05/16/2012 07:45 am ET Updated May 16, 2012

Mad Science: Giovanni Aldini, Corpse Reanimator (VIDEO)

Giovanni Aldini may not be a household name, but his contributions to science cannot be ignored. Neither can his macabre demonstrations of the power of electricity on the human body. Aldini was a real-life "mad scientist," and it's rumored that Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" was based on his life.

Aldini is most (in)famous for his contributions to electrophysiology, or the study of electrical properties of body cells and tissues. He learned about what he called "animal electricity" or galvanism by jolting the dead bodies of humans and animals in an attempt to excite their remaining "life forces." In his own words, Aldini's goal was to "convey an energetic fluid to the seat of all sensations; distribute its force throughout the different parts of the nervous and muscular systems; produce, reanimate and, so to speak, control the vital forces: this is the object of my research, this is the advantage that I intend to collect from the theory of galvanism."

Although Aldini's public displays of corpse reanimation earned him a seat at the mad scientists' table, without his contributions, we may not have medical treatments like electroconvulsive therapy or deep brain stimulation today.

To learn more about Giovanni Aldini, "the corpse reanimator," watch the video above or read the transcript below. And don't forget to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Talk Nerdy To Me!


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