Luigi Galvani, Italian physiologist, c 1760s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraved portrait of Luigi Galvani (1737-1798). Whilst investigating the effects of electrostatic stimuli applied to the muscles of frogs, Galvani (1737-1798) discovered he could make a muscle twitch by touching the nerve with metal (a pair of scisors for example) without a source of electrostatic charge. He called this phenomenon 'animal electricity'. The term 'galvanise' - to shock or excite into action - takes its name from him. Illustration from 'Die ElektricitAt im Dienste der Menschheit' (Electricity in the service of mankind) by Alfred Ritter von Urbanitzky (b 1852), published in Vienna in 1885.