An Entertainment for Angels by Patricia Fara

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By Patricia Fara

An leisure for Angels, instead of for males, one observer known as electrical energy, and it proved to be the main major clinical discovery of the Enlightenment. teachers attracted large audiences who marveled at gleaming fountains, flaming beverages, pirouetting dancers, and electrified boys. Flamboyant experimenters made chains of infantrymen bounce into the air, whereas filthy rich girls titillated their admirers with a sensational electrical kiss. Optimists envisioned that this unusual strength of nature might remedy health problems, increase crop construction, even deliver the lifeless again to lifestyles. An leisure for Angels tells the tale of the way electrical energy charged the eighteenth-century mind's eye. With modern illustrations and interesting prose, Patricia Fara vividly portrays the struggles to appreciate the bizarre and fascinating results experiments have been generating. one of many heroes of the tale is Benjamin Franklin, popular on each side of the Atlantic as knowledgeable on electrical energy, who brought lightning rods to guard tall constructions, pioneered options to regard paralyzed sufferers, and constructed probably the most winning reasons of this mysterious phenomenon. Others contain Luigi Galvani, whose electric study on frogs and animals makes for grisly examining yet ended in the invention of direct present electrical energy; and Alessandro Volta, who -- with Napoleon's enthusiastic aid -- turned certainly one of Europe's prime clinical practitioners and invented the world's first battery.

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The lower part of Illustration 7 shows the first published drawing of Musschenbroek’s experiment. It appeared in a book produced later the same year 52 Illustration 7: The Leyden experiment, and (above) the flow of electrical matter. A. Nollet, Essai sur l’éléctricité des corps, Paris, 1746, facing p. 216. (Cambridge University Library) by Nollet, who named the Leyden jar in direct tribute to Musschenbroek. At the right, an electrical machine is charging up a horizontal metal rod or gun barrel, 53 which, suspended by silken threads, acts as the prime conductor.

Nollet, Essai sur l’éléctricité des corps, Paris, 1746, frontispiece. (Cambridge University Library) 45 startled by painful crackling flashes, a particularly effective trick in the dark. Gray and his colleagues electrified their glass rods by rubbing them with pads of leather or wool. In the 1740s, experimenters discovered that they could achieve more striking results by making new versions of Hauksbee’s machine, such as the table-top version in Illustration 2. As the experimental assistant turns the handle, the horizontal metal rod, which is called a ‘prime conductor’, transmits the electricity generated by the rubbed globe.

When trying to repeat Hauksbee’s experiments with his glass tube, Gray had noticed that feathers were drawn to the cork at each end, rather than to the glass itself. Other experimenters were concentrating on attraction and repulsion, but Gray set out to explore how electric charge – often called ‘Vertue’ – could be transmitted from one place to another. Concluding that the tube’s electrical virtue had been communicated to the cork, Gray tried to transmit it to other objects over greater distances.

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