- Author: John Jacob Astor
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The Callisto and the Comet (Page 145)
A JOURNEY IN OTHER WORLDS A ROMANCE OF THE FUTURE BY JOHN JACOB ASTOR with Ten Illustrations
The protracted struggle between science and the classics appears to be drawing to a close, with victory about to perch on the banner of science, as a perusal of almost any university or college catalogue shows. While a limited knowledge of both Greek and Latin is important for the correct use of our own language, the amount till recently required, in my judgment, has been absurdly out of proportion to the intrinsic value of these branches, or perhaps more correctly roots, of study. The classics have been thoroughly and painfully threshed out, and it seems impossible that anything new can be unearthed. We may equal the performances of the past, but there is no opportunity to surpass them or produce anything original. Even the much-vaunted "mental training" argument is beginning to pall; for would not anything equally difficult give as good developing results, while by learning a live matter we kill two birds with one stone? There can be no question that there are many forces and influences in Nature whose existence we as yet little more than suspect. How much more interesting it would be if, instead of reiterating our past achievements, the magazines and literature of the period should devote their consideration to what we do NOT know! It is only through investigation and research that inventions come; we may not find what we are in search of, but may discover something of perhaps greater moment. It is probable that the principal glories of the future will be found in as yet but little trodden paths, and as Prof. Cortlandt justly says at the close of his history, "Next to religion, we have most to hope from science."
INCLUDING NINE DRAWINGS BY MR. DAN. BEARD, AND A DIAGRAM. The Callisto and the Comet The Callisto was going straight up The Signals from the Arctic Circle Diagram of the Comparative Sizes of the Planets The Ride on the Giant Tortoise A Battle Royal on Jupiter The Combat with the Dragons Ayrault's Vision They look into the Future The Return
Book I. A JOURNEY IN OTHER WORLDS. Chapter I.Contents JUPITER.
Jupiter--the magnificent planet with a diameter of 86,500 miles, having 119 times the surface and 1,300 times the volume of the earth--lay beneath them.
They had often seen it in the terrestrial sky, emitting its strong, steady ray, and had thought of that far-away planet, about which till recently so little had been known, and a burning desire had possessed them to go to it and explore its mysteries. Now, thanks to APERGY, the force whose existence the ancients suspected, but of which they knew so little, all things were possible.
Ayrault manipulated the silk-covered glass handles, and the Callisto moved on slowly in comparison with its recent speed, and all remained glued to their telescopes as they peered through the rushing clouds, now forming and now dissolving before their eyes. What transports of delight, what ecstatic bliss, was theirs! Men had discovered and mastered the secret of apergy, and now, "little lower than the angels," they could soar through space, leaving even planets and comets behind.
"Is it not strange," said Dr. Cortlandt, "that though it has been known for over a century that bodies charged with unlike electricities attract one another, and those charged with like repel, no one thought of utilizing the counterpart of gravitation? In the nineteenth century, savants and Indian jugglers performed experiments with their disciples and masses of inert matter, by causing them to remain without visible support at some distance from the ground; and while many of these, of course, were quacks, some were on the right track, though they did not push their research."
President Bearwarden and Ayrault assented. They were steering for an apparently hard part of the planet's surface, about a degree and a half north of its equator.
"Since Jupiter's axis is almost at right angles to the plane of its orbit," said the doctor, "being inclined only about one degree and a half, instead of twenty-three and a half, as was the earth's till nearly so recently, it will be possible for us to have any climate we wish, from constantly warm at the equator to constantly cool or cold as we approach the poles, without being troubled by extremes of winter and summer."
Until the Callisto entered the planet's atmosphere, its five moons appeared like silver shields against the black sky, but now things were looking more terrestrial, and they began to feel at home. Bearwarden put down his note-book, and Ayrault returned a photograph to his pocket, while all three gazed at their new abode. Beneath them was a vast continent variegated by chains of lakes and rivers stretching away in all directions except toward the equator, where lay a placid ocean as far as their telescopes could pierce. To the eastward were towering and massive mountains, and along the southern border of the continent smoking volcanoes, while toward the west they saw forests, gently rolling plains, and table-lands that would have satisfied a poet or set an agriculturist's heart at rest. "How I should like to mine those hills for copper, or drain the swamps to the south!" exclaimed Col. Bearwarden. "The Lake Superior mines and the reclamation of the Florida Everglades would be nothing to this."
"Any inhabitants we may find here have so much land at their disposal that they will not need to drain swamps on account of pressure of population for some time," put in the doctor.
"I hope we may find some four-legged inhabitants," said Ayrault, thinking of their explosive magazine rifles. "If Jupiter is passing through its Jurassic or Mesozoic period, there must be any amount of some kind of game." Just then a quiver shook the Callisto, and glancing to the right they noticed one of the volcanoes in violent eruption. Smoke filled the air in clouds, hot stones and then floods of lava poured from the crater, while even the walls of the hermetically sealed Callisto could not arrest the thunderous crashes that made the interior of the car resound.
"Had we not better move on?" said Bearwarden, and accordingly they went toward the woods they had first seen. Finding a firm strip of land between the forest and an arm of the sea, they gently grounded the Callisto, and not being altogether sure how the atmosphere of their new abode would suit terrestrial lungs, or what its pressure to the square inch might be, they cautiously opened a port-hole a crack, retaining their hold upon it with its screw. Instantly there was a rush and a whistling sound as of escaping steam, while in a few moments their barometer stood at thirty-six inches, whereupon they closed the opening.
"I fancy," said Dr. Cortlandt, "we had better wait now till we become accustomed to this pressure. I do not believe it will go much higher, for the window made but little resistance when we shut it."
Finding they were not inconvenienced by a pressure but little greater than that of a deep coal-mine, they again opened the port, whereupon their barometer showed a further rise to forty-two, and then remained stationary. Finding also that the chemical composition of the air suited them, and that they had no difficulty in breathing, the pressure being the same as that sustained by a diver in fourteen feet of water, they opened a door and emerged. They knew fairly well what to expect, and were not disturbed by their new conditions. Though they had apparently gained a good deal in weight as a result of their ethereal journey, this did not incommode them; for though Jupiter's volume is thirteen hundred times that of the earth, on account of its lesser specific gravity, it has but three hundred times the mass--i. e., it would weigh but three hundred times as much. Further, although a cubic foot of water or anything else weighs 2.5 as much as on earth, objects near the equator, on account of Jupiter's rapid rotation, weigh one fifth less than they do at the poles, by reason of the centrifugal force. Influenced by this fact, and also because they were 483,000,000 miles from the sun, instead of 92,000,000 as on earth, they had steered for the northern limit of Jupiter's tropics. And, in addition to this, they could easily apply the apergetic power in any degree to themselves when beyond the limits of the Callisto, and so be attracted to any extent, from twice the pull they receive from gravitation on earth to almost nothing.
Bearwarden and Ayrault shouldered their rifles, while Dr. Cortlandt took a repeating shot-gun with No. 4 shot, and, having also some hunting-knives and a sextant, all