Andrew Cross and the Perfect Insect:
An amateur scientist, Andrew Cross, did the unthinkable 180 years ago: He accidentally created life. He never explicitly stated that his little beings were created from ether, but he never understood where they came from if they were not created from ether.
After the passing of his parents, Cross inherited the family’s vast English estate, known as Fain Court. Cross converted the old manor’s music room into his “Electric Room” a laboratory where he conducted many experiments over the years.
To research atmospheric electricity, he built a giant apparatus, and he was one of the first to build large voltaic stacks of electricity. But it would be a sequence of seemingly insignificant experiments to artificially create the minerals that would seal their unique place in history.
Andrew Cross’ wife Cornelia wrote in the book “Memorial, Scientific and Literary, of Andrew Cross, Electrician”, after his death in 1857. The Kursi “worms” were originally created in an experiment involving a mixture of water, silicate of potash , and hydrochloric acid dripped onto the porous Vesuvius rock which was continuously electrified by two wires connected to a voltaic battery.Andrew Cross writes, “The purpose of introducing this fluid to continuous electric action for a long time with the intervention of a porous stone was to make possible crystals of silica, but it failed.”
The process didn’t produce the results Kroes had expected, but instead found something completely unexpected. On the 14th day of the experiment, Krause discovered small, white particles being emitted from the center of the electrified stone.
On day 18 Krauss noted that growth had increased, and there were now long “filaments” projecting from them. It was immediately clear that these were not the synthetic minerals Krause was attempting to create, but something that defied understanding.
Cross observed, “On the twenty-sixth day, these appearances took the form of a perfect insect, erecting its tail on some bristles.” Besides there were others. On the twenty-eighth day, these little creatures moved their legs. I must now say that I was not a bit surprised. After a few days, they detached themselves from the stone, and went away blissfully.”
About a hundred of these strange insects formed on the stone during the next few weeks. When they were studied under a microscope, Andrew Cross found that the smaller one had six legs and the larger one had eight. He brought the creatures to the attention of entomologists, who determined they were mites belonging to a monoecious species. They are referred to as ‘Acarus electricus’ in the memoirs of Andrew Cross, although they are more commonly known as ‘Acari crossi.’ Published only six years later,
He wrote “There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether they are a known species; some claim that they are not. I have never formed any opinion on the cause of their origin, and for a very good reason – I was unable to create one.”
The easiest solution, states his account of the phenomenon, “was that they arose from ova deposited by insects floating in the atmosphere and created by electric action. Nevertheless, I could not imagine that An ovule may throw out filaments, or that these filaments may become bristles, and besides, I could not detect, on closer examination, the remains of a shell.”
Krause repeated his experiment several times, each time using different ingredients, but he came up with the same result. He was astonished to see in some cases insects rising several inches below the surface of the caustic, electrified fluid, but if thrown back after being thrown out of it they perished.
In another instance, they filled the apparatus with a high chlorine environment. Under those conditions, the worms still formed and remained intact inside the container for more than two years, but they never moved or showed any signs of vitality.
The spot enlarges and elongates vertically over a few days, and exudes white wavy fibers that can be seen through a low-powered lens. After this comes the manifestation of animal life for the first time. When a fine point is used to approach these filaments, they shrink and collapse like zoophytes on mosses, but they expand again after the point is removed.
After a few days, these filaments develop into legs and earrings, and a perfect monocot emerges, separated from its birthplace, and if placed on an electrified wire, under a fluid, and out of the vessel. escapes, and then feeds on the moisture either outside the vessel, or on paper, card, or other matter surrounding it.