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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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First Steps Toward Fish Electricity

First Steps Toward Fish Electricity

Chapter:
(p.191) Chapter 12 First Steps Toward Fish Electricity
Source:
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes
Author(s):

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.003.0012

This chapter examines how some fish first became associated with electricity. It focuses on the 1750s, when the scientific study of electricity was in vogue and new discoveries about electricity, as well as weakly-substantiated claims about it, were capturing the public imagination. Before turning right to the mid-18th-century literature, it begins with some comments on what is sometimes regarded as the first allusion to electricity in the fish literature. It involves a dissertation written by Englebert Kaempferat at the end of the 17th century and then a widely read book published in 1712 by the same author, who compared a torpedo's discharge to lightning.

Keywords:   electric fishes, electricity, Englebert Kaempferat, torpedo

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