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(Animal and Vegetable) 



Author of " Electro- Pathology and Therapeutics," etc. 



And nun fr ous other I /lustrations 












I HAVE been encouraged by several medical friends, and 
particularly by my fellow students, Drs. White Robertson 
and E. W. Martin, to make an excursion into the realm of 
Electro-physiology ; a subject which I had previously been 
reluctant to take up in the declining years of my life owing 
to the controversy which any new view of the operating 
forces of the body would be sure to provoke. But the 
matter at issue is too important for personal considerations 
to outweigh a possible advance in knowledge. 

For more than half a century theories which were 
without any real scientific basis have barred the way to 
progress, and the rebutting evidence hitherto at command 
was in itself insufficient to compel adequate attention, 
although it was, upon careful examination, enough to refute 
the theories in question. 

In a former work* of an unambitious character I 
considered the nature and distribution of nerve force from 
a new standpoint, and it followed that if I had discovered 
a fundamental principle my research work must harmonise 
with established laws and enable me, in accordance with 
those laws, to explain not only the nature and source of 
the force but to show how by its means the various func- 
tions of the body were called into operation. 

The two theories of the nature of the nerve' impulse, 
the physiological and the physical, are, in the present state 
of our acquaintance with the subject, equally unsatisfac- 
tory; but it has always been clear to my mind that upon 
investigation the body structure should make it manifest 
whether it was primarily designed for electrical or chemical 
functions ; or rather, whether it was evident from its 
* Electro-Pathology and Therapeutics. 


structure that electrical action was precedent to chemical 
change. If not, if, on the contrary, the body consisted of 
a congeries of chemical laboratories, with only an oc- 
casional suggestion of an electrical circuit, then I was 

To this day we electricians do not know if in a galvanic 
cell electrical begets chemical action or vice versa. But in 
the form and appearance of a galvanic cell there is nothing 
to guide us to definite opinion, much less to afford con- 
clusive proof. What is electricity ? There are the one- 
fluid and two-fluid theories. Dr. Le Bon has found that 
the particles emitted from an electrified point are identical 
with those of radium ; carbon when suitably treated will 
give off a form of energy resembling electricity but which 
can be shown to be some other element if electricity is an 
element. We talk glibly of ions and electrons although 
we know very little about them and are constantly 
advancing new theories as if they were laws, and endeavour- 
ing, and failing, to make results agree with them. There 
is only one law, and upon that law all creation is founded ; 
one law for the living and a modification of it for the dead. 
There are, of course, differences of structure and perfection 
of structure, but the same law, as I hope to show in these 
pages, governs without exception everything that lives 
upon this earth, animal and vegetable alike. 


London, 1918. 


Page 34 ; line 5. For " Separates it " read " Separates the 

Page 57 ; line 1. For " 2,000 " and " 40 " read " 200 " 
and " 400." 

Page 95 ; line 2. For " 15 and 5 " read " 5 and 15." 
Page 98 ; line 5. For " points are " read " points is." 

Page 119 ; fig. 31. For " controsphere " read " centro- 

Page 143 ; line 29. For " Gynostemium " read " Gymnos- 

Page 169 ; line 20. For " SO 4 " read " SO 8 ." 

Page 172. Inverted commas should commence on line 
80, after " subject." 

Page 173 ; line 20. For " to the lower thigh-bone " read 
" to the leg bone." Line 28 : For " upper and lower thigh- 
bones " read " upper and lower bones." 









structure that electrical action was precedent to chemical 
change. If not, if, on the contrary, the body consisted of 
a congeries of chemical laboratories, with only an oc- 
casional suggestion of an electrical circuit, then I was 
self -deceived 

To this d 
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the form anc 
to guide us 
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London, 191' 



PREFACE - - vii 

INTRODUCTION V - - - - xxv 



















PART II. Continued. 




















THE EYE - 217 

THE EAR - 228 


OHM'S LAW - 245 





POISONS ..... 277 


PART I In Colour 



Plate I-II. Apple . r . 

. face p. 10 

Plate III-IV. Banana >^',.v . . * 

, face p. 11 

Plate V. Tomato ^ . . . 

. face p. 10 

Plate VI. Orange . .;'.,. 

. face p. 10 

Plate VII- VIII. Lemon . . . 

. face p. 11 

Plate IX-XI. Turnip . . .;\, . 

. face p. 12 

Plate XII. Carrot 

. face p. 13 

Plate XIII. Onion . 

< face p. 13 

Plate XIV-XV. Potato ,1 

. face p. 14 

Plate XVI-XVII. Artichoke 

. face p. 15 

Plate XVIII. Horse-Chestnut Leaf . . 

. face p. 16 

Plate XIX. Ivy Leaf . 

. face p. 16 

Plate XX. Onion . . .V 

. face p. 17 

Plate XXI. Onion -'..,. . , 

. face p. 17 

Fig. 21a. Diagram of Connections (not Coloured) 

p. 18 

PART I Black and White 



22. Section of Horse-Chestnut . ._ -. , 

4 . 23 

23. Section of Horse-Chestnut . 


24. Showing how Induction takes place . . , 

. .. . 25 

25. Section of Horse-Chestnut Seed . fc * 

. . 26 

26. Horse-Chestnut Seed . . ;V -, 

'* . 26 

27. Sections of Horse-Chestnut Seed . . ?*u 

: ^;,, . 27 

28. Section of Edible Chestnut . . 

- V . 30 

29. Section of Edible Chestnut . ' . 

. 30 

30. Acorns ..... 

. 32 

31. Double Acorn in Section 

. 33 

32. Cluster of Cob-Nuts .... 

. 34 

33. Foliage and Cup of Cob-Nut opened out 

. 34 



PART II Black and White 


1. Thumbjpressure upon Electrodes 

2. Condenser ..... .02 

8. Conventional Drawings of Condenser . . . .92 

4. Conventional Drawings of Condenser . . . .9,3 

5. Condenser joined up with Battery . .93 

6. Condensers in Parallel . . . . . .93 

7. Condensers in Series . ' . . . . .94 

8. Condensers in Series 4 '... . .94 

9. Condensers in Series v * . ' . . . 95 

10. Condensers in Series . . . ' V ' . .96 

11. Suggested Connection of Endplates with Muscle . 100 

12. Diagram of Connections for Capacity Test . V . 102 
13-20. Illustrating Mitotic Division . . ." 104-108 
21-22. Illustrating Segmentation of the Ovum . . . Ill 

23. Illustrating Cell Division . *" . . .- ' .116 

24. Lines of Force of Bar Magnet . . ... 117 

25. Lines of Force of Two Bar Magnets . . . .117 
26-33. Illustrating Phases in Cell Reproduction in Animal and Plant 


34. Fertilisation of the Ovum of a Mammal ; . .119 

35. Oosphere with Spermatozoids TO . . . .119 

36. Ganglion Cell (Human) . . . .120 

37. Spore of Vaucheria Sessilis . . . , . . .120 

38. Section of Spinal Cord (Human) . , . .120 

39. Transverse Section through a Root . . . .120 

40. Unipolar Cell of Rabbit . . . . .121 

41. Section of a Branch of Usnea Barbata . -. : ; >. . 121 

42. Fibrils in the Sheath of a Nerve-Fibre . y , . . 121 
48. Cells from a Leaf of Hoya Carnosa . . . .121 

44. Formation of Blastoderm in Rabbit . . . .122 

45. Division of Pollen Mother Cells of Plant . . .122 

46. Group of Cartilage Cells . . . . .122 

47. Division of Pollen Mother Cells of Plant . . .122 

48. Transverse Section of Sciatic Nerve of Cat . . .122 

49. Parenchyma Cell from Cotyledon of Plant . . .122 

50. Fibro-Cartilage Cells . . . . . .123 

51. Cells from Cortical Tissue of the Stem of a Plant . . 123 

52. Section of Salivary Gland (Human) . . . ' . 123 

53. Glandular Colleter of Plant . . . . .123 

54. Muscular Fibre-Cell (Human) . . . . .123 

55. A Vegetable Fibre . . . . . .128 


PART II Black and White. Continued. 


56. Diagram of Pregnant Human Womb .... 124 

57. Ovule of a Gymnosperm . ..... 124 

58. Epithelium Cells (Human) . . . . V . 124 

59. Peripheral Protoplasm of the Embryo Sac of Plant . . 124 

60. Endothelium of a Serous Membrane (Human) . . . 125 

61. Cells from a Tendril of a Plant . , ,\ . . 125 

62. Section across a Nerve Bundle (Dog) . . . . 125 

63. Section through a Young Internode of Plant . . .125 

64. Capillary Vessels of the Air Cells of Lung (Horse) . . 126 

65. Laticiferous Vessels from Root of a Plant . . . 126 

66. Injected Blood-Vessels of Muscle (Human) . . . 127 

67. United Latex Vessels of Plant . . . . . c 127 

68. Stomata in Different Stages of Opening and Closing . . 129 

69. Cells from the Leaf of a Plant ..... 134 

70. Cells from a Staminal Hair of a Plant .... 134 

71. Electrical Diagram of Voluntary Muscular Fibre . .147 

72. Physiological Diagram of Voluntary Muscular Fibre . . 148 

73. Electrical Diagram of Voluntary Muscular Fibre . . 148 
74-76. Illustrating Expansion and Contraction of Muscle . . 149 

77. Diagrammatic . ...... 150 

78. Connection of Nerve with Muscle . . . .150 

79. Connection of Nerve with Muscle . . . .151 

80. Connection of Nerve with Muscle . . . .151 

81. Sarcomere in Moderate Extension . . . .151 

82. Sarcomere in Contracted Condition .... 152 

83. Portion of Leg Muscle of Insect .... 153 

84. Muscle Curve . . . . . . .160 

85. Section of Sciatic Nerve of Cat .... 162 

86. Section of Screened Cable ..... 163 

87. Termination of Nerve-Fibre in Tendon .... 165 

88. Plexus of Auerbach . . . . . .167 

89. Illustrating Molecular Theory of Electricity . . .169 

90. Synaptic Connections of a Sympathetic Cell . . .170 
91-91A. A Synapse (Diagrammatic) . . .- . 170-171 
92. A Synapse (Diagrammatic) . . . . . 171 
93-94. Illustrating the Parallelogram of Forces . , . 176 
95. Muscular Fibre Cell (Small Intestine) - . .184 
96-99. Illustrating Contraction of Same (Diagrammatic) . .186 

100. Muscle Cells of Intestine . . . . 187 

101. Anterior Horn Cell with Processes . . . .190 


PART II Black and White. Continued. 

Fio. PAGE 

102. Showing a Node of Ranvier ..... 192 

103. Showing a Node of Bamboo . . . . .193 

104. Degeneration of Nerve to Node of Ranvier . . .194 

105. Diagram of Chain of the Sympathetic . . .197 

106. Neurons of the Motor Path (Physiological) . . .199 

107. The same reproduced artificially .... 199 

108. Forms of Spinal Ganglion-Cells .... 200 

109. A Unipolar Cell (Rabbit) ^ .' . . .205 

110. A Bipolar Cell (Fish) ; -. . . .205 

111. Sketch of Metallic Ball for Electrification ""- " . . 206 

112. A Multipolar Cell (Physiological) . ^ . . 208 

113. A Multipolar Cell (Electrical) . .- jj& . 208 

114. A Multipolar Cell (Electrical) . .- ]V . 209 

115. A Multipolar Cell (Fish) .... . . . . 211 

116. Reflex Action . ^. . . . . 212 

117. Root Fibres of the Cranial Nerves . . - . .214 

118. Plan of the Origin of the Fifth Nerve . , .215 

119. Pigmented Cells of the Retina . . v'* . 221 

120. Section through the Human Eye , . \ .224 

121. Section through the Macula Lutea and Fovea . . . 225 

122. Diagrammatic Section of the Human Retina . . \ 225 

123. Scheme of the Organ of Hearing . . '.. . . 229 

124. Square Case Kelvin Reflecting Astatic Galvanometer . . 235 

125. Milled Torsion Head . . . , . .236 

126. A d'Arsonval Galvanometer . . . . y . 238 

127. Galvanometer Scale and Lamp . . . , . 239 

128. Transparent Galvanometer Scale and Stand . . . 240 

129. Paraffin Lamp for use with Galvanometer . . . 240 
130-131. Diaphragms -. ; . >^ y 4 . . 241 
182-133. Short-Circuit Keys . . . . .241 

184. Electrode ....... 242 

185. Thumb-Piece . . . . . .243 

136. Method of Connecting . . . . 248 

187-138. Electrodes . . . . . 248-4 

189-140. Diagrams illustrating Ohm's Law .... 248 

141-142. Diagrams of Fall of Potential . . . .258 

143. Illustrating Deflection in Lobar Pneumonia . . . 255 

143A-143C. Differences of Level and Potential . . 256-7 

144-146. Illustrating Earth and Cloud . . . .268-9 






Application of electricity to the soil No attempt to ascertain 
Nature's methods Experiments not conclusive The views 
of Thome and Sachs Analogies in animal and vegetable 
physiology Electricity plays a part in the vegetable as well as 
in the animal world Everything living has a well-defined 
electrical system The edible part of a fruit or vegetable is the 
positive element Dry earth is a non-conductor of electricity 
Water required as an electrolyte Conservation of energy of 
vegetable cells Electromotive force of vegetables, plants and 
fruits Plants grown in pots Electrical stimulation of growth 
The recording instrument and electrodes Sign of the earth 
and the air How earth-grown plants, etc., are charged 
Method of testing described Theories examined and disputed 
Effect of diffusion or decay The apple described and illustrated 
How a cut apple endeavours to protect itself against decay 
The banana illustrated, its positive and negative systems The 
tomato illustrated Difference between one grown in the open 
and one from the greenhouse Effect of connecting pot with the 
earth The orange and lemon, illustrated and described- 
Peculiarity of absolute insulation The turnip illustrated 
Defective absolute insulation and consequent short life after 
removal from the soil No adequate means of protection 
Effect of keeping in a moist condition (illustrated) The carrot, 
illustrated and described The onion (illustrated), a compound 
cell Difficult to examine galvanometrically rPerfect absolute 
insulation Its electromotive force and current- Invaluable as 
a standard cell - - . r v . 8 

Tubers : The potato, illustrated and described Takes its current 
from the mother plant Prolific and unprolific eyes How it is 
enabled to repair injury How it grows (illustrated) The 
Jerusalem artichoke (illustrated) Takes its electrical supply 
directly from the earth and differs in other respects from the 
potato Leaves Deciduous and evergreen Differences of in- 
sulation and life The horse-chestnut and ivy (illustrated) - 14 




Do Vegetables and Fruits possess Capacity ? Answer in the affirma- 
tive Experiment with a quince How the tests were taken 
Experiments with onion, rhubarb, apple, banana, turnip and 
orange described - 17 



Examination of seeds, in their various stages of development, of 
great interest Some analogy between some immature seeds 
and the human foetus Some law seems to govern both and also 
cell-reproduction The HORSE-CHESTNUT seed illustrated 
Method of preparation and testing Its construction, electrically 
considered The insulating membranes and conducting layer 
How the seed-pod is charged by the earth and the air Its 
influence upon the seed substance Independent existence of 
the seed only begun when it falls from the pod Changes which 
then take place and how the seed-substance receives charge 
(illustrated) The final appearance of the insulating membranes 
(illustrated) The secretion of the pod and seed-substance 
Chemical composition of the membranes A contrast The 
EDIBLE CHESTNUT (illustrated) examined and tested How 
different to the horse-chestnut Weird suggestion of foetus in 
womb Higher order of growth Food as well as seed How it 
is equipped to serve as both Its capacity compared with that 
of the horse-chestnut Hypothetical explanation of the purpose 
underlying it The ACORN (illustrated) How the seeds are 
joined up electrically The contacts and insulation Twin 
seeds and how they are given protection Cob-nuts (illustrated) 
How joined up electrically and how insulation is preserved, etc. 22 

The Electrodes and Electrolysis : Experiments to determine the 

effect of electrolysis upon the deflections observed - - 85 

Primary or Secondary Cells ? Probably neither Cells undergo no 
disintegration and no change Cannot be polarised or discharged 
Length of life in direct ratio to absolute insulation Effect of 
short-circuiting Plants " resting " in late autumn, winter and 
spring Constancy of vegetable cells Theoretical explanation 
of their long-sustained electrical activity - 36 

Water in its relation to Plant Life : As dry earth is a non-conductor 
of electricity water is also required as an electrolyte Experi- 
ment with mustard and cress, ferro-sulphate and less water 
Some suggestions - 38 



The Effect of Electrical Stimulation upon Growth : Currents artificially 
sent through a root said to retard growth Statement not 
warranted by fact Experiments with potatoes, with plants in 
greenhouse, and with onions Question of polarity, not 
electricity Variously stimulated onions illustrated - 39 


Review of the last one hundred and fifty years Results considered 
Chlorosis in plants Iron and oxygen in plant life Periods of 
drought The savoy cabbage - - - "*. - 42 

Note for Guidance in Testing : The electrodes and how to connect 

them (illustrated) - - - - - -44 




Present state of knowledge Galvani, Volta, Humboldt, Aldini, 
Nobili, Matteucci, Du Bois-Reymond, Radcliffe, Trowbridge 
Causes of confusion Certain factors not discovered - - 49 

Causes which have Contributed to Error : Generation and dissipation 
of nerve force Insulation of the body Air and earth 
Individuals differ electrically Conflicting results and the 
reason therefor Personal capacity Capacity of liquids and 
moist substances Non-polarisable electrodes Other electrodes 
and their reliability Dr. Longridge's experiments Dr. Martin's 
experiments Other tests of electrodes Argument " Sugges- 
tion " The hand-to-hand deflection and thumb-pressure 
Structure of the body primarily electrical - - - 54 


Rival theories, physiological and physical Argument that impulse 
is chemical more in favour of it being electrical Argument 
Professor Rosenthal and peripheric nerves Inhibition Velocity 




of impulses compared Retardation Resistance of copper 
wire compared with nerve Normal E.M.F. and current of 
man Effect of capacity Hypothesis of Dr. Martin Natural 
dielectrics Experiments of Dr. Le Bon - 73 


The effects of capacity Apparent velocity of current diminished 
Condenser described Connections in parallel and in series 
Joint capacity in series Current and resistance Potential 
differences Connection in series-parallel Condensers of the 
human body Reflex action Rates of discharge Condenser 
action in cardiac muscle Influence of capacity upon velocity of 
the nerve impulse Specific inductive capacity Dimensions of 
plain and voluntary muscular fibres To test the human body 
for capacity, method and diagram - - 9: 


Mitotic division The centrosome and the attraction sphere The 
centriole Division of cell preceded by division of the attraction 
sphere Changes in the cell during the process Achromatic 
fibres and spindle Chromatin Chromosomes Irritability of 
protoplasm Cleavage Repulsion as well as attraction 
Nucleus and nucleolus Division briefly described * - 103 

Segmentation of the Ovum : Hetero and homotypical mitosis 
Polar bodies Varying number of chromosomes Sperm and 
germ nuclei Fertilisation Ascaris megalocephala Difference 
from ordinary mitosis Sexual reproduction in plant life 
Mucor and spirogyra Fucus Asexual reproduction Fungi, 
diatomaeetc and protozoa Importance of nuclei Network in 
protoplasm Enzyme action Vines' description of Karyo- 
kinesis - - 110 


Alleged magnetic influences in the human body Not warranted by 
fact Resemblance of certain phenomena to magnetic control 
superficial Geddes and Thomson's diagram of cell-division 
compared with lines of force of a bar magnet, and with two bar 
magnets - 116 





Phases of cell reproduction, animal and vegetable Fertilisation of 
the ovum and oosphere Ganglion cell and spore Spinal cord 
and root of Phaseolus multiflorus Unipolar cell and section of 
branch Spinal and reticular fibrils (human) and cells from a 
leaf Blastoderm of rabbit and pollen mother cells of plants 
Cartilage and pollen cells Section of sciatic nerve and cell of 
plant Fibro-cartilage cells and thickened cells from stem of 
plant Human and vegetable glands Cell of plain muscular 
fibre and a vegetable fibre Pregnant human womb and ovule 
of a gymnosperm Epithelium cells (human) and peripheral 
protoplasm of embryo-sac of a plant Endothelium of a serous 
membrane (human) and cells from a tendril of a plant Section 
across a nerve in the second thoracic anterior root of a dog and 
section through internode of the short axis of a plant Capillary 
vessels of the air-cells of horse's lung and laticiferous vessels of a 
plant Sachs and others upon laticiferous vessels in plants 
Injected blood-vessels of a human muscle and reticulately 
united latex vessels of a plant Irritability of vegetable proto- 
plasm Similarity of senses Motor mechanism of plants 
Stomata Stimulation Sense organs of plants Specific 
energies of the sensory nerves Enzymes Fats in plants 
Wax in plants and fruits Movement or circulation of proto- 
plasm in plants Cells from leaf of Elodea and hair of Trades- 
cantia Rhythmic movement in plants Paralysis or destruc- 
tion of protoplasmic movement Rate of propagation of 
stimuli in plants - - 118 


Movement apparently spontaneous Nucleo-protein All breathing 
or taking in oxygen Nature of the movement Effect of 
change of temperature, chemical stimuli, electrical stimuli, etc. 
Foregoing paraphrased and explained Live and dead 
amoeba The experiment of Ampere Attraction and repulsion 
Experiments of Davy, Le Bon and Arrhenius Czapec on 
salt solutions Inorganic salts in the blood plasma Rigor or 
cessation of protoplasmic movement in plants - - - 138 


Muscular tissue Striated muscular tissue Anticipation before 
study Sarcolemma and structure of the sarcomeres Krause's 
membranes or Dobie's lines Chemical or electrical action ? 


Certain electrical laws Physiological and electrical diagrams 
Artificial muscular fibre Discharge or neutralisation of charge 

Further diagrams How the nerve-fibres connect with groups 
of sarcomeres Muscle extended and contracted The plane of 
Hensen Condenser-action The " Muscle Telegraph " of Du 
Bois-Reymond Physiology of muscular fibre considered 
Stimuli not various forms of energy Clear spaces may be 
" points " Stimuli not discharging forces Effect of rise or 
fall of temperature upon muscular fibre Excised muscle 
Difference between the living and the non-living Comparison 
with frog, toad and tortoise Excitability of muscle when nerve 
dead Compared with apple Independent muscular activity 
reviewed Wrong to say plants have no nerves Reasons 
therefor Effect of poisons upon nerves and plants Curara 
and nux vomica Muscle-curve due to single induction shock 
examined - - 144 

Sarcolemma and Neurilemma : Both elastic and both dielectric in 

character Argument ^ -161 

Other Insulating Processes : Sciatic nerve of cat Endoneurium, 
perineurium and epineurium-^The electrical function of lymph 

Insulation of submarine and screened land cable Inductive 
interference - - - 161 

The Termination of Nerves in Muscle : End -organs Fibres branch 

Medullated nerve-fibres Plexuses of involuntary muscle 
Each nerve-fibre separately insulated Plexus of Auerbach - 165 

Dendrons and Synapses : Cells of Purkinje Neuroglia and con- 
nective tissue Dendrons, axon and neuron Cell processes 
Synaptic junctions Contiguous but not continuous structures 
Propagation of electric force by molecular action Sympathetic 
cell : arborisations Physiological path of chains of neurons 
uninterrupted Synapse compared with condenser Necessity 
for insulating processes in the body .... 168 

Connection of Muscles and Bones : Whole action of muscle the sum 
of the separate actions of all the fibres Fan-shaped muscles 
Semi-pennate muscles Pennate muscles Parallelogram of 
forces Work performed by muscles conditioned by their 
attachment to the bones Sesamoid bones - - 172 

Response of Muscles and Nerves to Electrical Stimulation : Nutrition 
of the nerves When impaired Nerve degeneration and its 
effect on muscle Changes in the excitability of muscle Con- 
tractions caused by constant and induced currents Degenera- 
tion of irotor nerve Response of muscle to constant current 
Muscular paralysis Paralysis due to disease .- 178 





Histological diagrams not sufficiently clear Cardiac muscle inter- 
mediate Each segment considered as a sarcomere Branch or 
shunt circuits Regulation exercised by the cardiac branches of 
the vagi Day and night intake of oxygen in relation to the 
hand-to-hand galvanometric deflection Inhibition Effect of 
an escape of nerve energy, and of certain toxins - 182 

Plain Muscle : Very little information Must be transversely striated 
Professor Rosenthal's views Schafer The question of a 
sarcolemma Longitudinal striation would only cause flattening 
Explanatory diagrams and speculative explanation How the 
cells are probably connected up - - - 184 


Cells contain organically combined iron, but not in masses as hitherto 
thought -Mott's researches with living cells Nissl's granules 
the result of coagulation in the dead cell In the living cell they 
exist in the form of fine particles - 189 


Illustration of a typical node How the nodes occur Compared with 
bamboo and canes Strasburger on the nodes of bamboo 
Degeneration of nerve only to node Uninterrupted continuation 
of axon questioned Constriction and increased resistance 
suggested Reasons therefor - - - 192 


Some said to be condensers and some storage cells Differentiation 
of the two Efferent and afferent impulses, and control and 
regularity of supply Diagram of motor and sensory paths 
from spinal cord The functions of a condenser in telegraphy 
Diagram of unipolar and bipolar cells Maintenance of normal 
insulation resistance Physiological and electrical diagrams of 
motor and sensory paths Quantity and tension The views of 
Dr. Le Bon Confusion of terms Electro-cardiograms and 
ganglia Thornton's views Autonomic ganglia Afferent and 
efferent fibres - - - - - - - 196 



Unipolar and Bipolar Cells : The conducting and non-conducting 
cell-substances Macallum and Turner Forms of Leyden jar 
and condenser Their probable connection Cells disposed in 
aggregations of different size The capsule of connective tissue 
Continuous with the epineurium and perineurium Branching 
of the axis-cylinder process at node of Ranvier Neuro-fibril 
network within cell body Every cell not of same structure 
Illustrations from Schafer - 203 

Multipolar Cells : Cells of the cerebral cortex and spinal cord 
Construction of an artificial multipolar cell described Surface 
area and tension Physiological and electrical diagrams 
Dendrons said to be branch circuits How to take off efferent 
and afferent impulses at will Arrangement of condensers or 
bipolar cells described and illustrated Multipolar cell made up 
of as many Leyden jars or rings as there are dendrons with 
separate nerve-fibres to each Illustration from Haeckel 
Reflex action illustrated and discussed Synaptic junctions 
Undifferentiated interstitial protoplasm Storage cells in 
sensory paths illustrated Not found in motor paths Con- 
nection of voluntary motor fibres with multipolar nerve-cells of 
the anterior cornu Direct motor impulses not interrupted in 
their passage through the brain - 205 


The Eye : Strongly suggestive of a compound selenium-cell transmit- 
ting apparatus The effect of light upon selenium Transmitting 
pictures to a distance The telectroscope described Property 
of selenium Transmission of colour Colour in relation to 
white light The lens of the eye The iris or diaphragm 
Pigment cells illustrated and described The rods and cones 
Connections at the fovea and elsewhere The macula lutea 
Visual impulses said to begin in the rods and cones on the outer 
side of the retina Latter connected functionally, if not struc- 
turally, with the nerve filaments that pass to the optic nerve 
" Visual purple " Possible function of the epithelial pigment 
cells of the retina Our ignorance of how undulations of light 
become converted into nervous impulses Ordinary light and 
vibrations The eye illustrated Vertical section through the 
macula lutea Diagrammatic section of the retina Alleged 
vibrations of electrons in the retina Maxwell and the speed of 
electro-magnetic waves Duration of the sensation produced by 
a luminous impression on the retina Optic nerve said to be a 
closed circuit Movement of the pigment cells Movement of 
the cones and possibly of the rods - 217 



The Ear : Physiological description Endolymph and perilymph 
Passage of the impulses The external auditory meatus 
Malleus, incus and stapes illustrated and described Mechanical 
impulse questioned Mechanism of hearing far from being 
satisfactorily settled Neuro-electrical theory more reasonable 
and probable than chemical or mechanical Proof that it is so 
The fenestra ovalis Basilar membrane and membrane of 
Reissner Ear, from external auditory meatus to brain, said to 
be a telephone system Auditory nerves closed circuits 
" Faults " and how to test for them v - 228 



Chief requirements in a galvanometer Its required sensibility and 
period Illustration of square case Kelvin Its adjustment 
Its advantages and drawbacks Galvanometers of the d'Arson- 
val type illustrated Scales illustrated The lamp (illustrated) 
Types of galvanometer short-circuit keys Shunts Connecting 
wires Earth connection The electrodes illustrated and de- 
scribed Sign of current unimportant All deflections 
comparative - - - 234 


In its application to the human body Shortly described In terms 
of hydrostatics Further description Resistance of metallic and 
liquid conductors Fluctuation of human E.M.F. Influence of 
capacity of condenser-ganglion cells Variation of potential 
Temperature and moisture Diagrams Potential differences - 245 
The Hand-to-Hand Deflection : Precautions necessary - 249 

Application of Ohm's Law to Solutions : The researches of Arrhenius - 250 



Dielectric substances and structures in the human body Effect of 
heat upon all known dielectrics Formula for calculating the 
relative resistance of gutta-percha Local temperature and 
local pyrexia and the effect upon local insulation resistance 
Maxwell's experiments Heat and liquid conductors Effect of 
heat upon the dielectrics of the body as compared with its effect 



upon gutta-percha Heat and protoplasm Fault in a sub- 
marine telegraph cable compared with similar fault in the body 
Path of least resistance Lobar pneumonia Exact location 
of fault Double pneumonia Varying conditions of contact 
and moisture Differences of potential and differences of level 
Deflections from hot, dry skin Nervous weakness Impaired 
conductivity : effect of certain toxins upon nerve conductivity 
Various " faults " Importance of the galvanometer in obscure 
morbid pathology Efferent and afferent branches of the vagi - 251 

Galvanometric Tests of Other Diseases : Disease in general 
Neurasthenia nervous instability as well as nervous weakness 
Epilepsy, its distinguishing features and symptoms Suggested 
means of alleviation by shunting the nerve current Direct 
cause of fit Cancer, some tests of Cancer cells non-conducting 
Usefulness of galvanometer in defining area affected - - 260 



The influence of electrified railways, tubes and tram-lines Earth 
conditions during thunderstorms Earth and cloud in electrical 
relation Lightning and its path through the atmosphere 
How the body may be influenced The earth as zero The 
earth electrically " patchy " The Rio Plata and mouths of 
rivers Earthquakes and thunderstorms in the tropics No 
definite knowledge of the causes which set up earth-currents 
The aurora borealis Atmospheric electricity Fulminic matter 
Thermal origin of earth-currents considered The distribution 
of volcanoes Uncertainty as to their condition Earth-current 
in the far North Dry or dielectric soils and their possible effect 
upon the atmosphere and health, as compared with conductive 
soils The torrid, temperate, and frigid zones Atmosphere as a 
vitalising agent - 267 


Rhubarb and other leaves Vegetable poisons and dietary The 
negative parts of plants, tobacco and tea-leaves Suggested 
experiments - 277 



RECEIVING a first education in telegraphy in the Post 
Office under my uncle, F. E. Baines, C.B., First Surveyor- 
General of Telegraphs, and Mr. (afterwards Sir) Wni. 
Preece, I joined the service of the Eastern Telegraph 
Company in the early seventies, and as the story of how I 
became interested in electro-physiological research may 
not be without interest, some personal details are perhaps 

Much about the time of which I am writing I was chief 
assistant electrician under my old friend Professor 
Andrew Jamieson of the cable-ship The John Fender, be- 
longing to the Eastern Telegraph Company and then 
engaged in repair work in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. 

An unfortunate accident to my chief left me for a time 
in charge, and I had as one of my juniors for a brief period 
A. E. Kennelly, now Professor of Electrical Engineering 
at Harvard University. 

Submarine cables, however, are not always breaking 
down, and during an idle interval in the year, so far as my 
recollection serves me, 1880, my employers lent me to 
Mr. Finlay, of the Cape Observatory, to assist him in 
correcting longitudinal data by means of time signals 
transmitted over the company's cables between Aden and 

It was necessary to receive signals upon a reflecting 



mirror instrument while listening to the loud ticking of the 
seconds of a clock specially made for astronomical work. 
The signal had to be sent from one end and recorded at 
the other at the exact tick, and Mr. Finlay showed me the 
importance of determining my personal coefficient of 
error in reading in order that allowance might be made 
for it. 

Some time afterwards, while engaged in cable-testing 
at Delagoa Bay, I noticed a deflection upon the scale of 
the Astatic reflecting galvanometer for which I could not 
account, and upon investigation found the disturbing 
influence to proceed from my own body. This led to a 
series of experiments which convinced me that a force 
resembling electricity, if not identical with it, was con- 
stantly generated in the body, and that its tension was 
dependent upon the state of health of the subject. 

Some few years later I was invalided home, and at the 
instance of Sir James Anderson and Sir John Fender to 
whom the journal then belonged was associated in the 
editorship of The Electrician, and also became editor of 
The Electrical Engineer. In the latter paper, in May, 
1885, I published an article entitled " The Human Body 
as a Disturbing Element in Electrical Testing," from which 
the following quotation may be made : 

" I am of opinion that in every case where use is made 
of an unshunted galvanometer of great sensibility the 
operator should be careful to connect himself during the 
test with an earth plate, instead of, as is usual, standing 
upon some insulating substance. This conclusion was 
forced upon me years ago. I was, in the ordinary course 
of business, comparing a 10-microfarad condenser withone of 
1 -micro capacity by Sir William Thomson's " (afterwards 


Lord Kelvin) " method, employing a very sensitive Astatic 
galvanometer and two platinum-silver resistances, arranged 
so that a difference of one ohm resistance gave me a 
difference of 001 microfarad capacity. The insulation 
of the battery and other apparatus was absolutely 
perfect ; I used a current due to very low electro- 
motive force, in order to avoid heating, and took all the 
precautions which are laid down by others and which our 
own experience suggests. The 10-micro condenser varied 
in the most inexplicable manner between 8-929 and 9-931 
micros. In all there might have been a hundred readings 
taken, each time, or almost each time, with a different 
result, with a discrepancy of about 0-001 micro, and it was 
not until I observed a slight galvanometric deflection while 
the battery circuit was open that the probable cause 
suggested itself to me. During the course of some experi- 
ments I afterwards made under different conditions to 
verify the idea then formed, I stood as closely as possible 
to the galvanometer circuit, and upon being charged with 
20 volts produced a slight inverse deflection upon the 
galvanometer ; when the circuit was opened a slight direct 
deflection was noticeable. After having connected myself 
with an earth of low resistance the phenomenon ceased to 
manifest itself and I succeeded in getting a balance. ' 

My association with Mr. Finlay, short as it was, was 
fortunate. Had it not been for that association I should, 
in all probability, have dismissed the vagaries of the 
galvanometer as being due to leakage, and, so far as I am 
concerned, the experiments might never have been made. 

Hundreds of other electricians have observed the same 
phenomena during the last thirty or more years, but have 
not bothered themselves to do more than attend to the 


insulation of their connections. Temperament may have 
befriended me, but the germ of carefulness was implanted 
by Mr. Finlay, and I am grateful to him for it. 

The article from which I have quoted attracted the 
notice of Dr. Stone of St. Thomas's, a correspondence 
resulted, and, eventually, I collaborated, unofficially, with 
him in the preparation of his Lumleian lecture of the year, 
the subject being, " The Human Body Considered as an 

At that time I am afraid we, neither of us, knew very 
much about it, but although working in different sections 
of the field of scientific investigation, we had both arrived 
at one conclusion, viz., that local pyrexia interfered with 
local insulation resistance. 

The importance of this discovery can scarcely be over- 
estimated, but we did not realise it ; he, not before his 
death, which occurred not long after, I, not for many years, 
because other occupations and duties intervened and 
research work had to be relegated for the nonce to the 

It was some time about the year 1900 that I fitted up 
a laboratory and seriously took up my task anew. And 
then a curious thing happened. We had a juvenile party, 
and some of the young people, inspired, perhaps, by a 
magazine article or fairy-tale, asked me if apples were 
electrical, if one could eat things which would make one 
luminous, and so forth. I replied, " Come and see." 
We went into the testing-room, and having procured some 
apples and oranges and lemons, I connected two steel 
darning-needles by two lengths of flexible wire to the 
terminals of the galvanometer and, of course, obtained 
deflections. These experiments were regarded by me, at 


the time, as " parlour tricks," and in making them I had 
no object other than the amusement of the youngsters. 
But when upon reversing an apple I obtained a reversal 
of sign my interest was keenly aroused and a series of 
experiments was initiated which are described in Part I, 
and which, so far, touch little more than the fringe of the 

From that time I went on working patiently between 
intervals of strenuous commercial and professional life, 
saying nothing, publishing nothing, but collecting data 
upon which to found a considered opinion and this present 
volume is the result. 

A. E. B. 

Part I 




IT has long been known that the application of electricity 
to the soil is sometimes beneficial to plant life, and some 
remarkable results in the direction of increasing the 
quantity and quality of crops have been in that way 
obtained. But hitherto no adequate attempt seems to 
have been made to ascertain if Nature has endowed the 
vegetable world with any system by means of which 
currents of electricity can be utilised, assimilated, or 

The experiments, therefore, conducted during the past 
thirty or more years have not been altogether conclusive, 
and no really satisfactory evidence has yet been obtained 
beyond the fact that, under certain conditions and in 
certain circumstances, electricity is favourable to growth. 

In Structural and Physiological Botany by Thome, 
translated by Dr. Alfred W. Bennett, and accepted as the 
recognised text-book in the technical schools of Germany, 
there occurs the following passage : 

44 The chemical processes within the cells of a plant, 
the molecular movements connected with growth, and the 
internal changes on which the activity of the protoplasm 
depends whether exhibited in the formation of new cells 

3 B2 


or in motility are probably connected with the dis- 
turbance of electrical equilibrium. The fluids of different 
chemical properties in adjoining cells, their decomposition, 
the evolution of oxygen from cells containing chlorophyll, 
the formation of carbon dioxide in growing organs, and 
the process of transpiration all these vital processes must 
produce electrical currents ; although this fact has not yet 
been experimentally determined or accurately investigated." * 

Two of the greatest authorities upon Vegetable 
Physiology are, or were, Sachs and Strasbtirger, although 
equally valuable work has been done by Vines and Green. 

Sachs, in his twelfth lecture, said : " That electro- 
motive mechanisms are present in the normal life of the 
plant itself may be in part directly demonstrated, in part 
presumed on general grounds. It has been established, 
for instance, that every movement of water in a tissue, 
even in the woody mass, is connected with slight electric 
disturbances ; and that these even appear when dis- 
placements of water are caused by the mere passive 
bending of a portion of a plant, or by movements of 
irritability on its part. In addition we may assume that 
the chemical processes in nutrition, continually going on 
in the plant, and the molecular movements during growth 
and the passage of fluids from place to place, are all 
connected with electrical disturbances of various kinds, 
although it has not been possible to demonstrate this 
experimentally. We may also suppose that in the 
ordinary life of land-plants especially, during the con- 
tinually altering differences of electrical tension between 
the atmosphere and the soil, equalisations take place 
through the bodies of the plants themselves. The land- 
plant rooted in the soil offers a large surface to the air by 
means of its branches, and the roots are still more closely 
in contact with the moist earth, while the whole plant is 
* The italics are mine. 


filled with fluids which conduct electricity and are decom- 
posed by currents. Such being the case, it can scarcely 
be otherwise than that the electrical tensions between the 
atmosphere and the earth become equalised through the 
plant itself. Whether this acts favourably on the processes 
of vegetation, however, has not been scientifically in- 
vestigated, since what has been done here and there in the 
way of experiments in this sense can scarcely lay claim to 
serious notice." 

Strasburger with whom must be associated Drs. 
Schenck, Noll, and Karsten has nothing to say upon the 
subject, and I think it may reasonably be assumed that 
our knowledge of vegetable electro-physiology is summed 
up in the extracts I have given. 

The analogies, however, which exist in animal and 
vegetable physiology, especially in the lower forms of 
life, are sufficiently full of interest to stimulate further 
research work. That locomotion and sensitiveness are 
common to low plants as well as to low animals, that 
marked similarity exists between the animal and the 
vegetable cell, and that in the matters of the presence or 
absence of cellulose and the nature of the food required by 
both organisms there does not appear to be any absolute 
point of distinction, seemed to me to invite investigation 
and encouraged me to undertake it. The theory of 
evolution, enunciated in its present form by Darwin and 
by Wallace, regards all forms of life as having a common 
descent, a true blood relationship, whence arises the 
impossibility of drawing hard and fast lines of separation ; 
and my own results are in perfect harmony with this 
well-established conclusion. 

We know, or at all events it can be demonstrated, that 
man is a self-contained neuro-electrically controlled 
machine, dependent for the due performance of his func- 
tions upon a constant supply of nerve-energy at a low 


potential ; that nerve-force is generated in the body with 
each inspiration, and that the nerve-impulse is neuro- 
electrical and not chemical. If that is so, and it cannot 
successfully be disputed, it may reasonably be assumed 
that in all probability electricity plays a part in the 
vegetable as well as in the animal world. Investigation 
has shown the soundness of this theory, as I hope to be 
able to prove, and further research at the hands of men 
more capable than myself may lead to far-reaching 
consequences in the direction of an advancement of our 
knowledge of practical horticulture and floriculture. 

Briefly, the conclusions at which I have arrived are as 
follows : 

(1) Everything living, whether animal or vegetable, 

has a well-defined electrical system ; the non- 
living possessing capacity only ; and that only 
in conjunction with moisture. 

(2) Broadly speaking, the edible part of a fruit or 

vegetable is the positive element, or that part 
which yields a positive galvanometric reaction. 

(3) Dry earth is a bad conductor of electricity, and 

therefore water is required as an electrolyte as 
well as being necessary in the formation of 
protoplasm, etc. 

(4) Every tree, shrub, plant, fruit, vegetable, tuber, 

and seed is an electrical cell, differing from cells 
made by human agency in that it cannot be 
polarised or discharged so long as it remains 
structurally perfect. 

(5) The skin, peel, rind, or jacket of fruits and vege- 

tables is of the nature of an insulating substance 
primarily designed for the conservation of their 
electrical energy. 

(6) The electro-motive force of them all is the same ; 

the current varying in accordance with Ohm's 

law, i.e., C = , where R = the internal resistance. 


(7) Plants grown in pots or removed from the earth 

and placed in other receptacles differ materially 
in their electrical constitution from those grown 
in the earth. 

(8) If a suitable electrolyte, other than water, is 

mixed with the soil it is possible to grow plants 
with much less moisture, and 

(9) Growth may be stimulated by means of a con- 

tinuous current of electricity of low potential and 
proper sign. 

In the experiments of which an account is about to be 
given the recording instrument was a Kelvin Astatic 
Reflecting Galvanometer (see p. 235) of 80,000 ohms 
resistance at 15 C., and a sensibility of about 4,000 divisions 
of the scale, at a metre distance, per micro-ampere. My 
chief difficulty was in the selection of a reliable form of 
electrode. Those of the non-polarisable variety were, for 
reasons into which I need not presently enter > deemed 
unsuitable. Needles were obviously necessary. Platinum 
was shown by Oliver Heaviside in 1885 * to set up secon- 
dary action even in distilled water, and most amalgams 
were open to the same objection as well as to the suspicion 
of want of homogeneity. Finally, steel was chosen as the 
metal, and the electrodes with which more than ten 
thousand tests were taken without there being one dis- 
cordant result were darning-needles of equal gauge con- 
nected to flexible wires of low resistance. That there are 
theoretical objections to this form of electrode I am well 
aware, but, as I propose to prove, they cannot be upheld 
in face of the evidence to be adduced. 

In normal conditions of weather and in countries free 
from frequent seismic and magnetic disturbances, the 
Earth is always the negative and the Air the positive 
terminal of Nature's electrical system. 

* The Electrician. 


Everything, therefore, that grows in the earth is charged 
by the earth through the roots, and by the air through the 
flowers and leaves (the lungs, as it were, of the tree or 
plant), so that in the roots, stem, stalks, and veins the 
tree, shrub, or plant has its negative terminals, while those 
parts of the leaves between the veins are positive. 

Examination of the vascular bundles and laticiferous 
vessels of plants will make this clear. 

In all fruits and vegetables the negative and positive 
systems are plainly discernible once the eye has been 
taught to look for and recognise them. 

Before going into detail, however, it will be as well to 
consider the electrodes. 

I found that when two wires of equal gauge and length, 
soldered to two steel needles of exactly the same gauge and 
length, were connected to the terminals of the galvanometer 
and the needles were inserted in various objects and 
liquids, certain deflections were observed, and that such 
deflections were not momentary but constant. 

These deflections are explained as being due to galvanic 

There are two theories, i.e. 

(1) Two metals that is to say, one needle being 
electrically positive to the other in one exciting 
liquid, or 
. (2) One metal in two such liquids. 

It will, however, be only necessary to consider the first 

Let us suppose that we are using two wires of exactly 
equal length soldered to two steel needles as before men- 
tioned, and that the object under examination is an apple. 
In order to settle which is the positive and which the 
negative side of the galvanometer scale from its central 
zero, we will first connect the positive or carbon terminal of 
a dry cell to the right-hand terminal, and the negative or 


zinc terminal of the cell to the left-hand terminal of the 
recording instrument. The resultant deflection is to the 
right of zero, and we may therefore call the right side of 
the scale from zero positive and the left side from zero 

Now, if we insert the needle connected to the right side 
of the galvanometer in the stalk of the apple and the other 
needle in the flower end, we get a constant negative deflec- 
tion. If that deflection is due to galvanic or chemical 
action, then so long as we do not alter the connections upon 
the galvanometer, and reasoning upon the hypothesis that 
the right needle is electrically negative to the left needle 
and that chemical action is set up by their contact with the 
malic acid of the apple, the deflection must continue to be 
negative when the fruit is reversed and the right needle 
is inserted in the flower end and the left needle in the stalk. 
Also the signs of both deflections must be reversed if we 
reverse the wires upon the terminals of the galvanometer. 
But it is not so ; nothing of the kind ever occurs or can 
occur. Every fruit will give a constant negative deflection 
when the right-hand needle is inserted in the stalk, and a 
constant positive deflection when it is inserted in the 
flower end ; while every tree, shrub, plant, vegetable, and 
individual leaf will yield a constant negative deflection 
when the right-hand needle is connected with root, stalk, 
or vein, and vice versa. The wires may be reversed upon 
the terminals of the galvanometer as often as desired. 
There will be no difference whatever in the phenomena 
observed. In the case of pot-grown plants and fruits, 
etc., polarity is reversed because the moist soil in the pot 
receives its charge from the positive air instead of from 
the negative earth. 

If, however, diffusion takes place by reason of injury or 
decay, and the plant, vegetable, fruit, or leaf becomes 
rotten, no reversal of sign will be obtained. 



Fig. 1 illustrates the electrical structure of the apple. 
The stalk, receiving its negative charge from the earth, 
communicates directly with the negative core, which, as 
will be seen, is insulated from the positive or edible portion. 
The core terminates at its upper end, it will be observed, 
in a dry plug the remains of the flower while the stalk 
is always sealed, either by dry fibre or by a gummy or 
resinous secretion. The rind or outer covering is of 
enormous resistance, and is evidently designed to conserve 
the energy of the cell by giving it high absolute insulation. 

From Fig. 2 we gather some idea of the means adopted 
by Nature to prolong life. 

In the example shown, seven days had elapsed since 
the division was made, the surfaces had partially dried, 
probably to increase their resistance and lessen liability 
to evaporation, the walls of the core had similarly har- 
dened, and the rind or peel had closed round the edges to, 
we may assume, prevent the loss of any of the juice 
necessary to the apple's continued electrical activity. 

The pear and the quince so nearly resemble the apple 
that it is unnecessary to describe them. The only difference 
is that the core is more elongated in shape and is placed 
at a slightly greater distance from the stalk than in the 
case of the apple. 


It will be seen that the negative terminal the stalk 
is connected with the skin and an inner lining from which 
the positive flesh of the fruit is instantly detachable. No- 
where does there appear to be any actual electrical contact 
between the negative and positive systems except, pos- 
sibly, by osmosis the flesh being enclosed in an envelope 
and as the whole of the flesh is positive the dietetic value 










of this fruit should be high. Unfortunately it has when 
ripe, and probably owing to its porous skin, a compara- 
tively low insulation resistance and therefore a short life. 
Figs. 3 and 4 will serve to illustrate the points mentioned. 


The tomato (Fig. 5) affords us convincing testimony of 
the reliability of our electrodes, because during the late 
summer we can take one grown in the open ground and 
one from the greenhouse and test them under exactly the 
same conditions and at the same time. That grown in the 
open ground will be found to be negative at the stalk and 
positive where the flower originally appeared, while that 
from the greenhouse, where it had been deprived of its 

supply of current from the negative earth and compelled 
to take its root-charge from the positive air, assumes an 
opposite polarity and is positive at the stalk end, etc. 
These remarks apply to all fruits and vegetables cultivated 
alike in the garden and in pots in the greenhouse, such as 
the cucumber, the orange, lemon, etc., etc. 

But if the soil in the pot is connected by a metallic 
conductor with the earth (see illustration), no change of 
polarity will occur. 



In testing these fruits great care has to be exercised 
owing to the large quantity of juice they contain, the 
rapidity of its action upon steel, the danger of diffusion, 
and the extreme delicacy of cells of which the fruits are 
mainly composed and the narrow contacts they offer. 
Their structure, electrically considered, is best explained 
by Figs. 6, 7, and 8, but especial notice should be taken of 
the wonderful manner (shown in the sectional plans) in 
which the positive flesh of the fruit is surrounded by 
protective material, and how that protective material is 
connected in turn with the central and outer negative 
system. Nor is their absolute insulation provided for in 
a less remarkable manner. The skins of the orange and 
lemon in particular appear to be porous, but in reality 
they are built up of innumerable cells containing a highly - 
resistant ethereal oil which, until expelled by evaporation, 
conserves their energy. 

(Swede and Mangel -Wurzel, etc.) 

In Fig. 9 it will be seen that the negative system of this 
vegetable extends from the root along the outer perimeter 
and to the whole of the thickness of the rind. The inner 
lining of this an envelope, as it were is probably pro- 
tective material, and, so far as I am able to judge, the 
whole of the interior is positive ; that system extending to 
the positive terminal, or flower end ; and to those portions 
of the foliage free from stalks and veins which connect 
directly with the negative system. 

From an electrical point of view the turnip compares 
unfavourably with many other vegetables. At no time 



>S G^ 


is its skin or rind of very high resistance, and when a 
turnip is divided as in the illustration given it soon, 
especially if kept in a dry place, becomes unfit for food. 
Unlike some other vegetables, such as the potato, it does 
not appear to be provided with the means of forming fresh 
insulating material upon the cut surface, with the result 
that it dries up, and, not being able for that reason to 
absorb charge from the air, loses its electrical activity and 
degenerates into a spongy, fibrous, and inedible mass. If, 
however, it is kept in a moist condition it retains capacity, 
or power of absorption of electricity from the air, and can 
be preserved for a longer period of time. This was ascer- 
tained by cutting turnips in halves. Figs. 10 and 11 show 
the halves of two turnips taken from the same bunch. That 
given in elevation was kept under water for ten minutes 
three times daily, while the other (sectional plan) was left 
untouched ; both being subjected to identical atmospheric 
conditions. In the same figures we have the two halves 
of the turnip in elevation. These were treated as above, 
and in both instances were sketched after an interval 
of eight days. They call for no further comment from 


Fig. 12 sufficiently illustrates the electrical structure of 
these vegetables, but attention may be drawn to the fact 
that the roots are connected directly with the negative, 
and that the central positive system is insulated or pro- 
tected from the former in the manner shown. If these 
vegetables are divided in the middle, lengthwise, the 
negative can be separated from the positive portion with 
the fingers, leaving the latter exposed as a tongue and 
exhibiting the former encircled by root-filaments. 



This is an unusually difficult vegetable to test, in that 
while the bulb appears to form a complex cell, the inter- 
mediate contact-spaces are so narrow and the liability to 
diffusion so great, when the onion is divided, that I am 
unable to speak with certainty. Botanists, however, will 
readily solve the problem, which, from an electrical stand- 
point, is to differentiate the layers connected with the root 
from those in alignment with the tubular leaves. The 
former will be negative and the latter positive. 

Fig. 18 depicts the structure of the onion as it is pre- 
sented to the unaided eye and in so far as I am able to 
determine it galvanometrically. The negative system 
seems to extend from the root to the outer second and 
third layers of the bulb, between which and the central 
positive system there exists a membranous and probably 
protective lining. The contacts afforded by the poles are 
well defined, the absolute insulation is extraordinarily high, 
and altogether the onion is a vegetable cell of a very 
perfect description. Its electro-motive force is, ap- 
proximately, 0-086 volt ; the current varying, of course, 
with size. Such a cell is invaluable in the testing-room 
for such work as, for instance, taking the constant of a 
sensitive galvanometer or comparing deflections from 
living muscle or tissue, instead of using for the purpose a 
standard cell liable to polarisation when employed without 
very high resistance in circuit. 


These differ in their electrical constitution from root- 
vegetables proper and from fruits, in that they are not 
merely bipolar, but have a number of positive and negative 
terminals. I have taken two examples, i.e., the potato 
and the Jerusalem artichoke, reserving others for future 



The potato plant receives its supply of current direct 
from the earth, but it is open to doubt whether such is the 
case with the tubers to which it gives birth. They are 
connected with the parent plant by a filament or filaments 
not altogether unlike the umbilical cord of the human 
through which or by means of which they are energised. 
In the potato shown in Fig. 14 I can trace only two eyes 
to which such filaments might have been attached (marked 
a and b). They are negative terminals communicating 
with the outer negative system, while c, d, and e are 
terminals (positive) of the lines /, g, and h. It is only 
when these slightly darker lines reach the jacket that we 
find a live or prolific eye. The unprolific eyes, so called, 
are those by which the tuber is attached by a filament or 
filaments to the parent root. 

It has been seen that some fruits seek to protect 
themselves when cut or injured, or rather that Nature has 
made in that regard some provision for them. 

In this respect the potato is well endowed. Very 
shortly after being cut it exudes a starchy substance which 
dries rapidly, and forming a film over the cut surface, 
restores in some measure, if not entirely, the impaired 
insulation, as well as preventing loss, by evaporation, of the 
fluid, without which it must become electrically dead. 
This tuber will, in fact, keep longer and grow better after 
being injured than any other member of the vegetable 
world with which I am acquainted, other things being 


There are several points of difference between this tuber 
(Figs. 16 and 17) and the potato. It is covered with root- 
filaments, is distinctly bipolar as regards the ends, and does 


not appear to be provided with so efficient a repair outfit. 
In common with the potato, it has a marginal negative 
system and several positive terminals, but I should imagine, 
from the number of root-filaments, that instead of being 
dependent upon the mother -plant it derives its electrical 
supply directly from the earth. 


I selected a few examples from evergreen and deciduous 
leaves with a view to seeing what difference, if any, 
existed between them as regards relative conductivity, the 
ramifications of their negative systems, and the quality of 
the main conductors the stalks through which current 
is conveyed to them from the earth. 

As a rule, in deciduous leaves the veins do not seem to 
me to form so complete and extensive a network as in 
those of the evergreen variety. They are, moreover, not 
so well insulated, are thinner in texture, and, if they lose 
their moisture under the influence of prolonged summer 
heat, become electrically inert and fall. Such a leaf is 
that of the horse-chestnut (Fig. 18), and it offers a sharp 
contrast to that of the ivy (Fig. 19), in which the negative 
veins form an almost complete network, and which carries 
three principal veins as against the single one of the horse- 
chestnut. The leaf is also more substantial, is infinitely 
better adapted to retain its moisture, and therefore its 
conductivity and capacity of electrical absorption, while 
the walls of the veins appear to possess high resistance, 
or, in other words, a high degree of insulation ; the inter- 
mediate or positive parts of the leaf being able in the 
presence of occasional rain or even a damp atmosphere to 
receive positive charge from the air. 

This perfection of insulation and inherent interior 
moisture extend to the stems of the plant, so that, their 



















internal resistance being unusually low, a current in excess 
of the average is carried by them, and may possibly ex- 
plain, in some measure, the ivy's tenacious hold upon life. 
The insulation is probably due to the numerous resin- 
passages found in the plant. 


The answer to this question, so far as the experiments 
have gone, is in the affirmative. No attempt has been 
made to determine, by comparison with a standard con- 
denser, the electrostatic capacity of any vegetable or fruit, 
as the conditions would vary enormously with size, degree 
of moisture present, and insulation resistance, without 
offering adequate compensation for the labour involved. 

It was therefore thought sufficient to ascertain if fruits 
and vegetables when put in circuit with a battery and a 
recording instrument, merely, by reason of their conducting 
juices, formed part of a simple circuit, or whether after the 
battery had been disconnected they retained charge : 
whether by reversing the polarity of the battery the 
polarity of the object under examination could be altered, 
and for how long any such charge or change, if any, was 

The first experiment was with a quince. With the 
right-hand needle inserted in the stalk and the left needle 
in the flower end it gave a constant negative deflection. 
The needles were allowed to remain in the fruit, but the 
wires to which they were attached were connected to a dry 
cell for five minutes, i.e., right needle to carbon and left 
needle to zinc. The resultant deflection was strongly 
positive, discharge took place slowly, and it was a consider- 
able time unfortunately not recorded before the original 
negative deflection was restored. 

At a later date I tested a number of fruits and 




vegetables, using a reflecting galvanometer of the 
D 'Arson val type. 

In every case the connections were as shown by Fig. 21 A, 
the needles, except where otherwise mentioned, being left 
in the object under examination during the whole of the 
test. The scale limit was 250 mm. from a central zero. 
In every case, also, the fruit or vegetable gave, with the 


x = vegetable cell. 

= positive terminal of same. 

b -negative 

c =dry cell 1*5 volts. 

d = plug switch. 

G = galvanometer. 

right needle inserted in the stalk end, a constant off-scale 
negative deflection. 

It is not proposed to give full details, as they might 
become wearisome, but to summarise the results obtained 
in each test or series of tests. 


With the right needle to the root and the left needle 
to the foliage end it gave a constant, fairly rapid, off-scale 
negative deflection. Five minutes 7 charge from a cell of 
15 volts positive to root and negative to foliage merely 


reduced this deflection, and it was necessary to give a 
further five minutes' charge. At the end of this time it 
went rapidly off-scale positive and remained off-scale for 
fifteen minutes. The connections were then earthed for 
five minutes through 5,000 ohms, when the charge was 
found to be dissipated and the true polarity restored. 

In a second experiment with the same onion a further 
ten minutes' charge was not fully discharged until forty 
minutes after the first reading. 


This was charged for five minutes and the cell dis- 
connected. The deflection was then off-scale positive. 
Five minutes later it had fallen to 160 mm. positive, and 
at the end of the tenth minute risen to 180 mm. As this 
might have been due to the effect of the juice upon the 
electrodes, these were removed, cleaned, and carefully 
reinserted, when D = 180 mm. positive, rising in a further 
five minutes to 250 mm. Five minutes E, however, 
removed the charge and the original polarity returned. 


This fruit was large, ripe, and in peifect condition, and 
exhibited an unusual quantity of current. Ten minutes' 
charge with 1-5 volts merely reduced the deflection to 
50 mm. negative. I therefore gave it another five 
minutes, when D = rapidly off-scale positive. Ten 
minutes later it being still off-scale the connections 
were put to E for five minutes and the electrodes removed 
and cleaned. D was then 250 mm. positive and five 
minutes later 235 mm. positive. It had then, unfortu- 
nately, to be left insulated until the next day, when it 
had fully recovered. 



This was really a small plantain, about 7 in. long. 
After ten minutes' charge D == rapidly off-scale positive ; 
five minutes later it was 190 mm. positive, and in twelve 
minutes thirty-five seconds more had gone off-scale 
negative, that is to say, had fallen 440 mm. It 
did not, however, quite regain its original polarity until 
it had been short- circuited through 5,000 ohms for a further 
twenty minutes. Even so it discharged itself in twenty- 
eight minutes as against forty-one minutes of the onion, 
and this I attribute to its comparatively low absolute 
insulation resistance. 


I took two 'examples of this vegetable. The first was 
oval in shape, weighed 3 oz.. and had been kept in a dry 
room for a week, both poles being dry and fibrous. The 
second was an almost perfect sphere, 10J in. in circum- 
ference, weighed 10 oz., and had been recently pulled. 
The root was not dry, the foliage end white and exuding 
moisture. No. 1 was charged for ten minutes as before, 
when D = very rapid off-scale positive. Short-circuited 
through 5,000 ohms it remained off-scale for thirty-two 
minutes, and did not regain its former polarity for thirty- 
three minutes more, showing a slow discharge, but one, 
after allowing for higher insulation, not inharmonious with 
the preceding data. Upon examination the right needle 
was found to be blackened by electrolysis ; the left needle 
having traces only. 

No. 2. Ten minutes' charge, as before. Immediate 
D = very rapidly o'ff-scale positive. In three minutes the 
light returned to 250 mm. positive, and in six minutes 
more had gone off-scale negative ; the vegetable recovering 


polarity almost instantly. The right needle was quite 
blackened and the left needle clean. As this discordant 
result might have been due to leakage through the moist 
poles or terminals of the vegetable, I painted both with 
a non-conducting solution and allowed it to dry, in order 
to see if higher insulation would slow down the rate of 

The experiment with No. 2 was then repeated under the 
same conditions but with fresh points of contact. 

After ten minutes' charge D = very rapid off-scale 
positive. The vegetable then remained short-circuited 
through 5,000 ohms. D continued off-scale for seventeen 
minutes, when the vegetable was accidentally knocked over. 

No. 2 (third experiment). The connections were put 
to earth until the vegetable regained polarity and gave 
perfect reversals. It was then charged for ten minutes 
with 1-5 volts, when D = very rapid off-scale positive, not 
falling to 250 mm. positive until sixteen minutes later. 
The period of fall from 250 mm. positive to 250 mm. 
negative was eight minutes, and ten minutes later the 
vegetable had recovered. The conclusion, or one con- 
clusion, to be drawn is, of course, that absolute insulation 
is a factor of primary importance in retention of charge. 


Circumference 8 J in., weight 5| oz. After ten minutes' 
charge D = fairly rapid off-scale positive. In ten minutes 
it fell to 250 mm. positive, and in fifteen minutes more the 
light had reached 250 mm. negative ; the fruit regaining 
its former full polarity fifteen minutes later. The right 
electrode showed a mere trace of electrolysis. The charge 
in this case remained on the positive side of the scale for 
nineteen minutes, but the absolute insulation of the orange 
and lemon is not very high. 




So far I have not been able to find time to study the 
electrical problems presented by germination, but I am 
convinced that when this is done even greater proofs of 
the universality of the law will be forthcoming. The 
subject is a sufficiently vast one to call for more than the 
labours of one man and the compilation of one book, but, 
so far as I am concerned, it must be reserved for future 

The examination of seeds in their various stages of 
development present features of interest which cannot fail 
to claim the attention of the student, and although my 
opportunities for observation have been limited by a 
variety of circumstances, I am glad to be able to offer some 
food for thought and, I hope, additional stimulus to 

During our consideration of the nature of the nervous 
impulse we, or at all events some of us, learn that in the 
case of the human foetus independent existence is only 
begun when air (oxygen) is first taken into the lungs and 
complete circulation established until that moment the 
child is dependent upon the maternal blood-stream and 
will note, in the chapter upon Cell-reproduction, that the 
so-called " resting " stage of a cell is really a developing 
stage. That being so, it follows, I think, logically, that 
while a seed is still attached to the parent plant or tree it 
is equally dependent with the unborn child, and that the 


same law which governs cell -division should guard the 
immature seed from the possibility of premature germina- 
tion by withholding from it a perfected electrical system. 
Unless that is so there is a flaw in our reasoning, or our 
understanding of the law is at fault. 


At the time of year of the experiments about to be 
described (September) and for the following few weeks 
the seeds were in various stages of development, and could 
be studied at leisure. The method adopted was to 
cut the pods in halves longitudinally and test them gal- 
vanometrically, to ascertain the relative sign and electrical 
activity of their various parts. The following photo- 
graphs are illustrative of the result : 

Outer Lnsu[at<nfme m 6rane 

Fig. 22. SECTION OF HORSE-CHESTNUT. [Original photo.] 

a, a, part, consisting of white, pithy substance, which is positively 
charged ; b, insulating membrane immediately enveloping the seed 
substance ; c, conducting layer, negatively charged ; d, insulating mem- 
brane enveloping the conducting layer ; e, seed substance yielding only a 
few millimetres positive deflection as against the 1,000 mm. negative of 
the conducting layer ; /, outer insulation, porous, and of low resistance. 

The next photograph shows the negative terminal and 
system more clearly, and gives a better idea of the extent 
of the positively charged material. This seed is not in 


such an advanced stage of development as the preceding 
one, and the pod contained two seeds. 

Fig. 23. SECTION OF HORSE-CHESTNUT. [Original photo.] 

Two insulating membranes are shown, but there is a 
third, not adherent to the seed, but lining the cavity in 
which it lies, and designed, there can be little doubt, to 
prevent a positive charge from reaching the immature 
seed ; inasmuch as this membrane appears to be formed 
before the membrane d attains the required resistance. 
The function of the other two membranes, b and d, en- 
closing the actively charged conducting layer, c, calls for 
more elaborate if hypothetical explanation. 

Apart from the seed itself the major portion of the pod 
is taken up by a white, pithy substance of positive sign ; 
probably charged by the air through the epidermal spines 
or pores. While the seed is growing it does not, I imagine, 
require direct, but rather modified, electrical stimulus. 
From the seed substance itself I obtained deflections of a 
few millimetres only, whereas the conducting layer, c, gave 
excursions of one thousand and over. Assuming, then, 
that for some wise purpose possibly to give adequate 
time for development stimulus to the seed substance is 
modified, the function of the conducting layer, c, becomes 
apparent, inasmuch as it would play much the same part 


as the lymph space on a nerve-fibre or the copper taping on 
an insulated wire in preventing an induced charge from 
passing it. 

Now the part a, a is positively charged by the air and 
has greater surface area than the conducting layer c. 
We should therefore find as we do find that the tension 
of c is in excess of that of a, a, and that the sign is negative 
instead of positive. 

That is while the seed is still attached to the tree and 
has no separate and independent existence. 

But in course of time the pod falls and releases the seed 
by splitting segmentally. The latter we must suppose to 
be planted or buried in the soil and to be thereafter depen- 
dent upon the earth, as man is mainly dependent upon the 
air as the source of electrical energy. Obviously, then, 
some change must take place to enable the seed to survive, 
and that change is a very important one. The conducting 
layer, c, dries up, and therefore ceases to intercept charge, 
but the outer membrane, d, after contact with the damp 
soil, would become a conductor, and without the inner 
membrane, b, no electrical system could obtain. But with 
d as a conductor and b as the insulating material, induction 
could take place, and the seed substance receive a positive 
induced charge in the following manner 


Jffembrane d.. conductor 

6, : non-conductor 

Fig. 24. 

so that the two membranes are necessary both while the 
seed is in the pod and after it has been released. 

Fig. 25 shows the final appearance of the membranes 


d and b. It is, however, not improbable that instead of the 
whole of d becoming conductive, only the part g illustrated 
by Fig. 25 may so function. This is suggested by the 
greater desiccated space between the membranes at that 
point. But even in that event the only material differ- 
ence, so far as I can see, would be that the tension of 
e would be lower than that of d by reason of the larger 
surface area ofV 

Prior to the completion of the insulating system the 
conducting layer c seems to receive 
charge directly through the stalk of 
the pod. During such time, there- 
fore, the part g, or the depression 
marked h thereon (Fig. 26), would 
probably be the point of contact. 

As regards the unusually elabo- 
rate insulation of the pod and 
seed of the horse-chestnut, it is 
worthy of remark that the secretion 
both of the white, pithy material 

and the seed substance is markedly acid, staining steel and 
instantly turning litmus-paper red. Neither of the three 

Fig. 25. SECTION OF 

Showing the final ap- 
pearance of the mem- 
branes d and b. 

[Original photo.] 

membrane d 

Fig. 26. HORSE-CHESTNUT SEED. [Original photo.] 

The part g occupies about one-third of the area of the membrane d f 
h is a small circular depression upon g and is probably of the nature of 
a contact before the insulation is completed. 

membranes, however, has any effect upon litmus-paper, 
and, so far as I could determine, all are, as one would expect, 
chemically neutral. 



Fig. 27 gives another view of the dried-up layer, c, 
and shows a tongue-like projection of the seed substance 



[Original photo.] 

Showing projection of seed substance. 

This tongue-like projection, k, does not connect with h, nor is it so 
pointed as in the edible chestnut ; more frequently it resembles the end 
of a dumb-bell when cut in section transversely. The part g is assumed, 
in this instance, to be the bottom of the seed. 

similar to that of the edible chestnut and insulated by the 
inner membrane b in the same manner. The probable 
purpose of this is suggested later on. 


I had before me, uncut, an edible and a horse-chestnut, 
both in pod. They were free from spines, were of the 
same colour, size, and shape, and there was nothing in 
their outward appearance to differentiate them, except 
that upon one the stalk still remained, to remind me that 
it was the horse-chestnut. I cut the latter in halves, as 
before, and photographed it. As it was in all its details 
exactly similar to Fig. 22 there is no need to reproduce it. 
I then proceeded to treat the 


in the same way, and photographed the two separate 
halves, shown in Figs. 28 and 29. The difference is very 


remarkable. At all stages of development of the horse- 
chestnut the seed substance is solid, and fills the whole of 
the space within the inner membrane b, as shown in 
Fig. 22, but in the edible chestnut it is more suggestive 
of a foetus in the womb. I have cut some pods (un- 
fortunately not now available for reproduction) in which 
the seed substance appeared in semicircular shape, and 
offered a weird resemblance to the foetus at a very early 
period of its growth. Apart from that, however, there are 
other essential points of difference. Both in the horse- 
chestnut and the edible variety the secretion is markedly 
acid, but whereas in the first the seed substance holds very 
little liquid, that of the second is so heavily charged with 
it as to fill or almost fill the cavity i, when the pod, and 
with it the seed, is divided. 

In the case of the horse-chestnut the cut surface of the 
seed soon discolours and becomes a brownish-yellow ; that 
of the edible chestnut remains white for a much longer 
time, although the conducting layer c dries up almost 
immediately. One is a seed, pure and simple ; the other 
is both a seed and a food. 

As will be seen in Figs. 22 and 28, the construction 
electrically is much the same in both seeds, but whereas 
in the horse-chestnut the seed substance is closely adherent 
to the inner membrane b throughout, only a small portion 
of the seed substance of the edible chestnut, in the posterior 
part of j, is in its adolescence adherent to it, and this 
part, as in the horse-chestnut, penetrates or protrudes 
through the inner membrane by means of a tongue-like 
projection to the limit of the conducting layer, c, which is 
thicker than in the horse-chestnut seed. It, however, does 
not connect with g (Fig. 25), but is nearer the centre of the 
seed (g being, in the photograph, rather high up on the 
left). This tongue is enveloped by an insulating membrane, 
by which it is separated from the layer c and the outer 


membrane d, and may be designed to facilitate induction 
between the conducting layer and the seed substance, 
inasmuch as the latter, unlike the horse-chestnut, is not 
adherent to the inner insulating membrane 6, except at 
this point. Two considerations at least present them- 
selves. Capacity in the case of vegetables and fruits is 
governed by the nature and quantity of the conducting 
liquid as well as by the specific inductive capacity of the 
dielectric, and the area of the respective plates or discs or 
membranes and their distance from each other ; and upon 
capacity plus absolute insulation the life of the vegetable 
or fruit depends. In the horse-chestnut assuming specific 
inductive capacity and absolute insulation to be the same 
in both we have the plates of comparatively large area 
and close together, but with very little moisture. In the 
edible chestnut one of the conducting surfaces, i.e., the 
seed substance, is irregularly shaped, is removed in youth 
except at the posterior part of j from the membrane b, 
but contains a large quantity of moisture ; is, in fact, 
surcharged. Actual test showed the tension of the seed 
substance to be higher than that of the horse-chestnut, and 
this would be in accordance with established laws.* But 
what is the purpose underlying it ? 

I may be wrong, but a possible explanation presents 

Let us suppose that the horse-chestnut seed, not being 
intended for food, is destined only to ripen, to fall from the 
tree and pod, and to be buried in the earth to reproduce its 
species. That would seem to be the sole object of its 
creation, and nothing but the perfection of its insulation 
would equip it with a sufficiently robust constitution to to survive prolonged exposure under conditions 
unfavourable to germination. 

* See chapter on INDUCTIVE CAPACITY. 


The edible seed, on the other hand, must, if it is to be 
useful as a food, have keeping qualities, be able to preserve 

Srefative. terminal 

U u,ter insulation 

Fig. 28. SECTION OF EDIBLE CHESTNUT. [Original photo.] 

a, a, a, a, a*= positively chargedfwhite, pithy substance ;" b, inner 
insulating membrane ; c = conducting layer ; d = outer insul iting 
membrane ; e = seed substance ; j = beneath this is the tongue-like 
projection ; i = cavity in which the seed substance is ensconced. 

itself unimpaired for a considerable period of time, and in 
this we may find a reason for the quantity of moisture with 
which it is, under considerable pressure, charged. But 


[Original photo.] 

The seed substance seen in the central cavity is not attached in any 
way to it. Before division of the pod it formed, of course, part of the 
seed substance shown in Fig. 28. 

it is also a seed, and when it is planted in the soil and the 
outer membrane or some portion of it becomes a 


conductor, we have, although in a slightly different form, 
the same electrical arrangement as shown in Fig. 22 ; 
the membranous covering of the tongue of the seed sub- 
stance providing the dielectric and the seed substance 
itself the inner or second conducting surface. 

It is worthy of note that in the edible chestnut the 
white, pithy, positively charged area is larger other 
things being equal than in the horse-chestnut, and this 
might account for the conducting layer, c, of the first 
taking, as is the case, a higher negative charge than 
obtains in the second. It may also explain the slightly 
increased positive electrification of the seed substance of 
the former. 

As regards what I have termed a " repair outfit," both 
the horse and the edible chestnut exude upon their cut 
surfaces what bears the appearance of a starchy secretion. 
This dries, and not only checks further evaporation of 
moisture from the seed substance, but to some extent 
restores the lost insulation. In the potato the phenomenon 
is particularly noticeable, and the film is very quickly 
formed. With the chestnuts the process is slower, but is 
a protective measure of the same order. It would be 
interesting to see whether in this case division of the seed 
prevents germination. 

Another matter to which I should like to call attention 
is that when freshly cut, the seed substance of the ripe 
horse-chestnut is cream-coloured, or rather white, with a 
faint tinge of lemon-yellow. After exposure to light, and 
as soon as the starchy film develops, the cut surfaces 
become yellowish-brown, with a deeper tint of yellow 
showing beneath. This is, no doubt, a matter of electro- 
chemistry, and as such somewhat beyond my purview, but 
the suggestion has occurred to me that it may be a measure 
of protection against actinic rays, or changes conceivably 
introduced by them. 



A beautiful simplicity characterises this seed, and one 
might well believe that from it was borrowed the principle 
of the modern incandescent electric lamp-holder. 

As will be seen from the example given in Fig. 30, the 
cups in which the acorns are seated are joined up, as it 
were, in series, while the negative terminal is in the form 
of a circle, a, at the bottom of the cup ; the seed carrying 
upon its posterior part a circular protuberance, b, which 
seats exactly upon the contact a. 

Fig. 30. ACORNS. [Original photo.] 

Electrically considered, the acorn is similar in con- 
struction to the horse-chestnut seed. There are three 
insulating membranes, and the secretion of the seed sub- 
stance is also distinctly acid. It should have a fairly long 
life owing to the excellence of its absolute insulation, to the 
ample provision of moisture, and to the fact that it can 
take in positive charge from the air through the point at the 
apex of the seed. 

In common with other seeds, such as the Barcelona 
nut, etc., there are sometimes two seeds within the shell. 


When that happens and the acorn is cut in halves longi- 
tudinally it presents the following appearance: 


The sides and lower surfaces of 1, 2, 3, 4 the cut 
surfaces only being exposed are sheathed in insulating 
membranes, which extend to and cover them from the inner 
part of the contact a after the acorn has ripened. 


After discovering that Nature had, for a reason not 
yet understood, joined up acorns in series, one remembered 
that other things with which we are familiar are connected 
either in multiple arc or clusters in series. The cherry, 
with three or more stalks tapped off a main contact, is an 
excellent example of this, and I wish I had sketched or 
photographed a group of them when they were in season. 
Fortunately, however, we had not to look far for other 
specimens of the Great Electrician's craft. It was the 
time of year for cob-nuts, and the cluster shown in Fig. 32 
served to illustrate one method of connecting which appears 
to be in the above category. The main lead, the stalk, 
it will be noticed, is unusually thick. It carries current to 
supply four nuts, and if we imagine them to be incandescent 
lamps instead of nuts we know we should have to make 
similar arrangements for their supply. 

Where it joins the base of the cluster, as photographed, 
the stalk splits into four branch leads, each of which 
connects with a cup not unlike that of the acorn, but out- 
wardly continuous with the foliage, into which the nut fits 



to make contact at its base. This, however, is not small 
as in the acorn, but extends to the whole of its posterior 
part. The cup, however, as shown in Fig. 88, is not 

Jregative teadfrvm earth. 

Fig. 32. CLUSTER"OF;OB-NUTS. [Original photo.] 

continuous with the foliage, but is insulated from it by a 
fibroid layer which separates it electrically from the 

negative terminal or lead. 

i ve cup 

fibroid insulating layer 
fa u>kick leaves are attarf . -- 


[Original photo.] 

A longitudinal section of the ripe nut reveals much of 
interest. The secretion is only slightly acid, and insulation 
is regained in this instance by the rapid exudation of a 
wax-like secretion upon the cut surfaces. In the specimen 


examined there was clear evidence of the previous existence 
of the conducting layer, c, and the three membranes were 
present, i.e., the outer shell, a fibroid lining within that, 
and a third enclosing what I have termed the seed sub- 
stance. In lieu of the tongue-like protuberance with 
which the chestnuts are provided a sharp point projecting 
inwardly from the base of the nut seemed to have served 
the same purpose, and at the apex was another point 
evidently open at one time to the air. In regard to 
colouring there was again in the white of the nut a faint 
tinge of lemon-yellow. I exposed one half to bright and 
the other to diffused light for four hours, when that in 
diffused light was apparently unchanged, while the other 
had taken on a tint of slightly deeper yellow. 


Where contacts of prolonged duration are made, as 
in the foregoing tests for capacity, suspicion naturally 
attaches to the electrodes, and it might be thought 
that the changes of polarity observed were due to 
polarisation. In this connection I would point out two 
things, i.e. (I) the needles were in some instances 
cleaned and reinserted without polarity being affected, 
and that in the orange test there were merely signs 
of electrolysis, and (2) that supposing 1-5 volts had in 
ten minutes polarised the electrodes inserted in the 
fruit or vegetable to such an extent that polarity was 
reversed for twenty minutes, it is difficult to see how an 
electromotive force of about 0-086 volt (i.e., that of the 
vegetable cell) could restore the original polarity in another 
twenty minutes while the electrodes remained in position. 
Moreover, I have by repeated experiments, extending over 
a course of years, established the fact that it is impossible 
to alter the polarity of a vegetable cell by subjecting the 


needles to electrolytic action possibly set up when they are 
left in such cells for several days at a time. Another thing 
of which sight should not be lost is the initial test of 
Turnip No. 2. The first charge of ten minutes with 1-5 
volts was dissipated in less than ten minutes, but when the 
absolute insulation of the vegetable was improved in the 
manner described in the second and third tests it did not 
recover until thirty-four minutes had elapsed. The 
electrolytic action and consequent polarisation should have 
been the same in both tests, and altogether I think it must 
be agreed that the weight of evidence is in favour of 
capacity, and not polarisation of electrodes, as explaining 
the phenomena, although there can be no doubt that the 
electrodes were affected to some extent by electrolysis. 


The problem is, no doubt, possible of solution, but in so 
far as 1 am acquainted with the chemistry of the subject, 
I have yet to hear of a cell made by man in which there 
occurs no disintegration or no change, and which cannot 
be either polarised or discharged by continued short- 

Some vegetables and fruits, it is true, are more liable 
to decay than others, but decay interferes with their 
electrical activity only by diffusion, by breaking down the 
protection between the negative and positive elements, 
and, possibly, by setting up local action. Once that 
happens the process of decay is very rapid. 

Their life that is to say, their edibility as well as 
electrical activity appears to depend largely if not to be 
in direct ratio to their absolute insulation resistance. Of 
all vegetables the onion has the highest and best absolute 
insulation, while among fruits the apple, the pear, and the 
quince, etc., are in the premier class. I have short- 
circuited onions through 0-1 ohm for many days at a time 


without finding in them any evidence of polarisation or 
discharge, and as the E.M.F. of them all is the same 
the current only varying in accordance with Ohm's law 
the onion is, in my opinion, an ideal standard cell of low 
electromotive force for delicate galvanometric work. The 
apple and pear, offering as they do smaller contacts and 
more liability to diffusion at the points of contact, are 
not so generally useful, although, with care, they are 

In regard to plants, shrubs, and trees, however, I have 
observed that during such time as they are " resting," as 
in the late autumn, winter, and early spring months, both 
electromotive force and current fall off, and this may be 
due to a deficiency in the quantity or flow of the sap, or 

As regards the constancy of these cells I am inclined to 
think they must draw a positive charge from the air when- 
ever their potential falls below that of the air, in the same 
way as shown by the capacity tests they give off to the 
air any excess of current with which they are artificially 
charged. No other explanation of their long-sustained 
electrical activity occurs to me, and if they are carefully 
examined it will be seen that the flower or foliage end of 
fruits and vegetables is not sealed so thoroughly and 
effectively as the stalk or root. If that is so they are 
storage cells in a new sense. In other words, they are 
maintained in a state of electrical activity by the air only, 
and it would not be possible, by joining them up in series, 
to increase their electromotive force beyond that of the 
air, because if it could be augmented and I do not believe 
it can by such an arrangement, any excess of potential 
above that of the air would be given off instantaneously. 
We have seen that an artificial charge is retained for some 
little time, but that, inevitably, the vegetable cell reverts 
to its normal electromotive force and polarity. 



If, as it would appear, a constant supply of electricity 
from the earth is necessary to the well-being of everything 
that grows therein, the fact that dry soil is a bad conductor 
of electricity assumes an important aspect. In the 
experiment about to be described a quantity of earth was 
dug from the garden, carefully sifted and weighed, and 
equal quantities were placed in three porcelain pans of 
equal dimensions. These were labelled 1, 2, and 3. Nos. 
1 and 2 were put in a gas oven and baked, the soil being 
frequently turned over, until all moisture was expelled. 
No. 1 was then protected from moisture, and after a 
solution of one per cent, of ferro-sulphate had been mixed 
with the soil in No. 2 it was again baked until it had become 
dry ; No. 3 was left untouched. 

A galvanometric test of pan No. 1 gave no deflection 
whatever, whilst Nos. 2 and 3 (No. 2 being dry) exhibited 
no difference in their electrical conductivity ; pointing to 
the fact that, considered as an electrolyte, ferro-sulphate 
was an efficient substitute for water. The next step was 
to sow exactly the same weight of mustard seed in each of 
the three pans, which were then placed in a room in a 
diffused light with free access to the air. 

No. 1. Baked dry earth. 

No. 2. Baked dry earth containing ferro-sulphate, 

No. 3. Moist earth as taken from the garden. 

No. 3 was watered in the usual manner that is to say, 
care was taken to keep the soil thoroughly moist but Nos. 
1 and 2 were given only ten per cent., in the form of spray, 
of the quantity of water accorded to No. 3. 

The outcome of the experiment was that while the seed 
in No. 1 did not germinate, the growth in Nos. 2 and 3 
exhibited no apparent difference. 


Had the experiment been carried out in a frame, so that 
the soil could have received its charge from the negative 
earth instead of from the positive air, the results obtained 
would not have been so conclusive, as percolation of 
moisture from below could not have been guarded against. 
As it was, one could reasonably infer that the small per- 
centage of conductive mineral in the soil of No. 2 acted, 
in conjunction with the water, as an electrolyte, and so 
relieved the latter of part of its duties. I say in conjunc- 
tion with the water, because without moisture there can be 
no conductive or inductive capacity in soil or in plant life. 

It would be interesting to learn whether in countries 
subject to drought comparison has been made, under 
similar climatic conditions, between districts where the 
soil is and is not ferruginous. In Egypt the sand generally 
contains some mineral salts, and a minimum of irrigation is, 
more often than not, generously responded to. The 
question is one of some importance, more especially in 
relation to the Indian famine problem : the rice plant 
requiring an excessive amount of water for its successful 


In A Text-book of Biology, by J. R. Ainsworth Davis, 
B.A., it is said : " Electricity probably plays an im- 
portaiit part in growth, as electric currents taking various 
courses have been demonstrated in living plants. Currents 
artificially sent through a root have been found to retard its 

The sentence in italics, taken without qualification, is 
I think, incorrect. It depends, in my judgment, upon the 
sign of current and the electromotive force employed. 
A current of positive sign applied to the root of a plant 
growing in the earth might exert a retarding influence, and, 
similarly, one of negative sign to the soil of a pot plant. 


But given proper connections and an electromotive force 
not greatly in excess of that of the earth or air, the effect 
of electrical stimulus should be beneficial. 

This opinion is not merely theoretical, but a result of 
long-continued experiment. 

Years ago I boiled one potato and baked another for 
fifteen minutes and allowed them to get cold. Precisely 
what had taken place I do not know, but they gave no 
reversal of sign, and except that, by reason of the water in 
them, they still possessed capacity were, so to speak, 
electrically dead. They were then each joined up by steel 
needles to a dry cell (zinc to unprolific and carbon to 
prolific eye) and left for twenty-four hours, when they 
were disconnected. Thereafter they not only gave perfect 
reversals, but began to sprout in a quite remarkable 

Another test was with tomato plants in the greenhouse. 
Hypothetically a plant grown in a pot is grown under 
unnatural conditions, because it is cut off from the negative 
earth-current and compelled to take its root-charge from 
the positive air. 

I therefore planted twelve tomato plants of exactly the 
same size and description in pots of equal size and with 
uniform soil . Six of them were treated in the usual manner, 
but the other six were connected directly with the earth by 
means of stiff copper wires from the soil in each pot to the 
earth beneath the slats upon which the pots rested ; all 
the plants being given the same amount of water. 

In the end the last-named six were infinitely more 
robust and bore heavier crops than the others. 

A third experiment was with two onions, neither of 
which exhibited any outward sign of growth. Each of 
these was connected to a dry cell (1 volt), but with 
reversed connections ; the object being to ascertain what 
effect, if any, the polarity of the stimulus had upon growth. 


The two vegetables in question are shown in Figs. 20 and 
21. Steel darning-needles were again used, and by means 
of these the zinc of one dry cell was connected with the 
root and the carbon with the foliage end of A (Fig. 20), 
while in the case of B (Fig. 21) the arrangement was carbon 
to root and zinc to foliage end. Both were then left in a 
room in a weak diffused light for five days and then 

The drawings are explanatory in themselves, but it is 
worthy of remark that A gave evidence of growth within 
twenty-four hours under what may be termed natural 
stimulus, while, though it cannot be positively asserted 
that in B there was a retarding influence, it appeared that 
growth was not stimulated. This, in a measure at all 
events, proves my point that the value of electrical stimulus 
is largely dependent upon sign of current, and lends colour 
to the suggestion that the employment of low electromotive 
forces in agriculture and floriculture is in harmony with 
natural laws. 




IT is now more than a hundred and fifty years ago 
that a Scotsman named Maimbray attempted to stimulate 
growth by electrifying the soil, and since then experiments 
on a large scale have been and are being carried out at 
Helsingfors, Brodtorp, Breslau, the Durham College of 
Science at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and elsewhere ; the method 
employed being high-tension electricity, usually generated, 
I believe, by a Wimshurst machine or machines, and carried 
by a network of bare wires strung upon insulators affixed 
to poles some six feet or so in height, and covering the field 
in which the vegetables are grown. 

The results have occasionally, it may be frequently, 
been satisfactory, but I cannot help thinking that, as a 
matter of possibility, they may have been due to the 
formation of nitrous oxides at the sparking points, and that 
better results may be obtained by studying Nature's 
methods and endeavouring in a more modest and in- 
expensive way to improve upon them. 

I am reminded, in fact, of high-frequency treatment of 
the human body. It does not rest upon any definitely 
ascertained scientific basis, and might be relegated to the 
scrap-heap without injury to mankind. 

While my observations upon this subject are specu- 
lative, in that no experiment upon a sufficient scale has yet 
been made with low-tension continuous currents, we have 


some evidence of their effect upon the onion when the 
negative pole is applied to the root and the positive pole to 
the foliage, and it should be worth while to experiment 
with, say, five or ten volts similarly applied to a field of 
several acres. 

Another point which should not be lost sight of is that 
some plants suffer from chlorosis, the disease being due to 
deficiency of iron. 

Now, while it is true that the atmosphere is positive and 
the earth negative, it also seems that Nature seldom if ever 
relies entirely upon the constant and unintermittent 
maintenance of any single condition upon which life 
depends, and it is quite possible, even probable, that 
electrical generation goes on in the plant itself. Most, if 
not all, plants contain iron, and all of them inspire oxygen ; 
two elements which, in the presence of a suitable alkali 
and this we know to be contained in the protoplasm are 
capable of generating electricity. During periods of 
drought the root- supply of current may, conceivably, be 
cut off by non-conducting dry earth, and if that current is 
necessary to the plant it would perish had it not any other 
source of supply ; whereas so long as its protoplasm 
remained in a fluid condition it would, with some measure 
of independent generation, be better fitted to endure 
hardship. Take, for example, the savoy cabbage. The 
outer green leaves contain a comparatively large quantity 
of iron (17 milligrams per 100 grams of substance), and 
those leaves standing out from the closely-folded heart 
of the plant would have the largest oxygen intake. It 
would not be necessary for that process to extend through- 
out the plant, because it could be continued from the outer 
leaves by conduction and induction if for any time during 
the twenty -four hours even the surface of the soil was 
moistened, as by dew. 

According to Sachs, chlorosis in plants may be cured by 



mixing a small quantity of ferrous sulphate, in solution, 
with the soil ; but even where the disease does not exist iron 
should, in my opinion, be used as an electrolyte and the 
result noted. 


For everything that grows, either in the earth or in a 
pot, it is only necessary to have flexible wires of low 
resistance and of a sufficient length to span the space 
between the galvanometer and the plant. Both wires 
should terminate in two darning-needles of equal gauge and 
length. One needle may be inserted in the open ground 
or in the soil in the pot, and the other carefully placed in 
between the lignified fibres in the venation of a leaf, i.e., in 
the interspaces, or areolae, which are filled up with tran- 
spiratory assimilating tissue. Contact with the venation 
may introduce error, but if ordinary care is taken there 
will not be any discordant result. The needles must, of 
course, be kept scrupulously clean, and should not be 
insulated for any portion of their length, as such insulation 

a, a, a, a are the areolae. The needle should be inserted as shown. 

whether by india-rubber or gutta-percha, etc. is liable 
to cause confusion. Plain, clean needles, well -insulated 


wires, and clean ends to them will save much trouble. If 
the connecting wires are of sufficiently low resistance it 
does not matter whether the object to be tested is one yard 
or one hundred yards from the galvanometer. 

In order to make my meaning quite clear I have given 
a sketch of a part of a leaf of Anihyllis Vulneraria. The 
enclosed interspaces, or some of them, are those which 
should be connected up, while the dark parts are those 
which should be avoided. 

Part II 




PUT briefly, the history of electro -physiological research is 
one of contradiction, confusion, and uncertainty. To this 
day the medical profession regard with a not unmerited 
degree of suspicion the results and theories of those very 
able men who have for the last hundred and thirty 
years or so laboured in this field of scientific investigation. 
Had it not been for their failure to discover certain facts 
of primary importance, facts which would have made all 
things clear to them, electro-physiology would long ago 
have enlightened and led the world of medicine. 

Later on I will give those facts the prominence they 
deserve, but before doing so it may be useful to offer a 
short recapitulation of what has been done. 

From A Practical Treatise on the Medical and Surgical 
Uses of Electricity, by G. M. Beard, M.D., and A. D. Rock- 
well, M.D., I quote the following : 

" Those who aspire to mastership in electro-thera- 
peutics will not be content with the mere attempt to relieve 
symptoms ; they will seek to study those most complex 
and subtle diseases for the treatment of which electricity is 
indicated ; they will resort to this force for diagnostic as well 
as therapeutic aid ; they will strive to know not only 
how to use it, but, what is more difficult, how not to use it. 
He only can reap the full and rich harvest of electro- 
therapeutical science and art who sows beside all waters ; 


he must become more or less proficient in neurology, in 
electro-physics, and in electro-physiology. He who has a 
knowledge of the laws of animal electricity, and the actions 
and reactions of franklinic, galvanic, and faradic electricity 
on the brain, spinal cord, and sympathetic ; on the nerves 
of motion and of common and special sense ; on voluntary 
and involuntary muscles ; on the skin, and on all the 
various passages and organs of the body in health, and also 
of the electro-conductivity of the body, will find the paths 
of electro-diagnosis and of electro -therapeutics illumined at 
every step by such knowledge, and will, in the end, make 
more correct interpretations of disease than he who merely 
holds electrodes on patients without any higher aim ; and 
more than that, he will be introduced into a field of thought 
and experiment a field surpassingly rich and fruitful 
and lying in close relation to all departments of physiology, 
of pathology, and of biology, where he can study science 
for its own sake."* 

To go back to history, it was in 1786 that Galvani 
discovered that muscular contraction followed the contact 
of the nerves and muscles of a frog with a heterogeneous 
metallic arc. He theorised, and his theory was that in the 
tissues of animals there existed a special independent 
electricity, which he called animal electricity. Later 
observers admitted the existence of animal electricity as 
a force, but explained it by contact of dissimilar substances 
and by the chemical action of the fluids of the body on the 
metals. This erroneous and untenable theory is upheld by 
the average physiologist of to-day. 

Volta's researches followed, and in 1799 Humboldt 
published a work which went to show that Galvani and 
Volta were both right and both wrong ; that there was such 
a thing as animal electricity ; that Galvani was in error in 

* The italics are iriine. 


regarding it as the only form of electricity that appeared in 
his experiments ; and that Volta was wrong in refusing to 
admit its existence. 

In 1803 a nephew of Galvani, Aldini, published 
experiments that went to demonstrate the existence of 
animal electricity. The voltaic pile, however, was a 
stronger argument against the existence of animal elec- 
tricity than any experiments could be in its favour, and for 
these reasons animal electricity was forgotten. 

The electromotive force of a voltaic pile would be, 
approximately, 1 volt per cell, while that of the human 
body is, also approximately, 0004 volt in its entirety. It 
is difficult to see how Aldini arrived at his conclusion. 

In 1827 M. Nobili, having constructed a very sensitive 
galvanometer, claimed to have detected the existence of an 
electric current in the frog ; a few years subsequently 
Matteucci had turned his attention to this subject, but it 
was reserved for Du Bois-Reymond to investigate most 
clearly and most fully, if not most conclusively, the electric 
properties of the nerves and muscles. 

By these two observers (Matteucci and Du Bois-Rey- 
mond) it was believed to have been shown 

1st. That currents in every respect like the frog- 
current of Nobili were not peculiar to the frog, but were 
inherent in all animals, warm and cold-blooded in toads, 
salamanders, fresh-water crabs, adders, lizards, glow- 
worms, and tortoises, as well as rabbits, guinea-pigs, mice, 
pigeons, and sparrows. 

2nd. That currents are found in nerves as well as 
muscles, and that both are subject to the same laws. 

3rd. That this muscular current may be upward or 
downward, and that the current of the whole limb is the 
resultant of the partial currents of each muscle. 

4th. That electricity is found not only in the muscles 
and nerves, but also in the brain, spinal cord, and 


sympathetic ; in motor, sensory, and mixed nerves ; in a 
minute section, as well as in a large mass, of nervous sub- 
stances ; in a small fibril as well as in a large muscle ; in 
the skin, spleen, testicles, kidneys, liver, lungs, and 
tendons ; but not in fasciae, sheaths of nerves, and sinews. 

It is over one hundred years since Du Bois-Reymond 
taught us this, and we have learned nothing from it. 

The next prominent exponent of electro-physiology 
was Dr. C. B. Radcliffe, who sought to prove that the 
sheaths of fibres of nerve and muscle during rest are 
charged with electricity like Leyden jars. He postulated 
the theory that the sheaths of the fibres were dielectric, 
but did not attempt to differentiate the" open " from the 
" closed " circuits of the nervous system. 

He said: "When a' nerve or muscle passes from 
action to rest it resumes its condition of charge." But 
" elongation, therefore, is the result of charge, and con- 
traction of discharge." 

This view is, of course, quite fallacious. The reverse 
obtains. When an impulse is conveyed to certain groups 
of sarcomeres they contract ; when discharge takes place 
they elongate, and are again in readiness for charge. 

Then we had Professor John Trowbridge, of Harvard 
College, who cast grave doubts upon the interesting and 
hitherto accepted conclusions of Du Bois-Reymond in 
regard to animal electricity, and ascribed the whole 
phenomena as due to the alleged fact that two liquids of 
dissimilar chemical character, separated by a porous 
partition, gave rise to a current of electricity. More 
recently this somewhat far-fetched hypothesis of dissimilar 
fluids has been substituted by two dissimilar metals ; i.e., 
electrodes ; the theory being that electrical action is set 
up between two electrically dissimilar metals the elec- 
trodes in the presence of an exciting liquid, such as the 
secretion of the sweat-glands. 


This, I think, brings us more or less up to date, and 
leaves the so-called science of electro-physiology in a 
somewhat hopeless condition. No two sets of observers 
are in agreement, and, as a matter of fact, the general 
medical practitioner has in his heart about as much respect 
for electro-physiology as he has for manifestations of the 

All this appears to be very extraordinary and difficult 
of explanation. How is it that these great men of science 
were not only unable to agree but really discovered very 
little of service to humanity ? The reasons are not far to 

In the first place they were not, any of them, trained 
submarine-cable electricians, specialists in their work, 
whose business it is to acquaint themselves with the 
conditions under which tests of such extreme delicacy and 
difficulty must be conducted. For this branch of research 
a specialist electrician is imperatively called for. 

The causes of the confusion, the sources of error in the 
past, lie, in the main, in three factors which have never been 
taken into consideration, for the reason that they were 
not discovered. These three factors are 

(1) The constant electro-chemical generation of nerve- 

force in the human body. 

(2) The presence in that body of great conductive and 

inductive capacity ; and 

(3) The conductive and inductive capacity of every 

liquid and every moist substance or object. 

Let us see how these factors come into play as sources 
of error. 

That the human body generates static electricity by 
muscular movement is well known, but this charge can 
be dissipated in a few moments by placing the body 
preferably by the palms of the hands in contact with an 
earth plate of low resistance. That it possesses electro- 


static capacity is also known, because when perfectly 
insulated the body can be charged to a high potential. 
That it has inductive capacity also is not so well under- 

So far as capacity is concerned, we may liken the body 
to a collection of storage cells or Leyden jars, which are 
liable to become more or less highly charged, or to have their 
charge altered by any direct or passing current or exciting 
influence, or change in exterior insulation. 

Now, these storage cells or Leyden jars cannot, if they 
depend for their charge upon some outside source of 
energy as the exciting influence, be in a constant state of 
tension, because the outside current is not always flowing 
either to charge them directly or by passing in their 
vicinity. We must then depend upon muscular move- 
ment for the charge, and if we find, as we do find, that 
movement of any kind exercises only a momentary effect 
upon the human electromotive force, and that, within 
limits, such electromotive force continues to be produced 
even when the body is absolutely motionless, we must look 
further for the source of energy. 


We will now take the three factors I have mentioned 
seriatim, but before doing so it would be well to mention 
that in the majority of tests, upon which the conclusions 
to be given hereafter are based, a Kelvin Astatic reflecting 
galvanometer of a resistance of 88,000 B.O.T. ohms at 
15 C. and perfect insulation was used. This instrument 
was made for me by Elliott Bros., of Lewisham, and its 
sensibility was such that a scale deflection of 400 mm. 
from a central zero could be obtained with a current of 
0-1 micro-ampere. (See p. 235.) 

The electrodes I will describe later. 


Now, it is quite clear that if nerve-force, or, as I prefer 
to call it, neuro-electricity, is constantly generated in the 
body, it must be as constantly given off, otherwise the neuro- 
electrical pressure would become excessive. The absolute 
insulation of the body is provided by the skin, but the skin 
is not an insulator of very high resistance. Nor is its 
resistance uniform, any more than the generation of 
neuro-electricity is uniform in all individuals. Sign, 
electromotive force, and current vary with the person as much 
as height, weight, and anthropometric measurements vary. 

If nerve- energy were visible we should probably see 
every human being one might say every living thing- 
surrounded by an aura, or neuro- electrical field, extending 
some distance from the body and gradually fading into space. 

We must, however, realise that the rapidity with which 
that neuro-electricity can pass to earth must depend upon 
the manner in which the body is protected or insulated 
from the earth by dielectrics other than the skin. For 
example, the insulation of a carpeted room with the win- 
dows and doors closed would be infinitely higher than if 
the body were exposed to the open air, or in contact with 
damp earth, or with the hands touching some metallic 
substance connecting with the earth. We may, in fact, 
conceive many conditions in which the insulation of the 
body could be increased or impaired. 

In considering " air " as the normal " earth " of the 
body it must not be thought that I am unsupported in the 
view I have taken, although physicists may not, so far, 
have fully appreciated the conductivity of air, under 
varying conditions of humidity and movement, in its 
relation to that form of energy called nerve-force, or even 
to electricity of so low a tension as 4 or 5 millivolts. 

In his Physiological Physics M'Gregor-Robertson, who 
will be remembered in connection with the University of 
Glasgow, says : " A charged body in a current of air slowly 


loses its electricity by convection. Particles of the air com- 
ing in contact with the body receive a charge, and pass on, 
to be succeeded by other particles, each of which carries 
off its portion, till the whole charge is thus dissipated." 

Dissipation by convection does not fully explain the 
phenomenon. Hot air, inferentially, is dry air, and dry 
air is a bad conductor. All the neuro-electricity given off 
in a room does not, therefore, form a stratum near the 
ceiling, and a " current of air "may be variously construed. 
Anyone moving about in the testing-room, draught from 
the door, window, or floor, or even the breath of the persons 
present may create such a current. In any case, however, 
the air is an" earth " of high resistance, and the higher its 
resistance dimensions being equal the quicker the at- 
mosphere of the testing-room will become charged with 
neuro-electricity, because of the increased difficulty placed 
in its path to a true " earth." 

That being so, it is evident that while the generation of 
neuro-electricity in the body might be deemed to be 
constant, the dissipation of it cannot be so by reason of the 
varying conditions of exterior conductivity. 

Another important point to remember is that the sign 
of current in individuals is not always the same. The 
palms of the hands, being free from sebaceous glands, are 
the most convenient body terminals, but, until determined 
by test, the body resembles a galvanic cell whose terminals, 
electromotive force, and internal resistance are unknown. 

The bearing of all this upon error will soon become 
apparent. Let us imagine ourselves in a laboratory, the 
floor and walls of which oppose considerable resistance to 
the escape of electricity, and let there be two people 
reproducing, say, the experiments of Professor Trowbridge. 
We, however, will take the precaution of testing 
them for personal neuro-electricities, and, to quote figures 
obtained in actual practice, say that A gave a deflection 


of 2000 mm. positive and B of 40 mm. negative upon the 
scale of the galvanometer I have mentioned. After about 
an hour, or less (according to the size of the room), the air 
of the laboratory would become charged by reason of the 
neuro-electricity emanating from the persons of A and B, 
and as 200 positive minus 400 negative = 200 negative, 
the air must become negatively charged, increasing in 
tension or pressure with time or varying with any alteration 
in the insulation. 

In this we have one of the sources of error. The tension 
and sign of the atmosphere in the testing-room have 
always been unknown quantities. 


I have not of recent years taken any actual measure- 
ments, but the mean of a former series of tests gave 
nearly four microfarads as the average capacity of 
the body. Now if B (= 400 mm. negative) touched A 
( = 200 mm. positive), A would become 200 mm. negative 
so long as he remained shut up with B, or, failing direct 
contact between the two, the air of the room would 
charge A as certainly as water would find its level. In- 
ductive capacity introduces another and equally per- 
plexing source of confusion, as a flash of lightning, a 
powerful earth-current, wireless telegraphy, or the proxi- 
mity of a charging station or of an electric railway or tube 
would not only affect the persons experimenting, but also 
the subject of experiment, although a galvanometer of 
the d'Arsonval type might not be perceptibly influenced. 


But that is not all. Physiologists, overlooking conductive 
and inductive capacity, have invariably used what they call 
non-polar isable electrodes, or contacts to which the objects 
under examination are connected, for the purpose of 


conveying the currents of electricity supposedly emanating 
from them to the coils of the recording instrument. These 
electrodes were, and are, moistened with some liquid, and 
as all moist substances absorb electricity as a sponge 
absorbs water to the limit of its capacity, it follows that 
unless each electrode is of exactly the same area and 
density, there will be a controlling current from one of the 
two. It also follows that if one electrode has a thousandth 
part more moisture than the other, an opposing electro- 
motive force, so to speak, may be exerted by it, and 
furthermore, disregarding minor details, those electro- 
motive forces would be liable to variation from time to 
time by 

(1) The number of persons present in the laboratory ; 

the length of time they remained there, and their 
respective neuro-electrical signs and electro- 
motive forces. 

(2) The nature of the liquid or liquids employed. 

(3) The degree of absorption. 

(4) The area of the electrodes ; and 

(5) The amount of moisture present in the object or 

subject under examination. 

Let us suppose A and B to have been experimenting 
with a piece of excised muscle in a moist condition and to 
have obtained certain data. Their results woyld always 
check, because the muscle would invariably have a charge 
equal to 200 mm. negative. 

Two other persons, C and D, question the accuracy of 
the published results of A and B, and proceed to verify or 
disprove them. C, let us say, = 300 mm. positive and 
D 150 mm. negative. The resultant charge would, of 
course, be representative of 150 mm. positive, the muscle 
would be differently electrified, and the data obtained could 
not agree with the results of A and B. In the same manner 
E and F may prove both A and B and C and D to have 


been hopelessly incompetent, and in their turn be subjected 
to similar criticism at the hands of others. 

As a great deal which does not happen to be true has 
been written about non-polarisable electrodes, it may be 
well at this juncture to give an account of a few experiments 
which were carried out with the object of exploding some 
cherished theories. 

I found that when two wires of equal gauge and length, 
soldered to two steel needles of exactly the same gauge 
and length, were connected to the terminals of the gal- 
vanometer, and the needles were inserted in various objects 
and liquids, certain deflections were observed deflections 
which were not momentary, but more or less constant. 

These deflections are explained as being due to galvanic 

There are two theories, i.e. 

(1) Two metals that is to say, one electrode being 

electrically positive to the other in one solution, 

(2) One metal in two solutions. 

It will, however, be only necessary to consider the first 
seriously, inasmuch as there cannot be two different fluids 
in distilled water, while the most careful analysis has 
failed to reveal the presence of two widely differing solu- 
tions in the juices of fruits and vegetables. Nor can the 
first hypothesis be sustained, if only for the reason that the 
sign of the deflection obtained is not altered by the reversal 
of the needles upon the terminals of the galvanometer. 

In the case of liquids such as distilled water, and all 
lifeless moist objects, the deflections given by them must 
be of the same sign, and that sign is, and must be, governed 
by the sign of the electricity or neuro- electricity with which 
the air of the testing-room is, for the time being, charged ; 
that is to say, when the two wires and electrodes are of the 
same metal and of equal resistance, the deflections which 


occur are always ascribable to charge imparted by some 
source or vehicle of energy to the article under examination. 

As I have before remarked, it is owing to this fact, and 
to the further important truth that all fluids and moist 
objects possess conductive and inductive capacity, that the 
results obtained by various investigators have so materially 

But when under the same conditions we test anything 
in which there is life, we have different factors to deal with. 
In the section upon Electrical Structure and Function 
in Plant Life I have given a summary of some ten thousand 
tests of fruits and vegetables in which I used steel darning- 
needles as the electrodes, but one or two of them may be 
repeated here. 

First theory : Take two equal lengths of insulated 
flexible copper wire and solder to each length a steel 
darning-needle, connecting the other ends to the terminals 
of the recording instrument. Call the needles R and L 

Now select a sound onion and insert the R needle in 
the root, and the L needle in the foliage end. Upon 
depressing the galvanometer short-circuit key a constant 
negative deflection will be observed. Theoretically, there- 
fore, the L needle is electrically positive to the R needle, 
and the juice of the onion being the exciting liquid galvanic 
action is set up. If that is so, and if we do not reverse the 
connections, the polarity of the needles is established, and 
we must continue to get a negative deflection, no matter 
where we insert the needles. If, however, the onion is 
reversed, so that the R needle is in the foliage end and the 
L needle in the root, there will be an equally constant 
positive deflection, showing that the difference in polarity 
is in the vegetable, and not in the needles. 

Again, take two suitable electrodes, say two silver rods 
6 in. by f in., provided with terminals ; attach them to 


two equal lengths of wire and connect as before. Hold the 
R electrode in the right and the L electrode in the left hand, 
being careful that the pressure is equal. The sign of the 
deflection is, we will say, positive. It follows, therefore, 
that the R electrode is electrically positive to the other. 
Leave the connections unaltered, but hold the R electrode 
in the left and the L electrode in the right hand. If the 
polarity is in the electrodes the sign of current will be the 
same. But it is not. The deflection will be negative, 
because polarity is in the hands and not in the electrodes. 
In this connection proofs can be multiplied almost ad 
infinitum, but I do not wish the case to rest upon my 
unsupported testimony. 

In an article in the Lancet of January 13, 1917, Dr. 
C. Nepean Longridge, F.R.C.S. Eng., M.R.C.P. Lond., 
who has been examining and treating various cases on my 
principles for some two years, says 

" Experiment 1. With the aid of Miss Flecker, at the 
Ladies' College Physical Laboratory, Cheltenham, I 
estimated the electrical resistance of a piece of oak-tanned 
sole leather 3 in. long by 1 in. wide. We found that when 
dry the resistance was practically infinity. When wet the 
resistance is that of the fluid the leather has soaked in. 

" Experiment 2. One pole of the galvanometer was 
connected to an electrode which could be held in the hand. 
The other pole was connected by an insulated cable to a 
copper plate imbedded in the earth. Another insulated 
cable was connected at one end to the metal pipe supplying 
water to the house, and at the other end to a brass rod of 
1 in. section. After earthing myself I held the brass rod 
in one hand and the electrode in the other, and obtained a 
rapid off-scale deflection, showing, firstly, that an electric 
current was coming from my body ; and secondly, that the 
earth connexions were working properly, for the current 
passed out by one hand through the brass tube to the 


water-pipe, thence about 20 ft. through the earth to the 
copper plate, and through the galvanometer to the other 
hand, so completing the circuit. 

" Experiment 3. The brass tube was then laid on the 
floor, which was covered by a thick carpet. I held the 
electrode by one hand and put both feet on the brass 
tube. I wore ordinary boots, which were dry. No deflec- 
tion was obtained, because the dry leather soles of my 
boots insulated me from the earth. I then took my 
boots off and put my bare feet on the tube and obtained 
an off-scale deflection. 

" Experiment 4. Next day was wet, and I walked about 
half a mile, so that the soles of my boots, which were free 
from holes and metal nails, became wet. On holding the 
electrode in one hand and placing my feet on the brass tube 
a rapid off-scale deflection occurred, showing that current 
was passing through my boots to earth. 

" Experiment 5. The pole of the galvanometer con- 
nected to earth by the copper plate was disconnected. It 
was reconnected to a hand electrode exactly like the one 
previously used, so that the galvanometer was now con- 
nected to the hand electrodes only. After the necessary 
earthing process, I held the electrodes in the hands and 
obtained a deflection which remained steady at 170 mm. 
I then placed my feet, still in wet boots, on the brass tube 
and awaited results. The light on the scale very slowly 
began to recede towards zero. I repeated this experiment 
several times. The light never remained at zero, but if it 
got as far went over to the other side of the scale, and 
generally registered 40 to 60 mm. I take this as evidence 
that electricity was gradually leaking out of my body to 
earth, through my wet feet. One would not expect the 
light to register zero, as there is a continuous generation of 
electricity in the body. In view of these experiments, 
the grandmotherly advice we have so often received, not 


to stand about in wet boots, takes on a new and important 
significance which ought to claim our belated respect. 
They also, to my mind, afford evidence that trench foot is 
probably caused by long-continued leakage of electricity 
from the feet." 

In regard to experiment 2 it may be urged by the 
supporters of the difference in metals theory that it does not 
present any new feature, while the fact of there being no 
deflection in experiment 3 can be explained by the absence 
of moisture at one pole, and therefore of the improbability 
of galvanic action taking place. Experiments 4 and 5, 
however, are, to my mind, quite at variance with that 
theory, and appear to negative the conclusions of those 
who have been and are responsible for it. 

In my work upon Electro-Pathology and Therapeutics 
I stated that the thumb of each hand was of opposite sign 
to the fingers of each hand and carried a greater quantity 
of current. 

Dr. E. W. Martin, who has had some few years' ex- 
perience of my methods, has sent me the results of a series 
of tests carried out by him, and gives his conclusions as 
follows : 

" It would therefore appear that 
" (a) There is no electrical current generated by two 
metals in contact, even in the presence of moisture. 
" (b) A current passes when both hands are in contact 

with both electrodes. 

"(c) That different conducting substances act differ- 
ently in their relation to the body current. 
" (d) That the current cannot be due to the moist skin 
and metal only, as we find that in a complete 
circuit from skin and metal to skin and metal 
no current is set up so long as one hand only is 

" (e) That the thumbs appear to be electrically as well 
as anatomically in opposition to the fingers of the 


same hand, and equally in opposition to each 
other, and that they appear to form terminals of 
a circuit with the fingers of the same hand, as 
when the thumb is brought into contact a current 
at once passes. 

" (/) That the approach of the thumb to the electrode, 
even without contact, produces a slight deflection 
which is probably not static, as the deflection 
remains after all movement, so far as it can be 
controlled, has ceased." 

The main points touched upon by Dr. Martin, i.e. 

(1) That unless both hands are used the contact of 

skin and metal will not exhibit electrical action, 

(2) That the thumbs are of different sign to the 


may be very simply and conclusively proved in the follow- 
ing manner : 

Take two electrodes, of the same size, of copper, silver, 
or German silver, and connect them by two wires of equal 
gauge and length to the terminals of the galvanometer. 
Insert one of these electrodes between the first and second 
and the other between the third and fourth fingers of the 
left hand, and do not allow them to touch. No deflection 
will be observed unless the hand is wet. In that case there 
may be a slight leakage from the thumb. Then bring the 
left thumb into contact with one of the electrodes and a 
deflection will at once ensue. Repeat the experiment 
with the right hand and the result will be the same, only 
that the deflection ultimately obtained will be of opposite 

This experiment as conducted by Dr. Martin is thus 
described by him 

" (a) One electrode was placed between the third and 
fourth fingers, the other electrode between the 
first and second fingers of the left hand ; not 
allowed to touch each other. Key closed, i.e. 9 


Circuit from skin and metal, through galva- 
nometer, to skin and metal. Deflection, nil. 

" (b) Repeated with right hand. Deflection, nil. 

" (c) Terminals allowed to touch. Deflection, nil. 

" (d) Same position electrodes, left hand. Thumb 
approximated to electrodes. Deflection, slight. 
Thumb touching negative pole electrode. Deflec- 
tion, negative. Thumb touching positive pole 
electrode. Deflection, positive. 

" (e) Same experiment repeated with right hand and 
right thumb gave a reverse result, i.e., 

_j- pole deflection negative, 
pole = deflection positive." 

In order to reconcile these results with the views of 
physiologists we should have to assume 

(1) There are no sweat-glands in or moisture upon the 

fingers of either hand, and 

(2) That the thumbs only contain sweat-glands or 

exhibit moisture, and that their secretion or the 
moisture is of so opposite a character, chemically, 
as to instantly change the polarity of the elec- 
trodes touched by them. 

No comparison is possible between the currents set up 
by a galvanic cell and those emanating from the human 
body. The former is a simple generator of electricity ; 
the latter a complex system from which electricity or 
neuro-electricity is constantly bemg given off. It is only 
necessary to establish a difference of potential at two 
points in one or more bodies to obtain deflections, due to 
direct or derived circuits. Owing to the absence of 
sebaceous glands in them, the palms of the hands and soles 
of the feet are, no doubt, the natural " earths " of the body, 
but nerve-energy must escape, to a greater or lesser extent, 
from every square inch of the skin. 

Again, examine, galvanometrically, by means of the 
hand-to-hand deflection, a number of persons until three 



are found who yield a positive and three a negative re- 
action. If the observer himself is of positive sign two 
other positives only will be required, and vice versa. Then 
let the testing-room be vacated for several hours and freely 

As a next step introduce each of the persons selected to 
the testing-room, one by one, " earth " the subject for five 
minutes, and take the hand-to-hand deflection very care- 
fully, noting the sign and number of millimetres and 
ushering the subject from the room before the next one is 

Let us assume that the deflections are respectively as 
follows : 

Observer = 250 mm. positive 

First subject = 200 

Second ,. = 225 

Third = 250 negative 

Fourth -200 

Fifth =225 

These figures might not actually obtain in practice, 
but they will serve to illustrate my meaning and are 
sufficiently near to the truth. 

Having registered the above data, let the observer and 
the five subjects assemble in the testing-room and remain 
together for a few hours, the length of time being dependent 
upon the size of the room and its insulation from the earth. 
If it is of moderate dimensions, carpeted, and with doors 
and windows closed, two hours should be sufficient. Then, 
without earthing and without anyone leaving the labora- 
tory, take the hand-to-hand deflections again, in the same 

Now, if the differences in polarity and in the number of 
millimetres exhibited by the subjects are due to dis- 
similarity of metals, acted upon by different secretions of 
the sweat-glands, the deflections should be as before, 


though there might be variations of a few millimetres due 
to increased or decreased moisture or pressure of one or 
other of the hands. If, however, my contention be correct 
that we give off neuro-electricity to the air in accordance 
with our respective sign and electromotive force, and 
that the body is liable to be inductively influenced, it is 
obvious that a common level would, in time, be found, and 
that the resultant hand-to-hand deflection of each and 
every one of the persons present must be in the neighbour- 
hood of zero. 

That is what actually happens. 

I read somewhere, but regret the source is not given in 
my notes, that we may consider as generators of energy a 
liquid passing from a higher to a lower level ; heat passing 
from a hot to a cold body ; electricity flowing from a body 
with a high potential to one with a low potential ; move- 
ment transmitted from a body animated by velocity to 
another with less velocity, etc. Thus energy depends on 
the state of the bodies in presence. There is only an 
exchange between them if they are out of equilibrium ; 
that is to say, if they possess different tensions. One of the 
bodies present then loses something which it yields to the 
other until their tensions are equalised. 

We are well aware that when two pieces of the same 
metal are placed in a solution in a circuit in which a current 
of electricity is flowing electrolytic action will be set up. 
Polarisation is the inevitable consequence of any such 
combination. But when we are calculating forces it 
behoves us to take into consideration the difference 
between a steam-hammer and a tack-hammer ; to 
discriminate between a hurricane and a zephyr. In a 
single dry cell a force of 1,500 millivolts is evolved ; the 
human machine is driven by 5. Moreover, the electrodes 
used by me for body-testing are of German silver, heavily 
coated with chemically pure silver, and as they are all 


electro-plated at the same time in the same vat and with 
the same metal, the possibility of any dissimilarity is 
reduced to a minimum. Furthermore, contact with the 
body is not made for a sufficient time for polarisation to 
occur. In addition to that the conditions are not identical. 
In a galvanic cell or battery there are only two terminals, 
positive and negative. In the human hands there are four 
terminals a positive and negative to each hand and this 
would again tend to check polarisation, even with inferior 

With these observations it may safely be left to the 
impartial reader to hold the scales between physiologist 
and physicist. I have laboured the point at length 
because it lies at the root of the whole matter. This, as I 
believe, untenable theory of two, alleged, dissimilar metals 
in the presence of moisture has not only hampered progress 
during the past century, but is even now being put forward 
to bar our way to enlightenment. 

The second theory that of one metal in two dis- 
similar solutions is, I venture to think, sufficiently 
disposed of by the electrical response of earth-grown 
and pot-grown plants and fruits, and calls for no further 

Suggestion. In much the same way that the average 
cable electrician has been accustomed to attribute certain 
galvanometric deflections to " leakage," some physiologists 
seek to find in " suggestion " an explanation of many of 
the proofs of successful treatment which have been brought 
forward. In taking cardiograms by means of the string 
galvanometer psychological influences cannot be dis- 
regarded, because the heart can be psychologically in- 
fluenced through the cardiac branches of the vagi, but, by 
my method of testing, the deflections registered by gal- 
vanometers of the Kelvin or d 'Arson val type are only 
subject to variation by differences of pressure upon the 


electrodes, which by bringing conductors nearer to the 
surface of the skin lower the skin resistance. 

Hand-to-Hand Deflection and Thumb Pressure. The 
importance of the hand-to-hand deflection, as being the 
measure of the electromotive force exerted in the body at 
the time of testing, is fully treated in the chapter upon 
Ohm's law and electro-diagnosis, but it may serve a useful 
purpose to explain what happens when there is inequality 
of pressure of the two thumbs. The body is connected in 
the galvanometer circuit by means of two suitable metallic 
electrodes, grasped in the hands, and a certain deflection is 
obtained. The thumbs carry a greater quantity of 
current than the fingers, so that if one is pressed harder 
than the other the deflection is altered, while if one thumb 
is relaxed and the other pressed down there may even be 
a reversal of sign, because the direction of current is 
determined by the path of least resistance. 

Even some electricians of my acquaintance find this 
difficult to understand. They are accustomed to reason 
in terms of bare wires, and forget that the wires or con- 
ductors of the thumbs have an outer coating, or absolute 
insulation, of 5,000 or more ohms resistance, in the skin. 
Suppose this resistance to remain unimpaired upon one 
thumb and even partly removed from the other, and the 
path of least resistance becomes obvious. If, however, 
polarity was in the electrodes and not in the hands, no 
reversal of sign could be brought about by such difference 
of pressure. 

A simple diagram will explain the differences of thumb 

Let the body be represented by a source or sources of 
electrical energy, the arms by two coils of equal resistance, 
and the thumbs by two variable resistance-boxes, a and b. 
The quantity of current arriving at points c and d will be 
exactly equal, because, finding two paths of the same 


resistance, the current will divide at the battery terminal, 
and if a and b are exactly balanced (no matter what 
their resistance) no current will pass through the gal- 

Fig, i. 

vanometer. If, however, a was less than b there would be 
a transfer of part of the current from d to c, and vice 

Taking what should be, but is not, the science of 
electro-physiology as it is to-day, it is a matter of infinite 
wonderment to me that physiologists have all failed to 
recognise, from their own works, that the structure of the 
body is primarily electrical. If it is so one cannot be 
surprised, in the absence of such recognition, that the 
practice of electro-therapeutics is empirical. A necessary 
preliminary to curative treatment is knowledge of the 
human neuro-electrical system the generator or genera- 
tors of nerve-force, the natural conductors and dielectrics, 
the condensers and storage cells and their capacity, and, 
what is of paramount importance, the influence of disease 
upon any or all of them. Until that knowledge is acquired 
treatment cannot be said to rest upon a scientific basis. 
I do not, of course, include the surgical uses of electricity 


of high potential, but I do most emphatically refer to high 
frequency except as a species of electro-massage to local 
and general faradisation, to central and local galvanisation, 
and the rest of it. I also venture the opinion that we know 
next to nothing of the electro-pathology of disease, that 
we have no recognised method of electro- diagnosis worthy 
of the name, and that by reason of the errors of the past 
and the consequent unreliability of the data already 
obtained, we should lose little or nothing if we forgot 
everything we had learned, and made a fresh start under 
improved conditions of research. 

Let us examine, in the light of what we claim to be the 
discovery of a fundamental truth, structures of the body 
as illustrated and described in modern and accepted works 
upon Histology and Physiology, and see what we can learn 
from them. 

With the evolution of body organs and structures, the 
electrician has no concern and can pretend to no knowledge. 
That is not his department. He can only examine them 
in their completed condition, interpret them as they appear 
to him, and give such explanations of their construction 
and functions as are consistent with established physical 
laws. If his conclusions are based upon truth, and not 
upon mere theory or sophistry, they should not, cannot, 
conflict with any established law, but must serve to make 
clear that which is at present obscure. 

As a first step we should, I think, consider the nature 
of the nerve-current. To this day no one knows whether 
in a galvanic cell electrical begets chemical action, or 
whether the force we call electricity is generated by 
chemical decomposition. There is nothing in the form 
and appearance of the galvanic cell to afford the proof or 
even to guide us to definite opinion. That is not so with 
the human body ; we are not at that disadvantage. To 
the careful observer the structure of the human body must 


appear to be primarily electrical and to be designed for 
the performance of electrical functions, not necessarily 
outweighing in importance those chemical changes 
which are essential to life, but taking precedence of 



'* It may be supposed that some electrical function is exercised by 
oxygen in the blood." Sir Humphrey Davy. 

THE controversy which arose years ago between the 

physiological and physical schools as to the nature of the 

nerve impulse has, so far, contributed nothing decisive 

to our knowledge of the subject. 

" Theories there are in plenty, but none of them 

adequate to explain the phenomenon." (Halliburton, 


The facts which, we are told, make a chemical theory 

acceptable are 

" (1) Analogy with muscle, where the propagation of 
the muscular impulse is undoubtedly largely due 
to the propagation of chemical disturbance. 
" (2) Evidence that the nerve does undergo metabolic 
changes, as shown by the necessity for oxygen, 
and the production of minute amounts of carbon 

" (3) Arrhenius and Van't Hoff showed that a rise of 
10 in temperature increases the velocity of a 
chemical reaction to two or three times its original 
rate. . . . Maxwell's recent experiments show 
that a rise of 10 C. approximately doubles the 
velocity of nerve conduction. . . . Woolley ob- 
tained the same figure from the influence of 
temperature on the rate of conduction in muscle, 
so probably the conduction process is of a similar 
nature in both tissues." (Halliburton, 1915.) 


All this is in perfect harmony with the hypothesis that 
the impulse is neuro- electrical. The effect of a rise of 
temperature upon liquid or semi-liquid conductors is to 
decrease their resistance, or, in other words, to increase their 
conductivity. It is purely to my mind a question as to 
which action is precedent, the electrical or the chemical, 
and I do not think that anyone can, after careful study of 
the structure of muscular tissue, ganglia, and nerve, doubt 
that it is the electrical. 

The physical theories in relation to this question 
compare the nerve impulse to the way in which an electrical 
charge is propagated along a wire, and, in refutation, the 
slow rate of conduction in nerve and the phenomenon o f 
inhibition are adduced. 

Now, it is incontrovertibly true that nerve-current will 
flow along a metallic conductor, but it is abundantly 
evident that instead of being homogeneous, as a wire is, 
the conductors of the body are complex. Halliburton 
tells us that a nervous impulse does not necessarily travel 
along the same nerve-fibre all the way, and that there is a 
system of relays. He adds that on the onward propagation 
of a nerve impulse through a chain of neurons its passage 
is delayed at each synapse, " hence there is additional 
4 lost time ' at each of these blocks." And there are very 
many of them. 

Suppose that, instead of an electric circuit being com- 
posed of an insulated cable, it was made up of thousands of 
cables and wires and many thousands of condensers of 
varying capacity. Would the velocity of the current be 
the same ? It would not. There would, inevitably, be 
some " lost time " at many of the condensers by reason 
of their not receiving instantaneously their full tension 
charge, and owing to varying degrees of retardation. 

To postulate that the nerve impulse is not of an elec- 
trical nature is to accuse Nature of introducing into the body 


certain processes which are useless to man ; I refer to 
insulating processes. If their existence is disputed, I can 
only reply that proof of their presence is to be found in 
recognised works on Physiology. Let me make that clear. 
Assume that we do not know anything about the nature of 
the nerve impulse, and consider only the behaviour of 
nerves under electrical stimulus or irritation. My authority 
is Professor Rosenthal, who, in his Physiology of the 
Muscles and Nerves, writes as follows : "If the main 
stem of a nerve is irritated by electric shocks, all the 
fibres are invariably simultaneously irritated. On tracing 
the sciatic nerve to its point of escape from the vertebral 
column, it appears that it is there composed of four distinct 
branches, the so-called roots of the sciatic plexus. These 
rootlets may be separately irritated, and when this is done 
contractions result, which do not, however, affect the whole 
leg but only separate muscles, and different muscles 
according to which of the roots is irritated. Now, as the 
fibres contained in the root afterward coalesce in the sciatic 
nerve within a membrane, it follows that the irritation yet 
remains isolated in the separate fibres and is not imparted 
to the neighbouring fibres, ^ihis statement holds good of 
all peripheric nerves. Wherever it is possible to irritate 
separate fibres the irritation is always confined to these fibres 
and is not transmitted to those adjacent." * 

Now, the sciatic nerve is composed of a number of 
bundles of nerve-fibres (some efferent, some sensory). If 
each one was not separately insulated it would be im- 
possible to irritate one fibre electrically without simul- 
taneously irritating all the others. Not only is this so, but 
each bundle is protected from inductive interference by a 
lymph space directly under the perineurium and cor- 
responding to the copper taping of telephone or telegraph 

* The italics are mine. 


conductors. Of what use is all this if nerve impulse is not 
of an electrical nature ? 

Professor Rosenthal admits that the nerve substance 
offers resistance to the passage of the nerve impulse. He 
says : " It is probable that the propagation proceeds at 
first at a greater and afterwards at a less speed," basing 
this opinion upon Munk's experiments. " Its propagation 
is gradually retarded. . . . From this it may be inferred that 
a resistance to the transmission exists within the nerve, 
and this gradually retards the rate of propagation." 

Reverting to the question of peripheric nerves, he goes 
on to say that transmissions or irritation from one fibre 
to another occur within the central organs of the nervous 
system. " But in these cases it can be shown with great 
probability that the fibres not only lie side by side, but 
that they are in some way interconnected " (ganglion-cells 
or synaptic junctions) " by their processes. In peripheric 
nerve-fibres the irritation always remains isolated. Their 
action is like that of electric wires enclosed in insulating 
sheaths. One of these nerves may indeed be compared to 
a bundle of telegraph wires, which are protected from 
direct contact with each otheif *f y gutta-percha or by some 
other substance. The comparison, however, is but super- 
ficial. No electrically isolating membrane can really be 
discovered in any part of the nerve-fibre, but all their parts 
conduct electricity. When, as we shall find, electric 
processes occur within the nerve, these standing in definite 
relation to the activity of the nerves, we must assume that 
isolation as it occurs in the nerves is not the same as in 
telegraph wires. We cannot trace the matter here further, 
but must accept the fact of isolated conduction as such, 
reserving its explanation for a future occasion." 

Its explanation does not appear to me to present any 
feature of difficulty. The endoneurium of a nerve-fibre 
and I am adhering to the sciatic nerve may be said to 


correspond to the gutta-percha covering of the telegraph 
wire, but in the case of the telegraph wire as in the nerve- 
fibre no electrically isolating membrane really exists ; all 
their parts conduct electricity, and conduction is merely a 
matter of degree. A*substance which will not conduct low 
tension may be an excellent conductor of high-tension 
electricity, and there is an enormous difference between the 
human electromotive force of four or five millivolts and 
the voltage of an induction shock. 

As regards electric processes occurring within a nerve 
we have in a nerve the process of intra-cellular action, 
which does not take place in a wire in the same way or to 
anything like the same extent, even if it occurs at all. 
There are many points of similarity between nerve- 
circuits and telegraph-circuits, but the two are not identical. 

In regard to inhibition it is at least conceivable that by 
the action of certain ganglion-cells an opposing E.M.F. is 
set up in or communicated to a nerve-fibre or fibres so as 
to produce a lessening of action or diminution of impulse. 
It is known that " an impulse will in some cases travel 
both ways." This would necessarily occur in a circuit in 
which there was inductive capacity, and a mere cursory 
examination of such physiological diagrams as show the 
direction given to nerve impulses by different combinations 
of ganglion-cells in sensory and motor paths should 
sufficiently convince the student that such action does 

Macdonald reduces the phenomenon of nervous con- 
duction to electrolytic dissociation and association of 
inorganic ions, but I fail to see how this can be caused 
by potassium salts in organic combination within the axis 
cylinder, as suggested by him, though some such action 
may occur within a cell. A more reasonable explanation 
is electrical action set up between oxygen and some 
eiement electro-positive to it in the cell contents. 


44 It is interesting to state, if only in outline, the kind 
of theories which are in the air at present. We must 
await with patience to see whether they or any of them 
contain a germ of truth, or whether, like so many theories 
in the past, they will be forgotten in the future." (Halli- 
burton, 1915.) 

That is tantamount to a confession that the chemical 
theory is not altogether satisfying. Once, however, we 
understand the law, our knowledge of the full application 
of it will only involve some further microscopic and 
galvanometric research, with our eyes wide open, to find 
the something which exists but which we have not seen, 
for the simple reason that we have not been taught to 
look for it. 

In regard to the analogy with muscle it must, I think, 
be admitted on the face of the evidence I shall bring 
forward that the structure and operation of voluntary 
muscular fibre offers a very strong proof that muscular 
impulse is primarily due to the propagation of neuro- 
electrical, and not chemical, disturbances. I cannot, in 
fact, find any physiological argument which is not more 
in favour of electrical than of chemical action. Explana- 
tion of the latter is often laborious and unconvincing, 
whereas the former is always and in every detail 

The velocity of the nerve impulse in man is said to be 
about 120 metres per second. Now, the apparent velocity 
of an electrical current is diminished more or less in pro- 
portion to the capacity of the circuit ; the higher the 
capacity the lower the velocity, due to retardation. 
A cable is a homogeneous structure, in the sense that in the 
circuit of which it forms a part there are no, or very few, 
" synaptic junctions " to occasion delay. 

In the human body the velocity of the nerve impulse is 
not everywhere the same, nor could it be so unless the 


inductive capacity was uniform throughout, and this, 
obviously, is not the case. 

Retardation, or the portion of the current retained upon 
the surface of the wire, is also dependent upon, among 
other things, the length and diameter of the wire or, in 
other words, upon its resistance. And here note should 
be taken of the fact that the effect of capacity is to produce 
prolongation at the end as well as retardation at the com- 
mencement of a current ; so that a current takes longer to 
leave the line than it did to enter it. 

" In nerves," I learn from Landois and Stirling, " the 
resistance is two and a half million times greater than in 
mercury, while in animal tissues it is almost a million times 
greater than in metals." Taking the specific resistance of 
copper as 1, mercury (at 57) is approximately 50, so that 
the resistance of the nerve, taken longitudinally, would be 
50,000 times greater than that of copper. For liquids the 
resistances are enormous as compared with metals, and 
they are subject to chemical decomposition or change in 
the process of conduction. 

It is, of course, extremely difficult, if not impossible, to 
calculate accurately the resistance of a living nerve 
relatively with that of a copper wire unless we are given the 
exact sectional area of the nerve-conductors, and, pro- 
bably, not even then. But for curiosity's sake it may be 
well to see how the 50,000 times increase of resistance 
works out. 

We will take two round pure copper wires of sectional 
areas of 0-01 and 0-02 in. respectively, and suppose them 
to be two nerves of the same diameter. 

The resistance of a copper wire of 0-01 in. corrected to 
100 F. is 0-3677 ohm per metre, and if we, for convenience 
of calculation, take the maximum length of a nerve to be 
2 metres, we have 0-3677 X 2 x 50,000 = 36,770 ohms 
as its total resistance, or -f- 6'5 = 5,657 ohms per ft. length 


Similarly the wire of 0-02 in. section with a resistance 
of 0-0884 ohm per metre would give us 8,840 ohms total 
resistance and 1,360 ohms per ft. length, and while this 
brings us no nearer to the actual resistance of a nerve, it 
approximates somewhat to the resistance of the hand-to- 
hand circuit, in which, by reason of the absence of sebaceous 
glands in the palms of the hands, skin resistance is much 
lower than in most other parts of the body. 

This conclusion is arrived at in the following manner : 

Upon the scale of a reflecting galvanometer which has a 
sensibility of 4,000 mm., at a metre distance from the scale, 
per micro-ampere, the average hand-to-hand deflection 01 
a person in normal health is between 300 and 400 mm., 
equivalent to a current of from 0-08 to 0-1 micro-ampere. 

The mean of several thousands of tests has shown the 
electromotive force of man to range between 4 and 5 
millivolts, and, as C = ^, we can, knowing C and E, cal- 
culate R with some approach to accuracy. By this 
method we should find the resistance of the hand-to-hand 
circuit to be over 5,000 ohms, taking into considera- 
tion the difference of sensibility or response to current 
and voltage. The calculation, however, is not given with 
the confidence that would attach to a bridge test in 
which the natural current was used, to the exclusion of 
battery power. 

5,000 ohms would be lower by 3,840 ohms, or 590 ohms 
per ft. length, than the wire of 0-02 in. sectional area, but 
in the circuit in question there are several conductors, and 
among them the main leads of the thumbs. 

The resistance of nerves, whatever may be their 
expression in ohms, must vary in many parts of the body, 
and, irrespective of the surface area of the conducting 
plates or discs or rods of the body condensers, have the 
effect of altering capacity ; while further variations are 
introduced by the inconstancy of the human electro- motive 


force and differences in the nature or chemical compo- 
sition of the insulating substance. 

Even when in two condensers the conducting plates 
are of equal surface- area, are equidistant, and E.M.F. is 
constant, it does not follow that their capacity will be the 
same. Suppose the dielectric of one to be paraffin and of 
the other gutta-percha. The specific inductive capacity of 
air being taken as 1, paraffin is 1-99 and gutta-percha 4-2. 
It will, therefore, be seen that upon charging these two 
condensers to the same potential difference the condenser 
with the gutta-percha dielectric will receive a charge about 
2-1 times greater than the condenser with the paraffin. 
Moreover, capacity depends also upon the thickness of the 
dielectric, in the inverse ratio. 

As regards a comparison of the capacity of the human 
body with that of a submarine cable, the average capacity 
of the latter ranges at about 0-3 microfarad per knot, 
while I have found the former, using the same battery- 
power, to be nearly 4 micros. Its absolute insulation 
resistance is, however, comparatively low, and charge is not, 
therefore, retained. 

I extract the following from one of my old note-books : 

" When the body was charged for fifteen seconds with 
fifteen cells the immediate discharge (with 30 ohm shunt) 
was 220 mm. Again charged for fifteen seconds and 
insulated for sixty seconds, the discharge was 36 mm., and 
upon this being repeated many times it became evident 
that by reason of the low absolute insulation resistance of 
the body the charge was given off to air in a short period 
of time. As a result of this and another series of tests with 
earth connections, I find that the body, when insulated, 
does not act as a plate of a condenser as regards the earth, 
but that the body itself acts in every respect as a condenser 
of low insulation." But there is this to be said : the quan- 
tity of the charge communicated to the plates depends directly 



upon the electromotive force of the cells used.* In the tests 
to which reference has been made the electromotive force 
was 20 volts. The average electromotive force of man 
may be put at a maximum of 5 millivolts, so that the 
quantity of the charge with 20,000 millivolts would be 
many times greater than with 5 millivolts, and this, I 
think, suggests (1) that although the insulating processes 
of the body are not adapted to withstand the strain of 
high tension (and capacity is regarded as a strain upon the 
dielectric), they are adequate for the purposes for which 
they were designed ; (2) that the body can be inductively 
influenced by any outside source of electrical energy of a 
potential appreciably higher than 5 millivolts ; and (3) 
that as the quantity of current exhibited by a healthy man 
may be expressed as being less than 1 micro-ampere, we 
are justified in assuming that the law of retardation applies 
with equal force to the human organism. 

In the elaboration of my theory of the nature of the 
nerve impulse, i.e., that it is neuro- electrical and due to 
the association of iron as the positive and oxygen as the 
negative element, in the presence of an exciting liquid, I 
was confronted by the fact that I could not, as an elec- 
trician, recognise or point to any organ in the body which 
could be said to be a generating station. I am indebted for 
what may be the missing link to a communication from 
Dr. E. W. Martin, from which I shall presently take the 
liberty to quote. Before doing so, however, it may serve 
a useful purpose as this work is intended for the guidance 
of those who are not familiar with applied electricity to 
offer a few observations upon so-called positive and negative 
currents ; my authority being the text-book of Telegraphy, 
by Preece and Sivewright. 

u A current is always supposed to flow from the point 
of higher potential to that of lower potential. The former 
* See also p. 91 et seq. 


point is taken to be positive to the latter ; and, vice versd, 
the lower is taken to be negative to the higher point. The 
terms positive and negative currents are frequently used, 
but they are misnomers. There is only one current 
flowing and it varies in direction. It is quite correct to 
apply the term positive or negative to currents with respect 
to a given point, and by those terms to imply direction only, 
for while stationed at a given place currents may flow from 
or towards us ; but what is a positive current at one point 
is a negative current at another. ... A current can only 
be constant when we have two points separated from each 
other by an invariable resistance, and maintained at the 
same difference of potential." 

We shall see, later on, that in the human body neither 
the resistance of any given circuit nor the same difference 
of potential can be maintained owing, quite apart from 
disease, to variations of external temperature and the 
fluctuating nature of the human electromotive force ; 
and the fact is emphasised that in the estimation of body 
deflections we must have a fixed point of departure, and 
that that point should be upon the central line. 

We will now consider Dr. Martin's letter upon " The 
Source of Body Energy and its Relation to the Nervous 

He says : " The theory of neuro- electricity, gal- 
vanometric tests, and treatment, founded upon the theory 
propounded by Mr. Baines, has proved of value in the 
treatment of certain conditions of disease. The argument, 
therefore, follows that the basis of the theory is sound. 
In detail, however, the original conception of the brain 
as a generator, and the nervous system as a carrier, of a 
constant current came into collision with established 
physiology, and endangered the hearing of a piece of 
scientific work of great value. 

" I advance a theory which may bean explanation, and 


which, if proved to be correct, will range the physiologist 
and the electrical expert on the same side, while adding a 
fresh conception of the body as a whole in relation to one 
source of life ; at the same time enabling us to more easily 
understand galvanometric readings of the body energy and 
to interpret them rightly. 

" As a foundation of the theory, I propose to start from 
one fact which, when analysed, may lead to a more correct 
conception of our source of energy. . . . 

" The question raised is one which, so far as I can see, 
must be answered by those who would explain ' neuro- 
electricity,' equally with those who deny its existence. 

" The conditions before the birth of a child, and 
immediately after birth, offer a field of thought. What is 
it that enables the child to support an existence separate 
from the mother ? 

" Let us examine the problem, bearing in mind that 
what we require from the electrical expert's point of view 
is (1) a linking up of the body with a source of energy, and 
(2) an organ that will act the part of generator. 

" Before birth the foetus is alive, but nutrition, growth, 
development, are carried out by the action of the maternal 
blood-stream. Circulation through the fcetus is estab- 
lished, with one important exception : there is no circulation 
through the lung. 

" Digestive organs, nervous system, etc., are present, 
but are functionally in abeyance till the act of birth has 
taken place. What, then, is the difference ? It is the 
act of breathing which determines the separate existence of 
the child from the mother. 

" Before this act has taken place the lungs contain 
neither blood nor air. Their function could not be called 
into play until the need arose to link up the life with its 
future source of energy. 


" The act of birth, therefore, brings with it the power 
to use a mechanism by means of which the oxygen of the 
air can be used by the body. From that moment the whole 
of the latent mechanism is in working activity and the 
individual life is complete. 

" Here we are at one with known facts. Let us now 
examine the electrical problem in this light. We have seen 
that we require (1) a source of energy, and (2) an organ to 
act as generator ; i.e., an instrument or apparatus which, 
when supplied with material, will generate force. 

" We have found the source in oxygen, and the organ 
in the body to use it ; let us see whether it is possible to 
carry this analogy further. 

" In the lung the state of things is air vesicle and 
capillaries, the interchange between blood and air being 
oxygen from the air to the blood to enter into combina- 
tion with the haemoglobin (an iron- containing substance), 
and CO 2 from the venous capillaries going outwards to 

" Now, any change between air and blood must take 
place through the wall of the capillaries, and the physio- 
logical fact of the permeability of membranes at once 
arises. Professor Bayliss' Physiology, and I think, quoting 
from memory, that the work on this subject has chiefly 
been done by Professor Sherrington, states that the 
absorption by colloid surfaces depends on the electrical 
sign of the surfaces and the substance absorbed, and is 
more an electrical than a chemical action. Also the experi- 
ments on permeability of membranes depend on electrical 
balance and the attraction and repulsion of electro-positive 
and electro-negative ions, and is again a matter of electrical 
rather than of chemical activity ; although it would, 
perhaps, be better to say that chemical action follows the 
electrical or ionic movement. 

" Having found one possible source of energy, 


generator, and the medium for the conveyance of energy, let 
us next look at the distribution. 

" The order of distribution seems to bear some signifi- 

" 1st. The heart muscle. Remembering the structure 
of heart muscle, its ganglia, and the function 
performed by the heart, the call for and supply of 
this organ with energy is paramount. 

" 2nd. Next in order of supply and importance is the 
nervous system. 

" 3rd. The other tissues and organs of the body. 

" The order from the generator is, therefore, the pump 
for circulating the carrier, then the nervous system, whose 
chief function, through the sympathetic, is the regulation, by 
vaso-motor and vaso-mhibitory nerve-fibres, of the blood 
supply to all tissues and organs ; and if we substitute the 
word ' energy * for ' blood ' we can follow the thought 
through. This control is important in disease, as it gives 
the power to send more blood to the area attacked, and the 
converse is equally important as explaining a fallacy in 
galvanometer testing, as I will show later. 

" The voluntary system (apart from sensation) has 
chiefly to do with the movement or the control of muscular 
contraction resulting in movement. Striped muscle, i.e., 
the muscles under the control of the voluntary system, 
will to the electrician at once suggest an electrical apparatus 
which can be set in motion on being connected up. 

" If, therefore, the nervous system, sharing the common 
energy of the body with every other cell and organ, has a 
special function of control to perform, it must have some 
form of insulation or this energy would be dissipated 
through moist tissue, and the control of blood supply and 
the movement of muscle would be lost. It is probable, 
indeed I think established, that the electrical balance of 
each cell membrane throughout the body, and the resulting 
life of the cell, are under the control of and kept in balance 


by the sympathetic nervous system ; and that this is so is 
again an argument in favour of an insulation, without 
which stability could not be obtained. 

" There may be fallacies which I am unable to detect, 
but my belief is that in the normal state in quiescent nerves 
there is an electrical equilibrium, that current passes only 
on liberation of impulse from brain centres in the case 
of the sympathetic from emotion at one end and from 
irritant at the other and that, to control this discharge of 
energy, insulation is imperative and will be demonstrated. 
To experiment with a cut nerve opens the road to many 
flaws which are obvious. 

" From Mr. Baines' point of view it is necessary to prove 
this insulation. That impulses pass along a nerve is 
granted, but that this impulse is in the nature of an electrical 
impulse has to be shown ; but to object because the word 
' current ' is used instead of ' impulse ' seems an unneces- 
sary obstacle to understanding, for the nature of a current 
may be interrupted as well as continuous. 

" The whole arrangement of the nervous system, 
nodes, synapses, medulla, sheath, ganglia, etc., points to an 
electrical system with many makes and breaks, shunts, 
etc., and we have shown before that the fundamental 
energising of the body is an electrical phenomenon. 

" Returning to the blood-stream and for the moment 
leaving out the specialised organs and glands, we come to 
the question of connective, fibrous, and elastic tissues. 

" Subcutaneous and other vascular connective tissues 
may be regarded as the padding of the body. We have a 
multitudinous cell-life, vascularity, and a controlling nerve 
supply. Here, then, we have a storage of energy separate 
from the closed circuit of the nervous system ; closed in 
relation to the other tissues of the body. In this tissue, as 
in the specialised organs, the interchange from blood to cell 
goes on, but in this case we get some diffusion through 


moist tissues and only partial insulation by the skin. This 
no doubt gives us the average reading on the galvanometer 
scale of ordinary normal deflections, except in the case of 
the finger-tips and toes, which give constant readings and 
are probably the earth (air) outlets of the nervous system. 

" At the finger-tips, no matter how dry the skin may 
be, we are always able to measure a current. Also reversal 
of sign is obtained from hand to hand and from the thumb 
to the fingers of the same hand. 

" With other portions of the skin over the body a com- 
paratively dry condition will lead to no current being 
obtained, while moisture will produce a current equal in 
E.M.F. at any part. 

" In testing the body as apart from the hand-to-hand 
measurement, Mr. Baines uses a larger electrode to a fixed 
point and goes over the body with one of smaller diameter. 
By this means the sign, which is unimportant, remains the 
same, and it becomes easier to estimate the deflections due 
to faulty condition. It has been claimed that these 
currents are ' skin currents ' and that a metal electrode 
of larger size, with moist skin, will set up a current, and 
that the use of electrodes of similar size will lead to different 
readings, change of sign, etc. I have elsewhere shown that 
skin and metal to skin and metal through the galvanometer 
does not always exhibit current, so we must look further 
for an explanation. 

4 ' If we note the different thicknesses of the skin, apart 
from pressure areas, we find that where the greatest depth 
of connective tissue is, or where there is greatest vascularity, 
the skin is, as a rule, thicker ; and that even in specially 
vascular areas, like the scalp, there is a special arrangement 
of skin and connective tissue, we are able to trace in it some 
purpose. If, then, we remember the fact that the develop- 
ing foetus is open, and that later it is joined down the 
centre line, and that fibrous tissue is a non-conductor, we 


at once can see that by using electrodes of a similar size 
we should frequently obtain change of sign, which is avoided 
by adopting Bailies' method. 

" Mr. Baines has pointed out that, in testing, a slow 
excursion, say to 200 mm., is met with which may be 
mistaken for a leakage from the nervous system. Anyone 
using the galvanometer will soon learn to judge this 
condition ; quantity as evidenced by the rapidity of 
excursion being the test of a nerve flaw. 

" If the theory advanced of the source and distribution 
of energy is correct, this false reading can be explained. 
A local vaso-motor disturbance would result in increased 
blood supply. For this read conveyance of energy, and 
at once you have a local increase of potential, and the skin 
insulating for a normal potential only, will allow of the 
larger escape and give an excursion, but without the 
quantity of a leakage from the insulated nervous tracts 
where the potential is probably higher. 

" It will be understandable that the readings from this 
cellular source of energy are comparatively unimportant, 
and that the larger electrode may be used to govern the 
direction of the flow without in any way interfering with 
the usefulness of the readings. 

" An escape through a flaw in the insulation of a nerve 
would result in diffusion, through moist substance, of a 
current of much greater quantity, and give the rapid deflec- 
tion of larger extent which one has learned to associate 
with a genuine alteration in tissue metabolism." 

Unfortunately, as I have said in another chapter, our 
knowledge of condenser action in the body is limited by the 
absence of information regarding the specific inductive 
capacities of natural dielectrics. With special reference to 
the velocity of the nerve impulse the experiments of Dr. 
Le Bon are of importance. He came to the conclusion 
that electricity is able to propagate itself in insulators 43 


well as in conductors, but much more slowly in the first 
case than in the second, the velocity varying from a few 
centimetres to 300,000 kilometres per second. In the 
enormous margin between the two there is ample room for 
speculation as to the causes which contribute to the 
comparative sluggishness of the human nerve-current. 

The same authority showed that the particles emitted 
by an electrified point were identical with those which 
came forth from radium ; suggesting, by inference, that 
the force known as electricity may be made up of more 
than one form of energy. 



As a good deal depends upon a proper appreciation of 
the function of a condenser, as that apparatus is used in 
telegraphy, it may be well to make it clear ; taking as my 
authorities Sir Wm. Preece, F.R.S., and Sir James Sive- 
wright, joint authors of Telegraphy. 

" When a quantity of electricity flows through a line 
in the form of current, the first portion of the current is 
retained or accumulated upon the surface of the wire, in 
the same way that a charge is retained or accumulated upon 
the surface of a Ley den jar. The quantity accumulated 
depends (1) upon the length and diameter of the wire, 
(2) upon its distance from the earth and earth-connected 
bodies, (3) upon the insulating medium surrounding the 

" The effects of capacity are, first, that it absorbs all 
the electricity of a short momentary current and prevents 
the appearance of any current at the distant station, and, 
second, that as it absorbs the first portion of every current 
sent, it has the same effect as if it retarded or delayed the 
first appearance of the current at the distant end. Thus 
the apparent velocity of the current is diminished more or 
less in proportion to the capacity of the circuit, velocity 
being in the inverse ratio to the capacity. 

" ' Condenser ' is a term applied to an apparatus 
usually composed of alternate layers of tinfoil and paraffined 


paper, so arranged as to form a flat Leyden jar of large 
surface, and constructed to give any capacity that may be 
required. It may be shown thus 

Fig. 2. 

a, a 1 , a 2 , fe, 6 1 , 6 2 are square pieces of tinfoil separated by 
sheets of thin paper steeped in melted paraffin wax. The 
series a, a 1 , a 2 are connected together, and so are the 
series 6, b\ b 2 . A and B thus become connected with 
what may be regarded as the inside and outside coatings of 
a Leyden jar, and by putting one pole of a battery to A, 
and the other pole to B, we can communicate a charge to 
the plates the quantity of which will depend (1) directly 
upon the electromotive force of the cells used, (2) directly 
upon the total surface of each series of conducting plates 
opposed to each other, (3) inversely as the distance between 
each pair of plates, and (4) upon the nature of the in- 
sulating material used to separate the conducting plates." 
Condensers are conventionally represented by parallel 
lines, i.e. 

Fig. 3. 

Now, the electrostatic capacity of a line is unequally 
distributed, and its working conditions are naturally 
affected by this distribution. A circuit may be made up 




of overground wires, underground wires and cables ; and 
one of the principal functions of a condenser, or of a series 
of condensers, is in telegraphy to compensate for and 
regulate this inequality of distribution. In the human 
body, whose circuits are infinitely more com- 
plex than the most complicated telegraph 
system, they are not only designed for the 
performance of this function, but for the 
equally important one of changing the sign of Fig. 4. 
current from efferent to afferent, or vice versa. 

" A simple condenser is, as we have seen, shown in Fig. 4. 
If we connect that to a galvanic cell (Fig. 5) the charge 
communicated to plate A will (if the plates 
are of the same area) induce a charge of 
equal tension but of opposite sign upon 
plate B. 

V.J J "The capacity varies directly as the 

surfaces of the opposing plates. If, now, 

Flg " 5 * three condensers F 1? F 2 , F 3 , be joined up 

as shown by Fig. 6, the effect is clearly to connect 

all the A plates together, so that, practically, they become 


one plate of large area, and so also with the B plates ; 
hence, by such an arrangement, the total capacity (F) 

F = FX + F 2 + F 3 

and the condensers are said to be connected in parallel. 

" Again, the capacity varies inversely as the distance 
between the plates. Assume the distances in the following 


figure to be L, JL, 1. ; then, if the three condensers be 

*1 *2 *3 

joined as shown, the B plate of F! is practically brought 

Fig. 7. 

opposite that of F 2 , by the connection of the A plates of 
Fj and F 2 , but at distance j=r -f ^ , and similarly with 
F 2 and F 3 , so that the distance between plate B of F x 
and plate A of F 3 is p -f _]_; and the capacity (F) 
is therefore 

F * 


TS 1 * T? ~T~ TJ*" 
^1 *2 ^8 

When condensers are connected in series their joint 
capacity is the reciprocal of the sum of the reciprocals of 
their respective capacities, while in parallel the joint 
resistance is equal to the reciprocal of the sum of the 
reciprocals of their respective resistances. In voluntary 
muscular fibre the sarcomeres are, in my belief, joined up 
in groups in series as well as in parallel, and it may serve 

a useful purpose to append a practical illustration or two 
from Submarine Cable Testing and Working, by my name- 
sake, G. M. Baines, of the Eastern Telegraph Company. 



Let C and D (Fig. 8) represent two condensers with 
capacities of 15 and 5 microfarads respectively, and B 
cells of an electromotive force of 3 volts ; the distance 
between the plates of C being equal to a and between those 
of D equal to b. 


Fig. 9. 

In the above figure the same pair of condensers show 
under the conditions which actually regulate the test of 
their joint capacity ; the inner plates of both having been 

C and D are now, to all intents and purposes, a single 
condenser with, it is important to observe, a distance 
between its plates equal to a + b. Without calculation it 
will be recognised that the joint capacity of the pair must 
be smaller than the capacity of either of them if tested 
alone, because of the increased distance between the 

Upon closing the battery circuit the outer plates of C 
and D are equally and oppositely charged to the potential 
difference of the battery, viz., 3 volts. When this potential 
difference has become established, the current from the 
battery will cease to flow. The neutral condition of the 
inner plates of C and D has, meanwhile, been disturbed by 


the inductive effect of the battery charge, and quantities 
of electricity equal to that charge, but of opposite sign to 
each other, will be collected upon the inner plates ; these, 
however, and therefore their electrical condition, do not 
in any way influence the joint capacity of the two con- 
densers, which in accordance with the law must be 

1 1 

= TO = 15 = 3-75 microfarads ; 

the charge being 3-75 x 3 = 11-25 microcoulombs, and 
the potential differences of the charges on C and D 0-75 
volt and 2-25 volts respectively. 

Similarly the charges on three condensers of varying 
capacities, and connected in series, as also their potential 
differences, may be shown by employing three glass vessels 
for the purpose ; the larger the vessel the greater the 

6 c 





L VV^^r3e= 





Fig. 10. 

a is J and b f the size of c, and we will call the respective 
capacities 2, 4, and 6 microfarads and the E.M.F. of the 
battery 2 volts. 

The joint capacity of a, b, and c will be 


The charges on the three condensers will be exactly the 


same in amount, but their potential differences will vary in 
proportion to the plate areas/,/!, and/ 2 . 

In a the charge has only a surface of 2 microfarads over 
which to diffuse itself ; consequently, as this surface is the 
smallest of the three, the potential difference of its plates 
will be the maximum. In b it will be only half as great as 

in a, while in c it can only be equal to or -. 

2 3 

The sum of the potential differences should equal the 
E.M.F. of the battery, and would work out as follows : 

a = 1-091 volts (about) 
b = 0-545 volt 
c = 0-364 
Total 2-000 volts 

It will thus be seen that to raise a to the same potential 
difference as c, only one-third of the charge it has accepted 
in series would be required. Similarly the joint capacity 
of any number of condensers of equal capacity connected 
in series is the capacity of any one of them divided by their 

It will also be seen why, if the sarcomeres of voluntary 
muscular tissue are joined up in series, it can only be in 
limited groups of them, otherwise capacity and potential 
difference would approach the vanishing point before the 
initial impulse had travelled very far. That connection is 
made in this manner, i.e., in series -par all el, will be apparent 
when study is made of the terminations of nerves in 
muscle (p. 150). 

We have now learned some very important facts, viz. 

(1) That capacity varies directly as the surfaces of 
the opposing plates, (2) that the velocity of the current is 
in the inverse ratio to the capacity, and (3) that capacity 
varies inversely as the distance between the plates. That 
being so, it follows : (1 ) the larger the plate-area the greater 



the capacity, (2) the greater the capacity the lower the 
velocity of the current, and (3) the closer the conducting 
plates are together the greater the capacity. 

In the human body none of the conducting plates, 
discs, or points are of large area, but while no considerable 
variation of capacity is possible by this means, Nature can, 
and apparently does, overcome the difficulty by approach- 
ing the conductors closely to each other, as in striated 
muscular fibre, and by connecting them sometimes in 
parallel (as in Fig. 6). In other parts of the body structure 
in various arborisations, for instance there must be 
differences of capacity and resistance, and therefore 
velocity of current or nerve-impulse cannot be uniform 
throughout the whole of the nervous system. 

This is an opinion arrived at after experiment and 
careful thought, and I am encouraged to find myself 
supported in the view by several authorities. Halliburton 
says : " The rate of stimulation makes no difference ; 
however slow or fast the stimuli occur, the nerve-cells of 
the central nervous system give out impulses at their 
normal rate. 

" The same is seen in a reflex action. If a tracing is 
taken from the gastrocnemius of a pithed frog, the muscle 
being left in connection with the rest of the body, its 
tendon only being severed and tied to a lever, and if the 
sciatic nerve of the other leg is cut through, and the end 
attached to the spinal cord is stimulated, an impulse passes 
up to the cells of the cord, and is then reflected down to 
the gastrocnemius under observation. The impulse has 
thus to traverse nerve-cells ; the rate of stimulation then 
makes no difference ; the reflex contraction occurs at the 
same rate, 10 or 12 per second . . . recent experiments by 
Piper ... he found that each wave of the curve obtained 
by the graphic method is really itself due to fusion of 
contractions occurring at a more rapid rate. The method 


he employed was to count the number of electrical varia- 
tions which accompany a voluntary contraction, on the 
assumption that each fundamental unit of the contraction 
has an electrical change as its concomitant. . . . The 
number of electrical variations is found to be a fixed one 
for each muscle, but to vary in different muscles. Various 
spinal and cranial motor centres have thus different 
rhythms, and of those hitherto studied the cells of the 
motor fibres of the fifth cranial nerve have the highest 
rate of discharge, 86 to 100 per second. In muscles 
supplied by spinal nerves the rate is lower, 40 to 60." 

Many other proofs could no doubt be cited, but we 
have an example of, as I think, variation of capacity in 
Purkinje's fibres in the auriculo-venticular-bundle of cardiac 
muscle. These are large, quadrangular cells with granular 
protoplasm, and striated, it is said, only on the margins. 
The slow rate of propagation of the wave suggests greater 
capacity than in ordinary striated muscle, and therefore 
either (1) the plates are closer together, (2) they are larger, 
or, (3), what is more probable and indeed indicated by 
physiological diagrams, they are connected in parallel. If 
this is so the argument should apply with even greater 
force to plain muscle, but, unfortunately, the structure of 
the latter is not sufficiently defined to enable a definite 
opinion to be given. 

In cardiac muscle the movement is rhythmical, and it 
differs from that of voluntary and plain muscle in that, 
subject to regular periods of rest, it is onstant, whereas 
in the others it is intermittent. We can readily under- 
stand this when we remember that discharge or neutralisa- 
tion does not take place instantaneously unless there is 
actual contact. Regular periods of time or rest would be 
necessary in any such circuit if it was required to work 
continuously and automatically. The retardative action 
is equally pronounced in the discharge as in the charge, and 


both velocity of impulse and periodicity are dependent 
upon the two factors of resistance and capacity. 

It is a pity that we have no data as to the specific 
inductive capacities of the natural dielectrics of the body, 
such as cholesterol, neuro-keratin, lecithin, kephalin, the 
medullary sheath, etc., as a basis for calculation. As 
against the 1 of air, sulphur is 1-93, but as other dielectric 
substances range between 1-77 and 10-1, it is evident that 
further research is called for to determine this important 

Apart from, but in addition to, specific inductive 
capacities, I should much like to have the following 
information : 

In a selected piece of striated muscle 

(1) The surface area of the clear spaces, 

(2) The thickness of Krause's membrane, 

(3) The average number of sarcomeres connected by 

the end-plates of motor-nerve fibres, and 

(4) Whether such end-plates do or do not connect the 

clear spaces thus 

Fig. 11. 

That would be something to go on with. 

I learn from The Human Species, by Ludwig Hopf, 
that an average size piece of striated muscular fibre measures 
20-4 mm. in length by 0-06 mm. diameter. If we had the 
thickness and specific inductive capacity of Krause's 
membranes we could, at least approximately, calculate the 
capacity of each sarcomere. 


In plain muscle the figures given are 0-045 to 0-225 mm. 
long by 0-004 to 0-007 mm. wide. These are given by 
Hopf. Halliburton states that the fibres of voluntary 
muscle average about 1 in. in length and ^fe (0-05 mm.) 
in diameter. 


There are several ways of doing this, but as extreme 
accuracy is not required, the most convenient method is by 
direct discharge. For this a " universal " shunt and a 
standard condenser of J to 1 micro are required, and the 
subject should stand upon an ebonite slab to obtain good 

Using fairly high power (say 20 volts) at first, and 
afterwards not more than 0-5 volt, take two sets of observa- 
tions in the following manner. Charge the standard 
condenser Fj by the battery for a given number of seconds 
and discharge it through a shunted galvanometer. Note 
the immediate deflection and call it d lf Next, charge the 
condenser to be measured (the body), F 2 , by the same 
battery ; discharge it through the galvanometer and again 
note the immediate deflection, d 2 . Then 

F i; F 2 ::^:rf 2 , or F 2 = F^ 2 



If -j- is made a submultiple of 10, d 2 gives the capacity at 


The multiplying power of the shunt or shunts used is 
found by the formula 

G + s 

G being the resistance of the galvanometer in ohms, 
s the resistance of the shunt, 

The actual connections in my original tests were : 



/5 cells 

3 L+i < 


: -Discharge Key 



Fig. 12. 

dj was taken with a standard condenser of 1 microfarad 
capacity, a galvanometer resistance of 7,000, and a shunt 
of 80 ohms. The immediate discharge, or d l9 was 204 mm., 

or, multiplied by - - = 18,033-6 mm. ; while <Z 2 , with 

a 80-ohm shunt, was 290 mm., or 67,947 mm. in full. This 
by the formula F 2 = F j gave 376 micros (nearly) as 

the capacity of the body. In taking this test it is advisable 
that the observer stands as far from the subject as 





IN a diagram of a cell (Schafer) the centrosome is 
shown double and lying near the nucleus. 
This is a minute particle (centriole), surrounded 
by a clear area (attraction sphere) and from it 
radiate into the surrounding protoplasm a 
number of fine fibrils and dot-like enlarge- 
ments at intervals. The twin spheres are 
connected by a spindle-shaped system of delicate fibrils 
(achromatic spindle), and this duplication invariably precedes 
the division of a cell into two. 

In the process of division of a cell many changes occur, 
but it is always " preceded by the division of its attraction 
sphere, and this again appears to determine the division of 
the nucleus." These changes are, briefly, as follows : 

" (1) The network of chromoplasm-filaments of the 
resting nucleus becomes transformed into a sort 
of skein, formed apparently of one long convoluted 
filament, but in reality consisting of a number of 
filaments (spirem) ; the nucleus membrane and 
the nucleoli disappear, or are merged in the skein. 

" (2) The filament breaks into a number of separate 
portions, often V-shaped, the chromosomes. . . . 
As soon as the chromosomes become distinct they 
are often arranged radially round the equator of 
the nucleus like an aster. 


" (3) Each of the chromosomes splits longitudinally 
into two. 

" (4) The fibres separate into two groups, the ends being 
for a time interlocked,*' i.e., complete division 
has not taken place. 

" (5) The two groups pass to the opposite poles of the 
now elongated nucleus and form a star-shaped 
figure at either pole (diaster). Each of the stars 
represents a daughter nucleus." At this point 
complete separation has occurred, and the following 
appearance is presented (Fig. 13) : 

Fig. 13. Fig. 14. 

" (6), (7), (8). Each star of the diaster goes through the 
same changes as the original nucleus, but in the 
reverse order, viz., a skein, more open and rosette- 
like, then a closer skein, then a network ; passing 
finally into the typical reticular condition of a 
resting nucleus." The penultimate stage is shown 
in Fig. 14 and is the stage immediately preceding 
the division of the cell. 

" The protoplasm of the cell divides soon after the 
formation of the diaster. During division fine lines are 
seen in the protoplasm, radiating from the centrosomes at 
the poles of the nucleus, whilst other lines form a spindle- 
shaped system of achromatic fibres within the nucleus, 
diverging from the poles towards the equator. These are 
usually less easily seen than the chromatic fibres or chromo- 
somes, but are not less important, for they are derived from 
the attraction-spheres. These with their centrosomes 
alway initiate the division of the cell ; indeed, they are 


often found divided in the apparently resting nucleus, the 

two particles being united by a small system of fibres forming 

a minute spindle at one side of 

the nucleus. When mitosis is 

about to take place this spindle 

enlarges, and as the changes in 

the chromatin of the nucleus \ 

occur which changes involve 

the disappearance of the nuclear rf ~15~~ 

membrane the spindle gradually 

passes into the middle of the mitotic nucleus, and with 

the fibres of the spindle therefore completely traversing 

the nucleus. (Fig. 15.) 

" The spindle-fibres appear to form directing lines, along 
which the chromosomes pass, after the cleavage, towards the 
nuclear poles to form the daughter nuclei." * 

In most animal cells the protoplasm becomes constricted 
into two parts midway between the two daughter nuclei* 
" Each daughter cell so formed retains one of the two 
attraction-particles of the spindle as its centrosome, and 
when the daughter cells are in their turn again about to 
divide, this centrosome divides first and forms a new spindle, 
and the whole process goes on as before." (Schafer.) 

To go back a little, to the properties of living matter, 
we learn that " living cells exhibit irritability or the pro- 
perty of responding to stimuli," electrical or otherwise, 
much in the same way that nerve and muscle exhibit it 
and I think we can postulate it as almost, if not quite, 
unanswerable that to respond to electrical stimulus the 
structure itself must be to some extent electrical. That 
it exhibits irritability under mechanical, chemical, or 
thermal stimuli does not affect the question, because a 
stimulus of any kind must disturb the equilibrium of an 
electrical unit of so delicate and sensitive a nature. 
* The italics are my own. 


It now remains to be seen whether I am in any way 
justified in applying the term " electrical unit " to any 
animal cell. 

Supposing the single centrosome to be an electrified 
body, no electrical action of attraction or repulsion could 
take place within it while it remained single, 
but before any cell -reproduction can begin 
it is duplicated, and duplicated in a very 
peculiar form, the fibrils having dot-like 
enlargements at intervals. 

In the diagram the dark spots represent 
the centrioles, and if, as I imagine, they 
are bodies similarly electrified, the immedi- 
ate result would be the exercise of repulsion 
between the two, and consequent elongation of the cell. 
Dividing the centrioles is a clear space over which 
repulsion would first be exercised. 

In Schafer two diagrams are given to illustrate the 
changes which occur in the centrosomes and nucleus of a 
cell during the process of mitotic division : 

Fig. 17. 

Up to the point shown in A, repulsion seems to continue, 
and we are told that " the spindle-fibres appear to form 
directing lines, along which the chromosomes pass, after 
the cleavage, towards the nuclear poles to form the daughter 
nuclei." It would seem, however, that the repulsive force 
had reached its limit and that no further elongation of the 
cell was necessary, because at an intermediate stage 


between A and B, while the force was still being exerted, 
the process of contracting the exoplasm in the middle in 
order to ensure the division of the cell at that point must 
have gone on ; and in B we see that the lines of force, or 
the spindle-fibres, are ceasing to exist. That being so, and 
the cell having divided into two parts, each with its nucleus, 
nucleolus, and single centrosome, it prepares itself for 
renewed growth and for re- division. 

I am, of course, aware that the chemical changes which 
take place are all important, but they are not in my depart- 
ment, nor am I qualified to deal with them. I am en- 
deavouring, and shall continue to endeavour, to point out 
that the structure of the body is primarily electrical, and 
that electrical, or neuro-electrical, action is precedent to 
chemical change. 

And when we know more about their precise con- 
nections I am sure we shall find that the nucleus and 
nucleolus play a very important part in the neuro-electrical 
scheme of cell-reproduction. In this regard I should like 
to draw the attention of my readers to that section of this 
work which treats of ganglion cells in their electrical 
aspect, and would further observe that in the absence of 
stimulus or excitement the amceba assumes, and with it, 
I take it, all cells assume, a form more or less spherical or 
ovoid, " elongated, annular, or irregularly lobulated " 
(Halliburton), which in a condition of rest, or, in other 
words, prior to change, is their natural shape. 

It will be seen also that after the division of the cell has 
taken place the single centrosome 
(see Fig. 18) occupies a position close 
to the nucleus. In that state it is at 
rest, in the sense that the nucleus 
is at rest. When, however, the time 
has arrived for division of the cell to 
commence the centrosome is seen as in F| S- 18 - 

Fig. 19, 


At first sight one might be inclined to think that its 
position is not in favour of the hypothesis I have advanced, 
because if the diagram correctly represents its position, 
as I cannot doubt it does the repulsive force would be 
exerted longitudinally, and in such case would merely 
elongate that portion of the cell to the right of the nucleus. 
That would be so if, immediately the 
repulsive force begins to operate, the 
nucleus underwent no change. But 
it does change. The network of 
chromoplasm filaments of the resting 
nucleus becomes transformed into a 
sort of skein, into which the nuclear 
membrane and the nucleoli disappear. 
The whole cell, with the exception of its exoplasm, 
appears, in fact, to be broken up, and its component 
parts to be marshalled into order by the centrosomes- 
But in what manner ? If the broken- 
up nucleus was between the attraction ,--" ""*%, 
spheres, as shown by Schafer(Fig. 20), it / 
is quite evident that a repulsive force 
alone would, so long as it continued to be 
exerted and for so long as the disinteg- \ 
rated nucleus had no polarity, maintain 
the substance between the attraction 
spheres at the same distance from each of them. It 
follows, logically, therefore, that if in the process of 
division one part of the cell cleaves to one attraction 
sphere, and the other part of the cell to the other attrac- 
tion sphere, there must be a difference of polarity between 

Suppose, for instance, the attraction spheres to be 
similarly electrified and to repel each other, so that they 
become farther apart, with a certain, non- electrified (or 
similarly electrified at lower tension) substance between 


them. Neither the nucleus nor the nucleolus is non- 
electrified of that I am sure but during the early process 
of division the nuclear membrane and the nucleoli disappear 
or are merged in the skein, and, inferentially, lose polarity 
for the time being by loss of insulation and consequent 
diffusion. The moment, however, that insulation is even 
partially restored polarity would come into play ; and 
reference to physiological diagrams makes it clear that at 
this stage of division the two attraction spheres and the 
two parts of the nucleus are in close proximity, each with 
the other. 

Assume that the attraction spheres and the nucleus 
are oppositely electrified, and we can understand why, in 
the first place, the single centrosome lies as near the 
nucleus as the structure of the cell permits ; secondly, 
there being an intervening space between the centrosomes, 
they should separate at that part, and in the process of the 
nucleus breaking down repel each other until they form 
poles at opposite ends of the cell. At that stage the 
nucleus would be in a condition of temporary disintegration 
or disarrangement, but as its insulation returned it would 
regain polarity, and, the pull being exactly equal, we can 
conceive one- half of it trending, by attraction, to the left 
and one- half to the right centrosome. Equilibrium would 
then be restored, and as the exoplasm completed the circle 
around each of the daughter nuclei, or rather around the 
protoplasm surrounding each daughter nucleus, the cell 
should divide by constriction. 

I will endeavour to put it briefly. In its condition of 
rest, or, as I prefer to say, of development, I assume the 
centrosome and nucleus to be of opposite polarity. Upon 
duplication, the two centrosomes move to extreme ends 
of the cell. The moment the nucleus loses its membrane, 
and with it its insulation, it becomes similarly electrified, 
the chromosomes exercise a repulsive influence upon each 


other under the control by the lines of force from the 
centrosomes, and, being in multiples of two, must divide 
in equal numbers at the equator. So soon, however, as the 
two sets of chromosomes regain insulation they again 
become oppositely electrified, are attracted by the centro- 
somes, and form two equal groups. 


Usually, it is said, the two daughter cells are of the 
same size, but this is not so in the case of the ovum, which, 
before fertilisation, divides twice (by hetero- and homo- 
typical mitosis respectively) " into two very unequal 
parts, the larger of which retains the designation of ovum, 
while the two small parts which become detached from it 
are known as the polar bodies. Further, in the formation 
of the second polar body a reduction-division occurs, and 
the nucleus of the ovum, after the polar bodies are ex- 
tended, contains only one-half the number of chromosomes 
that it had previously e.g., twelve in place of the normal 
twenty-four in man, and two instead of four in Ascaris 
Megalocephala ( var. bivalvens). Should fertilisation super- 
vene, the chromosomes which are lacking are supplied by 
the male element (sperm-cell), the nucleus of which has 
also undergone, in the final cell-division by which it was 
produced, the process of reduction in the number of 
chromosomes to one-half the normal number. The two 
reduced nuclei which are formed respectively from the 
remainder of the nucleus of the ovum after extrusion of the 
polar bodies, and from the head of the spermatozoon, 
which contains the nucleus of the sperm-cell are known 
(within the ovum) as the sperm and germ nuclei, or the 
male and female pronuclei. When these blend, the ovum 
again contains a nucleus with the number of chromosomes 
normal to the species." (Schafer.) 

It will thus be seen that while the process of division 



of the ovum is more complicated than that, for instance, 
of various kinds of somatic cells, it obeys the same law of 
alternate repulsion and attraction. 

This may be more readily comprehended by study of 
the fertilisation and first division of the ovum of the worm 
Ascaris Megalocephala, owing to the comparative simplicity 
of the structure and the smaller number of chromosomes. 

To put it, if I can, a little less technically than Schafer, 
the ovum first discharges or extrudes from its interior two 
portions of its nucleus, which form globules upon the ovum 
and are called the polar bodies. These appear to play the 
same part as the centrosomes and attraction spheres in 
ordinary mitosis, and, disregarding for the moment the 
fusion of the male and female pronuclei, the penultimate 
stages of segmentation of the ovum, as shown by Schafer, 
differ in no important respect from those of mitotic divi- 
sion. Those stages are illustrated in the following 
manner : 

A. Fig. 21. 
Ascaris Megalocephala. 
A. Mingling and splitting of 
the four chromosomes (c) ; the ach- 
romatic spindle is fully developed, 
but division of the cytoplasm has 
not yet commenced. 

B. Fig. 22. 

B. Separation (towards the 
poles of the spindle) of the halves 
of the split chromosomes, and com- 
mencing division of the cytoplasm. 
Each of the daughter cells now has 
four chromosomes ; two of these 
have been derived from the ovum 
nucleus, two from the spermatozoon 

The extrusion of the polar bodies may be readily under- 
stood. We know that (1) like electricities repel one 
another, (2) unlike electricities attract one another, and 


(3) the force of attraction or repulsion varies inversely as 
the square of the distance between the two electrified 
bodies, and directly as the amount of the charge of the two 

We are also aware that one of the earliest changes to 
occur in mitosis and in segmentation is the breaking up of 
the nuclear membrane. Assume, then, that the nucleus is 
an electrified body and that those portions of it which 
become the polar bodies are the first to detach themselves 
or be detached from it, and the process of extrusion (by 
repulsion) becomes clear. We are also entitled to believe 
that their amount of charge is exactly equal, and have 
seen that the chromosomes are always in multiples of two. 
That being so, the latter should, upon regaining some 
measure of their insulation, trend towards the polar bodies 
(by attraction) in two groups of equal numbers. 

In plant life sexual reproduction is first found in the 
form of conjugation, as in mucor and spirogyra, where the 
male and female elements are similar in shape and size. They 
are simple cells, and fuse together to produce a zygospore. 
" Fucus exhibits sexual production alone, and that in a 
very typical manner. Male and female organs, in this case 
trichomes, are present, which produce respectively small 
motile male cells, spermatozoids, and passive, relatively 
large female cells, the oospheres. One male cell fuses with 
each female cell, which is now fertilised, and can develop 
into a new plant. ' ' (Davis. ) 

The phenomena presented by sexual or asexual repro- 
duction appear to be common to all forms of animal and 
vegetable life, from the lowest to the highest. The presence 
of nuclei has been demonstrated in the vegetative and 
reproductive parts of fungi belonging to widely separated 
orders, and Schizomycetes are of the class of fungi and 
require organic matter as food ; in diatomaceae and in 
protozoa ; and I have little doubt that if a sufficiently high 


power could be used bacteria would be seen to be mostly 
multicellular organisms which, by division and sub- 
division, proliferate themselves in much the same way as 
some of the species of confervoidese. 

" In all probability," remarks Massee, in The Evolution 
of Plant Life, " nuclei in a primitive state of differentiation 
are present in all plant cells. The exact function of the 
nucleus is not known, but judging from its almost universal 
occurrence, and its behaviour in connection with the 
formation of new cells, it must be supposed to perform 
some important function." 

With that view we must all be in agreement. Without 
the nucleus cell-reproduction could not occur. 

If that is so, however, and we suppose bacteria to 
multiply themselves by the exercise of some electro- 
chemical function, we must draw a line of demarcation 
between aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms. The 
former need only contain some substance electro-positive 
to oxygen for electrical action to occur, whereas the 
latter should be self-contained ; that is to say, they should 
be provided with both positive and negative materials, 
requiring only suitable liquid to excite them. 

Those who doubt the existence of a network in proto- 
plasm would do well to examine, for example, the naked 
protoplasm of a myxogaster (a yellow-coloured saprophyte, 
generally met with on decaying wood), and the structure of 
a grain of wheat and of rice, with special regard to the 
arrangement and insulation of the starch cells. The same 
phenomenon, in a modified form, will be observed ; and 
if vegetable and animal physiology were always studied 
together many other doubts and perplexities might be 

I am not concerned with enzyme action in its chemical 
aspect, but certain facts in connection with it are not 
without significance. The action is intracellular ; a rise 



of temperature has much the same effect upon enzymes 
as it has upon the velocity of the nerve impulse, they die 
at much the same temperature as protoplasm, and their 
activity is checked or destroyed by many of the chemical 
substances, such as strong acids and alkalis which check 
or destroy amoebic movement. This proves nothing, but 
it opens the door to the suggestion that enzyme action, 
instead of being wholly chemical, may be in some measure 

The best description of cell-division in plants is given 
by Professor Vines in his Text-book of Botany. He says : 
" The indirect division of the nucleus presents a series of 
remarkable phenomena which are collectively designated 
by the term karyokinesis. Beginning with the nucleus in 
the resting-state, the first fact indicating the imminence of 
nuclear division is that the two centrospheres " (centro- 
somes) " separate and take up positions on opposite 
sides of the nucleus, thus indicating the plane in which the 
nuclear division is to take place, viz., at right angles to a 
straight line joining the centrospheres : the change of 
position of the centrospheres is doubtless effected by the 
kinoplasm in which they lie. Changes are now perceptible 
in the nucleus itself. The fibrillar network contracts and 
becomes more dense, and breaks into distinct fibrils (chromo- 
somes) consisting now of broad discs of chromatin with 
narrower intervening discs of linin ; the tangle of the 
somewhat V-shaped fibrils becomes looser as they separate 
and move towards the surface of the nucleus. At this stage 
the so-called nuclear membrane loses its definiteness, the 
kinoplasm entering the nucleus without, however, dis- 
placing the proper ground-substance of the nucleus. The 
kinoplasm forms a number of threads, extending from one 
centrosphere to the other, constituting the kinoplasmic 
spindle " (achromatic spindle), " of which the centrospheres 
are the two poles. Along these threads the fibrils move 


till they reach the equatorial plane of the spindle, where 
they constitute the nuclear disc, and are so placed that 
their free ends point to either one pole or the other. Whilst 
these changes have been going on, the nucleoli have dis- 
appeared, being diffused in the nuclear ground-substance. 
The fibrils now undergo longitudinal splitting into two, 
and then the nuclear disc separates into two halves, in such 
a way that one of each pair of fibrils produced by the 
splitting of each primary fibril goes to each half. The 
fibrils constituting each half of the nuclear disc now move 
towards the corresponding pole along the spindle-threads, 
changing their position as they go, so that when they 
reach the pole their free ends point towards the equatorial 
plane. On reaching the pole, each group of fibrils con- 
stitutes a new nucleus ; it becomes invested by a mem- 
brane, nucleoli reappear, and the fibrils resume the form 
and structure of the resting nucleus. The two nuclei are 
now completely formed, and are still connected by kino- 
plasmic spindle-threads " (as in Fig. 17). " If no cell- 
division is immediately to take place, no further change 
occurs beyond the disappearance of the threads," and this, 
it will be noted, is the stage immediately preceding division 
in ordinary mitosis. 

It is interesting to compare this account of vegetable 
cell -reproduction with that given by Schafer of mitotic 
division of the animal cell. The wording is different, but 
the processes appear to be identical. 



FOR more than a century we have heard of " Animal 
Magnetism," and even some modern scientific men 
Professor Rosenthal amongst the number are inclined to 
attribute certain vital phenomena to magnetic influences 
contained in the body. 

The temptation to do so is great because some points 
of resemblance may be found, but the view is a fallacious 
one, as I will endeavour to show. 

Inasmuch as we do not know what the force called 
magnetism is, I do not propose to discuss it further than is 
necessary. In the course of nearly forty years of research 
work I have not been able to find any evidence of its 
existence in the human body. Superficially, however, 

Fig. 23. 

certain phenomena may appear to be due to magnetic 


As instances of this we may take mitotic division and 



the segmentation of the ovum, which, as we have seen, 
permit of another and more reasonable explanation. 

In a work called The Evolution of Seas, by Geddes and 
Thomson, the illustration on preceding page is given of cell- 
division, suggesting the internal disruptions and rearrange- 
ments of the nucleus and protoplasm. 

Let us compare that with the lines of force of a bar 

Fig. 24. 

There is a quite remarkable similarity. We will, 
however, instead of one, take two bar magnets and arrange 
them thus and with this result : 

Fig. 25. 

They would repel each other ; the space between the 
two might be called the achromatic spindle and the 
magnets themselves the centrosomes. But we should have 
precisely the same result if for the magnets we substituted 
two similarly electrified bodies. 

All the body phenomena can be readily and, I believe, 
correctly explained in the same way, by the law of electrical 
attraction and repulsion, both as regards intra- and extra- 
cellular control, and to the best of my knowledge there is 
no such thing as animal magnetism. 




Fig. 26. 

One of the phases of the nuclear 
chromatin filaments in the process 
of ordinary mitosis of the somatic 
cell. (Schdfer.) 

Fig. 27. 

One of the changes of the cell- 
nucleus during division (AHium 
odorum). (After Sachs.) 

Fig. 28. 

Epithelium-cells of salamandra 
larva in different phases of division 
by mitosis. (Schdfer.) 

Fig. 29. 

Changes in the cell-nucleus during 
the division of the mother-cell of a 
stoma of Iris pumila. (After Stras- 






Fig. 30. Fig. 31. 

Diagram of a cell. p, proto- Young pollen-grain of Lilium 
plasm ; n, nucleus ; n 1 , nucleolus ; Martagon, showing, c, double con- 
c, double centrosome ; ex, exo- trosphere ; n, resting nucleus ; 
plasm. (After Schafer.) n\ nucleolus ; p 9 protoplasm. 

(After Guignard.) 

Fig. 32. 

Diagram showing a change in 
the centrosomes and nucleus of a 
cell in the process of mitotic divi- 
sion. The nucleus is supposed to 
have four chromosomes. (After 

Fig. 34. 

Fertilisation of the ovum by the 
spermatozoon (of a mammal). 
(After Haeckel). 

Fig. 33. 

Germinating pollen-grain of Li- 
lium Martagon with dividing nu- 
cleus : the kinoplasmic spindle is 
formed with a centrosphere at each 
pole ; n is the nuclear disc formed 
by the chromosomes. (After 

Fig. 35. 

Oosphere, with spermatozoids. 
(After Strasburger.) 


The foregoing may be considered as direct evidences of 
the universality of the law which governs all living things. 
The examples I am about to cite cannot be said to fall, 
without question, into this category, because while the 
structures exhibit a striking resemblance, the organs are 
not in all cases designed for the same purpose or function. 
A little reflection, however, will show that, so far as structure 
is concerned, it differs only in detail, in more or less perfec- 
tion of finish or development ; the underlying principle is 
there. Let us call them coincidences for the time being, 
and trust to future investigation to link them in some 
measure more closely together. It may here be said that 
only from the " living " can any reversal of sign, implying 
an electrical system, be obtained. In the " non-living '* 
there is no difference of potential unless introduced by 
some exterior vehicle of energy. 



Fig. 36. 

Ganglion cell with nerve process 

Fig. 37. 

Original spore of Vaucheria Se$- 
silis. (After Sachs.) 

Fig. 38. 

Section of spinal cord (human). 
(After Schdfer.) 

Fig. 39. 

Diagrammatic sketch of trans- 
verse section through portion of 
root of Phaseolus multiflorus. (After 



Fig. 40. 

Unipolar cell from spinal gan- 
glion of rabbit. (After Schiifer.) 

Fig. 41. 

Usnea barbata. Transverse sec- 
tion of a branch : r, epidermal 
layer ; m, fundamental tissue ; c, 
axial strand. (After Sachs.) 



Fig. 42. 

A. Spiral and reticular fibrils 
in the sheath of a nerve-fibre. 

B. Reticular appearance in the 
medullary sheath of a nerve-fibre. 

Fig. 43. 

A. Cells from a leaf of Hoya 

A. External view of the side 
where the annular striae cross. 

B. Portion of an annular vessel 
from the fibro-vascular bundle of 
Zea Mays. (After Sachs.) 

The main differences between the two sets of figures 
appear to be due to the absence of blood-vessels in the 
vegetable sections ; although there seems to be a pro- 
vision for the circulation of sap in the latter. 


Fig. 44. 

Formation of blastoderm in rab- 
bit by division of ovum into a 
number of cells. 

A. During formation of 
berry mass." (Schafer.) 


Athcea rosea ; division of the 
pollen mother-cells. 

B. A stage thereof . (After Sachs.) 

Fig. 46. 

A group of cartilage-cells showing 
the capsular outlines in the matrix 
surrounding the group. (Ranvicr.) 

Fig. 47. 

The same, in a slightly different 
form, as the above. 

Fig. 48. 

Part of a transverse section 
the sciatic nerve of a cat. 


Fig. 49. 

A parenchyma cell from the 
tyledon of Phaseolus multiflorus. 


(After Sachs.) 


Fig. 50. 

Two white fibre-cartilage cells 
from an intervertebral disk (hu- 
man). (Schdfer.) 

Fig. 51. 

Two thickened cells from the 
cortical tissue of the stem of Lyco- 
podium chamcecyparissus. (Sachs.) 

Fig. 52. 

From a section through a salivary 
gland (human). (After Noble 

Fig. 53. 

Glandular colleter from a stipule 
of Viola tricolor. (After Stras- 

Fig. 54. 

Muscular fibre-cell from the small 
intestine (human). (After Schdfer.) 

Fig. 55. 

A sclerenchymatous fibre (vege- 
table). (After Strasburger.) 




Fig. 56. 

Diagrammatic frontal section of 
the pregnant human womb. (After 

Fig. 57. 

Ovule of a gymnosperm in 
longitudinal section. (After 

Fig. 58. 

Epithelium-cells of Descemet's 
membrane. (After Smirnow and 

Fig. 59. 

Portion of the peripheral proto- 
plasm of the embryo-sac of Reseda 
odorata. (After Strasburger.) 





Fig. 60. 

Endothelium of a serous mem- 
brane (human). (After Schafer.) 

Fig. 61. 

Cells from a tendril of Cucwbita 
pepo. (After Strasburger.) 

Fig. 62. Fig. 63. 

Section across a nerve bundle in Transverse section through a 
the second thoracic anterior root young internode of the shoot axis 

oi the dog. (After Gaskell.) 

of Tradescantia albiflora. (After 
De Bary.) 


Fig. 64. Fig. 65. 

Network of capillary vessels of Laticiferous vessels from a see- 
the air-cells of the horse's lung, tion through the root of Scorzonera 
(After Frcy.) hispanica. (After Sachs.) 


The resemblance of laticiferous to blood-vessels is 
remarked by Sachs. He says : " The laticiferous vessels 
themselves are always so narrow that they can never be 
seen on a transverse section of the organ with the 
unaided eye. The microscope, however, shows that 
they may be of very different diameter in the same 
plant. In the roots, shoot-axes, and nerves of the leaves, 
run thicker tubes, from which thinner and yet thinner 
ones arise. The substance of the walls of the tubes always 
consists of soft cellulose, sometimes capable of swelling ; 
they are never lignified, suberised, or otherwise essentially 
altered by infiltration. One of the most prominent 
characteristics of the laticiferous vessels is their continuity 
throughout the whole plant, or at any rate over wide areas. 
This may obviously, even if not in every point, be closely 
compared with the vascular system of an animal. . . . 



If it were possible by any means to destroy all the other 
tissues of such a plant as a large Euphorbia or Asclepias, 
the entire form of the plant would still be preserved as a 
mass of very fine threads of various thickness, representing 
the ramifications of the original latex-cells ; just as the 
injected vascular system of a vertebrate animal after the 
removal of all other tissue allows the whole organisation of 
the body to be recognised. . . . The laticiferous vessels 
contain two essentially different groups of substances : 
those which are again utilised in metabolism (proteids, 
carbo-hydrates, fats, ferments), and those which must be 
regarded as excreta useless in metabolism (resins, gums, 
alkaloids, etc.). 



Fig. 66. 

Injected blood-vessels of a human 
muscle. (After Landois and Stir- 
ling.) (Kolliker.) 

Fig. 67. 

Section from Scorzonera his- 
panica showing reticulately united 
latex vessels. (After Strasburger.) 

" The green vegetables are particularly rich in salts, 
which resemble the salts of the blood ; thus, dry salad is 
said to contain twenty-three per cent, of salts, which 
closely resemble the salts of the blood." 

Given the necessary patience, I have no doubt that 


many other examples could be found, but the foregoing 
should be in themselves sufficient to establish the point I 
have been endeavouring to make. 

Unfortunately it is not always possible to find parallel 
illustrations, but I may take the opportunity afforded by 
this chapter to give the views of some authorities upon 
points of resemblance between animal and vegetable 
organisms. In Vegetable Physiology, by J. R. Green, 
F.R.S., I find the following : " If we turn to the reaction 
of the leaf of the Dion&a to contact, we find that the whole 
leaf may be somewhat roughly handled without closing, 
so long as no contact is made with the hairs, three in 
number, which arise on a particular portion of the blade. 
So soon, however, as one of these is touched, the leaf closes. 

" It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that we have 
to do in these instances, which are only representative 
ones, with a localisation of sensitiveness, or the differentia- 
tion of sense-organs. . . . The power of sight is very 
complete in the higher animals . . . but in the lower 
animals it becomes less and less perfect, till in some it goes 
probably little further than the power of appreciating light. 
This power we have seen to be possessed by certain parts 
of the young seedlings of various plants in a very high 
degree, and by other organs to a less extent. The sense of 
touch may be compared with the power of responding to 
the stimulus of contact shown by tendrils and by the tips 
of roots ; the muscular sense, or power of appreciating 
weight, is perhaps comparable to the property of respond- 
ing to the attraction of gravitation, while the chemotactic 
behaviour of certain organisms suggests a rudimentary 
power of taste or smell, or both. ... If we turn to a 
second feature of the nervous system, we find that the 
motor mechanism of the plant seems at first to be entirely 
different from that of the animal. Closer consideration, 
however, lessens the difference considerably. The motor 



mechanism of an animal is very largely either muscular or 
glandular. /The contractile power is but little developed 
in vegetable protoplasm, and when present it seems to be 
rather passive than active, to produce frequently recoil 
rather than true contraction. Still, the latter is not 
entirely absent. . . . Though the power of contraction is 
comparatively seldom found, it has its representative in 
the power which vegetable protoplasm possesses of resisting 
or assisting the transit of water. . . . The main require- 
ment of most animals is freedom of locomotion or rapid 
assumption by the body of new positions. The most 
important duty of the plant is the regulation of the water 
supply upon which its constituent protoplasts are so 
dependent." This is chiefly, if not entirely, accomplished 
by means of the stomata upon the under surface of the 
leaves, which open or close in accordance with the require- 
ments of the plant. Three of these are shown in the 
following figure : 

Crt&zrcf Cetts 

Fig. 68. 

Surface view of part of the tinder surface oi a leaf, showing three 
stomata in different stages of opening and closing. (After Green.) 

" The effects of stimulation may be seen in glandular 
organs in plants as well as animals. Both Drosera and 



Dioncea are excited by contact to pour out on to the surface 
of their leaves acid digestive secretions, which are the 
result of changes in the activity of the gland-cells. 

" The conduction of the stimuli received is due in 
.animals to the existence of differentiated nerves. The 
way in which it is carried out in plants has been much 
debated, but since the discovery of the continuity of the 
protoplasm through the cell -walls there is little doubt 
that we have here a similar mechanism. . . . Though 
there is no particular differentiation of an anatomical 
character in any "of the sense-organs of a plant, there is 
nevertheless a differentiation of a physiological nature in 
the direction of sensitiveness, which will equal if not surpass 
the powers of the sense-organs of an animal. The tendril 
of Passiflora appreciates and responds to a pressure which 
cannot be detected by even the human tongue ; the 
seedlings of Phalaris readily obey the stimulus of an 
amount of light which is hardly perceptible to the human 
eye. Many plants readily detect and respond to the ultra- 
violet rays of the spectrum, which are utterly invisible 
to man." 

In his thirty-fourth lecture, General Considerations of 
Irritability,* Sachs said : " Returning from these general 
considerations to definite comparisons between the animal 
and the plant, I would make special mention of that 
exceedingly remarkable phenomenon in animal life, termed 
by its great discoverer, Johannes Miiller, the specific 
energies of the sensory nerves. As is well known, we 
understand by this fact that for instance the optic nerve 
responds to any given excitation whatever with the sensa- 
tion of light : true, this sensation is as a rule called forth 
by the vibrations of the luminiferous ether, but even 
electric currents or mere concussion or diseased conditions 
impel the optic nerve to the sensation of light. In the 

* The Physiology of Plants. 


same way the auditory nerve is impelled to the perception 
of sound, not merely by waves of sound, but by every 
change which affects it, and similarly with the remaining 
organs of sense. 

" Now I pointed out years ago that even the organs of 
plants are provided with similar specific energies. Irritable 
organs in plants are, indeed, like the sense-organs of 
animals, sensitive to a definite category of stimuli, but 
they can very often be affected by other stimuli also, and 
in this case the stimulation is always the same. This 
appears most distinctly, for example, in the case of growing 
internodes and leaves. If they are illuminated from one 
side they become curved, and if brought out of their 
normal position they are caused to make exactly similar 
curvatures : the one mode possible for responding to any 
stimulus whatever is simply this curving. The matter 
only obtains its full significance by the fact that every 
individual plant- organ responds to the influence of light as 
well as to that of gravitation in a mariner specifically 
peculiar to it, and it is upon this that the anistropy of the 
parts of plants depends. No less clear is the specific 
energy of tendrils. . . . The identity of the effect of 
stimulation in cases where totally different stimuli act on 
the growing root-tips is particularly striking. . . . The 
organ possesses only one mode of responding to stimuli of 
the most various kinds. . . . The organism itself is only 
the machine, consisting of various parts, and which must 
be set in motion by the action of external forces : it de- 
pends upon its structure what effects these external forces 
produce in it. 

" It would betray a very low level of scientific culture 
to see in this comparison a degradation of the organism, 
since in a machine, although only constructed by human 
hands, there lies the result of the most profound and care- 
ful thought and high intelligence, so far as its structure is 


concerned, and in it there subsequently become effective 
the same forces of Nature which in other combinations 
constitute the vital forces of an organ. . . . We are 
warranted in regarding the so-called spontaneous or 
independent periodic movements " (in plants) " as phe- 
nomena of irritability, just as animal physiologists place 
the periodic pulsations of the heart in the series of phe- 
nomena of animal irritability. ... I have repeatedly had 
cause to refer to certain resemblances between the phe- 
nomena of irritability in the vegetable kingdom and those 
of the animal body, thus touching a province of investiga- 
tion which has hitherto been far too little cultivated. 99 

Consideration of enzyme action does not cpme within 
the scope of these studies, but it appears to be common 
to both animal and plant. According to Vines the chief 
kinds of enzymes which have been found in plants are : 

" (1) Those which act on carbohydrates, converting 
the more complex and less soluble carbohydrates 
into others of simpler composition and greater 

" (2) Those which act on fats, decomposing them into 
glycerine and fatty acid. 

" (3) Those that act on glucosides, glucose being a 

constant product. 

. " (4) Those that act on the more complex and less 
soluble proteids, converting them into others 
which are more soluble and probably less, com- 
plex, or decomposing them into non-proteid 
nitrogenous substances (amides, etc.)." 

As regards a comparison of fats in animals and plants, 
Sachs showed as long ago as 1858 that in the germination 
of seeds containing fat, a transference of the fatty oils from 
the cotyledons, or from the endosperm into the growing 
parts of the seedling, appears to take place, and this was con- 
firmed by chemical analysis by Peters. In his twenty-first 


lecture Sachs said : " It appears that the fats can pass 
through the closed tissue-cells as such ; though of course 
the greater part of them is transformed into starch and 
sugar for transport and use. Similar phenomena with 
respect to fats occur moreover in the animal body, where 
the fats entering into the stomach are in the first place 
emulsified by the secretion from the pancreas, that is, 
they become converted into exceedingly fine drops and 
then saponified. . . . The presence of fats in the seedling 
can only be explained by assuming that glycerine and 
fatty acids travel from cell to cell, and are continually 
becoming reunited for the formation of fat." 

In the case of plants in dry climates, or so situated that, 
for any reason, transpiration from their outer surfaces 
must be diminished, they are characterised by the greatly 
thickened and cuticularised walls of their epidermal cells. 
Deposits of wax are also present in the cutinised layers of 
the epidermis, and consequently water will flow off from 
the epidermis without wetting it. The wax is sometimes 
spread over the surface of the cuticle as a wax covering. 
This is the case in most fruits, where, as is so noticeable in 
plums, it forms the so-called bloom. (Strasburger.) 

There can, I think, be no doubt that the main purpose 
underlying the provision of the wax covering of fruits is 
the preservation of their absolute insulation, and one can 
be sure, even without examination, that where the outer 
skin or rind of a fruit is of comparatively delicate texture 
as of the plum while the fruit itself is juicy and highly 
conductive, the protective " bloom " will be found to be 
most abundantly provided. 

There is at least some analogy between this and the 
sebaceous secretion of the human epidermis ; both are 
apparently designed for the performance of the same 

In cases where wax is absent or in greatly diminished 


quantity, protection of a similar nature is afforded by resin, 
or by a covering or capsule of a fibrous character, as, for 
instance, in the leaf of the ivy and the capsules of various 
beans and seeds, etc. 

In regard to the comparison by Sachs of the laticiferous 
vessels of plants to blood-vessels of vertebrate animals, he 
instanced the fact that when a milky stem is cut not only 
the low cut surface of the apical portion but the upper one 
of the root-stock also extrudes the latex. Besides, the 
laticiferous vessels are extremely narrow capillary tubes, 
the normal terminations of which in the buds, leaves, and 
root-apices are closed. How, he asked, could fluid flow 
out at all on cutting such capillaries closed at the ends 
unless the fluid was under pressure ? " When we wound 

Fig. 69. Fig. 70. 

Cells from the leaf of Elodea ; Two cells from a staminal hair 

p, protoplasm. of Tradescantia. 

ourselves the blood does not simply flow out, it is driven 


In regard to the movement of protoplasm in plants 
some interesting facts are given by Green. In cells from 
the leaves of Elodea and the staminal hairs of Tradescantia, 
to take two examples, the current appears to circulate, 
as will be seen from the two figures on the preceding page. 

The same author has much to say upon the subject of 
rhythmic movement in plants. " If we look back,*' he 
writes, " to the behaviour of the contractile vacuole of 
chlamydomonas, we are struck by the fact that its pulsations 
occur with a certain definite intermittence so long as 
they are not interfered with by external conditions. The 
vacuole dilates slowly, reaches a certain size, and suddenly 
disappears ; then is gradually formed again, and the series 
of events is repeated. This regular intermittence con- 
stitutes what is often spoken of as rhythm. The rhythm 
which is so easily seen in the case of pulsating vacuoles is 
characteristic also of those less obvious changes in proto- 
plasmic motility which lead to the variations of turgidity 
in different organs, particularly in those which are growing. 
During the growth in length of a symmetrical organ, such 
as a stem or root, the apex points successively to all points 
of the compass. This is the result of a rhythmic variation 
of the turgidity of the cells of the cortex. If we consider 
a longitudinal band of such cells, we find that at a certain 
moment the cells are at their point of maximum turgidity, 
and the growing apex is made to bend over in a direction 
diametrically opposite to this band. The turgidity of this 
band then gradually declines to *a minimum, and again 
increases slowly to a maximum. If we conceive of the 
circumference of the organ as divided into a number of such 
bands, we can gain an idea of the changes in turgidity 
which cause the circumnatation. Each band is in a 
particular phase of its rhythm at any given moment, and 
the successive bands follow one another through the phases 
of their rhythm in orderly sequence, so that when one is at 


its maximum, another diametrically opposite to it is at its 
minimum. The phases of maximum and minimum tur- 
gidity thus pass rhythmically round the organ, and the 
apex is consequently compelled to describe a spiral line as 
it grows. ... It is not infrequent for the rhythmic change 
in the turgescence to affect only two sides ... its changes 
will thus resemble, those of a flattened organ which can 
only be made to oscillate backwards and forwards." 

Until I read Green's Vegetable Physiology I was not 
aware that this rhythmicality of movement had been 
observed, but the subject is to me one of peculiar interest. 
It so happens. that some years ago I carried out a series of 
galvanometric tests with plants invariably at night 
and took note of phenomena which, in their electrical 
aspect, were suggestive of rhythmic inspiration and 

The paralysis or destruction of protoplasmic movement 
in both animal and vegetable bodies appears to occur from 
identical causes, as will be seen on reference to the Study 
of Amoeboid Movement. 

One question which has engaged my attention is : 
Can there be any analogy between the propagation of 
impulse in mammal and plant ? Though the possession of 
nerves is denied to the latter by some authorities, there is 
little if any doubt that they are present in a rudimentary 
form, and in such case the propagation of stimuli should, 
logically, be possible. 

Green remarks : "In considering broadly the result 
of stimulation " (of plants) " we must notice at the outset 
that it provokes a purposeful response. The living 
substance appears to have a definite aim." 

" If any one of the small leaflets of a leaf, on a shoot of 
Mimosa with five or six leaves, is stimulated by means of 
the hot focus of a burning glass, all the other leaflets of the 
same leaf gradually fold together, and after a time the 


large motile organ at the base of the main petiole also 
becomes bent, and again after a few seconds the stimulation 
extends to the nearest neighbouring leaf, then to the 
succeeding one, and so on, till at last all the leaves of the 
shoot have made the movement/' (Sachs.) 

The rate of propagation of stimuli in the plant, as 
compared with man, is, of course, relatively very slow. 
That is, if we regard it as a purely physical process in the 
sense that when a stretched string is jerked at one point 
the whole string vibrates. But if we take the rate of 
conduction of a feeble electrical stimulus, I do not think it 
will be found to differ materially from the rate of conduction 
in a human nerve. 



" THE protoplasm tends during life to exhibit move- 
ments which are apparently spontaneous, and when the 
cell is uninclosed by a membrane a change in the shape, or 
even in the position of the cell, may be thereby produced." 

One of the constituents of cell-protoplasm is called 
nucleo-protein, and the normal supply of iron to the body is 
contained in the nucleo-proteins of plant and animal cells. 

A cell possesses the power of breathing, i.e., taking in 

" There is no doubt that protoplasmic movement is 
essentially the same thing in both animal and vegetable 
cells. But in vegetable cells the cell-wall obliges the 
movement to occur in the interior." (Halliburton, 1915.) 

What is the nature of that movement ? I learn from 
the same source that if a living amoeba is watched for a 
minute or two, an irregular projection is seen to be gradu- 
ally thrust out from the main body and retracted, a second 
mass is then protruded in another direction, and gradually 
the whole protoplasmic substance is, as it were, drawn into 
it. The amoeba thus comes to occupy a new position, 
and when this is repeated several times we have locomotion 
in a definite direction, together with a continual change of 
form. (Halliburton, 1915.) 

Is it not possible to explain this movement by the 
electrical law of attraction and repulsion ? Iron, as I have 


remarked elsewhere, is fifth in the scale of electro-positives 
and oxygen at the bottom of the list of electro-negatives ; 
and providing that osmosis can take place and there is an 
exciting solution, such electrical action may very well occur. 

Upon the assumption that it does so occur let us see 
how the movements of the amoeba are affected by stimuli. 

" (1) CHANGES OF TEMPERATURE. Moderate heat 
acts as a stimulant. The movement stops when the 
temperature is lowered near the freezing-point or raised 
above 45 C. 

" (2) CHEMICAL STIMULI. Distilled water first stimu- 
lates, then stops amoeboid movement. In some cases 
protoplasm can be almost entirely dried up, but remains 
capable of renewing its movement when again moistened. 
Dilute salt solution and very dilute alkalies stimulate the 
movements temporarily. Acids or strong alkalies per- 
manently stop the movements ; ether, chloroform . . . 
also stop it for a time. 

" Movement is suspended in an atmosphere of hydrogen 
or carbonic acid, and resumed on the admission of air or 
oxygen ; complete withdrawal of oxygen will after a 
time kill protoplasm. 

" (3) ELECTRICAL. Weak currents stimulate the move- 
ment, while strong currents cause the cells to assume a 
spherical form and to become motionless." 

I will repeat, but paraphrase, the foregoing 

(1) Change of Temperature. Moderate heat acts as a 
stimulant by lowering internal resistance. The movement 
stops when the temperature is lowered near the freezing 
point because of the enormous increase of internal resist- 
ance so created, and as protoplasm dies at 45 C. (or 
thereabouts), that temperature would naturally bring 
about cessation of movement by killing the protoplasm. 

(2) Chemical Stimuli. Distilled water, regarded as a 
foreign substance or fluid, may bring about a momentary 


disturbance, but by reason of its high resistance would tend 
to stop movement after a short time. In some cases 
protoplasm can be almost entirely dried up, but remains 
capable of renewing its movement when again moistened- 
Its electrical activity and especially capacity is depen- 
dent upon the presence of conductive moisture, and when 
not so moistened it would become inert. That dilute salt 
solution and very dilute alkalies stimulate the movements 
temporarily by lowering internal resistance is what might 
reasonably be expected. As, however, there would be 
some alteration of the chemical composition of the cell- 
contents the efficiency of the cell would no doubt be ulti- 
mately impaired. Obviously also acids or strong alkalies 
would permanently stop the movements by causing 
diffusion ; ether and chloroform, as is well known, interfere 
with conduction, and, moreover, I am quite sure that the 
least trace of tincture of nux vomica would be fatal.* 

That movement is suspended in an atmosphere of 
hydrogen or carbonic acid calls for no explanation, but the 
fact that complete withdrawal of oxygen will, after a time, 
kill protoplasm is a strong argument in favour of the 
hypothesis that movement is due to electrical action. 

(3) Electrical. Weak currents, by supplementing the 
natural energy of the cell, stimulate the movement, but 
strong currents paralyse the protoplasm, or by disrupting 
its electrical structure cause it to revert to its original 
shape when at rest. 

In considering the theoretical solution I have offered 
of amoeboid movement, it is as well to bear in mind that 
although the chemical composition of the dead amceba can 
be resolved by analysis, such is not the case with the living 
amceba, in which, in all probability, these chemical sub- 
stances are represented by their groups of ions. If that i s 
so it can readily be imagined that, with a constant intake of 
* See experiment with begonia (p. 159). 


oxygen, a complex electro-chemical action between it and 
the iron in the cell may be set up, which by attraction and 
repulsion gives rise to the observed phenomena. 

In this connection reference may usefully be made to 
the experiments of Ampere. He proved by means of 
movable wires that attraction was shown when the currents 
ran in the same direction and repulsion when in opposite 
directions ; also that when two finite currents are inclined 
to each other without crossing, they attract when both run 
towards or both run away from the common apex, but 
repel when one runs towards and the other away from the 

When the currents are in the same direction, the 
surfaces oppositely electrified will be directly opposed, 
and therefore attraction ensues. If the currents are in 
opposite directions the surfaces similarly electrified will 
oppose, and therefore repel each other. 

In protoplasm there are many possible " surfaces " in 
the form of more or less vertical divisions of the cell. 

Supposing amoeboid movement to be due to either 
attraction or repulsion, or both, causing the irregular 
projections, we can understand that upon one current 
momentarily ceasing to flow or diminishing in intensity 
such projection would, wholly or partially, be withdrawn, 
because it had its origin in the first instance in a force, and 
upon that force being no longer operative or altering in 
intensity a change of form would take place. 

It will be remembered that early in the last century 
Davy passed a current through a solution of potash, and 
finding that the potassium went to one of the poles and the 
oxygen to the other, concluded that the two elements of a 
compound are charged with different electricities, which 
are neutralised on combination. That is the view now 
held after so long, and so lamentable a loss of time. 
" The actual theory of ionisation may be summed up 


in the following statement, which does but repeat exactly 
the ideas of Faraday : Bodies are composed of elements 
or ions charged, some with positive, others with negative 
electricity, and united at first in the neutral state. Under 
the influence of the battery current, the neutral molecule 
dissociates into positive and negative elements, which go to 
the poles of contrary names. The decomposition of a 
neutral salt may be represented by such an equation as : 

N0 3 K = N + 8 + K 

" When an ion leaves a solution in order to precipitate 
itself at an electrode charged with electricity of contrary 
sign by reason of the attraction exercised between two 
opposite electric charges it then becomes neutralised, 
which means that it receives from the electrode a charge 
exactly equal but of contrary sign to that which it before 

" Adopting the theoretical ideas put forward by 
Clausius, Arrhenius recognised that an electric current was 
in no way necessary to produce the dissociation of com- 
pounds into ions. In dilute solutions the bodies dissolved 
must be separated into ions by the mere fact of solution. 
When the electrodes of a battery are plunged into such 
solution, the ions must simply be attracted by them 
the positive ions by the negative pole, and the negative ion 
by the positive pole." (Le Bon.) 

According to Czapec, in any solution the degree of this 
dissociation depends on the nature of the salt, the tempera- 
ture of the solution and its strength. Acids and alkalies 
when diluted to one milligramme in one litre of water are 
entirely broken up into ions and cease to exist as acids and 
salts. Halliburton tells us that the proportion of inorganic 
salts in the blood plasma is 8-55 in 1,000, or approximately 
0-9 per cent. ; but that is the sum total of all the salts. 


I do not know what the percentage of alkali in the cell-con- 
tents may be. In any case there must be a certain amount 
of electrolysis due to the body current and irrespective of 
intra-cellular action. In blood plasma sodium is present to 
the extent of about 0-334, potassium 0-032, and chlorine 
0-364 per cent. 

As regards rigor, or cessation of protoplasmic move- 
ment in plants, Sachs gives the following information : 

(1) Temporary cold-rigor occurs in the motile organs 
of Mimosa pudica, when the temperature remains for some 
hours below 15 C. The lower the temperature falls below 
15 C. the more rapidly the rigor sets in. 

(2) Temporary heat-rigor occurs in Mimosa, in moist 
air at 40 C. within one hour ; in air at 45 C. within thirty 
minutes ; in air at 49-50 C. within a few minutes. The 
irritability returns after a few hours in air at a favourable 

Rigor is also caused by the withdrawal of oxygen ; 
when brought into the air the plant again becomes motile. 
Irritability disappears in hydrogen and nitrogen in carbon 
dioxide and ammonia, but returns on free exposure to air. 
Carbonic oxide gas mixed with air to the extent of twenty 
to twenty-five per cent, destroys the irritability. 

" The vapours of chloroform and ether suspend the 
irritability of the motile organs (for variations of light 
also), without destroying the life, if the effect does not 
continue too long. 

" Temporary rigor due to electric influence was found 
by Kabsch to occur in the gynostemium of Stylidium. A 
feeble current acted as a stimulus like vibrations ; a 
stronger one caused a loss of irritability, which returned 
again, however, after half an hour." 




THE two chief varieties of muscular tissue are 

(1) Unstriped or involuntary muscle, i.e., not under 

the control of the will. 

(2) Striped or voluntary. 

In non-striated muscular tissue the cell substance is 
longitudinally but is said to be not transversely striated, and 
each cell seems to have a delicate sheath. Between the 
fibres there is a small quantity of cementing substance. 
Non-medullated nerves are supplied to plain muscular 
tissue from the sympathetic or ganglionic system, and this 
tissue responds but slowly to a stimulus ; the contraction 
spreading as a wave from fibre to fibre. 

As it may help us to a clearer understanding of the 
functioning of the motor apparatus as a whole, we will first 
consider striated tissue. 


Up to this moment I had not seen, in any work upon 
Physiology, any illustration of the structure of muscular 
tissue, but as an electrician I knew what I should find when 
I betook myself to study. I should find sets of con- 
densers of varying capacity, with an elastic (compressible) 
substance between each condenser, and with absolute, 


elastic, sheath insulation ; the whole being so arranged as 
to be capable of neuro-electrical contraction in almost 
every direction. The chain of condensers might, indeed, 
contract more suddenly, or violently, at one point than at 
another point or points, but the various contractions would 
be designed to give, under impulse, a certain definite 
movement or series of movements to the muscle under 

I now learn from Landois and Stirling's Text-book 
of Human Physiology that each muscular fibre receives 
a nerve-fibre, or wire from a central station or 

The elastic sheath is called sarcolemma, and has 
transverse partitions stretching across the fibre at regular 
intervals. Within the sarcolemma is the contractile 
substance of the muscle. This, sarcous, substance is 
marked transversely by alternate light and dim layers, 
stripes, or discs. 

These muscular compartments contain the sarcous 
substance, and in each compartment there is a broad dim 
disc, forming the contractile, or compressible, part, on the 
upper surface, as shown in the illustration (p. 147) ; then, 
lower down, a narrower, " clear," homogeneous, soft or fluid 
substance ; then a membrane (called Krause's membrane), 
and another clear substance, followed by a dim (com- 
pressible) disc, and so on throughout the fibre. 

Let us imagine the sarcolemma to be composed of 
india-rubber, at all events on its inner side, the dim 
substance to be an elastic buffer, the " clear " lines to be 
conducting plates or discs, and Krause's membranes or 
Dobie's lines to be dielectric in character, and condenser 
action is suggested, once it is conceded that the impulse is 
neuro-electrical. It is not a question, as I have argued in 
another chapter, of whether the impulse is neuro-electrical 
or chemical, but of which action is precedent. 



It will be useful at this stage to bear in mind certain 
electrical laws 

(1) The amount of electricity induced by an electrified 

body on surrounding conductors is equal and 
opposite to that of the inducing body. 

(2) Induction leads to discharge as well as charge. 

At contact, or within a distance bridgable by the 
tension, the charge would be neutralised. 
(8) Faraday called the medium through which induc- 
tion is propagated, such as air, shellac, paraffin 
wax, etc., the dielectric. Air is taken as 1 and 
all other substances as more than 1. Air, there- 
fore, is only a bad conductor, not a non- 

(4) Faraday further supposed the particles or mole- 

cules of the dielectric to be conductors insulated 
from each other ; and to this discovery we owe 
the condenser, and the Farad as the unit of 

(5) Induction propagates itself in the direction where 

it has the least resistance to encounter. 

(6) The charge that a body receives is always in 

proportion to the facilities it offers for induction. 
If a body is so situated that it has nothing to act 
on, it receives no charge, or, in other words, has 
no inductive capacity. 

(7) Discharge begins where the tension is greatest. 

(8) The greater the surface over which electricity is 

diffused the less its tension at any particular 
point, and vice versa. 

(9) Electricity is exhibited only on the surface of 


(10) The distribution of electricity on the surface of 
insulated conductors is influenced materially by 
their form. 

(11) Electricity concentrates on points and pro- 


The sarcomeres, or divisions, of muscular fibre are 
shown thus 

and such a fibre consists of a number of these divisions, of 
varying diameter and area, a is the dim, contractile 
part, b the clear substance, and c Krause's membrane or 
Dobie's line. We have it on the authority of Noel Paton that 
the sarcolemma is " a delicate, tough, elastic membrane, 
closely investing the fibre, and attached to it at Dobie's 

Sharpey's drawings of a portion of a human muscular 
fibre, A, and of separated bundles of fibrils, B, are shown 
on the next page. 

The motor nerves of voluntary muscle are efferent, and 
therefore the impulse is from the brain, downwards. 
Suppose, then, we connect these sarcomeres in series in a 
battery circuit, thus : 




The law of electrical attraction would at once come into 
play. The upper plate would induce electricity of equal 







Fig. 72 

Fig. 73. 

Physiological Explanation. A = portion of a human muscular fibre ; 
B = separated bundles of fibrils : a, a, larger and rf, c, smaller collections. 
In A the letters a, 6, and c represent the dim space, the clear spaces, 
and Krause's membrane respectively. 

Electrical Explanation. In C the letters a, b, and c denote : a, a com- 
partment filled with an elastic substance, say, viscous india-rubber solution ; 
6, metallic or other conducting plates ; and c, waxed paper or other dielectric 



tension but of opposite sign at the lower plate, and that 
impulse would be transmitted throughout the series, with 
the result that contraction would take place, and the spaces 
a be compressed and bulge at the sides, while the sarco- 
lemma would also be contracted. 

The effect would, in fact, be like the compression of a 


Fig. 74. 

Fig. 75. 

except that the projections of the bellows would be rounded 
instead of diagonal, and assume the appearance of the 
following figure: 

Fig. 76. 

But this would only give us a straight " pull," and as a 
muscle does not respond to impulse in that way, we must 
see how Nature overcomes the difficulty, and how discharge 
or neutralisation is brought about. 

From Fig. 72 (B) we see that the fibrils (and it must 


include the fibres) are of varying diameter, and we have 
learned that (1) tension is in the inverse ratio to the surface 
over which electricity is distributed, (2) electricity concen- 
trates on points or projections, and (3) discharge begins 
where tension is greatest. 

If we were making an artificial muscular fibre we could 
solve the problem of discharge or neutralisation of charge 
by placing studs upon our conducting plates, as in Fig. 77 

because as electricity concen* 

^ mm *** **, fates on points or projections, 

and discharge begins where the 
tension is greatest, the plates 
would discharge when, by 
attraction, they approached each other sufficiently. 

We could also vary the " pull " both as regards strength, 
or velocity, and direction, first by varying the area of some 
of the sarcomeres, and second by joining them up in group 8 
in series or series-parallel, or parallel. 

That Nature does the first is obvious from Fig. 72 (B). 
As regards the second, we are told that the nerve-fibres 
of voluntary muscle pierce the sarcolemma and terminate 
in end-plates, which are shown to connect up with different 
groups of the sarcomeres of muscular fibre in the following 
manner : 


Fig. 78. 

Not only is that so, but, if it were desired, the Afferent 
impulse could be converted to an afferent one at any point 



by the simple process of inserting a condenser in the 
nerve circuit : 

Fig. 79. 

or, as it appears to be accomplished in the human body : 

Fig. 80. 

both, however, are on exactly the same principle. 

We will now compare, briefly, Nature's method of 
discharge or neutralisation of charge with my suggestion of 
'* studs," and discuss the whole question in detail later on. 

As given by Schafer the sar comer e in a moderately 
extended condition is shown thus : 

k, k are Krause's membranes or Dobie's lines, H the 
plane of Hensen, and SE a poriferous sarcous element. 


B depicts the sarcomere in contracted condition, 
compressed and elongated and bulging at the sides. 

The analogy between 
metallic plates and the 
" clear " spaces, b, of the 
sarcomere cannot, of 
course, apply to the 
Fig * 82 * material employed, but 

only to its electrical character. I am informed that 
the " clear " spaces are largely composed of potassium 
salts in fluid or semi-fluid form, and that the dark 
vertical lines are canals or pores, open towards Krause's 
membrane, but closed at Hensen's line. The clear 
spaces are therefore conductive, and the analogy, elecitri- 
cally, holds good. In the contracted muscle the clear 
part of the muscle substance passes into the canals or 
pores and disappears from view, swelling up and widening 
the sarcous element and shortening the sarcomere. In the 
extended muscle, on the other hand, the clear substance 
passes out from the canals of the sarcous element and lies 
between it and the membrane of Krause, again ready 
for action. 

The effect of the completed contraction is to cause the 
conducting plates to approach each other near enough to 
enable them to discharge or neutralise their charge by 
contact through some invisible pore in Hensen's line ; or, 
possibly, by osmosis or diffusion. 

Alternatively such action may be made to occur by 
the plates being withdrawn to a sufficient distance to cause 
induction to cease. Then, the impulse having pa'ssed, 
they would be restored to their former position, in readiness 
to resume the performance of their function. 

In this connection we may recall the " Muscle telegraph " 
of Du Bois-Reymond. He attached a piece of muscle to 
a movable disc and placed the former in the circuit of a 



Ley den jar. When connection was made the muscle 
contracted and the disc was made to move. With two 
muscles and two discs, battery power, and suitable means 
for the rapid neutralisation of charge, an electro-mechanical 
apparatus to exhibit signals in the Morse Code could easily 
be made. 

I have no information as to the composition of Krause's 
membrane, but if it does not exist and is not a bad con- 
ductor of neuro- electricity, then the problem of muscular 
contraction offers the most extraordinary series of coinci- 
dences I ever heard of. In considering this point, how- 
ever, it must be remembered that a good conductor of high 
may not conduct low tension electricity at all. 

So far, in speaking of the clear spaces, I have used the 
words " plates " and " discs, " but am by no means sure 
that I am correct in doing so. Schaf er gives an illustration 
in which the arrangement of the conducting elements 

S, sarcolemma ; D, dot-like enlargement of sarcoplasm ; K, Krause's 
membrane. The sarcous elements are dissolved or at least rendered 
invisible by the acid. (Schdfer.) 

appears to my mind to be more consistent with the 
force exerted by muscle under what must be considered 


comparatively feeble stimulus. Electricity concentrates on 
points and projections, and in that connection the figure 
assumes a more than usual importance. 

We may now study the physiology of muscular fibre 
to see if there are any accepted facts or views which are 
antagonistic to ours, and if so, whether they are susceptible 
of explanation other than that given by the physiologist. 

" A nerve-fibre usually enters a muscle at the point 
where there is the least displacement of the muscular 
substance during contraction.'* 

The electrician would, of course, connect his line or 
battery wire in such manner as to avoid interference with 
the movable or active part of the apparatus. 

The next paragraph, from Landois and Stirling, will, I 
fear, bring me into direct conflict with some accepted views. 

44 Stimuli are simply various forms of energy, and they 
throw the muscle into a state of excitement, while at the 
moment of activity the chemical energy of the muscle is 
transformed into work and heat, so that the stimuli act as 
discharging forces . . . the excitability varies as the 
temperature rises or falls." 

I cannot agree with the view that stimuli are variou* 
forms of energy, holding, as I do, that they the natural 
stimuli are manifestations of neuro-eiectrical energy ; 
although certain chemical changes are undoubtedly con- 
sequent upon them. 

Again, it is not altogether correct to say that stimuli 
act as discharging forces. They act first as charging 
forces, and when contraction has taken place and not 
before cause, as a result of that contraction, discharge 
or neutralisation of charge. 

In regard to the effect of temperature upon the ex- 
citability of muscular fibre the explanation can, I venture 
to think, be given in three words, i.e., 4t Heat assists 


With a rise of temperature the resistance of the clear 
substance of the muscle and of Krause's membranes would 
be reduced ; with a fall of temperature the resistance of 
both would be increased. What the relative fall or rise of 
resistance is I have no means of determining, but, broadly 
speaking, a considerable rise of temperature might seriously 
impair the action of the condenser-compartments (sar- 
comeres) by breaking down the resistance of Krause's 
membranes, and so, wholly or partly, short-circuiting the 
condensers ; while a considerable fall of temperature 
might increase the resistance of the clear substance to such 
an extent that the low-tension nerve-charge could not 
overcome it, with the result that the muscle would, 
temporarily, become paralysed. 

A further section deals with excised muscles, and lays 
stress upon the fact that a series of stimuli of the same 
strength causes a series of contractions which are greater 
than at first (Wundt), and argues from that, that although 
the first feeble stimulus may be unable to discharge a 
contraction (? cause a contraction) the second may, because 
the first one has increased the muscular excitability (Fick). 

By excised muscles I understand dead muscles. There 
is an essential difference between the living and the non- 
living ; but even in non-living muscular fibre we should 
have condenser-action while its structure remained un- 
impaired. But it does not follow that the conductivity of 
the clear substance and the resistance of Krause's mem- 
branes would be exactly the same as in living muscle^ 
Discharge cannot occur until contraction is completed, 
and whereas in living muscle one impulse may be sufficient, 
a dozen or more might, conceivably, be conveyed to dead 
muscle before contraction could be completed and dis- 
charge or neutralisation effected if its capacity is altered 
by death, or some change is brought about by death in the 
elasticity of the sarcous substance. 


Reading on, we are told that " if the muscles of a frog 
(Du Bois-Reymond) or tortoise (Briicke) be kept in a cool 
place, they may remain excitable for ten days, while the 
muscles of warm-blooded animals cease to be excitable 
after one and a half to two and a half hours. ... A 
muscle when stimulated directly, always remains excitable 
for a longer time when its motor nerve is already dead." 

I have tested toads and tortoises galvanometrically in 
years gone by, and have been astonished at their super- 
abundant nerve energy as compared with that of man. 
Moreover, their insulation, absolute and internal, is such 
that they can withstand extremes of temperature and exist 
without food for incredible periods of time. To compare 
the muscle of a tortoise with that of a warm-blooded animal 
is to compare an ivy leaf with a deciduous leaf. By 
reason of its higher insulation the former will live (i.e., 
remain excitable) for months, whereas a horse-chestnut 
leaf will perish, under the same conditions, in a few days. 
It is, to my mind, purely a question of insulation. Suppos- 
ing there to be any resistance remaining in Krause's 
membranes and any conductivity in the clear substance, 
condenser-action would continue- in some degree ; but in 
the dead muscular fibres of warm-blooded animals there 
would, I should think, be rapid diffusion, short-circuit, and 
consequent cessation of condenser-action. 

The statement that " a muscle when stimulated directly 
always remains excitable for a longer time when its motor 
nerve is already dead " is almost elementary. Part of the 
sensory nerve of an apple is its stalk. When the apple is 
ripe, and it falls, Nature seals the end of the stalk with a 
resinous insulating substance. Granting, then, the sar- 
comeres to be structurally intact, a dead motor nerve 
would be equivalent to the sealed sensory nerve-ending of 
the apple. On the other hand, if the motor nerve of the 
muscle was maintained in a moist condition it would not 


remain excitable for so long a time, nor could the apple 
continue to resist decay if its stalk was unsealed and wet. 

Under the heading " Independent Muscular Activity," I 
am told that " there are many considerations which 
show that excitability is independent of the nervous 
system, although in the higher animals nerves are the usual 
medium through which the excitability is brought into 
action. Thus plants are excitable, and they contain no 
nerves." The italics are my own, and emphasise a state- 
ment upon which the whole argument depends. That 
statement also furnishes another illustration of the manner 
in which the student may be side-tracked from the main 
line of independent thought and research. He is told by 
a great authority that plants have no nerves, and, accepting 
the dictum with the respect invariably accorded to the 
teacher, is induced to follow a false line of reasoning. 

Every plant that grows in the soil has a nervous 
organisation. The earth is the negative terminal of 
Nature's electrical system, as the air, in normal conditions 
of weather, is the positive terminal ; and every tree, 
plant, or vegetable is charged by the earth, through 
sensory nerves, or closed circuits, extending from the roots 
through the stem and stalks and thence to the veins 
(nerve-fibres or fibrillae) of the leaves. These all yield a 
negative galvanometric reaction, while those parts of the 
leaves between the veins, as well as the flower end of all 
vegetables arid fruits, are of positive sign. Not only have 
plants nerves, but I shall be very much surprised if they 
are not found to possess a lower form of motor apparatus 
as well. 

I am far from being alone in this opinion. Ainsworth 
Davis says . 

" It has been shown that the protoplasm in adjacent 
cells may be permanently united by fine threads of the 
same material passing through the cell -walls. For effecting 


movements such an arrangement is invaluable, and this 
kind of continuity seems to foreshadow the muscular 
fibres of animals. . . . The ' continuity of protoplasm ' 
has here also an important bearing, and the nerves of 
animals seem prefigured." It is known that plants suffer 
from chlorosis, and that it may be cured by putting a little 
soluble iron in the soil. 

Also Sachs says in his Physiology of Plants : " It can 
scarcely be wondered at if the conclusion is drawn that 
something in the nature of nerves exists in the leaves of 
Dioncea, as appears moreover to accord with the in- 
sectivorous propensities of these plants. ... In any case 
we have no necessity to refer to the physiology of nerves 
in order to obtain greater clearness as to the phenomena of 
irritability of plants ; it will, perhaps, on the contrary, 
eventually result that we shall obtain from the process of 
irritability in plants data for the explanation of the 
physiology of the nerves." 

In the vegetable world the various forms of life have 
their roots in the negative soil, and embryologists have 
demonstrated that their starch-sugars are of laevo- and 
their albumins of dextro-rotation. Man has his roots, 
so to speak, in the positive air, and the rotation of his 
sugar-glycogen and albumins is directly opposite to that 
of the plant. That line of thought is worth following, and 
may be productive of valuable results. 

A good deal has been written upon the effect of curara 
upon motor nerves. My own research has shown that 
certain poisons increase the resistance of the nerve sub- 
stance to such an extent that the nerves are unable to 
transmit impulse ; with the result that there is pain so 
closely resembling that attendant upon neuritis and sciatica 
as to introduce error into diagnosis. Moreover, Professor 
Chunder Bose and I have both found that plants are 
similarly affected. In a recent experiment I tested a 


healthy begonia and obtained a steady deflection of 
135 mm. upon the galvanometer scale. The injection of 
two minims of tincture of nux vomica into the stem 
reduced that deflection to zero in one hour. In six hours 
the stem fell, the leaves separated at the junction of stalk 
with stem, and in a week the plant was rotten. 

The point laboured by at least some investigators seems 
to be that although a nerve or nerves may be paralysed or 
deprived of conductivity by certain poisons, the excitability 
of muscle may not be so affected, and therefore the muscle 
is independent of nerve. 

Expose that theory to the cold light of reason. In the 
first place, the poison the destructive agent must pene- 
trate not only the nerve but invade the whole of the sarco" 
meres as is possibly the case in gas gangrene if the latter 
are to be equally affected ; secondly, if the resistance of the 
clear lines of muscular fibre is correspondingly increased, 
so, conceivably, would be the resistance of Krause's mem- 
branes, and therefore contraction might still be possible, 
though in diminished degree. If it is a matter, merely, of 
poisoning, or, in other words, " sealing, " the motor nerve, 
the excitability should, according to the theory I have 
advanced, endure for a longer period than if the nerve had 
not been poisoned or insulated. 

Under the microscope single muscular fibrillae exhibit 
the same phenomena as an entire muscle, in that they 
contract and become thicker. Though there is difficulty 
in observing the changes that occur in the individual 
parts of a muscular fibre during the act of contraction, it 
appears to be certain that the muscular elements become 
shorter and broader during contraction ; that is to say, the 
transverse striae approach nearer to each other in the 
manner I have indicated. 

Too much importance should not, for reasons I have 
given, be attached to experiments with dead muscle unless 


the personal equation has been allowed for, but when 
I'urrents of high tension are employed this may be dis- 
; egarded and the data viewed from a different standpoint. 
For example, an illustration of the muscle-curve produced 
by the application of a single induction- shock to a muscle, 
as given in Landois and Stirling, is full of interest, although 
it does not seem to have conveyed its lesson. 
Let us see if we can learn anything from it. 


Fig. 84. 

a/, abscissa ; ac, ordinate ; a&, period of latent stimulation ; bd t 
period of increasing energy ; de, period of decreasing energy ; ef, elastic 
after- vibrations. 

Such is the brief explanation of the curve, but it is, 
needless to say, elaborated in the text. Any electrician 
acquainted with submarine cable telegraphy would, 
however, have in mind what is termed inductive embarrass- 
ment, and point out the well-known fact that each signal 
at a receiving station (and muscle is a receiving station) 
takes a longer time to leave the line than it did to enter it. 
A momentary signal at starting, it becomes a prolonged 
signal at its destination, and, furthermore, while a con- 
denser may be partially discharged, as shown by the curve 
de, almost instantaneously, it would continue to discharge 
along the curve ef. All this, I contend, goes to show that 
the nerve impulse is neuro-electrical, and that muscular 
contraction occurs through the influence of induction upon 


At the risk of labouring the fact, I must repeat that the 
tension at any point is in the inverse ratio to the surface- 
area over which electricity is distributed. That being so 
it follows, logically, that the tension at any point or points 
may be varied by varying the surface-area of the conducting 
plates, discs, or membranes. - 

Sarcolemma and Neurilemma. I have classed these 
together because, whatever differences may exist between 
them, they have two properties in common, i.e., they are 
both elastic and both either dielectric in character, or they 
carry a dielectric substance or substances upon or in them. 
If sarcolemma is not, in itself, of comparatively high 
resistance it must carry, on its inner side, a resistant 
substance or material, because, if it were not so carried, 
contact might occur between the conducting plates or discs 
or points of the sarcomeres. Also I must assume that the 
sarcolemma is very elastic, and for this reason. Suppose 
the sarcolemma not to exist, and that in its place was a 
layer of dry (highly resistant) air. When an impulse was 
sent along a motor nerve to cause contraction there would 
be nothing to impede contraction, and the maximum 
contractile effect would be obtained. Between this 
unimpeded movement and movement governed by an 
elastic material there would be a wide margin of difference 
dependent upon the compressibility of the material 
and Nature would adjust the degree of elasticity or com- 
pressibility to meet requirements. 


Halliburton gives an illustration of a transverse section 
of the sciatic nerve of a cat which will repay study. 

At first sight one is forcibly reminded of a number of 
bundles of insulated wires laid in bitumen in a trough, 
and we shall, I think, be led to the conclusion that that view 



is not without foundation when we examine the figure in 


Let us first unravel a piece of ordinary electric-light 
" flex." In the centre are a number of fine copper wires 


Fig. 85. 

which we will call fibrillae. The first insulating layer is 
composed of red cotton, and this we will imagine t9 be the 
endoneurium. The next outer layer is of white cotton 
(lymph space), while the outer layer or perineurium is of 
green silk a very highly-resistant material. 

In the illustration given above it will be seen that each 
bundle of nerve-fibres is encircled by a lymph space lying 
between two insulating processes (endoneurium and 
perineurium), and as lymph is alkaline and therefore 
conductive, another problem is presented for solution. 

What, in this particular instance, is the function of 
lymph ? 

Suppose the nerve-fibres to be insulated wires connected 
in a special circuit for a special purpose, and further imagine 
these wires to run more or less parallel with hundreds or 
thousands of other wires in different branch circuits, each 
or all of which would be conveying currents or transmitting 
impulses in the same or opposite directions. The result 
would be inductive interference with the fibres of the sciatic 
nerve, and the impulses transmitted by them would be 
liable to continued interruption. 


A practical remedy, if we were dealing with bundles of 
insulated wires, would l>e to copper-tape each bundle or 
put it in a metal tube, so that induced currents could be 
intercepted by the tape and tube anpl prevented from 
reaching the actual conductors, the wires or nerve-fibres. 
That appears to be the most reasonable view to take of the 
function of lymph in this case. It is hardly possible to 
regard it as an insulating substance, despite its tendency to 
clot and form a " colourless coagulum of fibrin," in view 
of the more probable explanation I have suggested. 

Again referring to the figure and adhering to our simile 
of bundles of insulated wires, it will be evident that if we 
arrange these in a trough and pour melted bitumen around 
them the bitumen would form an enveloping sheath, 
corresponding, roughly, to the epineurium. 

We will take, as another example, the core of a sub- 
marine cable. The conductors of which there are usually 
eight or more are separated from each other by gutta- 
percha, and the total insulation is made up of three layers 
of gutta-percha and three layers of Chatterton's compound, 
superimposed one upon the other. 

As an instance of what is done in practice I will 
quote from Herbert's Telegraphy. 

In the telegraph system of the 
post-office there are, of course, a large 
number of telegraph and telephone 
circuits, which by reason of their being 
in juxtaposition require about the 
same measure of protection from 
induction as the multifarious fibrillse Fig. 86. SECTION OF 
of the sciatic nerve. A Sc * EE * D CA *^- 

In order to get rid of inductive interference various 
devices, such as twisting the wires, were tried with more 
or less success, but the method which has given the best 
results is thus described by Mr. Herbert : " The conductor 


is first covered with three wrappings of paper, the 
first of which may be either spiral or longitudinal, but the 
other two are invariably applied spirally. The spiral 
wrappings are applied so as to form a helical air-space 
throughout the length of the core. The conductor thus 
insulated is then enclosed in a final wrapping of paper, 
forming a closed helix without overlap. Over this is laid 
a helical winding of copper tape, with an overlap. . . . The 
whole of the cores are laid together, and a seamless cylin- 
drical sheathing of lead, at a temperature of 600 F., is 
applied to the cable." 

This description refers, needless to say, to a land cable, 
and the paper and air insulation are designed to reduce the 

" The copper tape forms a continuous conducting tube 
around the wire, and as this tube is earth-connected, either 
by direct contact with the lead sheathing or indirectly by 
the tapes of the other cores, it will be obvious that induction 
between the wires cannot occur. Firstly, Faraday's 
experiments showed that variations in the differences of 
potential existing or produced between conductors within 
a metallic covering produce no effect outside that covering. 
Secondly, any source of inductive disturbances brought to 
bear upon a screened conductor produces the whole of its 
effects upon the copper tape. The magnetic lines of force 
induce currents along the tape covering the wire, and as this 
path is highly conductive, practically the whole of the 
energy is absorbed by it. In order to produce an inductive 
effect, currents must be generated in the tape of the 
disturbing wire and also in the tape of the disturbed wire 
before the second conductor is reached." 

It is at least a coincidence that in the " flex," the cable 
and the nerve, the axis cylinder should be composed of a 
bundle of funiculi instead of one wire, and that the insula- 
tion should take the form of several layers of a semi-plastic 


material. One might, indeed, be tempted to think that 
while the physiologist has held the electrician more or less 
in contempt, the latter has achieved his object by copying 
certain of the natural processes described by the former. 
That this is so is, however, open to doubt, because it is 
questionable whether at the inception of telegraphy there 
was in existence any illustration published of the nervous 
system of man which could have so guided or inspired the 
electrician. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that were 
these systems of insulation borrowed from or suggested by 
any physiological work we should have remained in 
ignorance of the true functioning of the nervous system for 
so long a period of time. The explanation, no doubt, is 
that the electrician discovered certain natural laws and, 
applying them, unconsciously imitated the work of the 


In the voluntary muscles the motor nerve-fibres have 
special end-organs called end-plates. In the involuntary 
muscles the fibres form complicated plexuses near their 
termination. . . . Considerable variation in the shape of 
the end-plates occurs in different parts of the animal 
kingdom. In the voluntary muscles the fibre branches 
two or three times, and each branch goes to a muscular 

Fig. 87. (After Schafer.) 

fibre. Here the neurilemma becomes continuous with the 
sarcolemma, the medullary sheath stops short, and the 
axis cylinder branches several times, 


A termination of medullated nerve- fibres in tendon 
near the muscular insertion is shown by Golgi (Fig. 87), 
but more interesting is Szymonowicz's drawing of end- 
plates with the axis cylinders and their final ramifications 
of fibrillee, as it also makes it clear that the muscular fibres 
vary in diameter and therefore in tension also. 

The word " plates " is confusing. They do not look 
like plates, but more closely resemble bunches of wire- 
The term " end-organs " is in keeping with their appearance 
and probable function, and we will so refer to them. 

We must not for one moment depart from our hypo- 
thesis of the condenser-compartment action of muscular 
fibre, nor forget that the contraction of muscle is not along 
a straight line but in curves, and, furthermore, that the 
sarcomeres of a muscular fibre may not be required to be, 
and obviously are not, connected wholly in series. 

Suppose these end-organs to be composed of fibrillae, 
stretching to and connecting with different sets of sar- 
comeres, in such manner that those, and those alone, would 
be directly stimulated or acted upon, and we may begin to 
comprehend in some measure their function and dis- 

Professor Rosenthal gives the following account of 
the termination of nerve in muscle : " The nerve passes 
into direct contact with the muscle-substance. . . . The 
nerve-fibres, in their course within the muscle, touch 
externally many muscle-fibres, over which they pass before 
they finally end at another muscle-fibre . . . only those 
pulsate at which the nerve-fibre ends. . . . The nerve- 
sheath is, as we already know, a real isolator as regards the 
process of excitement within the fibre ; for an excitement 
within a nerve-fibre remains isolated in this, and is not 
transferred to any neighbouring fibre. It is quite im- 
possible, therefore, that it can transfer itself to the 
muscle-substance, since it is separated from the latter 



not only by the nerve-sheath, but also by the sarco- 

But if the nerve-fibre penetrates the sarcolemma, and 
if nerve-substance and muscle-substance are in immediate 
contact, then the transference of the excitement present in 
the nerve to the muscle-substance is intelligible." 

The plexuses of the involuntary muscles probably form 
part of a closed-circuit system designed to maintain 
equilibrium. The plexus of Auerbach, as shown in 
Halliburton, is, roughly, thus : 


(After Cadiat.) 

Without unduly taxing the imagination one could 
conceive that plexus to be a distributing and equalising 
station, provided in each of its branches and throughout 
its ramifications with condensers of adjusted capacity, so 
that at each and every point there would be, in normal 
health, a certain given and definite tension. By " equalis- 
ing " I mean an automatic " give-and-take " arrange- 
ment to neutralise any excess or compensate for any 



The grey matter of the cerebellum contains a large 
number of small nerve-cells, and one layer of large cells. 
These are flask-shaped and are called the cells of Purkinje. 
The neck of the flask breaks up into branches, and the axis 
cylinder process comes off from the base of the flask. 

The whole nervous system consists of nerve- cells and 
their branches, supported by neuroglia (epiblastic or 
insulating material) in the central nervous system, and 
by connective tissue (binding and more or less non- 
conductive) in the nerves. Some of the processes of a 
nerve-cell break up almost immediately into smaller 
branches, ending in arborescences of fine twigs ; these 
branches are now called dendrons. One branch becomes the 
long axis cylinder of a nerve-fibre, but it also ultimately 
terminates in an arborisation ; it is called the axis cylinder 
process, or, more briefly, the axon. The term neuron is 
applied to the complete nerve-unit, that is, the body of the 
cell, and all its branches. The cell processes are said to 
contain Nissl's granules, but we have it on the authority 
of Dr. Mott that these do not exist, as such, in the living 
cell, and probably not therefore in the living dendron 
(seep. 190). 

Such is a brief physiological description of the dendrons 
and the processes associated with them, and from it there 
does not at first sight appear to be any intimate connection 
between them and the synapses. If, however, they are 
considered in the light of Cajal's illustration of the synaptic 
connections of sympathetic cells from the superior cervical 
ganglion of man, as given by Schafer (see Fig. 90), it 
will be seen that the evidence points to the dendrons being 
branch-circuits, the arborisations having the function of 
condensers, or Leyden jars ; each synaptic junction or 


dielectric process offering resistance, and therefore inter- 
posing delay to the passage of the current or impulse. 

Halliburton has told us, and it is an important fact 
to remember, that each nerve-unit is anatomically inde- 
pendent of every other nerve-unit. The arborisations 
interlace and intermingle, and nerve impulses are trans- 
mitted from one nerve-unit to another, through contiguous, 
but not through continuous structures. Furthermore it is 
open to question whether a so-called continuous current 
of electricity is continuous in the strictest sense of the 
word, or whether it is really a series of polarisations and 
discharges occurring with such velocity as to appear to be 

Put shortly, the views taken of the propagation of 
electric force by molecular action consider the molecules of 
the interpolar wire to be as follows : 


Fig. 89. 

c being the copper and z the zinc end, the shaded parts 
being 4- and the unshaded . The first effect of the 
electric force developed by the chemical affinity of the 
zinc for the O or SO 4 is to throw all the molecules of the 
circuit into a polar condition, the force being transmitted 
from molecule to molecule in both directions. Positive and 
negative electricities appear in each molecule of the 
circuit ; and if the action be powerful enough, discharge 
takes place throughout the whole, each molecule giving out 
its electricities to those next it, which, throwing out the 
opposite electricities, produce electric quiescence through- 
out. A constant series of such polarisations and dis- 
charges, taking place with enormous rapidity, constitute 
a current. 

In the body the impulse may be, and probably is, 


induced in and not transmitted through a contiguous 
structure, in tjie same manner that a current passing along 
one insulated wire may induce a current in another, 
contiguous but not continuous, insulated wire ; of opposite 
sign understood. 

The following is a sketch from the drawing I have 
mentioned : 

Fig. 90. (After Cajal.) 

Synaptic connections of a sympathetic cell from the superior cervical 
ganglion of man. 

A = cell with well-marked intracapsular dendrons ; C, D = synapses 
between dendrons outside the cell capsules ; a = axon ; 6, d, c, e = extra- 
capsular dendrons. 

Let us assume that the cell A is the source or container 
of energy and that D is a typical synapse ; I say D because 
its structure is more clearly marked than that of C. 

Fig. 91. 

Let the dark lines, c, c, c, represent conductors ; d, d, d, non-conductors, 
and e, e, connective tissue. 


Furthermore, we will draw D upon a larger scale, as I 
imagine it to be (see Fig. 91). 

We can have no doubt that c, c, c are conductors 
because they transmit impulses ; d, d, d must be dielec- 
trical in character, as they are designed to conserve energy 
in the axon, and there is reason for the belief that both 
neuroglia and connective tissue are non-conducting sub- 

A condenser, as used in telegraphy, is conventionally 
shown in illustration, and the 

analogy, if we pursue it, is ~ ^j- *- 

rather remarkable. In the 

rig. wlA. 

figure only the conduct- 
ing plates are shown. Let us insert the dielectric, and 
the sy nap tic connection appears to be a condenser of large 
surface-area, but possibly, by reason of the points or pro- 
jections, of comparatively high tension. 

Fig. 92. 

According to Schafer, the " arborisations from different 
cells may interlace with one another (as in the olfactory 
glomeruli, in the retina, and in the sympathetic ganglia), 
or a terminal arborisation from one cell may embrace the 
body or the cell-processes of another cell ; as with the cells 
of the spinal cord and the cells of the trapezoid nucleus of 
the pons Varolii, and in many other places. The term 
neuro-synapse may be applied to these modes of junction. 
By them nerve-cells are linked together into long chains 
of neurons, the physiological path being uninterrupted, 
although the anatomical path is believed to be interrupted 
at the synapses. " 


From this it would appear that the two arborisations as 
shown in the enlarged sketch of D (Fig. 91) may actually 
touch or embrace each other, so that no additional resistance 
may be offered by intervening connective tissue, but even 
in such case there .would be two thicknesses of dielectric 
(d, d) to one of conductor (c) in the path of the impulse, 
and the result must be delay during the accumulation of 
tension at the arborisation nearest the cell, the plates being 
further apart. 

As the cell is in the superior cervical region two things 
follow, logically: i.e. (I) the impulse from it is efferent, 
and (2) the tension in the dendron is comparatively high. 
We know also that electricity concentrates upon points or 
projections, and the arborisations appear to be constructed 
in accordance with this law. 

When we are able to examine the structure of the 
brain, I think the evidence in support of the human organism 
being neuro- electrically controlled with consequent 
chemical action will be even more convincing than that 
I have already adduced. 

One thing stands out prominently and it cannot be 
given too great prominence this vital action, neuro- 
electrical or chemical, or both, cannot go on unimpaired if 
the natural insulation resistance, in any part of the body, is 
broken down or interfered with. 


If, in addition to a consideration of the different 
behaviour of muscular tissue owing to differences of tension* 
quantity, and resistance, we unite a brief survey of their 
connection with bones, we may obtain a still better grasp of 
the subject. As a considerable number of muscle-fibres 
constitute the trunk of the muscle, strong slender threads 
of the nature of connective tissue unite into cords which 


are called the muscle-tendons. They are sometimes short* 
sometimes long, thicker or thinner according to the size of 
the muscle, and they serve to attach the muscles firmly to 
the bones, to which, acting like ropes, they transmit the 
tension of the muscles. One of the two bones to which a 
muscle is attached is usually less mobile than the other, 
so that when the muscle shortens, the latter is drawn down 
against the former. In such a case the point of attachment 
of the muscle to the less mobile bone is called its origin, 
while the point to which it is fixed on the more mobile bone 
is called its attachment (epiphysis). For instance, there 
is a muscle which, originating from the shoulder-blade and 
collar-bone, is attached to the upper arm-bone ; when this 
muscle is shortened the arm is raised from its perpendicular 
pendant position into a horizontal position. A muscle is 
not always extended between two contiguous bones. 
Occasionally passing over one bone, it attaches itself to the 
next. This is the case with several muscles which, origin- 
ating from the pelvic bone, pass across the upper thigh-bone 
and attach themselves to the lower thigh-bone. In such 
cases the muscle is capable of two different movements : 
it can either stretch the knee, previously bent, so that the 
upper and the lower thigh-bones are in a straight line, or 
it can raise the whole extended leg yet higher and bring it 
nearer to the pelvis. But the points of origin and of 
attachment of muscles may exchange offices. When both 
legs stand firmly on the ground the above-mentioned 
muscles are unable to raise the thigh ; instead, on shorten- 
ing, they draw down the pelvis, which now presents the 
more mobile point, and thus bend forward the whole 
upper part of the body. ... In a previous examination 
of the action of muscle we have dealt with an imaginary 
muscle, the fibres of which were of equal length and par- 
allel to each other. Such muscles do really exist, but they 
are rare. When such a muscle shortens, each of its fibres 


acts exactly as do all the others, and the whole action of 
the muscle is simply the sum of the separate actions of all 
the fibres. As a rule, however, the structure of muscles is 
not so simple. According to the form and the arrange- 
ment of the fibres, anatomists distinguish short, long, and 
flat muscles. The last mentioned generally exhibit devia- 
tions from the ordinary parallel arrangement of the fibres. 
Either the fibres proceed at one end from a broad tendon, 
and are directed towards one point from which a short 
round tendon then effects their attachment to the bones 
(fan-shaped muscles), or the fibres are attached at an angle 
to a long tendon, from which they all branch off in one 
direction (semi-pennate muscles), or in two directions like 
the plumes of a feather (pennate muscles). In the radiate 
or fan-shaped muscles the pull of the separate parts takes 
effect in different directions. Each of these parts may act 
separately, or all may work together ; and in the latter case 
they combine their forces, as is invariably the case with 
forces acting in different directions, in accordance with the 
so-called parallelogram of forces. As an example of this 
sort of muscle the elevator of the upper arm (the deltoid 
muscle) may be examined. Contractions of the separate 
parts really occur in this. When only the front section of 
the muscle contracts, the arm is raised and advanced in 
the shoulder-socket ; when only the posterior part of the 
muscle contracts, the arm is raised backward. When, 
however, all the fibres of the muscle act in unison, the 
action of all the separable forces of tension constitutes a 
diagonal which results in the lifting of the arm in the plane 
of its usual position. 

" In some semi-pennate and pennate muscles the line of 
union of the two points of attachment does not coincide 
with the direction of the fibres. When the muscle contracts 
each fibre exerts a force of tension in the direction of its 
contraction. All these numerous forces, however, produce 


a single force which acts in the direction in which the 
movement is really accomplished, and the whole action of 
the muscle is the sum of these separate components, each 
derived from a single fibre. In order to calculate the force 
which one of these muscles can exert, as well as the height 
of elevation proper to it, it would be necessary to determine 
the number of the fibres, the angle which each of these 
makes, with the direction finally taken by the compound 
action, as well as the length of the fibres these not being 
always equal. . . . The direction in which the action takes 
effect does not, however, depend only on the structure of 
the muscle, but chiefly on the nature of its attachment to 
the bone. Owing to the form of the bones and their 
sockets, the points of connection by which the bones are 
held together, the bones are capable of moving only within 
certain limits, and usually only in certain directions. For 
instance, let us watch a true hinge-socket, such as that of 
the elbow, which is capable only of bending and stretching. 
As, in this case, the nature of the socket is such that motion 
is only possible in one plane, the muscles which do not lie 
in this plane can only bring into action a portion of their 
power of tension, and this may be found if the tension 
exercised by the muscle is analysed in accordance with the 
law of the parallelogram of forces, so as to find such of the 
component forces as lie within the plane." (Rosenthal, 1895.) 

Here it may be useful to give a brief description of what 
is meant by the parallelogram of forces, my authority 
being Dr. M'Gregor-Robertson. 

Let O, in the figure on next page, be a particle under the 
influence of two forces, one, OB, urging it in the direction 
of B, and the other, OA, urging it in the direction of A. 
It is evident that the particle cannot proceed along either 
path, but will choose a path which is a compromise between 
the two. It will move upwards. Let a third force, 
represented by the weight, be applied to O, and let this 


third force be adjusted so that O remains in its original 
position, and suppose the weight to represent a force of 
1 Ib. Then O is under the influence of three forces ; but it 

Fig. 93. 

is at rest, so that the forces are in equilibrium. The forces 
OA and OB are both tending to draw O upwards, and they 
are completely counterbalanced by the 1 Ib. weight. To 
put it another way, the weight is tending to pull O down- 
wards, but is counterbalanced by OA and OB. But the 
weight would be counterbalanced exactly by a force of 
1 Ib. acting in the direction directly opposed to it, that is, 
in the direction of the straight line drawn up from O. If, 
therefore, OA and OB be withdrawn, and one force sub- 
stituted equal to the weight opposing them, equilibrium 
will still be maintained. So the two forces OA and OB 
can be replaced by a single force, which is called the resultant 
force. If a parallelogram be constructed on OB, OA, as 
indicated in the following figure, it will be seen that the 

Fig. 94. 

resultant force is the diagonal of the parallelogram. The 
two forces OA, OB, are acting on a particle. To find the 


direction in which the particle will move, a parallelogram is 
constructed of which OA and OB form two sides, and then 
the diagonal OR of the parallelogram is drawn. It gives 
the direction which the particle takes ; it is the resultant of 
the two forces OA, OB ; and if the lines OA and OB repre- 
sent by their lengths the magnitude of the forces, then the 
diagonal will represent by its length the magnitude of the 
resultant force. This is the parallelogram of force. 

In a similar way one force may be made to take the 
place of several forces. Let a parallelogram be constructed 
on the lines representing two of the forces. Take the 
diagonal, and with it and the line representing the third 
force construct another parallelogram. Its diagonal is 
the resultant of the three forces ; with it and the line 
representing the fourth force, the resultant of four forces 
may be found, and so on. 

" It is different in the case of the more free ball-sockets, 
which permit movement of the bone in any direction 
within certain limits. When a socket of this sort is sur- 
rounded by many muscles, each of the latter, if it acts alone> 
sets the bone in motion in the direction of its own action. 
If two or more of the muscles assume a state of activity at 
the same time, then the action will be the resultant of the 
separate tensions of each. 

" There is yet another way in which the work performed 
by the muscles is conditioned by their attachment to the 
bones. The latter must be regarded as levers which turn 
on axes, afforded by the sockets. They usually represent 
one-armed, but sometimes two-armed levers. Now, the 
direction of the tension of the muscles is seldom at right 
angles to that of the movable bone lever, but is usually at 
an acute angle. In this case, again, the whole tension of 
the muscle does not take effect, but only a component, 
which is at right angles to the arm of the lever. Now, it is 
noticeable that in many cases the bones have projections 



or protrusions at the point of attachment of the muscles, 
over which the tendon passes, as over a reel, thus grasping 
the bone at a favourable angle ; or, in other cases, it is 
found that cartilaginous or bony thickenings exist in the 
tendon itself (so-called sesamoid bones), which act in the 
same way. The largest of these sesamoid bones is that in 
the knee, which, inserted in the powerful tendon of the 
front muscle of the upper thigh, gives a more favourable 
direction to the attachment of this tendon than there 
would otherwise be." (Rosenthal.) 

I have quoted at considerable length from Professor 
Rosenthal, but his explanation of the connection of muscles 
with bones is so lucidly given, that while I may be in need 
of his forgiveness I owe no apology to my readers for the 
digression. The measure of my offence is, however, not 
ended. So far we have been dealing with voluntary 
muscle. It now remains to examine plain muscle in respect 
of which physiological works in general are comparatively 
silent. We are told that they are longitudinally but not 
transversely striated, and I cannot reconcile this with 
<c shortening and broadening " due to the electrical law of 
attraction and repulsion. This, however, we will consider 
in its proper place. 


As this has an important bearing upon the theoretical 
explanation I have so far given of the electro-physiology 
of the motor apparatus, it may be permissible to quote 
and comment upon Halliburton. He says : " When the 
nutrition of the nerves is impaired much stronger currents 
of both the induced and constant kinds are necessary to 
evoke muscular contractions than in the normal state." 

If for " nutrition " we read " conductivity " comment 
is unnecessary. 


" When the nerves are completely degenerated (as, for 
instance, when they are cut off from the spinal cord, or 
when the cells in the cord from which they originate are 
themselves degenerated, as in infantile paralysis), no 
muscular contraction can be obtained on stimulating the 
nerves, even with the strongest currents." 

Obviously, there is a complete loss of conductivity. 
In the old days the cables laid in South American waters 
were insulated with india-rubber. The sulphur in the 
rubber caused rapid degeneration of the conductors, and 
the application of 1,000,000 volts at A would not cause a 
receiving instrument at B to contract, by reason of a break 
or breaks of continuity. 

" The changes in the excitability of the muscles are less 
simple, because in them there are two excitable structures, 
the terminations of the nerves (end-organs) and the mus- 
cular fibres themselves." 

It is open to question whether the end-organs are not 
inducing bodies. Nowhere do they appear to make actual 
contact ; that is to say, they do not connect as wires are 
connected so that a direct current flows through them, but 
appear to act inductively upon the organs they influence. 

" Its excitability " (that of muscle) " corresponds in 
degree to that of the nerve supplying it." 

In accordance with Ohm's law the degree of excitability 
of the muscle would be governed by the resistance of the 
motor nerve supplying it. 

" The fact that, under normal circumstances, the con- 
traction which is caused by the constant current is as quick 
as that produced by an induction shock, is ground for 
believing that in health the constant, like the induced 
current, causes the muscle to contract chiefly by exciting 
the motor nerves within it." 

Tensions being equal, the effect of an induction shock 
is not, cannot be, the same as the effect produced upon 


muscle by an impulse originating in a constant or direct 
current of normal potential. In both cases the motor 
nerves convey the impulse or impulses to muscular fibres, 
but the muscular response cannot, in my judgment, be 

" When the motor nerve is degenerated, and will not 
respond to any form of electrical stimulation, the muscle 
loses all its power of response to induction shocks. The 
nerve-degeneration is accompanied by their rapid wasting, 
and any power of response to f aradism they possessed in the 
normal state is lost." 

That naturally follows. 

" But the response of the muscle to the constant 
current remains, and is, indeed, more ready than in health." 

The meaning here is somewhat obscure. If it is sought 
to convey the constant current to the muscle by means of 
the degenerated motor nerve, and there is a complete break 
of continuity, no current could pass and no response be 
given. If, however, the sarcomeres are stimulated directly 
the normal resistance of the motor nerve would be elimi- 
nated and the muscle should certainly give a readier 
response. This may be what is meant, because we have 
been told that " when the motor nerve is degenerated and 
will not respond to any form of electrical stimulus the muscle 
loses all its power of response to induction shocks." But 
the phenomenon may be due to the end-organs, as well as 
the motor nerve-fibres, transforming or modifying in 
normal health an induction shock a momentary impulse 
so that the muscle could respond to it, and that after 
degeneration no such modification could occur. 

" Suppose a patient comes before one with muscular 
paralysis. This may be due to disease of the nerves, of the 
cells of the spinal cord, or of the brain. If the paralysis is 
due to brain disease, the muscles will be slightly wasted 
owing to disuse, but the electrical irritability of the 


muscles and nerves will be normal, as they are still in 
connection with the nerve cells of the spinal cord which 
control their nutrition." 

True. But where does the impulse originate, nor- 
mally ? In a nerve cell or cells in the motor area of the 
brain. If that cell or those cells fail to act, no impulse can 
pass from brain to muscle. In other words, the rest of 
the apparatus is in working order, but some of the battery 
cells have given out. 

" But if the paralysis is due to disease either of the 
spinal cord or of the nerves, this nutritive influence can no 
longer be exercised over the nerves or muscles." 

Of course not. There is a partial or total loss of 
conductivity by reason of the influence of disease upon the 
spinal cord or the nerves. The motor apparatus generally 
may be in working condition, but no energy can be con- 
veyed to it, and it cannot, therefore, be set in motion. 



THE problem of the structure and precise function- 
ing of cardiac muscle is not easy of solution, owing, in 
the main, to the absence of diagrams illustrating its 
connections. Several facts, however, stand out promin- 

It is said (1) to be intermediate in structure ^and 
properties between voluntary and involuntary muscle ; 
(2) to contract more slowly than ordinary striped muscle ; 
(8) to be striated ; and (4) to have no true sarcolemma, 
44 although there is a thin superficial layer of non-fibrillated 
substance." (Schafer.) 

Considering, as we must do, each segment as a sarco- 
mere, it will be seen that the segments differ in length and 
in diameter (permitting of infinite variation of tension) ; 
that some are non-nucleated, and that there are branch, or 
shunt, circuits which no doubt play their part in the 
inductive regulation of tension in an automatic neuro- 
electrical system, because, although the heart's action 
may be subject to psychological influences, it must 
be supplied, from within or without, with energy un- 
intermittently, and therefore must form part of an 
automatic system. 

And here, perhaps, we may begin to appreciate the 
beautiful regulation exercised by the vagus nerves. The 
energy, partly self-contained or not, which, in life, is 


constantly supplied to the heart,is by way of the sympathetic, 
while the vagus nerves are inhibitory, or, in other words, 
exert a governing or opposing electromotive force. They 
are buffers, or springs, regulating the flow of energy to the 
heart, much in the same way that a rise or fall of tempera- 
ture may regulate the fall or rise of a gas-flame in a heating 

We learn, from physiological research, that man inhales 
400 c.c. of oxygen per minute during the daytime and 
200 c.c. per minute during the night. I know, from my 
own work, that if the hand-to-hand galvanometric deflec- 
tion of a normally healthy man during the daytime is 
350 mm. it will fall at night to about 175 mm. 

That means there is a falling off in the production or 
reception of nervous energy of fifty per cent. 

But the controlling, governing current from the brain 
the inhibiting current is also halved, because generation, 
or reception, is halved, and therefore there is no alteration 
in equilibrium, and the heart must receive a proportionate 
supply of energy at all times, supposing there to be no 
escape of nerve-current or excitement of the vagi. Should 
such an escape occur, the result, or one result, should be 
higher blood-pressure, while in the event of anything, such 
as cold or some toxin, increasing the resistance of the 
conducting substance of the vagi, the same phenomenon 
should bepresented,because inhibition would be diminished. 
On the other hand, any cerebral disturbance tending to 
unduly stimulate the cardiac branches of the vagi would 
have the effect of slowing the heart down, possibly in 
extreme cases to a fatal extent. 

The main differences, so far as I can see, between 
voluntary and cardiac muscles are : (1) the first are supplied 
by open circuits through which impulses are sent from the 
brain ; (2) cardiac muscles form part of a closed circuit 
or circuits regulated by cell-groups possibly other than 


unipolar ; (3) voluntary muscles contract in parcels of 
sarcomeres and not necessarily in one direction ; and (4) 
cardiac muscles contract in" walls, "rhythmically, and as 
the rate of propagation of the wave is slower than in 
voluntary muscles, their inductive capacity, and possibly 
their resistance, must be greater, probably by reason of the 
conducting surfaces being connected, mainly if not en- 
tirely, in parallel (see also p. 94). 


In regard to plain muscle there is, as I have remarked 
elsewhere, a lack of information. To my mind there can 
be no manner of doubt that they are transversely striated, 
although the striae are too small to be clearly observed. 
I am forced to this conclusion by 
several considerations, one of which 
is that it is difficult to conceive how 
they can shorten and broaden if only 
longitudinally striated. They would 
flatten but not shorten. Professor 
Rosenthal says : " It must be observed 
that the distinction between striated 
and smooth muscle-fibres is not abso- 
lute ; for there are transitionary forms, 
such as the muscles of molluscs. The 
latter consist of fibres, exhibiting to 
some extent a striated character, and, 
in addition to this, the character of 
Fig. 05. MUSCULAR double refraction. At these points 

FIBRE-CELT. FROM THE the disdiaclasts are probably arranged 


THE SMALL INTESTINE, regularly and in large groups, while at 

(After Schafer.) ^^ points ( as in true smoo th muscle- 

fibres) they are irregularly scattered and are therefore not 


Nor does Schafer really commit himself definitely to 
the statement that plain muscle is not transversely striated. 
He says : " Plain muscular tissue is composed of long, 
somewhat flattened, fusiform cells which vary much in 

" Each cell has an oval or rod-shaped nucleus, which 
shows the usual intra-nuclear network, and commonly one 
or two nucleoli. The cell -substance is finely fibrillated, 
but does not exhibit cross-striae like those of voluntary muscle 
There appears, as in cardiac muscle, to be a delicate non- 
striated external layer, probably a stratum of undifferen- 
tiated protoplasm, certainly not a true sarcolemma. . . . 
There is a little intercellular substance which is bridged 
across by filaments passing from cell to cell. Some 
authorities, however, deny that the involuntary cells are 
thus connected, and hold that the appearance of bridging 
fibres is due to intercellular connective tissue. It is, 
however, difficult to understand how the contractions are 
propagated from cell to cell if there is no sort of continuity 
between the cells." * 

Now, in regard to the speculative explanation I am 
about to give, it is very necessary to remember that this 
tissue responds but slowly to a stimulus, and that the 
contraction spreads as a wave from fibre to fibre. If we 
depart from the theory of condenser-action the problem 
must, so far as I am concerned, remain without attempt at 
solution, but if we adhere to it we may begin to see day- 

These fibres of involuntary muscle are, admittedly* 
longitudinally striated. They, however, contract and 
become shorter and broader. It is quite evident tha* 
with condenser-action and longitudinal striation only they 
would merely flatten (Figs. 96; 97) : 

* The italics are mine. 


Fig. 06. 
Before contraction. 

Fig. 97. 
During contraction. 

whereas, I take it, what really happens is this, roughly : 

Fig. 98. 
Before contraction. 

Fig. 99. 
During contraction. 

For this to occur it is not at all necessary for the fibres 
to be transversely striated as voluntary muscle is striated. 
All that is required is that they should possess something 
of the nature of an elastic sarcolemma and the external 



layer must be elastic to permit contraction and that 
they should be bridged at intervals by some non-conducting 
substance, possibly connective tissue. Condenser-action 
would then take place as in voluntary tissue, and the rate 
of propagation of the impulse would be governed by the 
considerations set forth in the chapter upon Inductive 

In this manner we can perceive how the contraction 
spreads as a wave from fibre to fibre, and why it is that the 
cells vary much in length. They also, no doubt, vary much 
in diameter in order to enable the tension to be varied, 
but there is this essential difference, I think, between 
voluntary and plain muscle : the former is required to 
contract in curves, at different velocities in the course of 
those curves and not in the same direction throughout, 
while the function of the latter is merely to shorten. 

If that is so a less complicated form of fibre would serve 
the purpose, nor would the complex end-organ connec- 
tions be necessary. We cannot compare the cells, for 
reasons I have given, to a chain of condensers in series, 

i.e. s*"* 1 1 j | 1 1 1 [ "* , but must imagine them 

to be connected in parallel or series-parallel. Nor is 
this opinion without warrant, as the following figure goes 
to show : 

530 DIAMETERS. (After SchAfer.) 


" The fully-formed muscle retains its syncytial char- 
acter, and is not formed by completely separated cells.'* 

In conclusion, my considered opinion is that while 
plain muscle is not transversely striated in the sense that 
voluntary muscle is transversely striated, the longitudinal 
fibres are bridged across by some non-conducting substance? 
and that the chief difference in the structure of the two is 
the absence in the former of the sarcous element. As, 
however, the charge, instead of being neutralised at 
various points, passes as a wave from cell to cell, the 
sarcous element can naturally be dispensed with. 



THAT many of the nerve cells, if not all of them, contain 
organically combined iron, as suggested by Macallum, I do 
not doubt, but the weak link which has hitherto existed 
in my chain of reasoning has been the manner in which 
Nissl's granules so-called have been shown, in physio- 
logical and histological works, to be distributed in the cell 

As will be seen from Figs. 109, 110 (taken from Schafer)* 
they appear as masses, and this is not quite consistent 
with the theory that neuro-electricity is generated by the 
association of iron with oxygen in the protoplasm. One 
would expect to find iron in the form of minute particles 
arranged in the cell contents in a well-defined manner ; 
a manner which, if it could be seen with a sufficiently high 
power, would make it clear how electrical attraction and 
repulsion as well as generation are brought about. In 
health not only does the nucleus occupy a central position 
in the cell, but the nucleolus is more or less centrally 
situated in the nucleus, and this phenomenon, as well as 
that of amoeboid movement, would seem to have its origin 
in electrical activities and to be in accordance with the 
experiments of Ampere. 

With iron in the shape of irregular masses it is difficult 
to see how this harmonious result is arrived at, no matter 
how convinced we may be that it is so. 

The illustrations to which jl have referred were based 


upon experiments with dead cells, and I have always 
contended that the difference between the living and the 
non-living is so great as to render results with the latter 
not only almost nugatory but often misleading.' 

The valuable work of Dr. Mott, however, has thrown 
new light upon the subject and helped to make clear that 
which was previously obscure. He has found that the 
basophile staining substance which forms the Nissl granules 
does not exist as such in the living cells, but is the result 
of coagulation. " If living cells are examined micro- 
scopically with dark-ground illumination they are seen to 
be filled with small granules or globules, each of which, 
after escaping from the cell, remains discrete. 


(After Mott.) 

" They are refractile," says Mott, " and appear white 
and luminous ; this is due to a delicate covering film of a 
lipoid substance which encloses a colloidal fluid, probably 
consisting of a solution of salts and cell globulins. When 
the cell dies this colloidal fluid is massed together in little 
blocks the Nissl granules ; the intervening denser colloidal 
substance is continuous with the colloidal substance of 
the axon and dendrons. ... It thus appears possible that 
these granules represent a large oxygen surface, like 
spongy platinum, within the cell. When the cells die, the 
lipoidal film of the globulin containing fluid is destroyed, 
coagulation occurs, and the Nissl granules are formed. 
These facts accord with the knowledge that stimulation of 


a piece of nerve causes practically no metabolic change or 
using up of oxygen, therefore the mere conduction of a 
stimulus along a nerve does not entail loss of neuro- 
potential. The chemical processes incidental to the 
using up of nervous energy in the neuron take place in the 
cell itself, and it is for this reason that the blood supply of 
the grey matter is six times that of the white matter."- 

All this, coming as it does from a great pathologist, is 
strongly in favour of the opinions I hold. 



IN these the axis -cylinder is invariably shown as passing 
in an uninterrupted course through the node, but although 
it is highly speculative and daring to say so, I doubt 
whether this is the case functionally, although we must 
believe it to be so anatomically. The following illustration 
is a typical one : 

CYLINDER (BETHE). The fibrils are seen passing, without interruption, 
across a node of Ranvier. (After G. N. Stewart.) 

Now, these nodes occur at regular and innumerable 
intervals along the course of an axis-cylinder, but their 
function appears, so far as my reading goes, to be im- 
perfectly understood. If, unlike their prototypes in the 
bamboo and the sugar-cane, the axis-cylinder is struc- 
turally continuous throughout its course, they do not seem 
to serve any useful purpose. If, on the other hand, there is 
a species of synapse at each node, their purpose and function 


become at once apparent, for they would afford protection 
to the axon against extensive degeneration consequent 
upon injury. 

Let us examine a node in a piece of bamboo. 
According to Strasburger there is a 
wax incrustation, in the form of small 
rods, at a, b. The interior of the stem, 
between the nodes, is filled with a soft 
sponge-like substance which, while the 
plant is alive, transmits electricity each 
internode indeed seems to bear some 
resemblance to a cell so that the line 
a, b, notwithstanding the wax incrusta- 
tion, does not involve a break of Fig 103 
continuity. That being so, it would 
appear that the node is of the nature of a synapse, 
and that if the current is not inductively transmitted 
there is considerable added resistance at each node. 

These nodes, be it remarked, occur at regular intervals 
upon the stems of bamboo (all canes) and sugar-cane, in 
much the same way as they do along the course of human 

In the nodes of Ranvier the line a, b is absent, and it 
does not necessarily follow because a colouring matter like 
picro-carmine diffuses into the fibre only at the nodes, and 
stains the axis-cylinder red, while it does not diffuse 
through the white substance of Schwann, that there is any 
difference in the substance of the axon itself at those 

But that there is a phase in the nature of a com- 
paratively high resistance across the line a, b is, I think, 
more than probable ; for this reason : 

When a nerve is severed, degeneration in the proximal 
segment takes place only as far as the first node of Ranvier. 

Consider what, from an electrical point of view, that 



may mean. Let us take two nerves, a motor and a 
sensory, and see what would happen if they were both 
severed in life. 

In the case of the motor nerve the battery is in the 
brain with one pole to earth (air), while the nerve the 
wire, as it were is also to earth through tissue and skin. 
The effect of the cut is to remove 
the conductor, qud conductor, below 
the node immediately above the cut 
and to an imaginary line a, b (Fig. 104). 
The whole of the apparatus above 
the line a, b would be structurally and 
electrically intact, and the line a, b, 
if of high resistance, would be equiva- 
lent, in hydrostatic parlance, to a 
ligature applied to an artery or a vein. 
Precedent to repair or regeneration 
of the lower portion, no muscle below 
the cut could receive an impulse. 
If, however, the axis-cylinder were 
continuous through the node there would be a path of 
low resistance at the node an escape of current into wet 
tissue and the muscles above the cut could only receive 
stimuli at a greatly lowered pressure. 

In a sensory path the need of a synaptic node is even 
greater, for the sensory nerves are closed circuits, and they 
have many ramifications in motor as well as other sensory 
paths over which they transmit impulses in various 
directions. To take a simple sensory path, however, from, 
say, skin to post -spinal ganglion. 

Here we have a charged wire, a unipolar guard-cell or 
cells to maintain normal potential in that wire, and a 
receiving instrument in the cord. If the nerve were severed 
no impulse could be conveyed, but, given the line of 
resistance a, b, the upper part of the nerve from the first 


node above the cut, together with the unipolar cells and 
receiving instrument, would be in working order, and only 
that portion of skin in connection with the lower part of 
the nerve thrown out of gear. If, however, there were no 
line of resistance at the node above the cut, all the circuits 
with which the nerve is functionally associated would 
suffer, the nerve and the cells lose their charge, and the 
receiving instrument would be left idle. 

It is inconceivable, to my mind, that the resistance of 
the axis-cylinder is not greater, much greater, at the nodes 
than in the internodes, but as a matter of possibility this, 
instead of involving a change of material, may be created 
by constriction of the axon, as the effect of constriction in 
the course of a liquid conductor is to materially lower 
conduction at that point. 

In some works the nodes are called u constrictions,*' 
and the suggestion is made that instead of the constriction 
being due to a tightening of the sarcolemma it is effected 
by a band (band of Ranvier) which compresses the axon. 
How this may be I do not know, but I am convinced that 
in whatever manner it is brought about there is con- 
denser-action or similar cause of delay at every node. 



I HAVE stated elsewhere * that from an electrical point 
of view some ganglion cells are condensers and some 
storage cells, but this statement calls for elaboration. In 
telegraphy and the brain, it is necessary to remember, 
both sends and receives messages one of the functions of a 
condenser is to maintain electrical equilibrium, and, when 
required, to change the sign of current ; whereas the 
function of a storage cell is to receive a charge and to hold 
it until some disturbance of neuro- electrical equilibrium 
calls for its delivery, either wholly or in part. In this 
connection let us consider ganglion cells with a view to 
attempting to differentiate the condenser pure and simple 
from the storage cell. 

Condenser-ganglion cells should be studied more 
especially in relation to the sympathetic system, the nodes 
of Ranvier and the structure of the muscles, bearing in 
mind not only the change of sign, i.e., from downward to 
upward current, or from efferent to afferent, but control 
of regularity of supply. Assuming there to be, for instance, 
a flow of nerve-energy of a certain potential from the brain 
(downwards) along, say, the sympathetic, the current 
strength would vary with the resistances in circuit in 
obedience to established laws, but it might be necessary to 
regulate both current strength and sign at different points 
of the circuit. Without condenser -action the current 
would have to reach a junction and return by a nerve- wire, 
* Electro-Pathology and Therapeutics. 



to change the sign from efferent to afferent, but that change 
could be more rapidly if not more effectively made if a 
condenser-ganglion cell of the proper capacity were inserted 
in position. 

Let us assume that we had a downward or efferent 
current from the brain along the sympathetic and the 
argument is not affected if we suppose an upward or 
afferent current to the brain and it was required to take 
off at various points an upward current of varying strength. 
It might easily be done. 

In the following diagram the thick vertical line is 
intended to represent the chain of the sympathetic 

E thro' high 

t + 



IT! , Condenser 

tfivlnjf tzffere. 

Ettiro. '&th resistance 

Fig. 105. 

Except where a condenser is inserted the impulse from 
the brain would be efferent, and its current strength would 


be subject only to Ohm's law, and the tension to the laws 
we have been discussing. If at any point it was desired 
to alter the sign again or to alter the tension, the insertion of 
another condenser-ganglion cell of the required plate-area 
in circuit would do it. 

The diagrams on next page, Figs. 106, 107, illustrating 
the neurons of the motor path (after Halliburton), and 
a similar electrical arrangement, will further explain my 

Study of the physiological diagram will show that, 
conforming as the body must do in its structure to estab- 
lished electrical laws, the source of energy, i.e., the cell of 
the cerebral grey matter, is to earth (in this case air) in 
the same manner as the battery in the electrical diagram, 
while every muscular fibre is to earth (air) through the 
skin. If it is desired to make a large low-tension motor- 
cell multipolar, and to transform the tension therefrom 
upwards, it is only necessary to provide it with one, or 
more, additional arborisation, linking by induction with 
one or more condensers of the type of b. 

Judging by their effects, we might believe that quantity 
and tension constitute two very different elements. They 
are in reality but two forms of the same thing. The 
transformation of quantity into tension results simply 
from the mode of distribution of the same energy. We 
realise the transformation by concentrating the energy 
within a very small space, which amounts to raising its 
level above that of the zero of energy. The converse 
operation will transform, on the contrary, tension into 
quantity. A coulomb spread over a sphere of 10,000 
kilometres radius will give only a pressure of one volt. 
Let us spread the same quantity of electricity over a sphere 
of a diameter 100,000 times less that is to say, of 100 
metres and this same quantity of electricity will produce 
a potential a hundred thousand times higher that is to 



Electrical. S 



S^" A 

\ 8e$U 

Fig. 106.J (4/ter Halliburton.) Fig. 107. 

i'CC = small cells at the base of 
the posterior cornu. 

ACC = large motor-cells of the 
anterior cornu. 

M = muscular fibres. 

PF = axon. 

CC = cell of the cerebral grey 

aa low-tension condensers. 
bbb = high-tension condensers 


say, a pressure of 100,000 volts. The quantity of energy 
expended has not been varied, only its distribution altered. 
(Le Bon.) 

In this light we may ponder several forms of spinal 
ganglion cells, showing the cell bodies, the afferent sensory 
nerves, and the dorsal roots. 

Fig. 108. 

(After Landois and Stirling.) 

To my mind a, c are nerves carrying storage cells, 
which would hold their charge unless and until excessive 
mental or physical exertion had disturbed neuro- electrical 
equilibrium in the sense of bringing about a subnormal 
local or general body potential, while b and e are simple 
closed circuits, and d a nerve carrying a condenser. Per- 
haps this view may throw some further light upon the 
subject and help us to a better appreciation of the functions 
of ganglion cells. It must be remembered, however, that 
the due functionment of both ganglion storage and 
ganglion-condenser cells is absolutely dependent upon the 
maintenance of their normal insulation resistance. Should 
the absolute insulation of the storage cell be broken down 


to any extent there would be defective storage, and if the 
resistance of the insulating membrane in the condensing cell 
were broken down or altered there would be a " fault." 

In works upon Physiology confusion is caused by the 
uncertainty which attaches to the meaning of the word* 
"stimulus," "impulse," "irritation," and "charge" 
when applied to nerve cells, but if it be accepted that the 
natural impulse is neuro-electrical, and that the changes 
which take place in nerve-cells and processes are due to 
alteration of nerve potential, sign of nerve current, or 
variations of external or internal resistance, a clearer 
appreciation of the laws which govern the nervous system 
may be obtained. 

In the same way we may find an explanation of uni- 
polar, bipolar, and multipolar cells. The storage-ganglion 
would be unipolar and the condenser-ganglion bipolar, 
while a cell provided with two or more sets of alternatingly 
conducting and insulating materials would naturally be 
multipolar. Unfortunately the illustrations to be found in 
works upon Physiology are not designed to show the 
electrical structure of nerve cells and processes, and 
therefore the difficulties in the path of the student are 
great. That there is no book upon Biology or Botany 
which gives any information upon the electrical structure 
of any inhabitant of the vegetable kingdom is no longer to 
be wondered at when some of the higher, forms of life are 
little under stood. And yet, once the eye has been taught 
to observe, that electrical structure is so clearly evident that 
the most remarkable thing about it is the obscurity in which 
it has remained. 

Some further light is thrown upon the function of the 
storage-ganglia by the electro-cardiograms given by athletes 
after strenuous physical effort has exhausted their reserves. 
Nature has to generate nerve force to supply the immediate 
requirements of the body, and as part of this is, and must 


be, taken up by the storage-ganglia to replace the charge 
given out by them, the process of recovery, as shown by 
the string galvanometer, is slow. The hypothesis, there- 
fore, that the ganglion cells receive " charge " and not 
'' irritations " seems to be tenable. In Thornton's Human 
Physiology we are told that by a nerve-centre we must 
understand a ganglion cell, or group of cells, capable of 
receiving, modifying, and discharging nerve impulses, and 
thus acting for the performance of some function. As I 
have explained it, this is intelligible. Reject that explana- 
tion and no one law remains to account for all the 
phenomena. There can only be one law, and that law 
applies with equal force to both the animal and vegetable 
worlds. Every observed phenomenon must be in harmony 
with it, if the observer is not in error. 

Turning again to Thornton, the following passage is 
worth quoting : " Experimental excitation shows that the 
anterior root " (of a spinal nerve) " contains efferent fibres 
and the posterior afferent fibres. . . . Other fibres pass 
by these cells and do not appear to be connected with 
them. What their nature is cannot yet be stated." All 
this is consistent with condenser-action, and may be 
explained by it. What appears to be required is that the 
specialist physiologist should collaborate with the specialist 
electrician in the study of the human nervous system, and 
I think this will have to be done if appreciable progress is 
to be made during our lifetime. 

" Upon the object of autonomic ganglia I can find nothing 
which conflicts with the views I hold. ..." Nature has, 
as it were, before her the problem of supplying with nerves 
the vast mass of muscles in the body, and the space at her 
command in the various exits from the cranium and spinal 
canal does not allow of more than a comparatively small 
outflow from the central nervous system. 

"The difficulty is met to some extent by the branching 


of the out-flowing nerve-fibres, and in the case of the 
voluntary muscles this appears to be sufficient. The 
most striking example of this can be seen in the electrical 
organ of the malapterurus, where the millions of its sub- 
divisions on each side of the body are all supplied by the 
branches of a single axis -cylinder process originating from 
a single giant nerve-cell in the brain. 

" But in the case of the involuntary muscular tissue 
there is an additional means of distribution, for each fibre 
that leaves the central nervous system arborises around a 
number of cells in the autonomic ganglia, and thus the 
impulse is transferred to a large number of new axis- 
cylinder processes. . . . The afferent or sensory fibres are 
much less numerous than those which are efferent. . . . 
Thus in the splanchnic and hypogastric nerves about one- 
tenth of the fibres are found to be sensory, and in the 
pelvic nerve about one-third of the total fibres are sen- 
sory." (Halliburton, 1915.) 


Unipolar cells, as I have stated, are, in my view, storage 
cells, and appear to be prominently associated with the 
closed circuits of the sensory nerves. In common with 
other nerve-cells they contain at least one conducting 
substance in organically combined iron (Macallum), and 
non-conducting substances, possibly the deep and super- 
ficial reticula described by Golgi and regarded by J. Turner 
as investments derived from neuroglia cells. However 
that may be, I am constrained to the opinion that in all 
nerve-cells we have a form or forms of condenser or Leyden 
jar ; that is to say, they may consist of one or more jars, and 
that, if more than one, these elements may be connected in 
series or in parallel, for the regulation, adjustment, and 
distribution of tension. 


The best illustrations I have been able to find are given 
in Schaf er's Essentials of Histology, and I reproduce them 
in the hope that the apparently electrical structure may 
stimulate further research and pave the way to their 
explanation in electrical as well as in physiological terms. 

Before doing so, however, we may usefully remember 
that " in the ganglia each nerve-cell has a nucleated sheath 
which is continuous with the neurilemma of the nerve-fibre 
with which the cell is connected ; that in the spinal 
ganglia the axis-cylinder process divides into two within 
the ganglion, one fibre passing to the nerve-centre and 
the other towards the periphery ; while in the sympathetic 
ganglia the nerve-cells usually have several dendrons and 
one axon." 

Furthermore, " the cells of ganglia are disposed in 
aggregations of different size, separated by bundles of nerve- 
fibres which are traversing the ganglion. The latter, if 
large, is inclosed by an investing capsule of connective tissue 
which is continuous with the epineurium and perineurium 
of the entering and issuing nerve- trunks." (Schafer.) 

A peculiarity which should not be lost sight of is that 
in the spinal ganglia and in many of the corresponding 
ganglia on the roots of the cranial nerves of mammals the 
only issuing process is the axon, and when this divides into 
two the branching is T-shaped or Y-shaped, and always 
occurs at a node ofRanvier ; the neuro-fibrils of the central 
and peripheral branches retaining their individuality in 
the common trunk and being traceable into a neuro-fibril 
network within the cell body. 

And now, having collated these facts, let us remember 
that an electrified ball exhibits the same tension on every part, 
and see how this physical law agrees with the theory of 
neuro- electrical cell-action, taking into consideration that, 
while every cell in the body may be, in a sense, a condenser, 
transmitting neuro- electrical impulses in various directions 



and with varying tension, every cell is not of the same 
structure or designed for the performance of the same 
function. We must, therefore, examine them in detail and 
have special regard to their formation, so far as it has been 
made clear, or can be said to be suggestive to the electrician. 


Fig. 109. 

UNIPOLAR CELL from spinal ganglion of rabbit, a, axon ; 6, circum- 
nuclear zone, poor in granules ; c, capsule ; d, network within nucleus ; 
f, nucleolus. (After Schafer.) 

Fig. 110. 

BIPOLAR CELL (ganglion) of fish (Holmgren). It will be noticed that 
the medullary sheath is continued as a thin layer over the cell-body. 
(After Schafer.) 


So far, the cells appear to be more or less globular in 
shape, and while the multipolar cells of the cerebral cortex 
and spinal cord appear to differ materially, as a whole, 
from those of the unipolar and bipolar type, they must 
obey the law, and therefore possess, although perhaps in 
a modified form, the same internal arrangement or 
arrangements and similar absolute capsular insulation. 


To the electrician the construction of a multipolar cell 
to transmit efferent and afferent impulses would be a 
comparatively simple matter. Take two hollow metal 

globes or ellipses or modifications 
^ e i tner > place one inside the 
other in such manner that there 
is an air-space or insulating layer 
between them, and drill a hole in 
the outer globe to receive an 
Fig. ill. insulated wire, which would make 

metallic contact with the inner 

globe (Fig. 111). The next step would be to solder a 
number of insulated wires to the outer globe, and to then 
provide absolute insulation for the whole by coating the 
outer globe with, say, gutta-percha solution or Chatterton's 

Now, in a Ley den jar the inner and outer coatings are 
metallic, the glass walls of the jar form the dielectric 
substance, and discharge is prevented by the resistance 
interposed by air intervening between the outer coating and 
the earth. In the human body all the nerves are to earth, 
through the air, and the resistance of that intervening 
stratum of air is sufficiently great to prevent discharge, 
under normal conditions of charge, taking place prematurely. 
When, however, a motor or secretory nerve receives an 
efferent impulse, or it may be impulses, the added tension 
is just enough to bridge the spark gap, as it were, and so to 
permit of a discharge or partial discharge. 

It will be seen, however, that the surface area and 
therefore the tension of the two globes, as sketched in 
Fig. Ill, is not the same, and that if the impulse conveyed 
by the axon were an efferent impulse all the wires connected 
to the outer globe would transmit lower-tension afferent 
impulses, in which case the cell would not be multipolar. 
But in the majority at least of these cells there are 


branch circuits, collaterals, or dendrons (corresponding to 
our wires of the outer globe) which terminate in arborisa- 
tions or end-organs, connecting, interlacing, or inter- 
mingling with other nerve-cells, of which they are anato- 
mically independent. These other cells and arborisations 
act, as I have endeavoured to show, as condensers in 
changing the sign of current or impulse, and, as I have 
suggested, any variation of tension may be brought about 
by varying the area of the condenser-plates, discs, or 
points, or conducting cell areas. 

In the typical multipolar cells of the spinal cord, as 
shown by Max Schultze, only one process becomes the 
axis-cylinder of a nerve-fibre, the others breaking up into 
arborisations of fibrils which can be traced into the axon 
and the other branches of the cell. " Between the fibrils 
the protoplasm of the cell contains a number of angular or 
spindle-shaped masses . . . known as Nissl's granules " 
(see p. 189). " These nerve-cells often contain . . . granules 
of pigment, usually yellow, the nature of which has not 
been determined." As a matter of possibility, the yellow 
pigment may be an insulating substance of the nature of 
elastin, but as to this I am not, in the absence of any 
definite information as to its chemical composition, able to 
offer an opinion. 

We may now compare a multipolar ganglion cell as 
illustrated physiologically with the artificial contrivance 
before mentioned. (Figs. 112, 113.) 

Supposing an efferent impulse to be conveyed to the 
inner globe, as shown in the electrical diagram, all the 
discharge impulses would be afferent, and, as I before 
remarked, the cell would not be multipolar. A condenser 
of suitable capacity inserted between any one or more of 
the terminals c, d, e, g, h, i, j, k, would retransform the 
impulse from afferent to efferent, and either raise or further 
lower the tension in accordance with its surface area, 





Fig. 112. Fig. 118. (-4/ter Schafer.) 

PHYSIOLOGICAL. A, large pyramidal cell of cerebral cortex, human. Nissl 
method (Cajal). a, axon ; 6, cell body ; c, apical dendron ; d, placed between 
two of the basal dendrons, points to the nucleus of a neuroglia cell ; diagram 
reversed. Seven other branches, presumably dendrons, or collaterals, are shown, 
and these must interlace, by means of their arborisations, with other cells. 

ELECTRICAL. B, battery ; a, axon or line-wire ; b, insulating cover or 
capsule ; c, rf, e, g, h, i, j, k t branches from outer globe. 

while, if it was desired to retain an afferent impulse at any 
point, no condenser would be inserted at that point. 
Physiologically, of course, the dendrons would inductively 
connect with neighbouring cells by means of their arborisa- 
tions ; electrically the condensers, when inserted, would be 
connected more or less as shown in Fig. 114. 

It is quite evident, however, that this explanation of 
the functioning of a multipolar cell is insufficient. Suppos- 
ing the inner and outer globes to act as a Leyden jar, all 
the impulses, efferent and afferent, would be conveyed 
simultaneously with each discharge, and while Nature does 
not waste any impulse but utilises it in the motor, secretory, 



and some sensory paths, it seems to me improbable that 
action takes place in the manner I have described. Even 
if the branch circuits or collaterals, with their inductive 
effect upon cells contiguous to them, were of different 
resistance and the cells of varying capacity, the impulses 
would still be simultaneous, though varied as to tension. 
We must therefore, I think, come to the conclusion that 

- ffttro'/tigh ran 

Fig. 114. 

Diagram, showing how an artificial multipolar cell circuit might be 
arranged to give any number of efferent and afferent impulses. 

instead of a multipolar ganglion cell being made up of one 
Ley den jar with multiple connections, it is made up of 
many such jars or rings, and that the axis-cylinder process 
divides, not into two, but into as many independent or, 
in other words, insulated fibres or fibrils as there are 
collaterals, and that each of these fibrils leads to a separate, 
though perhaps not anatomically distinct, condenser or 
jar, and, inductively, through that jar to the dendron 
designed to convey a specific impulse, efferent or afferent. 



I am encouraged in this opinion by a careful study of 
the structure of unipolar cells and by other considerations. 
To my mind it would appear that the structure of even the 
unipolar cell is not simple but complex. It seems to be 
circular in form throughout to be, in fact, a series of rings ; 
and while the microscope has not, so far, given us the 
needful detail, it does not call for an undue stretch of the 
imagination to believe that it may, possibly, be composed cf 
a series of Leyden jars ; that is to say, circular layers of 
conducting substances with non-conducting substances 
between them, and that such layers, like the sarcomeres, 
are insulated from each other and are in connection with 
certain assigned nerve-fibres or fibrils. In such case we 
can conceive in a multipolar cell the impulse being given, 
as a whole, from a principal central system, or, individually* 
to any dendron or branch circuit. 

Since writing the foregoing my attention has been 
drawn to an illustration in HaeckePs Evolution of Man 
(taken from Max Schultze) of a multipolar cell from the 
brain of an electric fish, and as it seems to confirm my 
theory I reproduce it. (Fig. 115.) 

Reverting to the typical multipolar cell of the spinal 
cord, and at the risk of repetition, I must remind my 
readers that the axis-cylinder process itself invariably 
gives off side branches or collaterals, which pass into the 
adjacent nerve-tissue. " The axis-cylinder then acquires 
the sheaths, and thus is converted into a nerve-fibre. 
This nerve-fibre sometimes, as in the nerve-centres after a 
more or less extended course, breaks up into a terminal 
arborescence enveloping other nerve-cells ; the collaterals 
also terminate in a similar way ... all ultimately ter- 
minate in an arborescence of fibrils in various end- organs 
(end-plates, muscle-spindles, etc.)." 

Furthermore, " each nerve-unit (cell, plus branches of 
both kinds) is anatomically independent of every other 


nerve-unit. There is no true anastomosis of the branches 
from one nerve-cell with those of another, and nerve 
impulses are transmitted from one nerve-unit to another, 

Fig. 115. 

A LARGE BRANCHING NERVE-CELL, from the brain of an electric fish 
(Torpedo), magnified 600 times. In the middle of the cell is the large 
transparent round nucleus, one nuckolus, and, within the latter again, a 
nucleolinus. The protoplasm of the cell is split into innumerable fine 
threads (or fibrils), which are embedded in intercellular matter, and are 
prolonged into the branching processes of the cell (fe). One branch (a) 
passes into a nerve-fibre. (From Max Schultze.) 

through contiguous but not through continuous structures.' 


The following illustration is given to explain reflex 
action : 



Fig. 116. REFLEX ACTION. (After Hallibwton.) 

Excitation occurs, we will say, at a sensory surface S, 
and the impulse is transmitted by the sensory nerve-fibre 
to the central nervous system. " This fibre does not 
become anatomically connected to any of the cells of the 
central nervous system. The only cell -body in actual 
continuity with the sensory nerve-fibre is the one in the 
spinal ganglion (G) " (a storage cell). " On entering the 
spinal cord the main fibre conveys impulses upwards which 
ultimately reach the brain, but in the spinal cord it gives 
off fine side branches or collaterals which terminate by 
arborising around one or more cell -bodies and their den- 
drons ; these cells are small ones situated in the posterior 
cornu of the spinal grey matter ; one only (PCC) is shown 
in the diagram. The short axon of this cell similarly ter- 
minates by a synaptic junction with one or more of the 
large multipolar cells of the anterior cornu of the spinal 
grey matter ; one of these shown in the figure is labelled 
ACC. This motor cell is thus stirred up to action and 
sends an impulse by its axon to the muscular fibres it 
supplies." (Halliburton.) 

I may remark, in parenthesis, that we have here 
evidence of condenser-action, of cells changing the sign of 


current and transforming, in a shunt-circuit, an afferent 
to an efferent impulse. The correct number of cells is not 
shown, but any even number between G and ACC or any 
uneven number between the sensory nerve-fibre and the 
motor fibre would do it. 

Halliburton avers that : " The synaptic junctions are 
naturally the places which the impulse has the greatest 
difficulty in traversing ; and some observers believe that at the 
points of contact there is a kind of undifferentiated interstitial 
protoplasm which the impulse has to get through." * 

Suppose there to be many thousands of such synaptic 
junctions, or, electrically speaking, many thousands of 
condensers of varying capacity, concentrated over a length 
of, say, three feet, and further suppose them to be ulti- 
mately connected to a copper wire of three feet in length 
to earth through a high resistance at its further end. Let 
the condenser-length be from A to B and the wire-length 
from B to C. Would the velocity of a current of electricity 
sent from A to B be the same as from B to C ? 
Obviously it would not, could not, be. 

Going back, after these interpolations, to our diagram 
of reflex action, the electrical impulse, due to alteration of 
resistance at S caused by, for instance, a rise or fall of 
temperature, by pressure upon the skin, etc., would be 
afferent. Upon reaching the storage cell, G, it would be 
affected or unaffected by difference or non-difference of 
potential between sensory nerve-fibre and cell. If the cell 
held its normal charge, the impulse would pass unaltered 
(by that cell) on its path to the brain. If, however, the 
potential of the cell was higher than that of the fibre, the 
impulse would be increased or accelerated, and vice versa. 
At the point PCC, the cell there would be in an inductive 

* The italics are my own and are intended to suggest a reason, one 
reason, for the comparatively very low velocity of the nerve-current as 
compared with that of electricity along a wire or cable. 


shunt-circuit, and would transform some portion of the 
afferent impulse to an efferent one, should no other cell be 
between it and the muscular fibre. The multipolar cell, ACC, 
being interposed, it follows that one cell between the sensory 
nerve and the muscular nerve-fibre is omitted in the diagram. 

" For a reflex action," remarks Halliburton, " three 
things are necessary : (1) an afferent nerve, (2) a nerve- 
centre consisting of nerve-cells to receive the afferent 
impulse and send out the efferent impulse, and (3) an 
efferent nerve along which the efferent impulse may 
travel." Verb. sap. 

I have said that in my view unipolar cells are of the 
storage type and appear to be prominently associated with 

Fig. 117. 

Shows on the left the motor nuclei and efferent fibres, except those of 
the fourth nerve, and on the right side the afferent fibres. (After Schafer.) 

sensory nerve-fibres ; their function, mainly if not entirely, 
being to maintain equilibrium in a closed-circuit system. 

In this connection there are at least two diagrams in 
Schafer's Essentials of Histology which support my view, 



and I am of opinion that if we had a complete plan of the 
nervous system, showing the whole of the efferent and 
afferent nerve- fibres and all the intervening cells, with their 
arborisations, so that the different circuits could be traced, 
my contention as to condenser-action in the body would be 
more than amply justified. 

The first of the diagrams to which I have referred is 
given in the chapter upon the Medulla Oblongata, and is 
intended to illustrate the origin and relations of the root- 
fibres of the cranial nerves (Fig. 117). 

There is a further diagram of the efferent fibres only, 
but no unipolar or storage cell appears. 

The second diagram to which I have alluded is given in 
the chapter upon the Pons Varolii, and is a plan of the 
origin of the fifth nerve : 

Fig. 118. 

G, Gasserion ganglion ; a, &, c, three divisions of the nerve ; 
superior motor nucleus ; mnv, principal motor nucleus ; psnv, principal 
sensory nucleus ; asnv, dnsv, descending sensory nucleus ; dsv, descending 
root ; cv, c'v, central sensory tracts composed of fibres emanating from 
the sensory nuclei ; r, plane of the raphe. (After Schdfer.) 


The fifth or trigeminal nerve, it is scarcely necessary to 
remark, emerges at the side of the pons in two roots, a 
small motor and a large sensory, and it is only in connection 
with the sensory nerve that we find the spherical unipolar 
cells associated. The^motor root, as one might expect, is 
provided with numerous multipolar cells, so that it cannot 
be said to be entirely distinct from the larger posterior 
sensory root with which it emerges, inasmuch as any 
branch of it can be made afferent, although not sensory in 
the sense of a closed circuit, by the insertion of a bipolar 
cell between a motor nerve-fibre and a branch. 

Before concluding this study I should like my readers 
to take careful note that in the course of voluntary motor 
fibres, before they pass into the anterior root (spinal cord) 
they always first form connections with the multipolar 
nerve-cells of the anterior cornu, which, in fact, are intro- 
duced into the course of the conducting-paths ; but, in 
their passage through the brain, the paths for direct motor 
impulses are not interrupted anywhere in their course by 
ganglion cells, not even in the corpus striatum or pons. 
They pass in a direct uninterrupted course. 




IF I shrink from giving a detailed description of the 
manner in which I believe these two organs of special sense 
operate, it is not because the task is beyond me, but because, 
owing to my limited knowledge of histology and the 
paucity of information as regards the neuro-electrical 
ramifications of the circuits for my enlightenment, I 
grudge the time that would have to be spent in further 
research ; whereas a physiologist who could bring himself 
to ponder the matter from a purely electrical, or rather 
from a purely telegraphic and telephonic point of view, 
would, I have no doubt, be able to do the subject greater 

At the same time, it is incumbent upon me to put upon 
record my opinion that the eye is strongly suggestive of a 
compound selenium-cell transmitting apparatus, and that 
the ear does not differ in any essential respect from a 
telephone system, the outer ear being the receiver, the 
middle ear the microphone, and the auditory nerve the 
line wire or wires to the brain. 

The element called selenium is not very well known 
outside the precincts of the laboratory. It was discovered 
in the year 1817 in the refuse of a sulphuric acid 
manufactory in Sweden by' Berzelius, and is obtained in 
two forms, one of which is soluble in carbon disulphide, 
the other being insoluble in the same medium. The first 


is of a reddish-yellow colour, conducting heat badly and 
electricity not at all, while the other variety known as 
black or metallic selenium conducts heat, and under certain 
conditions will form a good conductor of electricity. It is 
with the latter only that we are concerned. 

In 1873 Mr. Willoughby Smith, then electrician-in-chief 
to the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, 
discovered that this substance had a peculiar property in 
that its electrical resistance varied with the amount of light 
to which it was subjected ; the difference in these varia- 
tions being very marked, and in the inverse ratio to the 
degree of light. Later on Dr. Siemens, Professor Adams, 
the Earl of Rosse, and other scientific men took up the 
subject, but nothing practical was done until Professor 
Graham Bell, in association with Mr. Sumner Tainter, 
produced the photophone, an instrument in which light 
was utilised for the transmission of sound. 

Of more interest to us, however, is the " Selenium 
eye " of Dr. Siemens. It was in reality an artificial human 
eye, with a lens in front, and lids to close when it was 
weary ; for, curious as it may seem, it, like its perfect 
prototype, became tired when exposed for a prolonged 
period to bright light. 

The lens caused any light to which the " eye " was 
subjected to be concentrated in the interior of the eyeball, 
and at this spot a selenium grating was placed. This was 
composed of two fine wires running together in zigzag 
fashion, but not making actual contact. Upon these was 
placed a melted drop of selenium, and the ends of the wires 
were joined up with a galvanometer and battery. When 
the " eye " had been closed and at rest for some little time, 
it was found to be sensitive to the faintest gleam of light, 
but after long exposure to bright light the lids closed for 
a long time before it became again sensitive to feeble rays. 

Since then much experimental work has been done, and 


inventions of scientific interest but no great commercial 
value have resulted. 

One of the most successful attempts the in- 
vention of a Pole named Szczepanik to transmit pictures 
to a distance by the agency of selenium was described in 
Pearson's Magazine of October, 1899, by Mr. Cleveland 
Moffett. It was called the " Telectroscope," and was 
founded upon the fact that any vision or image produced 
upon the retina is only the blending together of an infinite 
number of points projected separately from the object and 
seen by separate rays of light. Some of these come a 
fraction of a second later than others, but if the intervals 
between them be short enough persistence of vision will 
have the effect of bringing them together and forming a 
complete picture. 

From the article in question I gather that Szczepanik 
devised a way of separating any image formed by an 
ordinary photographic lens into its component luminous 
points, of transmitting these points separately, but with 
enormous rapidity, over wires, and letting the eye recon- 
stitute them at the other end into the original picture. 

Selenium, it may be said, possesses the peculiar property 
of transforming waves of light into waves of electricity, 
so that if rays of light are thrown upon a selenium disc 
to which insulated wires are connected, it will be found that 
currents are set up in the wires, and moreover that rays of 
light differing in colour and intensity give rise to currents 
which also differ in intensity ; each particular 1 ray having 
its corresponding current, and no two of them being exactly 

Szczepanik's transmitting apparatus consisted of a box 
with a camera front and a photographic lens for focussing 
an image outside the box upon two vibrating mirrors, 
designed to resolve the image into points and project these 
upon a selenium disc connected by wires with the receiving 


apparatus. The transmitting wires terminated in two 
vibrating metal plates, contained in another enclosed box 
with a camera front, and these plates, by an ingenious 
method of lighting, allowed a changing band of light, as 
thin as a hair, to pass between them. This was broken 
up in turn by two' other vibrating mirrors and projected 
upon a ground-glass plate, upon which the transmitted 
image appeared. 

The inventor solved the problem of the conveyance of 
colour by passing the rays of light received by the lens in 
the transmitter and from the vibrating metal plates of the 
receiver through a prism, each ray being deflected more or 
less and each having an individual deflection ; a violet ray 
being deflected more than a yellow ray, and a red ray less 
than a green one, and so on. 

With the technical details of the Telestroscope we need 
have no further concern. Its interest, to me, lies not in 
the mechanical details they were necessitated by the fact 
of there being only one selenium disc in the transmitting 
apparatus but in certain curious points of resemblance 
to the human eye. 

If, instead of one transmitting disc and two connecting 
wires, an infinite number of such discs and wires could have 
been employed, there would have been no occasion for the 
vibrating mirrors, for the reason that the " points " 
projected separately from the object would be received 
upon a large number of discs and conveyed to the brain 
by a large number of wires or nerve-fibres. The number 
of fibres in the optic nerve is said to be upwards of 500,000, 
while the number of cones in the rod and cone layer of the 
eye of man the nerve- epithelium of the retina has been 
estimated at 3,000,000. 

It does not follow that these discs and wires are as 
multitudinous as the points of light which in their entirety 
form a % picture or an image. It is because they are not so, 



I take it, that there is such a thing as memory of the eye, 
or persistence of vision. 

Comparing the lens of the eye with that of a camera, the 
iris is the diaphragm to regulate the aperture, and the rays 
or points of light admitted by the lens are thrown, although 
not directly, upon a layer of pigment cells which form 
the outer or choroidal surface of the retina. 

It should also be noted that posteriorly to the iris is a 
layer of pigment cells, a continuation forwards of the 
pigment layer of the retina. 


a, cells seen from the outer surface with clear lines of intercellular 
substance between ; b, two cells seen in profile with fine offsets extending 
inwards ; c, a cell still in connection with the outer ends of the rods. 

In colour these pigment cells appear to be dark brown, 
and, like the macula lutea, apart from the fovea centralis, 

It will be seen, from b and c, that fine offsets or nerve- 
fibres extend inwards from these cells, and, presumably, 
either make connection with or influence the rods and 
cones in their immediate vicinity ; these rods and cones 


connecting by means of various nerve processes and gan- 
glionic cells with the brain. 

" At the fovea each cone is connected to a separate 
chain of neurons, whereas in other regions the rods and 
cones are connected in groups to these chains. ... At 
the exit of the optic nerve the only structures present are 
nerve-fibres. . . . The nerve-cells in the retina remind us 
that the optic, like the olfactory nerve, is not a mere nerve 
but an outgrowth of the brain." (Halliburton.) 

The clearest, if not the most comprehensive, exposition 
of the structure and functioning of the eye, so far as my 
reading goes, is contained in Thornton's Human Physiology. 
Briefly summarising this, I learn that the outermost layer 
of the retina next to the choroid consists of a single stratum 
of hexagonal epithelium containing black but, according 
to Schafer, dark brown pigment. They are present in 
all parts of the retina, except at the entrance of the optic 
nerve. The outer surface of the cells is smooth and flat, 
but the inner part is prolonged into fine processes which 
extend between the rods. About 7,000 cones are said to 
exist in the fovea. Near the macula lutea the retina 
contains one cone to four rods ; midway to its termination 
at the ora serrata one cone to twenty -four rods ; at the 
peripheral part rods only. 

Visual impulses begin in the rods and cones on the outer 
side of the retina, after the rays of light have passed 
through most of the retinal layers, and the processes 
started in these sensory epithelial cells of the retina pass 
back to the layer of fibres on the inner surface of the retina 
and thence by the optic nerve to the brain. 

We know that the retinal vessels are distributed in the 
inner layers (nerve-fibres and ganglionic cells) of the 
retina, and the shadows cast behind them must be per- 
ceived by something posterior to those vessels. This is a clear 
proof, it is said, that the external layers of the retina nearest 


the choroid, that is, the rods and cones, are the elements 
in which the visual impressions begin. 

46 It thus appears that the real end-organs of vision, 
the rods and cones, must be in some way connected func- 
tionally, if not structurally, with the nerve filaments that 
pass to the optic nerve, and it is evident that these rods 
and cones, being backwards from the light towards the 
sclerotic, must receive the light waves after they have 
passed through the internal layers of the retina, except at 
the f ovea, where, all the other layers having thinned off, 
the basal fibres of the cones themselves are directly exposed 
to the light waves." (Thornton.) 

Before we accept the above conclusions as final it will 
be well to ponder the matter carefully. 

There are several points which call for consideration. 
Cones are absent in some animals and rods in others. 
Light produces changes in pigment, but while the outer 
limbs of the rods are tinged with a pigment termed 
" visual purple," derived from the pigment cells of the 
outer layer of the retina, it can hardly be essential to vision, 
as it is " absent from the cones of the fovea and entirely 
wanting in some animals that see well." 

I am not going to suggest that the epithelial pigment 
cells of the retina contain selenium, but I do suggest that 
they are composed of or contain some substance which 
has the property of transforming waves of light into waves 
of neuro-electricity, possibly by causing enormously rapid 
alterations of resistance in the sensory nerve- circuits 
connected functionally, if not structurally, with the cells^ 

" We do not know," says Thornton, " how the undula. 
tions of light become converted into nervous impulses that 
give rise to visual sensations." 

The three following diagrams (Figs. 120, 121, 122) may 
with advantage be considered in their relation to the known 
optical law that " ordinary light consists of vibrations 


taking place always in planes at right angles to the 
direction of the ray, but in all directions in those planes. 
That is, if the ray travels along the axle of a wheel, the 
vibrations composing it are all in the plane of the wheel, 
but are executed along any or all of the spokes." (Gordon's 
Electricity and Magnetism.) 

Rays of light, entering at the lens, would, if the lens 
were a fixed object, approximate to the axle, and the rods 
and cones to the spokes of the wheel. But the lens is not 
a fixed object, as in a camera. It not only receives rays 
of light from above, below, and each side, but continually 
shifts its angle of reception of such rays by movement of 
the eye. 

Fig. 120. 

Diagram of a section through the (right) human eye passing horizontally 
nearly through the middle, a, b, equator ; y, optic axis. (After Schafer.) 

The pigmented cells of the outer or choroidal surface 
are not shown in Fig. 121, but are illustrated by Schultze 
in a diagrammatic section of the human retina (Fig. 122). 



Fig. 121. 

Vertical section through the Macula Lutea and Fovea Centrah's; 
diagrammatic. (Thornton, after M. Schultze.) 

1, nerve layer ; 2, ganglionic layer ; 3, inner molecular, 4, inner nuclear, 
and 5, outer molecular layers ; 6, outer nuclear layer, the inner part with 
only cone fibres forming the so-called external fibrous'layer f 7, cones'and 
rods. f& 31T. 

Outer or Ckorou&zl / 

4 Inner Tiuclear or bipolar iayr 


M. Schultze and Schdfer.) 


From the two previous diagrams it will be seen that, 
as in Szczepanik's apparatus, the rays of light are broken up 
and deflected at various angles before they reach the 
pigmented cells or the rods and cones, and I assume that* 
having arrived at, as it were, a terminal, they are, at that 
terminal, transformed into waves of neuro-electricity, 
which, picked up by the rods and cones, are conveyed in 
that form to the brain. 

If something of that kind does not occur we are con- 
fronted with another very extraordinary coincidence. 

In the Science of Light, by Percy Phillips, D.Sc., it is said : 
" If we suppose that the sensation of light is due somehow 
to the vibrations of electrons in the retina, the retina itself 
will do instead of a prism for drawing out a pulse into 
waves, and so we may have interference even without the 
prism. We see, therefore, that it is just as simple to 
imagine that the regular trains of waves are produced by 
the receiver as by the transmitter of the wave. We only 
need assume regularity of period in one or other of them.'* 

The theory that the sensation of sight is due to the 
direct action of the vibrations of electrons in the retina 
calls for examination. It has not been finally and con- 
clusively proved that light consists of short electro-magnetic 
waves. The strongest argument in its favour is Maxwell's 
calculation that the speed of electro-magnetic waves agrees 
with that of light, i.e., 300,000,000 metres per second. 
That is equivalent to a velocity of 12,000,000,000 in. per 
second, and taking the distance between the lens of the eye 
and the receptive organ or organs of the brain to be, say, 
6 in., impulses would, according to that theory, be trans- 
mitted in 23^ millionth of a second. 

Moreover, these electro-magnetic waves would impinge 
directly upon the layer of optic nerve-fibres, thence upon 
the optic nerve-cells, and exert their electronic vibratory 
influence upon five other layers of the retina before reaching 


the rods and cones, which we are told are the structures 
directly concerned with vision. 

In the conversion of rays of light into waves of neuro- 
electricity delays which would reduce the rate of trans- 
mission to the normal velocity of nervous impulse would 
most certainly occur at the synapses, and quite apart from 
physiological research we can be reasonably sure that the 
impulses to which vision is due do not travel at anything 
like the rate at which electro-magnetic waves are pro- 
pagated. Halliburton says : " The duration of the sensa- 
tion produced by a luminous impression on the retina is 
always greater than that of the impression which produces 
it. However brief the luminous impression, the effect on 
the retina always lasts for about one-eighth of a second.*' 
That is, in perfect harmony with an electrical impulse, 
which, as we have seen (p. 160), always takes longer to 
leave the circuit than it did to enter it, but it is not in 
harmony with the theory that impulses are conveyed to the 
brain at a velocity of 300,000,000 metres instead of 120 
metres per second. In the one-eighth of a second during 
which the retina retains the impression no fewer than 
1,500,000,000 impulses would be produced by the direct 
vibrations of electrons, and they would continue to arrive 
at the same speed while vision lasted. 

Some further arguments in favour of the theory I have 
advanced may, however, be adduced. 

I have said that, in my opinion, the optic, like the 
auditory, nerves and we must include their processes 
are " closed " circuits. Halliburton states that the 
retina " possesses a store of potential energy which the 
stimulus serves to fire off." That is understandable in a 
closed, but not in an open, circuit. 

44 Nothing is known about the yellow pigment of the 
yellow spot," but a 4t change produced by the action of 
light upon the retina is the movement of the pigment cell*. 


On being stimulated by light the granules of pigment in the 
cells which overlie the outer part of the rod and cone layer 
of the retina pass down into the processes of the cells, 
which hang down between the rods " (see Fig. 119) ; 
" these melanin orfuscin granules are generally rod-shaped, 
and look almost like crystals. In addition to this, a 
movement of the cones and possibly of the rods occurs ; in 
the light the cones shorten, and in the dark they lengthen.*' 
(Halliburton : Engelmann.) 

The property of transforming rays of light into nervous 
impulses may reside in the " visual purple," but if the 
pigment cells have no part in this and are designed merely 
to provide the dark lining of the camera, why should they 
be given movement, and why do they have processes 
connecting, functionally if not structurally, with the rod 
and cone layer ? 


The ear is divisible into three parts: i.e., the external 
ear, the middle ear or tympanum, and the internal ear or 
labyrinth. Physiologically described, " the filaments of 
the auditory nerve end in peculiar structures buried 
deeply in the hard portion of the temporal bone of the 
skull, and special arrangements exist for conducting waves 
of sound to this deeply seated sensitive part. The external 
ear assists in collecting sonorous vibrations that pass along 
a channel termed the external auditory meatus, and 
impinge against a stretched membrane called the tympanic 
membrane, or drum-skin. The vibrations thus set up in 
the tympanic membrane are transmitted across the 
tympanic cavity or middle ear by a chain of small bones 
the malleus or hammer, the incus or anvil, and the 
stapes or stirrup to the inner ear. The membranous 
base of the stapes is placed in connection with the inner 


ear by being fixed into an oval opening in a bony tubular 
labyrinth consisting of parts termed the vestibule, the 
semicircular canals, and the cochlea. Inside the bony 
labyrinth is a nearly similar labyrinth of membrane filled 
with liquid, a liquid also lying between the bony and the 
membranous labyrinth." 

Fig. 123. SCHEME OF THE ORGAN OF HEARING. (Landxris and Stirling.) 

HG, external auditory meatus ; T, tympanic membrane ; malleus 
with its head, short process (kf), and handle (w) ; a, incus with its 
short process (x) and long process the latter is united to the stapes (s) 
by means of the Sylvian ossicle (z) ; P, middle ear ; o, fenestra ovalis ; 
r, fenestra rotunda ; x, beginning of the lamina spiralis of the cochlea ; 
pt y its scala tympani, and vt, its scala vestibuli ; V, vestibule ; S, saccule ; 
U, utricle ; H, semicircular canals ; TE, Eustachian tube. The long 
arrow indicates the line of traction of the tensor tympani ; the short 
curved one, that of the stapedius. 

These liquids are known as endolymph and perilymph 
respectively, and according to Landois and Stirling the 
end-organs of the acoustic nerve lie in the endolymph and 
on membranous expansions of the cochlea and semi- 
circular canals. 

" The vibrations conveyed to this fluid by the move- 
ment of the base of the stapes excite the peculiar epithelium 
of the inner surface of the membranous labyrinth, on and 
in which are distributed the auditory nerve-filaments. 
Impulses pass from these filaments along the nerve lying 
in the internal meatus to the brain, and there produce that 


modification of consciousness which we call the sensation 
of sound." (Thornton.) 

Landois and Stirling say : " Normal hearing takes 
place through the external auditory meatus. The enor- 
mous vibrations of air first set the tympanic membrane in 
vibration ; this moves the malleus (Fig. 128), whose 
long process is inserted into it ; the malleus moves the 
incus (a), and this the stapes (s), which transfers the move- 
ments of its plate to the perilymph of the labyrinth." 

All this, up to and including the movements of the 
stapes, is perfectly consistent and indeed almost identical 
with a telephone receiver and microphone attachment, 
but when it becomes a question of transfer of mechanical 
vibrations to nerve-filaments, or to the wires of a closed 
circuit, I would point out that there is no evidence that the 
true function of a nerve is to convey mechanical impulses. 
The physiological theory is that the nerve impulse is 
chemical. My contention is that it is neuro- electrical. It 
is difficult to understand how mechanical vibrations can 
be transformed into chemical impulses, but not at all 
difficult to conceive them being neuro- electrically trans- 
mitted over a closed telephone circuit. 

Thornton remarks : " The whole subject of the 
mechanism of hearing is far from being satisfactorily 
settled. . . . For hearing the stimulus is of a mechanical 
nature." 1 venture to think that the utmost that can be 
said in favour of this hypothesis is that mechanical 
stimulus extends from the external meatus, by the endo- 
lymph, to the auditory nerve. It is the nerve, not the 
endolymph, which conveys the stimuli to the brain. 

I can offer one very convincing proof that in this case 
at least the impulse is neuro- electrical. In purely nerve 
deafness the measure of nervous energy, as shown by the 
hand-to-hand galvanometric deflection, is not more than 
30 or 40 mm. ; deflections from the back of the cartilage 


of the external meatus, where it adjoins the mastoid, being 
in accordance with that deflection, or, in other words, not 
exhibiting departure from Ohm's law. 

In such cases, if a rod of specially prepared carbon is held 
by the patient for a few moments in the right hand so that 
the body may receive a charge of the form of energy 
exerted by it, the hand-to-hand deflection will rise to over 
300 mm. positive, and hearing will usually return at once 
and remain normal during such time as the charge is 

Halliburton says : " The external and middle ears are 
conducting ; the internal ear is conducting and receptive. 
In the external ear the vibrations travel through air ; in 
the middle ear through solid structures membranes and 
bones ; and in the internal ear through fluid, first through 
the perilymph on the far side of the fenestra ovalis, and 
then the vibrations pass through the basilar membrane 
and membrane of Reissner, and set the endolymph of the 
canal of the cochlea in motion." 

With great reluctance I must to some extent disagree. 
The external ear, in my view, is receptive, in the sense that 
the transmitter of a telephone is receptive of sound ; the 
middle ear is receptive and conducting as a microphone 
receives and conducts ; while the inner ear transforms the 
vibrations transmitted, and probably amplified, by the 
middle ear or microphone, into neuro- electrical impulses, 
and conveys them in that form to the brain. 

One thing, I think, can be regarded as certain. The 
sensory nerves, and the nerves of special sense, are 
" closed " circuits. That being so it follows, logically, 
that the quantity of endolymph or perilymph, or both, in 
the cochlea must not undergo diminution that is a matter 
of the chemistry of the body and that the neuro-electrical 
pressure, or electromotive force, present in those " closed " 
circuits and energising the endolymph and (or) perilymph 


must be fully maintained, if normal conditions are to be 

Supposing any " faults " to occur, at least three of 
them should be susceptible to electro -diagnosis 

(1) The drum of the ear may be thickened or overlaid 

by inflamed tissue due to, say, inflammation or 
rheumatoid conditions. 

(2) The bones of the middle ear may be clogged by 

catarrh, or urates, so that they are not free to 
vibrate ; or 

(3) The auditory nerve, or line wire, may be faulty. 

In either case the vibrations do not reach the brain 
unimpaired, because 

(1) They are partly or wholly stopped, or rendered 

" woolly " by the drum. 

(2) If responded to by the drum they fail to set fully 

in motion the clogged bones of the middle ear, 
or at all ; or 

(2) The faulty line wire fails to carry them fully, or 
at all, to the brain. 

We have, then, at least three morbid conditions to deal 
with, and when one of these conditions occurs the telephone 
system must be tested and the nature and locality of the 
" fault " ascertained. 

If the drum of the ear is thickened, or the passage to it 
swollen, by rheumatoid arthritis or other causes con- 
tributory to local pyrexia, it will yield an abnormal, that 
is to say a high, deflection. So will the middle ear tested 
by placing a suitable electrode between the mastoid and 
the cartilage of the external ear if it is affected by 
catarrh ; or it will give a subnormal deflection when the 
bones are, and have been for some time, clogged by urates. 
In much the same way the inner ear (the line wire) can be 
made to disclose its degree of conductivity by giving the 


measure of the nerve-current in it as compared with the 
nerve-current present in the auditory nerve of a healthy 
person of similar hand-to-hand deflection. If it is partially 
atrophied the first step should, I think, be to restore it to 
its normal condition of an active closed circuit ; by, say, 
ionic medication. 

In the case of catarrh of the middle ear, or of the 
presence of inspissated mucus in the middle ear, our object 
should be to introduce a harmless solvent into what is, 
practically, a closed cavity. 





THE chief requirements in a galvanometer are great 
sensibility and perfect insulation combined with a short 
period of oscillation. There are several types, but in 
practice I prefer for research work the special form of 
Kelvin reflecting Astatic, made for me by Elliott Bros., 
although it is somewhat expensive. This instrument is 
designed for tests where specially good insulation of all 
parts of the circuit is required. There are eight coils, 
having a total resistance of from 60,000 to 100,000 ohms, 
carried in hinged frames supported by ebonite pillars ; 
four terminals carried on tall ebonite stems through the 
top of the case, and a long suspension. 

The medical practitioner will be quite safe, as regards 
sensibility, in ordering an instrument which will give a 
deflection of 4,000 or more mm., at a scale distance of 
1 metre, per micro-ampere. The period should not be 
more than seven seconds. 

On the next page will be found an illustration of the 
instrument I have mentioned. 

As shown it is not adjusted. To do this it is necessary 
that it should be placed in the east (facing west), looking 
towards the scale which is from 1 metre to 41 in. distant. 
If it is stood upon wood the levelling screws should rest in 


ebonite cups, but a good plan is to let a slate or marble 
slab into the wall and stand the galvanometer upon it. 

At the base of the instrument are two spirit-levels, and 
the next thing to be done is, by manipulation of the 
levelling screws, to see that each air-bubble lies exactly in 
the centre. 

Fig. 124. 

Rising from the top of the case will be seen four 
terminals and a central brass pillar. Unscrew the 


latter. Beneath it is a pin, with a milled head (Fig. 125) to 
which the suspension is attached. Raise this 
pin, without turning, very gently, until the mirr or 

jbiniiiiimninmm . 

is exactly in the centre of the opening and 
the suspension swings freely. Then replace, 
and adjust the controlling magnet shown 

Fig. 125. 

underneath the instrument in the figure given. 

To do this take off the screw at the top of the rod and 
slide the magnet off. Then screw the rod into its seat, 
replace the magnet due north and south and the screw 
and the galvanometer is nearly ready for use. 

Should it be necessary at any time to examine the 
suspension, first take off the two screws which clamp the 
case to the base, remove the terminals and the ebonite 
discs below them and the pillar, having first detached 
the controlling device by sliding off the magnet and 
unscrewing the rod. The case can now be lifted off 

The next procedure is to remove the coil connection at 
the left-hand inner terminal, and, also on the left, there 
is a screw with a milled head. When this is taken out the 
front coils will swing to the right on their hinges and expose 
the suspension. 

Sometimes a hair, a microscopical fragment of silk from 
the suspension, may connect some part of the latter with 
the casing and give trouble. Upon opening the coils this 
may be detected. 

A hole, covered by a slide, at the top of the case is for 
the insertion of a thermometer. 

As the Kelvin galvanometer is so well known, a tech- 
nical description of it is unnecessary. There are several 
points in connection with it, however, to which attention 
may usefully be called. 

If the instrument is placed in the east and facing west 
the suspension will, before the controlling magnet is in 


position, come to rest in the plane of the magnetic meridian, 
because very small permanent magnets are affixed trans- 
versely thereto, and must, consequently, fall into line with 
the earth's magnetism. The purpose of the controlling 
magnet is to obtain a position in which it quite neutralises 
the earth's magnetism. To adjust zero, therefore, a rough 
approximation to it should be made, before the controlling 
magnet is in place, by turning the milled suspension pin 
to the right or left as the case may be but avoiding any- 
thing approaching a complete turn then putting on the 
controlling magnet and moving it gently out of the north 
and south until the reflected spot of light nears the zero of 
the scale. Further and more delicate adjustments may be 
made by turning the screw at the back of the pillar, and 
that operating the ratchet upon the scale-stand. 

Sensibility may be varied by, also very gently, moving 
the controlling magnet up or down its support. 

Advantage may be taken of the equal number of coils 
to make the instrument differential. That is to say, by 
using the two sets of coils separately one current may be 
sent in one direction and another current in the opposite 
direction, so that comparison may be made of their respec- 
tive strengths. If both are exactly equal there will be no 
deflection, but if one is stronger than the other the spot of 
light will travel over the scale and indicate the excess. 
By preliminary experiment the direction of deflection by 
each current can be determined separately, and in this way 
the difference of intensity between the two ascertained. 

In experienced hands this galvanometer is as near 
perfection as anything made by man can be, but, unlike 
those of the moving-coil type, it is directly affected by any 
outside vehicle of magnetic or electrical energy. The 
near proximity of a steel key or even a steel trousers' 
button is sufficient to cause a movement of the light, and 
so sensitive is it to induction that it cannot be used 


satisfactorily within three-quarters of a mile of an electric 
railway or tube or charging station by reason of the 
frequent alteration of load. It is true that, as the human 
body is similarly affected, the argument must also apply to 
any galvanometer, but in research work one is not always 
testing the human body, or dealing with such infinitesimal 
electromotive forces and currents. 

The cost price of this form of Kelvin is about 30. 

We will now consider an instrument of the d'Arsonval 
type, which, with equal sensibility, can be bought for 
about 10. 

Fig. 126. 

In this the reflecting mirror does not carry a magnet, 
but is directly connected with the coil, which, as will be 
seen, is suspended between the poles of two laminated bar- 
magnets. At the suspension-head there is a milled pin, by 
means of which the suspension may be raised or lowered, 
and a movable head which may be turned one way or the 
other to adjust the zero. No spirit-levels are provided, but 
the instrument may be levelled by placing a small spirit- 
level upon the base as shown in the other instrument 
and testing it by means of the levelling screws, taking care 
that the coil swings freely and is equi-distant between the 


poles of the magnets. The cover is then replaced and 
clamped on with the screws provided for the purpose. 


It is clear that a light must be thrown upon the mirror of 
the galvanometer and reflected back upon the scale. There 
are two ways of doing this. One is to have the direct 
light at the back of the scale, thus 

Fig. 127. 

This is a cheap pattern of scale, but is quite useful for all 
purposes where the observer can place himself close to it. 
In testing the human body, however, the positions of the 
galvanometer, the scale, and the patient in relation to the 
observer have to be considered, and it will be evident that 
with the patient several feet away from the scale the 
observer must be at some disadvantage. To obviate this 
difficulty it is better to have a transparent scale (Fig. 128). 

It has a mirror upon a universal joint. The lamp faces 
the same way as the galvanometer. Its light is thrown 
upon the scale, reflected therefrom upon the mirror of the 
galvanometer, and thence back to the scale. The height 
of the scale is adjustable, and there is a ratchet arrange- 
ment to move the scale itself some inches to get a true zero. 






In this way, almost irrespective of the position of the 
patient, the operator can be within easy reading distance of 
the scale. 


The temptation to have an electric lamp, preferably 
affixed to the scale-stand, is great. It offers the advantages 
of a brighter spot and less halation, but there is always 
the danger of leakage, and for this reason I recommend 
a paraffin lamp. A useful type is Fig. 129. There is 
a lens, across which there is a vertical wire so 
that the spot of light upon the scale appears 
as in Fig. 130 ; but it is better, in avoidance of 
halation, to paint the lens with dead-black, 
leaving only a vertical line J in. wide in the 
centre. The spot then appears as in Fig. 131, and can be 
more conveniently and accurately read. 


Fig. 132 shows a very useful and reliable 
form of short-circuit key, but I have found a 
Fig. 131. cheaper pattern answer quite satisfactorily 
upon substituting a brass bar for the ebonite one shown 
in the front of Fig. 133. 

Fig- 130. 

Fig. 132. Fig. 133. 


For research work a shunt in terms of the galvano- 
meter, and proportions of J, uV, and ^, is desirable for 
use in conjunction with the high-resistance instrument. 


For electro- diagnosis, however, a shunt is unnecessary, 
and as the resistance of the coil of a d'Arsonval galvano- 
meter seldom exceeds 2,000 ohms, it should not be used 
with that type of recording instrument at all. If, however, 
it is desired to do so, a " universal " shunt is recommended. 
It is a golden rule to " limit the apparatus." To avoid 
leakage is to avoid trouble. Let the top of the testing- 
table be of teak or other hard wood, and paraffin-wax it. 
Also have a gas-fire or electric radiator in the testing-room 
and maintain a standard temperature. 


To connect the galvanometer with the short-circuit key 
and electrodes use the best electric light flex (30 to 40), 
untwisting same so as to have single wires. 


Thick (preferably insulated) copper wire soldered to 
the water-main and the other end brought and connected 
to a copper rod or tube in the testing-room, makes a very 
good " earth." 


These are seven in number, and are made for me by 
Messrs. Hodges & Co., of St. John Street, Clerkenwell. 
For the hand-to-hand deflection I use solid German silver 

Fig. 184. 

rods (heavily silver-plated), 5 \ in. by f in., provided with 
a thumb-piece and a terminal at the upper end (Fig. 134), 
the thumb-pieces being shaped as Fig. 135 in plan. 

Fig. 135. 


German silver has a low co-efficient 
of increase of resistance with temperature, 
and, when heavily plated, is a very suitable 

When one of these electrodes is held in each hand by the 
patient the thumbs are pushed up to the closed ends of 
the thumb-pieces, the fingers used merely in support and 
no pressure exercised. The connections are then 




Fig. 136. 
Short-circuit key omitted. 

The other electrodes consist of an elastic rubber band, to 
encircle the head, carrying a circular plate of silver (or 
German silver heavily plated) 1 in. in diameter and 
provided with a terminal of the same metal : 

Fig. 137. 

For purposes of electro- diagnosis this is connected by a wire 
to one terminal of the galvanometer, and the band fitted 
round the head of the patient in such manner that the flat 


surface of the circular plate makes contact with the centre 
of the forehead ; the circuit being completed by means of 
another electrode 

Fig. 188. 

These, preferably, should be three in number ; the 
boss, a, having diameters of \ in., T % in. and ^ in. respec- 

The readings obtained, as I explain later on, will be in 
conformity with the hand-to-hand deflection and Ohm's 

In the galvanometric diagnosis of morbid conditions 
the sign of current is of little importance. All the deflec- 
tions are comparative. The one thing that matters is the 
quantity of current issuing from any part of the body, and 
this is shown by the relative rapidity of the excursion of 
the light upon the scale ; the gradations being from a very 
rapid off-scale deflection in the case of acute local pyrexia 
to no deflection at all in cancer. 

For diagnosis I recommend the use of a large head-plate, 
for the reason that it is imperatively necessary to cover 
the central line in order to obtain accurate comparison 
between two symmetrical parts of the body, but in research 
work, as, for instance, attempting to differentiate efferent 
from afferent nerves, sign of current is of the utmost 
consequence, and the head-plate must, therefore, be of 
exactly the same area and resistance as the electrode used 
to complete the circuit. 

Formerly I had all these electrodes made of solid silver, 
but it involved a quite unnecessary "expense. 




As I have frequently mentioned Ohm's law, and have 
said that all body deflections must conform to it, I will, for 
the guidance of the medical practitioner, explain it so far 
as may be necessary. I have given it, briefly, as C = ^- 

that is, the current at any point is equal to the electro- 
motive force divided by the resistances in circuit at that 
point, assuming both electromotive force and resistances 
to be constant. But that is only a part of Ohm's law, and 
we must ponder it further to see whether it in any way 
conflicts, or in every way agrees, with observed phenomena. 

As most of my readers will be aware, the unit of electro- 
motive force is called a volt, that of resistance an ohm, and 
that of current an ampere. The quantity of electricity 
which flows per second in a current of one ampere is known 
as a coulomb, and the capacity of a condenser in which a 
charge of one coulomb causes a potential of one volt is 
said to be a Farad. 

To put it in terms of hydrostatics, with which everyone 
will be familiar, E is the head of water (pressure) ; R is 
the resistance offered to flow by the inner perimeter of the 
pipe (in the inverse ratio to the sectional area of the pipe) ; 
C represents the quantity of water flowing through the 
pipe at any point, and is, obviously ~ ; while the coulomb 
may be said to be the unit of effective discharge, 


Furthermore, the Farad is a unit as, for instance, a 
gallon of the capacity of a cistern into which the water 
may be caused to flow from E, and in which the quantity 
of one coulomb produces a pressure of one volt, by creating, 
as it were, another head of water at a lower level. 

For a circuit to be established it is necessary in the case 
of electricity for there to be a return, either by another wire 
or by the earth ; there must be a " loop." Similarly no 
water will flow from the cistern unless it has access to air, 
nor will any water issue from a pipe unless and until the 
tap is opened to air. 

The resistance of a metallic conductor is directly pro- 
portionate to its length, is in the inverse ratio to its 
sectional area, and is expressed by R. There are, however, 
resistances (r) other than that of the conductor or conduc- 
tors to be taken into account, and the principal of these 
(outside the galvanometer and electrodes) is the internal 
resistance of the generating cell or cells. This varies not 
only with the surface area of the plates but in a galvanic 
cell with the chemical composition of the exciting fluid. 

Briefly summed up, the E.M.F. is proportional to the 
current when the resistance is constant, the E.M.F. is 
proportional to the resistance when the current is constant, 
and the E.M.F. is proportional to the product of current 
strength and resistance when both vary. 

The resistance of metals increases with rise of tempera- 
ture, while that of liquids and dielectrics decreases more or 
less rapidly. 

When there are two conductors of different resistance 
joining two points, the current in either branch is inversely 
as the resistance of that branch. 

In reviewing the galvanometric deflections exhibited in 
normal health by the human body we must bear in mind 
certain facts of primary importance. The conductors 
(nerves) and condensers (certain cells) are composed of 


moist substances, and their conductivity, instead of their 
resistance, increases in a physiologically defined ratio with 
rise of temperature, while the electromotive force fluc- 
tuates during certain periods of the twenty -four hours and 
also in accordance with the degree of fatigue to which the 
patient has been subjected. It will be seen, therefore, that 
while R may be constant, neither E nor C can be said to be 
so. For this, if for no other reason, the hand-to-hand 
deflection must be carefully taken. When this is done all 
the body deflections must, by Ohm's law, be in conformity 
with it. 

Another point which calls for consideration is the 
capacity of our condenser-ganglion cells and condenser- 
compartment muscular fibres. We have seen that a 
capacity of one Farad with a quantity of one coulomb 
causes a potential of one volt, and the fact that we have to 
go into minute fractions of each unit does not affect the law. 

The potential at any point (supposing R to be constant) 
is liable to variation by any difference in E (producing a 
difference in C), while a rise or fall of temperature may not 
only alter the resistance of R, generally or locally, but also 
the internal resistance (r) of all or some of the cells. 

Care, then, must be taken when galvanometric examina- 
tions are made to observe the temperature of different parts 
of the body, as one part may be colder than another, and by 
giving a subnormal deflection introduce error into diag- 
nosis. Furthermore, the utmost vigilance must be ob- 
served to ensure the conditions of contact being equal, as, 
if one part of the skin is more moist than another, the 
result, generally speaking, will be a higher deflection from 
that part. Inversely the presence of fat in the skin and 
subcutaneous tissue would tend to interpose resistance and 
therefore diminish the deflection, etc. 

We may now proceed with our illustration. When 
any amount of resistance is introduced between the 


terminals of a cell, the difference of potential becomes less 
than the total E.M.F. observed when the circuit is open. 
Assuming the current to consist of a series of polarisations 
and discharges, the chemical affinities or contacts must call 
up the difference of potential representing the whole E.M.F. 
after each discharge. The remaining part of the E.M.F. 
is really present in the liquid of the cell, which offers 
resistance to the current, and in it the potential follows 
exactly the same laws as in the solid part of the circuit. 
To illustrate this we will set off a horizontal line ABC 


Fig. 139. 

and a vertical line AD, representing the E.M.F. AB is 
the resistance of the cell (r\ and BC that of the connecting 

arc (R). The line DC will then give us the potential at 
every point in the circuit. 

If there are several cells in compound circuit, AB 
represents the total resistance, and AD the total E.M.F. 
of the battery. The line of potential will not then be 
DC, but a broken line which rises at each cell. Thus, 
supposing we have three cells, the line of potential will 
be given by EF; GH ; KC. (See above.) 


The potential gradient gives us potential differences, 
and not the absolute potential at any point. If the cell 
and circuit be all insulated, the potential at some parts 
will be + and at the other parts , depending upon the 
capacity of the various parts of the circuit. If we connect 
the circuit with earth at any one point, we have only to 
draw a line parallel to the base line through the correspond- 
*ng point on the gradient, and perpendiculars to this line 
will then give the absolute potential, positive when above 
and negative when below this line. The figures drawn 
would represent the potential, supposing the zinc plate to 
be to earth. (Cummings.) 

It is, of course, a matter of Extreme difficulty to apply 
Ohm's law to the human body in the absence of more 
definite information as to its electrical structure and in 
view of the changes which occur, even in normal conditions, 
in its E.M.F., capacity, and resistances ; but I am con- 
vinced that when the nervous system is studied on electrical 
as well as chemical lines and in relation to this law, a great 
advance will be made in our knowledge of the human 


In taking the hand-to-hand deflection several pre. 
cautions are necessary 

(1) The patient should be placed in contact with an 
" earth " of low resistance for five or, preferably, more, 
minutes before testing. A copper rod or tube connected 
by an insulated wire (with a thick conductor) to the water- 
main makes a very good " earth." 

(2) Rings must be removed from the fingers, as they 
introduce difference of contact ; and all steel, such as keys 
and knives, from the pockets, as steel is always more or 
less magnetic. Gold, silver, and copper coins do not 


(3) The hands, after " earthing," must be washed with 
soap and water, and not only dried with a towel but given 
an interval of at least five minutes before testing. 

(4) During the time that the subsequent testing of 
the body takes place it is desirable that the number of 
persons in the testing-room should be limited to the 
patient and the observer. But this is not always possible. 
In certain cases a medical attendant and a female friend or 
a nurse must be present, but in these cases such persons 
should be stationed as far from the patient as possible, and 
not admitted to the testing-room until the hand-to-hand 
deflection, both as regards sign and quantity, has been 
accurately determined. 


Where E = E.M.F., and I is the distance' between 

Generally speaking, " the velocity of the ions is pro- 


portional to the value of the motive force -j ." 

Such a law as .that " the velocity with which a particle 
moves under the influence of a certain force is proportional 
to this force " is valid for all liquid or gaseous particles 
moving between other liquid or gaseous particles so long as 
collisions constantly take place. This law can be derived 
from the principles of the kinetic theory of gases, as is 
proved in treatises on internal friction. 

" We must imagine the ions as particles of a liquid 
which receive an acceleration under the influence of some 
external force, electrical or osmotic, and the velocity im- 
parted is proportional to the force acting. The ions, like 
liquid particles in general, become more mobile as the 
temperature rises." (Arrhenius.) 




THERE are in the human body many structures and 
substances which, although not in themselves of very high 
resistance, may, in view of the low tension of the nerve- 
current, be termed dielectrics. Among these are the 
sheaths of medullated and the lipoid coatings of non- 
medullated nerves ; the capsules and membranous cover- 
ings of and in cells ; the sarcolemma and neurilemma ; 
Krause's membranes of voluntary muscular tissue, neu- 
roglia processes and connective tissue, etc. 

The effect of heat upon any and every known dielectric 
is to lower its resistance. 

To ascertain, for instance, the relative resistance of 
gutta-percha at different temperatures we have the 

Log R = log r t log 0-9399 

where R = resistance at higher temperature, 

r resistance at lower temperature, and 
/ = difference in temperature in degrees F. 

Reduced to figures, the relative resistances, calculated 
from the curve, are : 75 F. = 1-000 ; 90 F. = 0-407; 
100 F. = 0-223 ; 110 F. = 0-137. 

In acute inflammation the local temperature that is, 
the temperature in the area affected may rise at least ten 
degrees F. above normal ; and this would, for gutta- 
percha, give us 0-4068 (at 90 F.) and 0-2238 (at 100 F.), 


or a fall of nearly fifty per cent, of resistance, or (roughly) 
five per cent, per degree. 

Inasmuch as the human nerve-current escapes through 
the dielectrics of the body, despite the fact that the tension 
is not more than from 4 to 5 millivolts, it is evident that 
their resistance is infinitely lower than that of gutta- 

We have no means of determining with accuracy the 
resistance of any of these dielectric structures or substances 
in their natural and normal environment, nor, while we 
know that a rise of temperature affects them adversely, 
must we at once assume that the relative fall in resistance 
of a nerve-sheath is the same as that of gutta-percha. 
Maxwell's recent experiments, however, went to show that 
a rise of 10 C. approximately doubled the velocity of 
nerve-conduction by lowering the resistance of the nerve- 

Heat decreases the resistance of liquid and increases the 
resistance of metallic conductors in a known ratio. Com- 
paring a nerve with a copper wire, the increase in resistance 
of copper per 10 F. would be one-fifth or twenty per cent. 
=to two per cent, per degree, but the fall in resistance of 
gutta-percha due to the same increase is nearly fifty per 
cent. By this process of reasoning we find some ground 
for the belief that the effect of temperature upon the 
dielectrics of the body is approximately the same as upon 
gutta-percha ; involving roughly a fall of five per cent, 
per degree Fahrenheit within certain limits, although I 
believe the loss to be much greater. 

Now, it is quite obvious that if the organs of the body 
connected with the transmission of impulses, the mainte- 
nance of neuro- electrical equilibrium, the conservation of 
energy, and the contraction of muscular tissue are to 
function properly, the temperature of every part of the 
whole organism must not exceed the normal, which we may 



take to be, subcutaneously, about 100 F. Protoplasm 
dies, I am informed, at about 114 F., and as we know 
that cells do die in the area affected by acute inflammation, 
we have a right to postulate that, in that area, there may 
be a rise of temperature of at least 10 F. above the normal. 

And with what result ? 

Suppose a submarine telegraph cable to connect two 
stations, A and B, and the battery at the sending station, 
A, to have just sufficient E.M.F. to overcome the resistance 
and allow for the leakage of 'the cable and actuate the 
receiving instrument at B. What would happen if at some 
point intermediate between A and B the dielectric the 
gutta-percha of the cable became heated to 110 F. ? 
There would be a loss of fifty per cent, of its insulation, an 
escape to earth at the fault and interrupted or faulty 
communication with B. The following diagrams will make 
this clear, assuming the leak to be equidistant between 
A and B 

Jfcrmarf Condilton 
Fig. 141. 


Abnormal Condition 
Fig. 142. 

That, approximately, is what occurs when the resistance 
of, say, a nerve-sheath, or the coating of a non-medullated 
nerve, is partly broken down by the rise of temperature 


incidental to inflammation, and as a consequence the 
nervous impulse or current is not conveyed at normal 
pressure to its destination, to supply blood-vessels, to 
actuate muscular fibres, or to energise or transmit messages 
to various cell-groups. 

Nor is this the full extent of the mischief. The current 
escaping through the fault, in conformity with natural 
laws, seeks the path of least resistance to earth (air), and 
from that point throughout that path the cells are in a 
highly electrified area, and, their insulation not being 
capable of withstanding the strain, they in all probability 
become over-ionised. A condition is thus created favour- 
able to the multiplication of inimical bacteria and 
unfavourable to phagocytosis. 

The path of least resistance must be from the fault 
through the intervening tissues and the skin, to air, and 
generally, it will be the shortest path. But wherever it is 
it is clear that an abnormal quantity of current must issue 
from that part of the skin in which the " path " terminates, 
and that if we place the circular plate upon the centre of 
the forehead of the patient in order to be sure of getting 
on the central line, and another electrode upon the affected 
area both electrodes being, of course, connected to the 
galvanometer the fault will manifest itself by a more or 
less rapid excursion of the light upon the scale ; that is to 
say, the rapidity of the excursion will be proportionate to 
the quantity of neuro-electricity escaping, and that quan- 
tity will also be proportionate to the rise of local tempera- 
ture or to the degree in which local insulation resistance 
has been broken down by temperature. 

Let us, for example, take a case of lobar pneumonia, 
the base of the right lung being affected (Fig. 143). 

Here, after taking the hand-to-hand deflection, we are 
able to make intelligent comparison of the galvanometric 
readings from the affected and the unaffected lung, or at 


all events from two symmetrical parts of the chest and back. 
Whatever the hand reaction was the body deflections 
would all be lower, because of the resistance interposed not 

to Ga.lvct nomcler 

8O m /mstou> 

* I v i \ 9^. 


Fig. 143. 

only by nerve-substance but by sebaceous glands and fat 
cells, and in no case would the light, under normal con- 
ditions, exhibit a rapid movement upon the scale. In the 
above illustration we have obtained deflections of 80 mm. 
slow upon the unaffected, and 250 mm. rapid upon the 
affected side, and have found the rate of travel increase as 
the electrode touched the skin on the centre of the spot of 
44 least resistance." That would, with a galvanometer of 
the sensibility I have described, postulate semi-acute 
inflammation and indicate a fairly high local temperature, 
but in a very acute case the light would be seen to fly off 
the scale. 

In double pneumonia there would be a short-circuit 
between the two lungs, or the affected parts of them, and 
the path of least resistance, common to both lungs, might 
be from the left lung or the right, to the skin. 

These remarks apply to galvanometric observation of 

all forms of local pyrexia. As regards the exact internal 

^position of the fault, the deflections should, theoretically, 


be the same from the back and front when the "fault" is 
equidistant, higher from the front when it is nearer to the 
front, and higher at the back when it is nearer to the back, 
but in practice the conditions of contact must be studied 
and allowance made for them. As a rule, the skin of the 
back is more oily or greasy than that of the chest. A little 
experience, however, will enable the physician to make 
correct diagnosis. 

In order to make clear much of that which in physiology 
remains obscure it is only necessary to reason in terms of 
highest potential of nerve-force in the brain and 
differences of potential in the body, or, to put it another 
way, in terms of hydrostatics ; the brain being the con- 
stantly maintained head of water, the nerves the motor 
and secretory paths the pipes through which it flows, and 
differences of potential being differences of level. 

The sensory nerves may be compared with pipes filled 
with water at an adjusted pressure, and the impulses 
conveyed by them to the brain to the undulations or 
vibrations transmitted through them by reason of any 
disturbance of that adjustment. 

Thinking along those lines, we may more intelligently 
conceive how and why it is that local pyrexia manifests 
itself, electro-pathologically, as an expression of greater 
quantity of nerve-current in the part affected. It is an 
expression of lower level, because the resistance of the path 
is lowered. Normally the resistance, if we consider it as 
level, would be represented by the line ab in the following 
diagram : 

Fig. 143x. 

The head of water the vertical line au remains unaltered 


throughout, but owing to local pyrexia at b the level is 
altered and the diagonal may become 


Fig. 143 B . 

giving the effect of increased pressure and consequent 
greater flow. 

Not only is this so, but as a local rise of temperature 
lowers the level of issue, it, at the same time, enlarges the 
diameter of the pipe, in the area affected, by increasing the 
conductivity of the moist conductor, the nerve-substance ; 
so that we have not only a lower level, but what may be 
likened to an artificial head of water created in the path a, b. 

Similarly alterations of resistance in the form of added 
resistance due to disease may be thought out. Between 
acute local pyrexia, such as lobar pneumonia with a body 
temperature of 106 F. involving, possibly, a local 
temperature of 116 F. and cancer, there would be the 
widest margin, because the cancer cells are devoid of 
conductivity. In the latter case our diagram might 


Fig. 143c. 

and there would not be any flow at all from a to b. 

There are many gradations between the two extremes, 
but after due allowance has been made for skin conditions, 



sebaceous glands, and so forth, it will be found that 
differences of resistance imply differences of level, and that 
those differences, as shown hy the galvanometer, may, 
with care, guide the way to correct diagnosis. 

Some physiologists have endeavoured to explain wide 
deflectional differences as being due to varying conditions 
of contact, that is to say, to the presence of more or less 
moisture in the skin. But in pyrexia, local or otherwise, 
moisture is conspicuous rather by its absence than its 
presence, and it will be found that a hot, dry skin will, 
when it is associated with inflammation, always give a 
higher deflection than is obtainable from any part of the 
body not so affected. 

In febrile diseases it is generally the first care of the 
physician to get the skin to act. 

Moreover, experience has shown that in a number of 
cases of nervous asthenia the hand-to-hand deflections, 
despite the fact that the palms were wet, were all low 
(40 or 50 mm.) and all negative, reverting only to the 
positive side of the scale upon convalescence. 


A converse condition is when there is a partial failure 
of inter-cellular conduction, due either to increased resist- 
ance of the nerve-substance or to some change in the ionic 
cell contents by which they are rendered less active. It 
very frequently happens that a painful disorder is diagnosed 
as neuritis or sciatica and that treatment gives no relief. 
True neuritis, as I understand it, is an inflammatory 
condition, caused by the insulation resistance of a sheath 
of nerve or nerves being interfered with by local pyrexia. 
In my experience the neuritis we hear so much about is 
sometimes not so. It is, perhaps, in five cases out of ten, 
due to some toxin. Pyorrhcea, the internal administration 
of nux vomica, post-diphtheritic poisoning, inoculation by 


certain sera, and chill are direct causes, and in every case 
the affected part will yield a subnormal deflection, 
indicating treatment by ionic medication. 


When there is any functional throat trouble, asthma, 
or irregular action of the heart, the vagus nerves should 
always be tested by placing a small electrode (J in. boss) 
directly below and a little forward of the angles of the jaw ; 
while " nervous breakdowns," excessive nervousness, 
insomnia, and some uncertainty of movement may have 
their origin in spinal faults which can be readily detected. 

I remember one case of supposed epilepsy (grand-mal) 
in the patient of a medical friend. The pulse was 40, 
the eyes lack-lustre, and fits (so-called) were of frequent 
occurrence. Galvanometric examination revealed a line 
of chronic inflammation extending from the base of the 
cerebellum to the right cervical . Under diel ectric treatment 
the pulse went from 40 to 70 in a fortnight, his 
health became normal, and he has since been able to pursue 
his avocations. His trouble was that when the inflamma- 
tion became acute as it did from time to time and the 
quantity of nerve-current escaping became excessive, he 

I mention this merely to emphasise the importance of 
the galvanometer in obscure morbid pathology. 

Reverting for a moment to the vagi, it must be borne 
in mind that they have both efferent and afferent branches, 
and that when they or one of them exhibit a high and 
intermittent both positive and negative deflection, it 
inferentially argues intermittent contact between those 
branches. The afferent branch is sensory but the efferent 
is not ; the escape, therefore, from the sensory branch 
might be constant and that from the efferent only active 
when the nerve conveyed an impulse. 



In connection with electro-diagnosis I have postulated, 
both verbally and in print, that any physical change in the 
body must be attended by a neuro- electrical change, which 
can only be galvanometrically detected ; and that the 
process of restoring the one to normality tends, automatic- 
ally, in the great majority of disorders, to restore the 
other to normality. 

Disease is a deviation from the state of health, implying 
some alteration in the functions, properties, or structure of 
some organ or tissue, and may be generally described as 
an abnormal performance of the processes constituting 
life. That being so, it would be illogical to imagine that 
one of the most delicate and most necessary of those 
processes, i.e., the maintenance and regulation of the 
neuro- electrical system, could proceed without deviation in 
any diseased area. 



To my mind a knowledge of the electro-pathology of 
this disease is of vital importance to humanity, as, so far, 
it is imperfectly understood and, therefore, imperfectly 
dealt with. Neurasthenia, of course, means nervous 
weakness, but viewed from an electro-pathological stand- 
point it has a characteristic which differentiates it from 
any other irregularity of the nervous system with which I 
am acquainted, and which I believe to be peculiar to a new 
disease. It certainly has one feature in common with 
nervous weakness, and that is a deficiency of nerve- 
energy ; but while asthenia exhibits a low hand-to-hand 
deflection, it is constant, whereas the neurasthenic deflec- 
tion is so variable as to sign of current that the light is 
never at rest. It may be anything from 5 to 90 mm. or 
so, but will be both positive and negative, moving slowly 
and erratically backwards and forwards, from one side of 


zero to the other, never becoming constant or giving any 
definite indication of the normal electrical sign of the 
patient. This irregularity, this fluctuation, combined with 
an insufficiency of nerve energy, is a peculiarity of neuras- 
thenia, distinguishing it from other nervous affections. 

The behaviour of the sufferer from this disorder is, as 
a rule, consistent with the galvanometric reading. There 
is a corresponding fluctuation of will. Victims to neuras- 
thenia are slow to admit to others that there is anything 
wrong with them, and if treated will not long submit to 
the same treatment, but go from doctor to doctor, or try 
a few doses of every quack medicine they see. They never 
seem to know their own minds for many minutes together, 
and in this respect their mental and neuro-electrical 
symptoms appear to be in accord. They may, reasonably, 
be termed neurotic, but this is perhaps a misnomer. The 
fault, theoretically, can be said to be partly due to intermit- 
tent contact between efferent and afferent centres and 
consequent disturbance of neuro-electrical equilibrium, in- 
volving defective distribution of nerve-energy. 


It follows, as a matter of course, that anyone engaged in 
electro-pathological research would bestow a maximum of 
attention upon this awful scourge of humanity, and I have 
been fortunate enough to have had many opportunities of 
studying it. My observations, however, are strictly con- 
fined to the neuro-electrical problem presented by the 
disorder, and even from this comparatively narrow point 
of view it exhibits so many complex features that I am quite 
at a loss for a well-grounded opinion of its origin, or of the 
predisposing cause or causes. I know what happens, but 
how or why it happens is hidden from me, though it will 
certainly be revealed to some other student. In this 
connection it is my earnest hope that such data as I am able 
to offer may prove to be of value. 


The principal neuro- electrical phenomena common to 
grand-mal are low body deflections, combined with sub- 
normal body temperature, excessively high head deflec- 
tions and temperature, and a point of least resistance at 
some part of the skull, from which, during an aura or during 
and directly after a fit, an abnormally high deflection is 

The direct cause of the fit is, in fact, a species of neuro- 
electrical brain-storm, and this storm is unquestionably 
due to the nerve-force supplied to the brain not being able 
to find its proper outlets or channels from the brain to the 
nervous system the afferent nerves, conductive from 
without but not receptive from within, possibly adding to 
the pressure with the inevitable consequence that the 
pressure in the brain becomes unbearable, and produces a 
fit. Were this pressure not relieved, death or insanity 
would probably ensue, but Nature provides for this con- 
tingency by creating in the skull a path of least resistance 
to the passage of the pent-up current to air. The exact 
spot must be tested for and located in each case, and it is 
from this spot a safety-valve that the highest head 
deflection is obtained. 

Too much importance can hardty be attached to the 
existence of this " safety-valve," because it not only points 
to a means of alleviation, but affords convincing proof of 
the soundness of the theory I have advanced. 

If the hair covering the " safety-valve " is shaved off 
and a small silver plate is fastened upon it (the valve) by 
means, say, of adhesive plaster, and an elastic belt carrying 
a circular metallic plate, provided with a terminal, is placed 
round the waist in such manner that the body-plate makes 
contact with the skin, preferably 2 in. above the navel, it 
is only necessary to connect the two plates by a wire a 
shunt-circuit to bring in a few minutes- the head and body 
deflections and temperatures to normal, 


There is at least one other proof. If the patient is 
watched and an aura detected, no fit will ensue if the head 
is at once wetted with warm salt water, to lower the 
resistance of the scalp and create an artificial path to air for 
the congested nerve-force. 

Whatever the cure may eventually prove to be, it must, 
as one of the curative measures, have the effect of pre- 
venting the brain from becoming neuro- electrically con- 
gested and the body neuro- electrically starved. It has 
only recently been suggested to me by Dr. E. W. Martin, 
and I have, had no opportunity of putting the hypothesis 
to the test, that a careful galvanometric examination of the 
spinal cord may disclose such high resistance in some 
anterior part of it as to suggest a temporary break of 
continuity. If that feature is exhibited in a number of 
cases it will be worth while to try to remedy the condition 
i.e., restore conductivity by local ionic medication. 
That is a matter for further research and experiment. In 
the meantime no one suspected of a tendency to epilepsy 
should be permitted the use of hair pomades or oils, or, 
above all, of peroxide of hydrogen. 

As a final word upon this subject I should like to 
express my opinion of the therapeutic value of the bromides 
of potassium and ammonium. They act by checking the 
generation of nerve-force in much the same way that 
they act in photography. They check development 
and especially mental development and between a 
choice of two evils I do not know which is to be preferred ; 
bromide saves trouble to others, at the expense of the 


Notwithstanding the fact that many hundreds of the 
most notable men of their day have devoted and are 
devoting their lives to the study of cancer, it is unfortu- 
nately true that the/on^ et origo of the disease still remain 


in obscurity. Cancer has yielded nothing to bacteriological 
research. Surgery cannot claim that the knife is an 
infallible cure, because the surgeon can never be sure that 
he has removed the entire growth ; electro-cautery has 
proved to be merely useful, and medicine has not been 
able to provide more than temporary relief from pain. 
From galvanometric research also nothing decisive has been 
learned, but I am encouraged to think that this is because 
the opportunities of observation and study have been too 
few in number, and that the little we have gained will at 
all events stimulate other workers to renewed investiga- 
tion upon the lines I have ventured to lay down. 

Of cases of suspected cancer I have tested many, but of 
cancer certified to by high medical authority not more than 
half a dozen. This, it may be thought, does not warrant 
me in coming to any definite conclusion as to the electro- 
pathology of this disease, but if I disagree it is because in 
all those six cases not only did I find the cancer cells to be 
non-conducting, but my observations have been borne out 
by others. 

From a cancerous growth, more especially if it is not 
deep-seated, no deflection whatever will be obtained, 
even if the skin be moistened, although the secondary 
deposits may exhibit lines of acute inflammation. The 
only means of alleviation or cure suggested by galvano- 
metric research do not, so far, go beyond restoring con- 
ductivity to the deionised cells by suitable ionic medication, 
but the galvanometer should provide valuable assistance 
to the operating surgeon by enabling an accurate diagram 
of the whole of the affected area to be drawn upon the skin. 
The disease, as we know, frequently recurs because com- 
plete excision has not been made. 




IN the first section of this work I have said that in 
countries free from magnetic and seismic disturbances and 
in ordinary conditions of weather the earth is the negative 
terminal of Nature's electrical system. That is a state- 
ment of fact, but modernity has, in some of the large towns 
of the world, introduced a new factor in a multiplicity of 
electrical railways and "tubes," and this factor must be 
considered in relation to the accepted theory that, as 
compared with all other electrical tensions, the earth is 
regarded as zero. 

In body-testing it is necessary that it should be, 
approximately, so. There must always be a transfer 
from a plus to a minus quantity w r hen there is direct 
conduction. If the transfer is made inductively then the 
problem becomes one of tension and spark-gap. 

In electro- diagnosis and body-testing generally the 
patient must be connected for some minutes with an 
" earth " of low resistance in order to remove any possi- 
bility of charge from a source of energy other than that of 
the body itself, and if this is to be accomplished it follows 
that the tension of the body must be plus and that of the 
earth minus, otherwise there would be a transfer of elec- 
tricity from the earth to the body instead of from the body 
to the earth. 

In certain localities, and in abnormal conditions of 
weather in other localities, the earth may become very 
highly charged, and unless this is taken into account results 
may be obtained in testing which will perplex the observer, 


In order to illustrate my meaning we may usefully 
ponder earth conditions during a thunderstorm, in relation 
to contour and nature and conductivity of soil. 

Let us disregard for the moment the terms positive and 
negative and substitute for them the words " plus " and 
" minus." 

The air, the upper stratum and, hypothetically, stretch- 
ing upwards to infinity, is always " plus " ; the earth, 
normally, " minus." 

Between the charged cloud and the comparatively 
uncharged earth there is an air-space the spark-gap and 
unless the tension of the cloud is sufficiently high to bridge 
it no discharge can take place. Suppose the surface of 
the earth to be flat 

Fig. 144. 

or, alternatively, the surface to be very dry or composed of 
some more or less dielectric material. The cloud would 
unless the tension were extraordinarily high travel over 

Fig. 145. 

such ground without discharging. When, however, by 
reason of contour, the distance between earth and cloud 
was lessened to one that the tension of the cloud could 


overcome, or, alternatively, tension being sufficient, a 
point was reached where the soil favoured conduction, a 
transfer of potential from the plus cloud to the minus earth 
would at once take place, in exactly the same manner that 
a spark is obtained from a Ley den jar or induction coil when 
the conducting knobs or points are approached near 
enough to each other. Scientifically this is termed a 
disruptive discharge. It occurs when the air becomes 
strongly strained by the potential difference, and, suddenly 
yielding, allows the discharge to pass, not freely as through 
a conductor, but by a violent disturbance of the molecules 
of air along the path, which become strongly heated, and 
make the visible spark. This takes a zigzag and forked 
path which in all probability is the line of least resistance, 
and is due to irregular distribution of conducting motes in 
the air, or to its hygrometrical condition. 

However this may be, we will imagine that at the point 
A (Fig. 1 46) the sub-soil is of such a nature that the charge 
which it has just received from the cloud cannot be readily 
dissipated, and that another cloud which has discharged 
itself in the immediate vicinity passes over it within a 
distance over which the spark-gap can be bridged. The 


result must be that discharge will take place from earth to 
cloud, because the cloud is the minus and the earth the 
plus quantity ; but it does not necessarily follow that such 
discharge must be from the exact area which first received 


it ; it is only required that the plus and minus quantities 
should be earth and cloud respectively. 

In the same way the human body is liable to be in- 
fluenced not only by being placed in an earth circuit but by 
induction ; its normal electromotive force of four or five 
millivolts can only be a plus quantity in favourable 

In reviewing the electrical phenomena consequent upon 
the operation of such a system as the District Rail way, we 
may read for electrified clouds the effect upon the air of 
alterations of load, while the iron-clad tubes with their far 
from perfect insulation must be responsible for artificial 
earth- currents of such potential as to seriously interfere, 
over a very considerable area, with electro-diagnosis. 

Similarly in tramway lines where direct current is 
employed the overhead system is likely to affect the air 
locally, and the conduit system to charge the earth, although 
the range of inductive interference is not nearly so great as 
in the case of railways and tubes. 

Quite apart from these artificial disturbances, the 
hypothesis that in an electrical sense the earth is zero 
should not be too readily accepted. Prior to important 
experiment an " earth " should be tested galvanometrically, 
and although in certain localities the test may be dispensed 
with in ordinary work, it is a precaution to be recom- 

As a matter of fact the earth is electrically " patchy," 
the potential and direction of current varying, greatly in 
different parts of the world. Darwin found the neighbour- 
hood of the Rio Plata to be peculiarly subject to electrical 
phenomena and was inclined to suspect that thunder- 
storms were very common near the mouths of great rivers.* 
On the East African coast the earth-current has remained 
at about forty volts for many weeks in succession. At that 
* Journal of Researches. 


time I was stationed at Delagoa Bay, where the English, 
Tembe", Umvelosi, and other rivers debouch. Thunder- 
storms during the rainy season were of very frequent 
occurrence. Durban, some 360 miles south, is situate at 
the mouth of the Umgeni river, and in the same season is 
visited by a thunderstorm almost every afternoon at about 
the same hour. We are aware that such storms occur most 
frequently within the tropics and diminish in frequency 
towards the poles, during day rather than night, after 
midday than before it, and in mountainous countries than 
in plains, but we have no definite knowledge of the causes 
which set up and set in motion the forces known to us as 
natural earth-currents. 

Flammarion attributes the aurora borealis, which 
sometimes illumines the darkness of night in the Arctic 
and other regions of the North, to the striking of a balance, 
silent and invisible, between two opposing tensions of 
the atmosphere and the earth ; thus the apparition of the 
aurora borealis in Sweden or Norway is accompanied by 
electric currents moving through the earth to a distance 
sufficiently great to cause the magnetic needle to record the 
occurrence in the Paris Observatory . 

Indeed, the electricity which pervades the earth is 
identical with that which moves in the heights of the 
enveloping atmosphere, and whether it is positive or 
negative its essential unity remains the same, these 
qualities serving only to indicate a point, more or less in 
common, between the different charges. The heights of 
the atmosphere are more powerfully electrified than the 
surface of the globe, and the degree of electricity increases 
in the atmosphere with the distance from the earth. 

Atmospheric electricity undergoes, like warmth, and 
like atmospheric pressure, a double fluctuation, yearly and 
daily, as well as accidental fluctuations more considerable 
than the daily ones. The maximum comes between six 


and seven in the morning in summer, and between ten and 
twelve in winter ; the minimum comes between five and six 
in the afternoon in summer, and about three in the after- 
noon in winter. There is a second maximum at sunset, 
followed by a diminution during the night until sunrise. 
(Flammarion, 1905.) 

Fulminic matter, remarks the same author, is strongly 
attracted towards damp regions, and is guided on its way 
to the earth by the hygrometrical conditions of the atmo- 
sphere. Violet lightning is thought to come from the 
upper stratum of the atmosphere, and a flash has been 
found to have a maximum length, as observed from the 
earth, of over eleven miles. 

That earth-currents have, at times, an origin which is 
in part thermal seems not unlikely. Earthquakes are of 
common occurrence in the tropics, and I remember two 
on the East Coast of Africa. One made a difference of 
750 fathoms in the soundings off Mozambique, and the 
other was experienced at Delagoa Bay much about the 
time that the earth-current rose to forty volts. It is a 
curious fact, though probably only a coincidence, that the 
submarine upheaval off Mozambique, the earthquake at 
Delagoa Bay, and the forty-volt earth-current before 
mentioned took the same course, i.e., north and south. 
Dutton records an instance of an earthquake at the 
Yaqui river which disturbed the needle of the magneto- 
graph at Los Angeles, a distance of more than six hundred 
miles, and it is possible that forces which in themselves 
are insufficient to cause even a slight convulsion of Nature 
may be responsible for the creation of high potential at one 
point, whence it is distributed to another point or points of 
lower potential ; the precise path being governed by electro, 
lytes in the earth, or, in other words, by the same law which 
directs the course of lightning through the atmosphere. 

In speaking of earthquakes we must, of course, 


differentiate between those which are caused by sub- 
sidences and those of volcanic origin. Volcanoes are not 
confined to any one part of the world, but are to be found, 
so far as latitude is concerned, pretty nearly everywhere; in 
the Arctic Ocean, in the volcanic island of Jan Mayen, 
between Iceland and Spitzbergen ; there are Mount 
Erebus and Mount Terror in the Antarctic, besides very 
numerous volcanoes in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian 
Oceans, and their shores in both the temperate and torrid 
zones. In all they are said to number, in a state of activity, 
some three hundred. " Of these about two hundred and 
fifty lie either on the borders of the Pacific, or on some of 
its many islands. Thirty-nine either lie within or on the 
borders of the Atlantic, of which thirteen are in Iceland, 
or near the Arctic Circle, three in the Canaries, seven in the 
Mediterranean Sea, six in the Lesser Antilles, and ten in 
the Atlantic Ocean Islands. There are, however, a much 
greater number of extinct volcanoes, which may at any 
time again become active." (Houston, 1908.) 

The difficulty we are faced with is conveyed in the last 
paragraph. Were it not for the uncertain number and 
condition of extinct volcanoes, or rather of volcanoes 
which have ceased for the time being to give any mani- 
festation of activity, we might consider earth- currents in 
their possible relation to areas liable to thermal dis- 
turbances with a view to determining whether any con- 
nection between them is suggested by their coincidence. 

One fact stands out prominently : thunderstorms 
diminish in frequency towards the poles, and if they are a 
factor in determining the occurrence and strength of earth- 
currents of unusual tension one would expect to find a 
minimum of disturbance towards the poles. I happen to 
know, however, that in the neighbourhood of Port Arthur 
a region admittedly volcanic the earth-current some- 
times attains a potential of 500 volts. 



In the early part of this Appendix I have spoken of a 
dry or more or less dielectric earth-surface, and we may 
usefully consider what its effect may be upon health. 

The electrical condition beneficial to plant life is soil 
conductivity. If the soil is not moist to the root-depth the 
plant is deprived of its supply of current, and must^ suffer 

Dry earth, if not a non-conductor of electricity of high 
tension, is at least a very bad conductor, as are certain 
clay and rock formations. With such an upper stratum 
there could be no normal circuit. In that area the earth- 
terminal would be insulated, and the air, I should imagine, 
abnormally charged by reason of the absence of a low 
resistance path to earth. It would be interesting to have 
some information upon the subject of the health of persons 
residing in these localities and the bearing of climatic 
conditions of the kind upon specified diseases. 

At the same time, data as to the influence upon man and 
plant of ferruginous soils should be useful if only for 
purposes of comparison ; I say ferruginous, because with 
iron as the electrolyte it is possible to have dry air and 
earth and, at the same time, good earth-conductivity, 
whereas in swampy districts there would, quite apart from 
miasma, etc., be a damp atmosphere and therefore a 
totally different environment. 

In the analysis of climate in its relation to disease many 
painstaking investigators have confined themselves to 
pondering characteristics of the atmosphere, and with 
those we have no present concern, except in so far as they 
may be affected by the electrical receptivity or otherwise 
of the earth. It is true that dust from dry soil may 
contain the germs of infectious diseases and aggravate 
affections of the respiratory organs, but, difficult as it is, 
I want to ascertain the effect of a non-conductive as 
opposed to a conductive dry soil upon certain specified 


diseases. In the tropics death-rates are high, but bad 
sanitary conditions and lack of medical attendance account 
to some extent for mortality among the natives, while an 
irrational mode of life explains many deaths among persons 
coming from cooler climates. Generally speaking, malarial 
and yellow fever are only endemic on coasts and in the 
neighbourhood of waterways, and only then when the air 
temperature is 75 F. or over and the earth sodden. In 
such case there would be an upper earth-stratum of un- 
usually low resistance, and the air-charge might be at its 
minimum, with consequent loss of part of its value as a 
vitalising agent. Stations more than a few hundred or 
thousand feet above the sea-level are free from yellow 
fever, probably because of their lower temperatures 
increased earth-resistance, and higher air-potential. 
Yellow fever has only very rarely occurred at an altitude 
of 4,000 ft. above sea-level, and the same remarks appear 
to apply to dysentery and diarrhceal disorders, as well as to 
many other diseases of which the predisposing cause is 
lowered vitality. 

Dengue fever is distinctly a disease of warm climates, 
and is always checked by cold weather ; it follows coast- 
lines, deltas, and large river-valleys. In beri-beri high 
temperature and dampness are controlling factors, as is the 
case in sleeping sickness and yaws. In the tropics " the 
drier districts are to be preferred to the moister, the higher 
altitudes to the lowlands." (Ward, 1908.) 

Temperate zones may be said to be intermediate 
between the equatorial and polar zones. Here we have 
variations of temperature and moisture which, so far as 
their influence upon health is concerned, are beyond our 
purview, inasmuch as there are many conflicting theories 
and no really conclusive evidence, apart from the broad 
fact that in tuberculosis and other and similar diseases 
the dry, pure air and abundant sunshine of many of the 


well-known mountain resorts are very favourable climatic 
helps. In this connection, however, one cannot tell how 
far purity of air, hygienic surroundings, and a suitable 
dietary may counteract upon an unfavourable earth 
condition. We can only be sure that a lowered vitality 
not only predisposes to disease but operates against its 

In the polar regions larger temperature ranges can be 
endured in the winter, when the air is dry. In severe cold 
the vitality of the body is lowered and the ability to bear 
hardships decreased. But here, again, the body is acted 
upon directly by cold. The resistance of the natural (semi- 
liquid) conductors is increased, the blood circulates more 
slowly, the surface blood-vessels contract, and only an 
added skin-resistance, by helping to conserve energy, 
prevents the heart and lungs from becoming dangerously 
affected. Eskimos are protected against the cold by their 
thick, fatty tissues, which give them high absolute- 

It is a complex subject. " Diseases usually charac- 
teristic of one zone are known to spread widely over other 
zones. Diseases which usually prefer the warmer months 
sometimes occur in the coldest. Rules, previously deter- 
mined as the result of careful investigation, often break 
down in the most perplexing way. Some of the difficulty 
in this lack of agreement results from untrustworthy 
statistics, often collected under varying conditions and 
really not comparable. Curves are smoothed to such an 
extent that they can be made to show anything. Con- 
clusions are drawn in individual cases which are neither of 
general application, nor do they even apply locally on any 
other occasion than the special one in question. Most of 
this disagreement comes from the fact that not only may 
the different weather elements themselves, temperature, 
moisture, wind, sunshine, and so on, each have some 


effect in the production of a disease which it is impossible 
to determine, but so many factors are concerned in the 
matter that confusion and contradiction in the conclusions 
reached are inevitable." (Ward, 1908.) 

All this is very interesting and true, but it does not 
answer my question as to the relative effect, if any, of 
non-conducting and conducting soils other things being 
equal upon certain specified diseases, and I am afraid that, 
so far, nothing of value upon this subject has been pub- 
lished, probably not even recorded. 

This much, however, is known to a few submarine 
cable electricians. A simultaneous observation taken at 
eighteen stations in 1912, and my own results during this 
year, gave the maximum earth-current as eight volts, and 
this can, in all probability, be accepted as the normal maxi- 
mum, for fairly short cables, in the absence of magnetic 
disturbances. Long cables, on the other hand, not infre- 
quently exhibit currents of comparatively high tension, 
and this may be explained by the greater area traversed 
by them. 




I have read recently of persons being poisoned by 
rhubarb leaves, boiled and eaten as a vegetable. My 
research work has taught me what to avoid in vegetarian 
diet, although I am not a vegetarian, and we my 
people and I have enjoyed rhubarb leaves for years. 
They are, however, always more or less aperient, and 
should be eaten in moderation. 

The subject of vegetable-poisoning in relation to 
dietary and habit is one of interest and importance, and I 
am glad to be able to throw some light upon it. 

All vegetable toxins, so far as my experiments have 


gone, yield a negative galvanometric reaction. The 
negative system of a plant is in the root, stem, stalks, and 
veins of the leaves. The older the leaves are and as a 
rule they are those nearest the soil the larger the veins. 
This argues lower internal resistance, and therefore more 
current, with, as I have found, greater toxic activity. In 
all probability only the areolse of the leaves approach 
chemical neutrality. 

As instances of this we may take the tobacco and tea 
plants. In the former the lower leaves are coarse- veined, 
and contain so much essential oil as to be fit only for the 
manufacture of insecticides, while everyone knows that, 
given any description of tea, the choicest of it will be the 
young tips and flowers, owing mainly to their comparative 
freedom from tannic acid. 

The stalk and veins of the leaves of many plants and 
vegetables are, no doubt, harmless, but even when Nature 
does not render them unpalatable instinct teaches us to 
rej ect them. If the stalks of the cabbage are not unpleasant 
of taste they are hard and somewhat fibrous ; so, too, the 
core of the apple, the white negative substance in the 
orange, and the root of the lettuce, are bitter, and so on, 
through a wide range of the vegetable tribes. 

I have no information upon the subject, but venture to 
express the opinion that vegetable poisons will be found 
only in those parts of a plant which yield a negative 
galvanometric deflection. 

In any case it should be of advantage to remove the 
larger veins by excision from all leaves used for food. The 
difference in flavour is very marked when this is done, and 
will more than repay the trouble taken. 

A simple experiment will demonstrate this very 
effectively. Take, say, J Ib. of any kind of tea. From 
2 oz. of this pick out and throw away all the loose stalks, 
of which there are generally many. Then prepare an 


infusion from each sample and compare. In the same 
way whole leaves of tobacco may be treated by cutting 
away as far as possible all the veins, and the residue smoked 
in a pipe. This will be pronounced infinitely superior to 
the crumpled untreated leaf. 



Physiology of Plants : SACHS. 

Text-book of Biology : DAVIS. 

Vegetable Physiology : CARPENTER. 

Physiology of Plants : DARWIN AND ACTON. 

Microscopic Fungi : COOKE. 

Structural and Physiological Botany : THOME. 

Plant Life and Structure : DENNERT. 

Evolution of Plant Life : MAS SEE. 

Agricultural Botany : POTTER. 

The Evolution of Plants : SCOTT. 

Plant Life on Land : BOWER. 

Handbook of Plant Form : CLARK. 

Text-book of Botany : VINES. 

Vegetable Physiology : GREEN. 

Text-book of Botany ; STRASBURGER AND OTHERS. 

Chemistry of Plant and Animal Life : SNYDER. 

The Vegetable World : FIGUIER. 

Botanical Text-book : GRAY. 

The Food of Plants : GRUNDY. 

Descriptive and Physiological Botany : HENSLOW. 

Botany : SIR J. D. HOOKER. 

Agricultural Botany : PERCIVAL. 

Handbook of Physiology : HALLIBURTON, 1915. 

Manual of Physiology : G. N. STEWART. 

Essentials of Human Physiology : NOEL PATON. 

Essentials of Histology : SCHAFER. 

Text-book of Human Physiology : LANDOIS AND STIRLING. 

Physiology : THORNTON. 

Animal Physiology : CLELAND. 

The Central Nervous System : BINGER-HALL. 

Physiology of Muscles and Nerves : ROSENTHAL. 

Animal Physiology : CARPENTER. 

Manual of Human Physiology : HILL. 

The Human Species : HOPF. 

The Evolution of Man : HAECKEL. 

Text-book of General Pathology : THOMA. 

Origin of Species : DARWIN. 

The Evolution of Forces : LE BON. 

Method and Results : HUXLEY. 

Text-book of Electro-Chemistry : ARRHENIUS. 



The Wonders of Life : HAECKEL. 

Effects of High Explosives upon the Central Nervous System : MOTT. 

The Evolution of Sex : GEDDES AND THOMSON. 


The Coming of Evolution : JUDD. 

The Evolution of Life : BASTIAN. 

Transformations of the Animal World : DEPRET. 

Consolation in Travel : SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 

The Signs of Life : WALLER. 

Evolution of Living Purposive Matter. 1910. MACNAMARA. 

Medical and Surgical Use of Electricity : BEARD AND ROCKWELL 


Submarine Cable Testing : BAINES. 

Th", Ether of Space : SIR OLIVER LODGE. 
Electricity and Magnetism : GORDON. 

Telegraphy : HERBERT. 

Various Forces in Nature : FARADAY. 

Electricity : CUMMING. 

Electricity : FERGUSON. 

Modern Electrical Theory : CAMPBELL. 

Organic Chemistry : REMSEN. 

The Science of Light : PHILLIPS. 

Journal of Researches : DARWIN. 

Meteorology : BUCHAN. 

The Story of the Heavens : SIR R. BALL. 

Thunder and Lightning : FLAMMARION. 

Earthquakes : DUTTON. 

Physical Description of the Earth : HUMBOLDT. 

Volcanoes and Earthquakes : HOUSTON. 

Climate, considered in Relation to Man : WARD. 




ABSOLUTE insulation in vegetable 
life, 10 et seq., 20, 133 

Achromatic fibres, 104 

spindle, 103, 111 

Acorn, the, 32 

Adams, 218 

Aerobic micro-organisms, 113 

Agriculture and high-tension elec- 
tricity, 42 

Air as normal " earth," 55, 146, 206 
, sign of, 7 

Albumins of plants, 158 
man, 158 

Aldini, 51 

Allium odorum, 118 

Amides, 132 

Amoeba, the, 107, 140 
and stimuli, 139 

Amoeboid movement, 114, 138, et 

Ampere, experiments of, 141, 189 

Anaerobic micro-organisms, 113 

Anderson, xxvi 

Animal electricity, 50 
magnetism, 116 
tissues, resistance of, 79 
and vegetable cells, 5 

Anterior cornu, 216 

Anthyllis Vulneraria, 45 

Apple, the, 10, 19, 36 

, absolute insulation of, 10 

Arborisations, 98, 168, 171, 172, 
207, 210, 215 

Areolae, 44 

Arrhenius, 73, 142, 250 

Artichoke, Jerusalem, 15, 16 

Artificial multipolar cell, 206 el seq. 
muscular fibre, 150 

Ascaris megatocephala, 110 

Asclepias, 127 

Asexual reproduction, 112 

Asthenia, 260 

Athcea rosea, pollen cells, 122 

Atmospheric electricity, 271, 275 

Attraction sphere, 103, 104, 108 

Auditory meatus, 228 et seq. 
nerve, 227 et seq. 

Aurora borealis, 271 

Automatic system, 182 

Autonomic ganglia, 202 

Axis cylinder, 165, 168, 192, 195, 

204, 207, 210 
Axon, 168, 190, 204, 212 


Baines, F. E., xxv 

, G. M., 94 
Bamboo, node of, 193 
Banana, the, 10, 20 
Bar magnets, 117 
Barcelona nut, 32 
Basilar membrane, 231 
Bayliss, 85 
Beard, 49 

Begonia, experiment with, 159 
Bell, 218 
Bennett, 3 
Berzelius, 217 
Bipolar cells, 201, 205, 216 
Blastoderm, formation of, 122 
Body temperature, 252 
Bone connection with muscle, 172 

et seq. 

Bone, temporal, 228 
Bose, 158 
Bromides, 263 
Brucke, 156 

CABBAGE, the, 278 

Cajal, 168 

Cancer, 244, 263 

Capacity in vegetable life, 17 et seq. 

of human body, 54, 57, 79, 
81, 82, 98, 99, 184, 213 
Capacity of liquids, 57 et seq. 

in telegraphy, 91 et seq. 

test, 101 et seq. 
Capillary vessels of lung, 126 
Carbon disulphide, 217 

rod, 231 

Cardiac muscle, 99, 182, 188 
Cardiograms, 68, 201 



Carrot, the, 13 
Cartilage cells, 122 
Catarrh of middle ear, 233 
Causes contributing to error, 54 
Cells, artificial, 206 et seq. 

, bipolar, 201 

, multipolar, 198 

, nerve, 203 et seq. 
, neuroglia, 203 
, pigment, 221 
of Purkinje, 168 
, storage, 200 
, unipolar, 201 
Cell protoplasm, 138 

reproduction, 103 et seq., 1 17 
Centriole, the, 103, 106 
Centrosome, the, 103, 106, 108, 109 
Centrospheres, 114 
Cerebellum, 168 
Changing sign of impulse, 151, 207, 


Chemical processes within cells, 3 
Chlorosis in plants, 43, 158 
Cholesterol, 100 
Choroid, 221 et seq. 
Chromatin, 114 

Chromoplasm filaments, 103, 108 
Chromosomes, 103, 110 
Chunder Bose, 158 
Circulation in foetus, 22, 84 
Clausius, 142 
Climate and disease, 274 
Cob nuts, 33 et seq. 
Cochlea, the, 229, 231 
Colour in seeds, 31 et seq. 
Comparative insulations, 55 
Condenser, construction of, 91 

, how shown, 171 
Condensers in parallel and series, 

93 et seq. 

Conditions of the earth, 267 et seq. 
Conducting layer of seeds, 23 et seq. 
Conduction affected by heat, 74, 

246, 252 
Conduction of stimuli in plants, 130, 

Conductivity, impaired, 258 

of air, 55 

Cones and rods, 221, 222 et seq. 
Connective tissue, 87, 168, 172, 187, 

Connection of muscles and bones, 

172 et seq. 

Constancy of vegetable cells, 37 
Constrictions of Ranvier, 195 
Contraction of muscle, 52, 147 et 

seq., 159 
Convection, 56 
Conveyance of colour, 220 

Copper taping of wires, 163, 164 
Corpus striatum, 216 
Cucumber, 11 

Cucurbita pepo, cells from, 125 
Curara and motor nerves, 158 
Current, sign of, 244 
Cytoplasm, 111 
Czapec, 142 

DARWIN, 5, 270 

Daughter nucleus, 104 et seq., 109 

Davis, 39, 112, 157 

Davy, 141 

Dead muscle, 155, 159 

Deafness, nervous, 230 

Deflections given by vegetables, 9, 59 

Deflection of light rays, 220 

Dendrons and synapses, 74, 76, 78, 

168, 208, 212, 213 
Dengue fever, 275 
Diaster, in mitosis, 104 
Diatomaceae, 112 
Dielectric, 146 

, effect of heat upon, 251 
treatment, 259 
Differences of level, 256 et seq. 
Differentiated nerves, 130 
Diffusion, 89, 109 

, effect of upon vegetableg, 

Dioncea, reaction of to contact, 128, 


Dioncea, digestive secretions of, 129 
Disease in general, 260 
Division of cells, 103 et seq., 117 
Dobie's line, 145, 151 
Drosera, digestive secretions of, 129 
Du Bois-Reymond, 51, 152, 156 


EAR, the, 217, 228 et seq. 

, faults in, 232 
Earth, conductivity of, 6, 7, 38, 43, 

Earth, electrical conditions of, 267, 

et seq. 
Earth connection, 242 

currents, 270 et seq. 

, sign of, 7 
Earthquakes, 272 
Edible chestnut, 27 et seq. 

parts of vegetables, 6 
Effect of electrical stimulation of 

plants, 39, 40 
Elastic tissue, 87 
Elastin, 207 
Electrical aspect of seeds, 22 et seq. 



Electrical disturbances in plants, 4 

et seq. 
Electrical conditions of the earth, 


Electrical equilibrium, 109 
laws, 146 
,, particles, 90 
stimulation of plants, 39, 
Electrical stimulation of muscles 

and nerves, 178 et seq. 
Electrical stimulus of nerves, 75, 

107, 178 
Electrical tensions between air and 

earth, 5 

Electrical units, 245 
Electricity, atmospheric, 271 
in agriculture, 42 

in relation to vegetable 
poisons, 277 

Electricity, molecular theory of, 1 69 
Electrodes, theories concerning, 8, 

52, 59 et seq., 68 
Electrodes and electrolysis, 20, 35, 

36, 242, 244 

Electrodes, reliability of, 60 et seq. 
, thumb pressure on, 69 
; , , the, 242-4 
Electro-cardiograms, 68, 201 
Electro-diagnosis, 234 et seq. 
Electro-magnetic waves, 226 
Electromotive force of vegetables, 

Electromotive mechanism in plants, 

Electrons, vibrations of, 226 
Electro-physiology of the motor 

apparatus, 144 et seq. 
Elodea, cells from, 134 
End-plates, 150, 165, 166, 179, 

180, 207, 210 
Endolymph, 229 
Endoneurium, 76, 162 
Endothelium of a serous mem- 
brane, 125 
Energy, source of body, 85 

, storage of, 87 

, conveyance of, 89 
Engelmann, 228 
Enzyme action, 113, 132 
Epineurium, 163 
Epilepsy, 259, 261 

, safety-valve in, 262 
Epiphysis, 173 

Epithelium cells, 118, 124, 222, 229 
Equatorial plane, 115 
Equilibrium, 67, 105, 109, 196, 200, 

252, 261 
Error, factors of, 53 

, causes contributing to, 54, 58 

Euphorbia, 127 
Eustachian tube, 229 
Evidences of the law, 118 et seq. 
Evolution, theory of, 5 
Excessive nervousness, 259 
Excised muscle, 58, 155, 159 
Excitability, 154, 156 et seq., 179 
Exoplasm, 106, 109 
Eye, the, 217 et seq. 
, artificial, 218 

FARADAY, 142, 146, 163 

B'ats in animals and plants, 132, 

247, 256 

Fatty acids, 133 
" Faults " in the ears, 232 

, various, 259 
Fenestra ovalis, 229, 231 

rotunda, 229 
Ferro-sulphate as an electrolyte, 38 
Ferruginous soils, 274 
Fertilisation of the ovum, 110, 119 
Fever, dengue, 275 

, malarial, 275 

, yellow, 275 
Fibres of Purkinje, 99 
Fibrils of nerve-fibre, 121 
Fibro-cartilage cells, 123 
Fibrous tissue, 87 
Fick, 155 
Finger-tips, 88 
Finlay, xxv, xxvii 
Flammarion, 271 
Foetus, circulation of, 22, 84 

,, , the developing, 88 
Fovea centralis, 221 
Frey, 126 
Fucus, 112 
Fuscin, 228 



Galvanometer connecting wires, 242 

, D'Arsonval, 18, 238 

, Kelvin, 7, 54, 234 et 

lamp, 241 

scale, 239 

short-circuit keys, 241 

string, 68 

, importance of, 259 

and psychological in- 
fluence, 68 
Galvanometric diagnosis, 244, 246, 


Ganglia, autonomic, 202 
Ganglion cells, 120, 196 et seq., 216 



Gas gangrene, 159 

Gaskell, 125 

Gasserion ganglion, 215 

Gastrocnemius of frog, 98 

Geddes, 117 

Generating station of the body, 82 

Generation of nerve-force, 84 el seq., 


Glandular organs in plants, 129 
Golgi, 166, 203 
Gordon, 224 
Grape-fruit, 12 
Green, 4, 128, 129, 135 
Growth, stimulation of, 7, 40 
Guard cells, 129 
Gutta-percha, relative resistance of, 


Gymnosperm, ovule of, 124 
Gynostemium of Stylidium, rigor 

in, 143 



Haemoglobin, 85 

Halliburton, 73, 78, 107, 138, 142, 

161, 167, 178, 198, 203, 211, 222, 

227, 231 
Hand-to-hand deflection, 65, 69, 

80, 183, 231, 242, 249 
Health in the tropics, 275 
Hearing, mechanism of, 230 
Heat, effect of upon dielectrics, 

Heat, effect of upon conductors, 


Heaviside, 7 

Hensen, plane of, 151, 152 
Hetero and homotypical mitosis, 


High frequency treatment, 42, 71 
High tension current in agriculture, 


Holmgren, 205 
Hopf, 101 

Horse-chestnut, 23 et seq. 
Hoy a Carnosa, section of, 121 
Humboldt, 50 

IMMATURE seeds, 23 

Impaired conductivity, 258 

Impulses, visual, 222 

Impulse, nature of nerve, 73 et seq., 

Impulse, rate of propagation of 

nerve, 78, 89, 98, 213 
Impulse, nerve, how transmitted, 


Incus, 229 

Induction, 146, 160, 270 

Inductive capacity, 57, 91 el seq., 

Inductive embarrassment, 160 

interference, 75, 162 et 

tion, 74, 77, 183 
Insomnia, 259 
Insulating processes of the body, 

Insulating system of seeds, 23 et 

Insulation of vegetables and fruits, 

10 et seq. 

Insulation of body structures, 86 
Insulations, comparative, 55 
Interstitial protoplasm, 213 
Intra-cellular action, 77, 113 
Involuntary muscle, 178, 184 et 

seq., 203 
lonisation, 141 
Ions, 77, 85, 140, 142, 250 
Iris pumila, 118 
Iron in body, 189, 203 

as an electrolyte, 42 

in plants, 43 

soil, 38, 44 

Irritable organs in plants, 131, 157 
Irritability, 105, 130, 132, 143, 157, 

Irritation of nerves, 75 

JACKET of vegetables, 6 

Jamieson, xxv 

Jerusalem artichoke, 15, 16 


KABSCH, 143 
Karsten, 5 

Karyokinesis, 114, 118, 119 
Kennelly, xxv 
Kephalin, 100 
Kinoplasm, 114 
Kinoplasmic spindle, 114 
Kolliker, 127 

Krause's membrane, 100, 145, 152, 



Lamina spiralis, 229 

Landois and Stirling, 79, 127, 145, 

154, 160, 230 
Latex cells, 127-134 
Laticiferous vessels, 126, 134 
Leaf of horse-chestnut, 16 

ivy, 16, 17 



Leaves, deciduous and evergreen, 


Le Bon, viii, 89, 142, 200 
Lecithin, 100 
Lemon, the, 12 

Txivel, differences of, 256 et seq. 
Life of vegetables, 36 
Light, electro-magnetic theory of, 


Light, rays of, 219 et seq. 
Light-rays, deflection of, 220 
Lightning, 268 et seq. 
Lignified fibres of a leaf, 44 
Lilium martagon, pollen grain of, 


Living nerve, resistance of, 79 
Lobar pneumonia, 254 
Local action in fruits, 36 

pyrexia, 232, 244, 251, 253 et 


Longridge, experiments of, 61 et seq. 
Lycopodium, cells from, 123 
Lymph space, 75, 76, 162 


MACALLUM, 189, 203 

Macdonald, 77 

M'Gregor Robertson, 55, 175 

Macula lutea, 221 

Magnetic lines of force, 117, 164 

Magnets, bar, 117 

Maimbray, 42 

Malapterurus, electrical organ of, 


Malarial fever, 275 
Malleus, 228 
Mangel-wurzel, the, 12 
Martin, vii, 63 et seq., 82 et seq., 263 
Massee, 113 
Mastoid, 232 
Matteucci, 51 
Maxwell, 73, 226, 252 
Mechanism of hearing, 230 
Medulla oblongata, 215 
Medullary sheath, 100, 121, 166 
Melanin, 228 
Membrane of Krause, 100, 145, 152, 


Membrane of Reissner, 231 
Membranes of seeds, 23 et seq. 
Metabolism, 127 
Mimosa pudica, motile organs of, 


Mitosis, 103 et seq. t 110, 115, 118 
Mitotic nucleus, 105 
Molecular movements in plants, 4 
,, theory of electricity, 169 
Motile organs of Mimosa pudica, 

etc., 135, 137, 143 

Motor mechanism in plants, 128 


Motor nuclei, 214 
Mott, 168, 190 
Movement of protoplasm in plants, 


Mucor, 112 
Mttller, 130 

Muitipolar cells, 198, 205 et seq., 216 
cell, artificial, 206 et seq. 
Munk, 76 

Muscle, cardiac, 182, 184, 185 
curve, 160 
,, spindles, 210 
telegraph, 152 
Muscles, connection with bones , 

172 et seq. 
Muscles, deltoid, 174 

, fan-shaped, 174 
, pennate, 174 
,, , semi-pennate, 174 
Muscular contraction, 147 et seq., 

Muscular fibre, artificial, 150 

fibre-cell, 123 
,, paralysis, 180 
,, tissue, 144, 147 et seq. 
Mustard seed, experiment with, 38 
Myxogaster, 113 


NATURAL dielectrics, 89, 100 

insulation resistance, 172, 

Negative and positive, 82 
Nerve-bundle, section of, 125 
Nerve cells, 203 et seq. 

centre, definition of, 202 

conduction, rate of, 74, 213 
deafness, 230 
degeneration, 179, 193 
energy, 55 et seq., 183 
energy of toads and tortoises, 
Nerve fibres of voluntary muscle, 


Nerve force, 5, 6, 55, 189, 252, 256 
,, ,, , generation of, 84 et 

seq., 183 
Nerve impulse, nature of, 6, 73 et 

seq., 201 
Nerve impulse, how transmitted, 


Nerve impulse, velocity of, 78, 227 
poisoning, 158, 258 
regeneration, 194 
,, , resistance of living, 79 
unit, 210, 211 
Nerves, differentiated, 130 



Nerves, irritation of, 75 
of plants, 157, 158 
, auditory, 227 et seq. 
, cranial, 215 
, hypogastric, 203 
, motor, 147, 156, 165 et 
seq., 180 
Nerves, non-medullated, 144, 251, 

Nerves, olfactory, 222 

, optic, 130, 220 et seq. 
, pelvic, 203 
, peripheric, 75, 76 
, sciatic, 75 
, sensory, 194, 200, 214, 216, 

Nerves, splanchnic, 203 
, trigeminal, 216 
,, , vagus, 182 
,, , vaso-motor, 86 
, vaso-inhibitory, 86 
Nervous breakdown, 259 

energy, 183 
Neurasthenia, 260 
Neurilemma, 161, 165, 204, 251 
Neuritis, 158, 258 
Neuro-electricity, 55 et seq., 67, 107 

204, 226, 254 
Neuroglia, 168, 171, 203 
Neuro-keratin, 100 
Neurons, 168, 171, 191, 198, 222 
Neuro-synapse, 171 
Nissl's granules, 168, 189, 207 
Nobili, 51 

Nodes of Ranvier, 192 et seq., 204 
Noel Paton, 147 
Noll, 5 

Non-polarisable electrodes, 57, 58 
Non-living, the, 120, 155 
Nuclear disc, 115 

membrane, 109, 112, 114 
poles, 105, 106 
Nucleo-protein, 138 
Nucleus and nucleolus, 107, 108 et 

seq., 114, 115, 189, 211 
Nutrition or conductivity ? 178 
Nuts and seeds, secretion of, 26 et 


Nux vomica, effect of upon con- 
duction, 140, 159 


OHM'S law, 179, 198, 231, 245 et 


Ohm's law and solutions, 250 
Oil-glands of the orange, 12 
Onion, the, 14, 18, 19, 36, 60 
Oospheres, 112, 119 
Optic axis, 224 

Optic nerve, fibres in, 220 

Ora serrata, 222 

Orange, the, 12, 21 

Osmosis, 10, 138 

Ovule of gymnosperm, 124 

Ovum, 111 

, fertilisation of, 119 
, segmentation of, 110 

Oxygen, intake of, 43, 183 

PALMS of the hands, 56, 65 

Pancreas, secretion of, 133 

Parallelogram of forces, 174, 177 

Paralysis, muscular, 180 

Parsnip, the, 13 

Particles, electrical, 90 

Passiflora, sense of touch of, 130 

Paton, Noel, 147 

Pear, the, 10, 36 

Peel of fruits, 6 

Pender, xxvi 

Perilymph, 229 

Perineurium, 75, 162 

Peripheric nerves, 75, 76 

Persistence of vision, 221 

Personal capacity, 57 

Peters, 132 

Phalaris, sense of light of, 130 

Phaseolus multiflorm, 120 122 

Phillips, 226 

Pigment cells, 221, 227, 228 

Piper, experiments of, 98 

Plain muscle, 99, 101, 144, 178, 184, 
et seq., 203 

Plane of Hensen, 151 

Plants grown in pots, 7, 9, 40 
in dry climates, 133 
, how electrified, 8 
resting, 37 

Platinum, secondary action of, 7 
Plexus of Auerbach^ 167 
Plexuses of involuntary muscle, 167 
Pneumonia, 254 
Poisoning, vegetable, 277 
Polar bodies, 110 

regions, 276 
Polarisation, 35, 36, 67, 68 
_Polarity, difference of in hands, 61 

et seq. 

Pons varolii, 171, 215 
Positive and negative, 82 
Potato, the, 15 

Potatoes, experiments with, 40 
Power of taste and smell in plants, 


Preece, xxv, 91 

Primary or secondary cells ? 86 
Pronuclei, male and female, 110 



Propagation of impulse, 76, 89 

of stimulus in plants, 

Protoplasm, interstitial, 213 

, death of, 139 

, movement of in plants, 
135, 138, 158 

Protoplasm, network in, 113, 114 
Protozoa, 112 
Purkinje's cells, 168 
fibres, 99 
Pyorrhrea, 258 
Pyrexia, local, 232, 244, 253 et seq. 


QUANTITY and tension, 198 
Quince, the, 10, 17, 36 



Ranvier, 122 

, band of, 195 

, nodes of, 192, 19G 

Rate of propagation of nerve im- 
pulse, 78, 89, 98, 213 

Rate of stimulation, 98 

Rays of light, 219 et seq. 

Reduction-division, 110 

Reflex action, 98, 212, 214 

Reissner, membrane of, 231 

Relative resistance of gutta-percha, 

Relays, system of in the body, 74 

Repair outfit, 16, 31 

Reseda odorata, protoplasm of, 124 

Resin in plants, 134 

Resistance of animal tissues, 79 
nerves compared, 79 
skin, 69 

Response of muscles and nerves to 
stimulation, 178 et seq. 

Resting nucleus, 104 

Retardation, 74, 76, 78, 91 

Retina, 221 et seq. 

Rhubarb, capacity of, 19 
, leaves of, 277 

Rhythmic movement in plants, 135 

Rice, grain of, 113 
plant, 39 

Rigor in plants, 143 

Rind of fruits, 6 

Robertson, M'Gregor, 55, 175 
, A. White, vii 

Rockwell, 49 

Rods and cones, 221 

Rosenthal, 75 et seq., 116, 166, 175 

Ross, Earl of, 218 


Sachs, 4, 43, 118, 121, 126, 130, 137, 

143, 158 

Salivary gland, section through, 123 
Salts in blood plasma, 142 

vegetables, 127 
Saprophyte, 113 
Sarcolemma, 145, 150, 153, 161, 

165, 167, 251 
Sarcomeres, 52, 97, 147 et seq., 155, 

161, 166, 180 

Sarcous substance, 145, 188 
Savoy cabbage, 43 
Scala tympani, 229 

vestibule, 229 
Schafer, 103, 105, 108, 110, 115, 

118, 120, 122, 124, 138, 153, 168, 

185, 189, 204, 214, 224 
Schenck, 5 
Schizomycetes, 112 
Schultze, 207, 210, 221, 224 
Schwann, white substance of, 193 
Sciatica, 158, 258 
Sciatic nerve, 75, 98, 122, 162 

,, plexus, 75 
Sclerenchymatous fibre, 123 
Scorzonera hispanica, laticiferous 

vessels of, 126, 127 
Screened cable, 163 
Sebaceous glands, 56, 65, 255, 258 
,, secretion, purpose of, 133 
Secondary action of platinum, 7 
Secretion of nut seeds, 26 et seq. 
Seed substance, electrification of, 24 
Seeds in their electrical aspect, 22 

et seq. 

Segmentation of the ovum, 110 
Selenium, 219, 223 

cell, 217 
eye, 218 

Sense-organs in plants, 128, 130 
Sensory nerves, 194, 200, 203, 212, 

214, 216, 231, 256 
Sensory nerves of plants, 130, 157 
nucleus, 215 
nuclei, 216 
Sexual reproduction, 112 
Sharpey, 147 
Sherrington, 85 
Siemens, 218 
Sight in plants, 128 
Sivewright, 91 
Skin currents, 88 

resistance, 69 
Sleeping sickness, 275 
Smirnow, 124 
Smith, Willoughby, 218 
Soil, application of electricity to, 3 




Somatic cells, 118 

Some evidences of the law, 118 et 


Source of energy, 85 
Specific energy of tendrils, 131 

inductive capacity, 81, 89, 


Spermatozoids, 112, 119 
Spermatozoon, 110 
Sperm cell, 110 

and germ nuclei, 110 
Spinal cord, section of, 120 

ganglion cells, 200 
Spindle-fibres, 105, 107 
Spirem, 103 
Spirogyra, 112 
Stapes, 228 
Starch cells, 113 
Starch-sugars of plants, 158 
Static charge in body, 53 
Stewart, 192 
Stimuli, various forms of, 139 et 

Stimuli and the amoeba, 139 

not various forms of 

energy, 154 
Stimulation of plants, 39, 40, 129, 


Stimulation, rate of, 98 
Stomata, 129 
Stone, xxviii 
Storage cells, 54, 200, 202 

of energy, 87 
Strasburger, 118, 124 
Striated muscular fibre, 97, 99, 100, 

144, 147 et seq., 165, 166, 184 
String galvanometer, 68 
Structure of the body electrical, 71, 


Submarine cable, core of, 163 
Sugar-glycogen of man, 158 
Suggestion, 68 
Sulphur, 100 

Sweat-glands and deflections, 65 
Swede, the, 12 
Sylvian ossicle, 229 
Sympathetic ganglia, 171, 204 

system, 87, 196 et seq., 


Synapses, 74, 76, 78 
Synapses and dendrons, 168 et seq., 

212, 213 

System of relays in the body, 74 
Szczepanik, 219, 226 
Szymonowicz, 166 


Tea and tobacco plants, 278 

Telectroscope, 219 
Temperature of the body, 252 
Temporal bone, 228 
Tendrils, specific energy of, 131 
Tension and quantity, 198 
Tensor tympani, 229 
Termination of nerves in muscle, 

Testing, note for guidance in, 44 

the body, 89 
Thomson, 117 
Thornton, 202, 222, 230 
Thumb-pressure on electrodes, 69 
Thumbs and fingers, signs of, 63 et 


Thunderstorms, 267 et seq. 
Toad, nerve energy of, 156 
Tobacco and tea, '278 
Tomato, the, 11 

plants, experiment with, 40 
Tortoise, nerve energy of, 156 
Tradescantia, section of, 125 

, staminal hairs of, 185 

Transpiration in plants, 133 
Trench foot, 63 
Trichomes, 112 
Tropics, health in the, 275 
Trowbridge, 52 
Tubers, 14 

Turgidity in plant organs, 135 
Turner, 203 
Turnip, the, 12, 13, 20 
Tympanum, 228 


ULTRA-VIOLET rays and plants, 130 
Unipolar cells, 121, 194, 201, 203, 

205, 210, 214, 216 
Units, electrical, 245 
Urates in the ear, 232 
Usnea barbata, section of, 121 
Utricle, 229 

VAGUS nerves, 182, 259 
Van't Hoff, 73 
Various " faults," 259 

forms of stimuli, 139 et seq. 
Vascular connective tissues, 87 

system, 126 
Vaso-motor and vaso-inhibitory 

nerve-fibres, 86 

Vaucheria Sessilis, spore of, 120 
Vegetable cells, constancy of, 87 

poisoning, 277 

protoplasm, 129 

Velocity of ions, 250 

nerve conduction and 
heat, 252 



Velocity of nerve impulse, 78, 89, 

98, 213 

Venation of leaf, 44 
Vestibule, the, 229 
Vines, 4, 114, 132 
Viola tricolor, glandular colleter 

from, 123 

Vision, persistence of, 221 
Visual impulses, 222 et scq. 

purple, 223, 228 
Volcanoes, 273 
Volta, 50 
Voltaic pile, 51 
Voluntary muscle, 97, 99, 100, 144 

147 et seq., 165, 166, 184, 216 
Voluntary muscle, nerve fibres of, 

Voluntary system, 86, 97, 216 



Ward, 275 

Water in its relation to plant life, 38 

Wax in plants, 13 

Wheat, grain of, 113 

Womb, section of pregnant, 124 

Wundt, 155 

YELLOW fever, 275 


Zea mays. 121 
Zygospore, 112 

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University of Toronto 

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Under Pat. "Ref. Index File"