theory Animal Electricity – and then set out to disprove it. He replicated Galvani's experiment, replaced the frog with a wad of paper soaked in salt and in so doing invented the voltaic pile, or what we now call the battery.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, except maybe just to try out a lot of really wacky stuff?

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Experiment with, and attempt to explain, your natural environment.

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Laugh at your contemporaries... and then build on their discoveries.

–  Robin TJ Kershaw