Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/50

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42
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ture, a chemical differentiation affecting composition also occurs, as the result of which a physiological differentiation takes place. The tissues and organs become fitted to transform the energy derived from the food into muscular energy, nerve energy and other forms of vital activity. Corresponding differentiations also modify the cells of the outer and inner layers. Hence the study of the development of the generalized cell layers in the young embryo enables us to realize how all the complex constituent parts of the body in the higher animals and in man are evolved by the process of differentiation from a simple nucleated cell— the fertilized ovum. A knowledge of the cell and of its life-history is, therefore, the foundation stone on which biological science in all its departments is based.

If we are to understand by an organ in the biological sense a complex body capable of carrying on a natural process, a nucleated cell is an organ in its simplest form. In a unicellular animal or plant, such an organ exists in its most primitive stage. The higher plants and animals again are built up of multitudes of these organs, each of which, whilst having its independent life, is associated with the others, so that the whole may act in unison for a common purpose. As in one of your great factories each spindle is engaged in twisting and winding its own thread, it is at the same time intimately associated with the hundreds of other spindles in its immediate proximity, in the manufacture of the yarn, from which the web of cloth is ultimately to be woven.

It has taken more than fifty years of hard and continuous work to bring our knowledge of the structure and development of the tissues and organs of plants and animals up to the level of the present day. Amidst the host of names of investigators, both at home and abroad, who have contributed to its progress, it may seem invidious to particularize individuals. There are, however, a few that I cannot forbear to mention, whose claim to be named on such an occasion as this will be generally conceded.

Botanists will, I think, acknowledge Wilhelm Hof meister as a master in morphology and embryology; Julius von Sachs as the most important investigator in vegetable physiology during the last quarter of a century, and Strasburger as a leader in the study of the phenomena of nuclear division.

The researches of the veteran professor of anatomy in Wiirzburg, Albert von Kolliker, have covered the entire field of animal histology. His first paper, published fifty-nine years ago, was followed by a succession of memoirs and books on human and comparative histology and embryology, and culminated in his great treatise on the structure of the brain, published in 1896. Notwithstanding the weight of more than eighty years, he continues to prosecute histological research, and has