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In biology, galvanism is the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. In physics and chemistry, it is the induction of electrical current from a chemical reaction, typically between two chemicals with differing electronegativities.
The effect was named by Alessandro Volta after his contemporary, the scientist Luigi Galvani, who investigated the effect of electricity on dissected animals in the 1780s and 1790s. Galvani himself referred to the phenomenon as animal electricity, believing that he had discovered a distinct form of electricity. Volta, on the other hand, claimed that the reputed animal electricity was due to an interaction between the metals used to mount and dissect the frog's leg, and in 1800, before the Royal Society in London, announced the Voltaic Cell or pile, essentially the battery.
The modern study of galvanic effects in biology is called electrophysiology, the term galvanism being used only in historical contexts. The term is also used to describe the bringing to life of organisms using electricity, as popularly associated with (but never explicitly depicted in) Mary Shelley's work Frankenstein, and people still speak of being 'galvanized into action'.
Many Victorian scientists believed that if the right amount of electricity was charged into the brain, the corpse would come back to life for a short while.
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