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Frog galvanoscope – Wikipedia

Frog galvanoscope – Wikipedia

2023-08-21 23:40:40

Frog’s-leg galvanoscope

The frog galvanoscope was a delicate electrical instrument used to detect voltage[1] within the late 18th and nineteenth centuries. It consists of a skinned frog’s leg with electrical connections to a nerve. The instrument was invented by Luigi Galvani and improved by Carlo Matteucci.

The frog galvanoscope, and different experiments with frogs, performed a component within the dispute between Galvani and Alessandro Volta over the character of electrical energy. The instrument is extraordinarily delicate and continued for use properly into the nineteenth century, even after electromechanical meters got here into use.


Synonyms for this gadget embrace galvanoscopic frog, frog’s leg galvanoscope, frog galvanometer, rheoscopic frog, and frog electroscope. The gadget is correctly referred to as a galvanoscope moderately than galvanometer because the latter implies correct measurement whereas a galvanoscope solely offers a sign.[2] In trendy utilization a galvanometer is a delicate laboratory instrument for measuring present, not voltage. On a regular basis present meters to be used within the discipline are referred to as ammeters.[3] An identical distinction could be made between electroscopes, electrometers, and voltmeters for voltage measurements.

Historical past[edit]

Frogs have been a preferred topic of experiment within the laboratories of early scientists. They’re small, simply dealt with, and there’s a prepared provide. Marcello Malpighi, as an illustration, used frogs in his research of lungs within the seventeenth century. Frogs have been significantly appropriate for the research of muscle exercise. Particularly within the legs, the muscle contractions are readily noticed and the nerves are simply dissected out. One other fascinating function for scientists was that these contractions continued after dying for a substantial time. Additionally within the seventeenth century, Leopoldo Caldani and Felice Fontana subjected frogs to electrical shocks to check Albrecht von Haller‘s irritability theory.[4]

Luigi Galvani, a lecturer on the University of Bologna, was researching the nervous system of frogs from round 1780. This analysis included the muscular response to opiates and static electricity, for which experiments the spinal twine and rear legs of a frog have been dissected out collectively and the pores and skin eliminated. In 1781,[5] an remark was made whereas a frog was being so dissected. An electric machine discharged simply in the mean time one in every of Galvani’s assistants touched the crural nerve of a dissected frog with a scalpel. The frog’s legs twitched because the discharge occurred.[6] Galvani discovered that he may make the ready leg of a frog (see the Construction part) twitch by connecting a steel circuit from a nerve to a muscle, thus inventing the primary frog galvanoscope.[7] Galvani printed these leads to 1791 in De viribus electricitatis.[8]

Another model of the story of the frog response at a distance has the frogs being ready for a soup on the identical desk as a operating electrical machine. Galvani’s spouse notices the frog twitch when an assistant by accident touches a nerve and stories the phenomenon to her husband.[9] This story originates with Jean-Louis Alibert and, in response to Piccolino and Bresadola, was most likely invented by him.[10]

Galvani, and his nephew Giovanni Aldini, used the frog galvanoscope of their electrical experiments. Carlo Matteucci improved the instrument and introduced it to wider consideration.[11] Galvani used the frog galvanoscope to research and promote the speculation of animal electrical energy, that’s, that there was a vital life force in dwelling issues that manifested itself as a brand new sort of electrical energy. Alessandro Volta opposed this principle, believing that the electrical energy that Galvani and different proponents have been witnessing was as a result of steel contact electrification within the circuit. Volta’s motivation in inventing the voltaic pile (the forerunner of the widespread zinc–carbon battery) was largely to allow him to assemble a circuit totally with non-biological materials to indicate that the very important drive was not needed to supply {the electrical} results seen in animal experiments. Matteucci, in reply to Volta, and to indicate that steel contacts weren’t needed, constructed a circuit totally out of organic materials, together with a frog battery. Neither the animal electrical energy principle of Galvani nor the contact electrification principle of Volta varieties a part of trendy electrical science.[12] Nevertheless, Alan Hodgkin within the Nineteen Thirties confirmed that there’s certainly an ionic present flowing in nerves.[13]

Matteucci used the frog galvanoscope to review the connection of electrical energy to muscle mass, together with in freshly amputated human limbs. Matteucci concluded from his measurements that there was an electrical present frequently flowing from the inside, to the outside of all muscle mass.[14] Matteucci’s concept was extensively accepted by his contemporaries, however that is not believed and his outcomes are actually defined by way of injury potential.[15]


A whole frog’s hind leg is faraway from the frog’s physique with the sciatic nerve nonetheless hooked up, and presumably additionally a portion of the spinal cord. The leg is skinned, and two electrical connections are made. These could also be made to the nerve and the foot of the frog’s leg by wrapping them with steel wire or foil,[16] however a extra handy instrument is Matteucci’s association proven within the picture. The leg is positioned in a glass tube with simply the nerve protruding. Connection is made to 2 totally different factors on the nerve.[17]

In line with Matteucci, the instrument is most correct if direct electrical contact with muscle is averted. That’s, connections are made solely to the nerve. Matteucci additionally advises that the nerve ought to be properly stripped and that contacts to it may be made with moist paper in an effort to keep away from utilizing sharp steel probes immediately on the nerve.[18]

See Also


When the frog’s leg is linked to a circuit with an electric potential, the muscle mass will contract and the leg will twitch briefly. It’s going to twitch once more when the circuit is damaged.[16] The instrument is able to detecting extraordinarily small voltages, and will far surpass different devices out there within the first half of the nineteenth century, together with the electromagnetic galvanometer and the gold-leaf electroscope. Because of this, it remained widespread lengthy after different devices turned out there. The galvanometer was made attainable in 1820 by the invention by Hans Christian Ørsted that electrical currents would deflect a compass needle, and the gold-leaf electroscope was even earlier (Abraham Bennet, 1786).[19] But Golding Bird may nonetheless write in 1848 that “the irritable muscle mass of a frog’s legs have been at least 56,000 occasions extra delicate a check of electrical energy than essentially the most delicate condensing electrometer.”[20] The phrase condenser utilized by Chicken right here means a coil, so named by Johann Poggendorff by analogy with Volta’s time period for a capacitor.[2]

The frog galvanoscope can be utilized to detect the course of electric current. A frog’s leg that has been considerably desensitised is required for this. The sensitivity of the instrument is best with a freshly ready leg after which falls off with time, so an older leg is finest for this. The response of the leg is bigger to currents in a single course than the opposite and with a suitably desensitised leg it could solely reply to currents in a single course. For a present going into the leg from the nerve, the leg will twitch on making the circuit. For a present passing out of the leg, it is going to twitch on breaking the circuit.[21]

The key disadvantage of the frog galvanoscope is that the frog leg ceaselessly wants changing.[22] The leg will proceed to reply for as much as 44 hours, however after {that a} contemporary one have to be ready.[13]


  1. ^ Keithley, p. 51
  2. ^ a b Hackmann, p. 257
  3. ^ Hackmann, p. 259
  4. ^ Piccolino & Bresadola, pp. 74–75
  5. ^ Piccolino & Bresadola, pp. 88–89
  6. ^ Keithley, p. 49
  7. ^ Piccolino & Bresadola, p. 71
  8. ^ Keithley, p. 71
  9. ^ Wilkinson, p. 6
  10. ^ Piccolino & Bresadola, p. 5, citing Adolphe Ganot
  11. ^ Hare, pp. 3–4
  12. ^
    • Clarke & Jacyna, p. 199
    • Clarke & O’Malley, p. 186
    • Hellman, pp. 31–32
    • Chicken (1848), pp. 344–345
    • Matteucci (1845), pp.284–285

  13. ^ a b Piccolino & Bresadola, p. 75
  14. ^ Chicken, p. 270
  15. ^ Clarke & Jacyna, p. 199
  16. ^ a b Hare, p. 4
  17. ^ Chicken, p. 345
  18. ^ Clarke & O’Malley, pp. 188–189
  19. ^ Keithley, p. 36
  20. ^ Chicken, p. 345 citing Wilkinson, 1845
  21. ^ Chicken, p. 346
  22. ^ Clarke & Jacyna, citing Matteucci


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