Wonder Wednesdays: Who invented the battery?

Image Credit: Unsplash

Answer: Two Italian Scientists, Alessandro Volta (<– yes, this is the guy that volts are named after) and Luigi Galvani, had an argument about why a frog’s leg contracted. (I bet you didn’t expect the answer to this to begin like this… trust me, I didn’t either… ๐Ÿ˜†) Luigi apparently did a lot of experiments with frog legs. Disgusting. Anyway, moving along…

He discovered that a frog’s leg would contract when forming a circuit with two different metals. Luigi proclaimed that it was “animal electricity” phenomenon that caused this, but Alessandro argued with him and proved that it happened because of the metals and the electrolyte between them – the frog leg.

Man, all I wanted to know was how the battery was invented, I didn’t want to read about dead frogs. I really like frogs…

Okay, after looking at beautiful, living frogs that I have met over the years (and a few toads because why not, they also make my heart happy), I feel better and will continue.ย ๐Ÿ˜†

FINALLY abandoning the dead frog parts, Alessandro Volta stackedย disks of copper and zinc together, with these stacks separated by salty-water-soaked cloths. He called this theย voltaic pile. And by doing so, he invented the battery. This happened in 1800.ย ๐Ÿ˜

…before I finish with my “Who invented the first battery” answer, I had to find out how stacking copper and zinc with brine-soaked fabric would create any form of battery because to me, that sounds just like what says. Metal, salt, and a wet salty towel. How could you power anything with that?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Looks like it has to do with a chemical reaction between the brine and the metals. Interesting how this made a steady current. Anyway, back on topic…

This answer only applies to electric batteries. There are other mentions of batteries as far back as Benjamin Franklin when he was experimenting with electricity by linking capacitors.

However, 1700’s is nothing… the oldest battery was actually found in Baghdad. They were created somewhere between 200 BC and 225 AD. It consisted of an asphalt stopper, copper cylinder surrounding an iron bar, in an electrolyte solution, all inside a clay pot. o_Oย (I didn’t find any free images for this, so if you want to see it, click here for one of my sources for this article that has photos.)

And like most people, I wondered what these people needed a battery for – surely they didn’t have anything to power back then. Some use the argument that the Chinese invented gunpowder thousands of years before they used it for combustion, therefore, these “batteries” may not have been used to power anything. There are many theories out there. One likely theory is that they used these batteries for electroplating and gilding. Another is that these things were hidden inside the idols of the day to cause a shock to someone who touched them to give them validity to their “power.”

Whatever the reason for these “batteries,” they seem to be the first batteries known.ย ๐Ÿ˜„


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