Articles and extracts

Mechanical and Electrical Responses in Living Matter

Jagadish Bose

The first two chapters of ‘Response in the Living and Non-living’.

Mechanical response to different kinds of stimuli

 This reaction under stimulus is seen even in the lowest organisms; in some of the amœboid rhizopods, for instance. These lumpy protoplasmic bodies, usually elongated while creeping, if mechanically jarred, contract into a spherical form.

If, instead of mechanical  disturbance, we apply salt solution, they again contract, in the same way as before. Similar effects are produced by sudden illumination, or by rise of temperature, or by electric shock.

A living substance may thus be put into an excitatory state by either mechanical, chemical, thermal, electrical, or light stimulus. Not only does the point stimulated show the effect of stimulus, but that effect may sometimes be conducted even to a considerable distance. […]


Response in the Living and Non-Living


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This is one of the great Indian scientist’s earlier works. His experiments showed that in the entire range of responses—regardless of whether the subject is metallic, plant or animal—the responses are identical. The living response, in all its diverse modifications, is a repetition of the responses seen in the inorganic.

Further, the nature of the response is determined not by the play of an unknowable and arbitrary vital force, but by laws that do not change, and act equally and uniformly throughout both organic and inorganic matter.

This realization was always at the core of his work. He sought to show that all materials react to their environments according to the same laws; in other words, everything exists in the same field of consciousness. […]