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On the Nature of Muscular Contraction


    THE subject of this lecture is an inquiry into “The Nature of Muscular Contraction.” Like all vital phenomena, muscular contraction is a most complicated process, composed of mechanical, chemical, thermal, and electrical changes in living matter. Hence it will be our task to become acquainted with these changes as completely and exactly as possible, and to ascertain their causal connection. Our inquiry must not be restricted to one special kind of muscle: it will have to extend to all the different forms, for there can be no doubt but that in all these cases the principle of activity is the same. Nay, it will be necessary to deal even with the other phenomena of so-called contractility, such as protoplasmic and ciliary motion, for all these different types of organic movement, however much they may differ from each other in details, are yet so connected by gradual transitions, that, to all appearance, one principle of motion, essentially the same, is applicable to all of them.

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