Scientist of the Day - Giovanni Aldini
Giovanni Aldini, an Italian physicist, died Jan. 17, 1834, at the age of 71. Aldini was the nephew of Luigi Galvani, who in the 1780s performed experiments on dead frogs and discovered what he called "animal electricity." When a frog (or frog part) was touched with implements made of two different metals, the muscles would convulse, and Galvani thought that electricity was present in or being generated by the frog’s vital tissue (fourth image). Aldini helped his uncle publish his book in 1792 (see our post on Galvani), and when Galvani died in 1798, Aldini succeeded to the chair of physics at Bologna formerly held by his uncle.
Alessandro Volta, Galvani's rival and a professor at Pavia, had a different interpretation of Galvani’s frog experiments. Volta argued that the electricity was being generated by the two different metals, and the muscles were merely reacting to it – there was no such thing as "animal electricity." Volta would soon invent the battery (called then a Voltaic pile, invented in 1800), a sandwich of two different metals that generates “voltage,” to further argue his point. You can see the original design for a Voltaic pile at our post on Volta