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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/172

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

No. 3. To illustrate again: As sun-heat falling upon water disappears as heat, to reappear as mechanical power, raising the water into the clouds, so sunlight falling upon green leaves disappears as light, to reappear as vital force lifting matter from the mineral into the organic kingdom.

2. germination.—Growing plants, it is seen, take their life-force from the sun; but seeds germinate and commence to grow in the dark. Evidently there must be some other source from which they draw their supply of force. They cannot draw force from the sun. This fact is intimately connected with another fact, viz., that they do not draw their food from the mineral kingdom. The seed in germination feeds entirely upon a supply of organic matter laid up for it by the mother-plant. It is the decomposition of this organic matter which supplies the force of germination. Chemical compounds are comparatively stable—it requires sunlight to tear them asunder; but organic matter is more easily decomposed—it is almost spontaneously decomposed. It may be that heat (a necessary condition of germination) is the force which determines the decomposition. However this may be, it is certain that a portion of the organic matter laid up in the seed is decomposed, burned up, to form CO2 and H2O, and that this combustion furnishes the force by which the mason-work of tissue-making is accomplished. In other words, of the food laid up in the form of starch, dextrine, protoplasm, a portion is decomposed to furnish the force by which the remainder is organized. Hence the seed always loses weight in germination; it cannot develop unless it is in part consumed; "it is not quickened except it die." This self-consumption continues until the leaves and roots are formed; then it begins to draw force from the sun, and food from the mineral kingdom.

To illustrate: In germination, matter running down from plane No. 3 to plane No. 2 generates force by which other similar matter is moved about and raised to a somewhat higher position on plane No. 3. As water raised by the sun may be stored in reservoirs, and in running down from these may do work, so matter raised by sun-force into the organic kingdom by one generation is stored as force to do the work of germination of the next generation. Again, as, in water running through an hydraulic ram, a portion runs to waste, in order to generate force to lift the remainder to a higher level, so, of organic matter stored in the seed, a portion runs to waste to create force to organize the remainder.

Thus, then, it will be seen, that three things, viz., the absence of sunlight, the use of organic food, and the loss of weight, are indissolubly connected in germination, and all explained by the principle of conservation of force.

3. starting of buds.—Deciduous trees are entirely destitute of leaves during the winter. The buds must start to grow in the spring without leaves, and therefore without drawing force from the sun.