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Alessandro Volta
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Scientist
    (February 18, 1745-March 5, 1827)
    Born in Como, Italy
    Professor of experimental physics at the University of Pavia (1779-1819)
    Isolated methane (1778)
    Discovered the Law of Capacitance: for a given object, electric potential and charge are proportional
    Created the voltaic pile, the first electric battery (1799)
    He did not begin speaking until he was four years old.
    He disappointed his parents by deciding to not join the clergy.
    A collection of his surviving original voltaic piles was gathered in Como for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of his invention of the battery, only for them all to be destroyed by a fire (July 8, 1899).
    In addition to his native Italian, he was fluent in English, French and Latin, and could read Spanish and Dutch.
    He was the first foreign scientist to be awarded the Royal Society's Copley Medal (1791).
    After he demonstrated the voltaic pile to the French Academy, Napoleon awarded him the Legion of Honor and made him a count (1810).
    He appeared on the Italian 10,000 lira note.
    The metric unit of electric potential was named the volt in his honor (1881).

Credit: C. Fishel


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