The debate began when Galvani’s assistant accidentally touched an exposed sciatic nerve of a frog with a charged metal scalpel. Sparks were seen and the frog kicked as if it was alive. From this, Galvani carried out a series of experiments where two metals were connected to a nerve and muscle of a frog. He found that when the metals touched, the frog would produce convulsive movements. Galvani then coined the term “animal electricity”, the force behind the movements of the frog. Galvani believed that not only muscle tissue responds and moves when exposed to external electrical stimuli, but muscle and nerve cells naturally possess an electrical force responsible for muscle contractions and nerve conduction which is, “animal electricity”.
When Volta came across Galvani’s work, he had voiced serious reservations of Galvani’s work. Rather than the muscle and nerve of the frog, he focused on the two metals that were attached to the parts of the frog. He believed that the source of electricity responsible for the movement of the frog muscle was not found in tissue or nerves and that the muscle was only an indicator of the presence of electricity. The current, was instead resulting from the metals Galvani used for his experiments. Sparks were created when the metals touched and when the current reached the nerve, the muscle moved. Volta had called this, “metallic electricity”. Volta’s investigations towards “animal electricity” led to the invention of the first battery, the voltaic pile.
Ironically, both of the scientists were correct. The nerves of humans and animals innately contain liquid