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November-December 2009

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"The Legacy of Volta: from the Battery to Photovoltaic Electricity"

Planetarium Science Center – Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Alexandria 21526, Egypt
November-December, 2009

The Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) gave fundamental contributions in various areas of natural science, among which electricity figured prominently.

Key terms of present-day electrical science, for instance “voltage” and “photovoltaic”, recall Volta’s name and acknowledge thus the seminal importance of his achievements. The “voltaic” battery he invented in 1799 boosted science by opening the new unexpected domains of electrochemistry and electromagnetism.

The exhibition tries to give an idea of the rich electrical legacy Volta left to the world and of the way it produced fruit in subsequent science, including the recent applications of the “Volta effect” in devices such as photovoltaic cells and LEDs, of increasing importance for, respectively, the renewable production and the saving of energy.

Some of Volta’s original instruments and other nineteenth-century originals, all coming from the historical collections of the University of Pavia, where Volta taught for many years, are the first actors in the historical picture proposed to the visitor.

Additional modern objects, lent by the Physics Department of the University of Pavia, illustrate some of the recent useful applications of the “Volta effect”.

Modern hands-on exhibits, made available by the Planetarium Science Centre of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and multimedia animations, produced by the History and Education Science Group of the University of Pavia enable the visitor to restage various of the historical steps illustrated in the exhibition.

A special section, prepared by the Istituto Lombardo based in Milan, highlights the long role the Institute has played over time in gathering a large voltaic corpus, which includes his original manuscripts it now owns. Volta’s activity in the Institute’s historical ancestor, a national Italian institute established by Napoleon, is also considered.

































Sistema Museale Logo Sito Web a cura del Sistema Museale di Ateneo | credits | mariacarla.garbarino (at)

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