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By Patricia Fara

An leisure for Angels, instead of for males, one observer referred to as electrical energy, and it proved to be the main major clinical discovery of the Enlightenment. academics attracted large audiences who marveled at glowing fountains, flaming beverages, pirouetting dancers, and electrified boys. Flamboyant experimenters made chains of infantrymen jump into the air, whereas prosperous girls titillated their admirers with a sensational electrical kiss. Optimists envisioned that this unusual strength of nature may therapy health problems, increase crop construction, even deliver the useless again to existence. 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, well known on each side of the Atlantic as a professional on electrical energy, who brought lightning rods to guard tall constructions, pioneered suggestions to regard paralyzed sufferers, and constructed some of the most winning causes of this mysterious phenomenon. Others comprise Luigi Galvani, whose electric study on frogs and animals makes for grisly studying yet ended in the invention of direct present electrical energy; and Alessandro Volta, who -- with Napoleon's enthusiastic help -- turned considered one of Europe's prime clinical practitioners and invented the world's first battery.

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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.

By examining mercurial phosphorus, he could fulfil both his objectives. Working over several months, Hauksbee managed to combine showmanship with systematic research. In one spectacular performance, he found that he 38 could obtain mercurial phosphorescence without the barometer. Hauksbee produced ‘a Shower of Fire’ by passing a stream of air through a pool of mercury inside an air-pump’s globe. Repeating similar trials under different conditions enabled him simultaneously to satisfy the Fellows’ appetite for wonder, and to establish that a vacuum was not essential for the effect.

32 All over Europe, natural philosophers devised countless experiments to be performed with airpumps. For the first time, they could investigate the properties of air by examining what happened in its absence. Boyle himself carried out many experiments: he compared the results of burning different substances on a red hot plate inside the globe, showed that candle flames died away as the pump was operated, and used small birds and animals to demonstrate that air is needed to support life. 14 To resolve arguments about what was in the space above the mercury, Boyle placed a barometer tube inside his glass globe and watched what happened.

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