The science experiments that sparked ‘Frankenstein’

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 17:00 in Physics & Chemistry

A demonstration of the kind of old-time electricity shows that may have inspired “Frankenstein” will have sparks flying in the Science Center on Halloween. For the Monstrous Electrical Show, part of Harvard’s weeklong celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s book, Daniel Rosenberg will crank up a Wimshurst machine to generate 120,000-volt sparks. But he’ll skip a grisly feature of some 19th-century electrical shows. “[They] would sometimes take the corpse of an executed criminal and use machines like this to make it twitch, just to wow and amaze the audience,” says Rosenberg, who supports faculty by running science experiments during lectures. “That is something that we would never dream of doing today, but at that time it would certainly have captured the imagination of someone like Mary Shelley.” A sneak peek of Monstrous Electrical Show. Ned Brown and Kai-Jae Wang/Harvard Staff Rosenberg’s colleague Daniel Davis will set up a modern-day equivalent of...

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