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