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that the nerve-cell battery like other batteries could not create electricity continuously, but would require periods of rest for recharging. These periods of discharging and of recharging are respectively periods of consciousness and of sleep. We know that fatigue and death result from prolonged deprivation of sleep. The changes within the brain and the liver cells are evidenced by swelling; by a striking diminution of differential stainability and, as we shall show later, by changes in their electric conductivity. We would expect that the fatigue (weariness) produced by activity would be restored by sleep. That this is so is shown by common experience and by histologic and conductivity findings.
The principal parts of the cell are (a) water; (b) salts in solution; (c) selective semi-permeable membranes.
Water. Life is coextensive with water; water is the vehicle in which life is suspended. Perhaps the strongest evidence in favor of the electro-chemical theory may be found in a consideration of the properties of water. Of highest significance is the fact that water is a non-conductor of electricity. This property is essential for the accumulation of electric charges; it is essential for the formation of colloids. Colloids are essential to life. Water is the greatest solvent. Water is the greatest catalyst, hence water is the vehicle best adapted for the storage of energy. Suspensions and solutions are electrical processes. We have therefore as the physical basis of every cell a non-conducting medium in which are suspended electrically charged particles. In free colloids or in solutions, the electric energy is evenly diffused. To create, to store, and to discharge energy for adaptive purposes, an additional structure is required. This structure consists of the lipoid selective semi-permeable membranes surrounding the cell as a whole, surrounding the nucleus, and surrounding the spherules lying in the layer compartments. Why were the membranes evolved to be selective semi-permeable membranes? So that oxygen and activating agents may enter, in order that potential energy may be created within the cell; and that there may be a suitable riddance of damaging compounds.
The activity of the nerve cell is dependent in large measure upon oxidation. We would expect that the energy of the cells
would be destroyed should the water in the cells become and remain saturated with acid salts, so that the essential difference of potential between the nucleus and the cell body would be lost; and that this would happen unless continuity of the supply of fresh water is assured. We know that life ends within a few days when the body takes in no fresh water.
We would expect that the electric impulse could reach and move the muscle only if the conductivity of the conducting paths-axis cylinders, spinal cord—were greater than the conductivity of the brain, and the conductivity of the muscles greater than the conductivity of the nerves. This point has been tested in 436 animals and in every instance, in animals which were conscious at the time of their death, the conductivity of the spinal cord was greater than that of the brain; the conductivity of the muscles was greater than that of the spinal cord.
We would expect to find that the greatest activity of the organism is coincident with the highest conductivity of the brain, the spinal cord and the muscle. Under conditions of heightened activity produced by artificially induced iodism we found the conductivity of the brain, the spinal cord, and the muscles and of other organs and tissues to be markedly increased above the normal. Likewise, the immediate effect of the injection of adrenalin was an increase in the conductivity of the brain. Likewise, the first effect of physical injury, of emotional excitation, of the injection of toxins is an immediate increase in the conductivity of the brain. Direct measurements of the temperature of the brain after the injection of adrenalin demonstrated increased activity evidenced by a rise in temperature. Conversely, one would expect that decreased oxidation would be attended by decreased conductivity and by decreased activity of the nerve cells. We found that the temperature of the brain was diminished after adrenalectomy, after hepatectomy, by hemorrhage.
In accordance with the electro-chemical theory we would expect that bodily activity would be reduced by diminishing the difference in potential in the cells. This is evidenced by the effects of the direct production of acidosis by the injection of acid, or of acidosis resulting from any excessive activity such as prolonged or extreme
exertion, intense emotion, etc. That the difference in potential between the nucleus and the cell body is decreased or destroyed in such cases is revealed by the microscope; and apparently by conductivity measurements.
Since the activity of the organism must change to meet the varying demands of the internal and of the external environment, we would expect to find created within the organism a substance or substances to increase activity, and that the production of these secretions would be controlled by the nervous system, so that the control of varying conditions of activation of the organism may be automatic. The adrenals control oxidation; the thyroid by controlling electric conductivity governs the rate of metabolism, and these organs are controlled by the nervous system.
Since the activity of the organism is accompanied by the production of acid by-products, we would expect the presence in the organism of an organ whose prime function would be the neutralization of acids to avoid their accumulation within the cell batteries with a consequent destruction of the acid-alkali balance. This is the prime function of the liver.
We would expect the organism to be depressed by interference with the physical structure of the cell, especially with the semi-permeable membranes. That this is the case is strikingly demonstrated by the effects of ether anesthesia. That ether changes permeability has been demonstrated by many physical-chemists. (McClendon, Osterhout, Lillie, Loeb, etc.)
The effect of heat and cold upon the organism is apparently in harmony with the electro-chemical theory.
In the surgical clinic every degree of imperfection, injury, and impairment of the organism is under observation. If our conception that man is an electro-chemical mechanism is correct, the organism should respond to methods of protection and of restoration which are based upon the laws of physics and of chemistry.
The electro-chemical theory should explain the action and gauge the safe application of anesthetics; it should indicate the paramount value of sleep as the only final means of recharging the
batteries; it should warn the clinician of the prime necessity of regulating the activity of the thyroid and of guarding the integrity of the liver and of the adrenals as essential to the maintenance of the integrity of the brain cells, and it should suggest the importance of assuring an adequate supply of oxygen for the maintenance of the internal respiration; it should emphasize the need of an unfailing continuous supply of fresh water; it should lead the clinician to protect his patient against the external influences which drive. the organism excessively and consequently impair the electric cells.
For the past two years the measures employed in the Lakeside clinic have been based upon this conception, and in accordance therewith, we have adopted five main principles as our guide in the protection and restoration of our patients:
1. The organism needs an abundant supply of fresh water. 2. There must be an abundant supply of oxygen delivered to the cells for the maintenance of the internal respiration.
3. The temperature, both local and general, must be kept at or near the normal.
4. An abundance of mental and physical rest and an abundance of sleep are essential.
5. The physical structure of the cells must not be impaired by the trauma of the operation or by the anesthetic.
By the application of these measures the two essential factors in the maintenance of an electro-chemical system are assured, provided disintegration has not progressed too far for restoration to be possible; that is, the acid-alkali balance of the cells is maintained or restored and their internal respiration is protected.
As our application of these principles has extended with our increasing knowledge of the laws upon which they are based, the mortality rate in our clinic has been diminished correspondingly, and operability has been extended.
The findings of the laboratory and the everyday experience in the crucible of the clinic are in harmony with the theory that the organism of man and animals is an electro-chemical mechanism.
THE COUDERSPORT ICE MINE.
BY EDWIN SWIFT BALCH.
(Read, December 2, 1921.)
About four miles east of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and some three hundred yards southwest of the little village of Sweden Valley on the state road to Wellsboro, is a "glacière naturelle," or natural refrigerator, known as the "Coudersport Ice Mine." It is situated on a hillside and a rough mountain road enables you to drive a motor to within six feet of the entrance.
The story of the Ice Mine is rather curious. About 1894 some people conceived the idea that silver might exist in the hill near Sweden Valley and proceeded to dig a shaft to search for it. Instead of silver, as they dug down, they found layers of ice in the rocks. In the fall they abandoned their enterprise. The next spring ice formed in the shaft and this now occurs annually. The name "Ice Mine" came of itself from these circumstances and, although some people criticize the name because no ice is ever taken from the shaft, to me it appeals strongly in that it is not only descriptive, but that it is also distinctive from the names of all other glacières. It was pure accident which led to the discovery of ice in the rocks surrounding the Ice Mine, and ice might have continued forming there unnoticed year after year except for the digging of the shaft. And this suggests that there may be, and that there probably are, many other such natural refrigerators still unknown in mountainous regions.
Of course, the wonder of the dwellers of Coudersport and vicinity was aroused and all the old theories about glacières were put forward once more to account for the formation of the ice: that the ice is mysteriously due to the heat of summer; that there are chemicals in the rocks; that the ice is consolidated vapor; that it is caused by pressure; that it is due to evaporation, etc. Some of the statements made about the Ice Mine are identical with statements made about