Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/169

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157
CORRELATION OF VITAL AND PHYSICAL FORCES.

or liquid to the gaseous condition — from the visible to the invisible — and that amid all these changes the same quantity of matter remains. Creation or destruction of matter, increase or diminution of matter, lies beyond the domain of Science; her domain is confined entirely to the changes of matter. Now, it is the doctrine of modern science that the same is true of force. Force seems often to be annihilated. Two cannon-balls of equal size and velocity meet each other and fall motionless. The immense energy of these moving bodies seems to pass out of existence. But not so; it is changed into heat, and the exact amount of heat may be calculated; moreover, an equal amount of heat may be changed back again into an equal amount of momentum. Here, therefore, force is not lost, but is changed from a visible to an invisible form. Motion is changed from bodily motion into molecular motion. Thus heat, light, electricity, magnetism, chemical affinity, and mechanical force, are transmutable into each other, back and forth; but, amid all these changes, the amount of force remains unchanged. Force is incapable of destruction, except by the same power which created it. The domain of Science lies within the limits of these changes — creation and annihilation lie outside of her domain.

The mutual convertibility of forces into each other is called correlation of forces; the persistence of the same amount, amid all these protean forms, is called conservation of force.

The correlation of physical forces with each other and with chemical force is now universally acknowledged and somewhat clearly conceived. The correlation of vital force with these is not universally acknowledged, and, where acknowledged, is only imperfectly conceived. In 1859 I published a paper[1] in which I attempted to put the idea of correlation of vital force with chemical and physical forces in a more definite and scientific form. The views expressed in that paper have been generally adopted by physiologists. Since the publication of the paper referred to, the subject has lain in my mind, and grown at least somewhat. I propose, therefore, now to reëmbody my views in a more popular form, with such additions as have occurred to me since.

There are four planes of material existence, which may be represented as raised one above another. These are: 1. The plane of elementary existence; 2. The plane of chemical compounds, or mineral kingdom; 3. The plane of vegetable existence; and, 4. The plane of animal existence. Their relations to each other are truly expressed by writing them one above the other, thus:

4. Animal Kingdom.
3. Vegetable Kingdom.
2. Mineral Kingdom.
1. Elements.

  1. American Journal of Science, November, 1859. Philadelphia Magazine, vol. xix., p. 133.