Galvani and His Frog Experiments

Topics: Battery, Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta Pages: 2 (712 words) Published: September 28, 2008
Luigi Galvani, an Italian physician and physicist is credited with starting bioelectricity. He was born in Bologna, Italy on September 9, 1737. He never expected to study science and instead wanted to focus on theology. His family encouraged him to pursue otherwise and in 1755, following his father’s desires he entered the University of Bologna, the Faculty of Medicine and Literature. In the 1770’s, Galvani became interested in studying the anatomy of frogs and electrophysiology. In the 1780’s, he began to experiment with animal electricity.

One day, Galvani was experimenting at the University of Bologna with frogs and test charges. It was known that if you applied a charge to the spinal cord of a frog, that it would cause the frog to have muscular spasms throughout it’s body. He found that the electric current supplied by a Leyden jar, would be powerful enough to causes the leg muscles of a frog to twitch or contract, when the charge is applied to the muscle or the nerve.

Science is accidental, and what Galvani discovered was an accidental experiment. He had placed the bottom half of a dissected frog near a plate-type electrical machine. When his assistant touched the frog’s sciatic nerve with a metal scalpel, they observed sparks in the machine as well as movement in the frog’s leg’s almost, as if they were alive. Galvani was puzzled by how they occurred simultaneously. In one of his essays, he wrote "While one of those who were assisting me touched lightly, and by chance, the point of his scalpel to the internal crural nerves of the frog, suddenly all the muscles of its limbs were seen to be so contracted that they seemed to have fallen into tonic convulsions.” As a result, Galvani concluded that the “electricity” that created the spark and contractions, was made in the frog’s tissues. He called it “animal electricity.” He said that this “animal electricity” is in the brain and when it flows throughout the nerves, it activates the muscles and causes...
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