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Thread: Imagine if the Nile Electric Catfish was studied in the Renaissance..

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Imagine if the Nile Electric Catfish was studied in the Renaissance..

    I imagine it could have propelled scientific study of electricity/ electronics/computing ... saving us a few hundred years?
    If only the writings of that particular arab physician were translated into latin?

    Thoughts?


    The electric catfish of the Nile was well known to the ancient Egyptians.[8] The Egyptians reputedly used the electric shock from them when treating arthritis pain.[9] They would use only smaller fish, as a large fish may generate an electric shock from 300 to 400 volts. The Egyptians depicted the fish in their mural paintings and elsewhere;[8] the first known depiction of an electric catfish is on a slate palette of the predynastic Egyptian ruler Narmer about 3100 BC.[7] It was suitably called "angry catfish" in ancient Egyptian.

    An account of its electric properties was given by an Arab physician of the 12th century; then as now, the fish was known by the suggestive name of raad, abo el raash, el raad, or raash, which means "thunder"[8] (literally "trembler" or "shaker").

    The shock of these catfish is used to stun prey and in defense. It is not known to be fatal to humans,[2] but large electric catfish can stun an adult person.[9] In small electric catfish the generated current is far less and only feels like a tingle to humans.[9]
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    13,859
    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    I imagine it could have propelled scientific study of electricity/ electronics/computing ... saving us a few hundred years?
    If only the writings of that particular arab physician were translated into latin?

    Thoughts?
    I don't think so really, for a couple of reasons. First of all, electric eels don't only exist in Egypt, and other people knew about them (the Greeks, and later). And I think that people were also aware of other electrical phenomena such as lightning and static electricity. So the problem was not of a lack of awareness. There is certainly an element of lack of understanding, but more than that, there was an engineering issue: there wasn't any practical way to generate electricity or to use it. It's only with the development of the dynamo and incandescent bulbs that there was any practical supply and application for it. I think there is a whole other story about the Industrial Revolution and development of transportation and manufacturing that are really as important as the scientific understanding of electricity.
    As above, so below

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