Format 4to— leaf: x mm. There are two different issues, both separately paginated, one printed from the standing type of the journal, with the addition of an ornamentral border printed above the beginning of the article, and published with a half-title only. The first issue has no title-leaf and is known in just two copies the Fulton copy at Yale and the one from the library of the Italian scholar Giaconto Amati ? Newton, when discussing the properties of aether, had made suggestions that an electric spirit might convey sensations to the brain along the nerves and produce muscular reactions. Haller also made experiments trying to prove a connexion between electrical action and reflexes of the muscles.
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De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius. Bologna: Press of the Academy of Sciences, First edition, incredibly rare offprint, one of 12 copies issued, of this epoch-making work, one of the most important in the history of electricity.
There are two different issues of this offprint. Both have separate pagination and register, and in both an ornamental border is added above the beginning of the article. The first issue is printed from the standing type of the journal, and has a half-title but no title page; the second issue, offered here, has a title but no half-title.
Only two copies of the first issue are known, the Fulton copy at Yale and one from the library of the Italian scholar Giaconto Amati offered by Quaritch in Cat. Newton, when discussing the properties of aether, had made suggestions that an electric spirit might convey sensations to the brain along the nerves and produce muscular reactions. Haller also made experiments trying to prove a connexion between electrical action and reflexes of the muscles.
He did not realize that he had not discovered just a new physiological source of electricity, but a new source of continuous electric flow in chemical action. Before the time of Galvani, electricity was available only at high potential and in short surges of charge, as in spark discharges. But once the electrical battery had been invented, the potential could be chosen at will within large ranges, and continuous currents at constant amperage were available.
The development of the battery, with the allied physical principles, marked the beginning of a wholly new ear in physics. And in chemistry, the battery made possible the decomposition of many compounds and the isolation of new chemical elements, and it led to an understanding of the bonding forces that hold together the constituent parts of molecules. In Galvani read a paper on Hallerian irritability to the Istituto delle Scienze, and in he discussed the muscle movement of frogs before the same body.
In he read a paper on the effect of opiates on frog nerves. These researches fused in his mind with slightly earlier eighteenth-century studies, several of them by Italians, on the electrical stimulation of nerves and muscles.
What puzzled Galvani was the fact that these contractions occurred even if the frog was completely insulated from the machine and at some distance from it. But, like any good experimenter, he studied the puzzling phenomenon by varying the parameters. Thus, he changed over from using the charge produced by an electrical machine to the charges naturally produced in thunder-clouds. He found that his frog preparations, hanging by copper hooks from an iron railing, contracted not only during thunder-storms but in calm weather too.
Impatient at the long wait between contractions in fair weather, he tells us that he began to scrape and press the copper hook which was fastened to the backbone of the frog against the iron railing and discovered that contractions were frequently produced, apparently in independence of variations in the weather. Similar results were produced indoors when the frog was placed on an iron plate and the brass hook was placed against the plate.
This last experiment was varied in different ways, being performed in different places and at different times of the day, and using different metals. The major effects noticed were a variation in the intensity of the contractions with different metals and a complete absence of of contractions when non-conductors such as glass, gum, resin, stone or dry wood were employed.
These results led him to believe that an electric fluid must be in the animal itself and he likened the whole process of a fine nervous fluid flowing from the nerves into the muscles to the passage of electricity in the discharge of a Leyden jar. Animals have an electricity peculiar to themselves, which is called Animal Electricity. The organs to which this animal electricity has the greatest affinity, and in which it is distributed, are the nerves, and the most important organ of its secretion is the brain.
The inner substance of the nerve is specialized for conducting electricity, while the outer oily layer prevents its dispersal, and permits its accumulation. The receivers of animal electricity are the muscles, and they are like a Leyden jar, negative on the outside and positive on the inside. The mechanism of motion consists in the discharge of the muscular fluid from the inside of the muscle via the nerve to the outside, and this discharge of the muscular Leyden jar furnishes an electrical stimulus to the irritable muscle fibres, which therefore contract.
The imprimatur at the end of the volume is dated 27 March [this refers to the journal appearance]; but nearly a year elapsed from that date before the first repercussions aroused by the paper began to be heard. Galvani, member of the Institute of Bologna and Professor of the University of that place, who has already distinguished himself by other anatomical and physiological discoveries, contains one of those great and brilliant discoveries which deserves to mark a new era in the annals of physics and medicine.
In and again in Aldini read before the Institute of Bologna a dissertation on the subject, the two having been published together in the latter year. Volta showed that if a number of pairs of discs, one of copper and the other of zinc, were placed in a line, each pair separated from the next by a moistened cardboard disc, a greatly increased effect would be produced.
Galvani, shrinking from the controversy over his discovery, continued his work as teacher, obstetrician, and surgeon, treating both wealthy and needy without regard to fee. This question has now been answered by Walter Bernardi. The publishing date of his masterpiece, which is also the date of the birth of electrodynamics and electrophysiology, has always been a mystery to historians. For this reason and also for its relatively small circulation, the Commentarii was not a very effective means of scientific communication.
Studies on Volta and His Times, edited by F. Bevilacqua and L. Fragonese, Vol. Bernard Cohen. Stanton Contemporary marbled wrappers wrappers rubbed and chipped at extremities, rear wrapper with closed tear, internally a few spots in the margins and some light browning and soiling. Item
Commentary on the Effect of Electricity on Muscular Motion
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