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Muscle Quotes (35 quotes)

[When recording electrical impulses from a frog nerve-muscle preparation seemed to show a tiresomely oscillating electrical artefact—but only when the muscle was hanging unsupported.] The explanation suddenly dawned on me ... a muscle hanging under its own weight ought, if you come to think of it, to be sending sensory impulses up the nerves coming from the muscle spindles ... That particular day’s work, I think, had all the elements that one could wish for. The new apparatus seemed to be misbehaving very badly indeed, and I suddenly found it was behaving so well that it was opening up an entire new range of data ... it didn’t involve any particular hard work, or any particular intelligence on my part. It was just one of those things which sometimes happens in a laboratory if you stick apparatus together and see what results you get.
From 'Memorable experiences in research', Diabetes (1954), 3, 17-18. As cited in Alan McComa, Galvani's Spark: The Story of the Nerve Impulse (2011), 102-103.
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Adrenalin does not excite sympathetic ganglia when applied to them directly, as does nicotine. Its effective action is localised at the periphery. The existence upon plain muscle of a peripheral nervous network, that degenerates only after section of both the constrictor and inhibitory nerves entering it, and not after section of either alone, has been described. I find that even after such complete denervation, whether of three days' or ten months' duration, the plain muscle of the dilatator pupillae will respond to adrenalin, and that with greater rapidity and longer persistence than does the iris whose nervous relations are uninjured. Therefore it cannot be that adrenalin excites any structure derived from, and dependent for its persistence on, the peripheral neurone. But since adrenalin does not evoke any reaction from muscle that has at no time of its life been innervated by the sympathetic, the point at which the stimulus of the chemical excitant is received, and transformed into what may cause the change of tension of the muscle fibre, is perhaps a mechanism developed out of the muscle cell in response to its union with the synapsing sympathetic fibre, the function of which is to receive and transform the nervous impulse. Adrenalin might then be the chemical stimulant liberated on each occasion when the impulse arrives at the periphery.
'On the Action of Adrenalin', Proceedings of the Physiological Society, 21 May 1904, in The Journal of Physiology 1904, 31, xxi.
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All living organisms are but leaves on the same tree of life. The various functions of plants and animals and their specialized organs are manifestations of the same living matter. This adapts itself to different jobs and circumstances, but operates on the same basic principles. Muscle contraction is only one of these adaptations. In principle it would not matter whether we studied nerve, kidney or muscle to understand the basic principles of life. In practice, however, it matters a great deal.
'Muscle Research', Scientific American, 1949, 180 (6), 22.
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An induction shock results in a contraction or fails to do so according to its strength; if it does so at all, it produces in the muscle at that time the maximal contraction that can result from stimuli of any strength.
Über die Eigentümlichkeiten der Reizbarkeit welche die Muskelfasern des Herzen zeigen', Ber. süchs. Akad. Wiss., Math.-nat Klasse, 1871, 23, 652-689. Trans. Edwin Clarke and C. D. O'Malley, The Human Brain and Spinal Cord (1968), 218.
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Anatomists see no beautiful woman in all their lives, but only a ghastly sack of bones with Latin names to them, and a network of nerves and muscles and tissues inflamed by disease.
From Letter to the San Francisco Alta California (28 May 1867; published 28 Jul 1867), collected and published by Franklin Walker and G. Ezra Dane in Mark Twain's Travels with Mr. Brown (1940), 238.
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Ask a follower of Bacon what [science] the new philosophy, as it was called in the time of Charles the Second, has effected for mankind, and his answer is ready; “It has lengthened life; it has mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendour of the day; it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied the power of the human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it has annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse, correspondence, all friendly offices, all dispatch of business; it has enabled man to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of the earth, to traverse the land in cars which whirl along without horses, to cross the ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour against the wind. These are but a part of its fruits, and of its first-fruits; for it is a philosophy which never rests, which has never attained, which is never perfect. Its law is progress. A point which yesterday was invisible is its goal to-day, and will be its starting-point to-morrow.”
From essay (Jul 1837) on 'Francis Bacon' in Edinburgh Review. In Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay and Lady Trevelyan (ed.) The Works of Lord Macaulay Complete (1871), Vol. 6, 222.
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Dance … is life, or becomes it, in a way that other arts cannot attain. It is not in stone, or words or tones, but in our muscles. It is a formulation of their movements.
In Art Is Action: A Discussion of Nine Arts in a Modern World (1939), 56.
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I propose to substitute the word 'autonomic'. The word implies a certain degree of independent action, but exercised under control of a higher power. The 'autonomic' nervous system means the nervous system of the glands and of the involuntary muscle; it governs the 'organic' functions of the body.
'On the Union of Cranial Autonomic (Visceral) Fibres w;th the Nerve Cells of the Superior Cervical Ganglion', The Journal of Physiology, 1898-99, 23, 241.
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If feeling be not a property of matter, but owing to a superior principle, it must follow, that the motions of the heart, and other muscles of animals, after being separated from their bodies, are to be ascribed to this principle; and that any difficulties which may appear in this matter are owing to our ignorance of the nature of the soul, of the manner of its existence, and of its wonderful union with, and action upon the body.
In An Essay on the Vital and Other Involuntary Motions of Animals (1751), 389-390.
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In the world of science different levels of esteem are accorded to different kinds of specialist. Mathematicians have always been eminently respectable, and so are those who deal with hard lifeless theories about what constitutes the physical world: the astronomers, the physicists, the theoretical chemists. But the more closely the scientist interests himself in matters which are of direct human relevance, the lower his social status. The real scum of the scientific world are the engineers and the sociologists and the psychologists. Indeed, if a psychologist wants to rate as a scientist he must study rats, not human beings. In zoology the same rules apply. It is much more respectable to dissect muscle tissues in a laboratory than to observe the behaviour of a living animal in its natural habitat.
From transcript of BBC radio Reith Lecture (12 Nov 1967), 'A Runaway World', on the bbc.co.uk website.
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It is the destiny of wine to be drunk, and it is the destiny of glucose to be oxidized. But it was not oxidized immediately: its drinker kept it in his liver for more than a week, well curled up and tranquil, as a reserve aliment for a sudden effort; an effort that he was forced to make the following Sunday, pursuing a bolting horse. Farewell to the hexagonal structure: in the space of a few instants the skein was unwound and became glucose again, and this was dragged by the bloodstream all the way to a minute muscle fiber in the thigh, and here brutally split into two molecules of lactic acid, the grim harbinger of fatigue: only later, some minutes after, the panting of the lungs was able to supply the oxygen necessary to quietly oxidize the latter. So a new molecule of carbon dioxide returned to the atmosphere, and a parcel of the energy that the sun had handed to the vine-shoot passed from the state of chemical energy to that of mechanical energy, and thereafter settled down in the slothful condition of heat, warming up imperceptibly the air moved by the running and the blood of the runner. 'Such is life,' although rarely is it described in this manner: an inserting itself, a drawing off to its advantage, a parasitizing of the downward course of energy, from its noble solar form to the degraded one of low-temperature heat. In this downward course, which leads to equilibrium and thus death, life draws a bend and nests in it.
The Periodic Table (1975), trans. Raymond Rosenthal (1984), 192-3.
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Muscles are in a most intimate and peculiar sense the organs of the will. They have built all the roads, cities and machines in the world, written all the books, spoken all the words, and, in fact done everything that man has accomplished with matter. Character might be a sense defined as a plexus of motor habits.
Youth, Its Education, Regimen and Hygiene (1907), 7.

Nature offers us a thousand simple pleasures—plays of light and color, fragrance in the air, the sun’s warmth on skin and muscle, the audible rhythm of life’s stir and push—for the price of merely paying attention. What joy! But how unwilling or unable many of us are to pay this price in an age when manufactured sources of stimulation and pleasure are everywhere at hand. For me, enjoying nature’s pleasures takes conscious choice, a choice to slow down to seed time or rock time, to still the clamoring ego, to set aside plans and busyness, and to simply to be present in my body, to offer myself up.
In Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry (1991), 43.
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On laying bare the roots of the spinal nerves, I found that I could cut across the posterior fasciculus of nerves, which took its origin from the posterior portion of the spinal marrow without convulsing the muscles of the back; but that on touching the anterior fasciculus with the point of a knife, the muscles of the back were immediately convulsed.
Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain (1811, 22.
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Science has thus, most unexpectedly, placed in our hands a new power of great but unknown energy. It does not wake the winds from their caverns; nor give wings to water by the urgency of heat; nor drive to exhaustion the muscular power of animals; nor operate by complicated mechanism; nor summon any other form of gravitating force, but, by the simplest means—the mere contact of metallic surfaces of small extent, with feeble chemical agents, a power everywhere diffused through nature, but generally concealed from our senses, is mysteriously evolved, and by circulation in insulated wires, it is still more mysteriously augmented, a thousand and a thousand fold, until it breaks forth with incredible energy.
Comment upon 'The Notice of the Electro-Magnetic Machine of Mr. Thomas Davenport, of Brandon, near Rutland, Vermont, U.S.', The Annals of Electricity, Magnetism, & Chemistry; and Guardian of Experimental Science (1838), 2, 263.
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The brain can be developed just the same as the muscles can be developed, if one will only take the pains to train the mind to think. Why do so many men never amount to anything? Because they don't think!
As quoted from an interview by B.C. Forbes in The American Magazine (Jan 1921), 10.
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The external impressions which are made on the sensorial nerves are very quickly transmitted along the whole length of the nerves, as far as their origin; and having arrived there, they are reflected by a certain law, and pass on to certain and corresponding motor nerves, through which, being again very quickly transmitted to muscles, they excite certain and definite motions. This part, in which, as in a centre, the sensorial nerves, as well as the motor nerves, meet and communicate, and in which the impressions made on the sensorial nerves are reflected on the motor nerves, is designated by a term, now adopted by most physiologists, the sensorium commune.
A Dissertation on the Functions of the Nervous System (1784), trans. and ed. Thomas Laycock (1851), 429.
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The extracellular genesis of cells in animals seemed to me, ever since the publication of the cell theory [of Schwann], just as unlikely as the spontaneous generation of organisms. These doubts produced my observations on the multiplication of blood cells by division in bird and mammalian embryos and on the division of muscle bundles in frog larvae. Since then I have continued these observations in frog larvae, where it is possible to follow the history of tissues back to segmentation.
'Ueber extracellulare Eutstehung thierischer Zelleu und üüber Vermehrung derselben durch Theilung', Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und Wissenschaftliche Medicin (1852), 1, 49-50. Quoted in Erwin H. Ackerknecht, Rudolf Virchow: Doctor Statesman Anthropologist (1953), 83-4.
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The fibrous material and muscle were thus digested in the same way as the coagulated egg albumen, namely, by free acid in combination with another substance active in very small amounts. Since the latter really carries on the digestion of the most important animal nutrient materials, one might with justice apply to it the name pepsin.
'Ueber das Wesen des Verdauungsprocesses', Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und Wissenschaftliche Medicin (1836), 90-138. Trans. L. G. Wilson, 'The Discovery of Pepsin', in John F. Fulton and Leonard G. Wilson (eds.), Selected Readings in the History of Physiology (1966), 191.
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The heart is an exceedingly strong muscle. … It contains two separate cavities.
As translated by E.T. Withington in 'The Heart', Hippocratic Writings (1978), 348.
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The heat produced in maximal muscular effort, continued for twenty minutes, would be so great that, if it were not promptly dissipated, it would cause some of the albuminous substances of the body to become stiff, like a hard-boiled egg.
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The law of the heart is thus the same as the law of muscular tissue generally, that the energy of contraction, however measured, is a function of the length of the muscle fibre.
The Linacre Lecture on the Law of the Heart (1918), 142.
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The responsibility for maintaining the composition of the blood in respect to other constituents devolves largely upon the kidneys. It is no exaggeration to say that the composition of the blood is determined not by what the mouth ingests but by what the kidneys keep; they are the master chemists of our internal environment, which, so to speak, they synthesize in reverse. When, among other duties, they excrete the ashes of our body fires, or remove from the blood the infinite variety of foreign substances which are constantly being absorbed from our indiscriminate gastrointestinal tracts, these excretory operations are incidental to the major task of keeping our internal environment in an ideal, balanced state. Our glands, our muscles, our bones, our tendons, even our brains, are called upon to do only one kind of physiological work, while our kidneys are called upon to perform an innumerable variety of operations. Bones can break, muscles can atrophy, glands can loaf, even the brain can go to sleep, without immediately endangering our survival, but when the kidneys fail to manufacture the proper kind of blood neither bone, muscle, gland nor brain can carry on.
'The Evolution of the Kidney', Lectures on the Kidney (1943), 3.
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The skeletal striated muscle cell of amphibia therefore resembles the cardiac striated muscle cell in the property of “all or none” contraction. The difference which renders it possible to obtain 'submaximal' contractions from a whole skeletal muscle but not from a whole heart is not a difference in the functional capabilities of the two types of cell; it depends upon the fact that cardiac muscle cells are connected one with another, whereas skeletal muscle cells are isolated by their sarcolemma. The 'submaximal' contraction of a skeletal muscle is the maximal contraction of less than all its fibres.
'The “All or None” Contraction of the Amphibian Skeletal Muscle Fibre', Journal of Physiology (1909), 38, 133.
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The terminal path may, to distinguish it from internuncial common paths, be called the final common path. The motor nerve to a muscle is a collection of such final common paths.
'Correlation of Reflexes and the Principle of the Common Path', Report of the Seventy-Fourth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1904), 730.
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There are many occasions when the muscles that form the lips of the mouth move the lateral muscles that are joined to them, and there are an equal number of occasions when these lateral muscles move the lips of this mouth, replacing it where it cannot return of itself, because the function of muscle is to pull and not to push except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.
'Anatomy', in The Notebooks of Leonardoda Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 152.
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To describe all the several pairs of the spinal Nerves, and to rehearse all their branchings, and to unfold the uses and actions of them, would be a work of an immense labour and trouble: and as this Neurologie cannot be learned nor understood without an exact knowledge of the Muscles, we may justly here forbear entring upon its particular institution.
In Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves (1664), trans. Samuel Pordage (1681), reprinted in William Peindel (ed.), Thomas Willis: Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves (1965), Vol. 2, 178.
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To vary the compression of the muscle therefore, and so to swell and shrink it, there needs nothing but to change the consistency of the included ether… . Thus may therefore the soul, by determining this ethereal animal spirit or wind into this or that nerve, perhaps with as much ease as air is moved in open spaces, cause all the motions we see in animals.
From 'An Hypothesis explaining the Properties of Light, discoursed of in my several Papers', in Thomas Birch, The History of the Royal Society (1757), Vol. 3, 252. This was from Newton’s Second Paper on Color and Light, read at the Royal Society (9 Dec 1675).
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Use now and then a little Exercise a quarter of an Hour before Meals, as to swing a Weight, or swing your Arms about with a small Weight in each Hand; to leap, or the like, for that stirs the Muscles of the Breast.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1742).
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Volcanic action is essentially paroxysmal; yet Mr. Lyell will admit no greater paroxysms than we ourselves have witnessed—no periods of feverish spasmodic energy, during which the very framework of nature has been convulsed and torn asunder. The utmost movements that he allows are a slight quivering of her muscular integuments.
'Address to the Geological Society, delivered on the Evening of the 18th of February 1831', Proceedings of the Geological Society (1834), 1, 307.
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We must in imagination sweep off the drifted matter that clogs the surface of the ground; we must suppose all the covering of moss and heath and wood to be torn away from the sides of the mountains, and the green mantle that lies near their feet to be lifted up; we may then see the muscular integuments, and sinews, and bones of our mother Earth, and so judge of the part played by each of them during those old convulsive movements whereby her limbs were contorted and drawn up into their present posture.
Letter 2 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1842), 15.
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We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.
From NBC radio broadcast for the United Jewish Appeal (11 Apr 1943), 'The Goal of Human Existence.' Einstein Archives 28-587. Transcript reprinted in full in David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann (eds.), Einstein on Politics (2007), 322. Also in Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words (1956), 260-261.
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When I undertake the dissection of a human cadaver I pass a stout rope tied like a noose beneath the lower jaw and through the two zygomas up to the top of the head, either more toward the forehead or more toward the occiput according as I want the cadaver to hang with its head up or down. The longer end of the noose I run through a pulley fixed to a beam in the room so that I may raise or lower the cadaver as it hangs there or may turn it round in any direction to suit my purpose; and should I so wish I can allow it to recline at an angle upon a table, since a table can easily be placed underneath the pulley. This is how the cadaver was suspended for drawing all the muscle tables... though while that one was being drawn the rope was passed around the occiput so as to show the muscles in the neck. If the lower jaw has been removed in the course of dissection, or the zygomas have been broken, the hollows for the temporal muscles will nonetheless hold the noose sufficiently firmly. You must take care not to put the noose around the neck, unless some of the muscles connected to the occipital bone have already been cut away. It is best to suspend the cadaver like this because a human body lying on a table is very difficult to turn over on to its chest or its back.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (1543), Book II, 268, as translated by William Frank Richardson and John Burd Carman, in 'How the Cadaver Can Be Held Erect While These Muscles are Dissected', On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book II: The Ligaments and Muscles (1998), 234.
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You are literally filled with the fruit of your own devices, with rats and mice and such small deer, paramecia, and entomostraceæ, and kicking things with horrid names, which you see in microscopes at the Polytechnic, and rush home and call for brandy—without the water—stone, and gravel, and dyspepsia, and fragments of your own muscular tissue tinged with your own bile.
'The Water Supply of London', North British Review (1851), 15, 246
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“These changes in the body,” he wrote in the review paper he sent to the American Journal of Physiology late in 1913, “are, each one of them, directly serviceable in making the organism more efficient in the struggle which fear or rage or pain may involve; for fear and rage are organic preparations for action, and pain is the most powerful known stimulus to supreme exertion. The organism which with the aid of increased adrenal secretion can best muster its energies, can best call forth sugar to supply the labouring muscles, can best lessen fatigue, and can best send blood to the parts essential in the run or the fight for life, is most likely to survive. Such, according to the view here propounded, is the function of the adrenal medulla at times of great emergency.”
Quoted in S. Benison, A. C. Barger and E. L. Wolfe, Walter B Cannon: The Life and Times of a Young Scientist (1987), 311.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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