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North-polar Discoveries






Part of: LAST OF EARTH
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

Two days later, on the western horizon, they beheld the ocean.
Many of the streams whose sources they had seen when they crossed
the divide from the lake basin, and whose courses they had
followed, were now rivers a mile wide, with the tide ebbing and
rising within them many hundreds of miles from their mouths.
When they reached the shore line they found the waves breaking,
as on earth, upon the sands, but with this difference: they had
before noted the smallness of the undulations compared with the
strength of the wind, the result of the water's weight. These
waves now reminded them of the behaviour of mercury, or of melted
lead when stirred on earth, by the rapidity with which the crests
dropped. Though the wind was blowing an on-shore gale, there was
but little combing, and when there was any it lasted but a
second. The one effort of the crests and waves seemed to be to
remain at rest, or, if stirred in spite of themselves, to
subside.

When over the surface of the ocean, the voyagers rose to a height
of thirty thousand metres, and after twenty- four hours'
travelling saw, at a distance of about two hundred miles, what
looked like another continent, but which they knew must be an
island. On finding themselves above it, they rose still higher
to obtain a view of its outlines and compare its shape with that
of the islands in the photographs they had had time to develop.
The length ran from southeast to northwest. Though crossed by
latitude forty, and notwithstanding Jupiter's distance from the
sun, the southern side had a very luxuriant vegetation that was
almost semi-tropical. This they accounted for by its total
immunity from cold, the density of the air at sea-level, and the
warm moist breezes it received from the tepid ocean. The climate
was about the same as that of the Riviera or of Florida in
winter, and there was, of course, no parching summer.

"This shows me," said Bearwarden, "that a country's climate
depends less on the amount of heat it receives from the sun than
on the amount it retains; proof of which we have in the tops of
the Himalayas perpetually covered with snow, and snow-capped
mountains on the very equator, where they get the most direct
rays, and where those rays have but little air to penetrate. It
shows that the presence of a substantial atmosphere is as
necessary a part of the calculation in practice as the sun
itself. I am inclined to think that, with the constant effect of
the internal heat on its oceans and atmosphere, Jupiter could get
along with a good deal less solar heat than it receives, in proof
of which I expect to find the poles themselves quite comfortable.
The reason the internal heat is so little taken into account on
earth is because, from the thickness of the crust, it cannot make
itself felt; for if the earth were as chilled through as ice, the
people on the surface would not feel the difference."

A Jovian week's explorations disclosed the fact that though the
island's general outlines were fairly regular, it had deep-water
harbours, great rivers, and land-locked gulfs and bays, some of
which penetrated many hundred miles into the interior. It also
showed that the island's length was about six thousand miles, and
its breadth about three thousand, and that it had therefore about
the superficial area of Asia. They found no trace of the great
monsters that had been so numerous on the mainland, though there
were plenty of smaller and gentle-looking creatures, among them
animals whose build was much like that of the prehistoric horse,
with undeveloped toes on each side of the hoof, which in the
modern terrestrial horse have disappeared, the hoof being in
reality but a rounded-off middle finger.

"It is wonderful," said Bearwarden, "how comparatively narrow
a body of water can keep different species entirely separate.
The island of Sumatra, for instance, is inhabited by marsupials
belonging to the distinct Australian type, in which the female,
as in the kangaroo, carries the slightly developed young in a
pouch; while the Malay peninsula, joined to the mainland, has all
the highly developed animals of Asia and the connected land of
the Eastern hemisphere, the narrow Malacca Strait being all that
has kept marsupials and mammals apart, though the separating
power has been increased by the rapid current setting through.
This has decreased the chance of creatures carried to sea on
drift-wood or uprooted trees getting safely over to such a degree
that apparently none have survived; for, had they done so, we may
be certain that the mammals, with the advantage their young have
over the marsupials, would soon have run them out, the marsupials
being the older and the less perfect form of life of the two."

Before leaving the beautiful sea-girt region beneath them,
Cortlandt proposed that it be named after their host, which
Bearwarden seconded, whereupon they entered it as Ayrault Island
on the charts. After this they rose to a great height, and flew
swiftly over three thousand miles of ocean till they came to
another island not quite as large as the first. It was four
thousand five hundred miles long by something less than three
thousand wide, and was therefore about the size of Africa. It
had several high ranges of mountains and a number of great rivers
and fine harbours, while murmuring, bubbling brooks flowed
through its forest glades. There were active volcanoes along the
northern coast, and the blue, crimson, and purple lines in the
luxuriant foliage were the most beautiful they had ever seen.

"I propose," said Bearwarden, "that we christen this Sylvialand."
This Cortlandt immediately seconded, and it was so entered on the
charts.

"These two islands," said Bearwarden, "may become the centres of
civilization. With flying machines and cables to carry
passengers and information, and ships of great displacement for
the interchange of commodities, there is no limit to their
possible development. The absence of large waves will also be
very favourable to sea-spiders, which will be able to run at
tremendous speeds. The constancy in the eruptions of the
volcanoes will offer a great field to Jovian inventors, who will
unquestionably be able to utilize their heat for the production
of steam or electricity, to say nothing of an inexhaustible
supply of valuable chemicals. They may contain the means of
producing some force entirely different from apergy, and as
superior to electricity as that is to steam. Our earthly
volcanoes have been put to slight account because of the long
intervals between eruptions."

After leaving Sylvialand they went westward to the eastern of the
two crescent continents. It was separated from the island by
about six thousand miles of ocean, and had less width than the
western, having about the proportions of a three-day crescent,
while the western had the shape of the moon when four or five
days old. They found the height of the mountains and plateaus
somewhat less than on the eastern continent, but no great
difference in other respects, except that, as they went towards
the pole, the vegetation became more like that of Scotland or a
north temperate region than any they had seen. On reaching
latitude fifty they again came out over the ocean to investigate
the speckled condition they had observed there. They found a
vast archipelago covering as great an area as the whole Pacific
Ocean. The islands varied from the size of Borneo and Madagascar
to that of Sicily and Corsica, while some contained but a few
square miles. The surface of the archipelago was about equally
divided between land and water.

"It would take good navigation or an elaborate system of
light-houses," said Bearwarden, "for a captain to find the
shortest course through these groups."

The islands were covered with shade trees much resembling those
on earth, and the leaves on many were turning yellow and red, for
this hemisphere's autumn had already begun.

"The Jovian trees," said Cortlandt, "can never cease to bear,
though the change of seasons is evidently able to turn their
colour, perhaps by merely ripening them. When a ripe leaf falls
off, its place is doubtless soon taken by a bud, for germination
and fructification go on side by side."

Before leaving, they decided to name this Twentieth Century
Archipelago, since so much of the knowledge appertaining to it
had been acquired in their own day. At latitude sixty the
northern arms of the two continents came within fifteen hundred
miles of each other. The eastern extension was split like the
tail of a fish, the great bay formed thereby being filled with
islands, which also extended about half of the distance across.
The western extremity shelved very gradually, the sand-bars
running out for miles just below the surface of the water.

After this the travellers flew northward at great speed in the
upper regions of the air, for they were anxious to hasten their
journey. They found nothing but unbroken sea, and not till they
reached latitude eighty-seven was there a sign of ice. They then
saw some small bergs and field ice, but in no great quantities.
As their outside thermometer, when just above the placid
water--for there were no waves here--registered twenty- one
degrees Fahrenheit, they accounted for this scarcity of ice by
the absence of land on which fresh water could freeze, and by the
fact that it was not cold enough to congeal the very salt
sea-water.

Finally they reached another archipelago a few hundred miles in
extent, the larger islands of which were covered with a sheet of
ice, at the edges of which small icebergs were being formed by
breaking off and slowly floating. Finding a small island on
which the coating was thin, they grounded the Callisto, and
stepped out for the first time in several days. The air was so
still that a small piece of paper released at a height of six
feet sank slowly and went as straight as the string of a
plumb-line. The sun was bisected by the line of the horizon, and
appeared to be moving about them in a circle, with only its upper
half visible. As Jupiter's northern hemisphere was passing
through its autumnal equinox, they concluded they had landed
exactly at the pole.

"Now to work on our experiment," said Cortlandt. "I wonder how we
may best get below the frozen surface?"

"We can explode a small quantity of dynamite," replied
Bearwarden, "after which the digging will be comparatively easy."

While Cortlandt and Bearwarden prepared the mine, Ayrault brought
out a pickaxe, two shovels, and the battery and wires with which
to ignite the explosive. They made their preparations within one
hundred feet of the Callisto, or much nearer than an equivalent
amount of gunpowder could have been discharged.

"This recalls an old laboratory experiment, or rather lecture,"
said Cortlandt, as they completed the arrangements, "for the
illustration is not as a rule carried out. Explode two pounds of
powder on an iron safe in a room with the windows closed, and the
windows will be blown out, while the safe remains uninjured.
Explode an equivalent amount of dynamite on top of the safe, and
it will be destroyed, while the glass panes are not even cracked.
This illustrates the difference in rapidity with which the
explosions take place. To the intensely rapid action of dynamite
the air affords as much resistance as a solid substance, while
the explosion of the powder is so slow that the air has time to
move away; hence the destruction of the windows in the first
case, and the safe in the second."

When they had moved beyond the danger line, Bearwarden, as the
party's practising engineer, pressed the button, and the
explosion did the rest. They found that the ground was frozen to
a depth of but little more than a foot, below which it became
perceptibly warm. Plying their shovels vigorously, they had soon
dug the hole so deep that its edges were above their heads. When
the floor was ten feet below the surrounding level the
thermometer registered sixty.

"This is scarcely a fair test," said Cortlandt, "since the heat
rises and is lost as fast as given off. Let us therefore close
the opening and see in what time it will melt a number of cubic
feet of ice."

Accordingly they climbed out, threw in about a cart-load of ice,
and covered the opening with two of the Callisto's thick rugs.
In half an hour all the ice had melted, and in another half hour
the water was hot.

"No arctic expedition need freeze to death here," said
Bearwarden, "since all a man would have to do would be to burrow
a few feet to be as warm as toast."

As the island on which they had landed was at one side of the
archipelago, but was itself at the exact pole, it followed that
the centre of the archipelago was not the part farthest north.
This in a measure accounted for the slight thickness of ice and
snow, for the isobaric lines would slope, and consequently what
wind there was would flow towards the interior of the
archipelago, whose surface was colder than the surrounding ocean.
The moist air, however, coming almost entirely from the south,
would lose most of its moisture by condensation in passing over
the ice-laden land, and so, like the clouds over the region east
of the Andes, would have but little left to let fall on this
extreme northern part. The blanketing effect of a great
thickness of snow would also cause, the lower strata of ice to
melt, by keeping in the heat constantly given off by the warm
planet.

"I think there can be no question," said Cortlandt, "that, as a
result of Jupiter's great flattening at the poles and the drawing
of the crust, which moves faster in Jupiter's rotation than any
other part, towards the equator, the crust must be particularly
thin here; for, were it as thin all over, there would be no space
for the coal-beds, which, judging from the purity of the
atmosphere, must be very extensive. Further, we can recall that
the water in the hot spring near which we alighted, which
evidently came from a far greater depth than we have here, was
not as hot as this. The conclusion is clear that elsewhere the
internal heat is not as near the surface as here."

"The more I see of Jupiter," exclaimed Bearwarden
enthusiastically, "the more charmed I become. It almost exactly
supplies what I have been conjuring up as my idea of a perfect
planet. Its compensations of high land near the equator, and low
with effective internal heat at the poles, are ideal. The gradual
slope of its continental elevations, on account of their extent,
will ease the work of operating railways, and the atmosphere's
density will be just the thing for our flying machines, while
Nature has supplied all sources of power so lavishly that no
undertaking will be too great. Though land as yet, to judge by
our photographs, occupies only about one eighth of the surface,
we know, from the experience of the other planets, that this is
bound to increase; so that, if the human race can perpetuate
itself on Jupiter long enough, it will undoubtedly have one
fourth or a larger proportion for occupation, though the land
already upheaved comprises fully forty times the area of our
entire globe, which, as we know, is still three-fourths water."

"Since we have reached what we might call the end of Jupiter, and
still have time, continued Ayrault, "let us proceed to Saturn,
where we may find even stranger things than here. I hoped we
could investigate the great red spot, but am convinced we have
seen the beginning of one in Twentieth Century Archipelago, and
what, under favourable conditions, will be recognized as such on
earth."

It was just six terrestrial weeks since they had set out, and
therefore February 2d on earth.

"It would be best, in any case, to start from Jupiter's equator,"
said Cortlandt, "for the straight line we should make from the
surface here would be at right angles to Saturn. We shall
probably, in spite of ourselves, swing a few degrees beyond the
line, and so can get a bird's-eye view of some portion of the
southern hemisphere."

"All aboard for Saturn!" cried Bearwarden enthusiastically, in
his jovial way. "This will be a journey."





Next: The Scene Shifts

Previous: Hills And Valleys



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