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Alessandro Volta: Batteries Not Included!

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This title is a part of the series Science Gossip! Series: Famous Scientists' Private Lives

Catalogue Number:  FI0044
Producer:  Film Ideas
Subject:  History, Physics, Science
Language:  English
Grade Level:  6 - 8, 9 - 12
Country Of Origin:  United States
Copyright Year:  2014
Running Time:  7:00
Closed Captions:  Yes

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In 1745 Alessandro Volta was born in Italy, and received a thorough education in humanities and science.  He began to study a gas phenomenon occurring in swamps and discovered the flammable methane gas. When he captured some methane in a glass bulb, he was able to light it with an electric spark.  This first gas lamp was one of the first practical uses of electricity. In 1790 Galvani, another Italian scientist, had discovered a curious phenomenon while dissecting a frog: its hind legs kicked when he touched them with his metal scalpel.  He thought he had discovered animal electricity, a mysterious force that remains in animals after death.  Volta set out to prove him wrong, believing it was the reactions of two adjacent metals in Galvani’s experiments that activated the legs. In 1799, after 10 years of study, Volta revealed the battery, his invention that consisted of silver plates interspersed with copper plates separated by cardboard and immersed in salt water. It generated a continuously flowing electric current, and became the foundation for electrical science research for centuries. Today’s batteries use more efficient and durable materials, but they generate a serious contamination problem for the environment. In 1827, Volta’s own batteries ran out! In his honor, the unit for measuring electrical potential was called a volt.  

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