Alessandro Volta: Facts About the Famous Scientist

Here are some facts about Alessandro Volta.

  • Alessandro Volta was an Italian chemist and physicist. He discovered the gas methane, and is regarded as the inventor of the battery and the unit of measurement, the Volt.

  • He was born in Como, Italy in 1745. While at school, he learned Latin, French, English and German, all of which helped him to communicate later in his career with other European scientists.
  • Volta’s family wanted him to become a lawyer. However, he became a physics teacher at a local school and helped to invent a device that produced static electricity, called an electrophorus.
  • In 1778, Alessandro Volta was given the post of Head of Experimental Physics at the University of Pavia in Italy. He kept this important position for the next 40 years.
  • In 1791, Volta was voted a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. A few years later he was awarded the Society’s top prize for his contributions to the science of electricity.
  • In 1800, Volta invented a basic type of battery – the first of its kind. This invention led to the discovery of new chemical elements, and the development of the first electric motor.

Alessandro Volta

  • Volta worked closely with an Italian biologist, Luigi Galvani. The two experimented with conducting electricity through the legs of dead frogs, which led to Mary Shelley writing the famous book Frankenstein.
  • During his life, Volta travelled all over Europe meeting other scientists. The French emperor Napoleon was so impressed with his work that he made him a Count.
  • Alessandro Volta died in Italy in 1827. He is remembered with a memorial and a small museum near Lake Como, which displays some of his scientific equipment and experiments.
  • The electrical unit of a Volt was named for Alessandro Volta. He also gave his name to the term photovoltaic, meaning the conversion of light into electricity.

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