In science, go means to move on a course; proceed; to move out of or away from a place; to take a certain course of follow a certain procedure; or to pass by means of a process like journeying. [1]

In 1834, at the age of three, to the inquisitive mind of James Maxwell everything that moved, shone, or made a noise drew the question:

“What's the go o' that?”

and if that did not satisfy his curiosity, the more specific query:

“What's the particular go o' that?”

would follow. Likewise, in 1834, his mother described him as such: “he has great work with doors, locks, keys, etc., and:

“show me how it doos

is never out of his mouth. He also investigates the hidden course of streams and bell-wires, the way the water gets from the pond through the wall.” [2]

In 1880, English natural philosopher Thomas Huxley used the alternative synonym “goes” for life (see: life terminology upgrades): [3]

“The elements of living matter are identical with those of mineral bodies; and the fundamental laws of matter and motion apply as much to living matter as to mineral matter; but every living body is, as it were, a complicated piece of mechanism which ‘goes’, or lives only under certain conditions.”


Somewhere in the work of American evolutionary bio-chemist (chnops-chemist) Jeffrey Wicken, according to Eric Schneider, he is said to have argued that the second law is the “go” of life. [4]

The following are related quotes:

“It is only because our lives are so short compared to the slow, slow movement of evolution, that it is hardly possible to notice the change and growth either in the earth or in ourselves. Because we never knew Italy to look anything other but a Wellington boot, we never pause to think that it was once different, and may change again. Because we never knew that time when man grew his own furry dress, we overlook the fact that, as he has outgrown this likeness to the animal, he may still outgrow others. Yet we must make our minds broad enough to realize the facts. The hour of a watch moves so slowly that you cannot see it move; and yet you know that, so long as the watch is going, its movement never stops. The earth, from its rocks and gases and flowers and animals, is still ‘going’.”
Hilda Finnemore (1924), A History of the Earth: from Stardust to Man (pgs. 56-57) [5]

1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000.
2. Mahon, Basil (2003). The Man Who Changed Everything: the Life of James Clerk Maxwell (pg. #). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
3. (a) Huxley, Thomas. (1880). Science Primers: Introductory (§65: Living Bodies differ from Mineral Bodies in their Essential Composition, in the manner of their Growth, and in the fact that they are reproduced by Germs, pg. 92). Publisher.
(b) Pearson, Karl. (1900). The Grammar of Science (pg. 329). Adam and Charles Black.
4. Schneider, Eric D. and Sagan, Dorion. (2005). Into the Cool - Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life (pgs. 104-06). University of Chicago Press.
5. Finnemore, Hilda. (1924). A History of the Earth: from Star-Dust to Man (pgs. 56-57). Longmans, Green, and Co.

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