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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/177

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CORRELATION OF VITAL AND PHYSICAL FORCES.

animal only for force and repair. Plants use food for force and growth—they never stop growing.

Now, the food of animals is of two kinds, amyloids and albuminoids. The carnivora feed entirely on albuminoids; the herbivora on both amyloids and albuminoids. All this food comes from the vegetable kingdom directly in the case of herbivora, indirectly in the case of carnivora. Animals cannot make organic matter. Now, the tissues of animals are wholly albuminoid. It is obvious, therefore, that for the repair of the tissues the food must be albuminoid. The amyloid food, therefore (and, as we shall see in carnivora, much of the albuminoid), must be used wholly for force. As coal or wood, burned in a steam-engine, changes chemical into mechanical energy, so food, in excess of what is used for repair, is burned up to produce animal activity. Let us trace more accurately the origin of animal force by examples.

10. Carnivora.—The food of carnivora is entirely albuminoid. The idea of the older physiologists, in regard to the use of this food, seems to have been as follows: Albuminoid matter is exceedingly unstable; it is matter raised, with much difficulty and against chemical forces, high, and delicately balanced on a pinnacle, in a state of unstable equilibrium, for a brief time, and then rushes down again into the mineral kingdom. The animal tissues, being formed of albuminoid matter, are short-lived; the parts are constantly dying and decomposing; the law of death necessitates the law of reproduction; decomposition necessitates repair, and therefore food for repair. But the force by which repair is effected was for them, and for many physiologists now, underived, innate. But, the doctrine maintained by me in the paper referred to is, that the decomposition of the tissues creates not only the necessity, but also the force, of repair.

Suppose, in the first place, a carnivorous animal uses just enough food to repair the tissues, and no more—say an ounce. Then I say the ounce of tissue decayed not only necessitates the ounce of albuminous food for repair, but the decomposition sets free the force by which the repair is effected. But it will be perhaps objected that the force would all be consumed in repair, and none left for animal activity of all kinds. I answer: it would not all be used up in repair, for, the food being already albuminoid, there is probably little expenditure of force necessary to change it into tissue; while, on the other hand, the force generated by the decomposition of tissue into CO2, H2O, and urea, is very great—the ascensive change is small, the descensive change is great. The decomposition of one ounce of albuminous tissue into CO2, H2O, and urea, would therefore create force sufficient not only to change one ounce of albuminous matter into tissue, but also leave a considerable amount for animal activities of all kinds. A certain quantity of matter, running down from plane No. 4 to plane No. 2, creates force enough not only to move the same quantity of matter about on plane No. 2, but