By Patricia Fara

An leisure for Angels, instead of for males, one observer referred to as electrical energy, and it proved to be the main major clinical discovery of the Enlightenment. academics attracted large audiences who marveled at gleaming fountains, flaming beverages, pirouetting dancers, and electrified boys. Flamboyant experimenters made chains of infantrymen jump into the air, whereas prosperous girls titillated their admirers with a sensational electrical kiss. Optimists envisioned that this unusual energy of nature might medication health problems, increase crop creation, even deliver the useless again to existence. An leisure for Angels tells the tale of the way electrical energy charged the eighteenth-century mind's eye. With modern illustrations and interesting prose, Patricia Fara vividly portrays the struggles to appreciate the weird and interesting results experiments have been generating. one of many heroes of the tale is Benjamin Franklin, popular on each side of the Atlantic as knowledgeable on electrical energy, who brought lightning rods to guard tall structures, pioneered recommendations to regard paralyzed sufferers, and constructed some of the most winning causes of this mysterious phenomenon. Others comprise Luigi Galvani, whose electric study on frogs and animals makes for grisly examining yet resulted in the invention of direct present electrical energy; and Alessandro Volta, who -- with Napoleon's enthusiastic aid -- turned certainly one of Europe's top clinical practitioners and invented the world's first battery.

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Still more surprisingly, she is a woman! Women in France were far more able to participate in intellectual activities than in England, where men clubbed together 54 exclusively in their learned societies, coffee houses and masonic lodges. But in Paris, influential women headed salons attended by men as well as women, and although far more cloistered than now, were relatively free to engage in academic debates. Paradoxically, they were to lose this enlightened liberty after the Revolution, when it became fashionable for women to adopt a strong maternal role.

Through publishing the Philosophical Transactions, the Royal Society hoped not only to solicit reports of exciting discoveries, but also to enlighten less privileged readers such as Gray, who first learnt about Hauksbee’s inventions from a borrowed copy of the Society’s journal. Gray (1666–1736) belonged to a well-established family of tradesmen, and like many other provincial artisans, believed that acquiring knowledge would go hand in hand with gaining wealth and social status. Based in Canterbury, Gray found it hard to stimulate metropolitan interest in his electrical suggestions.

For example, a ringing bell gradually becomes silent as the air is withdrawn, demonstrating that sound cannot travel through a vacuum. Boyle (1627–91) was a wealthy Irish aristocrat with sufficient money and time to perform a huge variety of experiments. Most famous now for his law describing the behaviour of gases, he was admired by his contemporaries for his religious observance, his new ideas about chemistry, and his air-pump. He first started working on air-pumps in Oxford, where he 30 Illustration 3: Robert Boyle’s first air-pump.

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