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How Alessandro Volta invented the battery and won over Napoleon - Vox

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Today is Alessandro Volta's 270's birthday!

Cool Doodle!

google doodle volt gif Imgur energy power battery alessandro volta

i wonder what he'd think of our batteries today.  i hope he'd be pleased!

I'm sure he'd be pleased, but he'd also want to do more research.

haha!  but he's so OLD!  surely he must be too tired to do more research!

A scientist is never too tired to do more research!

He invented the battery and Volts are named after him:

Born in 1745 in Como, Italy, Volta was a physicist during the fertile age of discovery that followed Isaac Newton. His early accomplishments included perfecting the electrophorus in 1775 (a reliable way to produce static electricity that intrigued many scientists, including Ben Franklin). He also discovered methane gas in 1778 (which Franklin had also been working on).

But Volta's best known for the work he did after becoming a professor at the University of Pavia in 1779. He began studying electricity, which was a poorly understood phenomenon at the time, by using twitching frogs. His contemporaries thought that a certain "animal electricity" came from the frogs, but Volta came to believe the frogs were conductors. That made him seek a better and more stable way to examine electricity.

In 1800, Volta invented the voltaic pile, which was one of the first electric batteries. It was essentially a stack of alternating metal discs separated by brine-soaked material that helped make them more conductive. At the time, it was such a new idea that Volta called it "the artificial electric organ." The voltaic pile became one of the first reliable sources of electricity, and that new source of study enabled many discoveries in the field, from the understanding of the electrolysis of water to the research of electric arcs.

The process is simple enough that you can use it to make your own battery using a few coins.

Why is the Volt named for him?

volt is a measure of electric potential — somewhat analogous to the water pressure in pipes (there's a good explanation here). Think about how the pressure in a hose increases by cranking up the faucet, and you have an idea of how high voltage can build up.

The volt is named for Volta because his voltaic pile was the beginning of the battery — and for decades it was the best way to reliably provide electricity. The term became standard at the International Electrical Congress of 1881.

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