Undated picture of Italian physicist and inventor Alexander Volta (1745 - 1827)
Undated picture of Italian physicist and inventor Alexander Volta (1745 - 1827) AP Photo—AP

New Google Doodle Honors Alessandro Volta, Forefather of the Modern Battery

Feb 17, 2015

A new Google Doodle is celebrating what would have been the 270th birthday of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, who in the year 1800 published a theory that led to the modern battery.

As TIME wrote back in 2007, Volta “realized metals could produce a current and developed the first battery, or ‘voltaic pile,’ a series of copper and zinc strips in salt water that gave off an electric current instead of static electricity.”

Born Feb. 18, 1745, in Como, Italy, Volta’s invention was the result of a professional competition with Luigi Galvani, who discovered that dissected frogs’ legs would twitch when probed with a wire.

Galvani believed the frogs’ muscles generated the electricity, while Volta thought the animal tissue was only a conductor.

The debate galvanized Volta to experiment with conductivity (often on his own tongue). Eventually, Volta put together a stack of metal disks, and when metal wires were connected to both ends of the stack, an electric current flowed through the pile, proving that animal tissue was not necessary to generate an electric current.

The Google Doodle honors Volta’s discovery with an animated battery that is reminiscent of both a voltaic pile and a battery-life reminder on a modern-day smartphone.

See Google Doodles Through the Years

google doodle la tomatina
Aug. 26, 2015 For the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina.Google
google doodle la tomatina
Google doodle sally ride
Google-Doodle-Eiffel-Tower-France
Mar. 20, 2015 To celebrate the start of spring and the vernal equinox, Google created a stop-motion animation of flowers in bloom.
Nov. 12, 2014 For the landing of the Philae lander, the first spacecraft on a moving comet, Google created a gyrating lander with passing stars.
Sept. 9, 2014 For Tolstoy's 186th birthday the Google Doodle team created an appropriately long doodle, with a click-through doodle. http://time.com/3308635/google-doodle-tolstoy/
May 4 2014 For the Audrey Hepburn doodle http://time.com/87152/google-doodle-audrey-hepburn/ the doodle team adapted an image from a 1956 black and white photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh.
June 9, 2011 The doodlers came up with the idea of a playable logo, then pegged it to guitar innovator Les Paul's 96th birthday. Turning on composer mode allows you to create songs that you can share online.
March 24, 2011 The Harry Houdini doodle was created in the style of the old posters advertising the death-defying magician.
Nov. 25, 2010 Chef Ina Garten prepared this Thanksgiving feast, which Google photographed. If you clicked on a dish, her recipe appeared.
May 7, 2010 Google asked the San Francisco Ballet to pose and twirl to re-create Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
Oct. 7, 2009 Scan the doodle that marks the first patent for the bar code and you'll decode Google embedded within.
March 2, 2009 The doodlers arranged classic Dr. Seuss characters, like the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch, to form the logo's letters.
Jan. 28, 2009 There was no other way to honor abstract artist Jackson Pollack than with a chaotic drip painting.
Jan. 19, 2009 Guest artist Shepard Fairey (famed for his Obama HOPE poster) did a sketch for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jan. 28, 2008 Early on, Google used Lego blocks as casing for hard disks. Later it feted Lego's 50th anniversary.
April 22, 2007 A melting iceberg for Earth Day is one of many eco-minded doodles the team has created.
Jan. 4, 2006 Enter the world of out-there doodles — Google in braille. Only problem: you can't feel it.
March 30, 2005 The Van Gogh doodle appeared in an era when doodles began to get more ambitious, and it's one of the doodlers' best interpretations of a specific painter.
Aug. 13, 2003 Early doodles of famous folk tended to be simple, like this silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock.
March 14, 2003 The early doodles were often simple but playful, like this mustachioed drawing of Albert Einstein to celebrate his birthday.
Nov. 14, 2001 Google's first doodler, Dennis Hwang, gave the logo an Impressionist look for Claude Monet's birthday.
Aug. 30, 1998 When employees left for the Burning Man festival, the Google logo became a cryptic BE BACK LATER sign. "There was no master plan for doodles at that point," says doodler-in-chief Ryan Germick.
Aug. 26, 2015 For the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina.
Google
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