Life: Its Nature and Origin

By Jerome Alexander | Go to book overview

is indicated by the simple union of two oppositely charged ends of polar molecules. It also accords with the view of Alexander and Bridges that the cell is a "box-within-box" structure.

It must be remembered that every free unit or surface having unsatisfied residual electronic fields tends to draw to itself units of opposite charge pattern or areas of opposite electronic contour, even if several molecules are needed to complete the opposite mosaic. Crystallization proceeds this way with the elimination of stranger molecules; but it can also happen that there are "lacunae" or adsorbed "impurities," so that the film or layer, especially if a thick one, may not ideally perfect.

To go to one extreme, when atomic nuclei are deprived of one or more electrons, they strive to replace them or at least to share electrons with other nuclei, as in covalent compounds. At higher structural levels the residual forces become more feeble and indefinite, but nevertheless effective. Sir W. B. Hardy27 showed how exceedingly difficult it is to secure a really clean surface, and we can understand how nascent atoms, molecules, and areas may be highly and specifically active, especially in the loci where they are liberated or formed. Lord Rayleigh pointed out that a film of "grease" adsorbed from the atmosphere exists on most exposed surfaces, and to this film all kinds of small particles of "dirt" may adhere. In South Africa when a slurry of diamond-bearing clay flows down a trough lined with tallow, the grease selectively fastens most of the diamonds. Microscopic examination of "housemoss" (or 'cobwebs")--that fluffy horror of meticulous housekeepers--shows it to consist mainly of tiny textile fibers (cotton, wool, etc.) with adsorbed "grease" and mineral particles. By twisting "house-moss" between the fingers, it can be "spun" into a weak but coherent "thread." And millions of letters daily travel in the mails with their postage stamps securely attached, though not even a strict stoichiometrist among chemists would suggest that the "compound" should be called stampate of envelope, or envelopate of stamp.


REFERENCES

1 Alexander, Science ( 1936), 83, 230.

2 J. Exp. Med., 69, 119 ( 1939).

3 "Colloid Chemistry," Vol. V, pp. 564-6.

4 J. Am. Chem. Soc., ( 1939).

5 "The Chemistry of Antigens and Antibodies," 2nd ed., Brit. Med. Res. Council, London, 1939.

6 J. Exptl. Med ( 1928) 47, 757.

-152-

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Life: Its Nature and Origin
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents x
  • Chapter 1 How Did Life Originate? 1
  • References 8
  • Chapter 2 the Smallest Particles of Matter 9
  • References 38
  • Chapter 3 How Molecules Make Masses 41
  • References 61
  • Chapter 4 the Importance of "Impurities" and Trace Substances 64
  • References 78
  • Chapter 5 What Are Living Units? 79
  • References 89
  • Chapter 6 Catalysis: the Guide of Life 90
  • References 136
  • Chapter 7 Immunology and Self-Saving Catalysts 140
  • References 152
  • Chapter 8 Genetics: the Heritable Transmission of Catalysts 154
  • References 177
  • Chapter 9 the Catalyst Entelechy in Differentiation and Morphogenesis 179
  • References 212
  • Chapter 10 Some Catalytic Aspects of Disease and Drugs 215
  • References 244
  • Chapter 11 Catalysis as the Efficient Cause of Evolution 246
  • References 257
  • Chapter 12 Philosophy, the Guide of Mental Life 259
  • References 275
  • Author's Note 277
  • Author Index 279
  • Subject Index 286
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