Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/86

This page has been validated.
80
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

bility, in view of the fact that some muscles, especially those of the wings of insects, are capable of relaxing and contracting a large number of times in a second. The facts mentioned at the beginning of this paper point distinctly towards the possibility that part of the chemical energy in our body is transformed into electrical energy, or, in other terms, the ions formed in metabolism seem to play a role in the dynamics of life phenomena. From the facts mentioned in this paper we can see that these ions, or rather, their electrical charges, may be responsible for such physical manifestations of life as the muscular contractions and others. It remains to be explained how the electrical energy of the ions may be transformed into the mechanical energy produced by the contracting muscle. This will be discussed in the second paper, but I will point out here that I believe that the electrical energy of the ions is transformed into surface energy. It will now become necessary to pay more attention to the production of ions in metabolism than has been done before. The CO3 and PO4 ions, as well as the H ions, can no longer be considered as mere waste products of metabolism.

3. The fact that ions may act toxically through their electrical charges, and that ions with the opposite charge may act antitoxically, may open a new and very fertile field for pathology and therapeutics. As I have stated in previous papers, especially certain neuroses, and perhaps certain mental diseases, may now find their explanation. Two years ago I pointed out that we must realize the existence of physiologically balanced salt solutions, that means salt solutions in which the ions are so combined that the toxic effects of the one are counteracted by the antitoxic effects of some other ion. Any disturbance in the right proportion of monovalent ions and ions of higher valency must lead to more or less pronounced modifications of the life phenomena.