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Fascinating facts about Alessandro Volta
inventor of the Electric Battery in 1800.

Alessandro Volta
AT A GLANCE:
Alessandro Volta
, Italian physicist, known for his pioneering work in electricity. Volta was born in Como and educated in the public schools there. By 1800 he had developed the so-called voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric battery, which produced a steady stream of electricity. In honor of his work in the field of electricity, the electrical unit known as the volt was named in his honor.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
BOOKS
WEB SITES
QUOTATIONS
HOW IT WORKS
DID YOU KNOW?
Inventor: Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta
Alessandro Volta image courtesy www.chemie.uni-bremen.de/stohrer/biograph/volta.htm
Criteria: First to invent.
Birth: February 18, 1745.in Como, Lombardy, Italy
Death: March 5, 1827.near Como, Lombardy, Italy
Nationality: Italian
Invention: electric battery in 1800
Volta called his battery the Voltaic Pile. He stacked alternating layers of zinc, cardboard soaked in salt water and silver, image courtesy BBC Rough Science
Function: noun / electric bat·tery / voltic pile
Definition: In science and technology, a battery is a device that stores energy and makes it available in an electrical form. A battery converts chemical energy into electric energy. It is a connected bunch (or “battery”) of electro-chemical devices.
Milestones:
1775 Volta devised the electrophorus, a device that produced a static electric charge.
1777 he studied the chemistry of gases, discovered methane
1779 he became professor of physics at the University of Pavia
1794 Volta married Teresa Peregrini, daughter of Count Peregrini; the couple had three sons.
1800 he developed the so-called voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric battery
1810 In honor of his work in the field of electricity, Napoleon made him a count
1815 the Emperor of Austria named him a professor of philosophy at Padova.
1816 Volta's works were published in five volumes in Florence
1881 an important electrical unit, the volt, was named in his honor.
Volta, Alessandro Volta, Count Alessamdro Volta, battery, electric battery, voltic pile, wet cell battery, volt, inventor, biography, profile, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
STORY:
Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist, known for his pioneering work in electricity. Volta was born in Como and educated in the public schools there. In 1774 he became professor of physics at the Royal School in Como, and in the following year he devised the electrophorus, an instrument that produced charges of static electricity.

In 1776-77 he applied himself to chemistry, studying atmospheric electricity and devising experiments such as the ignition of gases by an electric spark in a closed vessel. In 1779 he became professor of physics at the University of Pavia, a chair he occupied for 25 years. By 1800 he had developed the so-called voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric battery, which produced a steady stream of electricity.

In honor of his work in the field of electricity, Napoleon made him a count in 1810.
A museum in Como, the Voltian Temple, has been erected in his honor and exhibits some of the original instruments he used to conduct experiments. Near lake Como stands the Villa Olmo, which houses the Voltian Foundation, an organization which promotes scientific activities. Volta carried out his juvenile studies and made his first inventions in Como.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Invention of the Electric Battery   from The Great Idea Finder
History of Electricity 
 from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
The History of Science and Technology
by Bryan Bunch, Alexander Hellemans / Hardcover: 768 pages / Houghton Mifflin Company; (2004)
Highly browsable yet richly detailed, expertly researched and indexed, The History of Science and Technology is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the technologically advanced reader alike.
The Book of Inventions
by Ian Harrison / Hardcover: 288 pages / National Geographic (November 1, 2004)
This extremely lively-and intricately researched-book is a rousing romp through the history of inventions and their inventors through time, from the tiny paper clip-coined "the world's most valuable invention"-to the massive jet engine; from mastermind Leonardo daVinci, to quirky, colorful, dual-cyclone-vacuum-cleaner inventor James Dyson.
Volta : Science and Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
by Giuliano Pancaldi / Paperback: 400 pages / Princeton University Press (April 11, 2005)
Depicts Volta as an inventor who used his international network of acquaintances to further his quest to harness the power of electricity. This is the story of a man who sought recognition as a natural philosopher and ended up with an invention that would make an everyday marvel of electric lighting.
The Ambiguous Frog: The Galvani-Volta Controversy on Animal Electricity
by Marcello Pera, Jonathan Mandelbaum / Hardcover - 203 pages / Princeton Univ. Press (1992)
How do ideas become accepted by the scientific community? How and why do scientists choose among empirically equivalent theories
Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics
by Stan Gibilisco / Paperback: 800 pages / McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics;3rd edition (August 2001)
Presented as a self-instructional guide for professionals, hobbyists, and technicians desiring to competently enter the world of circuits (ac and dc), measuring devices, resistors, cells and batteries, semiconductors, computers, and the Internet.


ON THE WEB:
Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta
His young childhood did not show the makings of a prodigy. It was not until the age of four that he talked, and his family was convinced that he was retarded.
(URL: www.italian-american.com/volta.htm)

Volta's Electrical Battery Invention
The Voltaic pile stimulated so much scientific inquiry that, by 1831, when Faraday built the first dynamo, the basic principles of electricity had been established.
(URL: www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/milestones_photos/volta.html)
Chronology of Principal Events in Volta's Life
Volta received his greatest honor, however, at the hands of no ruler, but of his fellow scientists. The unit of electromotive force- the driving force that moves the electric current- is now called the "volt." The energy of moving charged particles produced by modern atom-smashing machines is measured in electron-volts.
(URL: chem.ch.huji.ac.il/~eugeniik/history/volta.htm)
Alessandro Volta
Volta, Alessandro, Count, Italian physicist, known for his pioneering work in electricity, invented the Electric Battery in 1800.
(URL: www.thocp.net/biographies/volta_alessandro.htm)
Super Scientists
Volta modified this effect to produce the first continuous flow of electric current. Around 1800, he invented a wet battery called a Voltaic Pile.
(URL: www.energyquest.ca.gov/scientists/volta.html)
Alessandro Volta Centre for Scientific Culture
The "Alessandro Volta" Centre for Scientific Culture is a non profit organization acting since 1982, supported by the local Administrations of Region Lombardy and Province Como, the Como Town Council and the Chambers of Commerce of Milano and Como.
(URL: iride.unipv.it/camp95/volta.html)
Sparks Museum
The invention of the battery page includes copies of Volta's notes, historical paintings and pages from his book.
(URL: www.sparkmuseum.com/BOOK_VOLTA.HTM)
Alessandro Volta

In 1800 he constructed the first battery to produce electricity.
(URL: scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Volta.html)

WORDS OF WISDOM:

"All power corrupts, but we need the electricity." - Anonymous
"Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light." - Anonymous


HOW IT WORKS:
The Voltaic pile was the first modern electric battery, invented by Alessandro Volta in 1800. Volta demonstrated that when metals and chemicals come into contact with each other they produced an electrical current. In his research, Volta placed together several pairs of alternating copper (or silver) and zinc discs separated by cloth and soaked the cloth in brine (salt water) to increase conductivity, and an electrical current was produced.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Alessandro Volta's portrait, appeared on Italian 10.000 lira banknote before the introduction of the euro.
  • The electrical unit known as the "volt" was named in his honor.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised September 21, 2005.
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