President Bearwarden's Speech

: A Journey In Other Worlds

"To the Bondholders and Stockholders of the Terrestrial Axis

Straightening Company and Representatives of Earthly Governments.

"GENTLEMEN: You know that the objects of this company are, to

straighten the axis of the earth, to combine the extreme heat of

summer with the intense cold of winter and produce a uniform

temperature for each degree of latitude the year round. At

present the earth's axis--that i
, the line passing through its

centre and the two poles--is inclined to the ecliptic about

twenty-three and a half degrees. Our summer is produced by the

northern hemisphere's leaning at that angle towards the sun, and

our winter by its turning that much from it. In one case the

sun's rays are caused to shine more perpendicularly, and in the

other more obliquely. This wabbling, like that of a top, is the

sole cause of the seasons; since, owing to the eccentricity of

our orbit, the earth is actually fifteen hundred thousand miles

nearer the sun during our winter, in the northern hemisphere,

than in summer. That there is no limit to a planet's

inclination, and that inclination is not essential, we have

astronomical proof. Venus's axis is inclined to the plane of her

orbit seventy-five degrees, so that the arctic circle comes

within fifteen degrees of the equator, and the tropics also

extend to latitude seventy-five degrees, or within fifteen

degrees of the poles, producing great extremes of heat and cold.

"Venus is made still more difficult of habitation by the fact

that she rotates on her axis in the same time that she revolves

about the sun, in the same way that the moon does about the

earth, so that one side must be perpetually frozen while the

other is parched.

"In Uranus we see the axis tilted still further, so that the

arctic circle descends to the equator. The most varied climate

must therefore prevail during its year, whose length exceeds

eighty-one of ours.

The axis of Mars is inclined about twenty-eight and two thirds

degrees to the plane of its orbit; consequently its seasons must

be very similar to ours, the extremes of heat and cold being

somewhat greater.

"In Jupiter we have an illustration of a planet whose axis is

almost at right angles to the plane of its orbit, being inclined

but about a degree and a half. The hypothetical inhabitants of

this majestic planet must therefore have perpetual summer at the

equator, eternal winter at the poles, and in the temperate

regions everlasting spring. On account of the straightness of

the axis, however, even the polar inhabitants--if there are

any--are not oppressed by a six months' night, for all except

those at the VERY pole have a sunrise and a sunset every ten

hours--the exact day being nine hours, fifty five minutes, and

twenty-eight seconds. The warmth of the tropics is also tempered

by the high winds that must result from the rapid whirl on its

axis, every object at the equator being carried around by this at

the rate of 27,600 miles an hour, or over three thousand miles

farther than the earth's equator moves in twenty-four hours.

"The inclination of the axis of our own planet has also

frequently considerably exceeded that of Mars, and again has been

but little greater than Jupiter's at least, this is by all odds

the most reasonable explanation of the numerous Glacial periods

through which our globe has passed, and of the recurring mild

spells, probably lasting thousands of years, in which elephants,

mastodons, and other semi-tropical vertebrates roamed in Siberia,

some of which died so recently that their flesh, preserved by the

cold, has been devoured by the dogs of modern explorers.

"It is not to be supposed that the inclining of the axes of

Jupiter, Venus, the Earth, and the other planets, is now fixed;

in some cases it is known to be changing. As long ago as 1890,

Major-Gen. A. W. Drayson, of the British Army, showed, in a work

entitled Untrodden Ground in Astronomy and Geology, that, as a

result of the second rotation of the earth, the inclination of

its axis was changing, it having been 23@ 28' 23" on January 1,

1750, 23@ 27' 55.3" on January 1, 1800, and 23@ 27' 30.9" on

January 1, 1850; and by calculation one hundred and ten years ago

showed that in 1900 (one hundred years ago) it would be 23@ 27'

08.8". This natural straightening is, of course, going on, and

we are merely about to anticipate it. When this improvement was

mooted, all agreed that the EXTREMES of heat and cold could well

be spared. 'Balance those of summer against those of winter by

partially straightening the axis; reduce the inclination from

twenty-three degrees, thirty minutes, to about fifteen degrees,

but let us stop there,' many said. Before we had gone far,

however, we found it would be best to make the work complete.

This will reclaim and make productive the vast areas of Siberia

and the northern part of this continent, and will do much for the

antarctic regions; but there will still be change in temperature;

a wind blowing towards the equator will always be colder than one

blowing from it, while the slight eccentricity of the orbit will

supply enough change to awaken recollections of seasons in our

eternal spring.

"The way to accomplish this is to increase the weight of the pole

leaving the sun, by increasing the amount of material there for

the sun to attract, and to lighten the pole approaching or

turning towards the sun, by removing some heavy substance from

it, and putting it preferably at the opposite pole. This

shifting of ballast is most easily accomplished, as you will

readily perceive, by confining and removing water, which is

easily moved and has a considerable weight. How we purpose to

apply these aqueous brakes to check the wabbling of the earth, by

means of the attraction of the sun, you will now see.

"From Commander Fillmore, of the Arctic Shade and the Committee

on Bulkheads and Dams, I have just received the following by

cable telephone: 'The Arctic Ocean is now in condition to be

pumped out in summer and to have its average depth increased one

hundred feet by the dams in winter. We have already fifty

million square yards of windmill turbine surface in position and

ready to move. The cables bringing us currents from the dynamos

at Niagara Falls are connected with our motors, and those from

the tidal dynamos at the Bay of Fundy will be in contact when

this reaches you, at which moment the pumps will begin. In

several of the landlocked gulfs and bays our system of confining

is so complete, that the surface of the water can be raised two

hundred feet above sea- level. The polar bears will soon have to

use artificial ice. Perhaps the cheers now ringing without may

reach you over the telephone.'"

The audience became greatly interested, and when the end of the

telephone was applied to a microphone the room fairly rang with

exultant cheers, and those looking through a kintograph (visual

telegraph) terminating in a camera obscura on the shores of

Baffin Bay were able to see engineers and workmen waving and

throwing up their caps and falling into one another's arms in

ecstasies of delight. When the excitement subsided, the

president continued:

"Chairman Wetmore, of the Committee on Excavations and

Embankments in Wilkesland and the Antarctic Continent, reports:

'Two hundred and fifty thousand square miles are now hollowed out

and enclosed sufficiently to hold water to an average depth of

four hundred feet. Every summer, when the basin is allowed to

drain, we can, if necessary, extend our reservoir, and shall have

the best season of the year for doing work until the earth has

permanent spring. Though we have comparatively little water or

tidal power, the earth's crust is so thin at this latitude, on

account of the flattening, that by sinking our tubular boilers

and pipes to a depth of a few thousand feet we have secured so

terrific a volume of superheated steam that, in connection with

our wind turbines, we shall have no difficulty in raising half a

cubic mile of water a minute to our enclosure, which is but

little above sea-level, and into which, till the pressure

increases, we can fan or blow the water, so that it can be full

three weeks after our longest day, or, since the present

unimproved arrangement gives the indigenes but one day and night

a year, I will add the 21st day of December.

"'We shall be able to find use for much of the potential energy

of the water in the reservoir when we allow it to escape in June,

in melting some of the accumulated polar ice-cap, thereby

decreasing still further the weight of this pole, in lighting and

warming ourselves until we get the sun's light and heat, in

extending the excavations, and in charging the storage batteries

of the ships at this end of the line. Everything will be ready

when you signal "Raise water."'"

"Let me add parenthetically," said Bearwarden, "that this means

of obtaining power by steam boilers sunk to a great depth is much

to be commended; for, though the amount of heat we can withdraw

is too small to have much effect, the farther towards the centre

our globe can be cooled the deeper will the water of the oceans

be able to penetrate--since it is its conversion into steam that

prevents the water from working its way in farther--and the more

dry land we shall have."

"You see," the president continued, "the storage capacity at the

south pole is not quite as great as at the north, because it is

more difficult to excavate a basin than to close the exits of one

that already exists, which is what we have done in the arctic.

The work is also not so nearly complete, since it will not be

necessary to use the southern reservoir for storing weight for

six months, or until the south pole, which is now at its maximum

declination from the sun, is turned towards it and begins to move

away; then, by increasing the amount of matter there, and at the

same time lightening the north pole, and reversing the process

every six months, we decrease the speed at which the departing

pole leaves the sun and at which the approaching pole advances.

The north pole, we see, will be a somewhat more powerful lever

than the south for working the globe to a straight position, but

we may be sure that the latter, in connection with the former,

will be able to hold up its end."

[The building here fairly shook with applause, so that, had the

arctic workers used the microphone, they might have heard in the

enthusiastic uproar a good counterpart of their own period.]

"I only regret," the president continued, "that when we began

this work the most marvellous force yet discovered--apergy--was

not sufficiently understood to be utilized, for it would have

eased our labours to the point of almost eliminating them. But

we have this consolation: it was in connection with our work that

its applicability was discovered, so that had we and all others

postponed our great undertaking on the pretext of waiting for a

new force, apergy might have continued to lie dormant for

centuries. With this force, obtained by simply blending negative

and positive electricity with electricity of the third element or

state, and charging a body sufficiently with this fluid,

gravitation is nullified or partly reversed, and the earth repels

the body with the same or greater power than that with which it

still attracts or attracted it, so that it may be suspended or

caused to move away into space. Sic itur ad astra, we may say.

With this force and everlasting spring before us, what may we not

achieve? We may some day be able to visit the planets, though

many may say that, since the axes of most of those we have

considered are more inclined than ours, they would rather stay

here. 'Blessed are they that shall inherit the earth,'" he went

on, turning a four-foot globe with its axis set vertically and at

right angles to a yellow globe labelled "Sun"; and again waxing

eloquent, he added: "We are the instruments destined to bring

about the accomplishment of that prophecy, for never in the

history of the world has man reared so splendid a monument to his

own genius as he will in straightening the axis of the planet.

"No one need henceforth be troubled by sudden change, and every

man can have perpetually the climate he desires. Northern Europe

will again luxuriate in a climate that favoured the elephants

that roamed in northern Asia and Switzerland. To produce these

animals and the food they need, it is not necessary to have great

heat, but merely to prevent great cold, half the summer's sun

being absorbed in melting the winter's accumulation of ice.

"When the axis has reached a point at which it inclines but about

twelve degrees, it will become necessary to fill the antarctic

reservoir in June and the Arctic Ocean in December, in order to

check the straightening, since otherwise it might get beyond the

perpendicular and swing the other way. When this motion is

completely arrested, I suggest that we blow up the Aleutian Isles

and enlarge Bering Strait, so as to allow what corresponds to the

Atlantic Gulf Stream in the Pacific to enter the Arctic

Archipelago, which I have calculated will raise the average

temperature of that entire region about thirty degrees, thereby

still further increasing the amount of available land.

"Ocean currents, being the result of the prevailing winds, which

will be more regular than at present, can be counted upon to

continue practically as they are. It may not be plain to you why

the trade winds do not blow towards the equator due south and

north, since the equator has much the same effect on air that a

stove has in the centre of a room, causing an ascending current

towards the ceiling, which moves off in straight lines in all

directions on reaching it, its place being taken by cold currents

moving in opposite directions along the floor. Picture to

yourselves the ascending currents at the equator moving off to

the poles from which they came. As they move north they are

continually coming to parts of the globe having smaller circles

of latitude than those they have left, and therefore not moved

forward as rapidly by the earth's daily rotation as the latitudes

nearer the equator. The winds consequently run ahead of the

surface, and so move east of north--the earth turning towards the

east--while the heavier colder surface currents, rushing towards

the equator to take the place of the ascending column, coming

from regions where the surface whirls comparatively slowly to

those where it is rotating faster, are continually left behind,

and so move southwest; while south of the equator a corresponding

motion results. Though this is not the most exact explanation,

it may serve to make the action clear. I will add, that if any

one prefers a colder or a warmer climate than that of the place

in which he lives, he need only go north or south for an hour;

or, if he prefers his own latitude, he can rise a few thousand

feet in the air, or descend to one of the worked-out coal-mines

which are now used as sanitariums, and secure his object by a

slight change of altitude. Let us speed the departure of racking

changes and extremes of climate, and prepare to welcome what we

believe prevails in paradise--namely, everlasting spring."

Appended to the address was the report of the Government

Examining Committee, which ran: "We have critically examined the

Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company's figures and

calculations, also its statements involving natural philosophy,

physics, and astronomy, all of which we find correct, and hereby


[Signed] "For the Committee:



The Board of Directors having ratified the acts of its officers,

and passed congratulatory resolutions, the meeting adjourned sine