What Is Man ?

MAN has ever been the greatest puzzle to man. There are many and important reasons for this fact. As the subject of this book is not a theoretical, academic study of man, of which too many have already been written, I will not recount the reasons, but will confine myself to the more pressing matters of the task in hand, which is that of pointing the way to the science and art of Human Engineering. The two facts which have to be dealt with first, are the two which have most retarded human progress: (1) there has never been a true definition of man nor a just conception of his role in the curious drama of the world; in consequence of which there has never been a proper principle or starting point for a science of humanity. It has never been realized that man is a being of a dimension or type different ,from that of animals and the characteristic nature of man has not been understood; (2) man has always been regarded either as an animal or as a supernatural phenomenon. The facts are that man is not supernatural but is literally a part of nature and that human beings are not animals. We have seen that the animals are truly characterized by their autonomous mobility-their space-binding capacity-animals are space-binders. We have seen that human beings are characterized by their creative power, by the power to make the past live in the present and the present for the future, by their capacity to bind time-human beings are time-binders. These concepts are basic and impersonal; arrived at mathematically, they are mathematically correct.

It does not matter at all how the first man, the first time-binder, was produced; the fact remains that he was somewhere, somehow produced. To know anything that is to-day of fundamental interest about man, we have to analyse man in three coordinates-in three capacities; namely, his chemistry, his activities in space, and especially his activities in time; whereas in the study of animals we have to consider only two factors: their chemistry and their activities in space.

Let us imagine that the aboriginal-original human specimen was one of two brother apes, A and B; they were alike in every respect; both were animal space-binders; but something strange happened to B; he became the first time-binder, a human. No matter how, this "something" made the change in him that lifted him to a higher dimension; it is enough that in some-wise, over and above his animal capacity for binding space, there was superadded the marvelous new capacity for binding-time. He had thus a new faculty, he belonged to a new dimension; but, of course, he did not realize it; and because he had this new capacity he was able to analyze his brother "A"; he observed "A is my brother; he is an animal; but he is my brother; therefore, I AM AN ANIMAL." This fatal first conclusion, reached by false analogy, by neglecting a fact, has been the chief source of human woe for half a million years and it still survives. The time-binding capacity, first manifest in B, increased more and more, with the days and each generation, until in the course of centuries man felt himself increasingly somehow different from the animal, but he could not explain. He said to himself, "If I am an animal there is also in me something higher, a spark of some thing supernatural."

With this conclusion he estranged himself, as something apart from nature, and formulated the impasse, which put him in a cul-de-sac of a double life. He was neither true to the "supernatural" which he could not know and therefore, could not emulate, nor was he true to the "animal" which he scorned. Having put himself outside the "natural laws," he was not really true to any law and condemned himself to a life of hypocrisy, and established speculative, artificial, unnatural laws.

"How blind our familiar assumptions make us! Among the animals, man, at least, has long been wont to regard himself as a being quite apart from and not as part of the cosmos round about him. From this he has detached himself in thought, he has estranged and objectified the world, and lost the sense that he is of it. And this age-long habit and point of view, which has fashioned his life and controlled his thought, lending its characteristic mark and color to his whole philosophy and art and learning, is still maintained, partly because of its convenience, no doubt, and partly by force of inertia and sheer conservatism, in the very teeth of the strongest probabilities of biological science. Probably no other single hypothesis has less to recommend it, and yet no other so completely dominates the human mind." (Cassius J. Keyser, loc. cit.) And this monstrous conception is current to-day: millions still look upon man as a mixture of animal and something supernatural.

There is no doubt that the engineering of human society is a difficult and complicated problem of tremendous ethical responsibility, for it involves the welfare of mankind throughout an unending succession of generations. The science of Human Engineering can not be built upon false conceptions of human nature. It can not be built on the conception of man as a kind of animal; it can not be built on the conception of man as a mixture of natural and supernatural. It must be built upon the conception of man as being at once natural and higher in dimensionality than the animals. It must be built upon the scientific conception of mankind as characterized by their time-binding capacity and function. This conception radically alters our whole view of human life, human society, and the world.

It must be obvious to any one that time-binding is the only natural criterion and standard for the time-binding class of life. This mighty term-time-binding-when comprehended, will be found to embrace the WHOLE of the natural laws, the natural ethics, the natural philosophy, the natural sociology, the natural economics, the natural governance, to be brought into the education of time-binders; then really peaceful and progressive civilization, without: periodical collapses and violent readjustments, will commence; not before. Everything which is really time-binding is in the HUMAN DIMENSION; therefore, it will represent every quality that is implied in such words as-good, just, right, beautiful; while everything that is merely space-binding will be classified as "animal" and be thus assessed at its proper value. Those ignorant "masters of our destinies" who regard humans as animals or as monstrous hybrids of natural and supernatural must be dethroned by scientific education.

Humans can be literally poisoned by false ideas and false teachings. Many people have a just horror at the thought of putting poison into tea or coffee, but seem unable to realize that, when they teach false ideas and false doctrines, they are poisoning the time-binding capacity of their fellow men and women. One has to stop and think! There is nothing mystical about the fact that ideas and words are energies which powerfully affect the physico-chemical base of our time-binding activities. Humans are thus made untrue to "human nature." Hypnotism is a known fact. It has been proved that a man can be so hypnotized that in a certain time which has been suggested to him, he will murder or commit arson or theft; that, under hypnotic influence, the personal morale of the individual has only a small influence upon his conduct; the subject obeys the hypnotic suggestions, no matter how immoral they are. The conception of man as a mixture of animal and supernatural has for ages kept human beings under the deadly spell of the suggestion that, animal selfishness and animal greediness are their essential character, and the spell has operated to suppress their REAL HUMAN NATURE and to prevent it from expressing itself naturally and freely.

On the other hand, when human beings are educated to a lively realization that they are by nature time-binding creatures, then they will spontaneously live in accordance with their time-binding nature, which, as I have said, is the source and support of the highest ideals.

What is achieved in blaming a man for being selfish and greedy if he acts under the influence of a social environment and education which teach him that he is an animal and that selfishness and greediness are of the essence of his nature?

Even so eminent a philosopher and psychologist as Spencer tells us: "Of self-evident truths so dealt with, the one which here concerns us is that a creature must live before it can act.... Ethics has to recognize the truth that egoism comes before altruism. This is true for ANIMALS, because animals die out from lack of food when their natural supply of it is insufficient because they have NOT THE CAPACITY TO PRODUCE ARTIFICIALLY. But it is not true for the HUMAN DIMENSION.

Why not? Because humans through their time-binding capacity are first of all creators and so their number is not controlled by the supply of unaided nature, but only by men's artificial productivity, which is THE MATERIALIZATION OF THEIR TIME-BINDING CAPACITY.

Man, therefore, by the very intrinsic character of his being, MUST ACT FIRST, IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO LIVE (through the action of parents-or society) which is not the case with animals. The misunderstanding of this simple truth is largely accountable for the evil of our ethical and economic systems or lack of systems. As a matter of fact, if humanity were to live in complete accord with the animal conception of man, artificial production-time-binding production-would cease and ninety per cent of mankind would perish by starvation. It is just because human beings are not animals but are time-binders-not mere finders but creators of food and shelter-that they are able to live in such vast numbers.

Here even the blind must see the effect of higher dimensionality, and this effect becomes in turn the cause of other effects which produce still others, and so on in an endless chain. WE LIVE BECAUSE WE PRODUCE, BECAUSE WE ARE ACTING IN TIME AND ARE NOT MERELY ACTING IN SPACE-BECAUSE MAN IS NOT A KIND OF ANIMAL. It is all so simple, if only we apply a little sound logic in our thinking about human nature and human affairs. If human ethics are to be human, are to be in the human dimension, the postulates of ethics must be changed; FOR HUMANITY IN ORDER TO LIVE MUST ACT FIRST; the laws of ethics-the laws of right living-are natural laws-laws of human nature-laws having their whole source and sanction in the time-binding capacity and time-binding activity peculiar to man. Human excellence is excellence in time-binding, and must be measured and rewarded by time-binding standards of worth.

Humanity, in order to live, must produce creatively and therefore must be guided by applied science, by technology; and this means that the so-called social sciences of ethics, jurisprudence, psychology, economics, sociology, politics, and government must be emancipated from medieval metaphysics; they must be made scientific; they must be technologized; they must be made to progress and to function in the proper dimension-the human dimension and not that of animals: they must be made time-binding sciences.

Can this be done? I have no doubt that it can. For what is human life after all?

To a general in the battlefield, human life is a factor which, if properly used, can destroy the enemy. To an engineer human life is an equivalent to energy, or a capacity to do work, mental or muscular, and the moment something is found to be a source of energy and to have the capacity of doing work, the first thing to do, from the engineer's point of view, is to analyse the generator with a view to discovering how best to conserve it, to improve it, and bring it to the level of maximum productivity. Human beings are very complicated energy-producing batteries differing widely in quality and magnitude of productive power. Experience has shown that these batteries are, first of all, chemical batteries producing a mysterious energy. If these batteries are not supplied periodically with a more or less constant quantity of some chemical elements called food and air, the batteries will cease to function-they will die. In the examination of the structure of these batteries we find that the chemical base is very much accentuated all through the structure. This chemical generator is divided into branches each of which has a very different role which it must perform in harmony with all the others. The mechanical parts of the structure are built in conformity to the rules of mechanics and are automatically furnished with lubrication and with chemical supplies for automatically renewing worn-out parts. The chemical processes not only deposit particles of mass for the structure of the generator but produce some very powerful unknown kinds of energies or vibrations which make all the chemical parts function; we find also a mysterious apparatus with a complex of wires which we call brain, glands, and nerves; and, finally, these human batteries have the remarkable capacity of reproduction.

These functions are familiar to everybody. From the knowledge of other physical, mechanical and chemical phenomena of nature, we must come to the conclusion, that this human battery is the most perfect example of a complex engine; it has all the peculiarities of a chemical battery combined with a generator of a peculiar energy called life; above all, it has mental or spiritual capacities; it is thus equipped with both mental and mechanical means for producing work. The parts and functions of this marvelous engine have been the subject of a vast amount of research in various special branches of science. A very noteworthy fact is that both the physical work and the mental work of this human engine are always accompanied by both physical and chemical changes in the structure of its machinery- corresponding to the wear and tear of non-living engines. It also presents certain sexual and spiritual phenomena that have a striking likeness to certain phenomena, especially wireless phenomena, to electricity and to radium. This human engine-battery is of unusual strength, durability and perfection; and yet it is very liable to damage and even wreckage, if not properly used. The controlling factors are very delicate and so the engine is very capricious. Very special training and understanding are necessary for its control.

The reader may wish to ask: What is the essence of the time-binding power of Man? Talk of essences is metaphysical-it is not scientific. Let me explain by an example.

What is electricity? The scientific answer is: electricity is that which exhibits such and such phenomena. Electricity means nothing but a certain group of phenomena called electric. We are studying electricity when we are studying those phenomena. Thus it is in physics-there is no talk of essences. So, too, in Human Engineering-we shall not talk of the essence of time-binding but only of the phenomena and the laws thereof. What has led to the development of electric appliances is knowledge of electrical phenomena-not metaphysical talk about the electrical essence. And what will lead to the science and art of Human Engineering is knowledge of time-binding phenomena-not vain babble about an essence of time-binding power. There is no mystery about the word time-binding. Some descriptive term was necessary to indicate that human capacity which discriminates human beings from animals and marks man as man. For that use -the appropriateness of the term time-binding becomes more and more manifest upon reflection.

What are the conditions of life upon this earth? Is there war or peace in daily life ? All living beings require food; they multiply in a geometrical ratio; and so the natural productivity of the soil becomes increasingly inadequate. The tendency to increase in geometrical ratio is true of all life-vegetable? animal and human, but the tendency is checked by various counteracting influences, natural and artificial. A short time ago these checks had so operated to annul the law of increase as almost to stop the growth of human population. It is only by the time-binding capacity of man-by scientific progress and technological invention-that the checks have been overcome. And so in the last century the population of Europe increased more than it had increased in several centuries before. Impoverished soil, excessive heat or cold, excessive moisture, the lack of rainfall, and many other factors are hostile to life. It is evident, therefore, that human life must especially struggle for existence; it must carry on a perpetual contest for self preservation. It seems obvious that, if there is perpetual war in every-day life, war methods must be applied.

We have just passed through a tremendous worldwide military war and we developed special ways of producing power to overcome the enemy. We were thus driven to discover some of the hidden sources of power and all of our old habits and ideas were bent toward military methods and military technology. The war of every-day life against hostile elements is war for the subjugation of physical nature and not for the conquest of people. It is a war carried on by the time-binding power of men pitted against natural obstacles, and its progressive triumph means progressive advancement in human weal.

The lesson of the World War should not be missed through failure to analyse it. When nations war with nations, the normal daily war of millions and millions of individuals to subjugate natural resources to human uses is interrupted, and the slow-gathered fruits of measureless toil are destroyed.

But peaceful war, war for the conquest of nature' involves the use of methods of technology and, what is even more important, technological philosophy, law and ethics.

What I want to emphasize in this little book, is the need of a thoroughgoing revision of our ideas; and the revision must be made by engineering minds in order that our ideas may be made to match facts. If we are ill, we consult a physician or a surgeon, not a charlatan. We must learn that, when there is trouble with the producing power of the world, we have to consult an engineer, an expert on power. Politicians, diplomats, and lawyers do not understand the problem. What I am advocating is that we must learn to ask those who know how to produce things, instead of asking those whose profession is to fight for the division of things produced by nature or by other human beings.

As a matter of fact our civilization has been for a long time disorganized to the point of disease. Lately through the whirl of changing conditions, due to the great release of power in the new-born giant technology, the disorganization has become acute.

The sick seldom know the cure for themselves. If the cure is to be enduring, we have to go to the source, and this can be done only by men familiar, not only with effects but also with the causes.

Money is not the wealth of a nation, but production is wealth; so ordered production is the main object for humanity. But to have the maximum of production, it is necessary to have production put on a sound basis. No mere preaching of brotherly love, or class hatred, will produce one single brick for the building of the future temple of human victory-the temple of human civilization. Ordered production demands analysis of basic facts.

This era is essentially an industrial era. To produce we have to have: (1) raw material or soil; (2) instruments for production-tools and machines; and (3) the application of power.

The three requirements may be briefly characterized and appraised as follows:

(1) Raw material and soil are products of nature; humanity simply took them and had the use of them for nothing, because it is impossible to call a prayer of thanksgiving (if any) addressed to a "creator" as payment to gods or men. But raw material and soil, in the conditions in which nature produces them, are of very little immediate benefit to humanity, because untilled soil produces very little food for humans, and raw material such as wood, coal, oil, iron, copper, etc., are completely useless to humanity until after human work is applied to them. It is necessary to cut a tree for the making of timber; it is necessary to excavate the minerals, and even then, only by applying further human work is it possible to make them available for any human use. So, it is obvious that even raw materials in the form in which nature has produced them, are mostly of no value and unavailable for use, unless reproduced through the process of "human creative production." Therefore, we may well conclude that "raw material" must be divided into two very distinct classes: (a) raw material as produced by nature-nature's free gift-which in its original form and place has practically no use-value; and (b) raw material reproduced by man's mental and muscular activities, by his "time-binding" capacities. Raw materials of the second class have an enormous use-value; indeed they make the existence of humanity possible.

As to the second requirement for production, namely:

(2) Tools and machines, it is obvious that "tools and machines" are made of raw material by human work, mental and muscular.

And, finally:

(3) The application of power. Different sources of natural energy and power are known. The most important available source of energy for this globe is the sun-the heat of the sun. This solar heat is the origin of water power, of wind power, and of the power bound up in coal, of the chemistry, growth and transforming agency of plants.*

All foods which the animals as well as the humans use are, already, the result of the solar energy transformed into what may be called chemical energy. Transformation of energies is building up of life.

It is to be clearly seen that the only source of energy which can be directly appropriated and used by man or animal is vegetable food found in the wilderness; no other sources of power are available for direct use; they have first to be mastered and directed by human brain. The same is true in regard to the getting of animal food, the creation of a water- or windmill, or a steam engine, or the art of using a team of horses, or a bushel of wheat; these are not available except by the use of the human "time-binding" power.

This short survey of facts, known to everybody, brings us to the conclusion that all problems of production come ultimately to the analysis of

(1) Natural resources of raw material and natural energy, freely supplied by nature, which, as we have seen, in the form as produced by nature alone, have very little or no value for humanity;

(2) The activity of the human brain (because human muscles are always directed by the brain) which gives value to the otherwise useless raw materials and energies.

Hence, to understand the processes of production, it is essential to realize that humanity is able to survive only by virtue of the capacity of humans to exploit natural resources-to convert the products of nature into forms available for human needs. If humanity had only the capacity of apes, depending exclusively on wild fruits and the like, they would be confined to those comparatively small regions of the globe where the climate and the fertility of the soil are specially favorable. But in the case supposed, humans would not be humans, they would not be time-binders-they would be animals-mere space-binders.

There are other facts which must be kept constantly in mind. One of them is that, in the world in which we live, there are natural laws of inorganic as well as organic phenomena. Another of the facts is, as before said, that the human class of life has the peculiar capacity of establishing the social laws and customs which regulate and influence its destinies, which help or hinder the processes of production upon which the lives and happiness of mankind essentially and fundamentally depend.

It must not be lost sight of in this connection that the human class of life is a part and a product of nature, and that, therefore, there must be fundamental laws which are natural for this class of life. A stone obeys the natural laws of stones; a liquid conforms to the natural law of liquids; a plant, to the natural laws of plants; an animal, to the natural laws of animals; it follows inevitably that there must be natural laws for humans.

But here the problem becomes more complicated; for the stone, the plant and the animal do not possess the intellectual power to create and initiate and so must blindly obey the laws that are natural for them; they are not free to determine their own destinies. Not so with man; man has the capacity and he can, through ignorance or neglect or mar-intent, deviate from, or misinterpret, the natural laws for the human class of life. Just therein lies the secret and the source of human chaos and woe-a fact of such tremendous importance that it cannot be overemphasized and it seems impossible to evade it longer. To discover the nature of Man and the laws of that nature, marks the summit of human enterprises. For to solve this problem is to open the way to everything which can be of importance to humanity-to human welfare and happiness.

The great problem has been felt as a powerful impulse throughout the ages of human striving, for in all times it has been evident to thinkers that upon the right solution of the problem must forever depend the welfare of mankind. Many "solutions" have been offered; and, though they have differed widely, they agree in one respect-they have had a common fate-the fate of being false. What has been the trouble? The trouble has been, in every instance, a radical misconception of what a human being really is. The problem is to discover the natural laws of the human class of life. All the "solutions" offered in the course of history and those which are current to-day are of two and only two kinds-zoological and mythological. The zoological solutions are those which grow out of the false conception according to which human beings are animals; if humans are animals, the laws of human nature are the laws of animal nature; and so the social "sciences" of ethics, law, politics, economics, government become nothing but branches of zoology; as sciences, they are the studies of animal life; as arts, they are the arts of managing and controlling animals; according to this zoological philosophy, human wisdom about human beings is animal wisdom about animals.

The mythological "solutions" are those which start with the monstrous conception according to which human beings have no proper place in nature but are mixtures of natural and supernatural- unions or combinations of animality and divinity. Such "solutions" contain no conception of natural law; scientifically judged, they are mythological absurdities-muddle-headed chattering of crude and irresponsible metaphysics-well-meaning no doubt, but silly, and deadly in their effects upon the interests of mankind, vitiating ethics, law, economics, politics and government.

Such have been and still are the regnant philosophies of human nature. What is the remedy? How are the laws of human nature to be discovered?

It is evident that the enterprise, like all other scientific enterprises, must be based upon and guided by realities. It is essential to realize that the great, central, dominant, all-embracing reality is the reality of human nature. If we misconceive this fundamental matter, the enterprise must fail; that is both logically clear and clear in the sad light of history; but if we conceive it aright, we may confidently expect the enterprise to prosper. That is why, in the chapter on "The Classes of Life," I have laid so much stress on the absolute necessity of conceiving Man as being what he really is, and not something else. And we have discovered what man is: we have discovered that man is characterized by the capacity or power to bind time, and so we have defined humanity as the time-binding class of life. That concept is fundamental. It contains the germ of the science and art of Human Engineering. The problem of discovering and applying the "laws of human nature" is the problem Of discovering and applying to the conduct of life the laws of time-binding-of time-binding activity-of time-binding energy. This fact must be firmly seized and kept steadily in mind.

Energy, we have noted, is the capacity to do work. In human economy work may be (1) useful or (2) neutral or (3) harmful. These words have no significance except in human economy. The energy of the human intellect is a time-binding energy, for it is able to direct, to use, to transform other energies. This time-binding energy is of higher rank-of higher dimensionality-than the other natural energies which it directs, controls, uses, and transforms. This higher energy-which is commonly called the mental or spiritual power of man-is time-binding because it makes past achievements live in the present and present activities in time-to-come. It is an energy that initiates; it is an energy that creates; it is an energy that can understand the past and foretell the future-it is both historian and prophet; it is an energy that loads abstract time-the vehicle of events-with an ever-increasing burden of intellectual achievements, of spiritual wealth, destined for the civilization of posterity. And what is the natural law of the increase? What is the natural law of human advancements in all great matters of human concern ?

The question is of utmost importance both theoretically and practically, for the law-whatever it be -is a natural law-a law of human nature-a law of the time-binding energy of man. What is the law? We have already noted the law of arithmetical progression and the law of geometric progression; we have seen the immense difference between them; and we have seen that the natural law of human progress in each and every cardinal matter is a law like that of a rapidly increasing geometric progression. In other words, the natural law of human progress-the natural law of amelioration in human affairs-the fundamental law of human nature-the basic law of the time-binding energy peculiar to man-is a Logarithmic law-a law of logarithmic increase. I beg the reader not to let the term bewilder him but to make it his own. It is easy to understand; and its significance is mighty and everlasting. Even its mathematical formulation can be understood by boys and girls. Let us see how the formulation looks.

Suppose PR to denote the amount of progress made in some important field by a given generation-which we may call the "first" generation; where R denotes the common ratio-the ratio of improvement-that is, the number by which the progress of one generation must be multiplied to give the amount of progress made by the next generation; then the amount of progress made by the second generation will be PR2; that made by the third generation will be PR3; and so on; now denote by T the number of generations, counting the first one and all that follow in endless succession. Then the following series will show the law of human progress in the chosen field:

PR, PR2,PR3, PR4, PR5, . . ., PRT, PRT+l, . . . ;

notice how it goes; the first generation ends with PR; the second generation starts with PR, adds PR2, and ends with PR+PR2; the third generation starts with PR+PR2, adds PR3 and ends with PR+PR2+PR3; and so on and on; the gain made in the Tth generation is PRT; the total gain made in T generations is

PR+PR2+PR3+ . . + PRT;

this total gain is given by the formula,

Total gain in T generations =(PRT-P)

If we take R to be 2 (which is a very small ratio, requiring the progress of each generation to be merely double that of the preceding one) and if we take T to be (say) 10 then we see that the progress made by the single 10th generation is P210, which is 1024 times the progress made in the "first" generation; and we readily compute that the total gain in 10 generations is 2046 times the progress made in the "first" generation. Moreover, to gain a just sense of the impressiveness of this law, the reader must reflect upon the fact that it operates, not merely on one field, but in all fields of human interest. "Operates in all fields" I have just now said; as a matter of fact, as before pointed out, it does not so operate now in all fields nor has it ever done so. My point is that it will so operate when we once acquire sense enough to let it do so. That sense we shall have when and only when we discover that by nature we are time-binders and that the effectiveness of our time-binding capacity is not only a function of time but is, as I have explained, a logarithmic or exponential function of time a function in which time (T) enters as an exponent, as in the expression PRT, so that we humans are, unlike animals, naturally qualified not only to progress, but to progress more and more rapidly, with an always accelerating acceleration, as the generations pass.

This great fact is to be at once the basis, the regulator and guide in the science and art of Human Engineering. Whatever squares with that law of time-binding human energy, is right and makes for human weal; whatever contravenes it, is wrong and makes for human woe.

And so I repeat that the world will have uninterrupted, peaceful progress when and only when the so-called social "sciences"-the life-regulating "sciences" of ethics, law, philosophy, economics, religion, politics, and government-are technologized; when and only when they are made genuinely scientific in spirit and method; for then and only then will they advance, like the natural, mathematical and technological sciences, in conformity to the fundamental exponential law of the time-binding nature of man; then and then only, by the equal pace of progress in all cardinal matters, the equilibrium of social institutions will remain stable and social cataclysms cease.

* It must be remembered here that our world is, first of all, a dynamic conglomeration of matter and energy, which to-day, as well as in the first period of primitive organic life, took and takes different known and unknown forms. One of these forms of energy is the chemical energy, with its tendency to combinations and exchanges. Different elements act in different ways. The history of the earth and its life is simply the history of different chemical periods, with different transformations of energy. A strange fact is to be noticed about nitrogen. Nitrogen chemically has an exceptional inertness toward most other substances but once it is a component part of a substance, almost all of these combinations are a very powerful source of energy, and all of them have a very strong effect upon organic life. Nitric acid acts through oxidation, the substances are burned up by the oxygen given off from the acid. Nitric acid occurs in nature in a combination called nitrates. From the soil the nitrates pass into the plant. Nitrite of amyl acts upon our organs in a most violent and spasmodic way. Nitrous oxide is the so-called laughing gas.
Alkaloids are compounds of a vegetable origin, generally of complex composition and capable of producing marked effects upon animals. They all contain nitrogen. Explosives which are a chemical means of storing tremendous amounts of energy, are mostly of some nitrogenous compound. Albumen is an organic compound of great importance in life, which, besides being the characteristic ingredient in the white of an egg, abounds in the serum of the blood and forms an important part of the muscles and brain. Albuminoids play the most vital role in plant life and are an extensive class of organic bodies found in plants and animals, as they are found to form the chief constituents of blood, nerves. All albuminoids found in animals are produced by the processes fulfilled in plants. Their exact constitution is not known; analysis shows that they contain approximately: Carbon 50-55%, Hydrogen 6.9-7.5%, Nitrogen 15-19%, Oxygen 20-24%, Sulphur 0.3-2.0%. Venous blood contains in 100 volumes: Nitrogen, 13; Carbonic Acid, 71.6; Oxygen, 15.3. Arterial blood: Nitrogen, 14.5; Carbonic Acid, 62.3; Oxygen, 23.2.
"Nitrogenous compounds in general, are extremely prone to decomposition their decomposition often involving a sudden and great evolution of force. We see that substances classed as ferments.... are all nitrogenous ... and we see that even in organisms and parts of organisms where the activities are least, such changes as do take place are initiated by a substance containing nitrogen.... We see that organic matter is so constituted that small incidental actions are capable of initiating great reaction and liberating large quantities of power. . . . The seed of a plant contains nitrogenous substances in a far higher ratio than the rest of the plant; and the seed differs from the rest of the plant in its ability to initiate . . . extensive vital changes-the changes constituting germination. Similarly in the bodies of animals . . . in every living vegetal cell there is a certain part that contains nitrogen. This part initiates these changes which constitute the development of the cell.... It is a curious and significant fact that, in technology, we not only utilize the same principle of initiating extensive changes among comparatively stable compounds by the help of compounds much less stable, but we employ for the purpose compounds of the same general class. Our modern method of firing a gun is to place in close proximity with the gunpowder which we choose to decompose or explode, a small portion of fulminating powder, which is decomposed or exploded with extreme facility, and which on decomposing, communicates the consequent molecular disturbances to the less easily decomposed gunpowder. When we ask what this fulminating powder is composed of, we find that it is a nitrogenous salt."-Spencer.