Alessandro Volta Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1745 - 1827 *** Full Name: Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta *** Occupation: Italian Physicist and Chemist *** Date of Birth: Alessandro Volta was born on February 18th 1745 *** Place of Birth: Alessandro Volta was born in Como, Duchy of Milan *** Family background: His father was Filippo Volta and his mother was Donna Maddalena. His father was of noble birth *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with his parents in Como *** Education: Alessandro Volta would have received an education as befitted his noble birth ***
Alessandro Volta Fact 1: Alessandro Volta was born on February 18th 1745 and during the 18th century period in history when many innovations were being made in science, medicine, technology and industry.
Alessandro Volta Fact 2: He married Teresa Peregrini also from Como, in 1794 and together they had three sons, Zanino, Flaminio and Luigi.
Alessandro Volta Fact 3: By the time he was thirty years of age he was professor of physics at the Royal School in Como.
Alessandro Volta Fact 4: The following year in 1775 he had improved a device used for producing static electricity, the electrophorus.
Alessandro Volta Fact 5: So enthusiastic was he about the electrophorus that he was increasingly mistaken for its creator, who was in fact Johan Wilcke a Swedish professor, instead of the person that improved it.
Alessandro Volta Fact 6: Between 1776 and 1778 he began to study the chemistry of gases. Having read a paper by the American Benjamin Franklin regarding “flammable air” he began to do some research and discovered methane.
Alessandro Volta Fact 7: Having made the discovery his next experiments were targeted towards igniting the methane in a safe way by igniting a spark inside a closed vessel.
Alessandro Volta Fact 8: Around this time he was also conducting experiments in electro capacitance. This effectively meant creating unconnected ways of studying electrical potential (V) and Charge (Q) and concluding that for a particular object they are relative. This would later be called Volta’s Law of Capacitance. As a result of his work on this topic his name would be used to describe the unit of electrical potential, the volt.
Alessandro Volta Fact 9: During 1779 The University of Pavia appointed him as their professor of experimental physics and position he would go on to occupy for nearly forty years.
Alessandro Volta Fact 10: Luigi Galvani, another Italian physicist, and Volta’s rival, came upon what he called “animal electricity” which was two types of metals connected with a frog’s leg as well as to one another. Volta came to realize that the frog’s leg was acting as both a detector of electricity as well as a conductor of electricity. He proceeded to exchange the frog’s leg with a paper soaked in brine and discovered that he recognized the results from experiments he had earlier conducted.Alessandro Volta Fact 16: He would also be given the honor of appearing on the 10,000 lira note together with a picture of his voltaic pile.
Alessandro Volta Fact 11: It was as a result of this that he discovered the electrochemical series.
Alessandro Volta Fact 12: When he announced he had discovered the voltaic pile in 1800, he also gave credit to the likes of Tiberius Cavallo, Abraham Bennet and William Nicholson for their influences.
Alessandro Volta Fact 13: Volta’s battery was given credit as being the first electrochemical cell consisting of two electrodes, one made of copper and the other from zinc. A type of saltwater brine or sulfuric acid mixed with water was used as the electrolyte.
Alessandro Volta Fact 14: During 1809 he would be associated with the Royal Institute of the Netherlands.
Alessandro Volta Fact 15: Napoleon Bonaparte made him a count in 1810.
Alessandro Volta Fact 17: In 1819 he retired to his home in Camnago.
Alessandro Volta Fact 18: Alessandro Volta died in his home on March 5th 1827 aged eighty two years. His remains were laid to rest in Camnago Volta.
Influence & Legacy: The Tempio Voltiano museum was built in his honour in Como, Italy. The SI unit of electric potential, the Volt, is so named in his honour.
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