: 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
"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,
"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."