Electricity and YOU

28 08 2009

If you’ve been to the Museum lately, you may have seen one of our gallery educators playing with an energy ball:            

Read on to learn more about electricity and the discovery that our bodies are conductors…


Have you ever heard of Luigi Galvani? What about Count Allesandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta? They are two scientists who changed the way we look at our world today.


Galvani was a doctor, and he used frogs to study how the body works. Galvani used an iron scalpel while working with his frogs and this iron scalpel hung from a brass hook. When the scalpel touched the frog’s leg, it twitched! He thought this confirmed that there was an electrical fluid in the body that made the muscles move. He was almost right, but not completely. Even though Galvani was wrong, he inspired many others to explore this idea. He showed that studying science is not always about being right, but about using our imaginations, and trying things even though they might be wrong.


Galvani’s friend, the Count Allesandro Volta, who disagreed with Galvani’s electrical fluid idea, saw that the electrical twitch in the frog’s leg was actually produced by the combination of metals Galvani used: a brass hook and an iron scalpel. From there, Volta was able to discover which metals conducted electricity the best. Then he invented one of the first forms of a battery by stacking pairs of metal disks that had wet cloth between them. Volta showed that in science it is important to question things. Galvani thought he was right, and Volta disagreed. He questioned him, and he discovered how metal can be used to produce energy by conducting electricity!


Question things, and explore! We now know that our muscles do use electricity, just not exactly the kind Galvani was talking about. But his ideas led to the exploration of electricity in our bodies.


Another fun fact: Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, got her ideas from Galvani’s research in electrical fluids. Science is everywhere!




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