The big G (Google) may have a lot of things to do and sites to index, craw, de-index and the likes everyday, but that doesn’t mean the techies behind the world’s number one search engine forget to honor Tech heroes like Alessandro Volta.
Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (February 18, 1745 – March 5, 1827)on his Wikipidia page is described as the first scientist behind the electric battery – the Voltaic pile which he invented in 1799 and the results of which he reported in 1800 in a two part letter to the President of the Royal Society.
Volta was born in Como, a town in present-day northern Italy (near the Swiss border) on February 18, 1745. In 1794, Volta married an aristocratic lady also from Como, Teresa Peregrini, with whom he raised three sons: Giovanni, Flaminio, and Zanino. His own father Filippo Volta was of noble lineage. His mother Donna Maddalena came from the family of the Inzaghis.
In 1774, he became a professor of physics at the Royal School in Como. A year later, he improved and popularized the electrophorus, a device that produced static electricity. His promotion of it was so extensive that he is often credited with its invention, even though a machine operating on the same principle was described in 1762 by the Swedish experimenter Johan Wilcke. In 1777, he travelled through Switzerland. There he befriended H. B. de Saussure.
In the years between 1776–78, Volta studied the chemistry of gases. He researched and discovered methane after reading a paper by Benjamin Franklin of United States on “flammable air”. In November 1776, he found methane at Lake Maggiore, and by 1778 he managed to isolate methane. He devised experiments such as the ignition of methane by an electric spark in a closed vessel. Volta also studied what we now call electrical capacitance, developing separate means to study both electrical potential (V ) and charge (Q ), and discovering that for a given object, they are proportional. This may be called Volta’s Law of capacitance, and it was for this work the unit of electrical potential has been named the volt.
In 1779 he became a professor of experimental physics at the University of Pavia, a chair that he occupied for almost 40 years.
In honor of his work, Volta was made a count by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810. His image was depicted on the Italian 10,000 lira note (no longer in circulation, since the euro has replaced the lira) along with a sketch of his voltaic pile.
Volta retired in 1819 to his estate in Camnago, a frazione of Como, Italy, now named “Camnago Volta” in his honor. He died there on March 5, 1827. Volta’s remains were buried in Camnago Volta.