Sis and Science

April 5, 2005

This has been a big science week for me. I've been regaling my class with stories of electrical pioneers Luigi Galvani and Count Alessandro Volta; the two men who reportedly share the distinction of inventing the battery through countless tests sparked (pun intended) by a mysteriously animated amputated frog leg. No joke.

To coincide with these stories of 18th century science we've been attempting to generate electrical energy out of pennies, dimes, and an assortment of acidic juices. The amount of power you can actually obtain from three lemons is remarkable, although many tests to date have yielded inconsistent results with our citrusy voltaic piles.

I was pleased to see that this image from 2005 closely corresponds with the scientific inquiry theme of the past week. This photograph is something of an injustice to author and illustrator Peter Sis' remarkable book about Charles Darwin entitled The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin. It is one of the most achingly lovely children's books I've encountered in some time and I often checked it out from the library in California to fuel my daydreams of becoming an illustrator. Naturally, the Photo Phazer couldn't do it justice so if you're truly interested in seeing all of Sis' skill it's time to head to the local library.

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