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Dr Cortlandt's History Continued






Part of: JUNITER
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

"In marine transportation we have two methods, one for freight
and another for passengers. The old-fashioned deeply immersed
ship has not changed radically from the steam and sailing vessels
of the last century, except that electricity has superseded all
other motive powers. Steamers gradually passed through the five
hundred-, six hundred-, and seven hundred-foot-long class, with
other dimensions in proportion, till their length exceeded one
thousand feet. These were very fast ships, crossing the Atlantic
in four and a half days, and were almost as steady as houses, in
even the roughest weather.

"Ships at this period of their development had also passed
through the twin and triple screw stage to the quadruple, all
four together developing one hundred and forty thousand indicated
horse-power, and being driven by steam. This, of course,
involved sacrificing the best part of the ship to her engines,
and a very heavy idle investment while in port. Storage
batteries, with plates composed of lead or iron, constantly
increasing in size, had reached a fair state of development by
the close of the nineteenth century.

"During the second decade of the twentieth century the engineers
decided to try the plan of running half of a transatlantic
liner's screws by electricity generated by the engines for
driving the others while the ship was in port, this having been a
success already on a smaller scale. For a time this plan gave
great satisfaction, since it diminished the amount of coal to be
carried and the consequent change of displacement at sea, and
enabled the ship to be worked with a smaller number of men. The
batteries could also, of course, be distributed along the entire
length, and placed where space was least valuable.

"The construction of such huge vessels called for much
governmental river and harbour dredging, and a ship drawing
thirty-five feet can now enter New York at any state of the tide.
For ocean bars, the old system of taking the material out to sea
and discharging it still survives, though a jet of water from
force-pumps directed against the obstruction is also often
employed with quick results. For river work we have discovered a
better method. All the mud is run back, sometimes over a mile
from the river bank, where it is used as a fertilizer, by means
of wire railways strung from poles. These wire cables combine in
themselves the functions of trolley wire and steel rail, and
carry the suspended cars, which empty themselves and return
around the loop for another load. Often the removed material
entirely fills small, saucer-shaped valleys or low places, in
which case it cannot wash back. This improvement has ended the
necessity of building jetties.

"The next improvement in sea travelling was the 'marine spider.'
As the name shows, this is built on the principle of an insect.
It is well known that a body can be carried over the water much
faster than through it. With this in mind, builders at first
constructed light framework decks on large water-tight wheels or
drums, having paddles on their circumferences to provide a hold
on the water. These they caused to revolve by means of machinery
on the deck, but soon found that the resistance offered to the
barrel wheels themselves was too great. They therefore made them
more like centipeds with large, bell-shaped feet, connected with
a superstructural deck by ankle-jointed pipes, through which,
when necessary, a pressure of air can be forced down upon the
enclosed surface of water. Ordinarily, however, they go at great
speed without this, the weight of the water displaced by the bell
feet being as great as that resting upon them. Thus they swing
along like a pacing horse, except that there are four rows of
feet instead of two, each foot being taken out of the water as it
is swung forward, the first and fourth and second and third rows
being worked together. Although, on account of their size, which
covers several acres, they can go in any water, they give the
best results on Mediterraneans and lakes that are free from ocean
rollers, and, under favourable conditions, make better speed than
the nineteenth-century express trains, and, of course, going
straight as the crow flies, and without stopping, they reach a
destination in considerably shorter time.

Some passengers and express packages still cross the Atlantic on
'spiders,' but most of these light cargoes go in a far pleasanter
and more rapid way. The deep-displacement vessels, for heavy
freight, make little better speed than was made by the same class
a hundred years ago. But they are also run entirely by
electricity, largely supplied by wind, and by the tide turning
their motors, which become dynamos while at anchor in any stream.
They therefore need no bulky boilers, engines, sails, or
coal-bunkers, and consequently can carry unprecedentedly large
cargoes with comparatively small crews. The officers on the
bridge and the men in the crow's nest--the way to which is by a
ladder INSIDE the mast, to protect the climber from the
weather--are about all that is needed; while disablement is made
practically impossible, by having four screws, each with its own
set of automatically lubricating motors.

"This change, like other labour-saving appliances, at first
resulted in laying off a good many men, the least satisfactory
being the first to go; but the increase in business was so great
that the intelligent men were soon reemployed as officers at
higher rates of pay and more interesting work than before, while
they as consumers were benefited as much as any one else by the
decreased cost of production and transportation.

"With a view to facilitating interchange still further, our
Government has gradually completed the double coast-line that
Nature gave us in part. This was done by connecting islands
separated from shore by navigable water, and leaving openings for
ingress and exit but a few hundred yards wide. The breakwaters
required to do this were built with cribbing of incorrodible
metal, affixed to deeply driven metallic piles, and filled with
stones along coasts where they were found in abundance or excess.
This, while clearing many fields and improving them for
cultivation, provided just the needed material; since irregular
stones bind together firmly, and, while also insoluble, combine
considerable bulk with weight. South of Hatteras, where stones
are scarce, the sand dredged from parts of the channel was filled
into the crib, the surface of which has a concave metallic cover,
a trough of still water being often the best barrier against the
passage of waves. This double coast-line has been a great
benefit, and propelled vessels of moderate draught can range in
smooth water, carrying very full loads, from Labrador to the
Orinoco. The exits are, of course, protected by a line of
cribbing a few hundred feet to seaward.

"The rocks have been removed from all channels about New York and
other commercial centres, while the shallow places have been
dredged to a uniform depth. This diminishes the dangers of
navigation and considerably decreases the speed with which the
tides rush through. Where the obstructions consisted of reefs
surrounded by deep water, their removal with explosives was easy,
the shattered fragments being allowed to sink to the bottom and
remain there beneath the danger line.

"Many other great works have also been completed. The canals at
Nicaragua have been in operation many years, it having been found
best to have several sizes of locks, and to use the large ones
only for the passage of large vessels. The improved Erie and
Champlain Canals also enable ships four hundred feet long to
reach New York from the Great Lakes via the Hudson River.

"For flying, we have an aeroplane that came in when we devised a
suitable motor power. This is obtained from very light
paper-cell batteries that combine some qualities of the primary
and secondary type, since they must first be charged from a
dynamo, after which they can supply full currents for one hundred
hours--enough to take them around the globe--while partly
consuming the elements in the cells. The power is applied
through turbine screws, half of which are capable of propelling
the flat deck in its inclined position at sufficient speed to
prevent its falling. The moving parts have ball bearings and
friction rollers, lubrication being secured automatically, when
required, by a supply of vaseline that melts if any part becomes
hot. All the framing is of thin but very durable galvanized
aluminum, which has superseded steel for every purpose in which
weight is not an advantage, as in the permanent way on railways.
The air ships, whose length varies from fifty to five hundred
feet, have rudders for giving a vertical or a horizontal motion,
and several strengthening keels that prevent leeway when turning.
They are entirely on the principle of birds, maintaining
themselves mechanically, and differing thus from the unwieldy
balloon. Starting as if on a circular railway, against the wind,
they rise to a considerable height, and then, shutting off the
batteries, coast down the aerial slope at a rate that sometimes
touches five hundred miles an hour. When near the ground the
helmsman directs the prow upward, and, again turning on full
current, rushes up the slope at a speed that far exceeds the
eagle's, each drop of two miles serving to take the machine
twenty or thirty; though, if the pilot does not wish to soar, or
if there is a fair wind at a given height, he can remain in that
stratum of the atmosphere by moving horizontally. He can also
maintain his elevation when moving very slowly, and though the
headway be entirely stopped, the descent is gradual on account of
the aeroplane's great spread, the batteries and motors being
secured to the under side of the deck.

"The motors are so light that they develop two horse power for
every pound of their weight; while, to keep the frames thin, the
necessary power is obtained by terrific speed of the moving
parts, as though a steam engine, to avoid great pressure in its
cylinders, had a long stroke and ran at great piston speed,
which, however, is no disadvantage to the rotary motion of the
electric motor, there being no reciprocating cranks, etc., that
must be started and stopped at each revolution.

"To obviate the necessity of gearing to reduce the number of
revolutions to those possible for a large screw, this member is
made very small, and allowed to revolve three thousand times a
minute, so that the requisite power is obtained with great
simplicity of mechanism, which further decreases friction. The
shafts, and even the wires connecting the batteries with the
motors, are made large and hollow. Though the primary battery
pure and simple, as the result of great recent advances in
chemistry, seems to be again coming up, the best aeroplane
batteries are still of the combination- storage type. These have
been so perfected that eight ounces of battery yield one horse
power for six hours, so that two pounds of battery will supply a
horse power for twenty-four hours; a small fifty-horse-power
aeroplane being therefore able to fly four days with a battery
weight of but four hundred pounds.

"Limestone and clarified acid are the principal parts of these
batteries. It was known long ago that there was about as much
imprisoned solar energy in limestone as in coal, but it was only
recently that we discovered this way of releasing and using it.

"Common salt plays an important part in many of our chemical
reactions. By combining it with limestone, and treating this
with acid jelly, we also get good results on raising to the
boiling-point.

"However enjoyable the manly sport of yachting is on water, how
vastly more interesting and fascinating it is for a man to have a
yacht in which he can fly to Europe in one day, and with which
the exploration of tropical Africa or the regions about the poles
is mere child's play, while giving him so magnificent a
bird's-eye view! Many seemingly insoluble problems are solved by
the advent of these birds. Having as their halo the enforcement
of peace, they have in truth taken us a long step towards heaven,
and to the co-operation and higher civilization that followed we
shall owe much of the success of the great experiment on Mother
Earth now about to be tried.

"Another change that came in with a rush upon the discovery of a
battery with insignificant weight, compact form, and great
capacity, was the substitution of electricity for animal power
for the movement of all vehicles. This, of necessity brought in
good roads, the results obtainable on such being so much greater
than on bad ones that a universal demand for them arose. This
was in a sense cumulative, since the better the streets and roads
became, the greater the inducement to have an electric carriage.
The work of opening up the country far and near, by straightening
and improving existing roads, and laying out new ones that
combine the solidity of the Appian Way with the smoothness of
modern asphalt, was largely done by convicts, working under the
direction of State and Government engineers. Every State
contained a horde of these unprofitable boarders, who, as they
formerly worked, interfered with honest labour, and when idle got
into trouble. City streets had been paved by the municipality;
country roads attended to by the farmers, usually very
unscientifically. Here was a field in which convict labour would
not compete, and an important work could be done. When once this
was made the law, every year showed improvement, while the
convicts had useful and healthful occupation.

"The electric phaetons, as those for high speed are called, have
three and four wheels, and weigh, including battery and motor,
five hundred to four thousand pounds. With hollow but immensely
strong galvanically treated aluminum frames and pneumatic or
cushion tires, they run at thirty-five and forty miles an hour on
country roads, and attain a speed over forty on city streets, and
can maintain this rate without recharging for several days. They
can therefore roam over the roads of the entire hemisphere, from
the fertile valley of the Peace and grey shores of Hudson Bay, to
beautiful Lake Nicaragua, the River Plate, and Patagonia,
improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine
the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the
country well.

"To recharge the batteries, which can be done in almost every
town and village, two copper pins attached to insulated copper
wires are shoved into smooth-bored holes. These drop out of
themselves by fusing a small lead ribbon, owing to the increased
resistance, when the acid in the batteries begins to 'boil,'
though there is, of course, but little heat in this, the function
of charging being merely to bring about the condition in which
part of the limestone can be consumed, the batteries themselves,
when in constant use, requiring to be renewed about once a month.
A handle at the box seat turns on any part of the attainable
current, for either going ahead or reversing, there being six or
eight degrees of speed for both directions, while the steering is
done with a small wheel.

"Light but powerful batteries and motors have also been fitted on
bicycles, which can act either as auxiliaries for hill-climbing
or in case of head wind, or they can propel the machine
altogether.

"Gradually the width of the streets became insufficient for the
traffic, although the elimination of horses and the consequent
increase in speed greatly augmented their carrying capacity,
until recently a new system came in. The whole width of the
avenues and streets in the business parts of the city, including
the former sidewalks, is given up to wheel traffic, an iron ridge
extending along the exact centre to compel vehicles to keep to
the right. Strips of nickel painted white, and showing a bright
phosphorescence at night, are let into the metal pavement flush
with the surface, and run parallel to this ridge at distances of
ten to fifteen feet, dividing each half of the avenue into four
or five sections, their width increasing as they approach the
middle. All trucks or drays moving at less than seven miles an
hour are obliged to keep in the section nearest the building
line, those running between seven and fifteen in the next,
fifteen to twenty-five in the third, twenty-five to thirty-five
in the fourth, and everything faster than that in the section
next the ridge, unless the avenue or street is wide enough for
further subdivisions. If it is wide enough for only four or
less, the fastest vehicles must keep next the middle, and limit
their speed to the rate allowed in that section, which is marked
at every crossing in white letters sufficiently large for him
that runs to read. It is therefore only in the wide
thoroughfares that very high speed can be attained. In addition
to the crank that corresponds to a throttle, there is a gauge on
every vehicle, which shows its exact speed in miles per hour, by
gearing operated by the revolutions of the wheels.

"The policemen on duty also have instantaneous kodaks mounted on
tripods, which show the position of any carriage at half- and
quarter-second intervals, by which it is easy to ascertain the
exact speed, should the officers be unable to judge it by the
eye; so there is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that
allowed in the section in which it happens to be; neither can a
slow one remain on the fast lines.

"Of course, to make such high speed for ordinary carriages
possible, a perfect pavement became a sine qua non. We have
secured this by the half-inch sheet of steel spread over a
carefully laid surface of asphalt, with but little bevel; and
though this might be slippery for horses' feet, it never
seriously affects our wheels. There being nothing harder than
the rubber ties of comparatively light drays upon it--for the
heavy traffic is carried by electric railways under ground--it
will practically never wear out.

"With the application of steel to the entire surface, car-tracks
became unnecessary, ordinary wheels answering as well as those
with flanges, so that no new tracks were laid, and finally the
car companies tore up the existing ones, selling them in many
instances to the municipalities as old iron. Our streets also
need but little cleaning; neither is the surface continually
indented, as the old cobble-stones and Belgian blocks were, by
the pounding of the horses' feet, so that the substitution of
electricity for animal power has done much to solve the problem
of attractive streets.

"Scarcely a ton of coal comes to Manhattan Island or its vicinity
in a year. Very little of it leaves the mines, at the mouths of
which it is converted into electricity and sent to the points of
consumption by wire, where it is employed for all uses to which
fuel was put, and many others. Consequently there is no smoke,
and the streets are not encumbered with coal-carts; the entire
width being given up to carriages, etc. The ground floors in the
business parts are used for large warehouses, trucks running in
to load and unload. Pedestrians therefore have sidewalks level
with the second story, consisting of glass floors let into
aluminum frames, while all street crossings are made on bridges.
Private houses have a front door opening on the sidewalk, and
another on the ground level, so that ladies paying visits or
leaving cards can do so in carriages. In business streets the
second story is used for shops. In place of steel covering,
country roads have a thick coating of cement and asphalt over a
foundation of crushed stone, giving a capital surface, and have a
width of thirty-three feet (two rods) in thinly settled
districts, to sixty-six feet (four rods) where the population is
greater. All are planted with shade and fruit trees, while the
wide driveways have one or two broad sidewalks. The same rule of
making the slow-moving vehicles keep near the outside prevails,
though the rate of increase in speed on approaching the middle is
more rapid than in cities, and there is usually no dividing
ridge. On reaching the top of a long and steep hill, if we do
not wish to coast, we convert the motors into dynamos, while
running at full speed, and so change the kinetic energy of the
descent into potential in our batteries. This twentieth-century
stage-coaching is one of the delights to which we are heirs,
though horses are still used by those that prefer them.

We have been much aided in our material progress by the facility
with which we obtain the metals. It was observed, some time ago,
that when artesian and oil wells had reached a considerable
depth, what appeared to be drops of lead and antimony came up
with the stream. It finally occurred to a well-borer that if he
could make his drill hard enough and get it down far enough,
keeping it cool by solidified carbonic acid during the
proceeding, he would reach a point at which most of the metals
would be viscous, if not actually molten, and on being freed from
the pressure of the crust they would expand, and reach the
surface in a stream. This experiment he performed near the hot
geysers in Yellowstone Park, and what was his delight, on
reaching a depth scarcely half a mile beyond his usual stopping-
place, to be rewarded by a stream of metal that heralded its
approach by a loud explosion and a great rush of superheated
steam! It ran for a month, completely filling the bed of a
small, dried-up river, and when it did stop there were ten
million tons in sight. This proved the feasibility of the
scheme, and, though many subsequent attempts were less
successful, we have learned by experience where it is best to
drill, and can now obtain almost any metal we wish.

"'Magnetic eyes' are of great use to miners and Civil engineers.
These instruments are something like the mariner's compass, with
the sensitiveness enormously increased by galvanic currents. The
'eye,' as it were, sees what substances are underground, and at
what distances. It also shows how many people are in an
adjoining room--through the magnetic properties of the iron in
their blood--whether they are moving, and in what directions and
at what speed they go. In connection with the phonograph and
concealed by draperies, it is useful to detectives, who, through
a registering attachment, can obtain a record of everything said
and done.

"Our political system remains with but little change. Each State
has still two United States Senators, though the population
represented by each representative has been greatly increased, so
that the Senate has grown numerically much more than the House.
It is the duty of each member of Congress to understand the
conditions existing in every other member's State or district,
and the country's interest always precedes that of party. We
have a comprehensive examination system in the civil service, and
every officeholder, except members of the Cabinet, retains his
office while efficiently performing his duty, without regard to
politics. The President can also be re-elected any number of
times. The Cabinet members, as formerly, usually remain in
office while he does, and appear regularly in Congress to defend
their measures.

"The really rapid transit lines in New York are underground, and
have six tracks, two being used for freight. At all stations the
local tracks rise several feet towards the street and slope off
in both directions, while the express tracks do this only at
stations at which the faster trains stop. This gives the
passengers a shorter distance to descend or rise in the
elevators, and the ascent before the stations aids the brakes in
stopping, while the drop helps the motors to start the trains
quickly in getting away.

"Photography has also made great strides, and there is now no
difficulty in reproducing exactly the colours of the object
taken.

"Telephones have been so improved that one person can speak in
his natural voice with another in any part of the globe, the wire
that enables him to hear also showing him the face of the speaker
though he be at the antipodes. All telephone wires being
underground and kept by themselves, they are not interfered with
by any high-tension electric-light or power wires, thunderstorms,
or anything else.

"Rain-making is another subject removed from the uncertainties,
and has become an absolute science. We produce clouds by
explosions in the atmosphere's heights and by surface air forced
by blowers through large pipes up the side of a mountain or
natural elevation and there discharged through an opening in the
top of a tower built on the highest part. The aeriduct is
incased in a poor heat-conductor, so that the air retains its
warmth until discharged, when it is cooled by expansion and the
surrounding cold air. Condensation takes place and soon serves
to start a rain.

"Yet, until the earth's axis is straightened, we must be more or
less dependent on the eccentricities of the weather, with
extremes of heat and cold, droughts and floods, which last are of
course largely the result of several months' moisture held on the
ground in the form of snow, the congestion being relieved
suddenly by the warm spring rains.

"Medicine and surgery have kept pace with other
improvements--inoculation and antiseptics, as already seen,
rendering most of the germ diseases and formerly dreaded
epidemics impotent; while through the potency of electrical
affinity we form wholesome food-products rapidly, instead of
having to wait for their production by Nature's slow processes.

"The metric system, now universal, superseded the old-fashioned
arbitrary standards, so prolific of mistakes and confusion, about
a century ago.

"English, as we have seen, is already the language of 600,000,000
people, and the number is constantly increasing through its
adoption by the numerous races of India, where, even before the
close of the last century, it was about as important as Latin
during the greatness of Rome, and by the fact that the Spanish
and Portuguese elements in Mexico and Central and South America
show a constant tendency to die out, much as the population of
Spain fell from 30,000,000 to 17,000,000 during the nineteenth
century. As this goes on, in the Western hemisphere, the places
left vacant are gradually filled by the more progressive
Anglo-Saxons, so that it looks as if the study of ethnology in
the future would be very simple.

"The people with cultivation and leisure, whose number is
increasing relatively to the population at each generation, spend
much more of their year in the country than formerly, where they
have large and well-cultivated country seats, parts of which are
also preserved for game. This growing custom on the part of
society, in addition to being of great advantage to the
out-of-town districts, has done much to save the forests and
preserve some forms of game that would otherwise, like the
buffalo, have become extinct.

"In astronomy we have also made tremendous strides. The
old-fashioned double-convex lens used in telescopes became so
heavy as its size grew, that it bent perceptibly from its own
weight, when pointed at the zenith, distorting the vision; while
when it was used upon a star near the horizon, though the glass
on edge kept its shape, there was too much atmosphere between it
and the observed object for successful study. Our recent
telescopes have, therefore, concave plate-glass mirrors, twenty
metres in diameter, like those used for converging the sun's rays
in solar engines, but with curves more mathematically exact,
which collect an immense amount of light and focus it on a
sensitive plate or on the eye of the observer, whose back is
turned to the object he is studying. An electrical field also
plays an important part, the electricity being as great an aid to
light as in the telephone it is to sound. With these placed
generally on high mountain peaks, beyond the reach of clouds, we
have enormously increased the number of visible stars, though
there are still probably boundless regions that we cannot see.
These telescopes have several hundred times the power of the
largest lenses of the nineteenth century, and apparently bring
Mars and Jupiter, when in opposition, within one thousand and ten
thousand miles, respectively, so that we study their physical
geography and topography; and we have good maps of Jupiter, and
even of Saturn, notwithstanding their distance and atmospheric
envelopes, and we are able to see the disks of third-magnitude
stars.

"It seems as if, when we wish any particular discovery or
invention, in whatever field, we had but to turn our efforts in
its direction to obtain our desire. We seem, in fact, to have
awakened in the scenes of the Arabian Nights; yet the mysterious
genius which we control, and which dims Aladdin's lamp, is the
gift of no fairy godmother sustained by the haze of dreams, but
shines as the child of science with fadeless and growing
splendour, and may yet bring us and our little planet much closer
to God.

"We should indeed be happy, living as we do at this apex of
attained civilization, with the boundless possibilities of the
future unfolding before us, on the horizon of which we may fairly
be said to stand.

"We are freed from the rattling granite pavement of only a
century ago, which made the occupant of an omnibus feel like a
fly inside of a drum; from the domination of our local politics
by ignorant foreigners; and from country roads that either filled
the eyes, lungs, and hair of the unfortunates travelling upon
them with dust, or, resembling ploughed and fertilized fields,
saturated and plastered them with mud. These miseries, together
with sea-sickness in ocean travelling, are forever passed, and we
feel that 'Excelsior!' is indeed our motto. Our new and
increasing sources of power have so stimulated production and
manufacturing that poverty or want is scarcely known; while the
development of the popular demand, as a result of the supplied
need, is so great that there is no visible limit to the
diversification of industry or the possibilities of the arts.

"It may seem strange to some that apparently so disproportionate
a number of inventions have been made in the last century. There
are several reasons. Since every discovery or advance in
knowledge increases our chance of obtaining more, it becomes
cumulative, and our progress is in geometric instead of
arithmetical ratio. Public interest and general appreciation of
the value of time have also effectively assisted progress. At
the beginning of each year the President, the Governors of the
States, and the Mayors of cities publish a prospectus of the
great improvements needed, contemplated, and under way within
their jurisdiction--it may be planning a new boulevard, a new
park, or an improved system of sewers; and at the year's end they
issue a resume of everything completed, and the progress in
everything else; and though there is usually a great difference
between the results hoped for and those attained, the effect is
good. The newspapers publish at length the recommendations of
the Executives, and also the results obtained, and keep up public
interest in all important matters.

"Free to delve in the allurement and fascination of science,
emancipated man goes on subduing Nature, as his Maker said he
should, and turning her giant forces to his service in his
constant struggle to rise and become more like Him who gave the
commandments and showed him how he should go.

"Notwithstanding our strides in material progress, we are not
entirely content. As the requirements of the animal become fully
supplied, we feel a need for something else. Some say this is
like a child that cries for the moon, but others believe it the
awakening and craving of our souls. The historian narrates but
the signs of the times, and strives to efface himself; yet there
is clearly a void, becoming yearly more apparent, which
materialism cannot fill. Is it some new subtle force for which
we sigh, or would we commune with spirits? There is, so far as
we can see, no limit to our journey, and I will add, in closing,
that, with the exception of religion, we have most to hope from
science."





Next: Far-reaching Plans

Previous: Prof Cortlandt's Historical Sketch Of The World In A D 2000



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