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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/579

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569
ADDRESS BEFORE THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION.

amongst those who were engaged in the study of pathological processes, that the origin of cells within preexisting cells was to a large extent lost sight of. That a parent cell was requisite for the production of new cells seemed to many investigators to he no longer needed. Without doubt this conception of free cell-formation contributed in no small degree to the belief, entertained by various observers, that the simplest plants and animals might arise, without preexisting parents, in organic fluids destitute of life, by a process of spontaneous generation; a belief which prevailed in many minds almost to the present day. If, as has been stated, the doctrine of abiogenesis cannot be experimentally refuted, on the other hand it has not been experimentally proved. The burden of proof lies with those who hold the doctrine, and the evidence that we possess is all the other way.

 

MULTIPLICATION OF CELLS.

Although von Mohl, the botanist, seems to have been the first to recognize (1835) in plants a multiplication of cells by division, it was not until attention was given to the study of the egg in various animals and to the changes which take place in it, attendant on fertilization, that in the course of time a much more correct conception of the origin of the nucleus and of the part which it plays in the formation of new cells was obtained. Before Schwann had published his classical memoir in 1839, von Baer and other observers had recognized within the animal ovum the germinal vesicle, which obviously bore to the ovum the relation of a nucleus to a cell. As the methods of observation improved, it was recognized that, within the developing egg, two vesicles appeared where one only had previously existed, to be followed by four vesicles, then eight, and so on in multiple progression until the ovum contained a multitude of vesicles, each of which possessed a nucleus. The vesicles were obviously cells which had arisen within the original germ-cell or ovum. These changes were systematically described by Martin Barry so long ago as 1839 and 1840 in two memoirs communicated to the Royal Society of London, and the appearance produced, on account of the irregularities of the surface occasioned by the production of new vesicles, was named by him the mulberry-like structure. He further pointed out that the vesicles arranged themselves as a layer within the envelope of the egg or zona pellucida, and that the whole embryo was composed of cells filled with the foundations of other cells. He recognized that the new cells were derived from the germinal vesicle or nucleus of the ovum, the contents of which entered into the formation of the first two cells, each of which had its nucleus, which in its turn resolved itself into other cells, and by a repetition of the process into a greater number. The endogenous origin of new cells within a preexisting cell and the process which we now term the segmentation