The first experiment which he has recorded was the construction of a voltaic pile with seven halfpence, seven disks of sheet zinc, and six pieces of paper moistened with salt water.
The first extends from the date of publication of Gilbert's great treatise in 1600 to the invention by Volta of the voltaic pile and the first production of the electric current in 1799.
Thomson), by the use of his then newly-invented electrometer, was able to confirm Volta's observations on contact electricity by irrefutable evidence, but the contact theory of the voltaic pile was then placed on a basis consistent with the principle of the conservation of energy.
de la Rive and Faraday were ardent supporters of the chemical theory of the pile, and even at the present time opinions of physicists can hardly be said to be in entire accordance as to the source of the electromotive force in a voltaic couple or pile.2 Improvements in the form of the voltaic pile were almost immediately made by W.
- Noticing an analogy between the polarity of the voltaic pile and that of the magnet, philosophers had long been anxious to discover a relation between the two, but twenty years elapsed after the invention of the pile before Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851), professor of natural philosophy in the university of Copenhagen, made in 1819 the discovery which has immortalized his name.
Oersted's important discovery was the fact that when a wire joining the end plates of a voltaic pile is held near a pivoted magnet or compass needle, the latter is deflected and places itself more or less transversely to the wire, the direction depending upon whether the wire is above or below the needle, and on the manner in which the copper or zinc ends of the pile are connected to it.
This led him about 1799 to devise his famous voltaic pile consisting of disks of copper and zinc or other metals with wet cloth placed between the pairs.
By the summer of 1800 the news of the voltaic pile was spreading across Europe.
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