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Draw the Lightning DownBenjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment$
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Michael Brian Schiffer

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238022

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

. Life and Death

. Life and Death

(p.107) 6. Life and Death
Draw the Lightning Down

Michael Brian Schiffer

University of California Press

This chapter shows that electrobiologists adopted electrical technology for research on plants and animals. It specifically addresses the electrobiologists' activities and inventions. In adapting electrical technology for plant research, electrobiologists fashioned the first electrical machines that ran without human power. Experiments by Jean Jallabert, Pierre Bertholon, Martinus van Marum, Giuseppe Toaldo, Jan Ingen-Housz, Stephen Gray, William Harvey, Wilhelm von Barneveld, Benjamin Martin, Henry Cavendish, Isaac Newton, Luigi Galvani, and Eusebio Valli are summarized. The works of Walsh and Cavendish were not the first to implicate electricity in physiological processes. Volta's theory is known as the “contact” theory of electricity. Both Galvani and Volta had discovered important new effects, but neither took advantage of opportunities to compromise on theory. Galvanism became the favorite source of electricity for physiological investigations. Electrical experimenters of the eighteenth century were especially enthusiastic about the potential of their technology to alleviate human suffering.

Keywords:   electrical technology, plant research, animal research, Jean Jallabert, Pierre Bertholon, Martinus van Marum, Giuseppe Toaldo, Jan Ingen-Housz, Stephen Gray, Luigi Galvani

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