13a_volta - 13a: Volta History Until the year 1800 most...

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13a: Volta History Until the year 1800 most people were only generating static electricity for their experiments. They were almost exclusively using devices that would build up charges by friction. To really make electricity useful (and not just something to show off at parties), they needed a way to produce a steady flow of electrons over a long time, not just a quick burst. In the 1780’s the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani was testing the effect of static electricity on organic material. His favorite was to cause a frog leg to contract when it was zapped. He discovered that he could get a similar result without any apparent source of electricity. He passed a brass hook through the frog’s spinal cord and hung it from an iron railing. If the frog’s leg muscle also touched the iron rail the leg would contract! Galvani concluded that the source of the electricity must be in the frog’s muscle itself. He referred to this as “animal electric fluid” or the “spark of life.” Galvani (along with many other important scientists) believed that electricity could unlock all the secrets of life… maybe even souls! Alessandro Volta disagreed, saying that he believed that the electricity was from the two metals, not the frog. Volta’s problem was that he needed to prove that the electricity had nothing to do with animals or any other living (or once living) tissue. If there was anything organic in his experiment, Galvani would say
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2011 for the course PHYSICS 235 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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13a_volta - 13a: Volta History Until the year 1800 most...

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