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February 18

Alessandro Volta demonstrating the battery Photo Credit: Clipart.com.

Today in Science

Celebrate Volts and Volta on Battery Day

As a society we are dependent on batteries. From our cell phones to our computers to our cars, batteries help to run the objects we rely on to help make our lives easier. And for that, we have Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist born on this day in 1745, to thank.

Interested in a variety of types of energy, Volta improved upon and popularized the electrophorus (a generator that uses induction to produce static electricity), discovered and isolated the gas methane, and, in 1800, invented the Voltaic pile, an early version of what we now call a battery. It used salt-water-soaked cardboard set between discs of copper and zinc to conduct a current in order to produce a steady flow of electricity.

In his honor, scientists named the unit of measurement for electrical potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force -- volt (V) -- after him.

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