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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/711

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SKETCH OF SIR C. WYVILLE THOMSON.

the gelatine may be wanted to provide for the proper nourishment of the coatings of the fibers and cells of nerve and muscle, and that a lack in this provision may bring about an abnormal disposition to involuntary action in nerve and muscle. I believe that these coatings are charged as the walls of a Leyden jar are charged during the state of rest, and that the degree of this charge and the indisposition to discharge is in proportion to the integrity of these coatings; in other words, I believe that the discharge which attends upon and produces this state of action, voluntary and involuntary, in nerve and muscle alike, is more likely to happen in the case where these coatings are insufficiently developed than in the case where they are sufficiently developed; and, so believing, you will easily understand why I think that gelatine may really be of high value as an article of food.—The Practitioner.

 

SKETCH OF SIR C. WYVILLE THOMSON.

THE name of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson is inseparably associated with the first explorations of the depths of the ocean, and with having proved that abundant forms of animal life lived there where it had been believed that only a few scattering organisms were able to maintain an isolated and precarious existence. Professor Thomson was born at Bonsyde, Linlithgowshire, Scotland, March 5, 1830, and died on the 10th of March, 1882. His father was a surgeon in the service of the East India Company, and spent most of his life abroad. His grandfather was a distinguished clergyman of Edinburgh; and his great-grandfather was "Principal Clerke of Chancellary" in the time of the Rebellion of 1745. He went to school at Merchiston Castle Academy, which was then conducted by Mr. Charles Chalmers, a brother of the eminent Rev. Dr. Chalmers, after which he entered the medical course of the University of Edinburgh, in 1845. After three years of study here, he began to feel the effects of overwork, and, as a means of gaining a year's rest, we are told, he took the lectureship on botany in Queen's College, Aberdeen. In the following year he was appointed to lecture on the same subject in Marischal College and University. In 1853 he was chosen to the professorship of Natural History in the Queen's College, Cork, and a year after that to the chair of Mineralogy and Geology in the Queen's College, Belfast. He distinguished himself from the very beginning of his active career as an investigator among the lower forms of animal life. His first published paper appears to have been one on the application of photography to the compound microscope, which was read before the British Association in 1850. While at Aberdeen he published several papers on the Polyzoa and Sertularian Zoöphytes of Scotland,