(1700 - 1770)
Jean Antione Nollet was born in 1700 near Oise, France.
Although he was head of a monastery, he spent a great deal of time on the
investigation of electricity and became one of the noted authorities of his
time. In 1745 he developed a theory of electrical attraction and repulsion
that supposed the existence of a continuous flow of electrical matter
between charged bodies. Nollet’s theory at first gained wide acceptance, but
met its nemesis in 1752 with the publication of the French translation of
Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on
Electricity. Franklin and Nollet found themselves on opposite sides
of current debate about the nature of electricity, with Franklin supporting
action at a distance and two qualitatively opposing types of electricity,
and Nollet advocating mechanical action and a single type of electric fluid.
Franklin's argument eventually won and Nollet’s theory was abandoned.
Nollet is said to be responsible for one of the most
impressive and spectacular demonstrations of electricity up to that time.
As the story goes, Abbe Nollet first sent a discharge from a
Leyden jar through a company of 180 soldiers
holding hands. This demonstration was before King Louis XV at Versailles.
The King was both impressed and amused as the soldiers all jumped
simultaneously when the circuit was completed. The King requested that the
experiment be repeated in Paris. In the second demonstration, 700 monks in
a line received the same treatment. Nollet is reputed to be the man who
first applied the name "Leyden jar" to the first device for storing
Nollet's Recherches (above left) provide one of
the earliest detailed treatise on electricity. His Lettres sur l
Electricite (above right) contain his correspondence with
Benjamin Franklin by whom he attacks the
electric theories . 'Nollet recognized these menaces and replied in an
amusing set of "Lettres sur l'électricité (1753)", containing a wealth of
counterexamples which drew their strength from Franklin's occasional
obscurities, imprecision's, exaggerations, and inappropriate appeals to
traditional effluvial models''10 (and which were very important
to Franklin’s research)7,8