Learn about some of Italy’s most renowned chemists and how they inspired a most gruesome quest to conquer death.
Featured above: A galvanized corpse. But not just any galvanized corpse. See the show notes to learn what everyone is talking about.
In Fairness to Zinc: Listener Leynia wrote to correctly point out that the science around supplemental zinc for the common cold isn’t quite as conclusive as I made it sound in the episode. There certainly are a lot of studies that say zinc is no better than a placebo, but there are also studies that suggest that a little extra zinc might shorten the symptoms of a cold by about a day. And then there are many studies — perhaps most of them — that say the results are inconclusive, and can’t really declare one way or the other.1
At any rate, it probably won’t hurt to take a zinc tablet if you’ve got the sniffles. (At least, as long as you avoid the nasal and throat sprays. Those really can obliterate your sense of smell or taste.) Even if it doesn’t actually do a thing, it might still help treat your cold! (Please note that COVID-19 is an entirely separate matter of inconclusivity.)
Thank you to Leynia for the extra context, and reminding me to write the most factually accurate scripts that I can!
Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit: The featured image at the top of this post is actually a political cartoon. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons, I can share the entertaining (if long-winded) translation of what all is happening there:
Rising of a corpse galvanized by a primitive galvanic battery. A pedestrian throws his arms in the air because of shock, saying: ‘Had I not been born insensible to fear, now should I be most horribly afraid. Hence! horrible shadow! unreal mockery. Hence! And yet it stays: can it be real. How it grows! How malignity and venom are “blended in cadaverous union” in its countenance! It must surely be a “galvanized corpse.” But what do I feel? The thing begins to draw me . . . I can’t withstand it. I shall hug it! . . . ‘ Two demons in the left down corner discussing. First demon: “There! We’ve lost him, after all! See! they are bringing him to life again!” Second demon: (holding a copy of Blair’s newspaper, the “Globe)”: “Lose him! ha ha! . . . Rest you easy on that score. But can’t you see that it’s all for our gain that he should be galvanized into activity again? Where have we his equal on earth? especially since dear Amos [Kendall], poor fellow, has got his hands so full, at the Post Office, that he can’t write for us as he used to. Show me another man that can lie like him. They talk of Croswell [influential editor of the “Albany Argus” and Van Buren ally Edwin Croswell] but Harry is nothing to him. I doubt if I can beat him myself. Lose him! a good joke that!”
Incidentally, we don’t galvanize corpses anymore, but we’ve repurposed the word. “Galvanizing” now refers to coating a metal, usually iron or steel, with zinc to protect it from corrosion. It’s kind of nice that we get to keep a little linguistic nod to both the Galvanis, without the subject involving cadavers.
Thank Goodness For Spellcheck: I mentioned that Paracelsus gave zinc its name from a German word for “sharp.” It’s also a word that has a rather sharp sound, making zinc one of the few elements with an onomatopoetic name.
Hate To See What He Did To His Enemies: Just as a reminder, Benjamin Franklin was enamored with the turkey, which he called “a much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle, an animal he judged as having “bad moral character.” But I suppose being an upstanding citizen won’t save you from the electric chair if your meat is so tender and delicious.2
Incidentally, Franklin didn’t actually want the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. He thought it was pretty great, and that the bald eagle was pretty lousy, but stopped just short of that suggestion.
It’s Not For Your Car: Incidentally, the “electrical jack” that Franklin mentions was an invention of his that spun meat on a spit over the fire. The dude basically invented the Costco rotisserie chicken.
Franklin Potpourri: He did fly the kite, but didn’t actually get electrocuted. That would have killed him, probably. But his guests did get electrocuted while playing a party game he called “Treason.” Players would try to remove a metal crown from a portrait of King George, but if they touched the frame while doing so, they’d receive an electrical shock. “If a ring of players take the shock among them,” he said, “the experiment is called The Conspirators.”
Hey, Franklin Liked France: If you happen to live closer to Paris, France than Parris Island, try looking up. Many of that city’s rooftops are clad in zinc, and are so beloved that the city is trying to get them designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Aldini Shock Therapy” Is My New Band Name: Giovanni Aldini might have been more of an entertainer than his aunt and uncle, but he wasn’t a charlatan. Aldini was also one of the first people to administer a form of electroshock therapy to melancholic patients. (Benjamin Franklin — of course — is among the few who might have beaten him to the punch.) It even worked sometimes, but with difficulty:
Aldini also applied this primitive form of electroconvulsive therapy to some of the patients at la Salpêtrière, but with limited success. The major problem was that these patients were often agitated and displayed great terror in face of Aldini’s unusual apparatus. Furthermore, most of them had their arms tied up so that they could not place their hands on the bottom of the voltaic pile. Nevertheless, Aldini was able to circumvent some of these limitations by applying the two ends of the electric arc on the ears, or even on the earrings of female patients.”
Electroshock therapy continues to have a rather terrifying reputation (who else remembers this cinema classic from their childhood?), but it actually can be very effective for some mental health issues in patients who don’t respond to drugs.
The Year Without A Summer: 1816 was famously called “The Year Without A Summer,” because a massive volcano darkened the skies around the globe and lowered global temperatures. A similar event would inspire Edvard Munch’s The Scream in 1893.
It Looks Like A Message: Confederate monuments are especially conspicuous where they exist in northern states, but the one that stood in Baltimore until recently is especially interesting. Maryland was a slave state for most of the Civil War, but it was technically a member of the Union the entire time. The state was represented by a star on the Confederate flag, but of the 85,000 Maryland residents who enlisted, three-quarters of them joined the Union side. And Baltimore’s monument to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee wasn’t erected until 1948 — three years after World War II, during a period of time when white vigilantes blinded, castrated, or killed 56 black Americans across the South. Many of them were WWII veterans.
The quality of these mass-produced zinc statues is especially evident in how easily this one was torn down, and the way it immediately crumples upon falling:
While we’re on the subject, the national flag of the CSA was not the one that can be found flying in many parts of the United States today. That’s a whole other contentious issue, and I unfortunately don’t have enough time to do it justice here in the show notes of this chemistry podcast. But one thing I’ll just drop right here that I never learned about in school is the Cornerstone Speech, which was given by Alexander Stephens in 1861. It’s short, and should be read in full, but this bit is especially relevant:
[The U.S. Constitution] rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.” Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
Even when he had his arm twisted into walking the speech back, he remained firm on this point: “Slavery was without doubt the occasion of secession.”
Save Your Money: In addition to those zinc cold remedies, there’s little-to-no evidence that any of the other ones work, either. Echinacea, vitamin C, anything that “clears toxins,” none of them have any effect beyond placebo — although that can admittedly be effective, even if you know you’re taking a fake pill. What does have at least a little benefit, however, is chicken soup. (The exact one tested was handed down by a Lithuanian grandmother.)
Hello, listener. Just a heads-up that today’s episode spends a fair bit of time on the subject of anatomy and animal experimentation. It can get a little gory at times, especially around the XX minute mark. It’s all in the name of education, and part of one incredible story, but if that’s something you’d rather avoid, I don’t blame you.
Primo Levi was a Jewish Italian chemist who lived from 1919 to 1987. He was quite famous, but not because he made any great discoveries, nor did he win a Nobel Prize. Rather, he rose to prominence as a gifted teacher who could explain scientific topics simply and beautifully. He was one of science’s most important ambassadors to the general public, and I’m not the only person saying so. In 2006, the Royal Institution of Great Britain declared his book The Periodic Table as the best science book ever written.
Each of that book’s 21 chapters is named after an element on the periodic table, and involves it in some narrative way. In the third chapter, Zinc, Levi recounts some experiments he ran as a university student, and candidly reveals his rather blase attitude toward the element.
“Zinc,” he wrote. “They make tubs out of it for laundry, it is gray and its salts are colorless, it is not toxic, nor does it produce striking chromatic reactions; in short it is a boring metal.”3
Well, I am certainly no one to argue with a chemist like Primo Levi. But nonetheless, let’s double-check, just to see if maybe there’s anything he overlooked.
You’re listening to The Episodic Table Of Elements, and I’m T. R. Appleton. Each episode, we take a look at the fascinating true stories behind one element on the periodic table.
Today, we’re sparking interest in zinc.
In the classical era, civilizations of the world knew of seven metals: Iron, copper, silver, tin, gold, mercury, and lead. There were alloys, too, like bronze, brass, and steel. But that was it.
In time, we came to learn that there are dozens of naturally occurring metals. Many of the stories on this podcast explore the earliest studies of them, often taking place during the “Chemical Revolution” of the 18th century.
But zinc doesn’t neatly fit in either of these historical periods. It’s certainly not exclusive to the modern era — humanity has been putting zinc to good use for thousands of years. The thing is, we didn’t know it. Ancient humans would mine veins of copper that were coincidentally rich in zinc, using the mixture to create brass artifacts. But they never isolated elemental zinc from that alloy, because it would easily oxidize or even vaporize, leaving little evidence of itself behind.
Occupying the blurry border between antiquity and modernity, zinc is already in rare company. That’s made even rarer by the fact that zinc is one of the few chemical elements to first be isolated outside of Europe.
Indian metallurgists began producing zinc bars on an industrial scale in the 13th century, where it was used to manufacture calamine lotion and high-quality brass. This knowledge next spread to China, then made its way to Europe around the 16th century. Our old friend Paracelsus was the first person to dub the material “zinc,” based on a German word meaning “sharp” due to the jagged nature of its crystals.4
It was a remarkable material — the eighth metal! — but it remained difficult to isolate, and there weren’t many good reasons to do so. It wasn’t particularly strong, or beautiful, or light. So for quite some time, zinc was little more than a curiosity. It wouldn’t really find a niche of its own until the discovery of an entirely new kind of chemistry.
Luigi and Lucia Galvani deserve to be known as one of the great husband-and-wife teams — like Beyonce and Jay-Z, but for science. In Italy. In the 18th century.
He was the devout, hardworking son of a goldsmith and his fourth wife. She was the whip-smart daughter of one of Luigi’s favorite professors. And together, they were content to study the mysterious workings of ornithological anatomy; that is, bird bodies. They spent years studying the biology of our feathered friends, happily discovering new body parts and comparing them to similar ones in mammals. They might have blissfully continued this esoteric work for the rest of their days, but in 1772, the rug was pulled out from underneath.
A colleague had sat in on a handful lectures where Luigi discussed cutting-edge research, and then he performed that most cardinal of academic sins: He passed off that research as his own, and he published first.
The Galvanis took no retaliatory measures, but they seem to have soured on that particular subject following this violation. They left their prior specialty to the vultures, and moved on to bluer skies.5
One of the most exciting scientific pursuits at the time was the study of electricity. We had known about electricity for ages, of course, as a natural phenomenon — lightning. But a century before the Galvanis, curious minds had discovered how to capture electrical energy with a device called a Leyden Jar.
A Leyden Jar is little more than a glass insulator separating two metallic surfaces holding opposite electrical charges. When assembled properly, the jar is able to store — and release — a surprisingly potent charge of static electricity.
That was pretty neat, but at the time, it was a solution without a problem. That meant, for a while, electricity was mainly good for one thing: Parlor tricks.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the first people to actually take a look at electricity as something worth rigorous investigation. Don’t get me wrong, though — he absolutely loved the parlor tricks, too.6
For instance: One holiday season, he entertained his guests by providing a dinner with a decidedly electrical theme. As he described,
A turkey is to be killed for our dinner by electrical shock, and roasted by the electrical jack, before a fire kindled by the electrified bottle; when the healths of all the famous electricians in England, Holland, France, and Germany are to be drank in electrified [glasses].”7
But, as I mentioned, Franklin did more serious work with electricity. He famously flew that kite in a thunderstorm, and he coined the word “battery” to mean a cell that stores electrical energy.8 He took his cue there from a battery of artillery, as in, a number of individual units that come together to work as a cohesive whole. (In turn, the artillery battery was named as such because of its ability to “batter” fortified city walls.)9
That was pretty much the state of the electrical arts when Luigi and Lucia entered the scene. Inspired by Franklin and other researchers, they embarked upon some intense experimentation.
The most notable of these was kind of the reverse of Franklin’s electrical foray into the culinary arts: The Galvanis were going to start with a dead animal, and see if they could imbue it with some essence of life.
The setup was simple. With a charged Leyden jar and a few wires, the Galvanis and their assistants discovered that a spark of electricity could cause a lifeless frog’s legs to twitch, even if the wires were a short distance away from the legs.10
Further experimentation uncovered greater surprises. By attaching an iron wire to the nerve, and a bronze wire to the muscle, then touching the wires together, the leg would spasm, just like when it had been connected to a Leyden Jar.
But that’s what made this so odd: There was no Leyden Jar in this circuit. There was no external power source whatsoever, not so much as a lightning rod. Just the frog and the wires.
Luigi concluded that the electricity was coming from within the frog itself. He dubbed the phenomenon “animal electricity,” and proposed that this was how creatures moved their bodies.
The idea caused even more of a stir than he expected. The question of how muscles move had been a mystery for thousands of years. It wasn’t uncommon, even in the Galvanis’ time, for scientists to believe that muscles were powered by some kind of lung-powered pneumatics or bloody hydraulics. Animal electricity was the most promising and exciting theory yet put forth.11
But not everybody was entirely convinced. Alessandro Volta was a friend and colleague of the Galvanis who was just as swept up in the excitement as everybody else… at first. But something about the experiment didn’t sit quite right for him. So Volta did what any responsible scientist would do and tried to replicate the results.
He realized that the Galvanis had overlooked something crucial: The frog wasn’t the only material present in that experiment. There were also the two wires, iron and bronze. So he set up the experiment in the same way, but replaced the frog with a sheet of paper soaked in salt water. Good enough to conduct electricity, but certainly not a source of animal electricity. Sure enough, the frogless circuit achieved the same results. 12
It’s an important detail that the wires were made of two different metals. Every metal possesses a certain amount of ability to attract electrons, called its electrode potential, and that amount is different for every metal. If two dissimilar metals — like, say, iron and brass — come in contact with each other to close a circuit, the difference in their electrode potentials generates an electrical current. In the Galvanis’ experiment, the frog’s legs were merely conducting the electricity generated by the metal rods. Volta had taken the wind out of the Galvanis’ sails.13
Now, a lot of history textbooks portray Luigi Galvani as some kind of blithering imbecile who extolled some foolish idea, and Alessandro Volta as the principled, level-headed man who brought reason back to the discourse. But it’s worth pointing out that, while the Galvanis didn’t understand all the ins and outs of electricity, they were on the right track. Volta might have pinned them on a technicality, but in the most basic sense, they were correct: When they’re alive, animals do control their muscles using biologically generated electrical energy. So it goes.
But Volta deserves his own renown, because he did far more than nitpick the work of his friends. It was this discovery about dissimilar metals, in fact, that would lead to his magnum opus.
He kept thinking about that circuit he’d set up to disprove animal electricity — the one with the wet paper instead of a frog. By continuing to add layers of zinc, paper, and copper, he could generate an electrical charge that was not only massive, but continuous. That was in stark contrast to the instantaneous discharge provided by the Leyden Jar, like the difference between a camper’s flashlight and a camera’s flashbulb.
Volta had created the world’s first electrochemical battery, opening up endless new possibilities for those scientists studying electricity — including one very good friend of ours, Humphry Davy, who couldn’t have injured himself in all those creative ways if it weren’t for the “voltaic pile” that powered his experiments in electrolysis.14
By this point, Luigi and Lucia Galvani had both died, but their nephew, Giovanni Aldini, was happy to take on the family mantle, incorporating Volta’s contribution, as well.
He, however, was not about to be satisfied with a subject as mundane as frog legs. For his trials, Aldini turned toward larger creatures, including the bodies and severed heads of oxen, sheep, and dogs. Using the powerful voltaic pile, Aldini animated these body parts in grotesque ways, causing tongues to loll, teeth to clack, and at least one “very strong action on the rectum, which even produced an expulsion of the feces.” The pretense of scientific inquiry was slightly undercut by his theatrical presentation of these endeavors for audiences all over Europe.
But the crowd is a fickle creature, and in time will tire of nearly anything. Aldini needed to up the stakes.
Fortunately for him, at the time it was not terribly difficult to acquire human bodies. Laws like England’s Murder Act of 1751 allowed the corpses of executed criminals to be freely passed to anatomists and others who could provide a good reason to study such a thing. London was an especially appealing place for Aldini to put on a show, because while Italy and France were beheading their prisoners, the English justice system could provide him with a fully intact cadaver fresh from the hangman’s noose.
By all accounts, the highlight of Aldini’s career as postmortem puppeteer was his reanimation of the murderer George Forster in 1803. Like any good showman, he started things off with a known crowd-pleaser. As he wrote,
Galvanism was communicated by three troughs combined together, each of which contained forty plates of zinc, and as many of copper. On the first application of the arcs the jaw began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and the left eye actually opened.”
He proceeded to conduct twenty-four more such experiments over the following eight hours, each more lurid than the last. He was disappointed by the device’s failure to restart Forster’s fully exposed heart, but he left quite an impression on the crowd by eliciting a jerky, full-body dance in which the corpse raised its clenched fist in the air.15
It was sensational, in every sense, and highly influential. Men with fewer scruples than Aldini pushed the limits of galvanism and good taste. A Scottish chemist named Andrew Ure believed electricity could not merely reanimate the dead, but resurrect them — and he occasionally managed to convince his audiences of the same thing.
German Karl Weinhold didn’t work on human subjects, which sounds like an improvement until you learn that he preferred to operate on three-week old kittens. In one particularly grisly instance, he scooped out the brain and spinal column, replacing them with voltaic batteries made of silver and zinc. What happened next depends on who you ask.16 To hear him tell it,
For almost 20 minutes, the animal got into such a life-tension that it raised its head, opened its eyes, … finally got up with obvious effort, hopped around, and then sank down exhausted. The heartbeat and pulse … were quite active during these observations. Also, body temperature was fully restored.”17
My apologies for the voice, but it’s in the name of historical accuracy. His was notably high-pitched and grating, which, along with his limbs that appeared too long and head that appeared too small, gave him a highly unsettling presence.18 That’s nothing he should be ridiculed for, but, to use the language of our time, it’s very “on-brand.”
Incidentally, nobody else was willing to corroborate the results of his kitten experiment.
But the one doctor who was most famously inspired by these adventures in galvanism was one who never actually existed.19
During the uniquely cold and dark summer of 1816, several young, wealthy merrymakers threw a weeks-long bender on the shores of Lake Geneva, fueled by wine, laudanum, and free love. Kept indoors by dark and stormy weather, and presumably needing a break from the aforementioned debauchery, one of them proposed a contest to see who could write the most frightening ghost story.
This group included some highly talented and established authors, and they did not disappoint. They told tales of vampires lurking among high society, and skull-headed ladies spying through keyholes. But it was the youngest member of the group, only sixteen years old, who had clearly won the game.
Like Dmitri Mendeleev, she too was inspired by a head full of contemporary science and a vision in a dream.
I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”20
Two years later, the short story that began life as a party game would be published as Mary Shelley’s debut novel: Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. It is widely considered to be the world’s first work of science fiction. In the book, Dr. Victor Frankenstein succeeds where Andrew Ure and Karl Weinhold could not, restoring vitality to a lifeless body and keeping the name of Mary Shelley alive for centuries.
Artistic immortality remains the closest thing to life after death awaiting anyone in 2019. And while texts can be burned and songs forgotten, some of the most enduring artifacts are in the medium of sculpture.
Bronze sculptures, which often contain zinc, enjoy several advantages over those made of stone and clay. For one, the metal’s ductility ensures that the statue will never be at risk of crumbling, unlike Michelangelo’s marble statue of the mighty David. Bronze can also be cast, allowing for reproduction on a scale that would otherwise be impossible.
There is one notable disadvantage, however. When a sculpture is made of the same material as the army’s shields and spears, empires have frequently valued the latter over the former. More than one honored general has had his bronze memorial melted down to serve on the battlefield again.
By the 19th century, pure zinc became a valued sculpture material in its own right — namely, because it was cheap. Zinc has a much lower melting point than bronze and cast iron, and it’s also much easier to solder together or stamp into sheets. These properties were perfectly suited for art in the age of mechanical reproduction, and several American companies capitalized on them.21
Many foundries discovered that cheap zinc statuary sold better if they referred to it as “white bronze.”22 They sold memorials for cemeteries, and ornaments for shops, but they were best known for one specialty above all else: Monuments to soldiers who fought in the American Civil War.23
Almost all of these “white bronze” foundries were established in northern states like Connecticut, but they did not discriminate between buyers in the North and South. One soldier commonly known as the “Silent Sentinel” sold particularly well. At least 86 copies of the statue were erected all across the United States. In states that fought for the Union, the anonymous soldier wears a belt buckle that reads “US.” The statue is entirely unchanged where it exists In North Carolina and other Southern states, but with a belt buckle that reads “CS.”24 25
Monuments to the Confederacy have been the subject of increased attention in recent years. Over 1,700 of them exist across the United States, not only in the south, but in states as far north as Iowa and Maine. Even Montana and Washington, states that weren’t admitted to the union until decades after the Civil War, display monuments to Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.26
Fascinatingly, the vast majority of these memorials were not dedicated in the aftermath of the Civil War. The biggest year for Confederate monuments was 1911, with another construction boom in the 1960s — periods in American history known for Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement, respectively.
In 2017, University of Chicago Associate Professor of History Jane Dailey explained to NPR that this timing was not a coincidence. “Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past,” she said, “but were rather erecting them toward a white supremacist future.”27
Many American communities have decided they no longer wish to pay homage to those soldiers and the values they stood for, and have started removing those memorials — either with official approval, as in Baltimore, Maryland, or as an act of protest, like in Durham, North Carolina. Unaware that the statues were mass produced for the lowest possible cost, those people are often surprised that something appearing so timeless and sturdy can be brought down so very easily.28
All of that is a very roundabout way of saying that, depending on where you live and how your neighbors feel, you might be able to supplement your element collection with a bit of local history. But if that’s not an option, you still have many options available to you. Zinc is everywhere in modern life.
The drugstore is particularly fertile ground. Makeup, sunblock, and dandruff shampoo often rely on zinc to perform their jobs. A few aisles over, you can usually find pills, gels, and sprays for sale that claim to alleviate symptoms of the flu and cold, with zinc as their active ingredient. These products are a good source of zinc! Trouble is, there’s no evidence that they do anything to make a cold go away. In fact, in 2009, those products were recalled for possibly affecting users’ sense of smell.29 So if you’re looking for a placebo with fewer side effects, maybe stick with vitamin C.30
If you spend much time on the water, you may be familiar with little buttons of zinc that are meant to be attached to the hulls of boats. These little widgets protect the boat’s metal hull from corrosion because of some of the same chemistry that was happening in Volta’s electrochemical pile. Until it’s completely worn away, the zinc button will protect the hull by corroding first. Because the button is ruined instead of the boat, it’s called a “sacrificial anode.”
That’s actually one of zinc’s most important uses today, and it’s a pretty modest role. The sacrificial anode doesn’t need to be connected to a battery, or any outside power source. It lasts for a pretty long time, and it does its job simply by remaining stuck in place and slowly degrading over time.
I suppose, then, in that one case, you could understandably say that zinc is a boring metal.
Thanks for listening to The Episodic Table of Elements. Music is by Kai Engel. To learn what happened when Giovanni Aldini shocked living patients, and to see which cold remedy actually works, visit episodic table dot com slash Z n.
Next time, we’ll cross the Alps to study gallium.
Until then, this is T. R. Appleton, reminding you that actually, Frankenstein was the name of the doctor. The monster is anyone who tries to win a conversation by pointing this out.
- A discussion on the merits of meta-analyses vs. individual studies is best saved for another day.
- History.com, Did Benjamin Franklin Propose The Turkey As The National Symbol? Christopher Klein, November 21, 2016.
- The Periodic Table, p. 36. Primo Levi, 1975; English translation 1984.
- Discovering The Eighth Metal: A History Of Zinc. Fathi Habashi. (PDF)
- Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 46, No. 5, Medicine And Science In The Life Of Luigi Galvani (1737 – 1798). Marco Bresadola, 1998. (PDF)
- American Physical Society News, Ben Franklin Attempts To Electrocute A Turkey. Ernie Tretkoff, December 2006.
- The New York Public Library, Ben Franklin On Cooking… With Electricity. Meredith Mann, November 24, 2014.
- The Life Of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 3: Soldier, Scientist, and Politician, 1748 – 1757, p. 77. J. A. Leo Lemay, 2009.
- Etymonline, Battery.
- Helix, The Experiment That Shocked The World. Andrew Lai, August 2, 2017.
- The French National Centre For Scientific Research, Galvani And “Animal Electricity”. Christine Blondel and Bertrand Wolff, translated by Andrew Butrica, March 2007.
- Physics, p. 47. Neville G. Warren, 2000.
- APS News, March 20, 1800: Volta Describes The Electric Battery. March 2006.
- MIT Libraries, The Voltaic Pile.
- The Guardian, Sparks Of Life. Mark Pilkington, October 6, 2004.
- Origins Of Neuroscience: A History Of Explorations Into Brain Function, p. 434. Stanley Finger, 1994.
- Minds Behind The Brain: A History Of The Pioneers And Their Discoveries, p. 115. Stanley Finger, 2000.
- A History Of The Brain: From Stone Age Surgery To Modern Neuroscience, p. 123. Andrew P. Wickens, 2015.
- Atlas Obscura, The Real Electric Frankenstein Experiments Of The 1800s. Lauren Young, October 31, 2016.
- Introduction to the 1831 Revised Edition of Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus.
- The Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, Zinc Sculpture.
- Atlas Obscura, Those Mass-Produced Civil War Monuments Were Meant To Stand Forever. Cara Giaimo, August 25, 2017.
- Hyperallergic, The North’s Role In Supplying The South With Confederate Monuments. Lola Arellano-Fryer, June 15, 2017.
- New Haven Register, Connecticut Was Home To Leading Manufacturer Of Civil War Monuments. The Associated Press, April 18, 2015.
- The Washington Post, Why Those Confederate Soldier Statues Look A Lot Like Their Union Counterparts. Marc Fisher, August 18, 2017.
- Southern Poverty Law Center, Whose Heritage? A Report On Public Symbols Of The Confederacy
- NPR, Confederate Statues Were Built To Further A ‘White Supremacist Future’. Miles Parks, August 20, 2017.
- Quartz, “You Can’t Change History”: Read Donald Trump’s Defense Of Confederate Statues. Marc Bain, August 15, 2017. (The title in the URL is actually more pertinent to the story: “Statues Of Confederate Soldiers Were Cheaply Mass-Produced In The North.”
- RN.com, Zicam Alert: FDA Recalls Popular Cold Remedy.
- The Outline, Quick-Fix Cold And Flu Remedies Do Nothing But Make You Poorer. Angela Lashbrook, January 25, 2019.