Luigi Galvani, Italian physiologist, c 1770s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by A Marchi after an original half length portrait by F Spagnoli (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.