Jean-Antoine Nolle, French physicist, 19th Century illustrat

Jean-Antoine Nolle, French physicist, 19th Century illustrat

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Credit: COLLECTION ABECASIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Jean-Antoine Nolle (1700-1770). 1874 illustration of the French clergyman and physicist Jean-Antoine Nollet (Abbe Nollet) teaching experimental physics. Jean-Antoine Nollet was primarily interested in the new science of electricity. He joined the Royal Society of London in 1734 and later became the first professor of experimental physics at the University of Paris. In 1746 he gathered about two hundred monks into a circle about a mile in circumference, with pieces of iron wire connecting them. He then discharged a battery of Leyden jars through the human chain and observed that each man reacted at substantially the same time to the electric shock, showing that the speed of electricity's propagation was very high. In 1748 he discovered the phenomenon of osmosis in natural membranes.

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