Far-reaching Plans

: A Journey In Other Worlds

Knowing that the rectification of the earth's axis was

satisfactorily begun, and that each year would show an increasing

improvement in climate, many of the delegates, after hearing

Bearwarden's speech, set out for their homes. Those from the

valley of the Amazon and the eastern coast of South America

boarded a lightning express that rushed them to Key West at the

rate of three hundred miles an hour. The railroad had

tracks, two for through passengers, two for locals, and two for

freight. There they took a "water-spider," six hundred feet long

by three hundred in width, the deck of which was one hundred feet

above the surface, which carried them over the water at the rate

of a mile a minute, around the eastern end of Cuba, through

Windward Passage, and so to the South American mainland, where

they continued their journey by rail.

The Siberian and Russian delegates, who, of course, felt a keen

interest in the company's proceedings, took a magnetic

double-ender car to Bering Strait. It was eighteen feet high,

one hundred and fifty feet long, and had two stories. The upper,

with a toughened glass dome running the entire length, descended

to within three feet of the floor, and afforded an unobstructed

view of the rushing scenery. The rails on which it ran were ten

feet apart, the wheels being beyond the sides, like those of a

carriage, and fitted with ball bearings to ridged axles. The

car's flexibility allowed it to follow slight irregularities in

the track, while the free, independent wheels gave it a great

advantage in rounding curves over cars with wheels and axle in

one casting, in which one must slip while traversing a greater or

smaller arc than the other, except when the slope of the tread

and the centrifugal force happen to correspond exactly. The fact

of having its supports outside instead of underneath, while

increasing its stability, also enabled the lower floor to come

much nearer the ground, while still the wheels were large.

Arriving in just twenty hours, they ran across on an electric

ferry-boat, capable of carrying several dozen cars, to East Cape,

Siberia, and then, by running as far north as possible, had a

short cut to Europe.

The Patagonians went by the all-rail Intercontinental Line,

without change of cars, making the run of ten thousand miles in

forty hours. The Australians entered a flying machine, and were

soon out of sight; while the Central Americans and members from

other States of the Union returned for the most part in their

mechanical phaetons.

"A prospective improvement in travelling," said Bearwarden, as he

and his friends watched the crowd disperse, "will be when we can

rise beyond the limits of the atmosphere, wait till the earth

revolves beneath us, and descend in twelve hours on the other


"True," said Cortlandt, "but then we can travel westward only,

and shall have to make a complete circuit when we wish to go


A few days later there was a knock at President Bearwarden's

door, while he was seated at his desk looking over some papers

and other matters. Taking his foot from a partly opened desk

drawer where it had been resting, he placed it upon the handle of

a handsome brass-mounted bellows, which proved to be

articulating, for, as he pressed, it called lustily, "Come in!"

The door opened, and in walked Secretary of State Stillman,

Secretary of the Navy Deepwaters, who was himself an old sailor,

Dr. Cortlandt, Ayrault. Vice-President Dumby, of the T. A. S.

Co., and two of the company's directors.

"Good-morning," said Bearwarden, as he shook hands with his

visitors. "Charmed to see you."

"That's a great invention," said Secretary Stillman, examining

the bellows. "We must get Congress to make an appropriation for

its introduction in the department buildings in Washington. You

have no idea how it dries my throat to be all the time shouting,

'Come in!'"

"Do you know, Bearwarden," said Secretary Deepwaters, "I'm afraid

when we have this millennium of climate every one will be so well

satisfied that our friend here (pointing to Secretary Stillman

with his thumb) will have nothing to do."

"I have sometimes thought some of the excitement will be gone,

and the struggle of the 'survival of the fittest' will become

less problematical," said Bearwarden.

"The earth seems destined to have a calm old age," said

Cortlandt, "unless we can look to the Cabinet to prevent it."

"This world will soon be a dull place. I wish we could leave it

for a change," said Ayrault. "I don't mean forever, of course,

but just as people have grown tired of remaining like plants in

the places in which they grew. Alan has been a caterpillar for

untold ages; can he not become the butterfly?"

"Since we have found out how to straighten the axis," said

Deepwaters, "might we not go one better, and improve the orbit as

well?--increase the difference between aphelion and perihelion,

and give those that still like a changing climate a chance, while

incidentally we should see more of the world--I mean the solar

system--and, by enlarging the parallax, be able to measure the

distance of a greater number of fixed stars. Put your helm hard

down and shout 'Hard-a-lee!' You see, there is nothing simpler.

You keep her off now, and six months hence you let her luff."

"That's an idea!" said Bearwarden. "Our orbit could be enough

like that of a comet to cross the orbits of both Venus and Mars;

and the climatic extremes would not be inconvenient. The whole

earth being simultaneously warmed or cooled, there would be no

equinoctials or storms resulting from changes on one part of the

surface from intense heat to intense cold; every part would have

a twelve-hour day and night, and none would be turned towards or

from the sun for six months at a time; for, however eccentric the

orbit, we should keep the axis absolutely straight. At

perihelion there would simply be increased evaporation and clouds

near the equator, which would shield those regions from the sun,

only to disappear again as the earth receded.

"The only trouble," said Cortlandt, "is that we should have no

fulcrum. Straightening the axis is simple enough, for we have

the attraction of the sun with which to work, and we have but to

increase it at one end while decreasing it at the other, and

change this as the poles change their inclination towards the

sun, to bring it about. If a comet with a sufficiently large

head would but come along and retard us, or opportunely give us a

pull, or if we could increase the attraction of the other planets

for us, or decrease it at times, it might be done. If the force,

the control of which was discovered too late to help us

straighten the axis, could be applied on a sufficiently large

scale; if apergy----"

"I have it!" exclaimed Ayrault, jumping up. "Apergy will do it.

We can build an airtight projectile, hermetically seal ourselves

within, and charge it in such a way that it will be repelled by

the magnetism of the earth, and it will be forced from it with

equal or greater violence than that with which it is ordinarily

attracted. I believe the earth has but the same relation to

space that the individual molecule has to any solid, liquid, or

gaseous matter we know; and that, just as molecules strive to fly

apart on the application of heat, this earth will repel that

projectile when electricity, which we are coming to look upon as

another form of heat, is properly applied. It must be so, and it

is the manifest destiny of the race to improve it. Man is a

spirit cursed with a mortal body, which glues him to the earth,

and his yearning to rise, which is innate, is, I believe, only a

part of his probation and trial."

"Show us how it can be done," shouted his listeners in chorus.

"Apergy is and must be able to do it," Ayrault continued.

"Throughout Nature we find a system of compensation. The

centripetal force is offset by the centrifugal; and when,

according to the fable, the crystal complained of its hard lot in

being unable to move, while the eagle could soar through the

upper air and see all the glories of the world, the bird replied,

'My life is but for a moment, while you, set in the rock, will

live forever, and will see the last sunrise that flashes upon the


"We know that Christ, while walking on the waves, did not sink,

and that he and Elijah were carried up into heaven. What became

of their material bodies we cannot tell, but they were certainly

superior to the force of gravitation. We have no reason to

believe that in miracles any natural law was broken, or even set

aside, but simply that some other law, whose workings we do not

understand, became operative and modified the law that otherwise

would have had things its own way. In apergy we undoubtedly have

the counterpart of gravitation, which must exist, or Nature's

system of compensation is broken. May we not believe that in

Christ's transfiguration on the mount, and in the appearance of

Moses and Elias with him--doubtless in the flesh, since otherwise

mortal eyes could not have seen them--apergy came into play and

upheld them; that otherwise, and if no other modification had

intervened, they would have fallen to the ground; and that apergy

was, in other words, the working principle of those miracles?"

"May we not also believe," added Cortlandt, "that in the

transfiguration Christ's companions took the substance of their

material bodies--the oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon--from

the air and the moisture it contained; for, though spiritual

bodies, be their activity magnetic or any other, could of course

pass the absolute cold and void of space without being affected,

no mortal body could; and that in the same manner Elijah's body

dissolved into air without the usual intervention of

decomposition; for we know that, though matter can easily change

its form, it can never be destroyed."

All assented to this, and Ayrault continued: "If apergy can

annul gravitation, I do not see why it should not do more, for to

annul it the repulsion of the earth that it produces must be as

great as its attraction, unless we suppose gravitation for the

time being to be suspended; but whether it is or not, does not

affect the result in this case, for, after the apergetic

repulsion is brought to the degree at which a body does not fall,

any increase in the current's strength will cause it to rise, and

in the case of electro-magnets we know that the attraction or

repulsion has practically no limit. This will be of great

advantage to us," he continued, "for if a projectile could move

away from the earth with no more rapid acceleration than that

with which it approaches, it would take too long to reach the

nearest planet, but the maximum repulsion being at the start by

reason of its proximity to the earth--for apergy, being the

counterpart of gravitation, is subject to Newton's and Kepler's

laws--the acceleration of a body apergetically charged will be

greatest at first. Two inclined planes may have the same fall,

but a ball will reach the bottom of one that is steepest near the

top in less time than on any other, because the maximum

acceleration is at the start. We are all tired of being stuck to

this cosmical speck, with its monotonous ocean, leaden sky, and

single moon that is useless more than half the time, while its

size is so microscopic compared with the universe that we can

traverse its great circle in four days. Its possibilities are

exhausted; and just as Greece became too small for the

civilization of the Greeks, and as reproduction is growth beyond

the individual, so it seems to me that the future glory of the

human race lies in exploring at least the solar system, without

waiting to become shades."

"Should you propose to go to Mars or Venus?" asked Cortlandt.

"No," replied Ayrault, "we know all about Mars; it is but one

seventh the size of the earth, and as the axis is inclined more

than ours, it would be a less comfortable globe than this; while,

as our president here told us in his T. A. S. Company's report,

the axis of Venus is inclined to such a degree that it would be

almost uninhabitable for us. It would be as if colonists tried

to settle Greenland, or had come to North America during its

Glacial period. Neither Venus nor Mars would be a good place


"Where should you propose to go?" asked Stillman.

"To Jupiter, and, if possible, after that to Saturn," replied

Ayrault; "the former's mean distance from the sun is 480,000,000

miles; but, as our president showed us, its axis is so nearly

straight that I think, with its internal warmth, there will be

nothing to fear from cold. Though, on account of the planet's

vast size, objects on its surface weigh more than twice as much

as here, if I am able to reach it by means of apergy, the same

force will enable me to regulate my weight. Will any one go with


"Splendid!" said Bearwarden. "If Mr. Dumby, our vice-president,

will temporarily assume my office, nothing will give me greater


"So will I go, if there is room for me," said Cortlandt. "I will

at once resign my place as Government expert, and consider it the

grandest event of my life."

"If I were not afraid of leaving Stillman here to his own

devices, I'd ask for a berth as well," said Deepwaters.

"I am afraid," said Stillman, "if you take any more, you will be


"Modesty forbids his saying," said Deepwaters, "that it wouldn't

do for the country to have all its eggs in one basket."

"Are you not afraid you will find the surface hot, or even

molten?" asked Vice-President Dumby. "With its eighty-six

thousand five hundred mile diameter, the amount of original

internal heat must have been terrific."

"No, said Cortlandt, "it cannot be molten, or even in the least

degree luminous, for, if it were, its satellites would be visible

when they enter its shadow, whereas they entirely disappear."

"I do not believe Jupiter's surface is even perceptibly warm,"

said Bearwarden. "We know that Algol, known to the ancients as

the 'Demon Star,' and several other variable stars, are

accompanied by a dark companion, with which they revolve about a

common centre, and which periodically obscures part of their

light. Now, some of these non-luminaries are nearly as large as

our sun, and, of course, many hundred times the size of Jupiter.

If these bodies have lost enough heat to be invisible, Jupiter's

surface at least must be nearly cold."

"In the phosphorescence of seawater," said Cortlandt, "and in

other instances in Nature, we find light without heat, and we may

soon be able to produce it in the arts by oxidizing coal without

the intervention of the steam engine; but we never find any

considerable heat without light."

"I am convinced," said Bearwarden, "that we shall find Jupiter

habitable for intelligent beings who have been developed on a

more advanced sphere than itself, though I do not believe it has

progressed far enough in its evolution to produce them. I expect

to find it in its Palaeozoic or Mesozoic period, while over a

hundred years ago the English astronomer, Chambers, thought that

on Saturn there was good reason for suspecting the presence of


"What sort of spaceship do you propose to have?" asked the


"As you have to pass through but little air," said Deepwaters, "I

should suggest a short-stroke cylinder of large diameter, with a

flat base and dome roof, composed of aluminum, or, still better,

of glucinum or beryllium as it is sometimes called, which is

twice as good a conductor of electricity as aluminum, four times

as strong, and is the lightest of all known metals, having a

specific gravity of only two, which last property will be of

great use to you, for of course the more weight you have to

propel the more apergetic repulsion you will have to develop."

"I will get some drawing-paper I left outside in my trap," said

Ayrault, "when with your ideas we may arrive at something

definite," saying which, he left the room.

"He seems very cynical in his ideas of life and the world in

general," said Secretary Stillman, "for a man of his age, and one

that is engaged."

"You see," replied Bearwarden, "his fiancee is not yet a senior,

being in the class of two thousand and one at Vassar, and so

cannot marry him for a year. Not till next June can this sweet

girl graduate come forth with her mortar-board and sheepskin to

enlighten the world and make him happy. That is, I suspect, one

reason why he proposed this trip."