It is a curious fact that a group of experiments on frog legs has yielded supremely important discoveries for both physics and physiology. Out of them came electric batteries and X-ray machines and radio sets, and also brain waves, the laws of electricity and scientific diagnoses of human heart disease. Luigi Galvani and his gentle wife, Lucia, performed these revolutionary experiments in Italy during the 1780s, and here are two of them.

A Frog and Some Lightning

Experiment 1: The Galvanis took a dissected frog outdoors on an upstairs porch, attached a lightning rod to its head end, stretched another wire from its foot to the water in a well, and then sat back to wait for a storm to blow up (Fig. 2). Soon the summer sky darkened and, in Galvani's words,

as the lightning broke out, at the same moment all the muscles fell into violent and multiple contractions, so


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Nerves and Muscles


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