Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 147 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883.

Now while the bird has expended more energy in this particular work of locomotion than has the man, we find the bird machine has done little else; he has consumed but little of his available heat force in exercising his brain or the other functions of his system, or in preserving the temperature of the body, and but little of his animal heat, which is his strength, has been radiated into space.  In short, we find the bird machine so devised by nature that a very large proportion of the available energy of the system can be used in working those parts contrived for locomotion, and resist the force of gravity, or, what is the same thing, nature has placed a greater relative portion of the whole furnace at the disposal of these parts than she has in man.  The breast muscles of the bird are so constructed as to burn a far greater proportional amount of the fuel from which all energy is derived than do the muscles of the rest of the body combined.

Let us see how it is with the man who has climbed the mountain.  In this machine we find affairs in a very different state.  During his climbing he has been doing a vast amount of other work, both internal and external.  His arms, his whole muscular system, in fact, has been vigorously at work, all drawing upon his total available energy.  His brain has been in constant and unremitted action, as well as the other internal organs, which require a greater proportional amount of energy than they did in the bird.  Besides this, he has been radiating his animal heat into space in a far greater amount.  All these parts must be supplied; they cannot be neglected while the accumulated surplus is given to the machinery for locomotion or lifting.  This then is what constitutes what I call the difference in the machine, which is purely one of organic development depending upon the functions nature has determined that the different organs shall perform.  As for the pterodactyl quoted in the last article, I have only to remark that this discussion arose purely from a consideration of what was the best type of flying apparatus nature had given man to study, and I claim that this prehistoric bird of geology does not come within this class.  For if it is not fully established that this species had become extinct long before the appearance of man on the globe, it is at least certain that the man of that early day had not dreamt of flying and was presumably content if he could find other means to evade the pterodactyl’s claw.

F.J.P., U.S.  Army.

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[Footnote 1:  A paper recently read before the Society of Arts, London.]


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Scientific American Supplement, No. 388, June 9, 1883 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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