April 25, 1908


JAMA. 1908;L(17):1352. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02530430036004

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In spite of all the scientific demonstrations to the contrary, every now and then one reads articles that suggest the possibility of spontaneous generation of life, and, at least apparently claim its occurrence. Not infrequently, such claims are made even by scientists, though rarely by scientists who are trained biologists. As all our sanitation and practically all our modern medicine in its most scientific phases are founded on the thesis that life does not originate spontaneously, and as such articles are prone to produce popular impression to the contrary, the restatement of medical views in this matter occasionally seems necessary. Mr. Percival Lowell, the director of the Lowell Observatory, in one of a series of articles in the Century Magazine, insists emphatically that whenever the conditions for the existence of life occur the lower forms of life at least come into existence. "Virtually," he says, "only six so-called elements go

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