The Permeability of Natural Membranes

The Permeability of Natural Membranes

The Permeability of Natural Membranes

The Permeability of Natural Membranes

Excerpt

In this book we endeavour to give a general survey of the field of permeability. We have included materials essential for students of Medicine, Physiology, Biochemistry, Zoology and Botany, and have provided key references so that the literature on any point which it is desired to pursue further may be looked up with a minimum of trouble. We hope this will assist those lecturing on permeability, and will accelerate the disappearance of the many errors which have crept into the literature designed for students.

The last twenty years have seen a steady development of exact measurements of membrane permeability, mainly due to the American schools of Lillie, Lucké and McCutcheon, and Jacobs, but also largely contributed to by the Finnish school of Collander and Bärlund. To-day we may on the one hand say that the experimental side of this field is now mainly quantitative. During the same period physical science has made many advances in the fields of surface chemistry and the structure of liquids and solids. These have provided us with the basic materials for a quantitative theory of permeability. To some extent we have incorporated such a theory in this book, drawing principally on the work of I. Langmuir, W.D. Harkins, N. K. Adam, E. K. Rideal and E. N. Harvey when dealing with membrane structure, and on the theory of activated diffusion and on such work as that of Fowler & Bernal in achieving a description of the process of penetration of a membrane. So that, on the other hand, the theory of permeability has begun to take a quantitative form. We believe that we may now definitely claim that permeability studies have passed beyond the preliminary exploratory stage, and have reached the stage at which quantitative analysis is of dominant importance. This first attempt at such analysis will, we hope, merely be the precursor of a more exact study.

As J. Loeb complained many years ago, obscure or inexplicable phenomena in biology are fashionably brought into the currency of "knowledge" by way of the philosophers' stone "a change in permeability". When to this the more modern elixir of "surface action" is added, night unto night sheweth knowledge. Such speculations serve a useful purpose in giving an apparent . . .

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