Frankenstein and the noodles | Science

Frankenstein and the noodles | Science


There was once a gentleman's club in Birminghan that met when the almanac announced full moon. In this way, each of its members could make the trip back through the roads illuminated by the light of the moon.

Due to this circumstance they called themselves the Lunar Society and among its founders stood out Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), grandfather of Charles Darwin and most curious man for being the son of his time, that is, the Enlightenment and the social sense of the science carried out by the Industrial Revolution.

Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin

Physician, naturalist, physiologist and poet, Erasmus Darwin wrote scientific treatises that had a great impact, as Mary W. Shelley shows us in the preface to his work Frankenstein, where the writer tells us the reason that gave rise to his story. Frankenstein's story came out of a casual conversation, between Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley – Mary W. Shelley's wife – where she, in her own words, attended as a "fervent and almost silent listener" and where she talked about the experiments of the Dr. Darwin "who had a noodle in a glass box until by some means he began to move due to a voluntary impulse".

The noodle to which Mary W. Shelley alludes in the preface to her work, is not a noodle but a microorganism called vorticella and that Shelley confused with pastaermicelli, which in Italian means something like "little worms". The vorticella or animal of the wheel, is in the rainwater and according to Erasmus Darwin could revive in a watery environment after having spent time in absolute dryness. When taken back to the water – and in less than half an hour – the microorganism assumes the shape of a living worm.

Such confusion of Mary W. Shelley would lead Mel Brooks to introduce the sharpness of a dialogue in his film The young Frankenstein, referring to the misunderstanding when a student asks Dr. Frederick Frankenstein – interpreted by Gene Wilder – if it is true that Darwin preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, to which the doctor replies "Are you talking about the worm or the spaghetti? "

Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley

Continuing with the preface and after hinting at the noodle, Mary W. Shelley also mentions galvanism as inspiration for his work for being the theory of the Italian doctor Luigi Galvani-contemporary of Erasmus Darwin- the one that explains that a corpse can be reanimated from the electricity. According to Galvani, electricity stimulated the muscles by the existence of animal electricity. To do this, Galvani experimented with a dead frog, applying electrical current to the spinal cord of the corpse, the frog arriving to jump as if it were alive.

Without going any further, the Italian physicist and nephew of Galvani, named Giovanni Aldini, would travel through Europe performing street shows. His most famous show took place on January 17, 1803 in London, at the Royal College of Surgeons dOn the body of George Forster, hanged for the murder of his wife and son, he was "resurrected" for a few moments when Aldini applied, in the mouth and ear of the corpse, the poles of a battery with plates of copper and zinc. It was then that Forster's jaw began to chatter and one of the eyes opened.

Aldini's experiments would be inspired by the Scottish doctor Andrew Ure who, in 1818, made his demonstration in Glasgow with a corpse to which he applied electric current on his forehead and heel, until grimaces appeared on the face of the dead man, Incidentally, they caused fear among the attendees. All in all, those movements did not stop being involuntary impulses.

Galvanism was very popular in the early nineteenth century, when the couple formed by Percy Bysshe and Mary W. Shelley came to visit Switzerland to join Lord Byron and Polidori during a summer, in 1816, which turned rainy. Obliged by the recollection, they began to invent horror stories. The most successful story, without a doubt, was the one created by Mary w. Shelley, giving rise to one of the most universal fantasy stories in literature and where Shelley combines fantasy and science in equal parts.

The stone ax it is a section where Montero Glez, with a will to prose, exercises his particular siege on scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.

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