1. Measurements were made with the cell elastimeter on the stiffness of the cell membrane in the unfertilized eggs of five species of sea urchin. Young's modulus varies in the different species between the values of 0.91 x 104 and 2.08 x 104 dynes/cm2.

2. Experiments on the change of stiffness in hypo- and hypertonic media indicated that there is probably no internal pressure and no membrane tension in the normal egg. If, however, there is an internal pressure, measurements of the minimum shrinkage of the membrane necessary to produce wrinkling showed that this pressure cannot exceed 95 dynes/cm2.

3. A drop in temperature of 18.5° C. produced an increase of stiffness by a factor of 2.1.

4. These experiments, together with other evidence, suggest that for mechanical purposes the unfertilized sea-urchin egg can be compared to a hollow sphere filled with fluid and surrounded by a solid elastic wall (the membrane or cortex) about 1.5 µ thick and with an elastic modulus about 1-2 x 104 dynes/cm2. This degree of rigidity is sufficient to ensure the maintenance of shape of the egg without the presence of an internal pressure or a tension in the membrane. In everyday terms, the egg therefore resembles a tennis ball or a child's rubber ball, rather than an inflated balloon or an oil drop in water.

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