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An Account of the Galvanic Experiments, cit. Gian Carlo Calcagno, Giovanni Aldini, un fisico bolognese tra scienze sperimentali e tecniche protoindustriali, cit. In essa le esperienze di Galvani e in parte di Aldini finivano per essere accettate, ma come casi speciali, come giochi di conduttori non metallici.

III, , cap. Vincenzo Cappelletti, I fenomeni elettrici e la fisiologia sperimentale, in Scienziati e tecnologi dalle origini al , vol. From body to machine: The first was a fourteen year-old girl who had had epilepsy for about two years, for ten had not uttered a word and was already in a state of total imbecility. He nonetheless continued the treatment from time to time.

One year later, she was still in good health and in full possession of all her intellectual faculties. The second was a twenty year-old cobbler given to onanism and hard liquor; he had had epilepsy for several months and his intelligence was already dimmed. One year later he was still healthy, his intelligence improved. In this case-study by Dr Bougard […] which omits not the slightest circum- stance of no practical interest, the most important details are left out.

What apparatus did he use? What kind of electricity did he apply? What method did he follow? Plinio Schivardi, Manuale teorico pratico di elettroterapia, Milan, Editori della Biblioteca, , pp. His attention focused on the machine: Failing a description of the equipment used, a report on diagnosis or treatment could not be taken as reliable. Instrumentation as a means of dialoguing with the disease was fast becoming the focus preferred by the powers of science, bent on de- taching the patient from his clinical and personal history and consign- ing him to the doctor, deprived of all sense of belonging.

The rise of scientific medicine and the laboratory had posited a new comparison between the human ma- chine and the scientific machine. This called for new thinking as to the relation between body and therapeutic techniques, and also the posi- tion of therapy in evolving medical science. In this Bernard claimed the status of a laboratory scientist. The medical studies he described were definitively set on an analytical course and, thanks to increasingly effi- cient equipment, were gradually incorporating the investigative meth- ods of experimental science.

This would be the crucial ref- erence point for electrical practitioners and their growing ambition to raise their subject to a branch of science based on rigorous labo- ratory techniques. They were emboldened by their familiarity with machines-meet and drink of the new experimental science. This put them in a leading position, as did a working knowledge of electricity. The fact of working on an object of physics whose technical success was now beyond all dispute lent force to their expectations.

On science in the romantic period, see: Andrew Cunningham, Nicholas Jardine edd. La scienza della Germania romantica , Bologna, Il Mulino, On the relationship between romantic philosophy and scientific medicine, see: Little by lit- tle it came to influence physiology, which in turn sought new paths of investigation in medicine. Poised between electrical phys- ics and electro-physiology, Helmholtz took telegraphy — synonymous with progress and potential for nineteenth-century science — as the most plausible term of comparison by way of explaining electrical transmission in bodies.

His propensity for mixing different disciplines reflected an urge to hitch medicine to something that had already borne precise fruit in the technology of communications. Garratt, Electro-physiology and Electro-therapeutics, showing the best methods for the Medical Uses of Electricity, Boston, Ticknor and Fields, , p. A few years later in he went further, his Galvanotherapie der Nerven und Muskelkrankheiten defending the importance of electricity for the whole medical community.

The second long wave of electro-medicine This changing scenario and new research formed fertile ground on which electro-medicine would revive. As early as the eighteenth century the use of electricity in medicine had caught the attention of specialists and amateurs, and had penetrated some hallowed institu- tions. But only in the second half of the nineteenth century was there any appreciable growth in the number of hospitals and universities in Europe and the United States that had departments where electricity gained independence and broke into the ranks of recognised practice.

At the same time there was an exponential increase in the amount of research and publications specifically devoted to electro-therapeutics. France and above all Paris formed the spearhead: Paris was the first fulcrum of such frenzy; the other pole of attraction Ernest Bonnefoy, Paris, Masson, Here again, the reputation of a Robert Remak, any more than a Duchenne in France, fails to do justice to the dozens of works on electro-medicine by German hands, published in the space of a few years. Pride of place among the scholars systematically applying electric- ity to medicine must go to Hugo von Ziemssen.

Ziemssen trained in Berlin under the powerful protective wing of Rudolf Virchow whose personal assistant he became. He graduated in with a dissertation on the effects of electricity applied to the human body. Petersburg where he set up a private electro-therapy clinic and was appointed consultant to the Maximilian hospital in electro-therapeutics and the treatment of nervous diseases.

Later Brenner would return to Germa- ny and become professor of electro-therapeutics at Leipzig. Reginald Henry Pierson, Compendium der Elektrotherapie, first ed. As of Benedikt became director of the Department of Elec- tro-therapeutics and Neuropathology. Hugo von Ziemssen, Leipzig, Vogel, Moriz Benedikt, Elektrotherapie, Vienna, Tendler, Plinio Schivardi and introduction of the new electrical approach in Italy The foregoing long but necessary list bears witness to the climate of expectation surrounding electricity which took hold of the medical community from the mids onwards.

That the phenomenon has hitherto received little attention is because, whereas the schools of Par- is and Berlin were driving physiological research towards experimen- tation promising certain progress, the revival of interest in medical applications of electricity seemed a hang-over from the obscure past which had spawned another culture, quite alien to the modernisation in progress, and hence was destined to a rapid demise.

Such a misread- ing of the signs fails, of course, to take stock of the droves of doctors who applauded the slow but sure emancipation of physiology from anatomy and hailed the emergence of experimental physiology based on chemistry and physics. This they saw as a solid platform on which to revive electro-medicine. Schivardi was one such physician. Born at Brescia in , he was engaged by the Milan Ospedale Maggiore in After his high- school years at Brescia and Desenzano he had moved to Padua and begun to read medicine there, later moving to Vienna where he grad- uated in medicine.

His knowledge of electro-medicine was the result of collaboration with Friedrich Fie- Plinio Schivardi, stato personale e di servizio. Had that been all, it might have passed. But the problem was much more serious, Schivardi discovered. The room he describes had antiquated machines in the corners at which were seated a number of persons connected by non-insulated copper wires. The amusing scene Schiv- ardi witnessed is a convincing sample of charlatan practice, a kind of burlesque that continued to enjoy approval by the authorities: In one corner of the room we saw a priest […].

He sat astride his chair, frowning, with a plate over his heart area and a discharge device in his hand, working his lips as though saying the breviary. Another drama was being acted out in the same room, however. A young girl of plebeian extraction was here the victim of sinister chicanery pursued outside the hospital precincts. This time the picture was less amusing: He handed her the discharge device and unceremoni- ously twiddled the settings from maximum to minimum. The poor girl first gave a terrified jerk on her seat and a cry of pain, her hand convulsing, be- fore settling to endure the strong current with some fortitude.

An electro-physician must, at the very least, learn to use the galvanometer and dynamometer, essential tools of research as performed by a mas- ter like Du Bois-Reymond; he should practise distinguishing between effects obtainable from a living body and those from a dissected one.

The wrong choice could have Plinio Schivardi, Manuale…, cit. The international debate pitted those who thought excit- ing a nerve by current between centre brain or marrow and nerve periphery depended for its effect on the direction, versus those who thought it had the same result whatever the direction. The professional of electro-medicine should be au fait with these cruxes, gain expertise, sift the relevant scientific bibliography and take up a position. At least in principle, virtually any doctor who opposed the practices of charlatans like Tirat would have to agree on the need for such an ap- proach.

In his Manual Schivardi actually went a lot further: Ranging from the various kinds of battery in commerce, to the elec- tro-magnetic machinery for charging them, from the hand-operated electro-magnetic devices exploiting Faraday current to the various sorts of rheostat, interrupter switch and discharge device, Schivardi gave his readers a thorough overview of the material an electro-doctor must learn to handle. It was explicit that a mere doctor would not do: The last waverings as to this hetero- dox profile versed in workshop and laboratory would be dispelled by some of the most original pages in the Manual.

It looks smart, can be carried easily, weighs little. It runs on any battery. Not least, and not to be spurned, the low price it costs and the safety of careful workmanship. Forming part of the Annali Universali, this was the first and most authoritative specific coverage of the subject. Nothing else of note on the subject could be reported, wrote Schivardi.

Thanks to his efforts, from onwards the Lombard edition of Gazzetta medica ital- iana, edited by Gaetano Strambio, carried an Appendice elettrojatrica. In following years periodicals elsewhere in the peninsula began focusing on electro-med- icine. In Giuliano Manca, an electro-practitioner who had previ- ously worked in Turin, brought out the first issue of the Roman Gior- nale di elettroterapia. From on, Francesco Dichiara published his Gazzetta clinica di elettroterapia at Palermo.

The first issue of Appendice elettrojatrica appeared in the Gazzetta medica italiana. Lombardia, XXV , pp. The Giornale di elettroterapia appeared from to , Il Galvani, giornale di elettro- idro ed aero terapia from to , the Gazzetta clinica di elettroterapea from to Con nozioni di fisica propedeutica pei medici pratici, Milan, Vallardi, 1st ed. Moriz Rosenthal, Die Elektrotherapie, cit. One of the first university courses was run by Eugenio Lace Del Pozzo who held the post of free teacher of electro- therapeutics in Turin from to The price ranged from 5 to 10 lire, depending on the option chosen.

Naples, 1st ed. Istituto pneumo-elettroterapico di Milano, Milan, Bernardoni, , p. We could even go as far as stating that every offspring of a cross-pollinating plant is, in some respects, a hybrid. Nevertheless, in the history of plant-breeding the term has usually a more restricted meaning.

The hybrid in this context is the result of a cross between two varieties i. The history of controlled plant hybridization is a long one. Perkins, Geopolitics and the green revolution: This traditional reconstruction is still popular even if it has been convincingly challenged by historians of science and technology.

The public history of the rise and fall of elettrogenetica electrogenetics , as the new sci- ence was called, began with a publication by the Italian horticultural- ist Alberto Pirovano in What was plant-breeding missing? Some of the electrical hybrids survived, but only because it was pos- sible to ignore their origin. Palladino, Between Craft and Science: Harwood, Styles of scientific thought: Wieland, Scientific Theory and Agricultural Practice: Bonneuil, Mendelism, plant breeding and experimental cultures: Agriculture and the development of genetics in France, Journal of the History of Biology 39 9: The reader interested in the subject will find the book by Noel Kingsbury extremely interesting.

Nazareno Strampelli was born in Crispiero Castelraimondo, Marche in He studied at the Portici school of agriculture in Na- ples and later graduated in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pisa. Strampelli arrived in Rieti in , after some years spent in mi- nor positions at the University of Camerino. There, he was appointed to the newly established itinerant chair of agriculture. Founded at the beginning by local institutions, itinerant chairs of agriculture were in- tended as a mean to spread technical knowledge among farmers. The professor chosen for the post had to give a number of public lectures, act as an advisor for farmers and landowners, and carry out experi- ments with fertilizers in order to advertise their benefits and encour- age their use.

Due to the local nature of the institution, there were a lot of differences around the country in the activities carried out and in the resources that the holder of the chair could use. The state soon be- came the main financial actor, but the control over the chairs was very loose, at least until The job was not prestigious or well paid, and the city, although beautiful, was and still is a very small one. Mugnozza, The contribution of Italian wheat geneticists: In the wake of the double helix, University of Bologna, Avenue Media, Zucchini, Le cattedre ambulanti di agricoltura, Roma, G.

Lorenzetti, La scienza del grano: Among the Italian farm- ers of the time, the Rieti Valley was known as the only place of produc- tion of the Rieti Originario, a wheat cultivar celebrated for its resistance to rusts. In his first years of activity in Rieti, Strampelli successfully complet- ed all the teaching and counselling assignments required. Along with these experiments, Strampelli was also developing a selection program for the Rieti cultivar and beginning a work on hybrids that, expanding year by year, ended up as the main activity of the chair.

In the itinerant position was turned by law into an experimental station specially conceived for research on cere- als. Ruggini was the common name used for a family of plant diseases caused by different types of fungi. The rough translation is mine. Discussion of the work on other plants that would unnecessarily add to the complexity of the picture sketched will be conducted elsewhere.

The parts I will quickly discuss are: Collection, Hybridization, Selection and Assessment. After the explanation, I will turn to the limits of such an experimental program, before introducing the birth of electroge- netics. A fifth part could be individuated, namely Multiplication and Distribution. Collection, hybridization, selection, evaluation: With the word collection I want to high- light the systematic effort that Strampelli made in order to obtain vari- ous types of wheat seeds from a lot of different places across Europe Italy, England, Netherlands, France, Serbia and beyond Lebanon, Eritrea, Morocco, Russia, America.

The Akakomugi variety, the Japanese wheat that brought short stem and early maturity in the genetic pool available to Strampelli, was sent to the experimental station by a seed trader in Thus suggesting a more independent status of this phase. As is well known, wheat is a self-pollinating plant. That means that in natural conditions a plant is both male and female. Usually there- fore reproduction happens within a single plant, and cross-pollination is a rare event. Soon afterwards the pollination had to be car- ried out with a little brush on the female plant.

Since the pollen had to be fresh, flowering time of different varieties had to be synchronized. That was accomplished initially using south-facing walls and cellars, turning later to greenhouses and refrigerators when they became available. The end result of this step was a set of seeds, hybrid seeds. Strampelli, I miei lavori: Origini, Sviluppi Lavori e Risultati, I. This is also the reason, as Harwood op. This fine image was made in by Mariana Ruiz, who was generous enough to put it into the public domain.

Hybrids were known for being all similar in the first generation. From the second obtained by natural self-polli- nation however, differences in traits started to appear. The reasoning behind this decision was straightforward: If we cross them, all their offspring ab will not display a beard. If we are working with small numbers, distribution will not be so precise either. Also, our experiment was trivial because we limited it to a single trait bearded vs. Since the traits come in antagonist couples, for n couples the possible forms are 2n, so for instance 10 couples of traits can produce different forms.

This mathematical model, used by Strampelli from the first decade of the 20th cen- tury, does not consider the phenomena of linkage i. Nevertheless, Mendelian theory had practical applications: Their hybrids will be- come fixed. The theoretical number of forms could also tell if repeating a cross made sense or not by a comparison with the actual number of forms observed in the field.

The price of fixing a hybrid was huge, both in terms of the time required some varieties developed by Strampelli reached the final stage of the process in 10 years , space for their cultivation, and money the hybrids could not produce any profit before the distribution and multiplication phase. The isolation of specific forms and the tracking effort across generations relied heavily on the personal skills of the breeder himself, both in observation and planning. The end result of this phase was a fixed hybrid: Was the work finally over?

Not yet, as we will see in the last step. Assessment was the last step. The breeder could use his experience to make an educated guess about the ideal conditions for a specific cultivar and its average harvest, but in order to be sure he had to perform tests. Strampelli spent his entire life working in the public sector, maintaining a strong ideology of public service: To perform the assessment of the fixed plants, Strampelli organized a network of experimental fields later experi- mental stations in different locations: After a round of internal tests, promising seeds were baptized with a name and progressed towards one or two rounds of additional external tests, sending them to ag- ricultural institutions schools and experimental stations across the country.

Only at this point could tested seeds be sold or distributed to farmers. The two most apparent limitations in the hybridization program outlined are without doubt the time required and the vast amount of resources, both in terms of work and land, necessary to obtain the fi- nal product. Both limitations can be ascribed to a more general one: At first glance, the usage of the expression indirect manipulation could seem a paradox: On the other hand, this operation does not guarantee any particular arrangement of selected traits in the offspring.

After the cross, there is no way for the breeder to properly control the process: The breeder knows from theory how many forms a particular cross can give, but he cannot choose in ad- vance which ones will grow from his seeds. His role is to choose. When this will happen and exactly where in his carefully arranged fields he has no way to tell or know. This idea of indirect control resonates with what Bonneuil op. How could it be, since genes are not used in actual practice? This situation accounts for the long time a new hybrid variety could spend in the making before being considered stable and released to the public.

Sometimes he compared the breeder to a sculptor; at other times, maybe more properly, to a mosaic artist. With every long process howev er, sooner or later a question ap- pears. What if something could speed it up? Now we know some of the answers: Nevertheless, it should not come as a surprise that this was just one among many roads that were taken in the research for new plant varieties. Speed and control were at first sought in other places, and one among them was electricity. The story of electricity and the hybrids could have started in Rieti. In the fall of , Nazareno Strampelli put in four pots about 22 pounds of soil and 5 wheat seeds each.

Every cage had the same amount of wired surface, keeping the amount of sunlight and air circulation received similar. The wiring was done differently for each cage see Tab. Strampelli, Di una speciale azione elettrica sulle piante, Atti del vi Congresso internazionale di chimica applicata, Rome, Strampelli re- corded a slight enhancement of growth in cage C copper wiring in the upper part of the cage , and thought of a possible effect over nitrogen absorption. The effect however was too small to be of any practical interest and the experiments were later interrupted.

Nevertheless, his experiment was not forgotten: Which kind of machines and experiences were tried? What relation had those with the long tradition of experi- ments involving plants and electricity? And, finally, what results as Volpone, Gli inizi della genetica in Italia, Bari, Cacucci, Savelli, as we will see, later criticized more vehemently Pirovano. A brief overview of the machines used with a detailed example will conclude this partial immersion in the first book of the Milanese horticulturalist and give us enough details to discuss his claimed results on induced mutation and control of the hybrids.

This time interval is conventional: Pirovano is not mentioned anywhere in the paper: The conclusion reached by Pirovano was clear: Seeds and plants were already complete entities and, as such, they had means to protect themselves against induced modifi- cations. To have an effect, manipulation had to be carried out before the seed was formed. After some unsuccessful trials on partially formed seeds, Pirovano choose the pollen as its main experimental object.

Not surprisingly for a self-taught scholar his biological ideas were a complex and original combination of different theories and unorthodox opinions that usually were not seen together. The four parts were: This quote from Pirovano, p. The translation from the original Italian text is mine. A strong cultural factor is also evident: The challenge that he brought to Italian biology tells us something about the plurality of roles that a scientist could play, being at the same time a maverick in one field and a respected figure in another.

Religioni e Filantropia nel Mediterraneo: Tradizioni, Simboli e Iconografie by Baskerville - Issuu

Does this make Pirovano a rebel? Pirovano however maintained that hybrids were just a transitory combination of pure ancestral species, and were thus forced to segre- gate until the original form was reached again. A more important role had to be ascribed to mutation: The middle ground was found in the following com- promise: The background of the horticulturalist is manifest in the terminology chosen too: According to Pirovano, every attempt that disrupted the natural equilibrium of the plant, no matter how improved the final result, was balanced by nature in some other way, to preserve a sum of vital energy constant.

To dodge this inherent resistance of the plant, a variable electro- Pirovano thought that stability of the species could only be explained with a stability in the molecular structure of the germ plasm. A direct action could thus bring disorder and variation in the atom composition of the plasm. This ac- tion was called by Pirovano jonolisi see Fig. The figure represents an imaginary atomic system inside a chromo- some, before and after the jonolisi process. The process was supposed to shake the stable arrangement of atoms creating a new one: Pirovano tried to show both the possibility and the limitations of the new approach: Too much jonolisi could transform the plasm into an inert substance; not enough of it and the plasm could be unaffected.

This fragility of the plasm, to- gether with the cost of radium, was the reason why radioactivity was eventually discarded by Pirovano as an agent of mutation. Pirovano did some experiments with a machine made by the Parisian Banque du Radium, but considered it too strong for his purposes. The delicate mechanism of life had to be handled with care: Pirovano wrote that variations in the magnetic field induced an electrical current in the pollen: Which machines were used to do that? Machine meets pollen In the introduction of his book, Pirovano acknowledges for the development of his machines four persons: Unfortunately no additional in- formation is given in the text, and the particular individual contribu- tions are not discussed in the chapter devoted to the machines used.

Nevertheless, the mutual relation between different machines and the kinds of experiments conducted seems to indicate a prominent role of Pirovano himself. Three types of electro-magnets are discussed and The jonolisi explanation seems to highlight the possibility of manipulation and subversion of pre-determined natural order. The following discussion on natural limits that cannot be trespassed and the limits of scientific explanation brings the reader back to a more conventional level.

The first one was used in open air, directly on the plant: Due to low intensity, the duration of the experiment was between two and three days. The second and the third one were meant to act instead on collected pollen with direct second type or alternating third type current. The second type is the one repro- duced in Fig. For our aims, it is not necessary to examine in detail each instrument used by Pirovano: On the right a little spark gap permits a measure of the effect: Coil B could be lowered or lifted using crank M.

The movement of Coil B allowed for a smooth insertion of the pollen between the two and the reduction of empty space afterwards. To pro- duce the variation in the magnetic field, electrical current was quickly switched on and off. After a presentation of his instruments, Pirovano could finally discuss the results of his experiments, both on the induc- Pirovano listed three different types of switch that could be used to operate his machines. Had the hybrids finally been tamed? Some of the experiments had a control sample: Pirovano thought that results could come just from a fine tuning between the electro-magnetic action and the particular variety chosen for the experiment.

To accomplish this, he made no effort to set the supposed mutagen agent apart, frequent- ly combining different types of stimuli together. A typical example is found on p. Two pollen samples a and b were used: The electrical current was alternate and inter- rupted with a switch. The distance of the pollen from the spark 3mm, about 0. The experi- ment lasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Pollen a gave birth to a lot of deformed plants that did not survive for a long time; however among them was one abnormally large but sterile.

Pollen b instead generated a dwarf variety see Fig. Pirovano recognizes in the text the incomplete status of his data, for example on p. From the data offered it was impossible to understand exactly in which way the alteration was obtained, or if the results were repli- cable.


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A lot of the claimed mutations were not as straightforward as a vast reduction in height: Among the offspring of 40, the alleged mutation obtained was slight modification of colour in one exemplar and a slight modification of shape in another. Pirovano knew about the shortcomings of his experimental approach; neverthe- less he thought that a lot of his results like the image above showed the possibility to reach in the future major horticultural improvements through the creation of new varieties.

How could those results, that we can now regard as modest, inspire such a vision of extended plant manipu- lation and control? Limited results could be blamed on the difficulty to find the perfect amount of stimuli, different for each plant. A vast experimental work was wait- ing: His discoveries, he thought, could bring a revolution in plant breeding: The chapter on hybridization once again reveals the mixed back- ground and the peculiar biological explanations of the author. A fixed hybrid was nothing more than the reappearance of a pure species. A solution of this puzzle is not given in the text.

Even if on p. The struggle for equilibrium was even more complicated in professional plant breeding. Pirovano maintained that a lot of traits sought in the market were antagonist in their behaviour, making the development of new varieties a true challenge for the breeder. The reason being that in the experiments on heredity three different kinds of behaviour had been observed, all three of them showing uniformity but not dominance.

The three cases are those described above: One of the surprising results claimed was the ability of turning a recessive trait into a dominant one. The pol- len of the plant bearing the usually-dominant trait could be treated with a magnetic field suppressing its guiding force. Not only, but in some cases it was possible to obtain fertile offspring from a hybrid cross that usually gave a sterile descent. Again, like in the mutation chapter, Pirovano submerged the reader in a flow of different experi- ments grouped in 16 categories with a great degree of variation in the experimental condition chosen.

A cross between two different varieties of poppy, opium used as the male plant and bracteate was one of the experiments that gave an impressive result: With jonolisi however the result was different: Pirov- ano claimed also impressive results in his studies on courgettes. In one of his experiments he obtained a marked increase in productivity, and commented that as a proof of the immediate results that could be achieved with jonolisi in the improvements of cultivated plants.

The offer that electrogenetics could make was huge: In other sections for instance on p. According to Pirovano, electrogenetics could become — if suf- ficiently studied and funded — a new source of varietal innovation and a perfect complement for the practices already used in the breeding sector. Contested results The book ended with a plea for collaboration between botany, elec- tric engineering and genetics.

Despite the unconventional biology of Pirov- ano, the book offered a lot of raw materials and suggestions for scien- tists interested in the interaction between electricity and plants. In the following years, however, the results claimed by Pirovano were con- tested: Savelli mentioned a cross between a courgette cucurbita pepo var. Savelli could also offer other pictures, sent by Nazareno Strampelli, demon- strating that unusual results in shape were not an unusual outcome of non-electrical cucurbita crosses.

The main problem seems to be a gener- alized lack of knowledge about specific outcomes of hybridization on specific varieties. This lack of knowledge left always open the possibil- ity of attributing results simply to the cross while denying a particular effect of the magnetic field. The presence of a control group was not enough to exclude this possibility; the use of a pollen-storing closet lightly heated to evaporate humidity added another interference. Flint, Electrogenetics, Journal of Heredity 16 6: The main issue was the already mentioned diversity in the nature of the electrical treatments, and the lack of a systematic effort in the study of the supposed electrogenetic phenom- ena.

Some years later however he was the chief of a laboratory supported by the state and attracting private funds, claiming results that were not replicated by others and explaining them with a biology that became year by year more odd and uncon- ventional, while genetics in Italy was still struggling to find academic institutionalization. In an institute was created in Rome, increas- ing this conflict. In , the first and only congress of Elettro-radio-biologia was held in Venice.

Riccio- ni and the Indian S. The title of the conference was maybe more related to the presence in the honorary committee of Guglielmo Marconi and to the 12 reports on electricity and muscular tissues pre- sented by A. Romano, professor of electro-radio-biology in Naples. The core of the conference was radiobiology, with some sparks of elec- tricity appearing in the background. In the institute published a book summarizing and celebrating the results of the research facility. Rad, Atti del primo congresso internazionale di elettro-radio-biologia, Primo Con- gresso Internazionale di Elettro-radio-biologia, Bologna, Licinio Cappelli, Some additional experiments with X-rays were conducted, but Pirovano again expressed scepticism toward the practical utility of the mutations obtained by this mean.

No matter how unconventional his biology, Pirovano was a very skilled plant-breeder. His book has some wonderful pictures of plants and flowers obtained both in Belgirate and in Rome. The vari- ety Italia the result of an ordinary cross is still one of the best-selling grapes cultivar in Italy.

In the post-war years his biological ideas, almost unchanged, were en- tirely discarded, with the notable exception of a pro-soviet Italian sci- entist, Orfeo Turno Rotini. It com- bined a typical breeder approach with a theoretical search for meaning and explanation of practical results. The breeder approach was evident in the acknowledgement of the horticultural tradition not only regard- ing practices, but also theories about how plants could be improved and which kind of entity a plant was an organic unity that had to reach a difficult equilibrium and not a set of atomized components.

The in- terplay between plant breeding and biology has been explored as a conflict between practice and theory; while this approach is useful to cast a wide-ranging picture it can at the same time hide the principles and theoretical ideas that breeders had. Notable because, as Volpone op. To the breeder however it was unconceivable to put a process that produced a scarce amount of viable seeds at the core of a research pro- gram. The kind of clear, unambiguous data that Savelli and Flint were asking from the Belgirate laboratory could be obtained from a research program focused on the process of magnetic irradiation itself, and not on the final horticultural results.

Through his program, Strampelli was acquiring at the same time knowledge about the process the spe- cific behaviour of traits in wheat hybridization and obtaining results new wheat varieties. I think the main reason of this failure can be found in the great range of possible variations in the electrical irradiation phase, something that has no obvious comparison in hybridization practices. From his equally ingenious and chaotic experiences, Pirovano drew theoretical conclusions too easily, without sufficient proofs and perhaps more importantly in the years before the second world war without an official university legitimation.

If this theoretical boldness could be forgiven in as the tentative speculation of an amateur pioneer, later it was impossible to do so. Genetics was growing at a very fast pace, turning innovators into latecomers in very short amounts of time. The same features of his approach discussed above that made him an outsider in biology and prevented him from obtaining a legitimate role among geneticists secured him a long, suc- cessful career in plant breeding.

New varieties, if judged useful, could be accepted without questioning the theoretical claims made. Their electrical identity could be conveniently forgotten. Pirovano however kept his faith in the effects of electricity because of the results obtained. For him they could not be explained away by hybridization alone. In his self-published book he was still asking on p. Even taking the probable poly-hybrid nature of the parents, which cause can justify its maturation in July? But even successful innovation in plant breeding has to face a question that can be difficult to answer: Pirovano thought he had an answer; genetics however went toward a different direction.

Mutations were studied as a legitimate topic of investigation in itself, thus using the most effective sources for obtain- ing them. The correlation found by H. Muller in between radia- tion and lethal mutations was not an unwelcome obstacle but a strik- ing result. Still, induced mutation became a major source of varietal innovation, albeit attained with different means.

Direct manipulation is definitively something we can regard as typical of contemporary agricultural re- search. The hybrids did not become electrical in the end, but they were, nevertheless, mutated. Hidden processes such as electrophoresis, thermal cycling, among many others, trans- late physical parameters, such as length, into nucleotide coding. In this chapter we will be looking at the intersection of molecular genetics laboratory practices and the interpretation of DNA.

The interpretation of DNA ambiguously refers to both the social interpretation and scien- tific interpretation, the significance of which can easily be intertwined. The scientific interpretations of DNA that we will be looking at are the visualization processes that lend to a diagnostic technique in the laboratory. Latour argues that by observing scientific practice we are not discussing whether a scientific fact is valid, but what scientist and the network of actors involved in reinforcing a scientific fact think this fact does and means.

The meaning of the scientific object is where the scientific fact is trans- formed into a social object and practice. The scientific practices that contribute to the steps in the process are accompanied by social practices such as colleague interaction, hierar- 1. The Gene as a Cultural Icon. Michigan University Press, The Social Construction of Scientific Facts. In the molecular genetic laboratory the digital bio-data results of the testing processes are translated into the social realm when practical significance is given to the material be- ing manipulated.

Genetic test results in-of-themselves have no innate meaning, they acquire meaning in context. This chapter intends to unpack some of the complexities of the ge- nomic scientific artifact by looking at the laboratory techniques in- volved in molecular genetic testing. We do not mean to imply that there is a hidden meaning attributed to DNA in the laboratory practice, but rather demystify the hidden meaning attached to DNA in social discourse.

The laboratory processes are, on one hand, visualization techniques that convert biological material into data with medical and scientific value, and on the other hand, protocols that utilize and com- bine a multitude of scientific theories that run from electrical theory, to wave theory, to thermodynamics, among others. These laboratory processes invoke scientific theory from reification to useful models , tacit knowledge, and the contemporary symbolic value given to ge- netic testing. By walking through an average week at a medical molecular lab, we can break down the practices that convert a biological blood sample into a digital genetic sequence that may or may not have diagnostic relevance.

One of the aspects we will be addressing is the myriad of scientific theories that contribute to each step in the visualization proc- esses. These practices, however, contain not only a complex network of scientific processes, but also the tacit knowledge that the technician acquires through the repeated practice and the understanding of the potential desired result.

Ethnography in the laboratory setting attempts to revel the knowl- edge reflected in the practices, and also revel how practice effects the portrayal of knowledge. Kuhn and later Latour looked to the labora- tory to unpack the creation of a scientific Fact through social practice. Latour, Science in Action: Open University Press, The interpretation of this data is yet another issue, rife with discrepancies.

Practice and tacit knowledge expose the embodied knowledge, the givens, and the already accepted scientific theories that contribute to the complexity of genetic testing. Medical practice essentially reflects a useful model of scientific theory, aimed at achieving a specific result. Therefore, one of the other aspects we will be briefly addressing is the apparent conflict between the mechanistic model of genetics that the practice of genetic testing tends to represent, and the complex models of genetics found in either the scientific theories of epi-genetics, or the social theories reflected in bio-ethical debate.

Our attention is easily drawn to the last phase of genetic testing, in which the electropherogram brings us towards our chain of nucleotide letters, the second most common public image of DNA after the dou- ble helix. We are drawn in by the list of letters that represents genetic sequencing, because it makes what we intuit as complex, seem so sim- ple. However, before we can read and interpret our genetic sequencing results, we must render DNA visible and useful.

This is possible because DNA is portrayed as the symbolic biological locus of heredity, the passage of traits from one generation to the next. In molecular biology the passage of complex traits is believed to be an in- tricate process involving much more than just DNA. Harvard University Press, Lindee and Nelkin argue that genetic symbolism is powerful be- cause it fits so easily into other social metaphors: They are quick to point out that these social metaphors are not based on scientific facts, but use scientific facts to reinforce the naturalization of social inequality.

The overlapping symbolism in eugenic discourse and genetic testing makes the terrain of what genetics means and does uneasy. Genetic medicine is currently pri- marily genetic testing, which offers itself as a diagnostic tool that does not add any new therapeutic option to pathology treatment. Howev- er, diagnosis itself can be a fundamental aspect of treatment.

Lindee points out how patient groups will lobby for genetic research, feeling that they are not being taken seriously otherwise. A genetic marker can put a disease or syndrome on the map of pathologies, creating funding systems, attention, etc. The genetic marker, however, has the primary function of imbuing pathology with biological reality. Of course this symbolic dance with undisputable biological truth and identity is what makes the genetic discourse so interesting and tricky. In both cases, the genetic marker is imbued with the power of the final truth of biological explanation.

John Hopkins University Press, Many molec- ular biologist argue that it is currently impossible to find a singular biological marker for complex traits that may or may not have biologi- cal components such as behavior. Utilizing Lindee and Nelkins argu- mentation, we could imagine that it is the DNA mystique itself that creates research funding for projects that are potentially scientifically un-sound and have no therapeutic value.

Genetic testing can be broken into two primary categories, prenatal and post-natal. Pre-natal testing carries with it the negative association with the eugenics movement and the moralization of normality. Rapp indicates that potential mothers will be shamed or held accountable for choosing to continue a pregnancy where prenatal testing has revealed a genetic variance associated with syndrome categories.

The laboratory setting we will be looking at deals primarily with post-natal testing. The genet- ic markers are laden with the potential for the individual to be un-well, as well as identity implication. The genetic markers sought by this spe- cific laboratory have, in a relatively short time, wed themselves with the definitions of the syndromes they represent. The markers therefore 8. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, , In genetic testing, DNA is visualized, converted from an invisible component in a blood sample to a visible digital representation.

DNA material is converted into bio-data through a complex series of processes that in- volve chemical additives, light wave technology and electro-processes. One of the final steps in genetic testing, genetic sequencing, utilizes DNA electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments by size. The end re- sult of this process visualizes the DNA strand as a digital list of letters that represent the nucleotide sequence. Genetic testing in its many guises, from adult diagnostic testing, to pre-natal testing, to forensic testing provokes a wide variety of debate and conflict of opinion, largely centered on two axes.

The scientific axis questions the accuracy and utility of a mechanistic representation of genetic material. The social axis questions the relationship of DNA to personhood and identity. The debate that surrounds genetic testing finds its home in this last step of the testing procedure, in the electro- pherogram of the nucleotide sequence. Can this digital representation really tell us who we are, what is right or wrong in our body, who we came from? The reductionist image of DNA irks our sensibilities sur- rounding our complex sense of identity, yet it also irks branches of science that insist on a complex model of the organism.

Epi-genetics points to simple factors, such as tem- perature and timing, which can drastically change the development of an organism while maintaining the same genetic material. Epigenetic but also bioethical, historical and sociological discussions around the Luc Pauwels, Visual cultures of science: Dartmouth College Press, The sociological critique mirrors the epi-genetic critique; that life cannot be encapsulated in one biological process. His- torians such as Garland E. Petter Portin divides the history of genetics into three periods.

Genetics, Medicine, and Society, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, , pp. He states that this encouraged adherence to an atomistic, mechanistic model as opposed to a holistic model. Allen summarizes mechanistic materialism as; 1. Parts are distinct from the whole, 2. The whole must be studied through a break down of its parts, 3. Systems change over time only due to external factors. He sums it up by stating: The structure of DNA gave rise to the idea that there was a one to one relationship between the gene DNA sequence and protein amino acid sequence.

The particular view of genes located at definable positions on the chromosomes led researchers to use link- age and physical mapping as a research technology to locate the two genes. Or as disability theory fears, are we saying that variations of genetic markers means a pathological person or even an immoral person as implied by early eugenics? We are intuitively afraid that the mechanistic model implied by genetic testing will over step its bound- aries and define personhood by genetic markers.

For instance, forensic genetic testing looks for the genetic sequence believed to be unique to the individual. This information is often con- tested for a myriad of reasons, but primarily because the genetic pro- files constructed in the lab cannot be said to be unique to one person, or even unique to a hundred. The Academy was directly involved in discussions about the use of electricity in medical therapy.

These discussions, which took place in Italy in the years , became a matter of debate throughout Europe, thanks to Nollet. Some years ago, this episode was referred to by Simon Schaffer as an example in support of his theories on the social aspects of scientific evidence. Pivati was a member of the Academy of Bologna, where his book was published in in the form of a letter addressed to the Secretary Francesco Maria Zan- otti. The Academy entrusted to Veratti the task of experimental veri- fication of the efficacy of the therapeutic method proposed by Privati.

The experiments by which the latter maintained he had confirmed the therapeutic efficacy of electricity were presented at the Academy and made known to a wider public in a book published in Bologna in , which was subsequently translated into French and printed in Geneva in Simon Schaffer, Self evidence, Critical Inquiry, 18, , pp. Proof, practice, and persuasion across the disciplines, J. In this episode too, Veratti was one of the main protagonists, immedi- ately making the results known to the public.

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That her contribution has been forgotten is, however, quite comprehensible, since the texts of these papers have been lost; only their titles and dates of presentation are known. The example of Nollet serves to illustrate this point: Antonio Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy. The American Philosophical Society, Phila- delphia, , p. Commentarii, III, , De electricitati caelesti, pp. For the shorter version of the letter actually received by Bassi, see Lettere inedite alla celebre Laura Bassi, cit.

Her best-known contributions, mainly because they were published in the Commentarii, dealt with problems of pneumatics, hydraulics, and mechanics, solved at times by analytical methods. Her presence can be clearly felt in all three of the major lines of research in electrical phenomena carried out at the Academy in Bologna from the s to the s. As clearly delineated by Veratti in his papers of and , these three closely linked lines were: It was mainly Veratti, and then Galvani, who took research to the borders between physics and physiol- ogy.

As mentioned above, despite holding a post in those years as a lecturer in physics at the University, Veratti was a physician, a pupil of Iacopo Bartolomeo Beccari, likewise a physician, but also a professor first of physics, then of chemistry, at the Institute and the University. Indeed, with very few exceptions, among them Laura Bassi, all the Bolognese scholars of electricity had degrees in medicine.

De aeris compressione, II, first part, , pp. Among these, the first and best-known one was the capacity to attract certain bodies and repel oth- ers. Newton showed that light is attracted or repelled by bodies in different ways. Beccaria, Elettricismo naturale e artificiale, Torino, Stamperia di F. On Symmer and the controversy about the electric fluid nature, see J. Veratti, Osservazioni fisico-mediche, pp. Veratti, Esperimenta magnetica, in Commentarii, VI, , pp. Ceranski is of the opinion that Bassi deliberately remained in the background in order not to harm the fame of her husband as an expert electrician, whose book she promoted forcefully by means of her own personal network of relationships.

Bassi felt that the cause was the attraction carried out on the air within by the walls of a jar and the liquids contained therein, which were of different densities. She began the paper by establish- ing an analogy between the behavior of air and that of light. Galvani, Opere scelte, G. An introduction to Laura Bassi, cit. Ceranski wonders which of the two had more influence on the other. She tends to favor Laura, who had first appre- ciated Newton many years before and who had on several occasions publicly repeated his experiments on the composition of white light as explained in the Opticks.

He also proposed the hypothesis that nervous fluid was of an electrical nature and that muscular contraction was caused by electricity passing from the nerve to the muscle. The latter had not carried out his experiments at the Institute but privately, in the presence, besides that of Fontana and other young friends, of more authoritative figures, such as Francesco Algarotti and Bassi and Veratti themselves. The ex- periments, which required the electrical stimulation of various organs, and hence an electrical machine, had been carried out in the laboratory of the couple. It was Fontana rather than Caldani who performed the experiments, using cats, calves, and, above all, a great number of frogs as test animals.

Electricity was considered by the two researchers to be the most powerful stimulus, capable of arousing reactions in tissues and irritable organs, even when any other stimuli were ineffective. They both, however, rejected the idea that nervous fluid was of the same nature as the electrical one. Lettera scritta al chiarissimo e celebratissimo signore Alberto Haller, in Fabri G. Opuscoli di varj autori, Bologna, , pp. Cavazza, Vis irritabilis e spiriti animali.

Una disputa settecentesca sulle cause del moto muscolare, in Marco Piccolino ed. Da Aristotele alla moderna scienza del linguaggio, Bollati Boringhieri,Torino, ,pp. We know that he repeated those experiments there shortly thereafter. It was probably on the basis of his recommendation that Beccaria was elected a member of the Academy in the spring of For the experiments made by Fontana in the Veratti laboratory, see his letter from Pisa, on 25 March in Lettere inedite alla celebre Laura Bassi, cit.

In his opinion, the shock caused an upset in the functions of nerves and the destruction of the gluten in the muscles and, conse- quently, of the irritability of the fibers. In those documents Galvani highly praises not only Veratti but his wife as well. In , after mov- ing to Padua, the former even offered to take on the task of obtaining two vacant chairs for the couple at that University, one in experimental physics and the other in mathematics.

Caldani to Veratti, from Padua [, in Lettere inedite, cit. The first reason concerns the history of instruments: This letter is dated XXIX, e Beccaria obviously saw in the favour shown him by the most authoritative Italian scientific academy a shield against the at- tacks made on him in his own city, Turin, first by the Cartesians and then by the opponents of Franklin.

In , he published in Bologna a work whose title translated was Atmospheric Electricity in the form of letters to Beccari, the President of the Institute. The letters contain a theoretical and experimental defense of the Franklin system. Most of the experiments described had been carried out in Turin, but Beccaria also recalls that some had been done in Bologna, in the presence of Beccari, and with the participation of Bassi and Veratti.

The test was enor- mously successful. Some of hers have survived and she is often the bearer of messages from her husband or speaks of scientific experiments they have performed to- gether, for example, tests on atmospheric electricity conducted in their country house, since these had been banned in Bologna after terrified public reactions to lightning-rod experiments carried out there in and In their correspondence, they often spoke of another trip on the part of the latter to Bologna, and hence another chance to carry out experiments together, but this journey was never to take place.

Like Caldani and Fontana, he frequently sends the couple people anxious to meet them and be introduced into the Insti- Giambattista Beccaria, Elettricismo naturale ed artificiale. Lettere, Stamperia di Colle Ameno, Bologna, , pp. As his points of reference in Bologna, he also sends the couple copies of his books for distribution among other scholars at the Institute. This role as intermediaries among researchers in other cities and the Academy was valued by both of them, but especially by Laura Bassi.

In the s, above all, various scholars, especially young ones, sent her their publications, described their discoveries to her, or offered to dedicate their next work to her. This was Alessandro Volta, who sent her a short work in containing a description of a series of new electrical experiments, and in his first two letters about inflammable air in marshlands and, in the following year, the complete work.

In , the Senate decided to reorganize the teaching of physics at the Institute. Various proposals were made, including separation of the course on electricity from the rest of experimental physics. Bassi and Veratti were asked to organize the new course together, but they re- plied that this division would have caused several problems of a prac- tical nature.

The Senate accepted these comments and decided that the course would indeed be divided, but into one on general physics and the other on experimental physics. The latter was entrusted to Laura Bassi as chief professor and Veratti as her assistant. However, since he had already assumed this role in previous years he this time expected to become the professor.

The greater honor was paid not to the man, the husband, as was to be expected then, and even to some extent nowadays, but to the woman, the wife. See the long list of electrical instruments in the section devoted to electricity of the Inventario delle macchine, in Cavazza, Laura Bassi e il suo gabinetto di Fisica, cit. On the re-organization of the courses of physics at the Institute at the end of 18th century, see Marta Cavazza, The teaching of the experimental sciences at the Institute of Sciences in Bologna, in Alma Mater Studiorum, , pp.

The extraordinary fact in the daily relationship of the couple Bassi- Veratti is that it was based on reciprocity, as established in the agree- ment made before they married. One of its consequences was that it allowed for a gender role division and a hierarchy that were absolutely new and against the laws and customs of the time.

By respecting this agreement, Veratti allowed Bassi to pursue her scientific studies and intellectual profession while maintaining her role as wife and mother and thus a harmonious family life. The conciliation of these two roles showed that the access of women to knowledge was not a danger ca- pable of destroying the family and of generating social chaos - as was claimed by moralists, philosophers, and the lay public, and not only by adherents of Catholic conservatism. Even in a town like Bologna, where in the Settecento a handful of women received public recognition for their knowledge, Laura Bassi was unique.

One of the other prominent women of that time was Anna Morandi, whose fame was similar to that of Bassi but was achieved after the death of her husband, the ceroplastic sculptor Giovanni Manzolini. This work resulted in her being placed in charge of the practical anatomy courses in the university. Immagini, documenti, repertorio anatomico, Olschki, Firenze, The imbalance in the public recognition granted to Bassi and to Ve- ratti was not due to a lower appraisal of the value of his contributions; but it accounts for the role of icon of cultivated Bologna assigned to her.

Veratti not only consented to this situation, even when he was not benefited but disadvantaged by it as in , but on many occasions supported the efforts of his wife to ef- fectively improve her conditions as a teacher and researcher. A true change in the role of women in society and in the family necessarily implies a contemporary change in the role of men and in the prevailing gender hierarchy.

In 18th century Italy, Laura Bassi and Giuseppe Veratti invented a model of gender relationships that re- mained novel for a very long period of time. It is also worth noting that then new research topics, placed at the intersection between electricity and medicine, somehow favoured the introduction of the new model of gender relationships that we have explored in this paper.

An impor- tant shift compared to when, before the s, electricity was only an amusing subject in aristocratic conversations, or a popular attraction. Limitando altri rinvii bibliografici a testi che, pur in forma molto sintetica, mettono bene a fuoco alcune que- stioni fondamentali, sono ancora utili Carlo Castellani-Luca Usuelli, voce Galvani, Luigi, in Scienziati e tecnologi dalle origini al , 3 voll. In questo contesto Galvani si 6. Castellani, Usuelli, Galvani, Luigi, cit. Mario Gliozzi, voce Volta, Alessandro, in Scienziati e tecnologi dalle origini al , vol.

Ma la nuova edizione valeva, soprattutto, come risposta a richieste di aggiornamento. Si veda inoltre C. Vedi qui nota 1. Nella spiegazione proposta da Volta i metalli erano, dun- que, i motori, mentre gli organi degli animali rimanevano, invece, pas- sivi: La risposta di Volta e dei suoi sostenitori non si fece attendere.

Ma Galvani ed Aldini poco convinti dalle obiezioni che recepivano come Giovanni Aldini, De animali electricitate dissertationes duae, Bononiae Gian Carlo Calcagno, Giovanni Aldini, un fisico bolognese tra scienze sperimentali e tecniche protoindustriali, in Studi di storia della scienza e della tecnica, Genova, Cds, , p. Questo era il segno di una nuova direzione delle sue ricerche: Egli si assumeva, pertanto, il compito di aggiornare le esperienze che Galvani aveva eseguito, adattandole ora alle ultime tecniche, cer- cando peraltro di riportare entro un orizzonte teorico galvanistico le nuove sperimentazioni rese possibili dalla pila.

Aldini andava infatti indicando nel galvanismo un mezzo terapeutico nei casi di annegamento, asfissia, malattie mentali. Saggio di esperienza sul galvanismo, Bologna Le radici, il consolidamento, la trasformazione, Clueb, Bologna , p. Nonostante la diffusione delle sue opere e la collaborazione pose. An Account of the Galvanic Experiments, cit.

Gian Carlo Calcagno, Giovanni Aldini, un fisico bolognese tra scienze sperimentali e tecniche protoindustriali, cit. In essa le esperienze di Galvani e in parte di Aldini finivano per essere accettate, ma come casi speciali, come giochi di conduttori non metallici. III, , cap. Vincenzo Cappelletti, I fenomeni elettrici e la fisiologia sperimentale, in Scienziati e tecnologi dalle origini al , vol. From body to machine: The first was a fourteen year-old girl who had had epilepsy for about two years, for ten had not uttered a word and was already in a state of total imbecility. He nonetheless continued the treatment from time to time.

One year later, she was still in good health and in full possession of all her intellectual faculties. The second was a twenty year-old cobbler given to onanism and hard liquor; he had had epilepsy for several months and his intelligence was already dimmed. One year later he was still healthy, his intelligence improved.

In this case-study by Dr Bougard […] which omits not the slightest circum- stance of no practical interest, the most important details are left out. What apparatus did he use? What kind of electricity did he apply? What method did he follow? Plinio Schivardi, Manuale teorico pratico di elettroterapia, Milan, Editori della Biblioteca, , pp.

His attention focused on the machine: Failing a description of the equipment used, a report on diagnosis or treatment could not be taken as reliable. Instrumentation as a means of dialoguing with the disease was fast becoming the focus preferred by the powers of science, bent on de- taching the patient from his clinical and personal history and consign- ing him to the doctor, deprived of all sense of belonging. The rise of scientific medicine and the laboratory had posited a new comparison between the human ma- chine and the scientific machine.

This called for new thinking as to the relation between body and therapeutic techniques, and also the posi- tion of therapy in evolving medical science. In this Bernard claimed the status of a laboratory scientist. The medical studies he described were definitively set on an analytical course and, thanks to increasingly effi- cient equipment, were gradually incorporating the investigative meth- ods of experimental science.

This would be the crucial ref- erence point for electrical practitioners and their growing ambition to raise their subject to a branch of science based on rigorous labo- ratory techniques. They were emboldened by their familiarity with machines-meet and drink of the new experimental science. This put them in a leading position, as did a working knowledge of electricity. The fact of working on an object of physics whose technical success was now beyond all dispute lent force to their expectations.

On science in the romantic period, see: Andrew Cunningham, Nicholas Jardine edd. La scienza della Germania romantica , Bologna, Il Mulino, On the relationship between romantic philosophy and scientific medicine, see: Little by lit- tle it came to influence physiology, which in turn sought new paths of investigation in medicine. Poised between electrical phys- ics and electro-physiology, Helmholtz took telegraphy — synonymous with progress and potential for nineteenth-century science — as the most plausible term of comparison by way of explaining electrical transmission in bodies.

His propensity for mixing different disciplines reflected an urge to hitch medicine to something that had already borne precise fruit in the technology of communications. Garratt, Electro-physiology and Electro-therapeutics, showing the best methods for the Medical Uses of Electricity, Boston, Ticknor and Fields, , p. A few years later in he went further, his Galvanotherapie der Nerven und Muskelkrankheiten defending the importance of electricity for the whole medical community.

The second long wave of electro-medicine This changing scenario and new research formed fertile ground on which electro-medicine would revive. As early as the eighteenth century the use of electricity in medicine had caught the attention of specialists and amateurs, and had penetrated some hallowed institu- tions. But only in the second half of the nineteenth century was there any appreciable growth in the number of hospitals and universities in Europe and the United States that had departments where electricity gained independence and broke into the ranks of recognised practice.

At the same time there was an exponential increase in the amount of research and publications specifically devoted to electro-therapeutics. France and above all Paris formed the spearhead: Paris was the first fulcrum of such frenzy; the other pole of attraction Ernest Bonnefoy, Paris, Masson, Here again, the reputation of a Robert Remak, any more than a Duchenne in France, fails to do justice to the dozens of works on electro-medicine by German hands, published in the space of a few years. Pride of place among the scholars systematically applying electric- ity to medicine must go to Hugo von Ziemssen.

Ziemssen trained in Berlin under the powerful protective wing of Rudolf Virchow whose personal assistant he became. He graduated in with a dissertation on the effects of electricity applied to the human body. Petersburg where he set up a private electro-therapy clinic and was appointed consultant to the Maximilian hospital in electro-therapeutics and the treatment of nervous diseases.

Later Brenner would return to Germa- ny and become professor of electro-therapeutics at Leipzig. Reginald Henry Pierson, Compendium der Elektrotherapie, first ed. As of Benedikt became director of the Department of Elec- tro-therapeutics and Neuropathology. Hugo von Ziemssen, Leipzig, Vogel, Moriz Benedikt, Elektrotherapie, Vienna, Tendler, Plinio Schivardi and introduction of the new electrical approach in Italy The foregoing long but necessary list bears witness to the climate of expectation surrounding electricity which took hold of the medical community from the mids onwards.

That the phenomenon has hitherto received little attention is because, whereas the schools of Par- is and Berlin were driving physiological research towards experimen- tation promising certain progress, the revival of interest in medical applications of electricity seemed a hang-over from the obscure past which had spawned another culture, quite alien to the modernisation in progress, and hence was destined to a rapid demise.

Such a misread- ing of the signs fails, of course, to take stock of the droves of doctors who applauded the slow but sure emancipation of physiology from anatomy and hailed the emergence of experimental physiology based on chemistry and physics. This they saw as a solid platform on which to revive electro-medicine.

Schivardi was one such physician. Born at Brescia in , he was engaged by the Milan Ospedale Maggiore in After his high- school years at Brescia and Desenzano he had moved to Padua and begun to read medicine there, later moving to Vienna where he grad- uated in medicine. His knowledge of electro-medicine was the result of collaboration with Friedrich Fie- Plinio Schivardi, stato personale e di servizio. Had that been all, it might have passed. But the problem was much more serious, Schivardi discovered. The room he describes had antiquated machines in the corners at which were seated a number of persons connected by non-insulated copper wires.

The amusing scene Schiv- ardi witnessed is a convincing sample of charlatan practice, a kind of burlesque that continued to enjoy approval by the authorities: In one corner of the room we saw a priest […]. He sat astride his chair, frowning, with a plate over his heart area and a discharge device in his hand, working his lips as though saying the breviary. Another drama was being acted out in the same room, however. A young girl of plebeian extraction was here the victim of sinister chicanery pursued outside the hospital precincts.

This time the picture was less amusing: He handed her the discharge device and unceremoni- ously twiddled the settings from maximum to minimum. The poor girl first gave a terrified jerk on her seat and a cry of pain, her hand convulsing, be- fore settling to endure the strong current with some fortitude. An electro-physician must, at the very least, learn to use the galvanometer and dynamometer, essential tools of research as performed by a mas- ter like Du Bois-Reymond; he should practise distinguishing between effects obtainable from a living body and those from a dissected one.

The wrong choice could have Plinio Schivardi, Manuale…, cit. The international debate pitted those who thought excit- ing a nerve by current between centre brain or marrow and nerve periphery depended for its effect on the direction, versus those who thought it had the same result whatever the direction. The professional of electro-medicine should be au fait with these cruxes, gain expertise, sift the relevant scientific bibliography and take up a position. At least in principle, virtually any doctor who opposed the practices of charlatans like Tirat would have to agree on the need for such an ap- proach.

In his Manual Schivardi actually went a lot further: Ranging from the various kinds of battery in commerce, to the elec- tro-magnetic machinery for charging them, from the hand-operated electro-magnetic devices exploiting Faraday current to the various sorts of rheostat, interrupter switch and discharge device, Schivardi gave his readers a thorough overview of the material an electro-doctor must learn to handle.

It was explicit that a mere doctor would not do: The last waverings as to this hetero- dox profile versed in workshop and laboratory would be dispelled by some of the most original pages in the Manual. It looks smart, can be carried easily, weighs little. It runs on any battery. Not least, and not to be spurned, the low price it costs and the safety of careful workmanship. Forming part of the Annali Universali, this was the first and most authoritative specific coverage of the subject.

Nothing else of note on the subject could be reported, wrote Schivardi. Thanks to his efforts, from onwards the Lombard edition of Gazzetta medica ital- iana, edited by Gaetano Strambio, carried an Appendice elettrojatrica. In following years periodicals elsewhere in the peninsula began focusing on electro-med- icine. In Giuliano Manca, an electro-practitioner who had previ- ously worked in Turin, brought out the first issue of the Roman Gior- nale di elettroterapia.

From on, Francesco Dichiara published his Gazzetta clinica di elettroterapia at Palermo. The first issue of Appendice elettrojatrica appeared in the Gazzetta medica italiana. Lombardia, XXV , pp. The Giornale di elettroterapia appeared from to , Il Galvani, giornale di elettro- idro ed aero terapia from to , the Gazzetta clinica di elettroterapea from to Con nozioni di fisica propedeutica pei medici pratici, Milan, Vallardi, 1st ed.

Moriz Rosenthal, Die Elektrotherapie, cit. One of the first university courses was run by Eugenio Lace Del Pozzo who held the post of free teacher of electro- therapeutics in Turin from to The price ranged from 5 to 10 lire, depending on the option chosen. Naples, 1st ed. Istituto pneumo-elettroterapico di Milano, Milan, Bernardoni, , p. We could even go as far as stating that every offspring of a cross-pollinating plant is, in some respects, a hybrid. Nevertheless, in the history of plant-breeding the term has usually a more restricted meaning.

The hybrid in this context is the result of a cross between two varieties i. The history of controlled plant hybridization is a long one.

Perkins, Geopolitics and the green revolution: This traditional reconstruction is still popular even if it has been convincingly challenged by historians of science and technology. The public history of the rise and fall of elettrogenetica electrogenetics , as the new sci- ence was called, began with a publication by the Italian horticultural- ist Alberto Pirovano in What was plant-breeding missing?

Some of the electrical hybrids survived, but only because it was pos- sible to ignore their origin. Palladino, Between Craft and Science: Harwood, Styles of scientific thought: Wieland, Scientific Theory and Agricultural Practice: Bonneuil, Mendelism, plant breeding and experimental cultures: Agriculture and the development of genetics in France, Journal of the History of Biology 39 9: The reader interested in the subject will find the book by Noel Kingsbury extremely interesting.

Nazareno Strampelli was born in Crispiero Castelraimondo, Marche in He studied at the Portici school of agriculture in Na- ples and later graduated in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pisa. Strampelli arrived in Rieti in , after some years spent in mi- nor positions at the University of Camerino. There, he was appointed to the newly established itinerant chair of agriculture. Founded at the beginning by local institutions, itinerant chairs of agriculture were in- tended as a mean to spread technical knowledge among farmers.

The professor chosen for the post had to give a number of public lectures, act as an advisor for farmers and landowners, and carry out experi- ments with fertilizers in order to advertise their benefits and encour- age their use. Due to the local nature of the institution, there were a lot of differences around the country in the activities carried out and in the resources that the holder of the chair could use. The state soon be- came the main financial actor, but the control over the chairs was very loose, at least until The job was not prestigious or well paid, and the city, although beautiful, was and still is a very small one.

Mugnozza, The contribution of Italian wheat geneticists: In the wake of the double helix, University of Bologna, Avenue Media, Zucchini, Le cattedre ambulanti di agricoltura, Roma, G. Lorenzetti, La scienza del grano: Among the Italian farm- ers of the time, the Rieti Valley was known as the only place of produc- tion of the Rieti Originario, a wheat cultivar celebrated for its resistance to rusts. In his first years of activity in Rieti, Strampelli successfully complet- ed all the teaching and counselling assignments required. Along with these experiments, Strampelli was also developing a selection program for the Rieti cultivar and beginning a work on hybrids that, expanding year by year, ended up as the main activity of the chair.

In the itinerant position was turned by law into an experimental station specially conceived for research on cere- als. Ruggini was the common name used for a family of plant diseases caused by different types of fungi. The rough translation is mine. Discussion of the work on other plants that would unnecessarily add to the complexity of the picture sketched will be conducted elsewhere.

The parts I will quickly discuss are: Collection, Hybridization, Selection and Assessment. After the explanation, I will turn to the limits of such an experimental program, before introducing the birth of electroge- netics. A fifth part could be individuated, namely Multiplication and Distribution. Collection, hybridization, selection, evaluation: With the word collection I want to high- light the systematic effort that Strampelli made in order to obtain vari- ous types of wheat seeds from a lot of different places across Europe Italy, England, Netherlands, France, Serbia and beyond Lebanon, Eritrea, Morocco, Russia, America.

The Akakomugi variety, the Japanese wheat that brought short stem and early maturity in the genetic pool available to Strampelli, was sent to the experimental station by a seed trader in Thus suggesting a more independent status of this phase. As is well known, wheat is a self-pollinating plant. That means that in natural conditions a plant is both male and female.

Usually there- fore reproduction happens within a single plant, and cross-pollination is a rare event. Soon afterwards the pollination had to be car- ried out with a little brush on the female plant. Since the pollen had to be fresh, flowering time of different varieties had to be synchronized.

That was accomplished initially using south-facing walls and cellars, turning later to greenhouses and refrigerators when they became available. The end result of this step was a set of seeds, hybrid seeds. Strampelli, I miei lavori: Origini, Sviluppi Lavori e Risultati, I. This is also the reason, as Harwood op. This fine image was made in by Mariana Ruiz, who was generous enough to put it into the public domain. Hybrids were known for being all similar in the first generation.

From the second obtained by natural self-polli- nation however, differences in traits started to appear. The reasoning behind this decision was straightforward: If we cross them, all their offspring ab will not display a beard. If we are working with small numbers, distribution will not be so precise either.

Also, our experiment was trivial because we limited it to a single trait bearded vs. Since the traits come in antagonist couples, for n couples the possible forms are 2n, so for instance 10 couples of traits can produce different forms. This mathematical model, used by Strampelli from the first decade of the 20th cen- tury, does not consider the phenomena of linkage i. Nevertheless, Mendelian theory had practical applications: Their hybrids will be- come fixed.

The theoretical number of forms could also tell if repeating a cross made sense or not by a comparison with the actual number of forms observed in the field. The price of fixing a hybrid was huge, both in terms of the time required some varieties developed by Strampelli reached the final stage of the process in 10 years , space for their cultivation, and money the hybrids could not produce any profit before the distribution and multiplication phase.

The isolation of specific forms and the tracking effort across generations relied heavily on the personal skills of the breeder himself, both in observation and planning. The end result of this phase was a fixed hybrid: Was the work finally over? Not yet, as we will see in the last step. Assessment was the last step. The breeder could use his experience to make an educated guess about the ideal conditions for a specific cultivar and its average harvest, but in order to be sure he had to perform tests. Strampelli spent his entire life working in the public sector, maintaining a strong ideology of public service: To perform the assessment of the fixed plants, Strampelli organized a network of experimental fields later experi- mental stations in different locations: After a round of internal tests, promising seeds were baptized with a name and progressed towards one or two rounds of additional external tests, sending them to ag- ricultural institutions schools and experimental stations across the country.

Only at this point could tested seeds be sold or distributed to farmers.

The two most apparent limitations in the hybridization program outlined are without doubt the time required and the vast amount of resources, both in terms of work and land, necessary to obtain the fi- nal product. Both limitations can be ascribed to a more general one: At first glance, the usage of the expression indirect manipulation could seem a paradox: On the other hand, this operation does not guarantee any particular arrangement of selected traits in the offspring. After the cross, there is no way for the breeder to properly control the process: The breeder knows from theory how many forms a particular cross can give, but he cannot choose in ad- vance which ones will grow from his seeds.

His role is to choose. When this will happen and exactly where in his carefully arranged fields he has no way to tell or know. This idea of indirect control resonates with what Bonneuil op. How could it be, since genes are not used in actual practice? This situation accounts for the long time a new hybrid variety could spend in the making before being considered stable and released to the public. Sometimes he compared the breeder to a sculptor; at other times, maybe more properly, to a mosaic artist. With every long process howev er, sooner or later a question ap- pears.

What if something could speed it up? Now we know some of the answers: Nevertheless, it should not come as a surprise that this was just one among many roads that were taken in the research for new plant varieties. Speed and control were at first sought in other places, and one among them was electricity.

The story of electricity and the hybrids could have started in Rieti. In the fall of , Nazareno Strampelli put in four pots about 22 pounds of soil and 5 wheat seeds each. Every cage had the same amount of wired surface, keeping the amount of sunlight and air circulation received similar. The wiring was done differently for each cage see Tab.

Strampelli, Di una speciale azione elettrica sulle piante, Atti del vi Congresso internazionale di chimica applicata, Rome, Strampelli re- corded a slight enhancement of growth in cage C copper wiring in the upper part of the cage , and thought of a possible effect over nitrogen absorption. The effect however was too small to be of any practical interest and the experiments were later interrupted.

Nevertheless, his experiment was not forgotten: Which kind of machines and experiences were tried? What relation had those with the long tradition of experi- ments involving plants and electricity? And, finally, what results as Volpone, Gli inizi della genetica in Italia, Bari, Cacucci, Savelli, as we will see, later criticized more vehemently Pirovano.

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A brief overview of the machines used with a detailed example will conclude this partial immersion in the first book of the Milanese horticulturalist and give us enough details to discuss his claimed results on induced mutation and control of the hybrids. This time interval is conventional: Pirovano is not mentioned anywhere in the paper: The conclusion reached by Pirovano was clear: Seeds and plants were already complete entities and, as such, they had means to protect themselves against induced modifi- cations.

To have an effect, manipulation had to be carried out before the seed was formed. After some unsuccessful trials on partially formed seeds, Pirovano choose the pollen as its main experimental object. Not surprisingly for a self-taught scholar his biological ideas were a complex and original combination of different theories and unorthodox opinions that usually were not seen together. The four parts were: This quote from Pirovano, p. The translation from the original Italian text is mine.

A strong cultural factor is also evident: The challenge that he brought to Italian biology tells us something about the plurality of roles that a scientist could play, being at the same time a maverick in one field and a respected figure in another. Does this make Pirovano a rebel? Pirovano however maintained that hybrids were just a transitory combination of pure ancestral species, and were thus forced to segre- gate until the original form was reached again. A more important role had to be ascribed to mutation: The middle ground was found in the following com- promise: The background of the horticulturalist is manifest in the terminology chosen too: According to Pirovano, every attempt that disrupted the natural equilibrium of the plant, no matter how improved the final result, was balanced by nature in some other way, to preserve a sum of vital energy constant.

To dodge this inherent resistance of the plant, a variable electro- Pirovano thought that stability of the species could only be explained with a stability in the molecular structure of the germ plasm. A direct action could thus bring disorder and variation in the atom composition of the plasm. This ac- tion was called by Pirovano jonolisi see Fig. The figure represents an imaginary atomic system inside a chromo- some, before and after the jonolisi process. The process was supposed to shake the stable arrangement of atoms creating a new one: Pirovano tried to show both the possibility and the limitations of the new approach: Too much jonolisi could transform the plasm into an inert substance; not enough of it and the plasm could be unaffected.

This fragility of the plasm, to- gether with the cost of radium, was the reason why radioactivity was eventually discarded by Pirovano as an agent of mutation. Pirovano did some experiments with a machine made by the Parisian Banque du Radium, but considered it too strong for his purposes. The delicate mechanism of life had to be handled with care: Pirovano wrote that variations in the magnetic field induced an electrical current in the pollen: Which machines were used to do that?

Machine meets pollen In the introduction of his book, Pirovano acknowledges for the development of his machines four persons: Unfortunately no additional in- formation is given in the text, and the particular individual contribu- tions are not discussed in the chapter devoted to the machines used. Nevertheless, the mutual relation between different machines and the kinds of experiments conducted seems to indicate a prominent role of Pirovano himself.

Three types of electro-magnets are discussed and The jonolisi explanation seems to highlight the possibility of manipulation and subversion of pre-determined natural order.

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The following discussion on natural limits that cannot be trespassed and the limits of scientific explanation brings the reader back to a more conventional level. The first one was used in open air, directly on the plant: Due to low intensity, the duration of the experiment was between two and three days.

The second and the third one were meant to act instead on collected pollen with direct second type or alternating third type current. The second type is the one repro- duced in Fig. For our aims, it is not necessary to examine in detail each instrument used by Pirovano: On the right a little spark gap permits a measure of the effect: Coil B could be lowered or lifted using crank M. The movement of Coil B allowed for a smooth insertion of the pollen between the two and the reduction of empty space afterwards. To pro- duce the variation in the magnetic field, electrical current was quickly switched on and off.

After a presentation of his instruments, Pirovano could finally discuss the results of his experiments, both on the induc- Pirovano listed three different types of switch that could be used to operate his machines. Had the hybrids finally been tamed? Some of the experiments had a control sample: Pirovano thought that results could come just from a fine tuning between the electro-magnetic action and the particular variety chosen for the experiment. To accomplish this, he made no effort to set the supposed mutagen agent apart, frequent- ly combining different types of stimuli together.

A typical example is found on p. Two pollen samples a and b were used: The electrical current was alternate and inter- rupted with a switch. The distance of the pollen from the spark 3mm, about 0. The experi- ment lasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Pollen a gave birth to a lot of deformed plants that did not survive for a long time; however among them was one abnormally large but sterile. Pollen b instead generated a dwarf variety see Fig.

Pirovano recognizes in the text the incomplete status of his data, for example on p. From the data offered it was impossible to understand exactly in which way the alteration was obtained, or if the results were repli- cable. A lot of the claimed mutations were not as straightforward as a vast reduction in height: Among the offspring of 40, the alleged mutation obtained was slight modification of colour in one exemplar and a slight modification of shape in another.

Pirovano knew about the shortcomings of his experimental approach; neverthe- less he thought that a lot of his results like the image above showed the possibility to reach in the future major horticultural improvements through the creation of new varieties. How could those results, that we can now regard as modest, inspire such a vision of extended plant manipu- lation and control? Limited results could be blamed on the difficulty to find the perfect amount of stimuli, different for each plant.

A vast experimental work was wait- ing: His discoveries, he thought, could bring a revolution in plant breeding: The chapter on hybridization once again reveals the mixed back- ground and the peculiar biological explanations of the author. A fixed hybrid was nothing more than the reappearance of a pure species. A solution of this puzzle is not given in the text. Even if on p. The struggle for equilibrium was even more complicated in professional plant breeding.

Pirovano maintained that a lot of traits sought in the market were antagonist in their behaviour, making the development of new varieties a true challenge for the breeder. The reason being that in the experiments on heredity three different kinds of behaviour had been observed, all three of them showing uniformity but not dominance.

The three cases are those described above: One of the surprising results claimed was the ability of turning a recessive trait into a dominant one. The pol- len of the plant bearing the usually-dominant trait could be treated with a magnetic field suppressing its guiding force. Not only, but in some cases it was possible to obtain fertile offspring from a hybrid cross that usually gave a sterile descent.

Again, like in the mutation chapter, Pirovano submerged the reader in a flow of different experi- ments grouped in 16 categories with a great degree of variation in the experimental condition chosen. A cross between two different varieties of poppy, opium used as the male plant and bracteate was one of the experiments that gave an impressive result: With jonolisi however the result was different: Pirov- ano claimed also impressive results in his studies on courgettes.

In one of his experiments he obtained a marked increase in productivity, and commented that as a proof of the immediate results that could be achieved with jonolisi in the improvements of cultivated plants. The offer that electrogenetics could make was huge: In other sections for instance on p. According to Pirovano, electrogenetics could become — if suf- ficiently studied and funded — a new source of varietal innovation and a perfect complement for the practices already used in the breeding sector.

Contested results The book ended with a plea for collaboration between botany, elec- tric engineering and genetics. Despite the unconventional biology of Pirov- ano, the book offered a lot of raw materials and suggestions for scien- tists interested in the interaction between electricity and plants. In the following years, however, the results claimed by Pirovano were con- tested: Savelli mentioned a cross between a courgette cucurbita pepo var.

Savelli could also offer other pictures, sent by Nazareno Strampelli, demon- strating that unusual results in shape were not an unusual outcome of non-electrical cucurbita crosses. The main problem seems to be a gener- alized lack of knowledge about specific outcomes of hybridization on specific varieties. This lack of knowledge left always open the possibil- ity of attributing results simply to the cross while denying a particular effect of the magnetic field.

The presence of a control group was not enough to exclude this possibility; the use of a pollen-storing closet lightly heated to evaporate humidity added another interference. Flint, Electrogenetics, Journal of Heredity 16 6: The main issue was the already mentioned diversity in the nature of the electrical treatments, and the lack of a systematic effort in the study of the supposed electrogenetic phenom- ena.

Some years later however he was the chief of a laboratory supported by the state and attracting private funds, claiming results that were not replicated by others and explaining them with a biology that became year by year more odd and uncon- ventional, while genetics in Italy was still struggling to find academic institutionalization. In an institute was created in Rome, increas- ing this conflict.

In , the first and only congress of Elettro-radio-biologia was held in Venice. Riccio- ni and the Indian S. The title of the conference was maybe more related to the presence in the honorary committee of Guglielmo Marconi and to the 12 reports on electricity and muscular tissues pre- sented by A. Romano, professor of electro-radio-biology in Naples. The core of the conference was radiobiology, with some sparks of elec- tricity appearing in the background. In the institute published a book summarizing and celebrating the results of the research facility. Rad, Atti del primo congresso internazionale di elettro-radio-biologia, Primo Con- gresso Internazionale di Elettro-radio-biologia, Bologna, Licinio Cappelli, Some additional experiments with X-rays were conducted, but Pirovano again expressed scepticism toward the practical utility of the mutations obtained by this mean.

No matter how unconventional his biology, Pirovano was a very skilled plant-breeder. His book has some wonderful pictures of plants and flowers obtained both in Belgirate and in Rome. The vari- ety Italia the result of an ordinary cross is still one of the best-selling grapes cultivar in Italy. In the post-war years his biological ideas, almost unchanged, were en- tirely discarded, with the notable exception of a pro-soviet Italian sci- entist, Orfeo Turno Rotini.