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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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The Body Electric
9 September 1999 6:00 pm
Today is the 262nd anniversary of the birth of Luigi Galvani, an Italian anatomist known for his discovery of electrical conductivity in animals. Galvani made the chance observation, described in 1791, that a frog will twitch if laid out for dissection on a table with a generator. He then showed that convulsions could be produced by connecting the frog to a lightning conductor during stormy weather, and whenever the frog formed part of a circuit containing one or more pieces of metal. Galvani spurred a vigorous debate about whether the electricity resided in the animal, as he supposed, or in the metals, as Allessandro Volta proposed. Volta was proved correct in 1800 when he discovered the voltaic cell.
[Source: Trevor I. Williams, Ed., A Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (John Wiley & Sons, New York, ed. 3, 1982).]