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The author is somewhat vacillating in his description of his "radiobes," but he does not regard them as living things in the ordinary sense. They obviously lie altogether outside the beaten track of living things (p. 109), but they may bridge over the apparently insuperable gap between the organic 110).

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J. B. BURKE describes, under the name of "radiobes," minute

MR. diobes, minute bodies which appeared in and inorganic world (p. 15

sterilised bouillon when small quantities of radium chloride or bromide were brought into contact therewith.

"A minute quantity of the salt contained in a small glass tube, one end of which was drawn out to a fine point, was introduced into an ordinary test-tube containing bouillon. The test-tube was plugged with cotton-wool in the usual way with such experiments, and then sterilised at a temperature of 130° C. for about thirty minutes at a time. On cooling, as soon as the liquid had coagulated, the fine end of the inner tube containing the radium was broken by means of a wire hook in a side tube. The salt was thus allowed to drop on the surface of the gelatin. After twentyfour hours signs of growth were already visible."

The radiobes had appeared! They were at first like diplococci, and varied considerably in size from mere specks as seen with a 2-inch lens. There is a lack of precise measurements.

"The growth is from the minutest visible specks, which develop into two dots, then into a dumb-bell shaped appearance, later a biscuit-shape, and later still more like frog's spawn, through various stages, as in the figures, until a shape is reached different from its previous forms, when it divides and loses its individuality, and ultimately becomes resolved into minute crystals."

Some of them show a nucleated structure, which may exhibit subdivision "as in karyokinesis "; they are stainable; they are credited with "assimilation "; there is a "stoppage of growth at a certain stage of development "; there is a peculiar segmentation, like that in yeast-cells, said to be quite different from any

"Forms we have obtained are analogous to living types and may be called artificial forms of life, but they are not the same as life as we know it to-day: they may help, however, to fill in some of the gaps between living and dead matter " (p. 187).

"These bodies are neither crystalline nor colloid in disguise, though colloids, as aggregates, but something more: and crystals in their constituent parts. The point which distinguishes them from both of these is perhaps the fundamental principle which marks them out at once as possessing the elements of vitality in a primitive and most undeveloped state" (p. 112).

The author started with proteid material, which we know to be an essential constituent of organisms, which has not as yet been artificially synthesised, and he brought into contact with this a stimulus provocative of molecular change, namely, a radium salt; he thus obtained radiobes, and the interesting point is whether these do in any way approximate in their behaviour to simple organisms. As we have not studied radiobes we can only judge from the evidence the author adduces, and it seems to us entirely inconclusive. We find no convincing evidence of assimilation, cyclic development, or reproduction in the ordinary sense of these terms; and we do not think the author succeeds in showing that radiobes are essentially different from the minute aggregates or mimic cells produced by many other experimenters. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that little bodies which are soluble in water will throw light on the nature or origin of living organisms. The evidence of anything approaching the behaviour of an organism

seems to us so flimsy that we cannot but wonder at such a paragraph as this:

"The structure and composition of such artificial cells is sufficient to enable them to perform the functions of organic life, as distinct from such simpler forms of vitality which we at first supposed inorganic matter to possess. Thus they can assimilate, grow, pass into higher types, subdivide, multiply, and finally, having gone through the whole cyclic process, disintegrate and lose their structure in the course of time, being sensitive all the while to external stimulation, both electrical and chemical, in various degrees" (p. 133).

The explanation of the author's apparent oscillation between scientific caution and imaginative hope is to be found in the fact that he has re-defined the ordinary biological terms. Life, for instance, is

"the specialised mode of motion of a complex system of molecules in a dynamically unstable state, so that there is a continuous or continual change, or flux of its substance, between the individual aggregates of molecules and their surroundings" (p. 49).

"An organism has a structure, a nucleus, and an external boundary or cell-wall, and its vitality may be described as being a continuous process of adjustment between its internal and its external relations" (p. 102).

There is metabolism in the phenomena of flames, fluorescence, and phosphorescence-" a physical process which is not merely analogous to, but essentially

of the same kind as, even if incomparably simpler than, organic metabolism" (p. 179). It is this reediting of the biological dictionary that enables the author to write regarding his radiobes:

"We can say perhaps that we are witnesses at last to the first beginnings of life in its higher sense; but though apparently a case of abiogenesis, to our mind it seems to be a case of biogenesis, from the view of matter which we take, of biogenesis indeed carried to its logical extreme.

We sympathise with the author's vigorous protest against the libel implied in the phrase "dead matter," but we do not think the apartness of vital sequences is diminished by giving a more elastic definition to "life" and "metabolism." As to the bearing of

certain amount of energy stored up which would entitle it to be regarded as possessing a certain amount of potential life" (p. 186).

He postulates original units of life, bio-elements. biogens, or ultimate nuclei, possibly consisting of cyanogen (as suggested by Pflüger's well-known hypothesis), more probably of something with a larger store of energy-" an element possessing many of the chemical properties of carbon and the radio-active properties of the more unstable elements."

'Life-activity is a phenomenon of matter as much as radio-activity, although really of a more complex kind, and the manner in which the energy is stored up in the ultimate nucleus is probably pretty much the chemical elements themselves, throughout the universe same. Such nuclei may have existed, like the

for an almost indefinite time. To account for their formation would be the same as to account for the formation of the elements" (p. 166).

They may have existed in the nebula which formed the earth or they may have been borne to the earth by meteors, as has been previously suggested.

"The formation of cellular life as we see it to-day was the result of the subsequent interaction of this radio- or bio-element with organic compounds," and of course there was an elimination of failures when nature was trying her prentice hand at organismmaking. One of these failures Mr. Burke may have been on the track of when he made his radiobes. In ordinary cell-life the bio-element persists as the vital spark, the nucleus within the nucleus, the nth or ultimate nucleus, the real source of vital energy. It is also the hereditary substance, and it "may be all of us that survives when we have shuffled off this mortal coil."

The author tells us much more about biogens than about radiobes, soaring in a region where verification He supports and contradiction are alike impossible. his theory by arguments from analogy, mainly drawn from his studies on the "physical metabolism" seen in the phenomena of fluorescence and phosphorescence, and he shows that the theory is the natural outcome of his discovery of radiobes, to which the bouillon supplies the soil or constituents, but the radium the seed or vital spark. It is difficult for a

radiobes on the problem of the origin of living biologist to follow the details of this physicist's theory

creatures upon the earth, we do not think that it amounts to much, not only because Mr. Burke started with proteid material (the natural synthesis of which it is at least difficult to imagine), but also because it seems to us too short and easy a disposal of problems simply to suppose that the coordination and regulation of organic metabolism, the power of effective response, and other insignia of living creatures are secondary acquisitions gradually wrought out in the course of selection. Our business is to try to make the hypothesis of primitive abiogenesis more plausible, and we can only do this by condescending to discuss the detailed difficulties in a concrete fashion.

Mr. Burke's method is different; he elaborates a new theory of vitality which seems to us quite in the air.

For anything we know there is no such thing as really dead matter, and there may be in all matter a

of vitality, e.g. when we read of two kinds of biogens --the "characterless nebulous biogen" which corresponds to an ovum, and the concentrated biogen which corresponds to a spermatozoon. But Mr. Burke's general view may be indicated by quoting a few more


"Life is as much a phenomenon of matter as More clearly, life and matter are merely electricity is. different phenomena of electricity, matter being merely the fossilised state of biogen, and life of the phenomena which take place in biogen in that stage through which electronic aggregations have to pass before they are converted into the crystalline forms of electrons which we call the chemical atoms of matter" (p. 192).

If this is what the author calls "more clearly," his standard of lucidity must be very divergent from that of the mean of the biological race. Biogen is

"nothing more or less than matter in the process of stronger on the theoretical than on the practical side. becoming."

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We cannot follow the author further with his new Naturphilosophie," but it is interesting to point out that, although he says life-activity is a phenomenon of matter, he is far from being a materialist. For matter, he tells us, is really mind-stuff, and "atoms are nothing more than ideas." We have always suspected that this would turn out to be the case.

As an interesting book on a perennially interesting theme "The Origin of Life" will probably soon pass into a second edition, and we therefore note a few

errata. "Wiesmann" (p. 56), "Debois " (p. 175); known process, apart from its merits or demerits,

"Luduc" (p. 208), "nucleosus" (p. 136), " mytosis

137), are obvious misprints. We suppose that the "chlorophyll" referred to thrice on p. 135 is a misprint for chromatin, but the author seems confused in his picture of a typical cell. Mitosis is not "the multiplication of the chromosome"; the centrosome is not the inner portions of the nucleus, nucleolus "; and we cannot speak of "the karyokinesis of the centrosome." There are several such errors indicative of haste, and there is a disconcerting lack of correspondence between some of the figures and the references to them in the text.


The author is so enthusiastic over his radiobes and 4th nuclei that we almost wish we could believe more in the importance of either of them. The former stem to us very far from possessing n-1 of the n properties of the simplest living creature we know; the latter seem to us ingenious fictions too remote from everyday physiology to have even suggestive value. But these are merely our opinions, and it may b that Mr. Burke will, by more precise observations nd more restrained theorising, justify the views of those who have hailed him as a pioneer and a prophet. J. A. T.


La Ceramique industrielle. Chimie-Technologie. By A. Granger. Pp. x+644. (Paris: GauthierVillars, 1905.) Price 7 francs.


HIS is an excellent example of the technological handbooks which the young Frenchman and German find ready to their hands when they proed from school or college to take up industrial work, and which, in so many businesses, the young EnglishPan just as conspicuously lacks. At the present moment there is no English book on pottery manufacture, other than indifferent translations of a French and a German book, to which a student of the principles of pottery manufacture can turn, and these deal most accurately with processes unknown or unused in England.

The volume in question is, as is perhaps inevitable,

The first nine chapters, comprising about half the book, give a clear and logical account of the physical and chemical properties of the materials used in the preparation of pottery paste and glazes of all descriptions, together with laboratory methods of chemical analysis and such methods as have been devised for testing the degree of fineness, plasticity, and tensile strength of the various natural clays and clay mixtures, as well as a theoretical discussion of the behaviour of complex mixtures of silicates (clays and glazes) when fired at varying temperatures up to their fusion point. All this is put forward with that clearness of expression and logical precision of arrangement that seem to come so naturally to the French teacher.

The feeling cannot be resisted that the author, with the very best intentions, has covered too much ground. It would seem as if he had attempted to describe every

with the result that the student is overwhelmed with methods, and at the same time left without a clue as to the suitability of particular methods in special circumstances. In the section on silicate analysis, for example, the ordinary methods of treatment are given for silicates soluble in strong acids, and the methods of attack with carbonate of soda, lime, baryta, oxide of lead, boracic acid, and hydrofluoric acid for the insoluble silicates, yet not one of the processes is described in such detail as would enable the student to conduct an analysis, and the refinements and corrections introduced into the ordinary methods of silicate analysis by Hillebrand, without which it is impossible to guarantee one's results, are never mentioned. In the same way, in the sections dealing with the various methods used by potters for determining the temperature of their kilns, a long account is given of Wedgwood's pyrometer, Seger cones, and all the later forms of electrical pyrometers, including the Féry radiation pyrometer, but there is no adequate discussion of the relative value of these different methods in the actual working of a pottery, the observations on the employment of pyrometers (pp. 257-261) being simply a one-sided account of the merits and demerits of Seger cones.

The second half of the book contains a reasonably detailed account of the processes of manufacture, firing, glazing, and decoration of bricks, tiles, terracotta, refractory pottery, stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain. Again the method is excellent, but, of course, too much has been attempted, and it seems obvious that the student would have been better trained or assisted by a more complete treatment of one or two sections only. From the English point of view, the greatest failure of the book is the ignorance shown of actual English methods in those branches of pottery manufacture where this country is supreme. Thus the account given of the manufacture of English earthenware is not merely incomplete, but is full of misapprehensions-even of mistakes. The mixtures said to be used for English bodies and glazes are such as no first-rate potter would dream of using; the description

of our ovens and kilns is singularly incomplete, and the statement is made that, owing to the nature of the English earthenware bodies, the firing of onglaze decorations in the continuous kiln has been a failure, when, as a matter of fact, many of these kilns are in successful operation. The treatment accorded to our English bone-china is just as incomplete.

of its completeness may be gathered from a summary of these divisions. The book comprises two main branches, viz. "Agrologie" and "The Preparation of the Soil," the former being defined as the study of land in relation to agriculture and of the relationship which subsists between the nature of a soil and its produce. The first branch treats of the soil, the subsoil, their physical and chemical properties; water in The accounts of French and German processes are relation to fertility, its distribution, rainfall, permenaturally much better, not only because the author ability, impermeability, water levels, wells, wateris better acquainted with them, but no doubt because courses, &c.; the analysis of soils by processes so much more has already been published about them. physical, mechanical, geological, chemical, &c.; the The author had the excellent idea of adding to his relations of the soil with the plant, comprising the volume a vocabulary of technical terms in German, subjects of nitrification, denitrification, humus, ferEnglish, and French, and tables showing the relative tility, and the nature of the soil suited to different importance of the industry in various countries. Un- plants. The second branch of the book, fortunately, the idea has been very imperfectly paration of the Soil," treats of cultivation, the clearing executed. In the vocabulary many of the English of land, peaty and brackish soils, and the improveterms are such as no potter would use, while some ment of soils by warping, tree planting, levelling, few of them are nonsense; and the figures given as removal of rocks, stones; tillage operations, including to the extent of the industry in various countries are digging, drainage, and the various systems of so incomplete and incomparable as to be positively ploughing; semi-tillage, so called, consisting of misleading. On the whole, however, the book must scarifying, cultivating (in its technical sense), extirpabe described as excellent for its purpose; and the tion of weeds, &c.; harrowing, rolling; and, lastly, English potter might well wish that he had such a of manures and artificial fertilisers. book to put into the hands of the young men who are likely to occupy responsible positions on his works. WILLIAM BURTON.



Agriculture Générale. Le Sol et les Labours.
Paul Diffloth. Pp. xii+490. (Paris: J. B.
Baillière et Fils, 1906.) Price 5 francs.

66 The Pre

We do not remember ever before to have read any precise definition of what agriculture is. The author defines it as the art of obtaining from the soil the maximum of substances useful to man at the minimum cost. We do not quarrel with such a definition, though it represents the ideal rather than the actual.

THIS is the first book of a new French agri

cultural encyclopædia, which is being published in forty volumes, under the direction of M. G. Wéry, assistant director of the Institut National Agronomique. It is written by Prof. Paul Diffloth. The aim of the encyclopædia is expressed in an introduction by Dr. Paul Regnard, successor to the late M. Eugène Risler as director of the institute. It is to extract from the present teaching of agricultural science all that is available for immediate application by the practical farmer, making him acquainted at the same time with the scientific facts upon which actual practice is based.

Dr. Regnard pays a compliment to English agriculturists by stating that they have never accepted the notion which he attributes to his own countrymen that agricultural science is antagonistic to practical experience. We fear the compliment is not altogether deserved, and that French and English farmers have much in common in this respect; yet the remarkable progress in the direction of higher agricultural educa tion during the past ten years in this country may be regarded as both cause and effect of the gradual disappearance of the idea that the practice of agriculture can derive no advantage from the labours and teachings of science.

With the love of logical analysis which characterises French scientific literature, M. Diffloth's work is divided and subdivided almost ad infinitum. An idea

Full justice is done to the part played by the soil in the sustenance of plants, and in particular to the nitrogen problem, which has been the subject of so much scientific investigation and discussion during the past twenty years. The author indicates briefly the discoveries made by de Saussure, Dumas, Boussingault, and others as to the action of carbonic acid of the air and of nitrogen in the soil in the nourishment of plants; the work of mineral salts as demonstrated by Berthier, Sprengel, and Liebig; the experiments of Schlosing and Müntz showing the action of ferments in transforming organic nitrogen into nitric acid and of micro-organisms in nitrification; and, lastly, the experiments of Hellriegel and Wilfarth revealing the existence of bacteria in the nodules found on the roots of leguminous plants and the absorption by their agency of nitrogen from the free and unlimited supplies present in the air.

M. Diffloth refers to the great developments in France and other Continental countries of the principle

of agricultural cooperation. Its successful application to Ireland is well known, and in Great Britain, too, it is now making some headway. The future of agriculture, writes the author, may be summed up in two words as living symbols of its progress and prosperity, "Science et Association." We agree that if "Practice with Science" have been the agricultural watchwords of the nineteenth century signs are not wanting that "Science with Cooperation" may be those of the twentieth.

The practical operations of French husbandry are carefully described, with their scientific significance;

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