Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 21 January 2019

Sparks in Darkness and the Eel’s Electrical Sense

Sparks in Darkness and the Eel’s Electrical Sense

Chapter:
(p.281) Chapter 19 Sparks in Darkness and the Eel’s Electrical Sense
Source:
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes
Author(s):

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.003.0019

Walsh (1773) never produced a spark indicative of electricity with his French torpedoes. No sparks seemed to occur naturally; none jumped even the smallest gaps he could make in tinfoil; and there was not even the expected crackling sound when the fish emitted a shock. Additionally, the living torpedo did not attract pith balls or other light objects, and his Lane electrometer provided no evidence for electricity. Hence, although Walsh felt sure he was dealing with an electrical phenomenon, not all of the proofs he hoped to present to Franklin and the Royal Society on the French torpedoes fell into place. The absence of a spark or an electrometer measurement had two effects. One was on his colleagues, some of whom demanded more evidence before accepting animal electricity, even after he and others, most notably Henry Cavendish, did their best to explain the absence of a spark or why the pith balls would not move. The other effect was on Walsh himself. He still wanted to complete the job he had started. He knew that lingering doubts about the electrical nature of the fish discharge would dissipate if he could just show an accompanying spark. It was with this mindset that Walsh now focused on the more powerful eel.

Keywords:   John Walsh, electric eels, electricity, French torpedoes, Lane electrometer, Henry Cavendish

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .