In the first instance, the value of a more
exact knowledge of the actual nature of enzymes
is noted, although the subject of the essay does
not admit of it being dealt with in detail.
The factors governing the velocity of
enzyme action are shown more and more to be
capable of a physical explanation, so much so that
some have suggested that the whole of enzyme action
(even the nature of enzymes themselves) may be so
explained. The work of Beatty (1916) although
hypothetical is very interesting on this point.
He puts forward a theory of enzyme action which
reduces it to the simplest possible explanation,
viz., that all the reactions concerned are essentially
the addition or splitting off of H' or OH'ions. The
theory is an advanced one, but certainly modern
evidence tends in that direction.
The work on the synthetic action of enzymes
has established definitely that synthesis does occur,
but much remains to be done on the factors governing
Our knowledge ßf oxidation and other processes
is seen to be in its infancy, and to consist
to a very large extent of an accumulation
of incoherent facts which are the result of purely
abstract laboratory work. Without doubt, however,
the practical value of these results will eventually
come to light, and well it is to remember the
passage from Sprat's MHistory of the Royal Society ",
which supports the existence of a society for the
purpose of making experiments:- "If they will
persist in condemning all experiments except those
which bring with them immediate gain and a present
harvest, they may as well cavil at the providence
of God that he has not made all seasons: of the
year to be times of mowing, reaping and vintage."
Some authors, e.g., Trollanod (1917), consider that enzyme action and.specific catalysis
provide a definite general solution to all fundamental
biological problems, and deplore the recrudescence
A discussion of the problem of "vitalism"
cannot be entered upon here, but certain it is
that with elucidation of the nature of enzymes
will come the solution of one of the most important
factors on which life depends.