An Entertainment for Angels: Electricity in the Enlightenment

An Entertainment for Angels: Electricity in the Enlightenment

by Patricia Fara
     
 

ISBN-10: 0231131488

ISBN-13: 9780231131483

Pub. Date: 09/24/2003

Publisher: Columbia University Press

An Entertainment for Angels, rather than for Men, one observer called electricity, and it proved to be the most significant scientific discovery of the Enlightenment. Lecturers attracted huge audiences who marveled at sparkling fountains, flaming drinks, pirouetting dancers, and electrified boys. Flamboyant experimenters made chains of soldiers leap into the air,

Overview

An Entertainment for Angels, rather than for Men, one observer called electricity, and it proved to be the most significant scientific discovery of the Enlightenment. Lecturers attracted huge audiences who marveled at sparkling fountains, flaming drinks, pirouetting dancers, and electrified boys. Flamboyant experimenters made chains of soldiers leap into the air, while wealthy women titillated their admirers with a sensational electric kiss. Optimists predicted that this strange power of nature would cure illnesses, improve crop production, even bring the dead back to life. An Entertainment for Angels tells the story of how electricity charged the eighteenth-century imagination. With contemporary illustrations and engaging prose, Patricia Fara vividly portrays the struggles to understand the unusual and exciting effects that electrical experiments were producing.

One of the heroes of the story is Benjamin Franklin, renowned on both sides of the Atlantic as an expert on electricity, who introduced lightning rods to protect tall buildings, pioneered techniques to treat paralyzed patients, and developed one of the most successful explanations of this mysterious phenomenon. Others include Luigi Galvani, whose electrical research on frogs and animals makes for grisly reading but led to the discovery of direct current electricity; and Alessandro Volta, who—with Napoleon's enthusiastic support—became one of Europe's leading scientific practitioners and invented the world's first battery.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231131483
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/24/2003
Series:
Revolutions in Science Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
4.60(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsIntroductionIlluminations: The Light of ReasonInterpretationsElectricity and EnlightenmentShocking Inventions: InstrumentsRobert Boyle and the Air-pumpFrancis Hauksbee and the Electrical MachineStephen Gray and the Charity BoyPieter van Musschenbroek and the Leyden JarLightning Cures: ApplicationsBenjamin FranklinKnobs or Points?The Business of MedicineTherapeutic ShocksSparks of Imagination: TheoriesProblemsFluids and AtmospheresTheological AethersMeasurement and MathematicsThe Flow of Life: Current ElectricityHenry Cavendish and the TorpedoLuigi Galvani and his FrogsAlessandro Volta and his PileResuscitationFurther ReadingNotes

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