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LESSONS

IN

ELEMENTARY PHYSIOLOGY.

LESSON I.

A GENERAL VIEW OF THE STRUCTURE AND
FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN BODY.

1. THE body of a living man performs a great diversity of actions, some of which are quite obvious; others require more or less careful observation; and yet others can be detected only by the employment of the most delicate appliances of science.

Thus, some part of the body of a living man is plainly always in motion. Even in sleep, when the limbs, head, and eyelids may be still, the incessant rise and fall of the chest continue to remind us that we are viewing slumber and not death.

More careful observation, however, is needed to detect the motion of the heart; or the pulsation of the arteries; or the changes in the size of the pupil of the eye with varying light; or to ascertain that the air which is breathed out of the body is hotter and damper than the air which is taken in by breathing.

And lastly, when we try to ascertain what happens in the eye when that organ is adjusted to different distances:

or what in a nerve when it is excited: or of what materials flesh and blood are made: or in virtue of what mechanism it is that a sudden pain makes one start-we have to call into operation all the methods of inductive and deductive logic; all the resources of physics and chemistry; and all the delicacies of the art of experiment.

2. The sum of the facts and generalizations at which we arrive by these various modes of inquiry, be they simple or be they refined, concerning the actions of the body and the manner in which those actions are brought about, constitutes the science of Human Physiology. An elementary outline of this science, and of so much anatomy as is incidentally necessary, is the subject of the following Lessons ; of which I shall devote the present to an account of so much of the structure and such of the actions (or, as they are technically called, “functions") of the body, as can be ascertained by easy observation; or might be so ascertained if the bodies of men were as easily procured, examined, and subjected to experiment, as those of animals.

3. Suppose a chamber with walls of ice, through which a current of pure ice-cold air passes; the walls of the chamber will of course remain unmelted.

Now, having weighed a healthy living man with great care, let him walk up and down the chamber for an hour. In doing this he will obviously exercise a great amount of mechanical force; as much, at least, as would be required to lift his weight as high and as often as he has raised himself at every step. But, in addition, a certain quantity of the ice will be melted, or converted into water; showing that the man has given off heat in abundance. Furthermore, if the air which enters the chamber be made to pass through lime-water, it will cause no cloudy white precipitate of carbonate of lime, because the quantity of carbonic acid in ordinary air is so small as to be inappreciable in this way. But if the air which passes out is made to take the same course, the lime-water will soon become milky, from the precipitation of carbonate of lime, showing the presence of carbonic acid, which, like the heat, is given off by the man.

Again, even if the air be quite dry as it enters the chamber (and the chamber be lined with some material so as to shut out all vapour from the melting ice walls), that which

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