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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/585

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575
ADDRESS BEFORE THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION.

of the jelly-like character of protoplasm, the idea for a time prevailed that a structureless, dimly granular, jelly or slime destitute of organization, possessed great physiological activity, and was the medium through which the phenomena of life were displayed.

More accurate conceptions of the nature of the cell plasm soon began to be entertained. Brücke recognized that the body of the cell was not simple, but had a complex organization. Flemming observed that the cell plasm contained extremely delicate threads, which frequently formed a network, the interspaces of which were occupied by a more homogeneous substance. Where the threads crossed each other, granular particles (milkrosomen) were situated. Bütschli considered that he could recognize in the cell plasm a honeycomb-like appearance, as if it consisted of excessively minute chambers in which a homogeneous more or less fluid material was contained. The polar and spindle-like radiations visible during the process of karyokinesis, which have already been referred to, and the presence of the centrosome, possibly even during the resting stage of the cell, furnished additional illustrations of differentiation within the cell plasm. In many cells there appears also to be a difference in the character of the cell plasm which immediately surrounds the nucleus and that which lies at and near the periphery of the cell. The peripheral part (ektoplasma) is more compact and gives a definite outline to the cell, although not necessarily differentiating into a cell membrane. The inner part (endoplasma) is softer and is distinguished by a more distinct granular appearance and by containing the products specially formed in each particular kind of cell during the nutritive process.

By the researches of numerous investigators on the internal organization of cells in plants and animals, a large body of evidence has now been accumulated, which shows that both the nucleus and the cell plasm consist of something more than a homogeneous, more or less viscid, slimy material. Recognizable objects in the form of granules, threads, or fibers can be distinguished in each. The cell plasm and the nucleus respectively are therefore not of the same constitution throughout, but possess polymorphic characters, the study of which in health and the changes produced by disease will for many years to come form important matters for investigation.

 

(To be concluded.)