World’s Super Scientists- Alessandro Volta

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The Man Who Tasted Electricity – Alessandro Volta Scientist

Scientist Alessandro Volta (full name Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta) (1745 to 1827), Italian physicist, discoverer of “electro-chemical energy” was born in 1745 at Como, Italy, at the foot of the Italian Alps.

After having earned a degree by the age of 17 he worked as a teacher in a High School in Como.

At the age of 34 Scientist Alessandro Volta established the Department of Physics in the University of Pavia in Italy where he pursued the path of research.

In 1775 Scientist Alessandro Volta invented the electrophorus, a device which produces static electricity as a result of the rubbing of two materials/objects.

From this idea stemmed the important electrical component called capacitor or condenser.

In 1776-78 Scientist Volta discovered and isolated methane gas.

Has anyone “tasted” electricity? Scientist Volta did. How? – By an experiment (1) He placed a piece of tin foil taken from his cigarette box at the tip of his tongue. He placed the bowl of a silver spoon at the rear part of the tongue and allowed the handle of the spoon to touch the tin foil to complete the circuit. There was a sour taste in the mouth.

Experiment (2) :

Scientist Alessandro Volta held a silver and gold coin against the two sides of the tongue and connected them by a wire. Bitter taste emanated on the tongue.

Scientist Alessandro Volta concluded that contact of two different metals produced electricity.General Studies Question Bank CD

In 1791 Luigi Galvani did the following experiment on a dissected frog.

A sharp brass hook was driven into the spinal cord and an iron scalpel held touching the leg muscle.

When the iron scalpel touched the brass hook, the leg muscle twitched violently! Galvani called it “animal electricity” and opined that the body of the frog stored this electricity and released it when the body was touched with two different metals.

Scientist Alessandro Volta did not agree with the above explanation. He took two rods of different metal, dipped them in brine (solution of sodium chloride).

When the two ends are made to touch, a spark emanated! Scientist Alessandro Volta was overwhelmed with joy.

In 1792 Scientist Alessandro Volta discovered this concept of “dynamic electricity” or electric current. In Galvani’s experiment, the tissues of the body including the leg (muscle) of the frog contain brine; it was the effect of generated electricity. The term “animal electricity” is not apt.

Scientist Alessandro Volta collected coins of different metals, arranged them one above the other with pieces of cardboard soaked in brine inserted between the coins.

In this pile of coins called “Voltaic pile”, a copper coin was at one end and silver coin at the other end — the forerunner idea of the modern battery.

Two wires were soldered to the coins at both ends.A spark was noticed whenever the wires were made to touch.

In the modern batteries, a stronger spark could be obtained if the rods are immersed in dilute acid.

Napoleon honoured Scientist Alessandro Volta as a Count in 1801.

Using modified type of Voltaic piles, scientists decomposed water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Scientist Alessandro Volta could be called the ‘Father of Electricity’ He died in 1827.

In 1893 the Congress of Electricians named the unit of electromotive force the “volt” in honour of Scientist Alessandro Volta, a fitting tribute and a feather in his cap (posthumous, of course).
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Definition of Volt

Volt : The unit of electromotive force (emf) is defined as the difference in electric potential that will cause a current of one ampere to flow through a resistance of one ohm.

amperes (I) = volts (V)  /ohms(R)