Galvani's Frog Experiments

Topics: Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, Battery Pages: 2 (350 words) Published: September 21, 2008
Luigi Galvani was an Italian Physicist who lived from 1737-1798 in the Italian city of Bologna. He loved animals and had thought of being a veterinarian many times as a child. He attended Bologna’s medicine school and became a medical doctor just as his father did. In 1764 he got married to the daughter of a professor at the University of Bologna and in 1772, he became the president of the university.

In 1776, he began to test the action of electricity on the muscles of dissected frogs. In 1783, while working with static electricity on a table at which he had dissected a frog, his assistant accidentally touched the frog with a charged scalpel and its legs kicked outward as a frog’s legs would while it’s living. This made Galvani the first to appreciate the relationship between life and electricity. He used the term animal electricity to describe whatever it was that activated the muscles of his specimens.

Galvani’s discovery had lead to the invention of an early battery but not by himself. It was the work of his associate, Alessandro Volta. Galvani and Volta had disagreed over the idea of “animal electric fluid” although Volta was correct in saying that it was unreal. Volta discovered that the presence of two unlike metals was more important than the frog’s legs and that the contractions of the muscles were caused by an external energy source that flowed through the body. As a matter of fact, the reason he built the first battery was to disprove Galvani’s ideas.

As you can see, Luigi Galvani was the first man to see the relationship between electricity and animation. However, his ideas of how the muscular contractions in the frog happened were not completely correct. Volta tested his ideas and fixed them by stating the true reason as to why these contractions occurred. It was Galvani’s experiments with frogs that led to the modern day battery.

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