10 Eponymous Discoveries (and the People Who Made Them)


During his lifetime, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta was behind significant breakthroughs in electricity, electrical phenomena and electrical power at a time when scientists were studying and theorizing about animal electricity. Volta moved the study of electricity from the electric potential of animals to the electric potential of metals.

Volta was not only proficient in his field but prolific. He gave us volts, voltage -- think of all the terms we use that are based on Volta's name when we talk about electricity. Volts are the unit of measure used to describe electric potential and electromotive force. Voltage is electric potential and electromotive force (think of it as the difference in electric potential between two electrical charges). Voltaic electricity is electricity produced by a chemical action. And don't forget the voltaic pile, for which Volta used the idea of voltaic electricity to create the world's first battery.

Author's Note: 10 Eponymous Discoveries (And the People Who Made Them)

I was excited when I saw this assignment, and got lost in my research for far longer than I probably should have. There were three distinct moments during my research process that I couldn't help but chatter on about with friends, as if I'd happened upon a big discovery of my own. First, did you know if you discover a comet you can pretty much count on it be named in your honor? Second, when publishing your scientific discoveries pay close attention to who is listed first as author -- being first in the article's byline could mean a disease or discovery gets named after you. And finally, there were the taxidermist-naturalist Verreaux brothers (whom I'd never previously heard of) who sold exotic animals and, perhaps, sometimes humans(!) to private collectors and museums (and happened to discover species new-to-France).

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