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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/82

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By Professor JACQUES LOEB,


FIVE years ago I published a series of papers on the physiological effects of the electric current which impressed upon me the long-known fact that the galvanic current is the most universal and effective stimulus for life phenomena. This fact suggested to me the idea that it should be possible to influence life phenomena just as universally and effectively by the electrically charged molecules—the ions—as we can influence them by the electric current. From that time on the whole working force of my laboratory was devoted to the investigation of the physiological effects of ions.

My first aim was to find out whether or not it is possible to alter the physiological properties of tissues by artificially changing the proportion of ions contained in these tissues. In this way originated the investigations on the effect of ions upon the absorption of water by muscles, the effects of ions upon the rhythmical contractions of muscles, and medusæ, the heart of the turtle, and the lymph hearts of the frogs, the rôle of ions in chemotropic phenomena and the influence of ions upon embryonic development, and the development of unfertilized eggs (artificial parthenogenesis). Those who have followed my work on artificial parthenogenesis may have noticed that from the start I aimed at bringing about artificial parthenogenesis through ions. It seemed to me that I could not find any better test for my idea that the electrically charged ions influence life phenomena most effectively than by causing unfertilized eggs to develop by slightly altering the proportion of ions contained in them. I believe that all these experiments proved what I expected they would prove, namely, that by slightly changing the proportion of ions in a tissue we can alter its physiological properties.

The next step taken consisted in proving that it was indeed the electrical character of the ion that determined its specific efficiency.

'Studies on the physiological effects of the valency and possibly the electrical charges of ions': Introduction and conclusion on theoretical considerations (the footnotes being omitted) of Part I. 'The toxic and antitoxic effects of ions as a function of their valency and possibly their electrical charge,' originally printed in the American Journal of Physiology. From the Hull Physiological Laboratory of the University of Chicago.