Day 5: Electricity and Life

In the early 18th century, natural philosophers studies static electricity.  Largely to entertain their audiences, public lecturers developed new machines and new techniques to generate sparks and surprising transferences of electrical charge.  The study of transference and later storage contributed to the conceptualization of electricity as the effect of an imponderable fluid that could be shifted from one object to another.

Luigi Galvani suggested that animals are a source of electricity in 1791.  Alessandro Volta provided a counter argument saying that it was the experimental setup that generated the electricity.  Close contact between two metal plates generated the electricity and the animals were merely conductors.  Volta went on to invent the pile, a battery, in 1800.

Homework

  • Finish reading Shelly’s Frankenstein. There will be a short quiz over it on Monday at the beginning of class.
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