Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/376
Ndgelis theory of molecular structure.
of them which bore on the molecular structure of cell-walls and starch-grains (' Botanische Mittheilungen,' 1862). The phenomena of polarisation led him once more and by a different path to the view that the organised parts of the vegetable cell consist of isolated molecules surrounded by a fluid, and his renewed investigations of these phenomena resulted in more definite conceptions of the nature of these molecules, which from the optical behaviour of the objects examined he concluded were not only polyhedral but crystal- line ; in effect, the molecules of the substance of the organised parts of plants behave, according to Nageli, as crystals with two optic axes, which therefore possess three different axes of elasticity ; in starch-grains and cell-membranes these crystalline molecules are so arranged that one of these axes is always perpendicular to the stratification, while the two others lie in its plane. The effect of the organised parts of the cells on polarised light is the sum of the effects of the single molecules, whereas the fluid that lies between them is optically inactive, and only comes into consideration because according to its quantity the molecules separate more or less far from or approach one another.