Alessandro Volta


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Volta, Alessandro

 

Born Feb. 18, 1745, in Como; died there Mar. 5, 1827. Italian physicist and physiologist.

Volta studied at a Jesuit school. From 1774 to 1779 he taught physics at the gymnasium (secondary school) in Como and in 1779 became a professor at the University of Pavia. In 1815 he was made the director of a philosophy faculty in Padua. His work was devoted to electricity, chemistry, and physiology. He invented a number of electrical instruments (the electrophorus, electrometer, capacitor, electroscope, and other instruments). In 1776 he discovered and studied a gaseous fuel (methane).

From 1792 to 1794, having become interested in ’ ’animal electricity” discovered by L. Galvini, Volta conducted a number of experiments and demonstrated that the observed phenomena were associated with the existence of a closed circuit consisting of two dissimilar metals and a liquid. In 1800 he invented the so-called voltaic pile, the first source of direct current which consisted of 20 pairs of disks made of two different metals and separated by layers of cloth or paper moistened with brine or an alkaline solution. He discovered the mutual electrification of different metals when placed in contact (contact potential difference) and arranged them in a series according to the voltage developed between them. The unit of electrical potential, the volt, is named after him.

By performing many comparative-physiological experiments, Volta observed higher electrical excitability of nerves in animals compared with muscles and also the smooth musculature of the intestine and stomach compared with that of the skeleton. He discovered (1792-95) the electrical irritability of the visual and taste organs in man. These works were of great significance in the history of physiological experimental methodology.

WORKS

Le opere… , vols. 1-7. Milan, 1918-29.
Epistolario… , vols. 1-3. Bologna, 1949-52.
In Russian translation:
In the book Galvani, A., and A. Volta. Izbrannye raboty o zhivotnom élektrichestve. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.

REFERENCES

Radovskii, M. I. Gal’vani i Vol’ta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Polvani, G. Alessandro Volta. Pisa, 1942.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dermot Weld's Casual Conquest - third at Epsom - kept out of trouble to be second for Pat Smullen, with Alessandro Volta third.
Sent off at 6-4, Alessandro Volta took them along under Johnny Murtagh and although he did not distinguish himself by running wide around the home bend, he found plenty under pressure to keep his stablemate King Of Rome at bay by threequarters of a length.
Guaranteed favourite Curtain Call was withdrawn and punters struggled to pick between Alessandro Volta and eventual market leader Campanologist, who was bidding to ring an overdue winning bell for Godolphin.
ALESSANDRO VOLTA, one of the Aidan O'Brien-trained trio who made an unsuccessful challenge for last year's Melbourne Cup, is to return to Australia, where he is to join the stable of David Hayes next month, writes Tony O'Hehir.
Septimus ran 18th, Alessandro Volta 20th and Honolulu 21st on a surface which O'Brien described as "concrete".
totesport: 4 Frozen Fire, 5 Conduit, Look Here, Patkai, 6 Alessandro Volta, Centennial (needs supplementing), 8 Unsung Heroine, 10 Doctor Fremantle, 16 Campanologist, Top Lock, Washington Irving, 33 bar.
Aidan O'Brien is responsible for no less than 10 of the acceptors, led by Alessandro Volta.
In a messy race, the winner's stablemate Alessandro Volta led turning for home and looked set to fight out the finish with Luca Cumani's Curtain Call and even-money favourite Tartan Bearer.
KING OF ROME: Second to stable companion Alessandro Volta in the Lingfield Derby Trial and looks out of his depth.
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has left in five runners including Frozen Fire, King Of Rome, Alessandro Volta, Bashkirov and Washington Irving.
The race ended with a 1-2 for Aidan O'Brien, Johnny Murtagh booting home 6-4 shot Alessandro Volta from King of Rome (16-1) and the favourite Campanologist in third.
1745: Italian scientist and inventor of the electric battery Alessandro Volta was born on this day.