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Shocking FrogsGalvani, Volta, and the Electric Origins of Neuroscience$
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Marco Piccolino and Marco Bresadola

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782161

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782161.001.0001

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The Controversy Between Galvani and Volta Over Animal Electricity

The Controversy Between Galvani and Volta Over Animal Electricity

The Second STAGE

(p.177) 7 The Controversy Between Galvani and Volta Over Animal Electricity
Shocking Frogs

Marco Piccolino

Marco Bresadola

Nicholas Wade

Oxford University Press

Far from being a simple rhetoric discussion between two different approaches to the investigation of electric phenomena in living organisms, the Galvani-Volta controversy was a genuine scientific debate, largely based on new experimental evidence that anyone of the two discussants was providing in order to face the adversary's. After praising Galvani's research, Volta started to raise doubts about the existence of a form of electricity really intrinsic to the animal, and supposed that it derived instead from the metals used to connect nerve an muscle in frogs experiments. Galvani replied by providing a series of experiments demonstrating that muscle contractions were produced even in the absence of any metal, and also through a direct contact between the nerves of the frog preparations. On his side, however, Volta could demonstrate that the contact of two different metals could produce an electric effect, thus arriving to the invention of the electric battery.

Keywords:   nerve conduction, scientific controversies, electric battery, contact electricity, metallic arc

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