April 10, 1762|
|Died||January 17, 1834(aged 71)|
Giovanni Aldini (April 10, 1762 – January 17, 1834), Italian physicist born at Bologna, was a brother of the statesman Count Antonio Aldini (1756–1826) and nephew of Luigi Galvani, whose treaties on muscular electricity he edited with notes in 1791.
He became professor of physics at Bologna in 1798, in succession to his teacher Sebastiano Canterzani (1734–1819). His scientific work was chiefly concerned with galvanism, anatomy and its medical applications, with the construction and illumination of lighthouses, and with experiments for preserving human life and material objects from destruction by fire. He wrote in French and English in addition to his native Italian. In recognition of his merits, the emperor of Austria made him a knight of the Iron Crown and a councillor of state at Milan, where he died. He bequeathed a considerable sum to found a school of natural science for artisans at Bologna.
Shelley's Frankenstein association
Many writers and historians recently have stated Aldini was an inspiration for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein due to his many public experimentations of bio-electric Galvanism. Aldini's most famous public demonstration of the electro-stimulation technique of deceased limbs was performed on the executed criminal George Forster at Newgate in London in 1803.
The most famous of these assertions is by the History Channel in their "True Horror" series (produced by Hardy Pictures in 2009) which states Aldini specifically as one of the sources for Mary Shelley's novel.
While it is true that Aldini did do these attempts at human reanimation during the same time of Shelley's writings, and Forster execution was a sensational notice in the public venue, there is no specific reference that Shelley did actually adapt Aldini into her works despite obviously being aware of Aldini's experiments which were done in public at the Royal College of Physicians in 1803.
- Sparks of Life article about Aldini's experiments on an executed criminal
- A. Parent, Giovanni Aldini: from animal electricity to human brain stimulation., Can J Neurol Sci. 2004 Nov;31(4):576-84.