the legacy of galvani and volta in contemporary science l.
Skip this Video
Download Presentation
The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 28

The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

G. Giacomelli and L. Patrizii University of Bologna and INFN. The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science. Introduction Electricity in ‘700 Galvani Galvani’s Techniques Volta Galvani-Volta dispute The legacy of Galvani and Volta Technical names from Galvani, Volta.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science' - Anita

Download Now An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
the legacy of galvani and volta in contemporary science

G. Giacomelli and L. Patrizii

University of Bologna and INFN

The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science

  • Introduction
  • Electricity in ‘700
  • Galvani
  • Galvani’s Techniques
  • Volta
  • Galvani-Volta dispute
  • The legacy of Galvani and Volta
  • Technical names from Galvani, Volta


Stanford University

December 2004

1 introduction
1. Introduction
  • 1998 Bicentennial of Galvani’s death : Celebrations in Bologna
  • 1999 Bicentennial of the invention of the battery by Volta: Celebrations in Pavia, Como

Workshops, Seminars, Exhibits, Itinerant Exhibitis and multimedial activities in Italy and abroad http.//

Itinerant Exhibitions of The legacy of Galvani and Volta in contemporary science for Italian Institutes of Culture

Famous Galvani – Volta dispute with important consequences in Physics,

Physiology, Medicine,…

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

2 electricity in 700
2. Electricity in ‘700

First studies of electricity

“ Electricism”

“Irritability” of muscles, …

Sources of electricity

Leyden Jar

Electrostatic machine

Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, ….:

No clearcut divisions

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

3 luigi galvani
3. Luigi Galvani
  • 9/9/1737 Born (via Marconi 25, Bologna)
  • 1759 Graduates in Medicine at Bologna Univ.

“ “ Philosophy

  • 1762Marries
  • 1763 Lecturer in Medicine at the Bologna Univ.
  • 26/1/1781 First frog “Jump” (contraction)
  • 1782 Prof. of Obstetrics at Inst. of Sciences
  • 1791 Publishes “ De Viribus Electricitatis in

Motu Musculari. Commentarii”

1792 Starts the dispute with Volta

  • 1794 Publishes “L’Arco Conduttore”
  • 1795 Travels to Rimini and Senigallia to study

electric fishes (“Il Taccuino”)

  • 1798 Refuses to pledge allegiance to the

“Cisalpine Republic”

  • 4/12/1798Dies
  • Professor Emeritus
4 galvani s techniques
4. Galvani’s Techniques

Frog prepared “ as usual ” :

  • lower body with exposed nerves

metal inserted in the vertebral canal

- various connections

Electricity from Leyden Jar

Electrostatic machine

Lightning and thunder

Animal electricity



L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Anatomical theatre


L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

galvani s discoveries in 1780 1790
Galvani’s Discoveries in 1780-1790
  • First frog “jumps” : Galvani touches crural nerve in presence of external sources of electricity
  • Frog jumps when Galvani touches a nerve and a spark is made by a distant machine

(first detection of e. m. waves ? )

  • Frog with antenna in balcony and lightning (e. m. waves)
  • First electrical circuit: frog jumps when he simply connects nerve-muscle with a metalwire

Galvani concludes that intrinsic electricity is present in animals and that external conductors induce contractions by allowing for the flow of this internal electricity

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Frog prepared in the usual way for the experiment with the “Electrostatic machine” and the “Leyden jar”

Galvani’s experiment with the frog prepared in the “usual way”, with the electrostatic machine and the Leyden jar

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Galvani’s “atmospheric discharge detector”

Galvani’s atmospheric discharge detector

Frog in balcony: wind and no lightning: legs touche metal 

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


- The Galvani’s lab was at his home with private help from relatives, friends, ....

- Second half of ‘700: Institutes were formed, with labs for researchers

- Academies: attached to the Institutes, were places for discussions

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

5 alessandro volta
5. Alessandro Volta
  • 18/2/1745 Born in Como
  • 1763 Completes his studies in a catholic seminar
  • 1769 First publication in physics.
  • 1775Invents the Electrophorus: first example of electrostatic

machine based on the induction principle

  • 1776“Flammable air” from marshes (methane). Volta constructs

an interesting gadget later called Volta’s Pistol.

  • 1778 Professor of Physics at the University of Pavia
  • 1780Condenser electroscope
  • 1781 - 1784 Travels to several european countries
  • 1792Startes the dispute with Galvani
  • End 1799Invents the battery
  • 1801Gold medal from Napoleon. Public life
  • 5/3/1827Dies

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Alessandro Volta

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

6 galvani volta dispute
6. Galvani–Volta dispute
  • 1791 Volta repeats Galvani’s experiments

He gives importance to bi-metallic arc

as source of electricity

( “ E’ la diversita’ dei metalli che fa”)

  • 1794 Galvani: it works even with single metal

(less violent contractions)

Volta : effects from metal-solution contact

( E’ la differenza che fa”)

  • 1797 Galvani : only contact of two nerves (no

metal) This experiment is now considered the foundation of electrophysiology

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

galvani volta dispute
Galvani–Volta dispute
  • 1798 Galvani is fired . Dies
  • 1799 Volta : Electric Battery - Stacks of ( Ag – solution – Zn)
  • 1800 Volta receives gold medal by Napoleon
  • …Volta wins!


Animal electricity exists! And it is much more complex than what one could possibly imagine

Galvani: “In animals there is a particular machine capable of generating a disequilibrium”

Now we know that this machine corresponds to the cell membrane with ionic pumps and Na+, K+ ionic channels

Animals: systems of complex computer networks

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


1799 Volta invents the pile, the first reliable source of electricity

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Neural circuit


L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


PET, Positron Electron Tomography

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

7 the legacy of galvani and volta
7. The legacy of Galvani and Volta



  • From an academic dispute to great progress

Animal electricity

Biology of living organisms

Father of electrophysiology

Physics of non-living bodies

Reliable sources of electricity

Sensitive detectors

A nerve is a conductor of large resistance. An electric signal moves at low velocity (~ 500 km/h) and is regenerated many times


E.M. waves

Biophysics, Health Physics, Medical Physics

TV – Communications

Computers – Informatics


Transformation of economics and of society, progress in sciences and technologies, medicine, improvements in the quality of life, ......

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna

8 technical terms from galvani volta
22 terms with Galvani8. Technical terms from Galvani, Volta

Webster dictionary

  • 10 terms with Volta
  • Volt
  • Voltage
  • Voltmeter
  • Voltaic

Physics : Galvanometer

Medicine: Galvanotherapy

Technology: Galvanotechnique

... Galvanizing !!!

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna


Lucia Galeazzi, Galvani’s wife

L. Patrizii, G. Giacomelli,INFN-Bologna