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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Google Doodle on 270th birthday of Alessandro Volta ~ inventor of battery

This morning as I googled, it was an interesting page – the google doodle !

Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (February 18, 1745 – March 5, 1827) was an Italian physicist – the Google Doodle for the day celebrates what would have been the 270th  birthday  of the Italian physicist who in the year 1800 published a theory that led to the modern battery. As TIME wrote back in 2007, Volta “realized metals could produce a current and developed the first battery, or ‘voltaic pile,’ a series of copper and zinc strips in salt water that gave off an electric current instead of static electricity.”

Experimenting with different metals and solutions, Volta ended up creating the first electric battery: the Voltaic Pile, a battery so remarkable was that it was easy to construct out of common materials and enabled experimenters for the first time to produce steady, predictable flows of electricity. Within just weeks it inspired a wave of discoveries and inventions and ushered in a new age of electrical science.

Born in 1745 in Como, Italy, Volta’s invention was the result of a professional competition with Luigi Galvani, who discovered that dissected frogs’ legs would twitch when probed with a wire. Galvani believed the frogs’ muscles generated the electricity, while Volta thought the animal tissue was only a conductor. The debate galvanized Volta to experiment with conductivity (often on his own tongue). Eventually, Volta put together a stack of metal disks and when metal wires were connected to both ends of the stack, an electric current flowed through the pile, proving that animal tissue was not necessary to generate an electric current. In announcing his discovery of his voltaic pile, Volta paid tribute to the influences of William Nicholson, Tiberius Cavallo, and Abraham Bennet.

The battery made by Volta is credited as the first electrochemical cell. It consisted  of two electrodes: one made of zinc, the other of copper. The electrolyte was either sulfuric acid mixed with water or a form of saltwater brine.  It was proved that within these two terminals, an electric current will flow if they are connected.

In honour of his work, Volta was made a Count by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810.  His image was depicted on the Italian 10,000 lira note along with a sketch of his voltaic pile. Volta retired in 1819 to his estate in Camnago, a frazione of Como, Italy, now named "Camnago Volta" in his honour.  Volta's legacy is celebrated by the Tempio Voltiano memorial located in the public gardens by the lake.

The Google Doodle of the day honours Volta’s discovery with an animated battery that is reminiscent of both a voltaic pile and a battery life reminder on a modern day smart phone. The man who made the doodle describes in Google blog that it was exciting to design the Doodle for Volta and just was his second doodle.   Having done the initial research, he says ‘I didn’t want to just settle on using Volta’s portrait for the Doodle, especially since most of the world wouldn’t recognize him. I wanted instead to represent his accomplishment.  Digging into visual research I looked first for images of his inventions, then wider to other scientific equipment of the time. WIth an interest in graphic design I also looked to designs of the period and was especially inspired by the intricate and ornate details of some early Victorian posters for their dimensionality and dynamic layout.’

Interesting indeed !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Feb 2015.


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