Following the Path of Discovery
Repeat Famous Experiments and Inventions
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Around the 1790s, through numerous observations and experiments, Luigi Galvani, an Italian professor of anatomy, caused muscular contraction in a frog by touching its nerves with an electrostatically charged metal. Later, he was able to cause muscular contraction by touching the nerve with different metals without a source of electrostatic charge. He concluded that animal tissue contained an innate vital force, which he termed "animal electricity."
In fact, it was Volta's famous disagreement with Galvani's theory of animal electricity that led Volta, in 1800, to build the voltaic pile to prove that electricity did not come from the animal tissue but was generated by the contact of different metals in a moist environment.
Most historians attribute the invention of the battery to Alessandro Volta since his voltaic pile was the first battery that produced a reliable, steady current of electricity.
Volta’s invention was to give rise to electrochemistry, electromagnetism and the modern applications of electricity. Also Galvani's idea of animal electricity did not prove useless. Galvani’s research was soon to develop into electrophysiology and modern biology.
After Volta is called the "volt", the unit of electromotive force; after Galvani is called the galvanometer - an instrument for detecting and measuring small electric currents.
In some of his variant pile experiments Volta used a solution of sulfuric acid as the electrolyte in order to achieve better results. In high concentrations, this acid can be very dangerous. If it gets on the skin or in the eyes, it can cause very serious burns and can permanently blind. To repeat Volta's experiment use more benign substances like copper sulfate, for example or brine.
As a rule: this experiment should be performed under the supervision of teachers or adults familiar with safety procedures.
Read carefully the experiment links and ensure that you understand the basic principals. Brows further the web and consult your local library, your teachers and other knowledgeable adults and experts.
Build Your Own Voltaic Pile
The Volta's Pile - Giorgio Carboni
Battery Chemistry: Voltaic Pile - howstuffworks
Batteries - David A. Katz
Variables in a Voltaic Pile - MadSci Network
The Voltaic Pile - Cartage
How to Make a Voltaic Pile - ehow.com
Building a Voltaic Pile - Ms. Ehrlich's Web Page
Voltaic Pail Controversies
Origin of Power in the Voltaic Pile - Bibliomania.com
Nineteenth-Century Theories of the Voltaic Pile - Helge Kragh
Alessandro Volta Biographies
Count Alessandro Volta - Energy Quest
Alessandro Volta - Corrosion Doctors
Alessandro Volta - about.com
Alessandro Volta - Wikipedia
Allesandro Volta - l' uomo e lo scienziato
Alessandro Volta - The Catholic Encyclopedia
Alessandro Volta - The Great Idea Finder
Alessandro Volta - Nancy D. Lewis
Electrochemistry and Battery History
Electrochemistry: Early History
Battery History - about.com
Electricity Timeline - Nancy D. Lewis
Electric Battery - The Great Idea Finder
Instruments for Natural Philosophy - Thomas B. Greenslade
Voltaic pile Clipart - Educational Technology Clearinghouse
Science Fair Projects
Battery & Cell Science Fair Projects and Experiments