HotFreeBooks.com
A Book of Exposition
by Homer Heath Nugent
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Transcribers note: subscripts in the text are represented by _{X} markup]



A BOOK OF EXPOSITION

EDITED BY

HOMER HEATH NUGENT

LAFLIN INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH AT THE RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

1922



PREFACE

It is a pleasure to acknowledge indebtedness to my wife for assistance in editing and to Dr. Ray Palmer Baker, Head of the Department of English at the Institute, for suggestions and advice without which this collection would hardly have been made.



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

THE EXPOSITION OF A MECHANISM THE LEVERS OR THE HUMAN BODY. SIR ARTHUR KEITH

THE EXPOSITION OF A MACHINE THE MERGENTHALER LINOTYPE. PHILIP T. DODGE

THE EXPOSITION OF A PROCESS IN NATURE THE PEA WEEVIL. JEAN HENRI FABRE. Translated by Bernard Miall

THE EXPOSITION OF A MANUFACTURING PROCESS MODERN PAPER-MAKING. J. W. BUTLER PAPER COMPANY

THE EXPOSITION OF AN IDEA THE GOSPEL OF RELAXATION. WILLIAM JAMES SCIENCE AND RELIGION. CHARLES PROTEUS STEINMETZ

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL NOTES



INTRODUCTION

The articles here presented are modern and unhackneyed. Selected primarily as models for teaching the methods of exposition employed in the explanation of mechanisms, processes, and ideas, they are nevertheless sufficiently representative of certain tendencies in science to be of intrinsic value. Indeed, each author is a recognized authority.

Another feature is worthy of mention. Although the material covers so wide a field—anatomy, zology, physics, psychology, and applied science—that the collection will appeal to instructors in every type of college and technical school, the selections are related in such a way as to produce an impression of unity. This relation is apparent between the first selection, which deals with the student's body, and the third, which deals with another organism in nature. The second and fourth selections deal with kindred aspects of modern industry—the manufacture of paper and the Linotype machine, by which it is used. The fifth selection is a protest against certain developments of the industrial regime; the last, an attempt to reconcile the spirit of science with that of religion. While monotony has been avoided, the essays form a distinct unit.

In most cases, selections are longer than usual, long enough in fact to introduce a student to each field. As a result, he can be made to feel that every subject is of importance and to realize that every chapter contains a fund of valuable information. Instead of confusing him by having him read twenty selections in, let us say, six weeks, it is possible by assigning but six in the same period, to impress him definitely with each.

The text-book machinery has been sequestered in the Biographical and Critical Notes at the end of the book. Their character and position are intended to permit instructors freedom of treatment. Some may wish to test a student's ability in the use of reference books by having him report on allusions. Some may wish to explain these themselves. A few may find my experience helpful. For them suggestions are included in the Critical Notes. In general, I have assumed that instructors will prefer their own methods and have tried to leave them unhampered.



THE EXPOSITION OF A MECHANISM

THE LEVERS OF THE HUMAN BODY[1]

Sir Arthur Keith

In all the foregoing chapters we have been considering only the muscular engines of the human machine, counting them over and comparing their construction and their mechanism with those of the internal-combustion engine of a motor cycle. But of the levers or crank-pins through which muscular engines exert their power we have said nothing hitherto. Nor shall we get any help by now spending time on the levers of a motor cycle. We have already confessed that they are arranged in a way which is quite different from that which we find in the human machine. In the motor cycle all the levers are of that complex kind which are called wheels, and the joints at which these levers work are also circular, for the joints of a motor cycle are the surfaces between the axle and the bushes, which have to be kept constantly oiled. No, we freely admit that the systems of levers in the human machine are quite unlike those of a motor cycle. They are more simple, and it is easy to find in our bodies examples of all the three orders of levers. The joints at which bony levers meet and move on each other are very different from those we find in motor cycles. Indeed, I must confess they are not nearly so simple. And, lastly, I must not forget to mention another difference. These levers we are going to study are living—at least, are so densely inhabited by myriads of minute bone builders that we must speak of them as living. I want to lay emphasis on that fact because I did not insist enough on the living nature of muscular engines.



We are all well acquainted with levers. We apply them every day. A box arrives with its lid nailed down; we take a chisel, use it as a lever, pry the lid open, and see no marvel in what we have done (Fig. 1). And yet we thereby did with ease what would have been impossible for us even if we had put out the whole of our unaided strength. The use of levers is an old discovery; more than 1500 years before Christ, Englishmen, living on Salisbury Plain, applied the invention when they raised the great stones at Stonehenge and at Avebury; more than 2000 years earlier still, Egyptians employed it in raising the pyramids. Even at that time men had made great progress; they were already reaping the rewards of discoveries and inventions. But none, I am sure, surprised them more than the discovery of the lever; by its use one man could exert the strength of a hundred men. They soon observed that levers could be used in three different ways. The instance already given, the prying open of a lid by using a chisel as a lever, is an example of one way (Fig. 1); it is then used as a lever of the first order. Now in the first order, one end of the lever is applied to the point of resistance, which in the case just mentioned was the lid of the box. At the other end we apply our strength, force, or power. The edge of the box against which the chisel is worked serves as a fulcrum and lies between the handle where the power is applied and the bevelled edge which moves the resistance or weight. A pair of ordinary weighing scales also exemplifies the first order of levers. The knife edge on which the beam is balanced serves as a fulcrum; it is placed exactly in the middle of the beam, which we shall suppose to be 10 inches long. If we place a 1-lb. weight in one scale to represent the resistance to be overcome, the weight will be lifted the moment that a pound of sugar has been placed in the opposite scale—the sugar thus representing the power. If, however, we move the knife-edge or fulcrum so that it is only 1 inch from the sugar end of the beam and 9 inches from the weight end, then we find that we have to pour in 9 lb. of sugar to equalise the 1-lb. weight. The chisel used in prying open the box lid was 10 inches long; it was pushed under the lid for a distance of 1 inch, leaving 9 inches for use as a power lever. By using a lever in this way, we increased our strength ninefold. The longer we make the power arm, the nearer we push the fulcrum towards the weight or resistance end, the greater becomes our power. This we shall find is a discovery which Nature made use of many millions of years ago in fashioning the body of man and of beast. When we apply our force to the long end of a lever, we increase our power. We may also apply it, as Nature has done in our bodies, for another purpose. We have just noted that if the weight end of the beam of a pair of scales is nine times the length of the sugar end, that a 1-lb. weight will counterpoise 9 lb. of sugar. We also see that the weight scale moves at nine times the speed of the sugar scale. Now it often happens that Nature wants to increase, not the power, but the speed with which a load is lifted. In that case the "sugar scale" is placed at the long end of the beam and the "weight scale" at the short end; it then takes a 9-lb. weight to raise a single pound of sugar, but the sugar scale moves with nine times the speed of the weight scale. Nature often sacrifices power to obtain speed. The arm is used as a lever of this kind when a cricket ball is thrown.

Nothing could look less like a pair of scales than a man's head or skull, and yet when we watch how it is poised and the manner in which it is moved, we find that it, too, acts as a lever of the first order. The fulcrum on which it moves is the atlas—the first vertebra of the spine (Fig. 2). When a man stands quite erect, with the head well thrown back, the ear passages are almost directly over the fulcrum. It will be convenient to call that part of the head which is behind the ear passages the post-fulcral, and the part which is in front the pre-fulcral. Now the face is attached to the pre-fulcral part of the lever and represents the weight or load to be moved, while the muscles of the neck, which represent the power, are yoked to the post-fulcral end of the lever. The hinder part of the head serves as a crank-pin for seven pairs of neck muscles, but in Fig. 2 only the chief pair is drawn, known as the complex muscles. When that pair is set in action, the post-fulcral end of the head lever is tilted downwards, while the pre-fulcral end, on which the face is set, is turned upwards.



The complex muscles thus tilt the head backwards and the face upwards, but where are the muscles which serve as their opponents or antagonists and reverse the movement? In a previous chapter it has been shown that every muscle has to work against an opponent or antagonist muscle. Here we seem to come across a defect in the human machine, for the greater straight muscles in the front of the neck, which serve as opposing muscles, are not only much smaller but at a further disadvantage by being yoked to the pre-fulcral end of the lever, very close to the cup on which the head rocks. However, if the greater straight muscles lose power by working on a very short lever, they gain, in speed; we set them quickly and easily into action when we give a nod of recognition. All the strength or power is yoked to the post-fulcral end of the head; the pre-fulcral end of its lever is poorly guarded. Japanese wrestlers know this fact very well, and seek to gain victory by pressing up the poorly guarded pre-fulcral lever of the head, thus producing a deadly lock at the fulcral joint. Indeed, it will be found that those who use the jiu-jitsu method of fighting have discovered a great deal about the construction and weaknesses of the levers of the human body.

Merely to poise the head on the atlas may seem to you as easy a matter as balancing the beam of a pair of scales on an upright support. I am now going to show that a great number of difficulties had to be overcome before our heads could be safely poised on our necks. The head had to be balanced in such a way that through the pivot or joint on which it rests a safe passageway could be secured for one of the most delicate and most important of all the parts or structures of the human machine. We have never found a good English name for this structure, so we use its clumsy Latin one—Medulla oblongata—or medulla for short. In the medulla are placed offices or centres which regulate the vital operations carried on by the heart and by the lungs. It has also to serve as a passageway for thousands of delicate gossamer-like nerve fibres passing from the brain, which fills the whole chamber of the skull, to the spinal cord, situated in the canal of the backbone. By means of these delicate fibres the brain dispatches messages which control the muscular engines of the limbs and trunk. Through it, too, ascend countless fibres along which messages pass from the limbs and trunk to the brain. In creating a movable joint for the head, then, a safe passage had to be obtained for the medulla—that part of the great nerve stem which joins the brain to the spinal cord. The medulla is part of the brain stem.

This was only one of the difficulties which had to be overcome. The eyes are set on the pre-fulcral lever of the head. For our safety we must be able to look in all directions—over this shoulder or that. We must also be able to turn our heads so that our ears may discover in which direction a sound is reaching us. In fashioning a fulcral joint for the head, then, two different objects had to be secured: free mobility for the head, and a safe transit for the medullary part of the brain stem. How well these objects have been attained is known to all of us, for we can move our heads in the freest manner and suffer no damage whatsoever. Indeed, so strong and perfect is the joint that damage to it is one of the most uncommon accidents of life.

Let us see, then, how this triumph in engineering has been secured. In her inventive moods Nature always hits on the simplest plan possible. In this case she adopted a ball-and-socket joint—the kind by which older astronomers mounted their telescopes. By such a joint the telescope becomes, just as the head is, a lever of the first order. The eyeglass is placed at one end of the lever, while the object-glass, which can be swept across the face of the heavens, is placed at the other or more distant end. In the human body the first vertebra of the backbone—the atlas—is trimmed to form a socket, while an adjacent part of the base of the skull is shaped to play the part of ball. The kind of joint to be used having been hit upon, the next point was to secure a safe passage for the brain stem. That, too, was worked out in the simplest fashion. The central parts of both ball and socket were cut away, or, to state the matter more exactly, were never formed. Thus a passage was obtained right through the centre of the fulcral joint of the head. The centre of the joint was selected because when a lever is set in motion the part at the fulcrum moves least, and the medulla, being placed at that point, is least exposed to disturbance when we bend our heads backwards, forwards, or from side to side. When we examine the base of the skull, all that we see of the ball of the joint are two knuckles of bone (Fig. 3, A), covered by smooth slippery cartilage or gristle, to which anatomists give the name of occipital condyles. If we were to try to complete the ball, of which they form a part, we should close up the great opening—the foramen magnum—which provides a passageway for the brain stem on its way to the spinal canal. All that is to be seen of the socket or cup is two hollows on the upper surface of the atlas into which the occipital condyles fit (Fig. 3, B). Merely two parts of the brim of the cup have been preserved to provide a socket for the condyles or ball.



As we bend our heads, the occipital condyles revolve or glide on the sockets of the atlas. But what will happen if we roll our heads backwards to such an extent that the bony edge of the opening in the base of the skull is made to press hard against the brain stem and crush it? That, of course, would mean instant death. Such an accident has been made impossible (1) by making the opening in the base of the skull so much larger than the brain stem that in extreme movements there can be no scissors-like action; (2) the muscles which move the head on the atlas arrest all movements long before the danger-point is reached; (3) even if the muscles are caught off their guard, as they sometimes are, certain strong ligaments—fastenings of tough fibres—are so set as automatically to jam the joint before the edge of the foramen can come in contact with the brain stem.

These are only some of the devices which Nature had to contrive in order to secure a safe passageway for the brain stem. But in obtaining safety for the brain stem, the movements of the head on the atlas had to be limited to mere nodding or side-to-side bending. The movements which are so necessary to us, that of turning our heads so that we can sweep our eyes along the whole stretch of the skyline from right to left, and from left to right, were rendered impossible. This defect was also overcome in a simple manner. The joints between the first and second vertebrae—the atlas and axis—were so modified that a turning movement could take place between them instead of between the atlas and skull. When we turn or rotate our heads, the atlas, carrying the skull upon it, swings or turns on the axis. When we search for the manner in which this has been accomplished, we see again that Nature has made use of the simplest means at her disposal. When we examine a vertebra in the course of construction within an unborn animal, we see that it is really made up by the union of four parts (see Fig. 4): a central block which becomes the "body" or supporting part; a right and a left arch which enclose a passage for the spinal cord; and, lastly, a fourth part in front of the central block which becomes big and strong only in the first vertebra—the atlas. When we look at the atlas (Fig. 4), we see that it is merely a ring made up of three of the parts—the right and left arches and the fourth element,—but the body is missing. A glance at Fig. 4, B, will show what has become of the body of the atlas. It has been joined to the central block of the second vertebra—the axis—and projects upwards within the front part of the ring of the atlas, and thus forms a pivot round which rotatory movements of the head can take place. Here we have in the atlas an approach to the formation of a wheel—a wheel which has its axle or pivot placed at some distance from its centre, and therefore a complete revolution of the atlas is impossible. A battery of small muscles is attached to the lateral levers of the atlas and can swing it freely, and the head which it carries, a certain number of degrees to both right and left. The extent of the movements is limited by stout check ligaments. Thus, by the simple expedient of allowing the body of the atlas to be stolen by the axis, a pivot was obtained round which the head could be turned on a horizontal plane.



Nature thus set up a double joint for the movements of the head, one between the atlas and axis for rotatory movements, another between the atlas and skull for nodding and side-to-side movements. And all these she increased by giving flexibility to the whole length of the neck. Makers of modern telescopes have imitated the method Nature invented when fixing the human head to the spine. Their instruments are mounted with a double joint—one for movements in a horizontal plane, the other for movements in a vertical plane. We thus see that the young engineer, as well as the student of medicine, can learn something from the construction of the human body.

In low forms of vertebrate animals like the fish and frog, the head is joined directly to the body, there being no neck.

No matter what part of the human body we examine, we shall find that its mechanical work is performed by means of bony levers. Having seen how the head is moved as a lever of the first order, we are now to choose a part which will show us the plan on which levers of the second order work, and there are many reasons why we should select the foot. It is a part which we are all familiar with; every day we can see it at rest and in action. The foot, as we have already noted, serves as a lever in walking. It is a bent or arched lever (Fig. 6); when we stand on one foot, the whole weight of our body rests on the summit of the arch. We are thus going to deal with a lever of a complex kind.



In using a chisel to pry open the lid of a box, we may use it as a lever either of the first or of the second order. We have already seen (Fig. 1) that, in using it as a lever of the first order, we pushed the handle downwards, while the bevelled end was raised, forcing open the lid. The edge of the box served as a rest or fulcrum for the chisel. If, however, after inserting the bevelled edge under the lid, we raise the handle instead of depressing it, we change the chisel into a lever of the second order. The lid is not now forced up on the bevelled edge, but is raised on the side of the chisel, some distance from the bevelled edge, which thus comes to represent the fulcrum. By using a chisel in this way, we reverse the positions of the weight and fulcrum and turn it into a lever of the second order. Suppose we push the side of the chisel—which is 10 inches long—under the lid to the extent of 1 inch, then the advantage we gain in power is as 1 to 10; we thereby increase our strength tenfold. If we push the chisel under the lid for half its length, then our advantage stands as 10 to 5; our strength is only doubled. If we push it still further for two-thirds of its length, then our gain in strength is only as 10 to 6.6; our power is increased by only one-third. Now this has an important bearing on the problem we are going to investigate, for the weight of our body falls on the foot, so that only about one-third of the lever—that part of it which is formed by the heel—projects behind the point on which the weight of the body rests. The strength of the muscles which act on the heel will be increased only by about one-third.

We have already seen that a double engine, made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus, is the power which is applied to the heel when we walk, and that the pad of the foot, lying across the sole in line with the ball of the great toe, serves as a fulcrum or rest. The weight of the body falls on the foot between the fulcrum in front and the power behind, as in a lever of the second order. We have explained why the power of the muscles of the calf is increased the more the weight of the body is shifted towards the toes, but it is also evident that the speed and the extent to which the body is lifted are diminished. If, however, the weight be shifted more towards the heel, the muscles of the calf, although losing in power, can lift their load more quickly and to a greater extent.

We must look closely at the foot lever if we are to understand it. It is arched or bent; the front pillar of the arch stretches from the summit or keystone, where the weight of the body is poised, to the pad of the foot or fulcrum (Fig. 6); the posterior pillar, projecting as the heel, extends from the summit to the point at which the muscular power is applied. A foot with a short anterior pillar and a long posterior pillar or heel is one designed for power, not speed. It is one which will serve a hill-climber well or a heavy, corpulent man. The opposite kind, one with a short heel and a long pillar in front, is well adapted for running and sprinting—for speed. Now, we do find among the various races of mankind that some have been given long heels, such as the dark-skinned natives of Africa and of Australia, while other races have been given relatively short, stumpy heels, of which sort the natives of Europe and of China may be cited as examples. With long heels less powerful muscular engines are required, and hence in dark races the calf of the leg is but ill developed, because the muscles which move the heel are small. We must admit, however, that the gait of dark-skinned races is usually easy and graceful. We Europeans, on the other hand, having short heels, need more powerful muscles to move them, and hence our calves are usually well developed, but our gait is apt to be jerky.



If we had the power to make our heels longer or shorter at will, we should be able, as is the case in a motor cycle, to alter our "speed-gear" according to the needs of the road. With a steep hill in front of us, we should adopt a long, slow, powerful heel; while going down an incline a short one would best suit our needs. With its four-change speed-gear a motor cycle seems better adapted for easy and economical travelling than the human machine. If, however, the human machine has no change of gear, it has one very marvellous mechanism—which we may call a compensatory mechanism, for want of a short, easy name. The more we walk, the more we go hill-climbing, the more powerful do the muscular engines of the heel become. It is quite different with the engine of a motor cycle; the more it is used, the more does it become worn out. It is because a muscular engine is living that it can respond to work by growing stronger and quicker.

I have no wish to extol the human machine unduly, nor to run down the motor cycle because of certain defects. There is one defect, however, which is inherent in all motor machines which man has invented, but from which the human machine is almost completely free. We can illustrate the defect best by comparing the movements of the heel with those of the crank-pin of an engine. One serves as the lever by which the gastrocnemius helps to propel the body; the other serves the same purpose in the propulsion of a motor cycle. On referring to Fig. 7, A, the reader will see that the piston-rod and the crank-pin are in a straight line; in such a position the engine is powerless to move the crank-pin until the flywheel is started, thus setting the crank-pin in motion. Once started, the leverage increases, until the crank-pin stands at right angles to the piston-rod—a point of maximum power which is reached when the piston is in the position shown in Fig. 7, B. Then the leverage decreases until the second dead centre is reached (Fig. 7, C); from that point the leverage is increased until the second maximum is reached (Fig. 7, D), whereafter it decreases until the arrival at the first position completes the cycle. Thus, in each revolution there are two points where all leverage or power is lost, points which are surmounted because of the momentum given by the flywheel. Clearly we should get most out of an engine if it could be kept working near the points of maximum leverage—with the lever as nearly as possible at right angles to the crank-pin.



Now, we have seen that the tendon of Achilles is the piston cord, and the heel the crank-pin, of the muscular engine represented by the gastrocnemius and soleus. In the standing posture the heel slopes downwards and backwards, and is thus in a position, as regards its piston cord, considerably beyond the point of maximum leverage. As the heel is lifted by the muscles, it gradually becomes horizontal and at right angles to its tendon or piston cord. As the heel rises, then, it becomes a more effective lever; the muscles gain in power. The more the foot is arched, the more obliquely is the heel set and the greater is the strength needed to start it moving. Hence, races like the European and Mongolian, which have short as well as steeply set heels, need large calf muscles. It is at the end of the upward stroke that the heel becomes most effective as a lever, and it is just then that we most need power to propel our bodies in a forward direction. It will be noted that the heel, unlike the crank-pin of an engine, never reaches, never even approaches, that point of powerlessness known to engineers as a dead centre. Work is always performed within the limits of the most effective working radius of the lever. It is a law for all the levers of the body; they are set and moved in such a way as to avoid the occurrence of dead centres. Think what our condition would have been were this not so; why, we should require revolving fly-wheels set in all our joints!



Another property is essential in a lever: it must be rigid; otherwise it will bend, and power will be lost. Now, if the foot were a rigid lever, there would be missing two of its most useful qualities. It could no longer act as a spring or buffer to the body, nor could it adapt its sole to the various kinds of surfaces on which we have to tread or stand. Nature, with her usual ingenuity, has succeeded in combining those opposing qualities—rigidity, suppleness, and elasticity or springiness—by resorting to her favorite device, the use of muscular engines. The arch is necessarily constructed of a number of bones which can move on each other to a certain extent, so that the foot may adapt itself to all kinds of roads and paths. It is true that the bones of the arch are loosely bound together by passive ties or ligaments, but as these cannot be lengthened or shortened at will, Nature had to fall back on the use of muscular engines for the maintenance of the foot as an arched lever. Some of these are shown in Fig. 8. The foot, then, is a lever of a very remarkable kind; all the time we stand or walk, its rigidity, its power to serve as a lever, has to be maintained by an elaborate battery of muscular engines all kept constantly at work. No wonder our feet and legs become tired when we have to stand a great deal. Some of these engines, the larger ones, are kept in the leg, but their tendons or piston cords descend below the ankle-joint to be fixed to various parts of the arch, and thus help to keep it up (Fig. 8). Within the sole of the foot has been placed an installation of seventeen small engines, all of them springing into action when we stand up, thus helping to maintain the foot as a rigid yet flexible lever.

We have already seen why our muscles are so easily exhausted when we stand stock-still; they then get no rest at all. Now, it sometimes happens in people who have to stand for long periods at a stretch that these muscular engines which maintain the arch are overtaxed; the arch of the foot gives way. The foot becomes flat and flexible, and can no longer serve as a lever. Many men and women thus become permanently crippled; they cannot step off their toes, but must shuffle along on the inner sides of their feet. But if the case of the overworked muscles which maintain the arch is hard in grown-up people, it is even harder in boys and girls who have to stand quite still for a long time, or who have to carry such burdens as are beyond their strength. When we are young, the bony levers and muscular engines of our feet have not only their daily work to do, but they have continually to effect those wonderful alterations which we call growth. Hence, the muscular engines of young people need special care; they must be given plenty of work to do, but that kind of active action which gives them alternate strokes of work and rest. Even the engine of a motor cycle has three strokes of play for one of work. Our engines, too, must have a liberal supply of the right kind of fuel. But even with all those precautions, we have to confess that the muscular engines of the foot do sometimes break down, and the leverage of the foot becomes threatened. Nor have we succeeded in finding out why they are so liable to break down in some boys and girls and not in others. Some day we shall discover this too.

We are now to look at another part of the human machine so that we may study a lever of the third order. The lever formed by the forearm and hand will suit our purpose very well. It is pivoted or jointed at the elbow; the elbow is its fulcrum (Fig. 9 B). At the opposite end of the lever, in the, upturned palm of the hand, we shall place a weight of 1 lb. to represent the load to be moved. The power which we are to yoke to the lever is a strong muscular engine we have not mentioned before, called the brachialis anticus, or front brachial muscle. It lies in the upper arm, where it is fixed to the bone of that part—the humerus. It is attached to one of the bones of the forearm—the ulna—just beyond the elbow.

In the second order of lever, we have seen that the muscle worked on one end, while the weight rested on the lever somewhere between the muscular attachment and the fulcrum. In levers of the third order, the load is placed at the end of the lever, and the muscle is attached somewhere between the load and the fulcrum (Fig. 9 A). In the example we are considering, the brachial muscle is attached about half an inch beyond the fulcrum at the elbow, while the total length of the lever, measured from the elbow to the palm, is 12 inches. Now, it is very evident that the muscle or power being attached so close to the elbow, works under a great disadvantage as regards strength. It could lift a 24-lb. weight placed on the forearm directly over its attachment as easily as a single pound weight placed on the palm. But, then, there is this advantage: the 1-lb. weight placed in the hand moves with twenty-four times the speed of the 24-lb. weight situated near the elbow. What is lost in strength is gained in speed. Whenever Nature wishes to move a light load quickly, she employs levers of the third order.



We have often to move our forearm very quickly, sometimes to save our lives. The difference of one-hundredth of a second may mean life or death to us on the face of a cliff when we clutch at a branch or jutting rock to save a fall. The quickness of a blow we give or fend depends on the length of our reach. A long forearm and hand are ill adapted for lifting heavy burdens; strength is sacrificed if they are too long. Hence, we find that the laboring peoples of the world—Europeans and Mongolians—have usually short forearms and hands, while the peoples who live on such bounties as Nature may provide for them have relatively long forearms and hands.



Now, man differs from anthropoid apes, which are distant cousins of his, in having a forearm which is considerably shorter than the upper arm; whereas in anthropoid apes the forearm is much the longer. That fact surprises us at first, especially when we remember that anthropoids spend most of their lives amongst trees and use their arms much more than their legs in swinging the weight of their heavy bodies from branch to branch and from tree to tree. A long forearm and hand give them a long and quick reach, so that they can seize distant branches and swing themselves along safely and at a good pace. Our first thought is to suppose that a long forearm, being a weak lever, will be ill adapted for climbing. But when you look at Fig. 10, the explanation becomes plain. When a branch is seized by the hand, and the whole weight of the body is supported from it, the entire machinery of the arm changes its action. The forearm is no longer the lever which the brachial muscle moves (Fig. 10), but now becomes the base from which it acts. The part which was its piston cord now serves as its base of fixation, and what was its base of fixation to the humerus becomes its piston cord. The humerus has become a lever of the third order; its fulcrum is at the elbow; the weight of the body is attached to it at the shoulder and represents the load which has to be lifted. We also notice that the brachial muscle is attached a long way up the humerus, thus increasing its power very greatly, although the rate at which it helps in lifting the body is diminished. We can see, then, why the humerus is short and the forearm long in anthropoid apes; shortening the humerus makes it more powerful as a lever for lifting the body. That is why anthropoids are strong and agile tree-climbers. But then watch them use those long hands and forearms for the varied and precise movements we have to perform in our daily lives, and you will see how clumsy they are.



In the human machine the levers of the arm have been fashioned, not for climbing, but for work of another kind—the kind which brings us a livelihood. We must have perfect control over our hands; the longer the lever of the forearm is made, the more difficult does control of the hand become. Hence, in the human machine the forearm is made relatively short and the upper arm long.

We have just seen that the brachial muscle could at one time move the forearm and hand, but that when they are fixed it could then use the humerus as a lever and thereby lift the weight of the body. What should we think of a metal engine which could reverse its action so that it could act through its piston-rod at one time and through its cylinder at another? Yet that is what a great number of the muscular engines of the human machine do every day.

There is another little point, but an important one, which I must mention before this chapter is finished. I have spoken of the forearm and hand as if they formed a single solid lever. Of course that is not so; there are joints at the wrist where the hand can be moved on the forearm. But when a weight is placed in the hand, these joints became fixed by the action of muscles. The fixing muscles are placed in the forearm, both in front and behind, and are set in action the moment the hand is loaded. The wrist joint is fixed just in the same way as the joints of the foot are made rigid by muscles when it has to serve as a lever. Even when we take a pen in our hand and write, these engines which balance and fix the wrist have to be in action all the time. The steadiness of our writing depends on how delicately they are balanced. Like the muscles of the foot, the fixers of the wrist may become overworked and exhausted, as occasionally happens in men and women who do not hold their pens correctly and write for long spells day after day. The break-down which happens in them is called "writer's cramp," but it is a disaster of the same kind as that which overtakes the foot when its arch collapses, and its utility as a lever is lost.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: From The Engines of the Human Body, Chapters VI and VII. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1920; Williams and Norgate, London, 1920.]



THE EXPOSITION OF A MACHINE

THE MERGENTHALER LINOTYPE[2]

Philip T. Dodge

The Mergenthaler Linotype machine appeared in crude form about 1886. This machine differs widely from all others in that it is adapted to produce the type-faces for each line properly justified on the edge of a solid slug or linotype.

These slugs, automatically produced and assembled by the machine, are used in the same manner as other type-forms, whether for direct printing or for electrotyping, and are remelted after use.

GENERAL ORGANIZATION

The general organization of the machine will first be described. After this the details will be more fully explained and attention plainly directed to the various parts which require special consideration.



The machine contains, as the vital element, about sixteen hundred matrices, such as are shown in Fig. 1, each consisting of a small brass plate having in one edge the female character or matrix proper, and in the upper end a series of teeth, used as hereinafter explained for distributing the matrices after use to their proper places in the magazine of the machine. There are in the machine a number of matrices for each letter and also matrices representing special characters, and spaces or quadrats of different thicknesses for use in table-work. There is a series of finger keys representing the various characters and spaces, and the machine is so organized that on manipulating the keys it selects the matrices in the order in which their characters are to appear in print, and assembles them in a line, with wedge-shaped spaces or justifiers between the words. The series of matrices thus assembled in line forms a line matrix, or, in other words, a line of female dies adapted to mold or form a line of raised type on a slug cast against the matrices. After the matrix line is composed, it is automatically transferred to the face of a slotted mold into which molten type-metal is delivered to form a slug or linotype against the matrices. This done, the matrices are returned to the magazine and distributed, to be again composed in new relations for succeeding lines.



Fig. 2 illustrates the general organization of the machine.

A represents an inclined channelled magazine in which the matrices are stored. Each channel has at the lower end an escapement B to release the matrices one at a time. Each of these escapements is connected by a rod C and intermediate devices to one of the finger-keys in the keyboard D. These keys represent the various characters as in a typewriter. The keys are depressed in the order in which the characters and spaces are to appear, and the matricies, released successively from the lower end of the magazine, descend between the guides E to the surface of an inclined travelling belt F, by which they are carried downward and delivered successively into a channel in the upper part of the assembling elevator G, in which they are advanced by a star-shaped wheel, seen at the right.

The wedge-shaped spaces or justifiers I are held in a magazine H, from which they are delivered at proper intervals by finger-key J in the keyboard, so that they may pass downward and assume their proper positions in the line of matrices.

When the composition of the line is completed, the assembling elevator G is raised and the line is transferred, as indicated by dotted lines, first to the left and then downward to the casting position in front of the slotted mold seated in and extending through the vertical wheel K, as shown in Figs. 2 and 3. The line of matrices is pressed against and closes the front of the mold, the characters on the matrices standing directly opposite the slot in the mold, as shown. The back of the mold communicates with and is closed by the mouth of a melting-pot M, containing a supply of molten metal and heated by a Bunsen burner underneath. Within the pot is a vertical pump-plunger which acts at the proper time to drive the molten metal through the perforated mouth of the pot into the mold and into all the characters in the matrices. The metal, solidifying, forms a slug or linotype bearing on its edge, in relief, type-characters produced from the matrices. The matrices and the pot are immediately separated from the mold, and the mold wheel rotates until the slug contained in the mold is presented in front of an ejector blade, where the slug is ejected from the mold through a pair of knives, which trim the sides to the required size, into the receiving galley, as shown in Fig. 4.



After the line of matrices and spaces has served its purpose, it is raised from the casting position and moved to the right, as shown by the dotted lines and arrows in Fig. 2. The teeth in the upper ends of the matrices are engaged with a toothed bar R, known as the second elevator. This elevator swings upward, as shown by dotted lines, carrying the matrices to the level of the upper end of the magazine, and leaving the spaces or justifiers behind to be transferred to their magazine H.

The distributing mechanism consists essentially of a fixed bar T, lying in a horizontal position above the upper end of the magazine, and having along its lower edge, as shown in Fig. 2, horizontal teeth to engage the teeth in the upper end of the matrices and hold them in suspension. The teeth of the matrix for each letter differ in number or arrangement, or both, from the teeth of matrices bearing other letters, and the teeth on the lower edge of the distributor bar are correspondingly varied in arrangement at different points in the length of the bar. (See Fig. 2.)

The matrices are moved forward into engagement with the distributor bar and also into engagement with the threads of horizontal screws U, which are extended parallel with the distributor bar and constantly rotated so that they cause the matrices to travel one after another along the distributor and over the mouths of the channels in the magazines. Each matrix is held in suspension until it arrives over its proper channel, where for the first time its teeth bear such relation to those of the bar that it is released and permitted to fall into the magazine.

The speed of the machine, which is commonly from four to five thousand ems per hour, but which has reached ten thousand and upward in competitive trials, is due to the fact that the matrices pursue a circulatory course, leaving the magazine at the lower end, passing thence to the line and to the casting mechanism, and finally returning to the top of the magazine. This permits the composition of one line, the casting of another, and the distribution of a third to proceed simultaneously.

ASSEMBLING AND KEYBOARD MECHANISMS

The matrices pass through the magazine by gravity. Their release is effected by mechanisms shown in Figs. 5 and 6, which are vertical sections through the magazine, the keyboard, and intermediate connections. Under each channel of the magazine, there is an escapement B, consisting of a small lever rocking at its centre on a horizontal pivot, and carrying at its opposite ends two dogs or pawls b, b, which are projected up alternately into the magazine by the motion of the lever. The key-rod C, suspended from the rear end of the escapement B, tends to hold the lower pawl b in an elevated position, as shown in Fig. 5, so that it engages under the upper ear of the foremost matrix to prevent its escape.



When the escapement B is rocked, it withdraws the lower pawl b, as shown in Fig. 6, at the same time raising the upper pawl, so that it engages and momentarily arrests the next matrix. As soon as the first matrix has escaped, the escapement resumes its original position, the upper pawl falling, while the lower one rises so as to hold the second matrix, which assumes the position previously occupied by the one released.



Thus it is that the alternate rising and falling of the two escapement pawls permits the matrices to escape one at a time. It is evident that the escapements could be operated directly by rods connected with the finger-keys, but this direct connection is objectionable because of the labor required on the part of the operator, and the danger that the keys may not be fully depressed. Moreover, it is essential that the escapements should act individually with moderate speed to the end that the matrices may be properly engaged and disengaged by the pawls. For these reasons, and to secure easy and uniform action of the parts, the mechanism shown in Figs. 5 and 6 is introduced between the finger-keys and escapements. The vertical rods C, which actuate the escapements, are guided in the main frame, and each is urged downward by a spring c. Each rod C terminates directly over one end of a rising and falling yoke-bar c2, turning on a pivot c3 at the opposite end. Each of the yokes c2 is slotted vertically to admit an eccentric c4 turning on a pivot therein. A constantly rotating rubber-covered roll c5 is extended across the entire keyboard beneath the cams, which stand normally as shown in Fig. 5, out of contact with the roll. When the parts are in this position, the cam-yoke is sustained at its free end by the yoke-trigger c8, and a cross-bar in the cam engages a vertical pin c7 on the frame, whereby the cam is prevented from falling on to the roller, as it has a tendency to do. Each of the yoke-triggers c6 is connected with a vertical bar c8, which is in turn connected to the rear end of a finger-key lever D. The parts stand normally at rest in the position shown in Fig. 5, the roll c5 turning freely under the cam without effect upon it.

When the finger-key is depressed, it raises the bar c8, which in turn trips the yoke-trigger c6 from under the cam-yoke c2, permitting the latter to fall, thereby lowering the cam c4 into peripheral engagement with the rubber roll, at the same time disengaging the cam from the stop-pin c7. The roll, engaging frictionally with the cam, causes the latter to turn on its centre in the direction indicated by the arrow in Fig. 6.

Owing to the eccentric shape of the cam, its rotation while resting on the roller causes it to lift the yoke c2 above its original position, so that it acts upon the escapement rod C, lifting it and causing it to reverse the position of the escapement B, to release the matrix, as plainly seen in Fig. 6.

While this is taking place, the yoke-trigger c6 resumes its first position, as shown in dotted lines in Fig. 6, so that as the rotating cam lowers the yoke, it is again supported in its first position, the cam at the same time turning forward by momentum out of engagement with the roll until arrested in its original position by the pin c7.

It will be observed that the parts between each key lever and escapement operate independently of the others, so that a number of cams may be in engagement with the rollers at one time, and a number of escapements at different stages of their action at one time.

The matrices falling from the magazine descend through the front channels and are received on the inclined belt F, on which they are carried over and guided on the upper rounding surface of the assembler entrance-block f1, by which they are guided downward in front of the star-wheel f2, which pushes them forward one after another.

The spaces or justifiers I, released from their magazine H, as heretofore described, descend into the assembler G in front of the star-wheel in the same manner as the matrices.

The line in course of composition is sustained at its front end by a yielding finger or resistant g, secured to a horizontal assembler slide g2, the purpose of these parts being to hold the line together in compact form.



As the matrices approach the line, their upper ends are carried over a spring g3, projecting through the assembler face-plate from the rear, as shown in Fig. 7, its purpose being to hold the matrices forward and prevent them from falling back in such a manner that succeeding matrices and spaces or justifiers will pass improperly ahead of them. The descending matrices also pass beneath a long depending spring g4, which should be so adjusted as barely to permit the passage of the thickest matrix.



After the composition of the line is completed in the assembling elevator G, as shown in Fig. 8, the elevator is raised as shown in Fig. 9, so as to present the line between the depending fingers of the transfer-carriage N, which then moves to the left to the position shown by dotted lines in Fig. 9, thereby bringing the line into the first elevator O, which then descends, carrying the line of matrices downwards, as shown in Fig. 10, to its position in front of the mold and between the confining jaws P, P, mounted in the main frame, which determine the length of the line.

Figs. 11 and 12 show the casting mechanism in vertical section from front to rear. When the first elevator O lowers the line, as just described, the mold and the pot M stand in their rearward positions, as shown in Fig. 11.



The mold-carrying wheel is sustained by a horizontal slide, and as soon as the matrix line is lowered to the casting position, a cam at the rear pushes the slide and mold wheel forward until the front face of the mold is closed tightly against the rear face of the matrix line, as shown in Fig. 12.



While this is taking place, the pot, having its supporting legs mounted on a horizontal shaft, swings forward until its mouth is closed tightly against the back of the mold, as shown in Fig. 12. While the parts are in this position, the justifying bar Q is driven up and pushes the spaces or justifiers upward through the line of matrices until the line is expanded or elongated to fill completely the gap between jaws P, P.

In order to secure exact alignment of the matrices vertically and horizontally, the bar Q acts repeatedly on the spaces, and the line is slightly unlocked endwise and relocked. This is done that the matrices may be temporarily released to facilitate the accurate adjustment demanded. While the justified line is locked fast between the jaws, the elevator, and the mold, the plunger m2 in the pot descends and drives the molten metal before it through the spout or mouth of the pot into the mold, which is filled under pressure, so that a solid slug is produced against the matrices. The pot then retreats, and its mouth breaks away from the back of the slug in the mold, while, at the same time, the mold retreats to draw the type-characters on the contained slug out of the matrices. The mold wheel now revolves, carrying the rear edge of the slug past a stationary trimming-knife, not shown, and around to the position in front of the ejector, as previously described and shown in Fig. 4, whereupon the ejector advances and drives the slug between two side trimming-knives into the galley at the front.

DISTRIBUTION

After the casting action the first elevator O rises and carries the matrix line above the original or composing level, as shown in Fig. 13. The line is then drawn horizontally to the right until the teeth of the matrices engage the toothed elevator bar R, which swings upward with the matrices, thus separating the matrices from the spaces or justifiers I, which remain suspended in the frame, so that they may be pushed to the right, as indicated by the arrow, into their magazine.



When the line of matrices is raised to the distributor, it is necessary that the matrices shall be separated and presented one at a time to the distributor bar, between the threads of the horizontal carrier-screws. This is accomplished as shown in Figs. 14 and 15. A horizontal pusher or line-shifter S carries the line of matrices forward from the elevator bar R into the so-called distributor box, containing at its opposite sides two rails u, having near their forward ends shoulders u2, against which the forward matrix abuts so as to prevent further advance of the line, which is urged constantly forward by the follower or line-shifter S. A vertically reciprocating lifting finger V has its upper end shouldered to engage beneath the foremost matrix, so as to push it upward until its upper ears are lifted above the detaining shoulder u2, so that they may ride forward on the upwardly inclined inner ends of the rails, as shown in Fig. 14. The matrices thus lifted are engaged by the screws and carried forward, and, as they move forward, they are gradually raised by the rails until the teeth finally engage themselves on the distributor bar T, from which they are suspended as they are carried forward, over the mouth of the magazine, until they fall into their respective channels, as shown in Fig. 15.

The distributor box also contains on opposite sides shorter rails, u4, adapted to engage the lower ends of the matrices, to hold them in position as they are lifted. The lifting finger V is mounted on a horizontal pivot in one end of an elbow lever mounted on pivot v2 and actuated by a cam on the end of one of the carrier-screws, as shown in Figs. 2 and 15.

TRIMMING-KNIVES

In practice there is occasionally found a slight irregularity in the thickness of slugs, and thin fins are sometimes cast around the forward edges. For the purpose of reducing them to a uniform thickness, they are driven on their way to the galley between two vertical knives, as shown in Figs. 4 and 16. The inner knife is stationary, but the outer knife is adjustable in order that it may accommodate slugs of different thicknesses. This adjustment is made by the knife being seated at its outer edge against a supporting bar or wedge, having at opposite ends two inclined surfaces seated against supporting screws in the knife-block. A lever engages a pin on the wedge for the purpose of moving it endwise; when moving in one direction, it forces the knife inward toward the stationary knife, and when moved in the other direction, it forces it to retreat under the influence of a spring seated in the block. The wedge is provided with a series of teeth engaged by a spring-actuated pin or dog, whereby the wedge and the knife are stopped in proper positions to insure the exact space required between the two knives.



The back knife, secured to the frame for trimming the base of the slug as it is carried past by the revolving wheel, should be kept moderately sharp and adjusted so as to fit closely against the back of the passing mold. Particular attention should be paid to this feature. The edge of the knife must bear uniformly across the face of the mold.



The front knives, between which the slug is ejected, should not be made too sharp. After being sharpened, the thin edge can be advantageously removed by the use of a thin oilstone applied against the side face; that is, against the face past which the slug is carried.

The stationary or left-hand knife should be so adjusted as to align exactly with the inner side of the mold. Under proper conditions this knife does not trim the side face of the slug, but acts only to remove any slight fins or projections at the front edge.

The right-hand knife, adjustable by means of a wedge and lever, should stand exactly parallel with the stationary knife. It trims the side of the slug on which the ribs are formed, and it serves to bring the slug to the exact thickness required.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: From Theodore L. De Vinne's Modern Methods of Book Composition, pp. 403-425. The Century Company, New York, 1904.]



THE EXPOSITION OF A PROCESS IN NATURE

THE PEA WEEVIL[3]

Jean Henri Fabre

Peas are held in high esteem by mankind. From remote ages man has endeavored, by careful culture, to produce larger, tenderer, and sweeter varieties. Of an adaptable character, under careful treatment the plant has evolved in a docile fashion, and has ended by giving us what the ambition of the gardener desired. To-day we have gone far beyond the yield of the Varrons and Columelles, and further still beyond the original pea; from the wild seeds confided to the soil by the first man who thought to scratch up the surface of the earth, perhaps with the half-jaw of a cave-bear, whose powerful canine tooth would serve him as a ploughshare!

Where is it, this original pea, in the world of spontaneous vegetation? Our own country has nothing resembling it. Is it to be found elsewhere? On this point botany is silent, or replies only with vague probabilities.

We find the same ignorance elsewhere on the subject of the majority of our alimentary vegetables. Whence comes wheat, the blessed grain which gives us bread? No one knows. You will not find it here, except in the care of man; nor will you find it abroad. In the East, the birthplace of agriculture, no botanist has ever encountered the sacred ear growing of itself on unbroken soil.

Barley, oats, and rye, the turnip and the beet, the beetroot, the carrot, the pumpkin, and so many other vegetable products, leave us in the same perplexity; their point of departure is unknown to us, or at most suspected behind the impenetrable cloud of the centuries. Nature delivered them to us in the full vigor of the thing untamed, when their value as food was indifferent, as to-day she offers us the sloe, the bullace, the blackberry, the crab; she gave them to us in the state of imperfect sketches, for us to fill out and complete; it was for our skill and our labor patiently to induce the nourishing pulp which was the earliest form of capital, whose interest is always increasing in the primordial bank of the tiller of the soil.

As storehouses of food the cereal and the vegetable are, for the greater part, the work of man. The fundamental species, a poor resource in their original state, we borrowed as they were from the natural treasury of the vegetable world; the perfected race, rich in alimentary materials, is the result of our art.

If wheat, peas, and all the rest are indispensable to us, our care, by a just return, is absolutely necessary to them. Such as our needs have made them, incapable of resistance in the bitter struggle for survival, these vegetables, left to themselves without culture, would rapidly disappear, despite the numerical abundance of their seeds, as the foolish sheep would disappear were there no more sheep-folds.

They are our work, but not always our exclusive property. Wherever food is amassed, the consumers collect from the four corners of the sky; they invite themselves to the feast of abundance, and the richer the food the greater their numbers. Man, who alone is capable of inducing agrarian abundance, is by that very fact the giver of an immense banquet at which legions of feasters take their place. By creating more juicy and more generous fruits, he calls to his enclosures, despite himself, thousands and thousands of hungry creatures, against whose appetites his prohibitions are helpless. The more he produces, the larger is the tribute demanded of him. Wholesale agriculture and vegetable abundance favor our rival, the insect.

This is the immanent law. Nature, with an equal zeal, offers her mighty breast to all her nurslings alike; to those who live by the goods of others no less than to the producers. For us, who plough, sow, and reap, and weary ourselves with labor, she ripens the wheat; she ripens it also for the little Calender-beetle, which, although exempted from the labor of the fields, enters our granaries none the less, and there, with its pointed beak, nibbles our wheat, grain by grain, to the husk.

For us, who dig, weed, and water, bent with fatigue and burned by the sun, she swells the pods of the pea; she swells them also for the weevil, which does no gardener's work, yet takes its share of the harvest at its own hour, when the earth is joyful with the new life of spring.

Let us follow the manoeuvres of this insect which takes its tithe of the green pea. I, a benevolent rate-payer, will allow it to take its dues; it is precisely to benefit it that I have sown a few rows of the beloved plant in a corner of my garden. Without other invitation on my part than this modest expenditure of seed-peas, it arrives punctually during the month of May. It has learned that this stony soil, rebellious at the culture of the kitchen-gardener, is bearing peas for the first time. In all haste therefore it has hurried, an agent of the entomological revenue system, to demand its dues.

Whence does it come? It is impossible to say precisely. It has come from some shelter, somewhere, in which it has passed the winter in a state of torpor. The plane-tree, which sheds its rind during the heats of the summer, furnishes an excellent refuge for homeless insects under its partly detached sheets of bark.

I have often found our weevil in such a winter refuge. Sheltered under the dead covering of the plane, or otherwise protected while the winter lasts, it awakens from its torpor at the first touch of a kindly sun. The almanac of the instincts has aroused it; it knows as well as the gardener when the pea-vines are in flower, and seeks its favorite plant, journeying thither from every side, running with quick, short steps, or nimbly flying.

A small head, a fine snout, a costume of ashen grey sprinkled with brown, flattened wing-covers, a dumpy, compact body, with two large black dots on the rear segment—such is the summary portrait of my visitor. The middle of May approaches, and with it the van of the invasion.

They settle on the flowers, which are not unlike white-winged butterflies. I see them at the base of the blossom or inside the cavity of the "keel" of the flower, but the majority explore the petals and take possession of them. The time for laying the eggs has not yet arrived. The morning is mild; the sun is warm without being oppressive. It is the moment of nuptial flights; the time of rejoicing in the splendor of the sunshine. Everywhere are creatures rejoicing to be alive. Couples come together, part, and re-form. When towards noon the heat becomes too great, the weevils retire into the shadow, taking refuge singly in the folds of the flowers whose secret corners they know so well. To-morrow will be another day of festival, and the next day also, until the pods, emerging from the shelter of the "keel" of the flower, are plainly visible, enlarging from day to day.

A few gravid females, more pressed for time than the others, confide their eggs to the growing pod, flat and meager as it issues from its floral sheath. These hastily laid batches of eggs, expelled perhaps by the exigencies of an ovary incapable of further delay, seem to me in serious danger; for the seed in which the grub must establish itself is as yet no more than a tender speck of green, without firmness and without any farinaceous tissue. No larva could possibly find sufficient nourishment there, unless it waited for the pea to mature.

But is the grub capable of fasting for any length of time when once hatched? It is doubtful. The little I have seen tells me that the newborn grub must establish itself in the midst of its food as quickly as possible, and that it perishes unless it can do so. I am therefore of opinion that such eggs as are deposited in immature pods are lost. However, the race will hardly suffer by such a loss, so fertile is the little beetle. We shall see directly how prodigal the female is of her eggs, the majority of which are destined to perish.

The important part of the maternal task is completed by the end of May, when the shells are swollen by the expanding peas, which have reached their final growth, or are but little short of it. I was anxious to see the female Bruchus at work in her quality of Curculionid, as our classification declares her.[4] The other weevils are Rhyncophora, beaked insects, armed with a drill with which to prepare the hole in which the egg is laid. The Bruchus possesses only a short snout or muzzle, excellently adapted for eating soft tissues, but valueless as a drill.

The method of installing the family is consequently absolutely different. There are no industrious preparations as with the Balinidae, the Larinidae, and the Rhynchitides. Not being equipped with a long oviscapt, the mother sows her eggs in the open, with no protection against the heat of the sun and the variations of temperature. Nothing could be simpler, and nothing more perilous to the eggs, in the absence of special characteristics which, would enable them to resist the alternate trials of heat and cold, moisture and drought.

In the caressing sunlight of ten o'clock in the morning, the mother runs up and down the chosen pod, first on one side, then on the other, with a jerky, capricious, unmethodical gait. She repeatedly extrudes a short oviduct, which oscillates right and left as though to graze the skin of the pod. An egg follows, which is abandoned as soon as laid.

A hasty touch of the oviduct, first here, then there, on the green skin of the pea-pod, and that is all. The egg is left there, unprotected, in the full sunlight. No choice of position is made such as might assist the grub when it seeks to penetrate its larder. Some eggs are laid on the swellings created by the peas beneath; others in the barren valleys which separate them. The first are close to the peas, the second at some distance from them. In short, the eggs of the Bruchus are laid at random, as though on the wing.

We observe a still more serious vice: the number of eggs is out of all proportion to the number of peas in the pod. Let us note at the outset that each grub requires one pea; it is the necessary ration, and is largely sufficient for one larva, but is not enough for several, nor even for two. One pea to each grub, neither more nor less, is the unchangeable rule.

We should expect to find signs of a procreative economy which would impel the female to take into account the number of peas contained in the pod which she has just explored; we might expect her to set a numerical limit on her eggs in conformity with that of the peas available. But no such limit is observed. The rule of one pea to one grub is always contradicted by the multiplicity of consumers.

My observations are unanimous on this point. The number of eggs deposited on one pod always exceeds the number of peas available, and often to a scandalous degree. However meager the contents of the pod, there is a superabundance of consumers. Dividing the sum of the eggs upon such or such a pod by that of the peas contained therein, I find there are five to eight claimants for each pea; I have found ten, and there is no reason why this prodigality should not go still further. Many are called, but few are chosen! What is to become of all these supernumeraries, perforce excluded from the banquet for want of space?

The eggs are of a fairly bright amber yellow, cylindrical in form, smooth, and rounded at the ends. Their length is at most a twenty-fifth of an inch. Each is affixed to the pod by means of a slight network of threads of coagulated albumen. Neither wind nor rain can loosen their hold.

The mother not infrequently emits them two at a time, one above the other; not infrequently, also, the uppermost of the two eggs hatches before the other, while the latter fades and perishes. What was lacking to this egg, that it should fail to produce a grub? Perhaps a bath of sunlight; the incubating heat of which the outer egg has robbed it. Whether on account of the fact that it is shadowed by the other egg, or for other reasons, the elder of the eggs in a group of two rarely follows the normal course, but perishes on the pod, dead without having lived.

There are exceptions to this premature end; sometimes the two eggs develop equally well; but such cases are exceptional, so that the Bruchid family would be reduced to about half its dimensions if the binary system were the rule. To the detriment of our peas and to the advantage of the beetle, the eggs are commonly laid one by one and in isolation.

A recent emergence is shown by a little sinuous ribbon-like mark, pale or whitish, where the skin of the pod is raised and withered, which starts from the egg and is the work of the newborn larva; a sub-epidermic tunnel along which the grub works its way, while seeking a point from which it can escape into a pea. This point once attained, the larva, which is scarcely a twenty-fifth of an inch in length, and is white with a black head, perforates the envelope and plunges into the capacious hollow of the pod.

It has reached the peas and crawls upon the nearest. I have observed it with the magnifier. Having explored the green globe, its new world, it begins to sink a well perpendicularly into the sphere. I have often seen it halfway in, wriggling its tail in the effort to work the quicker. In a short time the grub disappears and is at home. The point of entry, minute, but always easily recognizable by its brown coloration on the pale green background of the pea, has no fixed location; it may be at almost any point on the surface of the pea, but an exception is usually made of the lower half; that is, the hemisphere whose pole is formed by the supporting stem.

It is precisely in this portion that the germ is found, which will not be eaten by the larva, and will remain capable of developing into a plant, in spite of the large aperture made by the emergence of the adult insect. Why is this particular portion left untouched? What are the motives that safeguard the germ?

It goes without saying that the Bruchus is not considering the gardener. The pea is meant for it and for no one else. In refusing the few bites that would lead to the death of the seed, it has no intention of limiting its destruction. It abstains from other motives.

Let us remark that the peas touch laterally, and are pressed one against the other, so that the grub, when searching for a point of attack, cannot circulate at will. Let us also note that the lower pole expands into the umbilical excrescence, which is less easy of perforation than those parts protected by the skin alone. It is even possible that the umbilicum, whose organization differs from that of the rest of the pea, contains a peculiar sap that is distasteful to the little grub.

Such, doubtless, is the reason why the peas exploited by the Bruchus are still able to germinate. They are damaged, but not dead, because the invasion was conducted from the free hemisphere, a portion less vulnerable and more easy of access. Moreover, as the pea in its entirety is too large for a single grub to consume, the consumption is limited to the portion preferred by the consumer, and this portion is not the essential portion of the pea.

With other conditions, with very much smaller or very much larger seeds, we shall observe very different results. If too small, the germ will perish, gnawed like the rest by the insufficiently provisioned inmate; if too large, the abundance of food will permit of several inmates. Exploited in the absence of the pea, the cultivated vetch and the broad bean afford us an excellent example; the smaller seed, of which all but the skin is devoured, is left incapable of germination; but the large bean, even though it may have held a number of grubs, is still capable of sprouting.

Knowing that the pod always exhibits a number of eggs greatly in excess of the enclosed peas, and that each pea is the exclusive property of one grub, we naturally ask what becomes of the superfluous grubs. Do they perish outside when the more precocious have one by one taken their places in their vegetable larder? or do they succumb to the intolerant teeth of the first occupants? Neither explanation is correct. Let us relate the facts.

On all old peas—they are at this stage dry—from which the adult Bruchus has emerged, leaving a large round hole of exit, the magnifying-glass will show a variable number of fine reddish punctuations, perforated in the centre. What are these spots, of which I count five, six, and even more on a single pea? It is impossible to be mistaken: they are the points of entry of as many grubs. Several grubs have entered the pea, but of the whole group only one has survived, fattened, and attained the adult age. And the others? We shall see.

At the end of May, and in June, the period of egg-laying, let us inspect the still green and tender peas. Nearly all the peas invaded show us the multiple perforations already observed on the dry peas abandoned by the weevils. Does this actually mean that there are several grubs in the pea? Yes. Skin the peas in question, separate the cotyledons, and break them up as may be necessary. We shall discover several grubs, extremely youthful, curled up comma-wise, fat and lively, each in a little round niche in the body of the pea.

Peace and welfare seem to reign in the little community. There is no quarrelling, no jealousy between neighbors. The feast has commenced; food is abundant, and the feasters are separated one from another by the walls of uneaten substance. With this isolation in separate cells no conflicts need be feared; no sudden bite of the mandibles, whether intentional or accidental. All the occupants enjoy the same rights of property, the same appetite, and the same strength. How does this communal feast terminate?

Having first opened them, I place a number of peas which are found to be well peopled in a glass test-tube. I open others daily. In this way I keep myself informed as to the progress of the various larvae. At first nothing noteworthy is to be seen. Isolated in its narrow chamber, each grub nibbles the substance around it, peacefully and parsimoniously. It is still very small; a mere speck of food is a feast; but the contents of one pea will not suffice the whole number to the end. Famine is ahead, and all but one must perish.

Soon, indeed, the aspect of things is entirely changed. One of the grubs—that which occupies the central position in the pea—begins to grow more quickly than the others. Scarcely has it surpassed the others in size when the latter cease to eat, and no longer attempt to burrow forwards. They lie motionless and resigned; they die that gentle death which comes to unconscious lives. Henceforth the entire pea belongs to the sole survivor. Now what has happened that these lives around the privileged one should be thus annihilated? In default of a satisfactory reply, I will propose a suggestion.

In the centre of the pea, less ripened than the rest of the seed by the chemistry of the sun, may there not be a softer pulp, of a quality better adapted to the infantile digestion of the grub? There, perhaps, being nourished by tenderer, sweeter, and perhaps, more tasty tissues, the stomach becomes more vigorous, until it is fit to undertake less easily digested food. A nursling is fed on milk before proceeding to bread and broth. May not the central portion of the pea be the feeding-bottle of the Bruchid?

With equal rights, fired by an equal ambition, all the occupants of the pea bore their way towards the delicious morsel. The journey is laborious, and the grubs must rest frequently in their provisional niches. They rest; while resting they frugally gnaw the riper tissues surrounding them; they gnaw rather to open a way than to fill their stomachs.

Finally one of the excavators, favored by the direction taken, attains the central portion. It establishes itself there, and all is over; the others have only to die. How are they warned that the place is taken? Do they hear their brother gnawing at the walls of his lodging? can they feel the vibration set up by his nibbling mandibles? Something of the kind must happen, for from that moment they make no attempt to burrow further. Without struggling against the fortunate winner, without seeking to dislodge him, those which are beaten in the race give themselves up to death. I admire this candid resignation on the part of the departed.

Another condition—that of space—is also present as a factor. The pea weevil is the largest of our Bruchidae. When it attains the adult stage, it requires a certain amplitude of lodging, which the other weevils do not require in the same degree. A pea provides it with a sufficiently spacious cell; nevertheless, the cohabitation of two in one pea would be impossible; there would be no room, even were the two to put up with a certain discomfort. Hence the necessity of an inevitable decimation, which will suppress all the competitors save one.

Now the superior volume of the broad bean, which is almost as much beloved by the weevil as the pea, can lodge a considerable community, and the solitary can live as a cenobite. Without encroaching on the domain of their neighbors, five or six or more can find room in the one bean.

Moreover, each grub can find its infant diet; that is, that layer which, remote from the surface, hardens only gradually and remains full of sap until a comparatively late period. This inner layer represents the crumb of a loaf, the rest of the bean being the crust.

In a pea, a sphere of much less capacity, it occupies the central portion; a limited point at which the grub develops, and lacking which it perishes; but in the bean it lines the wide adjoining faces of the two flattened cotyledons. No matter where the point of attack is made, the grub has only to bore straight down when it quickly reaches the softer tissues. What is the result? I have counted the eggs adhering to a bean-pod and the beans included in the pod, and comparing the two figures I find that there is plenty of room for the whole family at the rate of five or six dwellers in each bean. No superfluous larvae perish of hunger when barely issued from the egg; all have their share of the ample provision; all live and prosper. The abundance of food balances the prodigal fertility of the mother.

If the Bruchus were always to adopt the broad bean for the establishment of her family, I could well understand the exuberant allowance of eggs to one pod; a rich foodstuff easily obtained evokes a large batch of eggs. But the case of the pea perplexes me. By what aberration does the mother abandon her children to starvation on this totally insufficient vegetable? Why so many grubs to each pea when one pea is sufficient only for one grub?

Matters are not so arranged in the general balance-sheet of life. A certain foresight seems to rule over the ovary so that the number of mouths is in proportion to the abundance or scarcity of the food consumed. The Scarabaeus, the Sphex, the Necrophorus, and other insects which prepare and preserve alimentary provision for their families, are all of a narrowly limited fertility, because the balls of dung, the dead or paralyzed insects, or the buried corpses of animals on which their offspring are nourished are provided only at the cost of laborious efforts.

The ordinary bluebottle, on the contrary, which lays her eggs upon butcher's meat or carrion, lays them in enormous batches. Trusting in the inexhaustible riches represented by the corpse, she is prodigal of offspring, and takes no account of numbers. In other cases the provision is acquired by audacious brigandage, which exposes the newly born offspring to a thousand mortal accidents. In such cases the mother balances the chances of destruction by an exaggerated flux of eggs. Such is the case with the Meloides, which, stealing the goods of others under conditions of the greatest peril, are accordingly endowed with a prodigious fertility.

The Bruchus knows neither the fatigues of the laborious, obliged to limit the size of her family, nor the misfortunes of the parasite, obliged to produce an exaggerated number of offspring. Without painful search, entirely at her ease, merely moving in the sunshine over her favorite plant, she can insure a sufficient provision for each of her offspring; she can do so, yet is foolish enough to over-populate the pod of the pea; a nursery insufficiently provided, in which the great majority will perish of starvation. This ineptitude is a thing I cannot understand; it clashes too completely with the habitual foresight of the maternal instinct.

I am inclined to believe that the pea is not the original food plant of the Bruchus. The original plant must rather have been the bean, one seed of which is capable of supporting a dozen or more larvae. With the larger cotyledon the crying disproportion between the number of eggs and the available provision disappears.

Moreover, it is indubitable that the bean is of earlier date than the pea. Its exceptional size and its agreeable flavor would certainly have attracted the attention of man from the remotest periods. The bean is a ready-made mouthful, and would be of the greatest value to the hungry tribe. Primitive man would at an early date have sown it beside his wattled hut. Coming from Central Asia by long stages, their wagons drawn by shaggy oxen and rolling on the circular discs cut from the trunks of trees, the early immigrants would have brought to our virgin land, first the bean, then the pea, and finally the cereal, that best of safeguards against famine. They taught us the care of herds, and the use of bronze, the material of the first metal implement. Thus the dawn of civilization arose over France. With the bean did those ancient teachers also involuntarily bring us the insect which to-day disputes it with us? It is doubtful; the Bruchidae seem to be indigenous. At all events, I find them levying tribute from various indigenous plants, wild vegetables which have never tempted the appetite of man. They abound in particular upon the great forest vetch (Lathyrus latifolius), with its magnificent heads of flowers and long handsome pods. The seeds are not large, being indeed smaller than the garden pea; but, eaten to the very skin, as they invariably are, each is sufficient to the needs of its grub.

We must not fail to note their number. I have counted more than twenty in a single pod, a number unknown in the case of the pea, even in the most prolific varieties. Consequently this superb vetch is in general able to nourish without much loss the family confided to its pod.

Where the forest vetch is lacking, the Bruchus, none the less, bestows its habitual prodigality of eggs upon another vegetable of similar flavor, but incapable of nourishing all the grubs: for example, the travelling vetch (Vicia peregrina) or the cultivated vetch (Vicia saliva). The number of eggs remains high even upon insufficient pods, because the original food-plant offered a copious provision, both in the multiplicity and the size of the seeds. If the Bruchus is really a stranger, let us regard the bean as the original food-plant; if indigenous, the large vetch.

Sometime in the remote past we received the pea, growing it at first in the prehistoric vegetable garden which already supplied the bean. It was found a better article of diet than the broad bean, which to-day, after such good service, is comparatively neglected. The weevil was of the same opinion as man, and without entirely forgetting the bean and the vetch it established the greater part of its tribe upon the pea, which from century to century was more widely cultivated. To-day we have to share our peas; the Bruchidae take what they need, and bestow their leavings on us.

This prosperity of the insect which is the offspring of the abundance and equality of our garden products is from another point of view equivalent to decadence. For the weevil, as for ourselves, progress in matters of food and drink is not always beneficial. The race would profit better if it remained frugal. On the bean and the vetch the Bruchus founded colonies in which the infant mortality was low. There was room for all. On the pea-vine, delicious though its fruits may be, the greater part of its offspring die of starvation. The rations are few, and the hungry mouths are multitudinous.

We will linger over this problem no longer. Let us observe the grub which has now become the sole tenant of the pea by the death of its brothers. It has had no part in their death; chance has favored it, that is all. In the centre of the pea, a wealthy solitude, it performs the duty of a grub, the sole duty of eating. It nibbles the walls enclosing it, enlarging its lodgment, which is always entirely filled by its corpulent body. It is well shaped, fat, and shining with health. If I disturb it, it turns gently in its niche and sways its head. This is its manner of complaining of my importunities. Let us leave it in peace.

It profits so greatly and so swiftly by its position that by the time the dog-days have come it is already preparing for its approaching liberation. The adult is not sufficiently well equipped to open for itself a way out through the pea, which is now completely hardened. The larva knows of this future helplessness, and with consummate art provides for its release. With its powerful mandibles it bores a channel of exit, exactly round, with extremely clean-cut sides. The most skilful ivory-carver could do no better.

To prepare the door of exit in advance is not enough; the grub must also provide for the tranquillity essential to the delicate processes of nymphosis. An intruder might enter by the open door and injure the helpless nymph. This passage must therefore remain closed. But how?

As the grub bores the passage of exit, it consumes the farinaceous matter without leaving a crumb. Having come to the skin of the pea, it stops short. This membrane, semi-translucid, is the door to the chamber of metamorphosis, its protection against the evil intentions of external creatures.

It is also the only obstacle which the adult will encounter at the moment of exit. To lessen the difficulty of opening it, the grub takes the precaution of gnawing at the inner side of the skin, all round the circumference, so as to make a line of least resistance. The perfect insect will only have to heave with its shoulder and strike a few blows with its head in order to raise the circular door and knock it off like the lid of a box. The passage of exit shows through the diaphanous skin of the pea as a large circular spot, which is darkened by the obscurity of the interior. What passes behind it is invisible, hidden as, it is behind a sort of ground-glass window.

A pretty invention, this little closed porthole, this barricade against the invader, this trap-door raised by a push when the time has come for the hermit to enter the world. Shall we credit it to the Bruchus? Did the ingenious insect conceive the undertaking? Did it think out a plan and work out a scheme of its own devising? This would be no small triumph for the brain of a weevil. Before coming to a conclusion, let us try an experiment.

I deprive certain occupied peas of their skin, and I dry them with abnormal rapidity, placing them in glass test-tubes. The grubs prosper as well as in the intact peas. At the proper time the preparations for emergence are made.

If the grub acts on its own inspiration, if it ceases to prolong its boring directly it recognizes that the outer coating, auscultated from time to time, is sufficiently thin, what will it do under the conditions of the present test? Feeling itself at the requisite distance from the surface, it will stop boring; it will respect the outer layer of the bare pea, and will thus obtain the indispensable protecting screen.

Nothing of the kind occurs. In every case the passage is completely excavated; the entrance gapes wide open, as large and as carefully executed as though the skin of the pea were in its place. Reasons of security have failed to modify the usual method of work. This open lodging has no defence against the enemy; but the grub exhibits no anxiety on this score.

Neither is it thinking of the outer enemy when it bores down to the skin when the pea is intact, and then stops short. It suddenly stops because the innutritious skin is not to its taste. We ourselves remove the parchment-like skins from a mess of pease-pudding, as from a culinary point of view they are so much waste matter. The larva of the Bruchus, like ourselves, dislikes the skin of the pea. It stops short at the horny covering, simply because it is checked by an uneatable substance. From this aversion a little miracle arises; but the insect has no sense of logic; it is passively obedient to the superior logic of facts. It obeys its instinct, as unconscious of its act as is a crystal when it assembles, in exquisite order, its battalions of atoms.

Sooner or later during the month of August we see a shadowy circle form on each inhabited pea; but only one on each seed. These circles of shadow mark the doors of exit. Most of them open in September. The lid, as though cut out with a punch, detaches itself cleanly and falls to the ground, leaving the orifice free. The Bruchus emerges, freshly clad, in its final form.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse