Growth and Development
The principal point of difference between the growth and development of
the crystals and that of the lower forms of life referred to is that
the crystal takes its nourishment from the outside, and builds up from
its outer surface, while the Monera absorbs its nourishment from
within, and grows outwardly from within. If the crystal had a soft
center, and took its nourishment in that way, it would be almost
identical with the Diatom, or, if the Diatom grew from the outside, it
would be but a crystal. A very fine dividing line.
Crystals, like living forms, may be sterilized and rendered incapable
of reproduction by chemical process, or electrical discharges. They may
also be "killed" and future growth prevented in this manner. Surely
this looks like "Life," does it not?
To realize the importance of this idea of life among the crystals, we
must remember that our hardest rocks and metals are composed of
crystals, and that the dirt and earth upon which we grow and live are
but crumbled rock and miniature crystals. Therefore the very dust under
our feet is alive. _There is nothing dead._ There is no transformation
of "dead matter" into live plant matter, and then into live animal
matter. The chemicals are alive, and from chemical to man's body there
is but a continuous change of shape and form of living matter. Any
man's body, decomposing, is again resolved into chemicals, and the
chain begins over again. Merely changes in living forms--that's all, so
far as the bodies are concerned.
Nature furnishes us with many examples of this presence of life in the
inorganic world. We have but to look around to see the truth of the
statement that All is Alive. There is that which is known as the
"fatigue of elasticity" in metals. Razors get tired, and require a
rest. Tuning forks lose their powers of vibration, to a degree, and
have to be given a vacation. 'Machinery in mills and manufactories
needs an occasional day off. Metals are subject to disease and
infection, and have been poisoned and restored by antidotes. Window
glass, especially stained glass, is subject to a disease spreading from
pane to pane.
Men accustomed to handling and using tools and machinery naturally drop
into the habit of speaking of these things as if they were alive. They
seem to recognize the presence of "feeling" in tools or machine, and to
perceive in each a sort of "character" or personality, which must be
respected, humored, or coaxed in order to get the best results.