ZERO TO EIGHTY
E. F. NORTHRUP
(WRITING UNDER THE NAME DR. PSEUDOMUN)
The following was copied from dust covers on the book:
An imaginative autobiography -- the life, inventions, and reflections of a scientist living from 1920 to 2000 A.D.--telling the story of the first humans to circumnavigate the moon. The book, unusual and original in its conception, is used for the disclosure of important technical matter concerning the "electric guns" with which Dr. Northrup has been experimenting; it presents, among other things, a reasonable scientific solution to the problem of escaping the earth's gravitational attraction and navigating projectile-ships in celestial space.
SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING COMPANY
46 PARK PLACE
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY
Who is the Author of Zero to Eighty?
EDWIN FINCH NORTHRUP, Electrothermic Engineer, born Syracuse, N.Y., February 23,1866. A.B. Amherst 1891; Cornell University last half of 1891; fellow and Ph.D. in physics, Johns Hopkins, 1895. Hon. D.Sc., Lehigh University, 1932. Professor of physics, University of Texas, 1896-97, became assistant to Prof. H. A. Rowland, Baltimore, 1898, in the development of his multiplex printing telegraph system, and later chief construction engineer Rowland Printing Telegraph Co. Secretary and partner, in charge of research Leeds & Northrup Co., 1903-10. Professor of physics, Princeton, 1910-20; Vice-President and technical adviser Ajax Electrothermic Co., Trenton, N.J. Patentee of methods and numerous devices for inductive heating. Inventor of the Ajax high frequency induction furnace, in wide use throughout the world.
Fellow of American Institute Electrical Engineers, A.A.A.S., Member, American Electrochemical Society, Inventors' Guild, Franklin Institute. Author of more than 100 technical and scientific books and papers.
Awarded Medaille de bronze, Paris Exposition, 1900; Edward Longstreth medal, 1912; Elliott Cresson medal, 1916; Edward Goodrich Acheson gold medal and $1,000, 1931.
What the Critics Say about Zero to Eighty
"Dr Northrup's book is much sounder than others of its general type from the standpoint of physics and dynamics, and will prove intensively interesting to those who delve into scientific fiction both young and old - who are looking for new worlds to conquer."
DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, Rochester, NY:
"Doctor Northrup, with extraordinary originality, gives a strong dose of scientific knowledge in this sugar-coated pill. He has catapulted his imagination a half-century hence and the results are fascinating."
THE LONDON STAR, England:
"Here is a book original in concept and fully as thrilling as Jules Verne, but more to the point it is based on sound science; the kind of book we always hoped would be written."
What Technically informed readers say-
GW PIERCE, Professor of Physics at Harvard University, says:
"I have read with great interest Dr E. F. Northrup's book 'Zero to Eighty,' which shows vivid imagination, great skill in the application of analysis to a fanciful subject, and high literary excellence in the portrayal of a great scientific romance."
BRADLEY STOUGHTON, Professor in charge Metallurgical Engineering, Lehigh University, says:
"I spent many happy hours with 'Zero to Eighty.' Imaginative vision is one of the factors which has been, I suppose, the most creative in advancing our civilization. I am sure that it must have been fascinating to the author to roam around in this intellectual atmosphere, and it makes delightful reading."
N. R. STANSEL, Widely known Author and Engineer, says:
"This book is unique in that it combines a fascinating narrative, scientific interest, and a projection of imagination to illustrate a knowledge of new forces at man's command. The story alone is sufficient reason for the book but its contribution to scientific knowledge is its real and lasting value."
WILLIS R WHITNEY, Vice President in charge of General Electric Co. Research, says
"Intriguing, ambitious and imaginative Youth will like it and the oldsters will try to understand, even to criticize, the hard parts and yet the truth he helps to disclose will also prevail. For myself and the other kids, I wish we had more such bold, good-willed, and imaginative science writers, and still more material from this one."
COLIN G.FINK, Head Electrochemistry Division, Columbia University, says:
"A trip to the moon is no longer a figment of the imagination as Dr. Northrup indicates in most convincing manner. The conclusions are based on numerous scientific experiments carried out by the author and on very elaborated calculations. The book will be welcomed not only by those scientifically inclined, but also by the large group of individuals who have little or no scientific training, but who possess a high regard for the accomplishments and future possibilities of the scientist and engineer."
CL IPSEN, manager Industrial Heating General Electric Co. says:
"I have found Zero to Eighty intensely interesting, particularly so since I have witnessed the realization of so many of Dr. Northrup's dreams. It is to men of vision like him that we owe most of our own progress."
HENRY NORRIS RUSSELL, of Princeton University, Former President American Astronomical Society, says:
"The book differs from almost all others in which voyages in space are described, since the mechanical and dynamical problems involved have been considered by a competent man of science, and the narrative is quite free from those blunders which disfigure so many similar stories. The manner in which the voyage is presented, as an incident of a full active life, adds to it verisimilitude, and to the interest of the novice."
CAPTAIN SL CONNER US Army Ordnance Dept., says:
"Zero to Eighty is to me a unique literary effort. It presents, in unmistakable terms, the inspiring philosophy of a man who has one of the foremost technical brains of our time."
ZERO TO EIGHTY
BEING MY LIFETIME DOINGS
REFLECTIONS, AND INVENTIONS
MY JOURNEY AROUND THE MOON
SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING COMPANY
PRINCETON . NEW JERSEY . 1937
The next page is an artist picture of The Russian Moon-ship!
It has been the author's thought in writing this book, first, to familiarize the lay and technical public with the vast possibilities latent in the production of high linear velocities by the use of electrically produced traveling waves of magnetic force; second to give expression to a long-held conviction that very often a seemingly unattainable achievement may be realized by one who possesses imagination, optimism , fixity of purpose, courage, scientific honesty, and a moderate endowment of intelligence - provided all these qualities are crowned with unremitting labor.
The reading public is generally more interested in the activities and achievements of individuals than in impersonal matters, however important. For this reason the narrative is presented as the autobiography of a wholly fictitious individual who is born in the year 1920, and who reviews his eightieth year of his life's career and accomplishments.
The major achievement of the principal character of the story, Akkad Pseudoman (pretended man), is the realization of a youthful dream that it is possible to create a means for escaping the earth's gravity, circling the moon, and returning alive with records to, the earth. He accomplishes this feat without invoking any imaginary physical feature or laws of nature. In short, one purpose of this book is to prove the possibility (sufficient funds being available) all doing all that is herein described.
All technical descriptions, facts, proofs, and scientific information, which many of the general public would find troublesome or impossible to understand, have been placed in a Technical Supplement. The autobiographical narrative may thus be read consecutively for such inherent interests as it may possess.
While the narrative is pure fiction, written to present a far-reaching technical matter, it is free from the fanciful. All scientific material has been worked out in considerable detail, and is believed to be entirely consonant with the current proven facts as well tested technical knowledge. Back in the technical portion of the book is not inconsiderable expenditure of money, devoted to experimentation and collection of data by laboratory tests.
I wish at this time to acknowledge my indebtedness to several who have given enthusiastic and able assistance in this work. To Mr. Theodore R. Kennedy I am particularly indebted for technical assistance. Mr. Kennedy personally conducted a large number of the laboratory experiments and tests. To Mr. Thomas Author Feeham I owe the execution of many of the diagrams and the greater number of the illustrations. Acknowledgements are also due to Mr. Peter Keenam, who as illustrator and writer of experience has helped me in many ways with the narrative.
Much at the technical matter presented in this book for the first time is patentable. All original ideas I retain the right to protect by patents.
It has the signature of: E. F. Northrup
ZERO TO EIGHTY
Copyright, 1937. By
This book has been published simultaneously
In the United States and Great Britain
All rights reserved.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AT THE PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY
This imaginative story of achievement is grate- fully dedicated to Dr. Guilliam Henry Clamer Whose vision has brought him a success which He has generously shared with his associates.
I ANCESTRY AND EARLY DAYS
II EARLY BOYHOOD DAYS
III IN MY TEENS
IV HIGH SCHOOL DAYS: CAREER PLANNED
V I GO TO SWITZERLAND
VI STUDENT DAYS IN ZURICH
VII THROUGH EJECTION TO ELATION
VIII BACK IN ZURICH
IX REAL WORK BEGINS
X CONVERSATONS AND PLANNING
XI WE MAKE A GOOD STARI.
XII DISASER NEARLY COMES
XIII VACATION: TECHNICAL PROGRESS
XIV THE WEFT-WARF CLUB
XV JEAN BIZET'S PAPER
XVI A WORD OW BALLISTICS
XVII TRIAL FLIGHT IN UTAH
XVIII WE GO TO EUROPE BY BOAT
XXI DEFENSE OF SWITZERLAND
XXII BACK HOME: THURSTON'S PAPER
XXIII HOW SHALL WE STEER?
XXIV TWO EPISODES
XXVI MY PAPER
XXVII A FEW COMMEHTS, TECHNICAL AND OTHERWISE
XXVIII HASTY PREPARATIONS FOR OUR MOON TRIP
XXIX OFF FOR THE MOON
XXX THE INVISIBLE SIDE OF THE MOON
XXXI WE RETURN
XXXII WE REST AND PLAN
XXXIII THE SCHOOL OF ASSOCIATIVE SCIENCE
XXXIV VISITTO MOSCOW: ITS UNDER GROUND VILLAGE
XXXV THE YEARS PASS
FIGURES IN THE TECHNICAL SUPPLEMENT
1. COIL DIMENSIONS AS USED IN UTAH GUN
2. SINGLE-PHASE SINE WAVE CURVE
3. CIRCLE DIAGRAM FOR SINE WAVE CURRENT
4. REPRESENTATION OP THREE-PHASE CURRZNT
5. CIRCLE DIAGRAM OF THREE-PHASE CURRENT
6. THREE-PHASE Y CONNECTION
7. COIL CONNECTIONS
- SIX-PHASE DIAGRAM OF FIELD
- GUN MODEL SHOWING CONNECTIONS
1O. METHOD OF SLOTTING CYLINDERS
11. DIAGRHAM OF POWER SHIFTING DEVICE
12. EXPERIMENTAL LINES OF FORCE DIAGRAM
13. ELECTRIC LINE-THROWING GUN
I am alone tonight, if only humans together are company. I am not alone if man and his dog are kin in thought and feeling, for Mystery, my much-loved pointer dog, lies before my old-fashioned fireplace. I reflect that I am indeed a fortunate unit among the living myriads of men, for the vitality of my ancestors was such that my heart has been beating just eighty years tonight, and I have lived to see the year 2000 A.D.
On my knees rests a Precious gift from my mother. It was given me, her first-born, on my sixtieth birthday. This gift is a biography of my life in photographs from babyhood, through childhood, through manhood to my sixtieth year. Copies of each of the frequent photos and pictures made of what I call me were collected by her hands with love and pride. These she arranged in time sequence with informative legends in the album upon which I am now gazing. The title on the cover reads: A Picture Biography of Kad-the only name by which mother ever called me.
I turn over the pages of this photographic history because this happens to be the eighteenth anniversary of her passing, and it is also my own birthday.
Thoughts customarily directed to the present and toward the future are at this time turned backward. The legend under the first photo reads: "Baby Kad, born Feb. 22, 1920. Photo taken May 22, I920, by his father."
Do the five or six kilos of this newly-formed protoplasm look "like father" or "like mother," I wonder!
Slowly and with many memories awakened I turn the pages over and over and see in the undeceiving records of photography this bit of human matter guided to its destiny by its ancestral genes and the workings of that hopelessly unfathomable something called, by the Greeks of old and by ourselves, Fate.
The human being earmarked Akkad Pseudoman, steadily, always irreversibly, first enlarges rapidly, then more and more slowly until growth of body stops. I see the facial expression alter as the mind grows, and I see it appear to reach its summit, for the last photograph, taken in my sixtieth year, gives a first hint that the curve of mental growth is level and soon must begin to dip.
My life has been long, and it has spanned a period of change in human thought, in human deeds, such as no previous history preserved by ancient relics, writings, recorded sounds, or photography has ever known.
I dwell on these thoughts a long time. The fire is low. It burns now with only an occasional flame, this of copper-green or sodium-yellow, for the wood used is driftwood from the sea.
"Mystery, Come here, old fellow." He places his splendid head with its clean skull upon my knee. He taps my arm with his paw --a way he has of telling me to stroke him with my hand. This I have done so often that his coat is polished. His brown eyes look at me and, I believe, into me. I say to him as I have a hundred times before, "Mystery, why can't you talk old fellow?" His cars lift slightly. The look in his eyes, a little swaying of his tail, tell me better than articulate speech that he understands these words of mine in part, and my mood entirely.
Well, if you cannot talk to me, I will talk to you. You do not know my thoughts, but my emotions you share. For this kinship, this flattery, you are perhaps better endowed than my human friends. "Comrade, I am this night eighty years old. Do you know that you came into the world in the same month as I? You arrived thirteen years ago; years as many for you as are my eighty for me. I have lived long, I have lived much and richly, and I now resolve to tell you about this long life of mine, by writing it down.
Here by the fire I will read the chapters to you as I complete them. You will not know what I mean or say, but the telling of my life story will make you more content, and you will sleep the better there by the fire. Comrade, I start on this my last venture. I set myself this undertaking because there is in me an urge to self-expression, as there is in you, my once fine hunter, the urge to run, to seek the brush heaps where yet some ruffed grouse may hide, and make a beautiful point.
Fame is not sought at eighty; nor wealth, provided we have enough for comforts; but the desire is strong to experience the joy of memories unfolding, to know one's self better, and to seek once more--though failure is certain--the answer to that eternal riddle, What is reality?
"Mystery, the approach of death does not frighten you because you nothing of what it means." Neither does it frighten me, because for sixty years I have stood fear off, and I know too well the meaning of death to dread it.
Have I lived a life that is worth recording? I believe I have. I say this not with a boastful spirit because I recognize my successes have due more to the kindness of fortune than to any willing of mine.
Since I and my dearest friend, who shared most of my fortunes, were the first two beings in history to escape completely from the pull of gravity--our supreme achievement--and as much has been written regarding this unique experience that is but partially true and often wholly incorrect, I owe it to my friends and to the world to record the true story of this accomplishment and the inner struggle which brought it about. It is for this reason also that I am impelled to record my inner thoughts and the true happenings of my life.
"We start the first chapter tomorrow, Mystery. You shall sleep peacefully there by the fire as I read my manuscript over."
ANCESTRY AND EARLY DAYS
It was made clear to me when I reached the age of critical understanding that I arrived in this world in the year 1920 on the anniversary of George Washington's Birthday. Though present at the time, I took no notice of the event. I must, therefore, accept the fact on hearsay, that it was I who was born. In common with the rest of mankind, I have been accepting much of what I say I know, and what I believe, upon similar semi-pseudo evidence.
As this narrative deals chiefly with what is most mysterious of all matters contemplate--myself, it is unessential that I should waste words to describe in detail the reported circumstances, or the place of my arrival. I am told it was in a hospital somewhere on the island of Nantucket. I am also informed that two other boys arrived in the same hospital at about the same hour, but that I was so painstakingly labelled with an aluminum marker that there is little doubt that I am the son and first child of Eliza Margaret and Ephraim Pseudoman.
As the sole objective during the first year of a human life, and various shorter times for kittens, colts, calves, and puppies, is to eat and grow, I shall make little mention of what transpired in this period of sameness for animals and mankind alike.
This much I will say: If report be true, my mother was old fashioned in some of her ideas; that is, she thought, like many homemakers in the early part of the twentieth century, that what nature does when left to follow her own inclinations should be copied when giving a young life its start. I have heard her say--and rather strangely father agreed--that nature has been experimenting for several million years to learn the best way to raise offspring, so she ought to know how to do it by this time. Mother confessed to not knowing much science. Vitamins, bacilli, calories and balanced rations were always very confusing to her. She just copied Mother Nature, and for months held me to her breast. When I was weaned she saw I was a fine little animal, and she continued to feed me like one. To her, and to the non-interference of my scientifically thinking father, this assemblage of protoplasm equipped with human genes, called Akkad, owed his normal growth, his strength, his boldness, and, the parents of his playmates might add, his devilments.
I am well aware that he who writes his life for others to read is not doing what most autobiographers do if he omits to set down who his father and mother were, often praising them unduly as he proceeds; who his grandparents were (though four. in number, few there are who can even call their names without access to the family tree); how blue their blood; how thrilling their exploits; and finally when and how they migrated and at length settled in the place where the important (?) hero of the narrative was born.
My story is not entirely told for others to read. Rather it is being written to satisfy my own inner self. So I will not much imitate the fashion: but Akkad would not make full use of his available facts in trying to interpret himself, as perhaps he foolishly thinks he is doing, if he did not take note of his own pedigree as carefully as he studied the ancestry of the sire and dam of Mystery before he mated them.
One lucky or unlucky moment always, and generally two, happens in a human life. The first is when Fate arranges who the parents shall be; the second, if it happens, is when the partner is selected to mingle chromosomes with chromosomes, genes with genes, to keep the life stream flowing. No human being can select his parents, but often his parents' parents may. If we come to do this as frequently do with our domestic animals, men and women will become finer specimens of the race. Individuals will have a greater desire to seek a worthy goal, better stamina, more grace and beauty of form, more intelligence and finer social instincts.
These reflections tell me that I shall do well to set down here a little something concerning my forebears.
A photographic plate at the observation end of an astronomical telescope pointed at a distant star records events which happened a very long time ago-evens that little affect the comings and goings of most people. The brain of my paternal great-grandparent in much of its activities functioned in like manner, and his pen was busy in setting down the smallest details, not too faint to have made a record, which in any manner related to the traceable ancestry and the doings of the Pseudomans. These unpublished records came into my possession; it is from them I learned the trifles I here set down.
For nine generations back of mine, the twigs, the larger and smaller branches, and even a few undesirable sucker-twigs of my family tree derived sap from a certain chap who lived in the north of England. He spelled his name Sodman. My ancestors are described as "God-fearing and of good character and fortune." Each in the direct line was launched in life with a Christian name taken out of Holy Writ. Thus, Sodman's eldest son was Nathan, his Abijah, his Eliakim, his Jeremiah, his Gamaliel, his was Lazarus, his Ephraim, my father. I escaped with the unbiblical name Akkad.
My unusual given name needs explanation. About the time of my arrival my father had become interested in reading archeological literature and the history of early civilizations. He was impressed with the ascendancy in the arts of the Akkadians under the kings of Sumer and Akkad, and by all that pertained to the high culture reached forty-seven centuries back of our time. These Akkadians dwelt in the river bottoms of the Tigris and the Euphrates, and spread widely from this locality. By 2,700 B.C. they had outstripped all other peoples in advancing knowledge. It was my father's pardonable whim that by naming me Akkad I would have a name of good omen--a sort of verbal mascot to carry through life. Thus, mother acquiescing, I was baptized with the name Akkad: but few address me by a name so unfamiliar. My friends almost universally just call me Kad Pseudoman (pronounced sudoman).
The record is quite to be trusted that Nathan added an "o" in the middle of the family name, which then became, for three generations, Sodoman. My genealogically-minded great-grandparent, Gamaliel, speculated on why Nathan did this. "Perhaps," said he, "Nathan thought that Sodman was suggestive of Mansod or Man-of-the-sod--a title not befitting a family of "good fortune."
Gamaliel attended Oxford. It is recorded that always when he went on a coach journey, "to the better each moment in a life fast slipping by, a little to enrich the mind," he carried in his left pocket one of the plays of William Shakespeare and in his right pocket the immortal epic of Homer in the original Greek. It is not to be wondered at that frequent and close readings of these profane masters should have caused Gamaliel to reflect that life is indeed very brief, that man is only a pretense--a badly penned sketch in imitation of his Creator. Though I cannot find it in the records, I make a guess (as good as most guesses made by scientists) that it was Gamaliel's gloomy reflections which caused the family name to be changed from Sodoman to Pseudoman; a name which, rightly interpreted, is the learned way of calling me, and a few before me, Pretended-man.
The next page is a portrait of Grandfather Lazurus
Gamaliel's eldest son, Lazarus, must have been a surprise to his scholarly father, and not at all an upholder of his pride; for one account describes him as "a youth of rugged frame, venturesome in spirit, and with little leaning toward bookish knowledge." At the age of sixteen he embarked as a cook's assistant on the sailing ship Hector bound for America, where he hoped to make his fortune. He landed in Boston on the eighteenth of April, 1883. He soon got a job with a man who was growing rich buying undressed furs from Canadian trappers and converting them into neckpieces, muffs, and coats for the fashionable ladies of Boston.
Lazarus was early sent by his employer to the wilds of Canada and entrusted with the purchase of skins. At the age of twenty-five he was already well-to-do and married. He had three sons by this marriage, the first of whom, Ephraim, became my father. A treasured portrait of my grandfather hangs on the wall of the study where I am now writing. I think it well to include his photograph here, not only because I grew to resemble him, but because his very successful life had not a little to do with my own later achievements.
I shall have much more to say about my honored parent as this narrative proceeds with the telling of my unfolding and of my unusual experiences both in my inner and my outer life, the climax of which was my escape from gravity. Enough to say at this time is that when father reached twenty-six a girl beautiful in face, form, spirit, and character became his wife, and later my mother. She was as lovely a woman as ever came to live on earth.
The babe I call me doubtless received a multitude of impressions of what we are wont to consider the objective world. But all brain marks made in the first two or three years soon dim and are perhaps forever lost. Such brain records are like magnetism imparted to steel which has been but slightly hardened. When any new and differently directed magnetic force is applied, the first imparted magnetism is gone. Then later, perhaps at the age of four or five years, the developing brain takes on more and more the qualities of well hardened "alnico" steel which, once magnetized, can have its magnetic pattern changed or erased only by a new magnetizing force of uncommon strength. Likewise, as years are added many records in our brain cells become hard to erase, and remain as memories to please or plague us to life's end.
Since, then, I am writing the story of myself from impressions remembered, why should I go back in time beyond what I can recall? This story of my personal world, what I did in it and what I think about it, shall begin therefore when I was about seven. I can vividly remember to this my eightieth year, what I now record, and I have the feeling that all I say is strictly true, for it is indeed a summary of the life I call mine.
It has been my lot to have had many more experiences, both harrowing and curious, than most mortals. Many happenings in my long life have been most extraordinary and thrilling, even to a mind jaded with the continually reported "new marvels of science."
The earliest impressionable experience, which I vividly recall with delight and wonderment to this day, happened in my eighth year. My father was fond of inland water fly-fishing and spent many vacations in the Maine woods. He took me on one of these trips. The conscious events at this period which most impressed me began with a hunt and ended with an electrical observation--the first appearance to my childhood gaze of that genie which mankind has compelled to serve his every whim. In the years which followed I have made intimate acquaintance with this friendly and all-powerful servant of humanity called electricity. I can best tell what happened by copying here a letter to my mother just as I wrote it.
"With dad in a bark camp,
Maine, July 20, 1929
"Dad and I live in the woods by a lake. We have a guide dad calls John. John made us a place to sleep in. John made a nice big fire with wood sticks he cut up with dads ax. We could enjoy the warm fire by looking at it when we were sleeping. The bed John made was bows and smelt good. We sleep this way like a bear in winter but I like best what we do on the lake. Johns boat is a canoe and he pushes it along with a paddel. It goes very still and when John tries hard it goes as fast as my sled when I ride it down hill in our backyard.
"I teased dad to let me catch bulfrogs. John made a big hook that stuck out three ways to catch frogs with. He tied the hooks to a stick with dads biggest fish line. He hung them to the end of the stick as far down as I am tall. We got in the canoe and went to the place where there are lots of big leaves that float on the lake. John called these leaves lilly pads. He told me we would catch big frogs here. John gave me the stick with the hooks that go three ways. He put me in the seat in the front and got in the back to push the canoe. I used my eyes real sharp and when I saw a frog I only saw his head. He had two big yellow eyes. His eyes locked at me but John pushed the canoe so still that it did not scare him. I let down very slow on the hooks that go three ways in the water. I moved very carefully the stick so the fish line with the hooks was very close to the frog. Then I gave the stick a big jerk and O mother you should see the big frog come out of the water. I guess the hooks hurt him for he took hold of the fish line with his front feet and his back feet. John took his pocketnife and cut off the big legs behind because people dont eat the front legs. They dont eat the head or the body ether. John took the skin which was green off the legs. The legs were white and dad said they were awful good to eat. We got back safe and we had a lot of frogs legs. I think there were enough to fill my straw hat. We were awful hungry and John put the legs in a big tin pan to wash them. He put water in the pan and dad put some salt in the water. We saw a wonderful thing happen. All the big frogs legs started kicking just like they were alive. They kicked hard all the time we looked. I did not know that things which had been cut off and the skin gone could be alive.
"I asked dad to tell me. I knew he would tell me because dad is very cientific. Dad said it was electrisity. I asked dad what is electrisity. Dad said it is what makes our radio go and many other things. I did not say any thing more but I will tell you mother that when I am a big man I will find out what electrisity is because it does so many things. When the frogs legs were cooked in the frying pan they did not kick any more and they were awful good to eat just as dad said they are.
"I must wait until I can write my next letter to tell you the other things that happened. I am well. I hope you are well.
"Your loving son
This experience and others in the forested and lake-filled northland mightily affected my childhood mind and the whole course of my future life. Thus began also my intense love for observable nature, and my ever increasing curiosity regarding her ways. As years advanced I pried more and more into her secrets by methods which men of science use.
EARLY BOYHOOD DAYS
It now pleases me to awaken sweet memories by setting down some recalled pictures of my childhood surroundings and doings. My long life, rich in experiences, has convinced me that boyhood impression are very potent influences which operate to determine one's future character, ambitions, and achievements. This thought is my excuse for giving in this narrative some consideration to my adolescent days. I proceed now to tell briefly the story of my extraordinarily happy boyhood.
A group of wealthy men united in the common cause of saving for posterity the finest upland game birds the world has known established in northern New Jersey an experimental game farm. Here, as laid down in the by-laws, were to be studied the most effective methods of propagating game birds native to North America. Quail--bobwhite--valley, mountain, and other varieties of this species, also the ruffed grouse, the prairie chicken, and various other land game birds mere covered by the program. The slogan was: "Never again shall man exterminate that nature took millions of years to create." The place was named America Game Research Farm.
When I was a child my father was the scientist, the manager, and the brains of this most praise worthy enterprise. Here I lived when a child; here in the pleasant climate, among the rolling hills and dotted lakes of North Jersey, my body grew rugged and my senses drank in all that is most lovely in this world. Near here I had my school life, and in the modest but well equipped rooms of our trim home long evenings were spent with imagination-awakening books. And oh, such talks I had with father and my child-loving mother!
When not in school I fed and played with my pets, and they were many and odd. There was the puppy, Hector, that father prophesied would become the best bird dog in the state. There was Blackjack, my tame crow, who knew well just when I would be coming home from school. He would fly from a limb high in the great oak tree that grew near the path to our front door, light on my outstretched arm, and take from between my lips the meat which he generally found there. Frogs, snakes, lizards, guinea pigs, and a young coon were in my collection. My favorite, however, started as a small ball of down which I found in the top of a dead tree. This bail of fluff fast grew into a huge great horned owl. Father called him Old Hottentot. These pets were my very joy; I knew them all, and their divers ways.
Such, broadly, were my early surroundings on which I love to dwell. But I must hasten on to that age when young Kad began to have a more mature mind and special ways of his own quite a little different from other millions in his generation.
While my extensive studies in biology and many well planned experiments in the breeding of birds and animals have convinced me that the germ plasm to which we owe our existence is the determining factor of how we begin and mainly of what we become, yet I know that a favorable environment is needed for the normal unfolding and development of the potentialities of one's inheritance. I was fortunate in both.
I began my second decade still in the environment of my parents home. At about this time I felt the not uncommon desire to keep a diary. I made a New Year's resolution in 1930 to keep one. This resolution was adhered to, though with a gradual dwindling in the frequency and length of my entries. I do not now, in recording my personal experiences, find this diary particularly helpful except as to places and dates; for all that is worth setting down will live in memory.
The game farm from May to October was a busy and most interesting place. During the remaining months only breeding stock was carried over the year, and several of the helpers during this period were laid off. This was a time for planning, for construction of equipment and in my case for delightful long evenings with father.
Fields were planted in wheat, timothy, and white clover. A small portion of the land was covered with neat cinder-block buildings with cement floors. These were used in various capacities for the many activities of the game farm.
By auto we were but a half-hour from Newark, and by phone and radio less than a minute from the whole world. A modern primary and a high school were within easy walking distance. Great pine trees and a dozen highly prized boxwoods, a hundred years old, were on the front and two sides of our home. An entry and exit lane half- circling before the front door of the house, with lawn and shrubbery between, completed the surroundings which are photographed on my brain.
The weather man looked graciously on the game farm February 22,1930. To me it was my birthday--I was ten years old. At that age, "The Father of His Country" was of less moment to me than my own little self. I was made certain of this when I heard a call: "Kad, come out. I have something for you! There stood father, with mother by his side, holding the bridle of a pony. If the shutter of a camera which takes correctly colored pictures had snapped, the image could not be more permanent and joy-provoking than what was then instantly registered in my brain.
The pony was a small one--yet not exactly a pony, because the head and body conformation were rather that of a diminutive horse. His body was a brownish cream; his mane and tail were jet black; and all four feet were white for a few inches above the hoofs. On his back was a boys saddle of light colored leather, with a bridle to match, so spotlessly clean that they must have come directly from a store to the little horse's back.
After I had recovered from my first shock of joy and blurted out my thanks, mother said, "What will you call him, Kad?" To answer this question was a matter for deep reflection. At length I replied, "I will call him Pegasus--the great horse that flies."
"Isn't that a rather long word, Kad?" mother remarked.
"Oh of course" I said "but Pegasus is only his official name, when I ride with the big horses in the fox chase. I shall call him Peg when I talk to him." And "Peg o' My Heart" in my boyhood life he became.
I already knew well how to ride, as I often rode the work horses about the game farm. That was fun, but no fun like riding my Peg. It was but a few days before Peg and I were one, as a Centaur. The spotless saddle was left in the barn, only the saddle blanket was srapped on. To ride astride was the method of ordinary people, but I was no ordinary boy, and Peg no ordinary pony. I raced over the level fields of the game farm standing on Peg's back circus fashion.
An old man generally loves to recall the happenings of his youth--especially if it was a happy period--and to take cognizance of how his second decade was influenced in forming his character, and in giving birth to his ambitions. But though the incidents of his boyhood are very precious to the man himself, they are likely to become tedious when told at length to others. I shall therefore omit all unessential details of my developing years between ten and twenty and mention only certain influences which I later recognized had a decided bearing on the formation of my character, and in the establishment of the lifelong purposes which shaped my career.
In my twelfth year my pony, Peg, was the cause of my remaining at home for ten days while school was in session. It was this way: I had been taken by father to see a rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York. This gave me an ambition to perfect myself in throwing the lariat. I soon became quite expert in doing this, and I arranged to stage a rodeo of my own, using some of father's heifers for wild animals. The children of the farm hands as well as father and mother made up the "gallery" I rode Peg with only a blanket strapped on his back. On a third attempt I roped a half grown heifer, with the noose thrown over her head. When she felt the rope tighten she plunged forward. The near end of the lasso was attached to the strap which held the blanket on Peg's back; and the strap broke. My sombrero flew in one direction and my body in another. I landed on the ground, my left shoulder striking a rather hard knoll. The wind was knocked out of me, my shoulder blade snapped, and two of my ribs were broken. For a time I lay as dead. Greatly concerned, father and mother ran to me. But breath knocked out of a tough lad of twelve soon returns. Smiling, I said to father: "That was a good catch anyway, dad, but gee, how my shoulder hurts! Perhaps I can stay home from school now?"
The ten days at home were fortunate for me, for in that time I read several books and often had talks with mother and father which gave me more to think about than I could ever get at school. In fact it was the dawn of an awakening ambition, and my thoughts turned in a direction that later led me to formulate the dominating purpose which has guided me through my later years.
Father had a well equipped library. Any astute person, a stranger, reading the titles of the books he possessed and dipping into a volume here and there, would have little difficulty in gauging father's mentality and learning his type of mind. Show me the literature one habitually reads and I have his measure.
There was very little trash in father's bookcases. The shelves held what only a man of culture with an inquiring mind would prefer to read. Father closely observed the passing phenomena of nature and he also extracted from the minds of others, embalmed in books, both the world of nature and the man-made world of art and science. His bookshelves were not lacking in recreational readings. Detective stories and fiction of the cleaner sort were there also. Special shelves contained many reference works--dictionaries, encyclopedias, and books devoted to the principles of breeding and the art of raising game birds in captivity. One shelf was filled with books on the sciences written in a popular style, but authoritative, which were calculated to interest and instruct a boy. There were also periodicals; racks held for a week several of the daily newspapers.
Such was father's library. His books were not for show. He made them his constant companions, and, as I added years, they became mine also. I would not, however, have any reader of my narrative, from what I have just written about my opportunities for good reading, suppose that I was a bookishly inclined lad. Not at all. I had too much physical vitality, too much love for sports--football, basketball, baseball, boxing, swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting--to be deeply interested in books. I feel sure now that these animal propensities were a far better endowment than scholarly tastes as a preparation for my chosen life work. No mollycoddle could ever have invented my electric gun and with its aid navigated a moon-ship in celestial space.
This which I next briefly record is the first mention I have made of my brother and sister. My brother's name is Elihu, El for short. He is six years younger than I. My sister, younger than brother, was named Sophia; but we always called her Sofie. Oddly enough neither of them developed to look like me in the least; they certainly had tastes and mental make-ups very unlike mine. Both were bright and became scholarly, but looked at the world through glasses quite different from mine. My brother eventually made a success in law which placed his name in Who's Who. My sister grew up to be very lovely, and married. I suppose it was the differences in our ages and the dissimilarities in our tastes which made it inevitable that they were to play only a small part in my career. Because of these circumstances I shall not often refer to them in these memoirs.
I take this occasion to quote an extract from my diary written over fifty years ago: "The first decade of life is chiefly employed with bold growth and opening the mind's eyes to the aspects of nature and the more ordinary products of man's activity. In the second decade the reflective mind develops a little, and curiosity comes regarding things not visible to sense; ambitions take form and habits are established. In this decade the rare and sensitive lad often gives promise of his future power. This period from ten to twenty is of all others most responsive to correct instruction and wise guidance. Before the age of twenty the boy who harbors the consuming fire of genius in his being will feel a fervor unknown to the ordinary lad. The third decade is given to a formulation of his life policies, his philosophy. He has made choice of his life work, and most often he marries. He struggles for prestige and begins to get up speed on the sea of life's destiny. Succeeding decades are employed in changing the potential energy of his being into the kinetic energy that is called tangible accomplishment. Often great amount of visible work is done, the quality of which has been in large part determined by the skilful handling the boy received in home and in school."
Thoughts of this character must have been in father's mind when he engaged to give up two evenings a week over a period of two years in order to give me instruction in electrical science. The sacrifice, however, was probably not great because he enjoyed working at something outside his confining occupation. He was fully aware of the profound importance of electrical knowledge and the uses of electricity in his day. He foresaw as few men in his time did, the part electricity would play in the generation to which his son Kad belonged.
Father in addition to wide knowledge and reading was by instinct a natural teacher. He knew how best to present a subject to hold a boys interest, and to develop, the latent powers of his mind without inhibiting any natural tendencies to self trust and originality. He was strongly of the opinion that in the study and teaching of electrical science the methods much used in the schools were unalluring and ineffective. He believed the methods commonly employed in school laboratories are bad. A teacher who instinctively skilled will present to his students the phenomena of electricity in much the same historical sequence in which these phenomena were discovered. He will lead his pupils easily and rapidly along shortened paths, but conduct them in the same general direction as the great discoverers slowly and painfully followed to their crowning achievement of the formulation of principles and laws which electric phenomena obey.
Students should be induced, with contrivances fashioned by their own hands, to obtain electrical effects similar to those which the creative minds of electrical science produced with their home-made apparatus.
Father's ideas and a concrete plan for their execution were presented to me one evening during a long and delightful talk we had while sitting by the open fire in his library. This was my eleventh year. I became excited and enthused with the prospect of starting in to learn the mystery of electricity. I thought I might sometime learn why the frogs' legs kicked. Perhaps, too, I might discover something new about electricity, just as the great men of old had done. I told father I wanted to begin experimenting right away. Father, evidently afraid I would soon tire of my pursuit of electrical knowledge, made me an alluring proposal. He promised me that if I would work two nights a week with him for two years in the upper story of our garage, which we would turn into an electrical laboratory, he would give me a double-barrelIed shotgun.
Thus began my electrical education--an education which is to this to this day going forward. We began at about the same place Benjamin Franklin started when the world knew electricity only as a restricted set of phenomena produced by the gentle rubbing together of glass and cat's fur, silk and wax, or almost any two common materials except unlike metals. At the very beginning of our experiments father gave me, as it were, a little introductory lecture on how to go about learning things. His words are lost to my memory, but his thoughts have lived with me for these seventy years. In effect he said: "You know, Kad, that when strong sunlight shines on a piece of wet mud, it dries out; and becomes a hunk of hard earth; but, Kad. if this same warm sunlight shines on the rose bush in our garden its buds begin to swell, open, and soon become roses. You also know, Kad, that music and speech are at nearly all times going through space and coming into our homes; but no one hears them unless the radio is turned on: then only do we know that music and wisdom and folly are in the air. Now you should understand that in nature at all timessomething is going on--as sunlight to make roses grow, or electric waves in space to carry music and voices. But if there were no rosebuds and if we did not have our radio set with which to tune in, we would never know that sunlight can make a bud become a rose, or that electric waves in the air are carrying music and voices. You understand, Kad, that to know what is happening in this world one must have two things working at the same time; one of these two things is made up of the forces in nature, which are always acting; and the other is made up of our eyes and ears and brain which can take notice of the things outside them. If our eyes and ears are bad, or your brain is feeble, there may be ever so many interesting and important happenings in nature, but you will know nothing about them. A scientific man would say that there must be both an external active agent and an internal receptive agent, if the rosebud is to become a rose. When sunlight falls on wet mud it does nothing more than dry it up, because mud is not, like a rosebud, supplied with a hidden activity of its own. It is dead. The rosebud is alive. The more alive a plant is, or the more brains an animal or a man possesses, the more do the forces in nature reveal their presence. However big and wonderful the world really is, it is not greater or more wonderful to the animal, boy, or man who lives in it, than his brain by its own activity makes it.
"We are going to study electricity. We must first make sure, therefore, that we have some electricity to study. We shall first construct a device which will give us electrical effects. In other words, we shall make an apparatus to produce electricity. Next we must make a detector, which will show to our eyes how this electricity acts, and what it does. Electricity behaves in a great number of different ways, and before we learn much about it will be necessary to make many devices and observe with their aid how electricity acts. All this will take time, but it will be good un."
Father urged me to make notes and sketches of all our experiments. This I faithfully did, and so, from the time of this early beginning, I have always kept full technical notes. By referring to such notes, which I have preserved and classified. I am now able to look back nearly seventy years and see how wisely I was guided.
The methods which father used to train my understanding of electricity developed in me very early a strong latent talent which I possessed of looking at all matters with an independent and unbiased mind. I now think, as I write, that I must have been a born inventor and that father made all the conditions favorable to the fullest development of my inventive instinct. Indeed now at the age of eighty, I firmly believe that the best education is one which develops early an internal activity of the mind and independent in thinking: otherwise expressed an urge which at all times makes one think matters through for himself. As a rule our parents, our ministers, and our educators pump too much into our minds and draw too little out.
IN MY TEENS
On the twenty-second of February 1933 the fields of the game farm were covered with a crusted snow that one could walk over without breaking through. No wind was blowing, but the temperature was about ten above zero. In the early afternoon father and I were walking over the less frequented parts of the eight hundred acre game farm. Why? Oh joy for a boy! I had been faithful in sticking to my electrical experiments and now I was the owner of a sixteen gauge double-barrelIed shotgun of approved make. We were in search of birds on which to try my new gun. As we walked along father gave me some good advice. He impressed on my youthful mind that when my gun was loaded two devils lived in it. They could most unexpectedly jump out when least you thought they were there, and might kill not game but a boy or a man.
"Never," he told me, "point a gun, loaded or unloaded, at anything but what you intend to kill." This early warning was well timed, and I never have had even the slightest mishap with any of the many guns I have used.
Father, for good measure, had given me a pointer pup of finest breeding, whom I promptly named Archimedes but called Arc for short. Arc was with us racing over the crusted snow, but with many a slide and upset.
Presently we came upon a flock of those loveliest of winter birds, the snow bunting, often called "snow flakes," as they sometimes drop down in flocks from the far north, in appearance like large snowflakes --but restless, warm, and living. I raised my gun to shoot one that I saw feeding on the seeds of winter weeds that here and there were above the snow.
"Shame, Kad," said father. "Would you kill that pretty bird sitting on the ground? Scare him up, and shoot him when he flies."
These birds of winter, rarely seen in northern New Jersey, had come farther south than usual. They showed little fear of us. We were able to come within twenty paces of where they were feeding before they took wing. Bang! bang! went both barrels, and miss! miss! was my record. Well had father foreseen this result, for otherwise he would never have permitted this first brutal use of a gun.
"You will have to learn to shoot better than that, Kad, if you expect to hit anything."
Later that evening in the warm library, father, the friend of conservation, talked to me and painted on my youthful mind a wonderful picture of the abundant bird and animal life which the early settlers found here. He went own to show how many species of birds--the great auk of the far north, the numberless passenger pigeons, the heath hen, once abundant in New Jersey--had become quite extinct; and how many others, both song and game birds, were nearing extinction.
My reaction to this talk was what father wished. I felt sad that so many beautiful and useful things were gone from the world forever; and I almost began to hate my gun, which might help to hasten a further destruction.
When I was in this mood father cast some light on the situation which brightened my spirits and led me to make a useful determination. He pointed out that it was his duty and business to study on the game farm all approved methods for the preservation and propagation of our native upland game birds, so others could more abundantly restock the lands they control. He contended that just as in Germany two trees are planted for every one cut down, so by conservation methods and the raising of birds in captivity to be later released, our children and children's children will have the joys of observing the beautiful creatures of the fields, and also the delight of going afield with dog and gun. He explained in detail the great destruction to bird life caused by certain species of birds and animals which may be classed as vermin. Such are the predatory birds--several kinds of hawks and owls, also the crows. Rats, skunks, foxes, weasels, and above all domestic cats gone feral, make a partial list of the bad actors. All these take a heavy toll of bird life.
Father told me I could shoot and trap these destructive creatures in and out of the open game season, and at proper seasons and places I could hunt with dog and gun such birds as turkey, quail, prairie chicken, and ruffed grouse. I might also kill in the open season the legal limit of ring-necked pheasants, and other varieties of pheasants, also Hungarian partridges, all of which in my boyhood were well established here and much used for game birds.
He looked at me, and speaking earnestly, asked me if I would like to learn to mount birds and small animals and also later learn to paint them. To this suggestion I enthusiastically assented. I began by drawing from the public library several books on taxidermy, and then went to work. It was but a short time before I was mounting very creditably the hawks and other birds which I and my very close chum Horace Portland shot.
I must pause here to say a few words about this fine young lad who was then, and who remained through his life, my intimate friend. He lived but a short distance from the game farm, and we went to school together. Out of school hours we tramped, hunted, and trapped small animals. We were inseparable. We swam in the swimming hole of a nearby stream in summer, and skated on the ice in winter. Saturdays and Sundays we studied the birds we shot. We borrowed small sums of money from each other, which both of us promptly repaid on time. By these means a friendship grew which could never die.
Mother rather protested to me that I was too liberally ornamenting the shelves and lops of bookcases with the many hawks, crows, and owls I mounted. She did not consider the stuffing of birds a very high art. So I soon began to put into effect a decision I had made to make water-color paintings of the birds I killed. This was certainly a higher art than mounting specimens. Father had encouraged me to take lessons in drawing and painting from a local artist. But when I began to draw and paint birds a difficulty developed. A dead bird is limp, and for one not much skilled in perspective and foreshortening it is difficult to draw a dead specimen correctly in a natural pose. To mount the specimen first, so a correct drawing may be made, not only increases the labor but also gives to the final painting a certain appearance of artificiality.
Such considerations led me to make what was probably my first invention that came into practical use. The idea came to me in my fourteenth year that it should be possible to pose a bird or small animal, that had been recently killed, in any desired position sitting or flying, and that when so posed it could be just as correctly drawn as a mounted specimen. How I accomplished this will be readily understood from a photograph of my device, which is here repro duced. The specimen shown is a sparrow hawk just alighting upon a limb.
As can be seen in the picture, I made use of an adjustable laboratory stand, commonly used in chemical laboratories. This I readily adapted for supporting the dead body of a bird (or any small animal) in a desired posture. To the end of each adjustable rod are attached two short, strong, steel pins with sharp points. A steel ball, which supports the pins at the end of each rod, may orient them into all positions. One pair of pins is thrust into the back of the specimen s skull, and another into its body at a place in the back midway between the wings. Another adjustable rod fitted with an end clamp, supports the limb on which the bird may stand. The feet arc held in position on a branch with pins thrust through its toes. It is easy to manipulate the rods so a limp body may be made to assume any posture. If the wings are to be open or the bird is to be shown in flight, two additional adjustable rods are used to support its wings in lifelike manner.
The complete success of this bird and animal holding contrivance gave me my first taste of the joy one feels when he knows he has created something new and useful. It has been my good fortune to have had this joy repeated at various intervals throughout my life.
Before I reached seventeen I had painted with water colors every species of bird of prey native to New Jersey. All my drawings and paintings were made using my holding stand, and never by drawings made from stuffed specimens. My birds were collected with the gun father had given me, and most of my small animals I caught in traps. Then before the body stiffened or spoiled I set it up in a lively and natural posture. I drew and painted what I saw before me, idealizing some, but always holding to what I thought to be true in nature. The cubist, the impressionist, the modernist forms of art prevailing when I was a boy I especially detested. There still hang in my study a few of the paintings I made while in my teens. I often look at them and am brought in memory to those very happy days.
I put in this record a photographic reproduction of a broad-winged hawk painted with the aid of my bird holder. I shot this fellow trying to make off with a young rabbit. Art may not immortalize him, but his villainy is at least on record.
At about this period father employed an ingenious method to induce me to cultivate a taste for reading worth-while books. When the thought came to him that it was well for me to read a certain book he would buy a copy or take it from his library, put it on the table, and at a time when we were together in the library he would pick the book up and begin reading it. As a rule it was not long before my curiosity would cause me to say, "Father, what are you reading that you find so interesting?" "Oh, he might remark, "this book is called Gulliver's Travels. I read it when a boy. I thought it great then, and I was just wondering if it would interest me now when there are so many modern books to read." With this reply, the chances were I would soon pick up the book myself, look at the unique illustrations, and begin to read it. Any boy who starts reading Jonathan Swift's classic satire reads on to the finish. The fascination of the story, and the wit, the playfulness of the language, the simple English, and the originality of the conceptions have rarely, if ever, been excelled by modern writers. It is good for a boy's mental growth to read Gulliver's adventures in the strange countries of the Lilliputians and the giant Brobdingnags. Father knew this. He knew also that a boy must be gently led to literature, and would not drink from its exhaustless well unless by nature he were intellectually thirsty. He further knew that this intellectual thirst increases the more one tries to satisfy it. It was his pleasure to bring me, seemingly by accident, into contact with literature which would enrich my mind, awaken uplifting emotions, and stimulate a worth-while ambition. To this wise father of mine I owe, more than to anyone else, the rapid and solid development of my youthful mind. His methods certainly instilled in me my acquired love for reading, and my habit of reading discriminately.
Literature has been divided, quite justly I believe, into two broad classes--power literature and knowledge literature. The former inspires, the latter informs. Hamlet, born not from the womb, but from a wizard brain, is immortal. It is the form, not the facts which Shakespeare disclosed, that gives Hamlet immortality. Knowledge literature has a value more or less ephemeral, based on facts recorded. But this literature is ever changing and multiplying, for data increase mightily and grow in precision. Most supposed facts are later modified and much extended. But we need knowledge literature, as embodied in encyclopedias, in treatises, in text-books, in science publications, in tables of constants, in descriptive writings, and in journals and magazines of the day. We need such as our blood needs oxygen to circulate and nourish us for our every moment of living. But power literature we need even more, for from this come the motives and desires to live at all.
To "knowledge literature" and the painstaking care with which father intrigued me into becoming a reader I owe my excellent technical education, but from "power literature" I got my inspirations.
Man is ever striving, like all animal life, to become adapted to his surroundings. Environment, in the case of man, most greatly determines his thinking. From the time Edison gave the world his incandescent lamp, man's environment throughout this globe of ours has been altered and made more complex by man himself than in any previous period of six hundred years. Father and all the rest of us, without knowing it, had been struggling to keep up with this changing dizzy world, and the pace has slowed up but little throughout my lifetime. I have only to look out of my study window or view my interior house-fittings to see a world as different in this year 2000 as the world in 1930 was different from the world of the Victorian age.
In the fourth decade of the twentieth century everything of a technical nature--it seemed to many, lacking wisdom--had about reached its climax. There were those who stoutly contended that all major inventions had been made, and that from then on only more gargoyles would be placed on the cornices of structures already completed. They pointed to the technically trained thousands who were making no basic inventions, their activities being confined chiefly to perfecting the details of inventions already in use, and in expanding commercial applications. But there were others of deeper insight who had a more just appreciation of what the future would bring forth in the way of discovery and invention.
In my narrative I here anticipate to say that it was my good fortune to make at least one basic invention. As I proceed with my life story I shall explain in detail how this was done.
HIGH SCHOOL DAYS: CAREER PLANNED
From my fourteenth year and until my graduation from high school my life flowed on in customary channels. My body grew very strong and my health was excellent. In this period I read indiscriminately many books, together with the magazines of the day. The heroes in the books I read and the popular contemporary heroes gripped my imagination and induced in me wild and impractical ambitions. Lindbergh, Byrd, Beebe--who was lowered in a "bathysphere" into the blackness of the ocean depths--and the balloonists who went into the stratosphere, all filled me with longings to do strange adventurous things when I should become a man.
Foremost, perhaps, of those books which awakened my desires to become a man of action and do something great, were the clean narratives of Jules Verne. The swift development of his stories, his amazing precision in forecasting the future, his usually correct statements of scientific details and facts, the vividness and clarity of his descriptions, his exhaustless imagination, and the gripping interest he inspired in the situations of his characters, all laid hold of my youthful mind. I read with avidity in quick succession the greater portion of his writings. Of all authors I ever devoured none made me more resolved when I became a man to do something--something of a scientific character, something which would call for action and adventure.
It was characteristic of my nature, during my earlier teens, that I often resolved to choose a career like that of the latest book-hero I admired. However, when the impressions of one book had dimmed a little, and I chanced to read another, such as the life of Audubon, I would at once resolve to emulate him and become the greatest of bird painters.
The very intensity of my interests, their variety, their shifting character, were not unlike an inclined plane on which one may ascend or descend. To go up means success in many fields, to go down means a life of fluctuating desires and eventual failure through lack of a long continued governing purpose.
I must have had a superiority complex, for I was fully convinced that I could do anything I might choose to accomplish. After reading Virgil's AEneid in school I even believed that if I tried hard enough I could write just as good a story in just as good verse. But in those days of early boyhood the latest book I read changed my most recent aim and often led me to make some new resolve. Such impressions soon wore off, only to be followed by equally live and intense ones; for example, I would think, perhaps that my destiny in life was to explore the stratosphere in rocket-propelled aircraft. Father, with penetrating insight, knew that a flash-in-the-pan make-up, though brilliant as a magnesium flare, never produces important and lasting effects. So when I was nearing eighteen and soon to graduate from high school--with not very high grades--he called me into his library for a long talk. He wished to give me, before I should pass from under his influence, some sound advice straight from the shoulder. His aim was to induce me, if possible, to reach by myself some decision which would be lasting, regarding my choice for a future career.
As I now recall, he began briefly somewhat as follows: "Kad, I recently noted in an advertisement a very true statement. It is good for you to hear it. It read, 'The dazzling sun will not burn tissue paper unless focused on one spot.' You may be brilliant, you may be original, you may be busy always and work hard, but if you fail to focus on something--and that, too, for years--your intellectual rays will produce no fire, not evil smoke, and this world will soon forget you.
"All within a year or two I have heard you say that you intend when you are a man to become a second Audubon; that you want to go into aviation and make fights in the stratosphere. Shortly thereafter you forgot this latest plan and told me you had decided to become an explorer, just because, I suppose, Admiral Byrd was your latest hero. Again you wanted to be a writer; next, a great surgeon; a little later you concluded that the best thing for you to do was to devote your life to electrical researches, hoping to become a second Faraday; then again television caught your fancy. This, you told me, is the coming thing land you intended to become an inventor in the television field and commercialize it on a large scale. In a different mood you once even reached a decision that you would be an archeologist. In short, son, your emotions have ruled your brain. This must end if you are to become a successful man. In a few weeks you will, I expect, graduate from high school. By that time you will be old enough to think, plan, and act as a man. You must soon settle upon some reasonable course of action for your whole life; you must direct and control your changing ambitions and steer your course for many years toward a worth-while and possible goal. Unless you do this you will go through life a drifter, bobbing about and getting nowhere because you will always be tacking your boat."
A young brain is plastic, and fortunately it is not jelled. Father's talk stunned me for a time but it produced a most wholesome and lasting effect. It was then I made one of the first and best resolves I have ever made and kept. It was this: decisions of character and persistency I must and would acquire.
At the time I am writing this autobiography it is still my firm belief that my cultivated quality of persistence has given me more success than any superiority of intellect I may possess.
My class of 1938 in high school graduated in June, and I was then eighteen and one-third years old. Because of many outside interests and a strong dislike for all memory exercises I had low marks in most of my studies. Chemistry and physical geography were exceptions. In these subjects, deeply interesting to me, I stood high. My teacher in English composition also credited me with talent for writing. Tangible proof of his good opinion came when I was selected as one of two to write and read at the graduation ceremonies an original prose composition. I went at its preparation with the same zest that I earlier put into my lassoing, my dog and pony training, my taxidermy, my bird painting, and my electrical experiments. These and other like activities had trained me to employ my own methods of thinking. Always I must think matters out for myself. So the subject of my composition was entirely of my selection, and I treated it in my own peculiar way. I am tempted to reproduce my essay here; but it is rather long and I must pass on to matters of more consequence.
It was only a few days after I received my diploma that father and I were again in the library for an important discussion. With no preliminaries two questions were put to me: "Kad, have you decided yet what you will aim at in life? Do you want to go to college?"
By my recent hard thinking I was prepared to give an instant and decisive answer to both of these questions. Now at the age of eighty, I think that my replies were right. Of course, at this interview which took place about sixty-two years ago, things were said which I only dimly recall. I am putting down, therefore, from a much faded recollection the spirit and general character of the occasion, using such words as I now judge were spoken.
"Father," I said, "if I told you I wanted to get a college education, you would help me get it, wouldn't you?"
"Certainly," he replied.
"I thought you would," I answered, but it costs a lot of money to go to college. It also would hold me back at least four years in beginning my life work. I have decided not to go to college."
Talk along these lines was prolonged beyond midnight. Since I remember no details, I shall recount here only what conclusions were reached. After much debating the plan finally accepted both by father and myself was doubtless the best for a boy like me.
I was not to enter college to try for a standardized education; instead, in he fall and winter months I was to take night courses of my own selection in a nearby university. I was to be wholly free to elect subjects for study which might appeal to me, and, as I thought, would further develop my natural talents. In regard to these I may remark that the very versatility of my make-up inclined me to undertake too many things, and against this I had to be continually on my guard.
Father agreed to pay me over a period of four years the estimated cost of a college education, and if I wished it, to let me live at home. On my part I agreed to work on an average of at least five hours a day at any assigned tasks which would be helpful to father in his numerous activities connected with the management of the game farm. In free hours I planned to devote myself to experimenting in my laboratory. I had in view increasing my electrical knowledge and endeavoring to make certain inventions. I only expected to carry any contrivance or method I might devise to a stage needful to show its feasibility. This I believed could be done with small-scale apparatus and laboratory demonstrations. I would pay all costs myself out of such money as I might save by not taking a college education.
It had been very clearly pointed out to me that hazards and heartaches beset the individual inventor, but I was young and an enthusiast so an inventor I was determined to be. It thus happened on this night that my decisions then made proved to be most important to my future career.
As I write now in this year of 2000 A.D. I feel no regrets. I am convinced that endowed as I am with an original type of mind I could have done no better nor accomplished more in life if I had planned to follow the type of education customarily prescribed by parents and educators.
I GO TO SWITZERLAND
During summer months everyone is busy on a game farm. In accord with the arrangement made with father I became one of the regular assistants. I fed young birds, moved pens, cut apple and peach boughs filled with buds for the grouse to eat--for they greatly relished these. In the evenings I assisted with writing the many records that a game breeder must keep, and at night there was time for little else. Birds do not recognize Sundays and holidays, and in the period from July to November I did not even find time for my usual quota of reading; but this was all good for me. It was time I did something hard and monotonous in the form of real work for the wholesome discipline it supplied.
In spite of these many demands upon my time I persevered with my electrical studies and for several more or less uneventful years continued to conduct electrical experiments in my laboratory. In the course of these experiments I became interested in learning the possibilities of producing linear motions of very high velocity by making use of polyphase alternating currents of high frequency. My successes, obtained with inexpensive apparatus using but little power, had already convinced me that in this field of experimentation were hiding latent accomplishments of vast importance. Already I had visioned projectiles of great size moving with tremendous speed along the axes of solenoidal coils of extreme length--but very much more of this somewhat later on in this narrative.
Shortly after I became twenty-three, an impelling desire came upon me to see something of the world across the Atlantic. Foreign lands and the ocean which rolls now as it rolled at creation's dawn filled my imagination. During the following year I evolved a plan for visiting some of the capitals of Europe to acquaint myself with their technical museums, their treasured stores of art, their epitomized exhibits of civilization in the making. A few weeks of wandering, wondering and musing, and I would settle down in Switzerland to study for the greater part of a year. I had become conscious of my cruelly deep ignorance of the fundamentals of such essential sciences as physics, chemistry, and biology. Through skilful handling and the kindly directed influence of a friend, an arrangement with the authorities of the University of Zurich was effected, whereby I would be permitted to take there any special courses of study which I might elect.
By the year 1943 the development of a combination type propeller and-rocket-driven airship had been brought to the practical stage. By the end of the year a commercial line was placed in service; this operated four sky-ships to connect Newark with Paris in about five hours; flights were made in the stratosphere. In the ascent to this rarefied region, twelve miles up, air propellers drove the ship, then, when the stratosphere had been attained by a long upward glide, the driving force of rockets was added to that of propellers. This brought the speed to over 1100 kilometers, or about 683 miles, an hour.
In March 1944 I took passage on a ship of this line for Le Bourget Airport, France.
My life has covered a wide field of thoughts and events. I have had many unusual experiences stamped in memory which I shall wish to narrate later on. So I am compelled to record at this time but two or three of those events in this, my twenty-fourth year, which I now consider had particular effect upon my future and exerted a strong influence in widening my visual and mental horizons.
The most important occurred during my five-hour flight in the stratosphere from Newark to Paris. The experience to which I now refer was chiefly mental. It would not be at all exciting to anyone but myself, and if I had made it known at the time would have been of no interest whatever to others. Our sky-ship, the Columbia SBS-3 was supplied with windows in the roof of its hermetically sealed cabin as well as with portholes in its sides. This visual arrangement was provided so the passengers might have a nearly unobstructed view of the marvels and the glories to be seen in the dark purple heaven of the stratosphere. When, after the take-off, the stratosphere had been attained, the ten passengers had vision--which no weather condition below ever obscures--of endless space from the horizontal to the zenith. Unlike our earthly views which change ever with nature's moods and localities, the view here is eternally the same; save for the appearing, the disappearing, and the shifting positions of the heavenly bodies. These, including many of the more brilliant planets and stars, as well as the moon, bespangle at the same time--even though the sun is up--a velvety, dark purple canopy. While the sun is in view not even the strongest eyes can look directly at it and endure for a moment its intensified light. For this reason, by an automatic control, screens of light-absorbing material (Polaroid, I believe) slid over the windows whenever the sun appeared in a position where it could send its intensified rays into the eyes of the passengers.
As I looked through the side and roof windows at these heavenly spectacles I felt that no view on or near our earth which unprejudiced physical or mental eyes may behold is so calculated to awe and inspire, as that upon which I gazed.
The scene made me very thoughtful, and I wondered, "Why is there anything? And what am I that I can take cognizance of existence? Is all this real, or is it perhaps only a phantasm, a sort of mental mirage, produced in my brain by some supreme thinker?
I mostly studied the moon. Its sharp lines and clearly defined details made it appear the sphere it really is. It looked friendly and it seemed very close to me. If the pilot of our ship, I thought, would only alter his course a little we would soon be there. Suddenly an overwhelming conviction gripped me: "Sometime men will visit this moon; from it they will view our lovely earth; they will explore the moon s strange surface; its vast caverns, and they will visit that other side we never see from earth." Aloud I involuntarily exclaimed, "It can be done! It can be done with an electric gun! It shall be done! I will go there myself!" My companion passengers turned their eyes on me with quizzical smiles. I was embarrassed, but inwardly I said, "Smile--you cannot understand." At that instant a thought germ was fertilized, and life was given to an idea which would not, could not, and did not die. Many years later this same idea became translated into reality, as I shall record in due course.
Once in the stratosphere I felt no sensation of motion. Our actual speed was only a mental deduction; we appeared to be hung in the void by some strange gravity-opposing force, in a position seemingly so fixed that it might serve as a reference point for some celestial surveyor. Sound proofing devices reduced in the cabin all noise of whirring motors and the steady roar of the rockets to an almost imperceptible far-away sound--a sound such as one sometimes just perceives when there is a very faint hum in the ears and it is difficult to decide whether it comes from without or originates within one's auditory nerves. No motion, no sound, no sight save that of immovable stars, planets, and the moon--all far more clear, more brilliant, more sharply defined, and seemingly nearer than they are ever witnessed from the surface of our earth.
Thoughts came so fast and were so removed from self that the brief four and a half hours after the take-off at Newark Airport seemed to pass in a fraction of the time. Then we saw appear below and very far ahead an endless dark line marking the transition from sea to land. The long decline began. Presently the pressure of the air without and within the cabin became nearly equal, small portholes opened by a touch of the pilot's hand upon a switch. The fresh air from Europe entered the cabin, and very soon we were circling Le Bourget Airport, but 300 meters high. Five minutes more and the SBS-3 glided gently as a winged maple seed to the soil of France. I had crossed the Atlantic in five hours, and was eager for the experiences which awaited me!
My plans included a stay of a week in Paris for sightseeing. I would, of course, take in the standard sights such as the main boulevards, the Louvre, the Tomb of Napoleon, the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Champs Elysees, and various cafes--to try their wines.
Upon stepping from the sky-ship I saw a bus, which I took to the Gare de L'Est. From there I went to a pension at which I had previously arranged to stay for a week.
A boy who lives and spends the greater part of his time on a game farm finds himself in a strange and thrilling world when he drops, as I did, suddenly out of the sky into Paris--city of beauty, romance, historic glory, and the very epitome of modern marvels. I shall not attempt, however, to describe either my feelings or anything I saw there. So I start at once to recount an event which to me was truly important.
My plans included a visit to the Deutsche Museum in Munich, to study its then unrivaled technical exhibits. I left Paris at the end of my week's stay and went to Munich in what was considered at that time a very modern streamlined all-metal train, which sped along at 160 kilometers an hour.
An experience I had on this trip, proved to have a most pleasing effect, and produced greater consequences than all the treasures collected from past and present which I saw in Europe. I am indeed, at this point, led to reflect a little upon the mystical character of that which we call destiny, or fate. According to the bard,
"There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will."
Poets may stir emotions, but do they take command of intellect? Seldom, I think. When engineers "rough-hew" the design of a bridge to join cities by spanning a river, is it destiny that later, without mishap, the bridge serves the traffic well? Trust in the immutable consistency of the laws of nature, and much knowledge of them, has often made fate step aside by predetermining the course events shall take. But such is not in general the case. In a final analysis destiny and fate are only names to express man's ignorance. But until our finite minds shall come to compass the All, no formula can be written which in any large measure will predict the future. Till then, let us, though for convenience only, say our lives are in the hands of fate. At the same time it is well, however, to remember that what the mind believes molds it; so let us strive to believe that to us the Fates will be friendly.
Events proved that the Fates were very kind to me when I decided to take upon a particular day a certain train and compartment for my journey from Paris to Munich. In my compartment of the car there was only one other passenger. His name, I subsequently learned, was Jean Francois Bizet. He was a very handsome young man about my own age. He had marvelous penetrating eyes; clear skin, offset by tousled hair. His strong intellectual features denoted eagerness and ambition. He had that slight pallor often found in thinkers and sometimes called the "pallor of genius." When his dark eyes met mine in a friendly glance, his whole face beamed with a most infectious smile.
I think our liking for each other was mutual, and we soon engaged in a frank and interesting conversation. Only those who play a part and pose with dignity not inherent need for long be reserved and sparing of words. While the train sped on at over 160 kilometers an hour a close and permanent friendship was in the making.
I learned that Jean's home was in Zurich and that his father was an associate professor of history in the famous university of that city, where I was soon to become a student. Jean--we already used our first names--told me he was en route to Munich to meet his parents and sister who were now there for a short vacation and sightseeing visit. Jean soon learned my status, my plans, my ambitions, and much about my country, my life on the game farm, and particularly about my electrical experiments and my desire to develop new things. My knowledge of French at this time was very meager. Jean, however, conversed easily with me in well chosen English, though with a slight accent which only fascinated.
At the Central Station in Munich we parted, but not before I had promised to accept his urgent request to visit his home in Zurich and meet his family.
The Deutsche Museum in Munich is a magnificent monument to much of the life work of the late Herr Von Miller. To him belongs the credit of a new conception of what a technological museum should be--put into effect when he founded it in 1925. He believed exhibits should be dynamic, not static. The entire history of technological developments in such basic sciences as physics, chemistry, and astronomy are shown here. Everything is displayed and arranged so that any visitor may himself operate all mechanisms which are intended to move. I considered it would be of great value to study these exhibits in detail over a period of several days.
One interesting experiment which I tried on my first day was with a device to demonstrate what is called the "conservation of moment of momentum." I returned to this apparatus the next day because it fascinated me. As this particular exhibit was destined to be connected with my future career in a tremendous way, I might as well explain it.
The contrivance is a circular, horizontal platform somewhat less than a meter (3 feet) in diameter, upon which one may stand. It is raised a little above floor level. A low iron railing attached to the floor encircles this platform. Passing through a narrow gate in the railing a person takes a stand at the center of the platform. The platform is so pivoted below that it will not tilt and will revolve practically without friction around its vertical axis. The experimenter grasps in each hand a dumb-bell which weighs around four kilos (9 pounds). He sets his feet close together near the center of the revolvable platform, and then raises both arms, holding the dumbbells at arm's length in a horizontal position. While he is standing thus, a companion outside the railing pushes on one of the outstretched arms and causes him to revolve slowly. Then the experimenter lowers the dumb-bells until they are close to the hips; this causes his body to rotate much more rapidly, and he may become dizzy. By again raising the arms to their original out stretched position, the revolutions slow down to what they were at first. With intermediate positions of the arms the speeds of rotation become intermediate. Since the platform rotates on a practically frictionless support, these variations in rotational speeds may be repeated as often as one wishes.
The physical explanation is simple. With arms horizontal, the dumb-bells acquire a certain amount of kinetic energy which was imparted to them when the outside party started the rotation. As almost every schoolboy knows, the kinetic energy of anything moving is proportional to the square of its velocity--double its velocity and it takes on four times as much energy and will do four times the damage in a smash-up. When the arms are outstretched, the circumference of the circle around which the dumb-bells revolve is naturally much greater than when they are held close to the hips. Since the dumb-bells neither receive nor lose energy their translational velocity is constant; hence they move round the short circle in less time than they do round the large circle. Otherwise stated, the number of revolutions per minute will be greater when the dumb-bells are down than when they are up.
On my visit the second day to this "human rotor" which stood in the intersection of two main aisles, I saw a number of people around it. As I approached, the real attraction I found was the performer, not the apparatus designed to demonstrate a very fundamental principle in mechanics. An extremely attractive young girl was the cause of interest and the merrymaking. To my great delight, I saw that one in this group was my friend of the train, Jean Bizet.
The only way one could stop the rotor without using outside aid was to free the hands from the dumb-bells and grasp the railing. Jean was in the act of assisting the laughing girl to stop spinning when he caught sight of me. The rotation had made her giddy, and she put an arm around Jean's neck for support. After a brief moment, he conducted her toward me, and was saying, "Kad (he had followed my request to call me by my nickname), this is indeed luck finding you here. Monsieur Pseudoman, let me present my sister, Mademoiselle Marie Bizet."
I looked into a pair of large, rich brown, and twinkling eyes. A shapely artistic little hand touched mine in an unembarrassed and friendly handshake. I felt an electric sensation which billions in our human history have felt before, but until that moment was entirely new to me. It would take unparalleled ingenuity to explain the emotions which only my will concealed from those near me.
Mademoiselle smiled graciously and said, "Jean has already told me of his having happily met you on the chemin de fer. It is a great plaisir to meet you myself so unexpectedly. You must notice that I am a little dizzy from that turning appareil. If I speak giddy words you shall be so good as to forgive me. Mother and father are standing just over there. Jean will take us over and then you shall know the whole Bizet family."
This delightful encounter was indeed disconcerting to a lad little possessed of sang-froid in the presence of a mademoiselle so charming. But Monsieur and Madame Bizet restored my composure with their simple and kindly greeting. Confidence in their son Jean and their desire to please him were expressed when, after a brief interval, they invited me to dine with the family at their home in Zurich. It was suggested that when, in a few days, I should first arrive there, I should call them on the phone so that a time suitable for my visit might be arranged. This I greatfully, and graciously as possible, promised to do.
It chanced that the Bizets were to leave in a few moments to take the bus to the airport for their return flight to Zurich. So, with a dazed mind and much stimulated emotions, I soon found myself again alone in the aisles of the great technological museum. My first unconfused thought took form in this query: "Why can about fifty kilos of feminine humanity suddenly become of greater import to a boy of twenty-four with life before him, than all the wonders of this sphere we call earth, and the greater glories of the whole universe in which it swims, and which I have but recently seen depicted with marvelous fidelity in the planetarium of this museum?" My eighty years of life are not long enough nor is my philosophy deep enough to give answer to this age-old query.
In this mood, for me uncommonly sentimental, I drifted into the section of the museum devoted to the historical development and the latest accomplishments of chemistry. This history began in the ancient days of alchemy and went forward through the period of Paracelsus, most famous of the alchemists of the sixteenth century, to the present time of synthetic organic chemistry and the triumphs of coal-tar chemists. German explorers were the first to draw from this coal-tar murk all the rich colors of the rainbow--as hopeful spirits find goodness in a war-torn world. The exhibits depict with most instructive clarity just how it is all done.
At length my attention was arrested by a display in a long earth-filled trough, covered over with fine wire cloth of open mesh. Planted in the earth of the trough were beautiful flowers. There were shown roses, sweet peas, violets, tuberose, lilac, narcissus, sweet William, jasmine, and heliotrope--a group of nine of the loveliest varieties of the sweet-scented flowers. Each variety was quite as perfect in form and color as nature ever makes them. I wondered what might be the meaning of this beautiful showing in a Hall of Science. Placing my face close to each of the varieties in this display of flowers, my nose recognized the unmistakably characteristic scent of each of the species with which I was familiar. Then for explanation I consulted my catalog (printed in three languages) and all became clear to me. The flowers were artificial. The forms were correct, and the colors-made from coal-tar products--imitated nature so perfectly that the eyes were completely tricked. The sweet scents appropriate to each of the nine varieties shown were also made by the magic of synthetic chemistry from the same black but protean coal tar, and the nose likewise was tricked.
My mind flew to a final injunction which my dear mother (too infrequently referred to in these memoirs) gave me as I was about to depart for Europe. Kad," said she, "you will see and experience many things not yet familiar to you. Do not be deceived by what is only represented as truth or what is not truly worthy. Keep your grip on reality and remember, all that looks fair, all which seems sweet, may be a fraud." I think she had in mind the girls of doubtful intent whom I might encounter--but not of these was one name d Mademoiselle Bizet!
As I was about to leave the Museum for the day my eyes fell upon a mirror about half a meter square. Above it a placard stated in German, French, and English, "This is a flexible mirror. Consult the catalog at No. 187 M for a fuller description, and then try it." Turning to this number I read: "The mirror you are looking at is so devised that by turning either one of two dials its surface may be slightly curved about its vertical or its horizontal axis. The object as viewed in the mirror will be distorted to a degree dependent on the index number at which a dial is turned. Note the effect on your facial expression, for each of these two distortions, one about the vertical, and one about the horizontal axis."
This seemed interesting and I at once made trial of the flexible mirror and obtained the comical effects anticipated, and my attention was forcefully called to the alteration in my appearance which a trifling change might make. If modern science, which in the advanced days in which I write works wonders, would but: invent a flexible mirror to observe the effects of distortions of the mind, what a boon it would be to poor humanity!
When the Museum closed for the day, I took a taxi to the Hofbrau Haus, famous for a generation over half the world, where the finest German beer, associated with excellent music, might be had for a few pfennigs. Here under the vaulted, frescoed ceiling with its once brilliant colors now browned and mellowed by upward floating wreaths of smoke from millions of pipes, I sat down to eat nameless Bavarian articles of diet, to sip the far-famed amber drink, to reflect, and to think about Mademoiselle Bizet.
STUDENT DAYS IN ZURICK
A few days later, on a Sunday afternoon, I was a happy guest at the Bizet home. Professor and Madame Bizet, mademoiselle and Jean, all welcomed me to their tasteful but quite modest residence in the environs of the largest city of Switzerland. I had taken the precaution to bring with me letters of introduction kindly given me by prominent persons in America to members of the University faculty. I also had with me my collection of water-color paintings I had made of the owls and hawks found in New Jersey. These letters, together with a good account of me which Jean had given his parents, dispelled any doubtful thoughts the family might otherwise quite properly have had respecting my authenticity.
I observed hanging upon the walls several water-color paintings of uncommon merit. They were all of one type, and depicted in most artistic compositions Babylonian, Egyptian, and other ancient relics such as statuettes of gods, jewelry, vases, and various other articles which archeologists have discovered in Egyptian tombs and other burial places of bygone civilizations. While examining them I expressed admiration for the unusual subject matter selected, and the excellence of the work. Professor Bizet most kindly gave me full explanations of the paintings and in answer to a direct question confessed that he was the painter. He then informed me that as a hobby he had for many years specialized in this unique field for giving expression to his fondness for art in water colors. It soon became evident that we had in water-color painting at least one interest very much in common. When it was learned that I had my own paintings with me I was asked to show them to the family. The ingenuity of my bird holder for use in making drawings and paintings of dead animals and birds was highly complimented. The paintings themselves, though but the work of an amateur, were also not unappreciated.
Mademoiselle was delighted to see my lifelike representations of the hawks and owls which I explained I had to kill for the safety of our little quail and grouse. She made many charming remarks in a mixture old English and French, and it became extremely difficult for me to hide from the other members of the family my complete captivation.
Before the time came for leaving I learned much about Jean's student life at the Polytechnic, where he was studying to become a mechanical engineer; and I also learned that mademoiselle was a student in an art school at Lucerne, where she was preparing herself for work in commercial advertising art, which she expected to practice as a profession. She lived with relatives near the art school in Lucerne, and as a rule returned home only fortnightly to spend week-ends with the family.
As I was preparing to leave, Madame Bizet spoke to me aside and said, "Monsieur Pseudoman, it has been a genuine pleasure that I have come to know you. Perhaps you have not as yet made arrangements for your living in Zurich. If not, and if it pleases you, we should be glad to have you live in our home while you are a student here. We would try to make you comfortable. I could make the charge not larger than you would pay at a pension in town. If other arrangements will suit you better, I pray you to forget what I have said and promise me that you will call frequently at our home."
With visions of those fortnightly homecomings of mademoiselle, and of a growing Damon-and-Pythias friendship with Jean, I accepted this offer with joy in my heart. Again I perceived that it was a "divinity" guiding me which was certainly shaping my career toward good fortune, when I took that particular train to Munich. I began my studies as a special student at the University with a firm determination that I would make good use of my educational opportunities and study my subjects up to the safe limit for good nerves.
After a conference with my advisers I decided to take lecture courses in physics, and both laboratory work and lectures in chemistry; also laboratory and lecture courses in biology. The question of how much time I should devote to mathematics was a matter for much discussion and thought. It was finally decided that the philosophical ideas underlying calculus should not be ignored, and that a study of this powerful "instrument de la pensee" was of great importance for a rounded mental development. So elementary calculus was added to my already well loaded curriculum.
With the remark that I worked very hard at my studies even to the point of endangering my robust health, I shall pass over the dimly remembered and unexciting events of the next few months. Suffice it to add that my vision of Mademoiselle Bizet went everywhere with me as does the magnetic field which surrounds well hardened and strongly magnetized steel wherever it goes. At all times this image of a charming, a beautiful girl with brains and character bolstered my ambition and kept me chaste as an anchorite. Whenever I happened to find myself among the coaxing habitues of restaurants, theatres, and the public places I felt only disgust. Not a moral code, but the image of a true and wonderful girl was my ever watchful guardian.
The month of August, vacation month, had come. Jean, Marie--I had arrived where I could now address her thus--and I were seated on a veranda of the Riffelberg, a high-perched hotel two and one-half kilometers from Zermatt. From here may be viewed with great advantage the east face of the Matrerhorn, distant about seven kilometers. This rock mountain, "The Lion of Zermatt," symbol of the permanent, towers forty-five hundred meters naked and pyramidic against its unbroken background of sky. The sun had set but recently, and a full moon half-way risen to the zenith in the eastern sky, shed its full white light upon the seemingly unscalable slope of this imposing peak. No setting could be better chosen to awaken fancies and to stir the deepest emotions of a lover.
Marie, who was sitting between her brother and me, remarked, "Father, you know, was born at Zermatt. That is why French is his native tongue. He passed his boyhood here. He loves the Matterhorn. Several of his best friends are the local guides. Father has twice climbed to its summit. The climb is not dangerous now; just hard work with much pulling and lifting, for rings and steel ropes have been fastened to the rocks at all difficult places."
Jean commented, "It would be great fun if we should climb it while we are here. Do you think, Marie, you could do it?"
"Of course I could if you and Kad would take me along."
"That's fine," said Jean, "but I have already talked to the guides about making the ascent and they tell me unfortunately there is much ice on the mountain now, and only a few men are going up. Besides, it would cost us two hundred francs."
The two hundred francs rebutted all argument in favor of making the ascent.
"Perhaps," I remarked, "we shall make the climb some other time. The mountain will be there however long we wait. How few things in this world," I added, rather philosophically, "stay long unchanged; the only thing which is constant is change. I suppose certain insects are the most permanent things, for my biology professor asserted that some have not varied in a million years; and when in another million years we two-legged humans shall be few but highly evolved, some six-legged cockroach will still be the same--and just as hungry."
"Do you really believe, Kad," said Marie, "that bugs will finally destroy all other animals, and become the last survivors on this earth?"
"Perhaps, yes, but what may happen in a million years can't take the fun out of our lives, nor" --and I looked into Marie's lovely face--"you from this company. At least I am sure the Matterhorn will still be here."
Jean, ignoring these remarks, said, "Look at the moon up there over your left shoulder--better luck I am told than if you see it over your right shoulder. Can you see Cynthia in the moon, Kad? She shows up fine tonight, and it is easy to find her. See the graceful way her hair sweeps back along the side of her head. I should say the contour of her neck is quite to an artist's liking, and that the man in the moon had excellent judgment when he selected his mate."
Marie remarked, "The moon seems very near. Can't the scientists, who are now doing such wonderful things, invent a machine which will take us there--and, of course, bring us back again?"
Marie looked at me when she put this question. Then the almost stunning thought--including a reasonable technical solution--that of a sudden had taken possession of me while on my passage in the sky-ship from Newark to Paris, again rushed into my head. I looked at Marie and Jean and said, slowly and earnestly, "Marie, you think I think you are joking, but I am not joking when I tell you that I believe men will at least go around the moon and return safely to earth. New developments in science already made, and others which will be made in another decade, will show us a way to do it. I have believed this for months, but have never mentioned it before because I did not want you to think that I am a mere dreamer--but I am convinced it can be done.
"Jean, if as the years pass I can show you the feasibility of doing this thing, and, most difficult of all, find means to finance the undertaking, will you go with me? Shall we"--and my eyes sought Marie's brown eyes--"be the first persons to visit the moon?"
Just then an interrupting bell-hop called out: "Monsieur Bizet." "lci," said Jean; and the garcon led him to the office where the concierge desired to give him certain information relating to our tickets.
Another moment and I was sitting alone in this romantic place with Marie. It was no sudden thought which made me decide to ask Marie to be my wife. Though each knew the other, loved the other, only looks and actions had thus far said it was so. Taking her hand tightly in mine, some lines recalled from a sonnet of Shakespeare came to me to give me good advice:
"And when thou comest thy tale to tell,
Smooth not though tongue with filed talk
But plainly say thou lovest her well,
And set thy person forth to sell."
"Marie, from the first moment of our meeting I have loved you. When first you took my hand you said you were dizzy. You were not so dizzy as I was. I want you for my life companion; I want you for my wife. Tell me what I have dared to hope. Will you marry me?"
Her beautiful, expressive features seemed doubly illuminated by the moonlight and by her gorgeous eyes. "Kad"--and her hand gripped mine--"you taught me to love the poet Tennyson. I have learned many of his beautiful lines. My answer is in a few words: weeping I have loved you long.' Of course, Kad, I will marry you."
Quite without our expectation Jean returned, surprising us--perhaps we amazed him, but I think not. We were caught, and Marie spoke first: "Jean, I am going to marry Kad because we love each other."
"My turtle doves," said Jean, "I praise you, and father and mother will congratulate you. For myself, it is a fine prospect I have of possessing a very reputable brother-in-law who has already become my good friend. But we are on a vacation meant for three; I am not in love, and I want to have my fun last. Please, I pray you, don't spoil the rest of my vacation; put the soft pedal on your emotions while we are together. By the way, Kad, this was so sudden I almost forgot to tell you, I have a letter for you from your father."
I took the letter, remarking, "Come under a light where I can read it to you. Father usually has something of interest in his letters." The letter read:
"American Experimental Game Farm, New Jersey.
August 10, 1945
"Enclosed you will find your monthly remittance. (Father gets off to a good start, doesn't he, Jean?' I remarked.) The gallinaceous birds began laying about two weeks earlier this season than they did last year, and all hands here are very busy. We had a tragedy at the farm which makes us all feel sad. Joe Dakin who since you left home has been entirely responsible for the care of all our wild turkeys, quail, and grouse, was killed last week by our prize bull. We are doing all we can for his family. His death leaves us short-handed.
"I am authorized by our Directors to replace him with any one I choose to select. I suggested that you, Kad, could fill the position better than any one I know. The Directors agreed that in this case no objection will be raised if I give the position to a member of my family. I am authorized, therefore, to offer you as I now do, the position formerly held by Joe. Your salary would be one hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125) a month. You may also live at home board free. I need you badly.
"I am well aware that if you accept, it will cut short your stay in Zurich. I believe, however, by studying at home along well planned lines during the winter months, when you will have much leisure, you can make up for the time taken from your studies at the University. Your shop and laboratory rooms in the garage are just as you left them. You will have good opportunity in the winter for experimenting.
"If you decide to come please cable when we may expect you.
"Your affectionate father,
"P.S. If you come I suggest you return on one of the new stabilized Diesel engine driven ships of the new U.S. Colombian Line. It will be a good experience for you to travel close to the breast of old Neptune."
The letter read, I looked at Marie and she at me. Then with her expressive eyes and slow words she said, "Go, Kad, it is tres bon for you, and I believe it is our opportunity. Not less certainly will the Matterhorn wait than will I be here waiting for you, but don't forget the French you have learned. Practice it by writing all your letters to me in my language. It is the best language for love. But I warn you that for every grammatical error you make, I shall add une petite minute to the time I shall take to answer."
I am now reflecting as I write of this landmark in my career that it is little wonder I became an accomplished French scholar.
THROUGH DETECTION TO ELATION
A pleasant passage over the waves of the Atlantic and I was once more on the game farm. Welcomes and innumerable questionings from all the family concerning my stay in Zurich and the Bizets, and mother's raptures over my descriptions and photographs of Marie, made me very happy.
After living among the snow-capped peaks, the aiguilles, the emerald-green lakes, it the narrow valleys--and the three foreign tongues spoken in Switzerland--it did me good to once more see my native land and the scenery of my beloved state of New Jersey. Indeed, I believe few spots in Europe are more satisfying to a lover of quiet scenery than are the rolling terranes and scattered lakes of northern New Jersey when dressed in their summer robe of green. But I have much more to tell than to recount the aspect of exterior things.
My formal student days were for the time ended and I now faced life with its obstacles and its necessary strivings, small successes, unrealized ambitions, and bitter thoughts whether or no I was to be just one more of the many millions whose lives would be spent in doing little else than just making a living.
I am aware that the undefeated young man normally supposes that most of his desires will be fulfilled later on. He is inclined to assume that he at least will move and do in this world of thinking, striving, ambitious, competing human actors, about as he chooses. He fails to see clearly his human limitations, nor does he vision the power of money, and how the lack of it handicaps the fulfillment of ambition.
Soon after my arrival I had a long talk with my good friend, Horace Portland, the companion of my now ended bird-collecting and painting days. He had grown tall and wiry, and was serving as an expert aviator and mail pilot on the regular schedule between Newark and Chicago. Horace made it clear to me that young persons of our generation should learn to fly and obtain a pilot's license.
"You see, said he, "during our fathers' generation the automobile came. With it came also the building of concrete highways. These in turn increased the use of autos. This increase in cars called for more highways, and with them came still more automobiles; now practically every boy and girl in the land knows how to drive a car. In our time we shall see more and more privately owned and personally operated planes. These will necessitate the making of more and more small airports and private landing fields; their increase will bring more privately operated planes. Thus the pyramid grows: more planes, more landing places; more landing facilities, more planes--an exact parallel with the development of transportation by motor vehicles. A young person who can't fly and get a license is just out of it these days."
I was quite in agreement with his views, so it was promptly arranged to have Horace give me first lessons in flying and as soon as b possible to help me secure an aviator's license.
One of my mental traits which has proven to be of great value to me is this: Whatever I undertake to do, I try not only to do it well, but also to go further and study the basic underlying principles of any equipment or apparatus I using. Thus, I thought it necessary now that I had become "air-minded" to inform myself thoroughly on the theoretical aspects of air plane design, of air navigation, of instruments used in flying, and of radio so far as it is applied in aviation. To meet this need I entered an evening school in Newark where capable instruction in these matters was given. In addition I planned to give myself a stiff course in collateral reading on such fundamentals.
The decisions I made and the activities I undertook proved later to be stepping-stones absolutely needed for reaching my most important achievement in life, my flight around the moon.
My work at the game farm began August 20, 1945 and continued uninterruptedly until September of the following year. I pass over this quite uneventful period, except for the comments which follow.
My daylight hours, Sundays included, were occupied chiefly in superintending the care of several species of quail, grouse, and ptarmigan, all of which were being bred at the farm. Three evenings each week during the fall and winter months I was faithful in my attendance at the school of aeronautics. After a few fortnights of practice flying with Horace I obtained my license. I then possessed myself, with a little money I had saved, of a small secondhand plane which I used for pleasure flying, for making short trips, and often in my tours of daily inspection about the game farm. Most of the evenings not spent in school were devoted to writing letters in French to Marie and Jean; also in reading, studying, and designing. I was a very busy young man, for my ambition drove me on to make every hour count for something learned and for something accomplished.
I may say here that one who has grown old is prone to assign to his youth the same mental outlook, which only the years can bestow. The old man may reflect upon the wherefore and why of existence, and ponder much on the meaning of reality, and other mysteries of this universe. Not so the boy in his twenties, however thoughtful. If normal, his young life is filled with action and his practical contacts with the world about him. He accepts existence as a matter of course, and his thoughts are focused chiefly upon what he is doing and wishes to do. Therefore, in writing my life I must not fall into the error of supposing that I, the youthful Kad, was much given to the philosophical reflections to which in later life I became much inclined.
My work at the game farm had been only drudgery at the meager compensation of $125 a month. In leisure periods I had worked in my electrical laboratory. It is certain that I added much to my knowledge of electrical phenomena--but where were the wonderful inventions I had expected to make when, as previously told, I decided once and for all I would become an inventor? Nothing that I invented had much novelty or was of sufficient consequence to yield me any financial return. There were a few things of minor consequence which I believed would sell and greatly increase my income. How I did want to marry Marie! But, when I investigated the patent situation I found in every case I had been anticipated. Slowly it dawned on me that just trying to invent something that would sell bespoke an entirely wrong attitude of mind. What had become of my dream when on the stratosphere ship, that by combining rockets with an electric gun people could escape from gravity and navigate in celestial space?
No progress, I thought, had been made toward this goal. Indeed, my mind was rapidly being matured by contact with the actualities of this our brief life. All of my small savings had gone into the purchase of materials and simple equipment for my illy-directed experiments. I began to see no financial future ahead as long as I remained an employee on the game farm. What should I do? Go, like most of my friends and get a job with some large corporation, and try to work myself into a lucrative position? For the first time in my life I was becoming downright discouraged.
These thoughts were poured out in my letters to Marie. This angel wrote me to put all my efforts into the development of an electric gun, on which I had already made a fair start. She assured me that only by hanging on for a long time to one single big idea would I find satisfaction, and that if I did this I would win out in the end; that the needed money would come some way and at some time. What a prophet she was; what a tower of strength! I knew she was waiting and would continue to wait for me. Her letters and my own reflections decided me, come what might, to put in all my spare time concentrating on the one invention, the development of an electric gun.
My enthusiasm and courage had become somewhat restored when something unexpectedly happened. Near the end of August 1946 the directors of the American Game Research Farm decided to send a representative to Arizona and southern California to study the habits of the quail which inhabit that territory. Having done this he was to arrange with the local people to trap a number of pairs and ship them to the game farm to be used as breeders. It was planned that he should go first to southeastern Arizona, where are to be found six or seven varieties of quail.
I was chosen for this interesting undertaking, which later produced several adventures, also the beginning of my not inconsiderable fortune. While I write this I am feeling the truth of Virgil's oft quoted words, "Perchance hereafter it will delight us to remember these things."
In the first week of September 1946 I climbed into the cockpit of my plane and waved a farewell to my family. By easy stages I flew to Bisbee, Arizona. This town, in the southeast corner of the state, I had planned to make my headquarters for a few weeks. Upon arrival I got in touch with members of Bisbee's chamber of commerce and presented letters of introduction. These men were very cordial and gave me much useful information and assistance. I mentioned to them that I was looking for a dependable guide and helper. They at once recommended me to a man with a unique personality. His name was Stuben Brinkelhoff, but he was familiarly known throughout much of Arizona as Stub Brink. I soon contacted with Stub and found him to be just the man I needed.
Stub Brink was about seventy years of age at the time I met him, but so fit and strong that judged him much younger. He was a fine specimen physically--muscular and tall. His face was heavily bearded, and his hair long. In fact, he filled well the storybook descriptions of our early Western pioneers. He had lived in southeastern Arizona for over sixty years. His qualifications were perfect for giving me assistance in my explorations for quail in sparsely settled country. I drew from him, bit by bit, much of his history. When Stuub was ten, his father, a native of Maine, got the "gold fever" and went west taking the boy along. The father became a chronic prospector for the yellow metal in eastern Arizona. Stub was the constant companion of his dad during most of his prospecting days. He thus came to know intimately a wide area of the southern and eastern sections of this land where nature seems to have made strange experiments with her flora, fauna, and geology.
Like most men who have lived much alone in the wild, Stub was slow and cautious in speech, and with newcomers reticent to a fault. His virtues were those of one intimate with nature-with wholesome primitive emotions--a man fearless, absolutely honest, and holding honor in speech and dealing above all else. His faults were those of the early pioneers in this topsy-turvy, rugged land where life was on the trigger. John Barleycorn and the brave, but cunning and vengeful Apaches were dangers ever present for all youth, men and women alike, however robust in frame and character. The gaming tables also usually sucked away the gold dust and nuggets which successful prospectors discovered. Stub had had his share of ups and downs in prospecting, hairbreadth escapes from Indian ambush, and total losses at the gambling table. He had managed, however, to salvage a little, which enabled him when old to find much comfort in living with a sister on a small patch of cultivated land.
Stub readily consented to accompany me as an assistant and guide. In talking with him about his early life and venturesome career I chanced to remark that when I was a boy of nine I accompanied my father to the Maine woods, and that a man named John Brinkelhoff was our guide, and it seemed odd to me that his last name was the same as Stub's. I went on to relate how John Brinkelhoff helped me one day catch a batch of huge bullfrogs and how astonished I was to see their hind legs kick when put into a pan with salt water. Stub listened intently to my recital with a seaming interest which my casual remarks scarcely justified. When I stopped speaking he said slowly, "John Brinkelhff is my brother. I went west; he stayed in Maine. He was a guide. It is many years since I have heard anything about him. Is he living? Do you know?"
"Why, Stub, this is interesting," I replied. "I do not know now, but my father will find out for me. When he writes I will tell you all I learn."
This little personal touch with the past appeared to melt Stub's reticence. We soon became good friends.
Even as late as 1946 Arizona had a population which averaged about five inhabitants to the square mile. There was still plenty of territory, therefore, in the mountains and unirrigated country for one to be much alone with nature.
I decided to begin my study of bird life in Cochise County, which occupies the southeast corner of the state. The very name Cochise recalled for many years to its older inhabitants wild adventure, sudden sorties from ambush of Apache warriors, perhaps the terror in a wife's eyes as she was lifted to the bare back of a mustang behind her Indian captor, to be seen no more. The greatest chief of these roving Apache warriors was Cochise--after whom the county was named. He was the most celebrated and cruel of the warriors who terrorized the Southwest in the twelve years following 1861. His impregnable lairs were numerous in this region, and at that time far back from settlements. Cochise chose them high up in the mountains, the buttes, and in deep canyons. From these lurking places smoke signals called his warriors together for a sudden attack on the wagon trains and small groups of settlers.
Stub assured me I would find an abundance of game, and good quail country, along the borders of every stream and rivulet in the county. So Stub and I left Bisbee on horses with a pack mule following behind, for the relatively unsettled region toward the east. We moved slowly from place to place observing the country, collecting skins, and trapping live birds. Several plumed quail, largest and most beautiful of the species, were located high up on the slopes of the mountains, though this variety of quail was supposed to occur only in California. Our travelling was mostly on horseback, and with few exceptions the nights were spent in our tent, pitched where water could be found.
About a fortnight had passed in this delectable wandering without our having any experiences which might be considered unusual or exciting. Then a great adventure came to me.
One day I was seated in our tent in the late afternoon listening to some of Stub's endless recitals of Apache warfare, and his stories, chiefly fanciful of what he called the "lost mines of the Apaches." Stub asserted that in his boyhood many Indians were well armed with Colt revolvers and Winchesters. As no white man would supply such valuable arms unless well bribed, it was natural to ask how the Indians came by them. Stub's explanation was simple: "They bought them from traders, with gold dust and gold nuggets.
"It is certain,'' said he, "that several chiefs had knowledge of places where gold could be picked up from surface quartzite, but they guarded their secrets with Indian cunning and taciturnity. They poked into these places with crude implements and collected enough of the yellow metal to buy at exorbitant prices the weapons they would later use against the settlers. When the Indians were killed in fights, or driven out of the region, all knowledge of where they found their gold went with them.
"I believe," Stub continued, "that many a prospector has passed near and even over these same surface outcroppings without making any important find. The Apaches were both intelligent and crafty. They knew well that every paleface wanted gold above all else. So wherever they found gold on surface ground or in cavernous pockets among the boulders they cleverly concealed these spots with loose stones and brush.
"Our camp, by the way, is not six miles from one of the favorite hiding places of Cochise and his band of miscreants. I have tramped foot of it. If there is any gold there it is mighty over that range-every well hid. It lies due east, over there."
As he spoke he pointed to a rocky eminence which rose about a thousand feet above small surrounding mesa. The desire came to me to ride over to the spot he had indicated and see what an Indian lair looked like. I wished also to observe the sunset from the top of the mountain, and be alone to reflect a little on the past and present of this exceptional region. I told Stub my intention, remarking that I might not return until the next morning, as I would very likely find it difficult to pick my way back in darkness.
In another hour and a half the sure feet of my splendid horse had carried me to the eminence of the butte--it could hardly be called a mountain. If this was a lair of Cochise he could not have selected a more impregnable place. Great boulders of granite were heaped about in confusion; there were many pits and cavernous hiding places among the rocks; mesquite and sagebrush covered the ground wherever a little soil remained, and not far below water might be found.
I sat in my saddle for a long time contemplating" with some awe the desolate region about me, and tried to recall its traditions of violence. I gazed at the great red disk of the sun as it dipped gloriously behind high-pinnacled mountain top in the distant west; then I turned my horse toward our camp and started back. After going a short distance in the descent, I came to a small mesa and turned sharply to the right to make my way around a jutting spur of rock. There, not thirty feet away, were two villainous-looking men on horseback. One was seated in a good saddle on a very respectable mount; the other sat astride a blanket thrown over the back of a sorry-looking, coarse-haired mustang. At the moment they came into my view they were close to one another, engaged in passing between them a quart bottle of liquor; each carried a rifle and had a six-shooter in his belt; they looked criminal and dangerous. Both had seen me before I noted them, and it seemed most wise to me to ride up to them with a cordial greeting. I had no weapon with me, and such would have been useless if I had it. As I now recall, the words which passed between us were about as follows:
"Hello, young fellow" came from the one on the mustang "Just in time for a swig. It's good stuff. Have a drink." He pushed the bottle into my hand.
I took a swallow and said, "Thanks, I wasn't looking for entertainment here. Prospecting, I suppose?"
A covetous expression showed in his sinister face. His eyes lowered to the superb horse on which I sat.
"What the hell business is it of yours what we're doing? And he seemed to be appraising the value of my mount. I did not like his words nor his drunken leer; I saw I was in for trouble.
"You ride a fine horse, you damn tenderfoot--a good practical saddle, eh? I think my two pegs would fit that saddle, and your Arab would help my business. Better jump off, Sonny, and make me a present. Make it snappy."
These two armed villains were doubtless crack shots, and two-thirds drunk. I hesitated on what move to make when the request to "make it snappy" was emphasized with a bullet from his revolver fired dangerously near my leg.
"All right," I said, "you have the best of the argument. I am getting off to present you with a very well bred, very experienced, very fast, and very sure-footed horse. Take the best mount in these parts with my compliments. Perhaps we shall have the pleasure of meeting again when an airplane locates you in these hills. The nights are cold and my journey now on foot is long; suppose you spare me what is left in that bottle."
The fellow on the good horse remarked, "You seem to be a pretty decent guy who'll take a drink." With these words he tossed me the bottle.
The other man had sprung into my saddle. He again pulled his revolver and slowly swung it until it pointed straight at my heart, laughed a bit, and then moved his aim to the sorry nag from which he had dismounted and shot it dead.
"Warm up, kid, and forget it," he said. The two then rode off and soon disappeared round a bend of the trail.
I knew it would be difficult to walk to camp in the night; so I began to search for an overhanging ledge of rock to sleep under. Places for shelter were numerous. Great boulders of granite lay piled on top of one another with hollows between, in some places forming small caves. At a certain spot somewhat off the trail I noted a formation of the boulders which revealed a specially suitable cleft or small chasm. I selected this place in which to pass the night. While looking about for dried leaves and mesquite to make a fire, I was thinking that if Stub's statements were correct. I must be at the very spot which was the entrance to a favorite stronghold of Chief Cochise. In pulling aside some debris of brush and stone to open the entrance further to a cleft between two nearly upright walls of rock, I noticed that the character of the loose material was somewhat different from other rock in the immediate location; furthermore, the stones appeared to have a certain likeness in size, which strongly suggested that they had been placed there by human hands. This observation led me to move aside more brush and stone. It soon became apparent that I had opened a very narrow entrance to a chasm of considerable depth and height. The sidewalls of this chasm were about twelve feet high and leaned inward so that they nearly came together at the top. A narrow streak of light entered from above and showed the interior dimly. The floor, about eight feet wide, was gravelly and covered with small pieces of loose stone. To my surprise many of these stones were not rounded and weathered like other stones which lay everywhere about. They consisted for the most part of broken-off pieces of quartzite with sharp edges.
"What does this mean?" I thought. I gathered some dead mesquite, and made a small fire just before the entrance which I had cleared. When flames lit up the interior my eyes rested on a hatchet, or rather a tomahawk made of steel. I picked it up. The thin part of the blade had nearly rusted through, and the cutting edge was eaten off entirely. It must have lain where I found it for many years. I then began picking up some pieces of stone which evidently had been broken off, perhaps by this very tomahawk, from the side walls of the chasm. What I saw sent the blood rushing to my head. There, in several of these nearly clear pieces of quartzite were veins of unmistakable glittering yellow gold! This sudden discovery swept with whirlwind violence into my conscious memory the many tales I had read and heard about the lost mines of the Apaches. In a flash I realized that here, in an old lair of the famous Cochise, I had, by the merest accident, actually found one which contained a rich outcropping of gold--gold, lots of it, and never known to any other than the now long-dead Indian chief and a few of his trusted braves. My discovery was the more strange in that scores of prospectors must have walked over and around the small cave in which alone the outcropping showed.
Morning with its sunlight must come to reveal more. I might then perhaps guess the importance of my find. Till then I must sleep.
Tardy morning came at last. When fully awake I at once did two things both of which seemed important. First, I explored for more gold in this and other nearby hidden crevices among the rocks. My search yielded two nuggets large as walnuts and a dozen pieces of gold-streaked quartzite. Some of the specimens I picked up from the floor of the chasm; others I pried and knocked off from the side walls. Second, I sat down and wrote in my notebook the following:
AGREEMENT WITH STUBEN BRINKELHOFF, MY GUIDE
"ENTRANCE TO APACHE STRONG HOLD LOCATED SIX MILES DUE EAST FROM MY CAMP IN COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA. SEPT. 25,1946.
"Upon both of us placing our signatures to this agreement drawn in duplicate, the same shall be binding and have the full force of an agreement signed before witnesses (who are not obtainable to give witness to the signing of this document) and accompanied with all the usual formalities of law. "Stuben Brinkelhoff herewith acknowledges and declares that I, Akkad Pseudoman, am the first and only white man to discover gold at the exact spot marked in ink on the U.S. government map which is pinned to this writing, and that I, Akkad Pseudoman, am fully entitled to file a claim of ownership of the area where my find was made.
"Stuben Brinkelhoff hereby agrees to use his long experience in prospecting to aid me, Akkad Pseudoman, to determine the probable extent and value of my find, and he further agrees to assist me in all ways feasible to substantiate and protect my property rights in the gold I have located.
"I, Akkad Pseudoman, hereby agree that, in consideration of such help and cooperation which Stuben Brinkelhoff hereby promises to render, I will give to him ten per cent (10%) of any and all net profits which may accrue through the working or the sale of the above mentioned gold-yielding property.
"This agreement is to be in full force for a period of not less than fifteen years.
"Executed in Cochise County, Arizona, September 25,1946."
With this document in one pocket, and other pockets filled with a considerable number of mineral specimens I started for camp, reaching it in a little over two hours, very weary, very hungry, but immensely elated and hopeful.
Stub was growing anxious over my prolonged absence and had almost decided to go in search of me, when he was relieved by seeing me approaching on foot. He was soon informed of how my horse was stolen; but he learned the rest of my adventure only after he had promised to sign the agreement I had written in duplicate.
I have never quite decided whether Stub was more pleased with my reported find of gold or with the still half-full bottle of excellent brandy I put in his hands.
On the following day Stub and I returned to where I had made my find. Stub's practiced eye and long experience soon led him to assert positively that I had found very rich gold-bearing ore--and probably extensive.
I soon began to have hopes and visions of being able to finance the development of my electric gun to its fullest extent. I even saw a possible means to realize my long nourished project of designing and building a ship to visit the moon. And now could I not fly to Zurich and marry Marie!
In a few days we packed up and started for Bisbee, Stub riding the heavily loaded mule and I Stub's horse. At this place all possible steps were taken for the legal protection of my rights in the gold property. Luck often behaves very like a pack of fighting huskies. When one dog is getting the worst of it, the pack turns on him and finishes him; but to that husky who shows up as the best fighter, the pack readily concedes his mastery, and picks him for its leader. Luck treated me as a winner. In my mail, picked up in Bisbee, was a letter from my father stating that my grandfather Lazarus had died and left me in his will two hundred thousand dollars, and my father five hundred thousand dollars.
With the transpiring of these events coming in my very youth, it was now up to me to make good unrestrained by the usual handicap to accomplishment--lack of money. I could soon marry Marie! I hoped I could induce Jean to become a partner in the development of my electric gun invention, and possibly be, with me, one of the two men first to visit the moon and return alive. Joyous dreams!
Physically I flew home in my plane, but in thought I rushed through the starlit and moonlit heavens in which I moved, driven along by swift wings of fancy.
In this excited state of mind, my plane soon brought me, flying low now, in bright sunshine, over the state of New Jersey. I looked down on fields, some with yellow grain still standing; on small groves of hardwood trees; patches of ornamental shrubs and well trimmed hedges, all impressive with foliage of a rich green such as one never sees in our far southwestern country. Below me lay handsome estates. Those first in view, slowly, it seemed, fell behind, while others kept appearing from in front. This landscape was pleasing to eyes which for several weeks had been accustomed only to the sombre green of firs and cedars; the pale greenish blue of sagebrush in patches, sole cover of barren land; mountains majestic, but naked, gray and brown; soil eroded into fantastic shapes; and canyons with walls of rich color, but all lacking completely the quiet green of the succulent foliage common in our eastern states. A few moments more and my plane glided smoothly to a field of wheat stubble and alighted gently. I was back home at the game farm, and inspired.
BACK IN ZURICH
Home again. Three important happenings occupied my immediate attention, set down, as I then conceived them in the order of their importance. First, I called up Marie on the transatlantic radiophone and for the second time--the first call was from Bisbee when I learned about my inheritance--fairly exploded about our recent good fortunes. I promised to be at her side very soon. Second, I spent an entire evening with my parents discussing the turn in our affairs and my plans for the future, and in absorbing most wholesome advice from my level-headed father and mother. Third, I took vigorous steps to dispose of my mining property to a syndicate at the best terms I could secure. In this matter I sought help from legal advisers and mining experts. This took much time and kept me from going to Marie for over two months. Several agents were sent to investigate my property, and then the bargainings began. These dragged on. The best offer made me was $100,000 down payment to be followed by yearly installments of $50,000 over a period of fifteen years. This offer was accepted, and my lawyer saw to it that the contract was good, and that the parties thereto could not default. When all was concluded I had the stunning realization that in my twenty-sixth year I had become a millionaire.
Would I squander my money or use it wisely? Then, perhaps, was the most critical time of my whole career. Few there are, who at an early age acquire sudden wealth, have the will and force of character to keep their heads and do nothing foolish. My sage father, my wonderful mother, and my own thoughts of how I had dedicated my life to a great project which now had a possibility of fulfillment, saved me. I kept my poise and sanity.
My father, with half a million dollars, could have retired from his management of the game farm. However, he chose not only to go on with his most worthy work, but also to enlarge and promote the interests of the farm, by donating to the cause a much needed $150,000.
With my determination stiffened and will to win strengthened, I again took passage on a stratosphere ship for France, and in less than half a day I was making purchases on the Champs Elysses of presents for the Bizet family, and of special gifts for my Marie. A local plane soon landed me in Zurich, still the home of my loved ones. I found little there had changed. Jean had graduated from the Polytechnic with the degree of Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering; and Marie, while waiting for me, had not been idle. To her art studies she had added courses in inorganic chemistry, air navigation, and the elements of radio reception and transmission. She had also taken lessons in aviation, though she had not yet attempted a solo flight.
"You know, dear Kad," said she, "I intend at least to be able to understand the splendid things you are going to do."
The beautiful wrist watch I gave her she greatly admired and enjoyed, but I was not a little surprised that she preferred the engagement ring I had given her when I was poor, to the diamond-set platinum ring I purchased for her in Paris. Sentiment in good women is strong.
I had written so many letters to Jean about my experiments (on a very small scale, of course) with an electric gun, and had so fully explained to him its theory, which my many tests had verified, that he was already quite familiar with the enormous possibilities of this device for the production of linear velocities generally believed at that time to be unrealizable. Following our many discussions we had on the matter his interest in and favorable opinion of my electric gun steadily grew.
It is desirable at this place in my narrative to forecast my plan for presenting to my readers the highly technical matters with which I have been very much occupied throughout my mature years. Some who may not be familiar with things technical may want to read my narrative, which I hope will be a human document, without giving much thought to technical statements. So for their sake I am throwing the bulk of such rather puzzling things in to a technical supplement, the material of which will be found collected in a section at the conclusion of my personal memoirs. Engineers and trained scientists may find there proofs of the unusual statements which this narrative will make. Some of these statements I must present in the narrative itself in order to make clear to anyone who reads my life an understanding of its unfolding. But these technical matters may easily be passed over wherever they become boresome or with difficulty understood. Now to go on with my story.
Jean and I had many talks on the subject of our further education. We were in agreement that if we looked forward to a mercantile pursuit it were best for us to make an early start. On the other hand if we looked forward to a professional career, especially one which would require technical proficiency, it was highly desirable that we should both get more technical training in basic principles of the fundamental sciences--mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and above all electrical science. Jean decided he would work for a Master's degree at the University, specializing in the more modern concepts of electrical science, and putting emphasis on high-frequency currents and wave transmission. His program and ideas exactly clicked with mine, so we both enrolled for a two-year course in the same subjects at the University of Zurich. I, however, added a short course in elementary astronomy.
Jean's father was unable to finance his further education, so I undertook this, accepting Jean's notes for my advances to him. I did this because I had had my hopes strengthened that Jean could be persuaded to join with me at the conclusion of our educational pursuits as my equal partner in the development of electric guns, and in my attempt to make a flight around the moon.
Marie and I were both anxious, now that money considerations were removed, to get married at an early date. So in June 1947 we were married by a civil ceremony. Marie was the more in harmony with me in that she professed no man-made religious creed. I do not mean by this that she had the cheap shallowness, all too common among the young in the middle of the twentieth century, to make light of religious faiths and pretend to be deep by assuming a superior wisdom about those aspects of human existence which have occupied the highest intelligence of mankind since the dawn of his history. Rather, both of us were rationalistic in our attitude and were ever almost painfully seeking more evidence to guide our thinking. In all matters for which there was no evidence, we were sensibly agnostic.
After the ceremony we spent a couple of months in travel--probably the most happy period of our young lives, for no instinct human beings is stronger than the instinct of sex and perfect love. In both we were most fortuitously mated.
I now take up my narrative where on the game farm, in a well planned laboratory and a convenient nearby home, Jean, Marie, and I plunged into the tremendous tasks we had set for ourselves. My hope had been fulfilled that Jean would become my enthusiastic partner in the work of ten, perhaps twenty years' devotion to the creation of an equipment which would make it possible to escape earth's gravity. We had mutually pledged ourselves to be full partners in this undertaking. How well we succeeded the following pages will tell.
REAL WORK BEGINS
To learn the obstacles we would have to surmount was to take the first step toward success.
My preliminary experiments made with inexpensive apparatus and equipment of small size had fully convinced me that an electric gun, when operated with high-frequency currents so used as to produce travelling magnetic waves, is a tool of versatile applications and enormous possibilities. I early foresaw that an electric gun of any length and any diameter could be constructed, so that, when suitably powered with electric energy, it would shoot streamlined projectiles with tremendous velocity and range. We considered that even if we should fail in attaining our ultimate goal of freeing ourselves from the pull of earth's gravity and navigating in space we could nevertheless make a notable contribution to technology if we perfected and demonstrated the potentialities of a device in which the limitless driving energy of electricity, substituted for explosives, would in many cases do all that explosives can do, and much more.
I pause therefore to explain very briefly what constitutes an electric gun. Later, I shall outline in the narrative the theory of its operation, and in the technical supplement give clear and adequate data showing the amazing linear velocities which the type of electric gun developed for the first time by Jean and I can impart to projectiles and to gross matter in general.
So, for vividness I reproduce here a photograph of a very early experimental gun designed to shoot four-inch diameter projectiles with moderate velocities. It will be seen from this photograph that an electric gun consists essentially of a series of coils of copper tubing wound in a single layer. These coils are joined in series in a special way to be explained later. At the instant of shooting a projectile they are energized with a current having a frequency twenty to one hundred times the frequency of sixty cycles generally used before the middle of the century for the production of light and power. The current, to be effective for producing motion, must be what is very generally known as two-phase or three-phase current. But for the present I shall not further describe this device which made our trip around the moon possible.
On the following page is a photo of a electrical coil mounted in a wooden frame with a cylinder shown beside it.
EXPERMINTAIL ELECTRIC GUN
The hollow aluminum projectile (standing vertical) is designed to carry a large charge of explosive to a moderate distance. This gun, when energized with three-phase sixty-cycle current, produced a thrust on the four-inch diameter cylinder as high as seven hundred pounds. To obtain a high muzzle velocity the gun must be energized with high-frequency currents (one thousand to ten thousand cycles) and the projectile specially designed for the frequency of the current used.
The theory and the science of this and other electric guns will be found in the Technical Supplement.
At the beginning of our planning and work we knew that if eventually we were to escape from the earth's gravity, by first perfecting an electric gun our extraordinary and seemingly impossible task would be scarcely begun. To go to the moon, circle round it, and return alive to earth, meant that we must face hazards and difficulties which will be best appreciated when listed. With this list--jointly prepared by Jean and myself--before us, we nevertheless were not discouraged. We both believed, as did the pioneers in flying that this unprecedented thing could be accomplished. We now had the mental preparation and the money. We had started on the long path to win.
The magnitude of the task our daring led us to undertake appears from the facts and difficulties we listed, which I now here present.
CONDITIONS TO BE MET AND SOME DIFFICULTIES TO BE OVERCOME IN MAKING A ROUND TRIP TO THE MOON
1. The average distance of the moon from the earth is 239,000 miles or 384,000 kilometers, hence, thirty times the diameter of the earth. The distance must be twice traversed.
2. To escape from the earth's pull of gravity a projectile must leave the upper region of the earth's atmosphere with a velocity of not less than seven miles, or about eleven kilometers, per second, or, say, 25,000 miles per hour. 1 This speed is roughly forty times the speed of the fastest stratoship.
3. The work that must be done on a gram mass to lift it from the surface of the earth to the point of no gravity between the earth and the moon is equivalent to about 15,000 gram calories 2 (45,000 foot pounds) or ten times the energy stored in one gram of the most powerful explosive. If two passengers travel in the projectile we might take the weight of the passengers and load at 200 kilograms (440 pounds), the car at 400 kilograms (880 pounds), and the rocket fuel at 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds). Hence 1,400 kilograms must be transported at an energy expenditure of 21,000,000,000 gram calories. At all times the interior temperature of the projectile must be kept endurable for a human being.
4. The work which is done on the projectile must be expended mainly during the outgoing trip in increasing the velocity of the projectile without at any time unduly increasing its temperature, while traversing the earth's blanket of air. On the return trip the same amount of work must be done in reducing the speed of the projectile so it will come slowly to a landing on the earth.
5. Means muse be found and provided for steering this projectile moon-ship in order to reach a desired spot on both the outgoing and return trips.
6. The cabin of the moon-ship must carry at normal pressure breathable air for perhaps several days.
7. The acceleration of the projectile cannot at any moment be so great that the pressure on the persons inside will become unendurable.
8. The only possible means of escaping the pull of the moon's gravity for the return is to make use of the propulsion power of rockets. After that there should still be left some rocket fuel to help slow up the fall of the moon-ship as it approaches the earth.
9. The moon-ship will journey for many hours in a vacuum. Any small meteor, which falling to the earth would burn up in its atmosphere, would become in vacuous space a deadly bullet if it hit the moon-ship. It would pass through the metal walls as if they were made of tissue paper.
10. It would be difficult for any trained engineer even to conceive a practical means, after a landing has been made on the moon, of starting the moon-ship on its voyage back to earth and to a soft stop. Fiction writers might invent a method for overcoming such superlative impediments, but engineers of our time could hardly do so.
11. Not least of the obstacles to overcome are the many years which must be spent in preparation and costly experimentation. It will be necessary to construct many working models and to build manless ships which will reach the moon successfully. Not until such performed well would the most venturesome dare to risk the journey.
12. As society is now constituted no important technical achievement is conceivable without the expenditure of large sums of money.
Much more could be added to the above list, but as we viewed it at that time it was appalling. Jean and I abandoned from the first any idea that we could hope to land on the moon and return to earth. To go around the moon and return we believed to be in the realm of the possible, and this was the goal we determined to achieve. The sequel of this narrative tells how after many years spent in preparation and with an expenditure of huge sums of money we were successful. The electric gun and associated rockets were the devices by which we won out.
After this brief interlude I go on with the human side of my life story.
1 See Technical Supplement, p. 249
2 See Technical Supplement, p. 246.
CONVERSATIONS AND PLANNING
Before plunging into our work in earnest Jean and I spent many hours in mapping plans for our procedure. Seated one day in the office of our medium sized but well equipped laboratory, which had just been completed, we had been debating for some hours how best to continue with our experiments. We were dead in earnest, and in a sober mood, for we both realized the prodigious magnitude of the task which lay ahead, and to which we had irrevocably dedicated and pledged our financial means and our very lives. At length, wearied by our study of details and the balancing of several alternative plans for our immediate activities, we drifted into philosophic remarks and sought rest of mind by discussing "glittering generalities."
As I write these lines I am vividly recalling the thoughts expressed on this occasion, though the words spoken have long since gone from memory. The thoughts to which we then gave utterance, even if they are expressed in the fictitious language with which I now clothe them, will reveal somewhat the complexion at that time of our philosophies.
"Jean"--I was the first to speak--"you and I have one thing in common, and that too in large measure."
"What is it, Kad?"
"Ambition," I answered. "We both want our lives to stand for some big thing accomplished. Most people drift through life. Accidental circumstances, together with a certain endowment of native ability and luck, determine the little part they play. We must try to rise above the wriggling mass of humanity and live a planned life."
"That is true," said Jean, "but the products of civilization have become almost as complex as those of Nature herself. Lines of possible and worth-while endeavor branch in all directions like sprigs of a fruit tree in spring. Moreover, what seems constructive today, tomorrow may have little consequence. Obsolescence of ideas is no less early and certain than obsolescence of mechanisms. What religion, what philosophy, what accepted customs, can teach us how to make a choice and plan our lives ahead? Moreover, if an ambitious fellow does reach a decision he is usually blocked at the very start by the necessity of hunting a job--just to live and keep out of jail. Often he must accept the first promising opening he can find, and then he becomes an unimportant atom in the mass of human toilers; he lives, marries, reproduces, grows old and feeble--and is perhaps reasonably happy-but if he adds little or nothing to the permanent store of man's knowledge he is not much noticed, and when he dies sinks at once like a drop of rain into the ocean of oblivion."
I relit my pipe, and after some refection replied, "Rather gloomy, I should say, Jean; but let us be practical and not drift into philosophic entanglements. You must admit, I think, that if we formulate a policy and stick to it we shall do more than if we merely drift. I am aware, as you are, that less than a hundred years ago the Church and senile customs guided most young fellows to a smug solution of life's purpose and meaning. Simple formulae were distributed for morals and actions. Most writers admit this is not so, now. All religions, all accepted customs, all moral codes, are being analyzed in test tubes of evidence and reason. The cry goes up, ÔWhat is right? What is wrong? What is worth while?' A babble of philosophies answers only with confused and contradictory guesses. Rut we have our lives to live. To live them fully and effectively we must pick some policy and hang to it. If at life's close this policy turns out to have been good or bad for us, in a last analysis, it is our luck, satisfying or ill, and we must accept it. While we are on this planet, a bag holds our fortunes. Let us think it is filled with little balls of every color and hue, and that each ball is a possible plan of living. Only infinite intelligence could sort and arrange them in the order of descending merit. So let us try then what luck betide us and, reaching a hand into the bag, pull out. a policy, good or bad though it be, and make it ours for life. Let us accept this drawing for better or for worse as our planned career.
Fortunately for us, Jean, we do not have to struggle with ourselves again. We picked our common policy before you came to America with me, and this policy, which will certainly require all my fortune and perhaps both our lives, is settled. We will do our level best to develop equipment to take us round the moon, and when reasonably assured this equipment will function we will enter our ship and start it off toward the moon. We may never return, but we will dare to go; shall we not, Jean?"
"Kad," said Jean, "I gave you my pledge before."
"How fortunate we are," I replied, "that we at least have the money to make a good beginning. I do not think our money can take wings, for I have invested it in U.S. bonds. Why should I risk investments which pay a high interest rate? I intend to spend my principal, while it lasts, to carry forward our enterprise."
"Kad," said Jean, "we shall do this great thing together. Your rare good fortune in finding that lost Apache mine, and your inheritance, have supplied our material needs. For the rest, it is up now to our united spirits! What a mysterious thing, Kad, is money. I might liken it to sunlight, the antithesis of gravity, for gravity pulls everything down. Sunshine pulls opposite to gravity--it lifts up. Against the constant pull of gravity sunshine works to raise up the grass, the trees, the plants. In times gone by it made the vegetation which, turned into coal and oil, gives to puny men their vast physical power. Money, like sunshine, can overcome the pulling--down force of gravity; the crops from money, rightly planted, are towering and often beautiful structures, great discoveries, all that is material in advancing civilization, and much of human happiness; but misdirected money can wreck and destroy. It gives the merchants of death the power to unleash their dogs of war and to employ for cruel unsocial ends everything that is soulless and pitiless as a Frankenstein. Kad, you have money. Let it be used like warm actinic rays from the sun, to lift up. We shall then free ourselves from gravity, the puller-down. I am with you to a finish, Kad."
"Jean," I replied, "I think you may have missed your calling, and the church a grand expounder. But it is now near time for dinner, and you know Marie expects you to dine with us tonight. Before we go I think it would be well to jot down the high spots of our conversation this afternoon and note the steps we have decided to take. Correct me, Jean, if I don't set them down in the right order. You and I, as the result of our discussion have definitely resolved on the following:
"1. We will concentrate, first, on perfecting a small, and later a very large, electric gun.
"2. When we have become fully satisfied with the performance data of the trial guns we make and test, we will proceed to design a gun at least a kilometer long. We will have this constructed and endeavor to shoot projectiles, carrying only instruments and small animals, high above the stratosphere.
"3. While we ultimately plan to add rocket propulsion to our projectiles, we will make no use of rockets until we know the limitations of the electric gun itself when no rockers are employed. Parenthetically, it is to our advantage financially and otherwise to wait further developments in rocket propulsion which are now proceeding at a rapid pace.
"4. Assuming our electric gun, without the aid of rockets, sends projectiles far above the stratosphere, we will turn our attention to the design of projectiles supplied with rocket fuel, and determine the increase in range we may expect when rocket-projectiles are given their initial impulse by electric energy.
"5. We will then concentrate on the design of man-carrying projectiles and the total equipment required for sending one of these around the moon, with means for returning it softly to earth.
"6. Eventually, we two will enter a projectile and be shot into space, though it cost us our lives.
"Jean," I added, "this is a terrific program; but it is our will to go ahead, come what may."
Jean, at this period, lived in my father's house, but quite frequently took dinner with Marie and me. He usually spent the evenings with us and such of our friends as might drop in, ostensibly for a short call, but which often did not end till after midnight.
When Jean and I arrived at home on the evening following our lengthy discussion in the laboratory, we found that my boyhood friend Horace Portland was also to be our guest at dinner, and that his aviation duties would permit him to spend the night with us. Here, then, was an exceptional opportunity for Jean and I to go over with Horace the plans we had recently formulated. The dear fellow was not only enthusiastic but most illuminating in all his comments respecting our program. Skilled aviator that he had become, and a fellow most practical and daring, he livened our spirits and strengthened our resolves as no other friend of mine could have done. Marie joined in the conversation, but when she heard us recount the extreme hazards of space travel she raised not one word of protest to this our proposed undertaking. She was always smiling. What a wonderful wife I had!
One subject of conversation that evening concerned a young man we had recently taken into our employ. He was by birth a Russian. We had become somewhat acquainted while in Switzerland. He was majoring in physics at the University of Zurich when we were students there, and had recently received the degree of Ph.D. Dr. Plungin came to us highly recommended for his character and ability. It was our purpose to enlist his brilliant mind to aid us with the many designs and computations we expected to make.
Everyone seemed to think well of him and liked him; except Marie. That evening when his name was mentioned Marie remarked, "I fear, Kad, that you and Jean made a mistake when you engaged the services of Dr. Plungin. There is something in his expression I do not just like. I would not put too much trust in him."
Jean, Horace, and I were surprised by Marie's remarks, as our knowledge thus far of Dr. Plungin had engendered not the slightest suspicion that he was otherwise than open, frank, and trustworthy. I knew well Marie's almost uncanny intuition. She could penetrate the very souls of people and discover, if it existed, the hypocritical and the false. I said nothing at that time, but what Marie saw and said troubled me. How correct her insight, and how immensely consequential Dr. Plungin's association with us, will be told later in this narrative.
Horace had to leave rather early in the morning and the pleasure of our visiting together ended at an hour respectable for retiring.
I may remark here that my world and Marie's charm gave us contacts with many worth-while people, chiefly of the intellectual type. Several of these became our very close friends. A carefully selected few participated intimately in my life's career. How this came about I shall later relate.
WE MAKE A GOOD START
By the middle of 1949 Jean and I, assisted by Dr. Plungin and two mechanics in our small shop at one end of the laboratory, had put in about eight months of very concentrated work. We had stuck strictly to our program, which called for an intensive study of the theory and performance of electric guns before giving much consideration to the design of projectiles and to the problem of supplementing electric propulsion with rocket propulsion. The mathematical theory of the electric gun, when fully considered is complex and difficult to handle. Dr. Plungin had proved to us that his mathematical ability was of a very high order, though in practical experimentation he was weak and not at all resourceful. But, since there were many calculations to be made and many theoretical principles to be considered, he had proved himself to be of great service to us. His industry and general good nature were such that Jean and I began to think that Marie's unfavorable judgment of him was wrong.
The nature of our immediate problem (to determine scientifically the ultimate possibilities of electric guns and the highest speeds theoretically obtainable) did not at first require the use of high power and expensive apparatus. So, in the first eight months of our experimentation we wisely chose to obtain all our performance data with small power equipment to supply the electric currents needed to operate our working models of the monster guns we foresaw would ultimately be required. This procedure not only very much held down the development expense, but it also greatly increased the speed with which we were able to move toward our goal.
However, the time arrived when Jean and I were agreed that we should have a large three-phase generator built to our specifications. The great cost of the generator we ordered was fully justified, because the favorable data we had accumulated with small equipments removed any doubts which might have lurked in our minds as to the correctness of our reasoning. The generator, after a vexing delay, at length arrived; and was installed in a small building just behind our laboratory. It was a dream of beauty when viewed with our technical eyes. Its rating was 1000 kilowatts. Since it was to be driven by a variable-speed direct-current motor we could draw from it three phase currents of any frequency in the range from 1000 to 6000 cycles per second. Thus we now possessed a powerful motor-driven generator with which we could experiment on quite a large scale.
(The photograph on the facing page showed a typical generator room for Ajax melting equipment in the 1930's. It was most probably 1,000 cycle, 1,000 kW driven by an electric motor.)
Marie, always ready to assist us in our plans, had become, so to speak, our official photographer. It was she who took for us photos for records of all our new devices and apparatus. I have reproduced here her photograph of our new generator.
While the activities in the laboratory of a scientist or an inventor are all absorbing for him, they become dull matters indeed when described to anyone not a specialist in the same field. So I hasten on to those happenings in my life which carry a more human and general appeal. The specialist or technician is not neglected in these memoirs, however, for he may turn at any moment to the technical supplement I have appended, and there fully satisfy his curiosity or verify the truthfulness of my statements.
My readers must not suppose that Jean, Dr. Plungin, and I always advanced toward our goal wisely and with a clear understanding of the intricate technical matters involved in the development of a correctly designed electrical gun. We fumbled often, and built for test many experimental guns that were inefficient and valueless for practical use. Each of these helped to teach us what would not work. More is often learned by one's failures than by his successes, and this was so in our case. The great Helmholtz once stated in one of his popular writings that the discoverer of what is new is in the position of a mountain climber who ascends a mountain clothed with trackless woods on its slopes. He wanders here and there in a forest maze confused and lost. But by always moving to higher elevations he at length emerges from the uppermost obscuring thickets and sees the top, which he then quickly attains. When on the top he discovers that a well blazed trail, which he missed, goes straight from the foot of the mountain to its summit. The world learns of his tortuous ascent and wonders that he was such a fool that he failed to follow the well blazed trail. But such is discovery; such is invention. No mind is so discerning that the straight path to success is ever seen in advance. At last, when success is complete, an ungrateful and unthinking world remarks, "How simple and easy to reach the top. Anyone could have gone up quickly and easily along so plain and straight a path." The truth is, however, that no one ever does it, and he who by any means reaches the top deserves recognition and acclaim.
Well, to show our wanderings in the woods, I reproduce here photographs taken by Marie of four of our early experimental electric guns. They all worked, after a fashion--but, in the light of our final designs, how crude and inefficient they were! I shall not describe these abortive constructions further than what one may learn concerning them from the legends I append to each.
(There follows four pages of photographs with text to explain.)
GUN SHOOTING TONGS
This figure illustrates an electric gun, small or large, has a magnetic field sweeping like a wind along its axis. This magnetic field, travelling at high velocity, picks up and propels in the direction of its motion any metallic or conducting material. In the case illustrated, the iron tongs, when placed in thew lower end of the energized gun, were shot upwards with high velocity to a considerable height. The height to which they went varied with the amount of three-phase current applied to the gun, the frequency of these currents, and other factors. Cylinders of conducting nonmagnetic material are propelled upward in a like manner.
MAIL TRANSPORTATION DEVICE
The illustration shows a short section of an expermential travelling wave transmission system. Six sets of coils similar to the one shown in the photograph were constructed and placed twenty to fifty feet apart. The carrier cylinder, hollow and streamlined, moves at very great speed in its guides. It receives a new impulse as it passes through each coil. Only one coil is energized at a time, and only so long as the carrier is entering, in, and leaving it. That is, the power is automatically shifted along as the projectile advances. Reversal of two lead conductors reverses the direction in which the carrier moves. When the carrier enters the last coil of the transmission system it is brought to rest inn this last coil, which is connected in a manner to slow the motion down. In other words, the rapidly moving carrier is stopped by magnetic cushion.
MAN STANDING BESIDE GUN
This gun is actually only four inches in diameter. It was so photographed with a man standing near as to appear much larger. We did this the better to visualize a rather large gun. We used this experimental gun to learn what classes of materials it would expel. When energized with currents of 4,800 cycles it propelled at high velocity such diverse materials as solid cylinders of Acheson graphite, brass, aluminum, and steel. Iron scraps of all kinds, which were not too small, such as pliers, screwdrivers, bolts, nuts, etc., were carried forward at a high speed by the rapidly travelling magnetic field. The usefulness of the electric method to replace the pneumatic transportation of materials is here seen. For example, a nonconducting material such as wheat or oats, when placed in tin containers, might readily be lifted to the top of grain elevators. The high-speed traveling magnetic wave is thus seen to be useful for a variety of commercial applications.
PAIR OF HORIZONTAL COIL GUNS
This horizontal placed pair of guns were constructed to determine the acceleration which different types of projectiles would acquire. The near end set of coil guns accelerates a short projectile while it is moving through the coils. The muzzle velocity attained is easily measured while the projectile is moving in the space which separates the near and far sets of coils. When the projectile enters the far set of coils it is deaccelerated (slowed down) because the electrical connections of the far set of coils are so made that the coils tend to move the projectile in a direction opposite to the direction in which the near set of coils moves it. By this device the performance of any type electric gun can be studied without actually shooting projectiles to a distance or into a sand bank.
DISASTER NEARLY COMES
For some months Jean and I worked at drafting-tables and filled many sheets with calculations. Dr. Plungin and four mechanics were kept busy in our shop. Then something happened which no man could have foreseen. It was a tragic interruption in our plans and might have spelled complete ruin.
It is so rare that it may be said never to happen, that the most fortunate human being sails smoothly along through life with the wind always fair, with no lightning bolts from heaven ever failing to frighten or destroy him. Up to this period my own life had been so uniformly fortunate that, based on the inexorable law of chance, I might have expected something bad, very bad, would occur--and it did occur. What happened stirred in me emotions, poignant grief, and unbearable anxiety beyond anything I ever experienced or could even imagine. The event I am about to describe also came near to ending all my life happiness, besides wrecking for certain the well defined careers which Jean and I had mapped for ourselves.
Events of the nature I am about to record are featured frequently with big headlines in the newspapers. They probably never have touched you or yours, and all you read is merely interesting news. If an especially bad atrocity is described in the phrasing of a clever reporter you may become aroused to use strong language; you may curse the criminal world and our rotten laws; but you do nothing. In some few days or weeks you have almost forgotten what you have read, when again you have your jaded emotions feebly stirred by some other similar affair announced in the headlines. But what happened this time came to my home like a Kansas tornado. I acted; I never forgot!
Marie had retained her interest in art and to satisfy it went twice each week with much regularity to the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts, to work in the life class. She had become an expert handler of a small single-seated plane which I had purchased for her shortly after our marriage. She used this plane to make her regular trips to Philadelphia. There was an unused baseball field in the outskirts, where she was accustomed to land and leave her plane under a small shed. Usually few people were about at the time of her arrival. From the field to a taxicab was a walk of about two city blocks.
In the early afternoon of the first Monday in October, 1949, Marie kissed me and flew away as usual. It was her custom to arrive home, dropping down in our small landing field, about 7:00 p.m. This time she did not return at the usual hour, nor send me any word. By eight o'clock I became alarmed, and telephoned a night watchman I knew who was stationed near her landing place. He reported that Marie's plane was in the shed where she had left it. This information relieved me somewhat as I then knew she had not met with an accident while flying. Anxiety grew as time passed without her returning. By 9:00 p.m. Jean and I took off in my plane to Marie's landing field to seek further information and endeavor to locate her. We found her locked plane as the watchman had reported, where she had left it. No one was found who had noticed the plane when landing. Authorities at the art school said she did not report at her class that day; no one there had seen her.
Marie, happy Marie, was not one to take her own life, nor would she cause me alarm, if unavoidably delayed, by neglecting to communicate with me if this were possible. The logic was perfect; she had been kidnapped or had suffered some accident. The local police were notified, and when on the following day she had not returned or reported, federal secret police, now well established over the entire country, took up the case. Radio announcers spread the news instantly to the entire public; the press told it. Ten terrible days and torturing sleepless nights dragged on, and still no hint, no clue, not even a reasonable theory helped to explain this dreadful vanishment.
What use detectives? What avail federal police! How impotent the products of our vaunted modern science!
One day, the eleventh since Marie's disappearance, Jean and I were sitting disconsolate on the porch of my empty house, talking matters over. The postman approached and handed me a small package. It was oddly addressed in typewritten capital letters thus:
RFD 3 Morris County
I took it, telling the postman I believed it was intended for me. The postmark read "Camden, New Jersey." When I opened the small pasteboard package a tightly folded sheet dropped out, and Marie's engagement ring! Jean and I glanced at each other--both very pale. I unfolded the paper--a single sheet of an ordinary pad six and one-half by ten inches. It was nearly full on one side with typed capital letters. My eyes first swept swiftly to a few pen-written lines at the bottom of the page. They were in Marie's familiar handwriting. I read this first aloud to Jean.
"My captors permit me to write only this and say that all is true as stated on this sheet. I am well and unharmed. My engagement ring is enclosed to complete the identification.
Then I read aloud the typed matter--a terrible message.
"We hold your gal for ransom. We want $500,000 and no chiseling. Follow instructions exactly. Money must be in unmarked good Uncle Sam bills. Put money in a red leather suit case. You go along with it in your plane to the exact spot in Ocean County, New Jersey which is marked by a red cross on the piece of a government map pinned on this sheet. Where the mark is there stands a tall dead tree trunk in the center of a big open field of Indian grass. Be there at exactly 8 next Sunday night. Fly low and drop money close to north side of tree trunk. Do not land. Fly away, going west at once. Do as we tell you and no tricks mind you. Your gal will be back unharmed in 24 hours to you. If you trick us our partner will know you tricked us at once. If you pull off any tricks you will never see your gal again. We will feed her dope and use her as we please. She is a good looker. Don't try to get in touch with us. We want all the money and no bargaining."
Jean and I were stunned. I spoke first,
"Jean, this ruins us. It puts an end to all our hopes and well laid plans; but one-half million dollars will be placed in that field on time just as directed. Marie must be saved!
"These villains must have learned just how much money I might raise. It will be a close pinch to raise the $500,000. Perhaps father will make up the rest, if the banks will not let me have all I need at once. Marie must be saved!"
Jean, always practical, remarked, "This is Wednesday, and too late for doing business. You will have only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning to get the money together."
"I know it, Jean. We go at once to father's house to tell him and mother this damnable villainy. They must know it immediately. Father may have some good advice for us."
Sunday afternoon arrived after a seeming eternity. The money, a large bulk of bills, was in a red satchel; my plane was in the yard being tuned up by Jean; father and I were together in my house. He pressed my hand and I starred for the door. Just as I was closing the door in leaving the house to go to my plane, father called me.
"Kad, come back! You're wanted on the long-distance Ôphone."
I went in reluctantly, thinking it was only another call from some reporter, and put the receiver to my ear.
"Party calling for Mr. A. Pseudoman on 8738-M," said the operator.
"Mr. Pseudoman is at the phone. Put on your party."
An angel's voice came over the wire. "Hello, Kad, it is Marie, your Marie, who is speaking. I am at the Hotel Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia waiting for you."
The heart in my throat tried to choke the words I spilled into the receiver. "Marie, are you harmed? Are you safe? "
"Safe, Kad, and not harmed," came tinkling back.
"I must look at you at once, my angel, I can hardly believe it is you. Snap on the televisor so I can see your face."
I heard a coin drop. On a screen placed near the telephone appeared in fine detail Marie's beautiful features. She was smiling.
"It is indeed you, Marie, and my plane rests near by in the yard, warmed up," went over the wire to her. "Hang up, I will be at your side in thirty minutes and Jean will be with me."
I called out the good news to father and ran to my plane.
"Marie is in the Bellevue; she just phoned. Climb into my plane, Jean."
In a moment we were mounting into the sky and heading for the Philadelphia airport. In less than thirty minutes Marie was weeping for joy in my arms and laughing through tears at her awkward attempt, at the same time, to hug Jean's neck.
When we quieted down a little, I said, "Tell me your story, Marie. What miracle has happened?"
This is Marie's story in brief outline--not as she then told it between sobs and laughter, but as she afterward wrote it carefully and unemotionally for the police records.
I grounded my plane in a drizzling rain on the baseball field at 2:00 p.m. the first. Monday in October, 1949. Wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella, I walked to the taxi stand; but no company taxi was in sight. Because of bad weather they were probably all engaged. Looking about, I saw a new Chevrolet parked near the taxi stand. A sign "FOR HIRE" hung in the front window of this car. The driver apparently was a colored man, though later, with closer observation, I decided he was white and had blackened his face to appear colored. Seeing me glance about for a taxi, he said very I politely: "Lady, if you are looking for a cab I can take you to any address. My charge is the same as the regular taxi-service." I got in without suspicion and asked him to take me to the Art School. I took no note of the car's license number. He started off in the right direction, but soon pulled up to the curb opposite a vacant lot. Suddenly the car doors were jerked open and two men, each wearing a cloth mask over his face, and cotton gloves on his hands, stepped into the car. One said, "Don't make a fuss, or any noise, Miss, or it will be bad for you." He then pulled a black silk bag over my head and with safety pins pinned it to my clothing, so I might not easily lift it off. After he had done this I could feel the car turning about and it then continued in motion, going without a stop for what seemed a very long time--at least two hours, I should judge. All this time not a word was spoken, but I knew the man who first drove me had left the car immediately after the two men had entered it.
Finally the car stopped, and, still blindfolded by the bag, I was led into a building about ten steps away. Then I was pushed into a chair and felt that a handcuff was being clamped and locked on my left ankle. Presently I heard the two men leave the room, but not before they had warned me that if I cried out or tried to move about, I would be instantly killed.
About an hour--only estimated of course--had passed then I heard someone approach me. This person unpinned the hood and removed it from my head. I had not dared to remove it myself. This person appeared to be a young woman. I could not estimate her age because she also wore a mask and cotton gloves. Her figure and movements, however, indicated that she was young. It was somewhat dark in the small room where I now found myself, because night was approaching. The woman spoke to me, using only a few words: "You are well chained to this iron bedpost. The handcuff around your ankle cannot come off; the chain is made of strong steel. You will be quite safe for several days. I will make you comfortable if you do as you are told. Don't make any noise."
She then left as she had entered, by the one exit door in the room. The light was now quite dim, but I was able to see that: this door opened into a small workshop of some kind. In a few minutes the woman returned through the shop with my supper on a tray. She set this on a small table in the middle of the room and left without having spoken. As she passed out of the shop I could hear her turning a key in the lock of its exit door. I ate the food she had brought in, and found it very good. I was not supplied with any form of light, so I hastened to observe everything about me as far as possible before it should become too dark to see anything. In the room was a single bed with iron framework. I was attached to this, chained like a dog to his kennel. Near the foot of the bed a door opened into a small closet containing a washstand which the length of my chain would let me reach. While there was yet some light, I partly undressed and went to bed.
The bed was comfortable enough; but not so my mind, and morning was very long in coming. At last daylight entered the room through a small window which my chain, about ten feet long, would not allow me to approach nearer than two paces. All I could see through this window was the side of a brick wall, apparently separated from my place of confinement by a narrow alley.
As time passed I listened for noises, but heard none from the building adjacent to the one in which I was confined. I concluded I was in some low neighborhood of a city, and that the building I was in, and the ones near by, were vacated stores. My room, as I learned later, was in a second story, and evidently had been used for the sleeping quarters of the party who had operated the small shop into which my room opened. I made at this time an observation which later proved to be my salvation. I observed that the shop contained metal-plating tanks which I could see through the open doorway. The shop evidently had been used at one time as a small metal-plating establishment. There was much litter lying about, and I casually noted two green glass carboys such as are commonly used for storing acid required for cleaning metal-ware before it is placed in the fluid of the plating tank.
Eight physically comfortable days, but a summation of mentally agonizing hours, had passed since I was taken to this place. I tried to divert my mind with the abundant magazine literature which the woman at times left on the table for me to read. No publication giving current news, however, came into the room.
On Tuesday, the eighth day since my kidnapers drove off with me, far away or near by I could not know, the woman brought in my dinner as usual, set it down, and then handed me the frightful typed sheet which threatened my ruin and the ruin of all those who love me. I was made to slip off my engagement ring and pen the dictated lines at the bottom of that awful sheet. This letter, I reasoned, would probably fall into Kad's hands by Wednesday afternoon. In four more days all would be lost if I could not find some means of escaping and getting word to Kad before he left in his plane to deliver the ransom money.
I tossed on my bed all night trying to devise a scheme for breaking the chain which held me prisoner. But the chain was made of welded links of hardened steel wire at least an eighth of an inch in diameter. One handcuff was about my ankle so that it was impossible to remove it except by cutting off my foot. I even wished I might do this, if no other method of release could be devised before the fatal Sunday afternoon when the money would be dropped from Kad's plane. I was certain Kad would do this just as the directions demanded.
The other handcuff was locked around a heavy iron leg of the bed frame. There was no hope of unfastening this. A frightful tether of hardened steel links joined the two handcuffs together. I had no hack saw, no file, no hammer, no cutting pliers, no cold chisel. Even if I could have made a selection of tools in a hardware store, they probably would have been useless, for the chain was too strong and too well hardened for any ordinary implements to part. All Tuesday and Wednesday, all Thursday and all Friday, the long =drawn-out hours were devoted continuously, until I was stopped by complete exhaustion, in trying to compel my brain to think of some method to part that awful chain.
Saturday night I was almost, perhaps fully, in delirium. I saw the door into the shop open automatically; I saw one of the two carboys on the side toward me develop into a fiendish face of a horrid green color; from its base there slowly sprouted two crooked little legs, and two claw-like hands with long sharp nails unfolded near the bottom of the carboy's neck. It waddled toward me; it jumped upon the foot of my bed; with its dwarfish legs it moved slowly to my pillow, and bowed itself over my head. In agony I watched the grinning face, and heard words come from its mouth filled with filed teeth: "Now, Miss," it spoke, "you are too beautiful. I shall empty my nitric acid upon your cheeks, but I will spare your eyes to let you see how ugly you will become." Nitric acid! I sat up in bed. My delirium left me. Nitric acid I It eats steel as water eats lithia tablets!
The early morning light was coming through the window. I sprang up and started for the door to open it. My chain was just long enough for my hand to reach the knob. I pushed the door open. There on the shop floor stood a carboy, only three feet beyond my reach. Sunlight from a window in the shop fell upon its bellied green glass. I could see a line produced by refracted light a hand's width above the bottom of the carboy. This line proved the unmistakable surface of a liquid. The carboy was not empty! Hope came again. I closed the door and returned to my bed, my brain seething with constructive plans. I must wait, I thought, until the woman has brought my afternoon meal, as she might return and I would be caught. Perhaps it would take a couple of hours for the acid to eat away a link, and I must choose my time to try it when I would be alone.
The woman soon came in with my breakfast. I managed to drink the coffee; the rest of the meal went down the toilet. When she returned for the dishes--always wearing gloves and the mask--she probably thought I still had an appetite.
At two o'clock she brought my second meal; by three she returned for the dishes. When she had left this time and I had heard the key turn in the lock of the shop entrance door, I drew a sheet from my bed, tore it into strips, and twisted them into a rope. I went to the door between my room and the shop and pushed it wide open; then, as I had often held my skipping rope when a little girl, I took in each hand an end of the improvised rope and without difficulty tossed the loop over the carboy and slowly pulled it toward me until I could grasp it with my hands. The carboy was corked. I rocked it back and forth on the floor, and could feel, see, and hear the liquid swish. A sweeter sound I never heard. I found I could carry the carboy to the washstand. Into a drinking glass I carefully poured the corrosive fluid, until the glass was half filled. I filled the glass the rest of the way with water from the faucet. I remembered that some water added to strong acid makes it dissolve a metal faster. Oh, how glad I was then that I had taken for Kad's sake a short course in inorganic chemistry.
Into the liquid I dipped the rim of a copper penny which I found in the small purse they had not taken from me. Instantly dark brown fumes rose from the liquid. Strong nitric acid! my brain but not my mouth cried out. I set the glass of acid on the floor and sat down with my shackled left ankle close beside the glass. I took the second and third links of the chain in my fingers, and dipped portions of the two links in the acid. Again brown fumes and many bubbles began to rise at once. I looked at my wrist watch. It was ten minutes after three--the woman might come back. How fast would the acid work? Every few minutes I pulled the links out of the acid to see how fast it was working. I could see that the steel had grown thinner each time. My hopes rose fast. By 3:25 the steel, so hard that few tools would part it, had become reduced to the thickness of a toothpick. At 3:31 two of the links fell apart. Now I was free to make my escape through the window.
I tied the rope of bed sheeting to the eaten-of end of the chain now fastened to the bedpost only. It was easy to slide safely to the ground below. I found myself in a narrow and filthy alley--but free! I ran along the alley to where it entered a narrow street. I followed this street for several blocks, and to my astonishment came into North Broad Street, Philadelphia. I tied my handkerchief around the handcuff still on my ankle to conceal it, and hailed a taxi which soon landed me at the Bellevue. In a few moments more I was in the hotel and at a Ôphone.
I have given now in Marie's own written words this story of her capture and escape, except for the omission of several details, of interest only to the police. It is a sad comment, I must add, on our modern civilization--and I am writing this fifty-one years later--that Marie's abductors were never located. Their precautionary measures to avoid detection had proved entirely effective. Will detectives, police, and scientific criminologists ever give, I wonder, the security all by right should have, rich and poor?
VACATION: TECHNICAL PROGRESS
About a fortnight had elapsed since the fortuitous conclusion of the events I have just narrated. Our nerves had quieted down; and calls from our friends were frequent. Jean and I had resumed our calculating, designing, and experimenting. Marie had renewed her regular studies at the art school, but now she traveled in a public bus which landed her at the entrance to the school.
One day we were gathered in father's home, where we often spent our evenings visiting with the family. Said mother: "My dear children"--meaning Marie, Jean and me-- "you know that to father and me you seem very young. You work too hard, and I don't think you have enough fun. I admit you play tennis regularly and that your friends drop in almost every evening, but you need a good long vacation to get your minds on something different, especially after what has happened. I have a plan for you. George Thompson, my sister Jessica's husband, has an estate in Georgia which you have never seen. He owns a country house, and twelve thousand acres well stocked with game. Your Uncle George would rather hunt quail with a brace of well trained dogs than do anything else in life. I have just received a letter from Jessica. She sends a cordial invitation from George and herself to you--Jean, Kad, and Marie--to bring down guns and some of your dogs and put in a month hunting quail. There are also many wild turkeys on the preserve. Here is her letter. Read it, Kad, and then promise me you will forget work and go with Jean and Marie to Georgia for a good time."
I read my aunt's letter, and the decision of all three of us was prompt: we would accept this enticing invitation.
Marie loves dogs, especially my fine pointers; but never had she used a shotgun. Jean was an expert rifle shot, but knew little about shotguns or wing-shooting over bird dogs. This was my opportunity to introduce them to a thrilling and delightful experience, so I resolved that both Jean and Marie should become crack shots with the shotgun while we were there.
Limits I have set on the length of this narrative will not allow me to recount the pleasant days afield, and the evening talks held in the hospitable old plantation home of my uncle. It shall suffice to record that on this occasion another girl entered the picture. Of the Thompson children there were three. One was Gertrude, their eighteen year old daughter--a blonde, beautiful and talented. Nothing could be more natural than that Jean and Gertrude should fall in love. Soon following our return home Jean made confession to me of his emotions, and added the information that he and Gertrude were already engaged. This was scarcely news to me, as I had observed the signs--I suppose my scientific training had made me skilled in noting phenomena, and in drawing conclusions. Happily I am able to record that the wedding followed in a few months.
By the middle of December Jean and I had plunged once more into our work with renewed zest and enthusiasm, and were wrestling with the innumerable problems which constantly arose.
In the following five years we made sufficient progress to warrant an attempt to send up a trial ship above the stratosphere. During this period our lives, thrilling enough to us, were free from experiences that reporters like to seize upon for exploitation in metropolitan newspapers. To avoid publicity and misleading write-ups, we kept our counsel well on what we were striving for and expected to do. When closely questioned, we explained that there were, in our opinion, many scientific and commercial uses for a well designed electric gun which could shoot missiles by power obtained from electricity instead of explosives. We stated, what was strictly true, that we were carrying on experiments directed toward learning the full possibilities and the limitations of the electric gun.
As early as the fall of 1950 we reached a stage in our developments which would have permitted us easily to shoot a hollow projectile of considerable size to a great height in the stratosphere. However, what we wanted at this time was a still fuller knowledge of performance data, and a sounder understanding of the action of all the forces involved. All this information could be obtained best--and without exciting public notice--by making use of what we called our "tandem gun." We made several of these for experimental purposes. It is unnecessary to describe our tandem guns further than to say that the general construction of any one of them was very similar to that of the double gun which I have illustrated and described in a previous chapter. In these guns, whatever velocity was imparted to a projectile by the near section of the energized gun-coils was reduced to zero by the reverse action of the second section. A simple electrical device permitted an accurate measurement of the velocity of the projectile while it traversed the small distance between the two gun-sections. It thus became unnecessary actually to shoot projectiles into space to determine definitely what their performance would be if they were freely discharged from the muzzle of a single gun. Accordingly, we had only a few visits from enterprising reporters asking embarrassing questions, and the few that came always went away with the impression that our experiments were tedious, and that they presented little material which would furnish copy or make a "thriller."
For about five years, with the aid of our shop and the help of four mechanics, we constructed many experimental projectiles and electric guns of various forms and sizes to drive them, but not once did we attempt to shoot them to any considerable height. By our many calculations and preliminary experiments, using tandem guns, we first fully satisfied ourselves that the projectile to be used for the first trial flight would rise to the height calculated, and then return to earth so softly--its speed controlled by a self-opening parachute--that the proposed cargo of live animals in the hollow missile would be found unharmed. The large number of technical data, records, and blueprints which we had accumulated, amply and clearly demonstrated the correctness of our conclusions. All of this material may be found on file in a number of public libraries. However, it would not easily be understood by anyone not versed in the elements of electricity and well informed on basic mechanical principles, and only trained scientists and engineers would benefit much by consulting it.
In any case, it does not seem desirable to spend much time discussing such highly technical matter at this stage of my narrative. I prefer rather to set forth a little of that inner mental life which held us to our undertaking, and to dwell somewhat on the reactions of my own mind to the universe of which my fellow men and I make up a trifling part. The world sees, if it looks at all, that which we do and the manner of our doing, but only our very intimates gain insight into the motives which rule us, our philosophy of life which guides conduct, and that very inner self we respect as our sanctum sanctorum, and to which we seldom open the door for display.
For the present, therefore, I shall bid au revoir to our moon-ship problem and its technical features, and give for my readers some small account of my personal responses to what metaphysicians are pleased to call reality. I begin at a period when I had reached the age of thirty. It may be noted here that Jean was a year older than I, and my Marie one year younger; also that Jean shortly after his marriage to my cousin Gertrude built himself a home not far from mine.
Our memories of what we thought and said fifty-odd years ago are indeed treacherous. It is best therefore to make reference to written records if one is so fortunate as to possess them. I have many records. In addition to Marie's diary and my diary, in which not infrequently were recorded our reflections on life, I possess also another store of accurate material which came into existence as I now shall tell.
THE WEFT-WARP CLUB
In the early part of 1950, Jean and I conceived that it would be a fine procedure to organize a club limited to eight members, six being of our own selection, and to hold eight meetings a year at times and places to be designated by the club's president. The aim of the club would be to hold meetings at which the members would each present in rotation a written paper on some philosophical, scientific, technical, sociological, narrative, or speculative subject. Following the reading of each paper there was to be an absolutely frank and free discussion of views presented. After adjournment of any of our regular proceedings the members would gather around a table to enjoy social features enlivened with good food and liquids approved by Bacchus. We named the club the "Weft-Warp Club." The selection of this significant appellation was made by Jean. The reasons he presented for its adoption appear cogent.
As Jean explained, "Every colored and patterned tapestry is woven on threads which run lengthwise called the warp. The purpose of the warp is to hold together the crosswise threads, called either the woof or the weft. The figures and designs obtained in the weaving are determined by the manner in which the weft threads are held and interlaced among warp threads."
"So it may be said that in the universe, beautiful with many colors and enriched with numberless changing patterns of unlimited variety, there is a something which underlies, controls, and disposes in order, that which our senses perceive. Beneath all these appearances there lies a reality. This hidden substratum cannot, I believe, be capricious nor lawless. That which lies beneath the surface may be called nature's warp, which, though never directly perceived, marshals everything. This reality, this warp--the basis of phenomena--is partly glimpsed only by experimentation and by rationalizations of the human mind. The trifling portion of reality disclosed to us is the total assemblage of what we call the principles or laws of nature. Science has slowly but steadily and painstakingly been adding to this assemblage."
"Our club, in addition to its interest in phenomena--the weft," Jean continued, "should endeavor in its papers and discussions to go beneath the surface of things and seek an understanding of the laws which govern them. Its members should find their chief intellectual profit by probing for the unobtrusive warp, which surely underlies the infinity of appearances with which the majority of mankind alone seems to concern itself."
Jean's line of reasoning appealed to both of us, and the name "Weft-Warp Club" was adopted. The six young men besides ourselves whom Jean and I had selected from among our numerous friends for membership, gathered at my father's home on the night of March 6, 1950. All were his guests at a dinner. At my request father consented to act the part of toastmaster, and to explain our reasons for forming the club and why we proposed to give the club its unusual name. In an eloquent speech he outlined the ideals of our proposed organization and invited his guests to join. Under such favorable circumstances, with great enthusiasm and with many toasts, the Weft-Warp Club was born. I may add that a finer lot of picked men, all under thirty-five, have rarely been grouped together. It was written into the bylaws of the club that no new members should ever be added. We did this because it was the hope of all of us that we might grow old together at much the same rate, and with the passing years ripen in wisdom by an exchange of ideas.
Our six members, in addition to Jean and myself, who answered to the roll call in the year 1950 are deserving of the pen sketches I here all too rapidly draw. This is so because the name of each, and his ego of rare uniqueness, should be in the record I am setting down. Also because each in one way or another, while the brief candle of his life burned, was an actor with me on life's stage. I, the last survivor of the octet, no longer hear their voices; but while my brain still functions they shall live sweetly in memory, and shall now dwell still a little longer in the pages of my memoirs, albeit these may rest on dusty shelves unnoted.
SKETCHES OF CLUB MEMBERS
Horace Portland--as I have before stated--was my close friend of earliest contact. He was the chum and constant companion of my boyhood days, when with dogs and guns we hunted quail and destroyed vermin on the game farm.
It was Horace who taught me flying. For a time he served as a mail pilot, and twice made a forced parachute drop which won him membership in the "Caterpillar Club." He was an ambitious youth, and studied airplane design at night schools, specializing in stratosphere airships. He was as fearless, brilliant, jovial, and lovable a fellow as ever lived. His accomplishments in practical aviation and the able papers which he published in the technical press secured him at an early age a very good position as an assistant designer of aircraft with a substantial company organized to build stratosphere airplanes. He long continued to send to a metropolitan newspaper readable and accurate articles on flights in the stratosphere. These soon made his name widely and favorably known.
In our endeavors to design a practical moon-ship on which Jean and I had now been long engaged, the sound sense and knowledge of Horace were always at our disposal. His technical suggestions were frequent, and of great value to us.
I may comment here advisedly that a chum of one's boyhood who later takes up a life work similar to one's own, who lives close by and is often seen, becomes the very best, the most lasting, the most satisfying friend a man can have. Few of life's possessions are to be more prized than a friendship like this. Horace Portland, my dear Horace, was a friend of mine to the end of his life.
Perry R. Thurston, whom the club members always called "Pare," was one of our older members. He was a tall, handsome fellow with a very dark complexion, large deep-set brown eyes, and a mass of jet-black hair. He was the acknowledged scholar and philosopher of our small group. His tastes and temperament were such that he might be considered the perfect antithesis to Jean and myself. We were always forward-looking in our mental life, and ever eager for action: "gogetters" was the expressive phrase used in the middle of the century. Pare, on the other hand, was the erudite student of all which history has embalmed. He would never have made an invention had he lived two centuries; but there are few at his age who could discourse and write so learnedly on early man and his achievements. The scientific discoveries and the technical creations of the twentieth century were outside his interests, except as conveniences to use, and they were wholly foreign to his understanding.
Graduation from Harvard, a Phi Beta Kappa, and a doctorate in philosophy were his attainments at an early age. At the time about which I am writing (1950) he held a respected if not lucrative position in the Ancient Man Division of the Museum of Natural History in New York, being entrusted with the care, arrangement, and installation of newly acquired archeological exhibits.
Pare was an indefatigable writer of monographs, and before he was thirty-one had published a book entitled The Evidence, Probable and Speculative, Regarding the Origin and Early Development of Man. Nature had endowed Pare with a fine mind, which he used most industriously in the acquirement of archeological lore and in philosophical inquiry. He was above all a truth seeker who was exceptionally free from bias.
Quiet and reserved in the company of strangers, in our club his geniality was infectious and charming. His erudition, at which we marveled, put all of us into much the same state of wonderment that a non-performing lover of music feels when for the first time he hears a pianist like the great Paderewski.
Walter L. Hasbrouch also had earned at an early age a doctor's degree. His major subject was biology. His D.Sc. was conferred by Columbia University, where he remained for many years teaching and doing research work. He wrote extensively on organic evolution, and became a recognized authority in his field. In time he rose to a full professorship at Columbia.
Walter was a lovable fellow who appealed to the heart as well as to the head. He was a handsome blond of the finest breeding, and being not without humor was a charming comrade.
Malvern Hill Battle was descended from a line of soldiers, most of whom served in the artillery. The father of our club member, whose family name happened to be Battle, was born on the same day that the battle called Malvern Hill of the Civil War was fought on Virginia soil in July 1862. Our club member was given his father's name, which his mother had bestowed on him because of the circumstances of the date of his birth. The grandfather, General Battle, was wounded at Malvern Hill while making a reconnaissance, and was captured by the Confederates and sent to a base hospital. He was reported in the North as dead, but after some months returned home, bearing an honorable wound, and very much alive. He later became an authority on ballistics. The son, Malvern Hill, Sr., the father of our friend, followed in the footsteps of the brave old general. He was graduated from West Point, fought in the World War, and finally died while serving as peace time commander of a government arsenal. Our club member then dropped the junior from his name. Malvern's chief sport was fencing, in which he was a notable expert. His intellectual tastes led him to a study of military history, and the development from earliest times of weapons of war. He also was interested in astronomical science. Handsome, brave, witty--an all-around good fellow--Malvern was a prime member of the Weft-Warp Club.
Kenneth R. Strong was certainly a colorful youth. His adventures began with his birth and continued for many years thereafter. He was born near Point Barrow, Alaska, shortly after a crack-up of the plane in which his expectant mother was a passenger. His first year was lived through a winter night in Arctic wastes.
Long before most boys complete their formal education Kenneth was serving as a cub reporter on a New York daily. His daring, ingenuity, dash, resourcefulness, and exceptional talent for descriptive writing won him many assignments to distant lands from which he radioed news of world interest to his paper.
No one of our club members excelled him in native ability, joviality, and winning ways.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, his extended travels necessitated his frequent absence from our meetings; but whenever he did join us at a gathering, especially if it was his turn to present a communication, the Club thrilled with his impersonal, glowing narratives and his marvelous moving pictures.
John P. Haynes was a young man of large inherited wealth. He was a student of geography-especially of the Antarctic regions, a nature lover, a sportsman with gun and camera, an explorer, and a collector of museum specimens. Though not engaged in any profit-making business or profession, he was not without a purpose in life. This purpose gradually took the direction of a determination to bring home a bit of the Antarctic to the Zoological Park in New York, to delight and instruct the people.
As a gift to the park he paid for the erection of a very large exhibit building planned to hold under natural conditions specimens of the bird and sea life unique to the coastline of Antarctica. An extensive main hall of this building was by scientific refrigeration maintained at near sub-zero temperature. In this room were pools of sea-water, and snow and ice formations closely simulating those of the Antarctic regions. Great fans even were available to move the air at times in imitation of fierce Antarctic winds.
John Haynes himself had made several collecting trips in the region about Richard Byrd's Little America. His ship was equipped with refrigerated rooms so that he could bring back to the Bronx zoo his specimens alive and in excellent condition. These specimens included killer whales and many specimens of the adelie, the king, and the great emperor penguins. Naturally, his philanthropy and successful activities in these enterprises made his name widely known to the public.
John Haynes was the eldest member of our group, and a more interesting person it would be hard to find.
No member of our small club ever left it until death took him away. Every meeting--eight each year--was always attended by all who were living, and who were not so far away at the time of the gathering as to make attendance impossible.
JEAN BIZET'S PAPER
A meeting of our club was held at my home about two weeks before the time Jean and I had planned to make our first trial flight with a projectile carrying two live animals. The tentative date selected for the trial flight was September 6, 1951. This meeting of our club was unforgettable. My reason for this statement is that on this occasion Jean presented before the club a thought-provoking paper. I now include Jean's paper in these memoirs, because it pictures with clarity conditions in the United States as Jean saw them when we were about to take this next important step along the actual path of our great adventure.
CHANGING ENVIORNMENT AFFECTS HUMAN BEHAVIOR
by Jean Bizet
(Read at the sixteenth meeting of the Weft-Warp Club, August 24,1954)
I have chosen, my fiends, to bring before you this evening some thoughts long in my mind. If my hope of interesting you is nor realized, I plead for your patience while I am expressing myself. How is a rapidly changing environment affecting human behavior and man's activities in America today I have felt a keen interest in this topic ever since I came to America to live, to be naturalized, and to work with Kad. My ideas on an answer which is adequate can hardly be called conclusions. I am glad this is so, for once a thought, or a theory, or a program is concluded, it is finished as far as progressive improvement is concerned.
Inheritance factors and Mutations
In the fourth decade of our century, physics, already married to biology, opened a peephole into life's most private boudoir. My attention was first called to this matter by reading in the July 1932 issue of the General Electric Review a most illuminating article by Mr. C.P. Haskins explaining what, up to that time, had been seen through this peephole. The instrument used for explorations among life's perm plasma, and for modifying inheritance factors, is the X-ray tube. X-rays--not too hard, not too soft--but, following many trials, chosen just right in intensity, wave-length, and time of exposure, have been used to penetrate the chromosomes of the seeds of plants and the eggs of certain simple forms of animal life. With characteristic action these rays expelled electrons from the cell substance. Not infrequently some of the expelled electrons found their way into life's holy of holies where abide the genes. As these genes, snuggled away in the chromosomes of the germ plasm, are constituted or configured, so will develop, after fertilization, the plant, the animal, or the man. The future organism--be it low or high--grows, appears, and acts as these genes direct; like robots in aeroplanes they hold the developing creature on its predestined course. Extensive experiments with X-ray radiation are proving beyond a doubt that the genes, modified in this manner in quality or in configuration, may alter the permanent character of a plant, an animal, or even perhaps a human being. The hereditary change in a species is not as once thought, necessarily a slow and gradual change; an individual of a species may, as it were, with a bound, become something quite different from its ancestors. As biologists say, it evolves by leaps called saltations.
Before we learned the potency of the X-rays to bring forth mutations at will, our only means of artificially modifying species or creating new ones was by the slow process of selective breeding. The breeder bided his time until a chance departure from the normal occurred in hundreds or perhaps in tens of thousands of individuals observed. Then, carefully selecting the most desirable "sports," he tried to learn whether they would breed true. If they did, he had established a new species or a useful variation of a species. Discoveries made with the X-ray now enable the breeder to speed up the natural occurrence of sports one hundred and fifty times or more. In Mr. Haskins' paper, to which I have just referred, it is stated, "Forty mutations" (produced by X-ray radiation) "were found in one Sunday afternoon where previously the geneticist considered himself fortunate to find one mutation in forty Sunday afternoons."
The evidence becomes strong that, before modern man with his cunningly devised instruments stepped on nature's stage, all plant and animal evolution took place by saltations which were brought about by the fortuitous hitting of a germ plasm with the cosmic rays--or also possibly, in addition--by radium emanations. Until the advent of scientific man, patient nature evolved her organic life very slowly, through time beyond man's comprehension. Out of the depths of space nature sends to earth her ray-messengers saying to the germs of all life, "Change! Leap up! Evolve to something closer to my ideal of cosmic perfection."
Man the only Creature who markedly alters his Environment
Up to the advent of civilized man, all plants and animals, and man himself, were constrained to live in an environment they were powerless to alter, except in minor respects--as when a beaver dams a stream. If any species or individual found the environment constantly antagonistic to its nature, it perished. Finally, however, when intelligent human beings evolved, nature made use of their intelligence to speed up her program of change. Intelligent man, unlike animals, need not and does not accept the world about him as he finds it. When his surroundings do not suit him, he modifies them; but when he has created what we desires, when he has built his great cities where once we hunted game, of necessity man's activities become different. His basic instincts nevertheless remain fixed, but his behavior must change. When Cro-Magnon humans hunted, and delineated on cavern walls the wild beasts, man's doings were radically different from now.
To understand the altered activities of people in our time and country it is necessary to examine briefly some major features of the unprecedented environment which man has created in very recent years. For man must live with what he creates. He cannot escape "adjusting both his thinking and his physical activities to his suddenly made-new environment.
Mans Creations up to the Middle of our Century
In the process of modifying and improving their environment, men of the past utilized chiefly the physical and chemical forces in nature. They were manipulators of the inorganic only. Today, using the means I have just described, man juggles the inheritance factors and thus rapidly creates new plants, new animals--even creatures which live in the sea. His recent activities in this field, though exerted for a scant two or three decades, have already yielded startling results. Today thousands of workers throughout the world are busy changing the organic living world to satisfy human fancies and needs. We now develop each year new grains resistant to disease and climate, new fruits of diverse qualities and flavors, modified species of fowls and domestic animals, and even new and improved bivalves and fishes. But only a beginning has been made in all these efforts, and I see in accomplishments already realized the dawn of a period when man will reconstruct the living world about him as radically and as completely as he has changed in the past his inorganic environment.
Physical and Chemical Developments
Let us now glance for a moment at the place we have reached in the development made of things physical and chemical. I shall present no list or inventory of modern achievements. Rather I shall consider briefly the warp, the underlying principles, which have made possible the weaving of new man-made patterns.
Undoubtedly in the development reached by man prior to the stage where he began to modify and control his surroundings, the form of his body and his equipment of sight, hearing, smell, taste, muscular sense, touch, and nerves to register temperature variations, were evolved for giving him complete adaptation to the environment Mother Nature provided him.
If we turn our thoughts back over the history of man's conquests in matters material, we cannot but conclude that for the most part advances lie in directions which extend the reach and enhance the sensitivity of his senses.
When using his eyes man wishes to see farther, to see smaller things, to look through the opaque, to see along lines not straight, to see with light of wave-lengths to which the retina is insensitive, to see things which last but the millionth of a second, to see now a reproduction of things and events which happened in the past, and to see at the very instant that which is going on at places on the earth far distant from his position. In this time in which you and I are fortunately living, all of these wishes have in large measure been realized. This realization is man's reward for being an ever curious-minded animal, for using the scientific method, and for his great diligence in research.
The latest achievement in vision--a development chiefly of the last decade--is, of course, television both by wire and by radio.
It is natural to ask, what more will man wish to do with his eyes than he has already done When this question is answered we are safe in announcing, judging the unseen future by the fruitful past, that somehow, by some means, at some time, his wishes will be satisfied. There is one extension of vision not yet made, but much to be desired. As yet, hidden from view with even the best microscopes, are many kinds of bacilli of disease. Many things live, and all matter moves, in a microcosm man has not yet explored. Herein, I think, lies the most wished-for extension of eyesight. But every physicist knows that light waves used in vision are far too long to make it possible to see directly a molecule or even such a group of molecules as probably constitute a filterable virus. Perhaps, however, we shall learn some day how to manufacture waves which will produce the image of a molecule in an instrument that will translate it into an image of a type the eye can see. Stranger things have happened.
I also think that men would like to see with their eyes the floor of the deep ocean. It appears to us now as if this also is one of the few impossibles. Why? Because sea-water gradually absorbs radiation of every wave-length in the spectrum from cosmic rays to radio waves. But water does not absorb high-frequency sound waves. Possibly these will be used to form an image of the ocean bottom which is translatable into something our eyes may see. What gold-bearing argosies lie on the bed of the mysterious deep, and what strange self-luminous creatures swim in its Stygian blackness! There yet remains much in this world that human eyes would like to behold! I assert that most of all that is imaginable will be realized at some time before man's development ceases.
For hearing, nature provided man with two cars sensitive to vibrations numbering from about twenty to twenty thousand per second. On first consideration it might be thought that our organs of hearing are so generously endowed by nature in range and sensitivity that no further extensions along these lines are desired. But not so. The source of a sound must be near by for the unaided ear to hear it. Hence mankind, not satisfied, invented the telephone, the radio, and the loud-speaker.
When sounds cease they are no longer heard, and man's deep-rooted desire to hear what has been said in the past went long unsatisfied. Then came those seemingly impossible contrivances the phonographic record and the sound film, to capture and hold the weightless, the unseen, and the intangible. Sound, which like temperature is merely a special condition in which matter exists, has literally been "canned" for future use.
Sounds above and below the natural range of the ear are easily recorded. Then by running the record slower or faster these sounds become audible to human ears. The highest notes of insects may be studied in this way, and the slow pulsations of the air, liquids, and solids may also be translated into unbroken sounds. The delicacy of hearing has been enhanced without limit by that triumph of modern research--the vacuum-tube amplifier.
Nature gave us two ears. This is not a mere precaution on the part of nature to insure us a second chance should one ear fail. Nature had in mind a further purpose. It requires two ears to locate the direction from which a sound comes. When the head is turned the phase of the sound waves which strike the two tympanums changes. By a hidden marvel in our psychology one connects this physical phenomenon with sound location. By using instruments which in effect separate the two ears by a meter or more, the precision with which the direction of a sound may be located is greatly increased--a useful result when knowledge of the position of an enemy airplane flying in fog is desired.
Touch and the Temperature Sense
Just as many inventions were outgrowths of a desire to extend sight and hearing, so numerous others have been made to utilize more delicately the sense of touch, as witness the Braille system of printing for the blind.
Thermometers and thermocouples are inventions merely to extend the temperature sense. This sense, unaided, is of trifling range and little precision, but with these instruments man measures with accuracy temperatures which range from the fraction of a degree above absolute zero to the melting temperature of iridium. With optical instruments and mathematical tools, higher temperatures are measured--temperatures at which all matter on the earth vaporizes: and the temperatures of the hottest stars can be estimated.
Smell and Taste
I do not know of any artificial means of improving our senses of smell and taste. However, the nose of a hound teaches us that there is opportunity to make instruments which will extend our use of the sense of smell several thousand fold. It is not inconceivable that a device could be made which would register a faint odor as delicately as does the nose of a dog. Perhaps we are about to have such a device, which, placed in a room will record the special odor of anyone who enters, and thus serve for his identification. Such an instrument would be extremely useful to criminologists.
I have spoken of the muscular sense. I think the term is justified; for the feeling we have in our limbs of extension in space and of the resistance of an opposing force outside the body, certainly gives us very definite and informative mental impressions. It is by this sense that we have cognizance of any change in our position. Since the muscular sense is not localized in a special organ, as are the senses of sight, hearing, taste, and smell, it is not generally included among the so-called five senses. For that matter, neither is the sense of touch placed in a special organ; but the muscular sense, like touch, is quite as real and quite as essential to existence in an objective world as are the senses located in special organs.
By this muscular sense we become aware of accelerating linear or circular motion. Its delicacy, however, is slight indeed when compared with certain instruments made to give similar information. For example, the seismograph detects earth tremors far too slight for the body to feel, and the gyrostat "feels" n turning motion wholly undetectable by the body. The Sperry gyrostatic compass is doubtless an outgrowth of man's desire to sense direction accurately. It "feels" the vertically acting acceleration from the earth's axis, and when pushed aside will slowly swing back and forth until it settles down and points to the true geometric north--a marvelous product of the inventive brain of modern man, and a splendid monument to its inventor.
Basic Aspirations that bring Changes in Man's Environment
In the millions of years required to develop a human, bodily and mentally as we now know him, certain deep-seated emotions, longings, and instincts were evolved, quite different from man's desire to extend the uses of his sense organs. These primitive emotions, longings, and instincts constitute other--and perhaps the most important--driving forces which urge man to effect an enlargement and improvement of his environment. In the brief time allotted me I may only mention suggestively some of these and the resultant changes in man's manner of living brought about by his efforts to satisfy them.
It is a necessity of the world of plants that usually where the seed drops the life which springs from it is lived. But in the animal world the individual may move about, and in fact must move about, in order to find food, which usually is not brought to it.
Man began his meanderings on two legs; they carried him about slowly and not very far, so in time he came to make use of the four legs possessed by a yak, a dog, a reindeer, a camel, an elephant, an ox, an ass, a horse, and a mixture of ass and horse--a mule. He moved faster and farther on water than on land; with that great invention the canoe. His domesticated creatures and muscularly propelled watercraft helped man, the two-legged animal, to go a little farther and a little faster; but his passion for travel and speed was only whetted with each new record made. So scarcely a century ago man with his technical brain and hand took hold of the forces in nature: the wind, the expansion of steam, the explosion of gas mixtures, and the lightning in heaven, compelling them to obey scientific guide reins to take him whither he would go, with such speed as he wished. In the decade in which I write it seems likely that a human being carried in his rocket ship, will, like the roguish Puck, put a "girdle Ôround about the earth in forty minutes."
Oceans have now become highways; the land gives up its half hundred meters on the tick of a watch; and the earth's gaseous envelope is man's favorite three-dimensional thoroughfare. Only recently the radio and the press announced that the pilot Homer Swift drove his plane through the stratosphere along the forty-fifth parallel of latitude at a pace which kept up with the sun in its twenty-four hour "swing" around the earth. Swift, I believe, is the first man who has lived twenty-four hours in broad daylight in low latitudes.
I have time only to mention briefly certain remaining basic human aspirations which, in the process of becoming satisfied, have placed man in his present highly artificial and complicated physical environment.
The passion to barter is older than recorded history. The outgrowth of this desire, in recent times, has brought about our modern exchange of commodities on a world-wide scale. Upon the sea move swift leviathans driven with Diesel engines and steered by gyroscopic compasses. On land freight no longer lumbers along at sixty kilometers an hour. At twice that speed it is shot forward in all-steel cars over rails with case-hardened steel treads; and it will, I believe, be carried vastly faster in the future, driven by swiftly moving magnetic waves. These achievements in transportation, like many others which I have not mentioned, have become a reality because of man's determination to satisfy his desires, fundamental and instinctive--desires gradually evolved over countless years--the better to fit into that environment which nature alone provided.
Perhaps no instinct, except the desire for life itself and its propagation, is stronger than the craving for power. Power may be physical, military, political, financial, or spiritual. But in this talk I am confining myself to physical power as seen in man-made machines. It was in January 1769 that James Watt took out his first patent for a steam engine. The practical steam engine, first used for pumping, and later for driving rotating mechanisms, soon followed. Then the Mechanical Age was born.
In August 1831 Faraday established the principles of electromagnetic induction and the reaction between magnets and electric current-carrying conductors. Then followed the Electrical Age. But note that electricity is not power; it is only a distributor of power, There must be a prime mover to set electricity in motion: a chemical battery cell or an engine. When in motion it performs a function analogous to that of a leather belt. It transmits generated power from one place to another.
Man no longer works with his muscles. He moves levers, throws switches, and pushes buttons. Mercury-vapor, steam, and water turbines, gas and Diesel engines, and the energy latent in water at high levels, supply all the power required. By electricity this power is carried instantly to wherever it is wanted. A twenty-hour week of attendance on machines is today all that is required to do the physical work of the world; but man's muscles, used for some million or more years, are not going to atrophy because of his sudden acquisition of mechanical power and electricity for its distribution. The hundred odd hours left for leisure must and will be used in considerable part for exercise of the body. Thus the altered environment which man has so recently created has forced him into athletic sports of many kinds, to an extent unknown in the pre-mechanical age. With his heart beating just as it did twenty thousand years ago--with hopes, loves, hates, fears, and passions unchanged--man, in his methods of living and his varied activities, has become totally different--a new life has been forced upon him by what he himself has discovered and by what he has created.
The instincts which spur the human race to change its environment are by no means confined to those I have mentioned. The human mind with its groupings of complexes is not so simple as this. What I have touched on is but sketchy and merely illustrative-certainly not inclusive.
But, my friends, members of the Weft-Warp Club, you are wondering, I am sure, when I shall turn the last typed sheet and stop reading. A few more sentences and your relief will come.
Fear is an emotion which few wholly escape. Fear, reasonable and unreasonable, causes nations to arm against one another, and is at the bottom of countless inventions, huge undertakings, and vast expenditures for destruction. The instinct of self-preservation will never die, and preparation for war may be expected to continue for generations to come.
Another craving is for bodily health, and it is one of the strongest. Its attempted satisfaction is objectively realized in the enlargement of medical science and sanitation.
Man is Religious
Finally, I call your attention to what has become accepted by all schools of philosophy, namely, that man by nature is instinctively a religious being. I do not mean by this statement that all men are religious, nor that there may not be many who never worship. But I do mean that man taken in the mass is inherently awed by the mystery of existence and becomes a worshiper of the unknown and the unknowable. This spiritual emotion expresses itself objectively in the continued building of monuments, shrines, churches, and cathedrals. Even in this highly critical, analytic and scientific age the Cathedral of St. John the Divine has risen to its recent completion. Fear spends billions for defense, but religion spends other billions for worship. Not until man ceases to be a creature of emotions will these expenditures cease. War engines and churches will continue to be built side by side.
I have tried to trace the causes of man's ceaseless endeavor to alter and improve his environment--causes brought into existence during the million or more years that sapient man lived as do the animals in intimate contact with his nature-made surroundings. The causes have been, are, and will be perpetually in force, because "You can change the stars, but you cannot change the hearts of men.
Since in this first half of the twentieth century, instinct, desire, and opportunity have greatly increased the number of people who are scientifically trained and technically skilled, it follows as surely as the night the day that the changing character and complexity of our man-made world will go forward at an ever accelerating speed.
Primitive Instincts demand Satisfaction
But, I inquire, are primitive instincts--longings to contact unaltered nature directly--strong enough to stop us from finally creating a world in which to dwell that is entirely man-made and artificial? Must we end by living wholly with mechanisms, or shall we always enjoy a goodly share of unaltered nature? I think we shall. Never will the desire of man die to commune with primeval forests, unpolluted lakes, crystal dancing trout streams, wild flowers of the spring, charming songsters, timid-eyed animals of the woods, landscapes fading far away into the azure blue of distant hills, and nearby hillsides untouched by our modern civilization. But, if we do not begin now to add to the all too few perpetual havens for nature's wild creatures, and her wild flora, there will surely be a gnawing in the human breast and a love which cannot be requited.
I conclude by asking and attempting an answer to this question: Can mankind alter fast enough his deep-rooted habits and ways of thinking to keep pace with the changing environment he is creating with such whirlwind speed?
Organic adaptation to a new set of environmental conditions is a process that requires time. The chameleon can take on the color of the tree trunk on which he rests, but he cannot do this instantly. If his resting place changes its hue too rapidly, the chameleon's power to acquire protective coloring ends.
Psychic adaptations to new ideas also have their time lag. Men must be born to the new ways of thinking and to the giddy changes in their environment, in order to adapt themselves to a world of thought radically different from that in which their immediate fathers lived.
I personally have come to believe that in our time the disharmonies in the mass mind have been induced by the very suddenness of the onslaught of the new order, and that the velocity of the change accounts for the present distress of the world more than any other single cause. Wars and threats of wars are resultants, not the causes, of the world's griefs. As the decades roll on, the tempo, I believe, of environmental physical changes and psychical advances will slow down, and coming generations will be able to catch up in their adaptations to the world in which they live. If this is so the sun will yet shine on human beings adjusted to a new order--human beings who in harmony will make the conquest of a finer and higher civilization.
My friends of the Weft-Warp Club, I thank you for your patience.
Following the reading of Jean's paper the club members entered into a lengthy discussion. The questions, the objections, the counterproposals, and the lively arguments were not given even a brief life by stenographic notes, and after nearly half a century all record has faded from my memory save the vivid personalities of our little group.
A WORD ON BALLISTICS
Ballistics is the name given to the science of the motion of projectiles. As the fate of nations often depends on projectiles and the devices used in hurling them, the allied sciences of ballistics, gunnery, and ordnance have received for many, many decades the attention of the best human brains. The coffers of the mightiest peoples have been placed at the disposal of designers and builders of guns operated with explosives.
It seemed strange to Jean and me that no one, previous to ourselves, had given much thought to the latent possibilities of electric guns. For, as we progressed in our theoretical study and experimental understanding of them, our confidence in guns energized with electricity steadily grew. Before the second half of the twentieth century our belief in them and our enthusiasm for them had become firmly established. By the beginning of the year 1954 our progress had been such that we felt justified in using the large amount of money needed to construct a huge electric gun that could shoot a projectile not less than a half meter in diameter vertically upward to a height of at least thirty kilometers.
I may explain here that Jean, Dr. Plungin, and I had canvassed repeatedly every conceivable means whereby a very large hollow projectile, with living creatures inside, could be shot through the blanket of the earth's atmosphere to a great height above the stratosphere, and finally--if my dream was to come true--into that region of space where it would be more attracted by the moon than by the vastly more powerful pull of the earth. We utterly rejected all proposals of the Jules Verne type to shoot a projectile out of reach of the earth's gravity with a huge steel cannon. Even if such a gun were powerful enough to send a hollow projectile to a height measured by hundreds of kilometers, nothing inside it could survive for an instant the shock of starting. It is easy to see that for any selected muzzle velocity the acceleration within the gun barrel will be augmented in exact proportion as the gun barrel is made shorter.l Our calculations and preliminary tests made it seem extremely likely that a gun which would give a muzzle velocity of five to seven kilometers a second to a projectile would need to be not less than a hundred kilometers long, if any creature inside the projectile were to survive the tremendous acceleration imparted to it. Obviously, no gun constructed to propel a projectile by the force of an explosive could be made this long.
To reach the moon by rocket propulsion only is also fanciful if--as Goddard, the dean of rocketry, has shown--more than one-fifteenth of the mass of the rocket is to reach that planetary attendant. We concluded that the only possible solution was to utilize a hollow, rocket propelled projectile, and first to impart to it the major portion of its velocity by shooting it from an electric gun--a gun which would have to be many kilometers long. It was by this means, as the sequel will explain, that we successfully circumnavigated the moon, after many years of preparation and immensely costly experimentation.
Parenthetically, let me explain that a projectile to be shot from a cannon using an explosive is constructed with a flat base, on which the expanding gases of the explosive exert their pressure. Therefore only the fore end of such a projectile can be streamlined. The consequence is that when the projectile moves through the atmosphere at sea level with a velocity which exceeds the velocity of sound (340 meters per second) the air behind the squared-off base of the projectile cannot close in fast enough to prevent a partial vacuum from forming at the base. A backward-acting force of over one kilogram for every square centimeter of the area of the base may thus result. An anti-aircraft gun imparts to a projectile a muzzle velocity of about a thousand meters per second. This velocity should carry the projectile in vacuous space to a height of about fifty kilometers, whereas it only rises in the atmosphere to about one-fifth of this height.2
Another feature of projectiles which get their velocity from explosives is that in order to fly nose first they must rotate about their lengthwise axes. This rotation is given them by the rifling of the gun barrel. Their manner of motion along their curved trajectory is exceedingly complicated, and has become the topic of extensive treatises, which do not here concern us in the slightest. It is well to remark, however, that the flight of an arrow shot from a bow is of quite a different character. The feathered tail operates to hold the length of the arrow substantially in line with its trajectory, however curved this may be.
A projectile shot from an electric gun may be streamlined at both ends, because the gripping force that imparts motion to it acts all along its cylindrical surface, and not on its rear end, as is the case with a projectile shot from a gun by means of an explosive. It follows that the streamlined projectile used with an electric gun may be "feathered" at its tail end with thin sheets of metal. The air resistance in this case is greatly lessened, and the projectile imitates in its flight the flight of an arrow, and does not rotate.
These and many other matters were carefully analyzed by Jean, Dr. Plungin, and I; and we finally became convinced that we were proceeding along correct lines. How we succeeded in shooting a huge projectile carrying live animals to a great height, without calling upon the rocket principle, will be told in the chapter which follows.
2 Technical Supplement, p. 244 example A.
TRIAL FLIGHT IN UTAH
At the meeting of the Weft-Warp Club which followed our first trial of shooting above the stratosphere a large projectile, our breezy member, Kenneth Strong, used the occasion to read a paper describing our gun, the vertical flight of the projectile, and the thrill of this to us important occasion. In no better way can I give an account of it than by putting Kenneth's paper into my narrative. His description of the gun and the tests we made with it is accurate, though rather colorful. The club meeting referred to was held in October of the year 1954, shortly after the conclusion of our experiments.
SCIENCE TRIUMPHS OVER GRAVITY
BY KENNETH R. STRONG
(Presented at a meeting of the Weft-Warp Club, October 8, 1954)
My friends and fellow club members: I do not wish to embarrass Kad and Jean, who are here to listen in, by my inadequate recital of the technical achievement which in our day of yearly, monthly, even weekly surprises, has not in a lifetime been surpassed by individual efforts. I shall nevertheless tell you as best I can, without exaggeration, just what took place. If Kad and Jean protest that I am too complimentary, I reply that by profession I am one reporter who holds truth and accuracy in higher esteem than form.
The conquests of modern science which have led to radio, television, and the innumerable advances of our fruitful time, have been made in the main by mass attacks on nature. Soldiers of science by thousands, and generals of finance by hundreds, have organized to force nature to disclose her laws, to surrender her secrets, and to make available endless devices which depend on them. Rut rarely have two individuals marching together for years toward a common goal of a most difficult achievement, and acting the triple parts of scientists, engineers, and financiers, attained a comparable result. But now to the story of what I have learned and witnessed.
Kad and Jean had determined, by their years of unslackened experimentation and by calculations which fill many notebooks, that their great electric gun should be at least a thousand meters long, and that the internal diameter of this monster should be half a meter. The great length of the gun was chosen so that the projectile, without being unduly accelerated, might acquire a muzzle velocity of at least one kilometer per second--a velocity which it was hoped would carry it to a height of thirty or forty kilometers. 1 In a gun of this length the final velocity would be attained without at any time much exceeding an acceleration of more than fifty times the earth's gravity. Even with this moderate acceleration a cat in the projectile weighing 2.5 kilos would feel as if it weighed 127.5 kilos. About ten times the acceleration due to the earth's gravity is the greatest acceleration an aviator has safely withstood.
So far in the history of this globe of ours all that has gone up has eventually come down. It was of chief interest to learn, when at length the heaven-seeking projectile should float gently to earth with its supporting parachute, whether its cargo of a cat and a rabbit would be living or dead. If the animals were living, the experiment was to be repeated with a higher acceleration; and if they were dead, with a lower acceleration, until the limit of endurance for rate of speed increase could be determined. In the final outfit which Kad and Jean propose to use for encircling the moon with a human cargo, in a moon-ship, the length of the gun may be shortened in direct proportion to the acceleration which trial flights prove a living creature may endure. For this reason any expenditures required for making trial lights are justified.
The projectile used in this first trial flight was carefully and scientifically designed. No detail of construction was overlooked. The material selected was thin sheet Duralumin--light, strong, and of good electrical conductivity. A projectile shot from an electric gun is gripped by a swiftly moving magnetic field all along its cylindrical wall; therefore the rear end may taper to a point, to give the best of streamlining, and thus enormously reduce the backward drag of the atmosphere. Since everything inside the projectile was dead weight which added nothing to the propelling force, it was advantageous to make the projectile quite long. By making the projectile long the percentage of weight or load which took no part in driving the projectile forward was reduced. Chiefly for this reason it was given an overall length of five meters.
The nose of the projectile was made reentrant and was covered with a cap of thin Duralumin. The hollow space thus formed in the end of the projectile was filled with a folded silk parachute. The cords of the parachute were attached to a metal ring fitting the inner wall of the recessed nose; another cord from the top center of the parachute silk was attached to the center of the Duralumin cap. As long as the projectile was moving nose forward in the air this cap was held down by air pressure. Later, when the projectile fell through the air with its front end still pointing upward, some air passed under the rim of the cap and lifted it off the nose of the projectile, dragging the parachute with it. The parachute then quickly opened and the projectile, with all the delicate instruments and the animals inside, floated gently down to earth.
A gyrostat rotating at great speed around the lengthwise axis of the projectile was used to maintain the projectile pointing, throughout its upward flight and while falling back, in the same direction as when it left the gun.
Oxygen under pressure was carried in the tapered tail of the projectile--also soda-lime in trays, the former to supply the breath of life to the animals, and the latter to absorb the carbonic acid gas breathed out of their lungs. The animals, a cat and a rabbit, were strapped down on a bed of lamb's wool located near the rear end of the projectile. Self-registering instruments were included for recording temperature, pressure, and the altitude attained.
I have here, and will now pass around to you, some blueprints which show both a lengthwise and a crosswise sectional view of the projectile used. Only such main features and their disposition are shown as may be necessary to a clear understanding of the general construction.
(On the facing page is a drawing that shows the schematic of the spaceship)
It will be readily understood that the projectile did not acquire the enormous velocity required to carry it to a great height without becoming heated, not only while still in the gun, but also by friction with the air while in flight. Unless some special provision had been made to prevent too great a rise in temperature the animals inside would have been cooked. The drawing of the projectile shows a very effective design for maintaining the temperature low, and, at the same time, adding somewhat to the velocity. You will note that the casing is double walled, the space between the two walls being about half a centimeter. This space between walls over a length of three meters was filled with a sodium-potassium alloy containing these metals in the proportion sixty-five parts of sodium to thirty-five parts of potassium by weight. This alloy is an excellent conductor of electricity. It is lighter than water, and solid at room temperature; but it is liquid at thirty-five degrees Centigrade. Above this alloy, in a chamber in the nose of the projectile, was highly compressed hydrogen gas. At the tip of the tail of the projectile a small orifice communicated with the space occupied by the sodium-potassium alloy. It is evident that as soon as the alloy was melted by the large electric currents induced in it, and by air friction, it became a fluid and was forcibly driven out at the rear by the compressed hydrogen above. All that left the orifice while the projectile was still in the lower region of the earth's atmosphere became spontaneously ignited, and trailed behind the projectile as a tail of fire. With the expulsion of the alloy the stored up heat in the material was carried away; and the temperature, which otherwise would probably have become high, was maintained sufficiently low to be endured by a living creature.
When I remind you that the thousand-meter electric gun was used to shoot the projectile vertically upward, I know some of you will say, "How was a cannon a thousand meters long stuck straight up in the air? Why, it would take a steel tower six times as high as the Washington Monument to support this mighty coil of copper in a vertical position." I shall explain how Kad and Jean overcame this difficult point.
Over one hundred years ago on July 24, 1847, Brigham Young with an advance division of 142 men, three women, and two children emerged from a beautiful canyon lying about thirty kilometers to the southeast of what is now Salt Lake City, Utah, and glancing over the extended plain in which lies the Great Salt Lake exclaimed, "This is the place!"
Near this same place Kad and Jean decided to set up their long electric cannon. Why? Because close by Park City, resting above this canyon and now decayed, large and long-operated silver mines were long ago tunneled deep into the top of a mountain. As far back as 1896, in one mine there were as many as ninety-six kilometers of ramifying horizontal tunnels at various deep-lying levels. To the lowest of these levels sinks a vertical shaft. It is of ample proportions for pumping water from the lowest level, and for accommodating swift-moving lifts for both men and ore. This hole in the mountain top is over a kilometer deep, perfectly vertical, and has not been used as a mine shaft for some years.
In this shaft Kad and Jean placed their monster gun--in sections, of course. For weeks workmen and trucks were busy carrying the six-meter sections of the gun up the mountainside, and lowering them with an elevator, section by section, into the deep shaft. The sections were secured with metal structures to the walls of the shaft, and later joined together. When all this was done the muzzle end of the kilometer-long smooth-bore tube--on which were wound two thousand coils of copper--protruded not over ten meters above the soil of the mountain top where the deep shaft had been sunk more than half a century before.
In an abandoned mine-shed near the opening of the shaft huge motor-generator sets were placed on concrete foundations. A long disused high-tension electric power line was reconditioned to bring to the motors the tremendous supply of power required to run the high-frequency alternators when the load was thrown on them.
The electric gun was constructed2 so that with the frequency of current chosen, two thousand cycles per second, the wave crests would travel along the gun tube at the terrific velocity of three kilometers per second. At such a speed they could girdle the earth along the equator in 222 minutes. From the instant the nose of the projectile enters the energized gun until it leaves the muzzle it is being accelerated in an endeavor to catch up with these waves of magnetic force which drag it along. By suitably adjusting the strength of the current in the coils of the gun the projectile can be made to issue at some selected velocity. If this velocity is made one kilometer per second, the speed of the projectile is still only one-third that of the magnetic waves. With a muzzle velocity of one kilometer per second the projectile would be in the gun about two seconds, and in this case, neglecting air drag, it should reach the end of its upward journey of fifty-one kilometers in approximately one and two-thirds minutes.3
Being good engineers, Kad and Jean made several pilot experiments with the electric gun equipment to become assured that all was well and in working order, before attempting to send heavenward the projectile designed for the real test flight.
There was one circumstance, partly foreseen, but unpreventable, which for Kad and Jean must have been a great annoyance. While every reasonable precaution was taken to keep confidential the nature of the electric gun and the object of the test flight, rumors went abroad that a mighty cannon had been installed at the mountain top--a cannon which would shoot projectiles of an unheard-of size, which would keep going until they hit the moon. An electric gun and a steel cannon are easily confused in the lay mind, and the report spread that when this kilometer-long cannon belched forth its projectile the mountain top would spit fire like a volcano, and the roar from the monster's mouth would be greater than the crash of Jove's loudest thunderbolts: its voice would reverberate from the slopes of mountain and valley, and would be heard for many kilometers around.
Such a forth coming event promised to make copy of first importance for the press, and the blazing spectacle with its accompanying noise would be startling material for news reels. Due to the prevalence of these ideas reporters and cameramen collected at the scene of operations as June bugs and moths come out of the night to gather round an electric light.
It was counseled that everyone keep his lips sealed, so all directly connected with the enterprise were uncommunicative and attended strictly to their jobs. Kad and Jean must have smiled inwardly at all this excitement, as they well knew that the news-hawks would see and hear little when the largest projectile ever made was climbing toward the zenith to several times the height yet reached by ordinary projectiles or rocket-driven missiles. A slight swishing sound, then a momentary streak of light from the ejected sodium-potassium alloy burning high in the heavens, and that would be all that the gathered reporters could truly claim they had heard and seen.
It was desirable to locate the projectile at once when it slowly drifted down to earth with its sustaining parachute. Arrangements were therefore made to patrol the skies with several airplanes in radio communication with one another. The first Pilot to locate the returning projectile was to inform the others at once by radio, and then follow the slowly descending, parachute-sustained projectile to its landing place. All of the pilots could then quickly gather to the same spot to see the shell of the projectile opened, to learn whether the cat and the rabbit within were still alive, and to see what height had been attained. This searching of the sky was shared by Kad's wife and Jean's wife, both expert fliers; and Dr. Plungin also piloted one of the planes. Six planes in all were assigned to this patrol work, under the leadership of our friend and fellow member Horace Portland.
All was made ready as expected by the morning of September sixth, the day selected for the first attempt to reach a height of thirty kilometers or more above the mountain top with live animals housed in the projectile. The weather on this day was ideal for the proposed program. There was a clear sky and very little wind, and such as did blow came from the southeast. It was hoped that during the descent this slight wind would drift the burdened parachute over the flat plain where lies the shallow and briny Great Salt Lake, about a hundred kilometers to the northwest of the gun station.
The time required for the projectile to rise to a height of around fifty kilometers and return to the earth was calculated as a trifle over three and one-third minutes, on the assumption that the ascent and descent would take place in a vacuum. Actually there would be much drag of the atmosphere during the first part of the ascent, and a very slow fall through the air after the parachute had opened. Therefore it could only be conjectured how long after the gun was fired the watchers for the returning projectile would have to wait before sighting it. Assuming that the parachute opened at a height of six thousand meters above the earth, and taking the average rate of fall thereafter as two meters per second, the projectile would not come into view much under an hour--a time of tense waiting.
When all the necessary arrangements for the trial flight had been made Jean took his position at the bottom of the mine shaft to superintend the placing of the projectile in the gun and to give the signal to turn on the power. Kad was above ground at the control board of the generators. By three o'clock all was ready, with Kad waiting, stop-watch in hand, for Jean's signal to close the switch. The expectant and excited group of spectators had gathered round, but no one was allowed to approach the mouth of "the mighty cannon." At precisely 3:10 p.m., the signal came, and Kad closed the switch, releasing the vast power of the generators and the energy stored in the condensers. Two seconds later there was a sound as of a sudden and very brief blast of wind, and then in a few seconds more high overhead was seen a long vertical streak of flame and white smoke. That was all. When some minutes had passed and there was complete silence, the bystanders, realizing that the cannon had been fired, began to disperse--a much disillusioned and disappointed crowd.
The time of firing was radioed to the six planes that circled about. The pilots searched the sky with binoculars, each hoping to have the honor of being the first to catch sight of the descending projectile. At 4:02 p.m. a radio message from the plane piloted by Mrs. Pseudoman came to Kad and Jean, and to the watchers in the five other planes: "Parachute sighted vertically over Saltair. Projectile expected to land close to lake shore."
Kad and Jean climbed into a plane and hastened to the spot. They and the others arrived just in time to see the tail of the projectile poke itself into the soft sand a few meters from the water's edge, not far from the famous bathing resort, Saltair. The projectile did not topple over, being held upright by its long pointed tail stuck in the sand. Kad and Jean hastened to unfasten the opening for removing the two animals. The small trays on which the animals were strapped were lifted out. The rabbit was dead, but the tough cat was alive!
Then the altimeter was removed. It registered 40.6 kilometers. The experiment was successful. A great achievement could be recorded!
Now, my fellow members of the Weft-Warp Club and my very dear friends, I know that as I have been reading this recital many questions have come to your minds which you would like to have answered. I will gladly answer any questions of a general character, and I am sure that Kad and Jean will be glad to answer any technical questions.
This concludes Kenneth's paper. A long and lively discussion followed. I shall include now in my memoirs a few searching technical questions which were asked by different members of the club, and the replies which were made. Although I am writing of events which happened nearly fifty years ago I am able to record the exact words spoken, because they were registered by a sensitive dictograph.
Question (Horace Portland): It was stated that the altimeter registered 40.6 kilometers. I assume that the instrument was calibrated to register the height to which the projectile rose above the base of the electric gun. If so, this would make the height attained above the ground 39.6 kilometers. Am I right in this?
Answer Jean Bizet): That is correct. The propelling forces not only had to lift the projectile above the earth, against gravity, but also from the bottom of the shaft to the muzzle of the gun, a distance of one kilometer.
Question (Malvern Hill Battle): On what principle does the altimeter which was used work, and how accurately do you consider it registered?
Answer (Jean Bizet): The type of altimeter used in aircraft depends upon a registration of the air pressure, but even at an altitude as low as fifteen kilometers the pressure of the air is only about nine centimeters of mercury. At forty kilometers or more an altimeter based on the principle of a barometer would be extremely inaccurate and unreliable if it were not specially designed to register pressures of a fraction of a millimeter. Our altimeter was so constructed, and it was reasonably accurate.
Question (John P. Haynes): What was the total weight of the projectile plus its load?
Answer (Akkad Pseudoman): The weight of the main parts and the animals was about 100 kilos.4
Question (John P. Haynes): I assume that the total work done on the projectile to lift it against the pull of gravity from the bottom of the gun to a height of 40.6 kilometers above this position is approximately the product of 100 kilograms and 40,600 meters, or 4,060,000 kilogram-meters; also that additional work had to be done to overcome the drag on the projectile while it was passing through the atmosphere. How great was this drag, and are my assumptions correct!
Answer (Akkad Pseudoman): In general you are quite correct. The additional work required to overcome the friction of the atmosphere on our perfectly streamlined missile has not been precisely determined. It could not have been excessive, however, and partly compensated by the additional acceleration given to the projectile when the sodium-potassium alloy melted and was forcibly ejected from the nozzle by the highly compressed hydrogen in the chamber above the alloy. To a certain extent this rapid ejection of the liquid alloy put a driving force on the projectile in the manner of a rocket.
The total work equivalent to 4,060,000 kilogram-meters, expressed in electrical units, figures out to a little more than eleven kilowatt hours.5 Thus, if the power is applied but one second it would have to be about eleven times thirty-six hundred or about forty thousand kilowatts. As the projectile was in the gun two seconds, half this power, or about twenty thousand kilowatts, would be needed for a period of two seconds. But this takes into account only the work done in actually lifting the projectile to the recorded height. As a matter of fact, we used a considerably larger amount of power, to be sure of making up for the air drag, and for the reason that the gun was less than one hundred per cent efficient.
Question (John P. Haynes): What I fail to understand is how you obtained this very large amount of power, even for a brief period, when your generators had a rating of only eight thousand kilowatts. Will you kindly clear me up on this point?
Answer (Akkad Pseudoman): We used four generators, and the rating of each generator-two thousand kilowatts--is given for continuous output. Each of the generators was specially constructed, however, so that for a brief interval it would give ten times this power. Large flywheel effect prevents the generators from slowing down when an excessive load is thrown on them for only a few seconds, and in such a brief interval the windings do not have time to heat up appreciably.
Question (Walter L. Hasbrouch): It appears from what we have just heard that the electric gun may be powered to give a much greater muzzle velocity than was used. Why then was the projectile only shot up about forty kilometers? It could have been sent up several times this height with the power available, could it not?
Answer (Kenneth R. Strong): Forty kilometers is by no means the limit of height to which the gun will fire its projectiles, even when air drag is taken into account. It should be noted that with a gun one kilometer long the acceleration of the missile while in the gun barrel must be fifty times the acceleration of gravity, if the projectile is to be sent in vacuum to a height of fifty-one kilometers. To send it to a greater height requires a greater acceleration in the gun barrel. In general, the projectile will rise in vacuum to a height (where gravity is still substantially the same as at the surface of the earth) which is as great a multiple of the length of the gun as the acceleration in the gun barrel is a multiple of the acceleration of gravity.6 But there is a limit to the acceleration which a living creature can endure. The important object of this first test flight was to determine, not how high the projectile could be shot, but how great an acceleration could be given to the projectile without killing the animals inside it. It was proved that a cat but not a rabbit endured an acceleration of fifty times gravity. Kad and Jean doubtless plan to make many more test flights to determine the ultimate limit of acceleration with life remaining; also to gather much other important data.
Our club president at the time of this meeting was Perry R. Thurston, who, at this stage, with excellent judgment, declared the formal session of the club adjourned. Our usual late supper followed; and many more questions were asked and answered, but no record of them was kept.
1 See Technical Supplement, P. 244
2 See Technical Supplement, p. 253
3 See Technical Supplement, p. 244 example B
4 The exact figures were as follows: Duralumin double-walled casing,46.8 kg.; sodium-potassium alloy, 265 kg; parachute, 9.2 kg.; gyrostat, 6.5 kg.; cat and rabbit, 2.4 kg.; instruments, 1.8 kg.; crossbraces and fittings, 6.4 kg.
5 One kilowatt-hour is equivalent to approximately 367,000 kilogram-meters.
6 Technical Supplement, p. 245 equation (15)
WE GO TO EUROPE BY BOAT
While we could not feel otherwise than elated by our unqualified success with the Utah trial flight--the success which Kenneth reported so vividly to the club members--something of a reaction came during the week following our club meeting. We squarely faced the perils which we would risk if we stuck to our program and attempted to carry out in person our vaulting ambition of circling the moon and returning alive to our loved ones. We were sobered but not discouraged, and not for a single moment did we reflect that we might abandon the purpose to which we had so long adjusted our lives. Nevertheless, in our periods of weariness, the specter of death was an insistent and not infrequent visitor. A single technical error of importance, a single miscalculation of the powerful forces we were arming ourselves to combat, any failure to foresee and deal wisely with cosmic energies which no living being had ever encountered, would mean defeat with certain extinction; and we should become perhaps an eternal and lifeless satellite of the moon. Well did we know that while nature is never revengeful, she is inexorable. She destroys with certainty those who through ignorance or wilfulness fail to obey her unvarying laws.
"Jean," said I, "we must not--we shall not--make any mistakes. Roald Amundsen used sledge dogs to reach the South Pole. They were the right animals to use; they could feed on one another. Amundsen had supreme courage, but he also had experience, foresight, and judgment, and it was he who first reached the South Pole to return alive. Poor Scott also had courage aplenty, but he chose to use ponies. They could not eat one another nor climb from crevasses into which they might fall. Scott's valor has never been excelled, but his mind simply didn't work right. He and his party, exhausted by dragging their sledges, were forced to pitch their tents within a short distance from a cache in a fierce Antarctic blizzard, and lay down for the last time--to die. Jean, we must emulate Amundsen; we must prepare and prepare; we must foresee; in practical terms, we must look forward to six or seven years more of unremitting, intensive, and costly experimentation. We must study. We must strive unceasingly to perfect our methods and our apparatus; we must master every technical feature of our equipment, and, as Nature's familiars, come to terms with her every law which mankind has persuaded her grudgingly to reveal.
"With a program such as this ahead of us I propose that we tune up our nerves, broaden our knowledge, and seek leisure for reflection by giving ourselves a complete rest in Europe for at least three months. Let us go to Norway, Land of the Midnight Sun; to Finland, adorned by Shakespeare; and to Zurich, where I found you, Jean, and my wonderful wife Marie."
"It's settled, Kad; I highly approve, but right now we are making such rapid progress with our rocket and electric gun experiments that it appears to me we might better put off this vacation for a couple of years."
"All right, Jean," said I, "suppose we plan to take our rest sometime in the spring of 1956."
I have nothing of note to record in my memoirs of what happened during the next two years, further than to say that we both worked very hard and very steadily.
Meanwhile my fortune was melting away: the cost of our experimentation was terrific. I was more anxious now than before Marie and I were married, to conserve my money, largely I suppose because the streams of our lives now flowed in one channel smoothly and normally. Marie had presented me in due time with a son. I might gamble away my own financial future. Was I justified in gambling with his? But the stronger motive ruled. We would never abandon our dominant life purpose to circle the silvery moon.
At eight o'clock on the evening of May 15,1956, the small old fashioned steamship Bergen was one hundred miles out of New York, creeping on her course to Norway. The sea was very calm that night and the air balmy. Moonlight and starlight spilled beauty on the expansive surface of the quiet Atlantic. Grouped in comfortable chairs on the upper aft deck were Jean, his wife Gertrude, Marie, and myself.
Little Kad, now in his seventh year, was below with his nurse in a stateroom. The outside world was serene, and within there was that sensation of physical well-being which follows--good digestion predicated--a well ordered meal, served with old wines. It was an occasion for comforting reflections and intimate intercourse.
"Isn't it grand," remarked Marie, "to be leaving behind us the Ônew civilization,' to get away from streamlined everythings we use in our endless striving for speed? I learned in my chemistry course that it is scientific to speak of an explosive like TNT as a chemical which has a very high reaction velocity. Isn't it just delightful to escape the high reaction velocities of the people with whom we have been thrown so long! You know it seems to me that if America does not soon start pushing brake buttons it will reach an explosion velocity. The activity of our modern life accelerates faster than one can adjust one's self to the cyclonic new environment."
"You speak," said Jean, "with the wisdom appropriated by philosophers; with the mind-mapping skill of a psychologist; with the true science of a biologist; and, best, with the insight of a woman. We must all agree with you, and we are mighty glad that we are here on this slow old boat instead of being cooped up in the cabin of a stratosphere plane, with the prospect of our journey above the sea ending in a few hours."
Jean turned to Gertrude and said, "Tell me, just what do you see between us and the horizon?"
"I see the same things you do, Jean: a black sky overhead filled with points of light--some very faint, some bright, and a few that are very bright. I see them scattered in heaven as if tossed to rest there by a hand sowing stars as grain is sown by the careless scattering of a planter. I see another world we call the moon. Its crescent in the western sky like a silver bow new-bent in heaven is shining with light rich in blues and yellows. It is described as light returned from frosted silver. I see the completed circle of the round moon faintly outlined. I have been told that the faint part of the moon's disk is visible to my eyes because of sunshine reflected on it from the earth. But the light is very pale and not so white as shines the crescent.
"I look down and I see a vast watery plane. From this vantage point I note that the far-off rim of the plane is perfectly circular, and on this rim rests the hollow hemisphere of heaven. I see a level surface of water uncommonly smooth and very lovely, for it mirrors the lights overhead--yet not the same lights seemingly, for those above are very still, while those which are reflected are dancing lights. What I see excites my mind to imagine many, many things I do not see, but which I fervently believe exist."
"You have answered my question beautifully, Gertrude. Now, Kad and Marie, do you also see what Gertrude and I see "
"What are you driving at, Jean?" I interposed. "Surely we all see about the same thing, even if we cannot describe it in the well chosen poetical words of Gertrude. Of course, if our eyes were bad, or if we each wore differently colored glasses, we might start an argument on the true appearance of this seascape and heavenscape."
"Well," said Jean, "I just want to know that you agree with me that there is truly an external world to which our senses and mind may respond. I have read the writings of some philosophers, better perhaps called metaphysicians, who maintain that all existence is only Thought, and that which we call Reality is only the thinking-process of a mind; but I am wondering, how comes it that in all four of our minds there seems to dwell the same Reality? There must be something exterior to ourselves--exterior in the sense that it is beyond the power of our wills to alter this something by thoughts or by acts. Something there surely is which causes your eyes and my eyes, your brain and my brain, to function in like manner at the same place and time."
"What a curious conception, Jean," remarked Gertrude. "Don't we all see, hear, taste, smell, and touch things? It seems absurd to suppose that there is nothing outside us, and that all is a mirage. To me it appears that there must be two realities--the world without and the mind within. There simply must be a reality which is external, for we are all affected by it in much the same way. Why, we can even take photographs of things on earth and in heaven. With television we plainly see what goes on kilometers away."
"Well said, Gertrude," Jean interposed, "but the metaphysicians may have something on their side. Permit me to illustrate what they attempt to prove. Let us suppose that Shakespeare is now with us, asleep in a deck chair near by, and that he has a slight disturbance in his stomach. His brain is working fast, and it is very creative, but we outsiders see him only as a restless sleeper. Let it be supposed that in his myriad mind a vision develops, as real to him as his exterior form--as real as the chair on which he lies seems real to us. His active brain has a vision, let us say, Ôa midsummer night's dream.' Twenty-one beings come into existence: fifteen live as humans live--Theseus, Lysander, Hermia, Hippolyta, and the rest. A half-dozen fairylike beings also float upon the stage of life: there is Oberon, Titania the Queen of Fairies, the far-famed Puck, and the little fairies--Peasblossom, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Moth. Humans and fairies all are alive; each one thinks, speaks, and gazes out on a world supposedly real. They move about and mingle together as different personalities, all against the same background. They are realities to the sleeper, like you and the rest of us; and the drama of their lives marvelously unfolds, yet we who note only appearances say, ÔAll this is nonsense, mere metaphysical juggling!' We call it an absurdity to assume that mind alone can create realities, but in the sleeper's mind realities they surely are, and in Shakespeare's mind they are personal realities stamped with immortality."
"Who can truly affirm that we who converse here tonight, and the cosmos we postulate, are anything more than the orderly dream of some universal mind? In the dream of Shakespeare there certainly is Space and Time, in which beings--fairies as well as humans--live and move; yet we, the outside onlookers, affirm that the entire creation is but a product of mind."
"Perhaps, to quote from The Tempest, it is correct to say:
ÔWe are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and
Our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.'"
"What is your conception of reality, Kad?" asked Gertrude.
"So you want me," I replied, "to put into words--inadequate symbols of thought--my understanding of reality. Don't you know, Gertrude, that your question is one which through the ages the most thoughtful and greatest of philosophers have put to themselves, without ever finding the answer? Every serious attempt at an answer has encountered hidden crevasses into which most inquirers have plunged to an abyss of errors. However, since you want my conception of reality, I gladly give it, though there is little prospect of being any nearer right than my wiser predecessors.
"In the first place I think we should be what William James once called Ôpragmatists.' By this I mean that we should accept as true ideas those things and concepts which we find work well in our daily experiences. Is not the very purpose of thinking to develop beliefs which can serve as general principles for guiding conduct?"
"I postulate, therefore, as a very practical measure, that there is something outside and beyond us--something we cannot control, but which we may study and make good use of in some measure. You may call this something a Nature, or you may call it God--it makes no more difference what you call it than it does when one observer standing on the outside of a circle says the arc he sees is convex, and another observer standing inside the circle declares the same arc is concave. Nature or God, convex arc or concave arc, are only different aspects of one and the same reality.
"I further assume that Nature--or, if it please you better, God --is an active reality which impresses our understanding in a way we call orderly. This orderliness in our postulated objective world is what we call the laws of nature. It is man's privilege to discover and study them, and his happiness to obey them. Without the assumption that nature is methodical, and that cause and effect interlink, there could be no science. If, by way of illustration, we postulate that in the objective world events are disconnected and haphazard--as we often see them depicted in certain photoplays, where happenings follow one another entirely without cause or connection, and with utter disregard for natural laws--then a true science of nature is unthinkable.
"There are those, posing as scientists, who support what they call the Ôuncertainty principle' and thus open wide the door to the doctrine of Ôfree will.' To me this doctrine appears meaningless. As the great Huxley put it: the idea of free will is about as definite as the concept of a mathematical point floating in a vacuum."
"It appears reasonable to me to think of the human mind as an abode where nature manifests its highest and most incomprehensible achievements. What we feel is the most intimate contact we have with reality; and I like to believe that the creation of noble human minds is the ideal and final goal toward which unfolding reality is ever moving. You cannot Ôlift your hopes with a derrick.' You can move masses only with dynamic forces; you can move electricity only with electric forces. For things to interact there must abide in their nature a common element. It seems to me, therefore, that the reality we assume has an existence outside us, and the reality we know is within us. They can only be different expressions of the one and only reality --variously called Nature, Divinity, God, or the Universe."
"The reality we experience within us appears to have its existence in space and in time, and I accept therefore as my working hypothesis that the One Reality does have existence in space and in time."
"It would be a crude and primitive mind which, for a moment, would believe that the external world is in any respect like the appearances or phenomena which are presented to our senses, The true nature of the universe as revealed to us is no more like its real essence than the sine-wave graph we employ to symbolize an alternating current is like the electricity which flows back and forth in its conductor--or than the resemblance an exposed camera film has to the basic nature of what it photographs; nor is the retinal image of the human camera, the eye, the remotest replica of what is seen."
"To me it seems that the only true glimpses we ever get of reality, in its very essence, are the pains and joys and emotions we feel within us."
Here Marie interrupted my wandering dissertation to remark, "Kad, if our feelings and emotions are the only realities which we know at first hand in very essence, and if the most stirring of all emotions is what the world calls love, then is it not true that the nearest we ever get to reality or to God is when great love is in our hearts?"
"I think you must be right, my darling Marie. I am amazed to see how directly and without waste of words your woman's intuition goes to the very root of the matter."
Turning toward Gertrude I made a few more comments.
"I confess to being a bit of a mystic when I acknowledge that as often as we use our minds in grasping for an answer to the mystery of being, and when by this very quest we feel satisfaction, we are making by this act of thinking our nearest approach to a true understanding of reality itself. The antiquated mental processes of the mechanistic thinkers who would interpret the universe in terms of atoms and their interacting forces simply will not apply today; nor will they ever approach a rational answer to the mystery of conscious being. Today we are slowly developing new approaches to the nature and meaning of existence--approaches which are quite as novel as were the new concepts acquired at the beginning of the century respecting the nature of electricity. These new advances in our ways of thinking should open up promising vistas of a truer understanding of life and its meaning. Emotions, varieties of religious experience--I acknowledge these to be driving forces which stir men's blood, but; I cannot concede that they teach us aught of the workings of the objective world. Such feelings are rather the petrol which propels the vehicle of understanding; but if the car is to keep the road, directed observation and experimentation must hold and steady the steering wheel."
"The science of physics is leaned upon too heavily by its devotees for giving an explanation of the universe. After all, Physics is but a small country when placed upon the whole globe of Science, and as explored by mathematicians it lies in Antarctica. Its a, b, c's and its x, y, z's are but repulsive skeletons of reality. If physicists are to advance in their search for truth, I think they must thaw out and become, if you please, somewhat emotional. The play of spectral colors in a crystal subjected to varying stresses, when observed beneath the microscope with polarized light, is as beauteous as any landscape. Such objects when unshackled by symbolism should call forth wholesome emotions which no mathematical representation can excite. As I see the matter, physicists, both experimental and mathematical, puffed up by partial achievements, think themselves to have far more explanations to their credit than they actually have."
"A very small fly stings the under surface of the leaf of an oak tree, and behold! By the magic of the fly's chemistry a metabolism is set in motion which develops an intricately and cunningly contrived and symmetrically formed marvel, the oak-leaf gall. Can physics--can any science--hope to go very far in gaining a true understanding of this and myriads of other manifestations of reality even less understandable? I think not."
"Reality as far as we apprehend it at all is felt directly by a consciousness within, but its objective phenomenal manifestations can only be learned, and in part explained, by always observing, experimenting, and codifying."
At this point Gertrude remarked, "You are always explaining blueprints to me, Kad, and all sorts of practical contrivances--matters not as a rule of much interest to a woman. I never knew you to be so philosophically minded. What you have said is deeply interesting, but it seems odd that when we are starting on a vacation, and are not supposed to do much hard thinking, we have drifted into a somewhat profound discussions."
"It is odd,'' I replied, "and we stop right here and go to the men's lounge for some wine and refreshments."
As we arose to go Marie looked at me--with love and pride I thought--and remarked," I shall put into my diary all I can remember of what has been said this night."
On the following day I experienced a most unexpected and enjoyable happening. As we were taking seats at one of the tables we all noticed at a nearby table an elderly man of striking appearance, seated alone with his back turned toward us. From our point of view he looked like the once famous Buffalo Bill returned to life. I think I felt the same growing excitement my pointer dog must feel when he gets the first faint scent of a covey of quail.
"Excuse me," I said, speaking low, "I think I know that man but if it is my friend I am amazed to see him here. I must see whether I am right."
And I was. The man was no other than my guide and comrade of ten years back, during my quest of western quail for the game farm. Prospector, Indian fighter, adventurer--a man to whom the "call of the wild" was ever a sweet voice--he had been my honest partner in the acquisition of the lost Apache mine which made me the fortune with which I was fulfilling my youthful dreams. Strange indeed it was to find him here upon the great ocean which until this time he had never seen. But here he was--my dear friend of early days, Stub Brink.
Though naturally taciturn and always disconcerted when among young women, he soon warmed up with the Scotch I hastened to order. He talked to a late hour, telling us many thrilling adventures of pioneer days. Gertrude and Marie were entranced with his detailed and homely descriptions of his early life, and of the days he and I spent together in the mountainous wilderness of southeastern Arizona.
It developed that Stub's granddaughter had met and married in Tucson a venturesome young Norwegian who later took her to live in his native country. To the granddaughter's repeated invitations to pay her a visit Stub at length had yielded, though he believed he was going on his most dangerous adventure. To him, inexperienced with large waters, the passage over the billows of the Atlantic whose oscillations he dreaded, appeared more hazardous than hostile Apaches in ambush.
Poor old Stub! His premonitions of disaster were not groundless, as I shall soon relate.
Our party, including Stub Brink, was invited by Captain Knudsen to sit at his table in the dining room. The captain was a well informed and most affable person, and his observations added materially to our enjoyment. On one occasion he took us with him when he made his customary trip of inspection of the entire vessel. The ship was an old one, but very neat, and it had been furnished with the most modern aids to navigation, such as the Sperry gyrostatic compass and a directional radio outfit of recent design. The ship was likewise equipped with every approved safety device.
One of these was a novel type of gun for throwing a life-line from a ship in distress to waiting life-guards on shore. It had been installed very recently, and Captain Knudsen was proud to show it and explain it to us. He directed a deck hand to remove the tarpaulin which covered the gun, and then described this recent acquisition about as follows: "This gun is operated by electricity. You see it is quite light, although it is about twenty-five centimeters in diameter, and somewhat over two meters long. All ships of the merchant marine and the navy are legally obligated to have one on board in good working condition for instant service. The gun propels a hollow projectile which is about twelve centimeters outside diameter and two meters long, and will throw it as far as a thousand meters. Ten of these projectiles must always be on hand, in a nearby rack.
"You will note that each one is perfectly streamlined at both ends. The projectile thrown by the electric gun has a very great advantage over older types such as rocket-propelled line carriers, or those shot with powder from a small gun. In this new electric-type gun a linen line is wound into a cylinder which is fitted closely inside the projectile. One end of the cord emerges from a small hole you see here in the streamlined tail. It takes only a very small force to pull the cord out through this hole, for the cord is wound so as to feed out easily from the inside of the roll. The principle is exactly the same as that used in a grocery store to feed string out of a hole in a metal casing which contains a ball of string. No matter how much drag there is on the cord, this drag is not transmitted to the projectile when in flight. In the older types of line-throwing devices the cord is pulled out of a box, and the drag on the projectile, to one end of which the cord is attached, becomes greater and greater the farther the projectile goes. A kite lifting a string as it ascends represents the older type, and a spider expelling from its body a single strand of web as it moves along represents this new type. Even if a length of cord drops on the surface of the water, the missile shot from the electric gun is not retarded in its flight by any backward pull of the cord. Moreover, the projectile of the electric line-caster grows lighter and lighter during its onward travel because it continually loses more and more weight of cord."
"The source of the electric power used is a small generator installed in a water-tight compartment of the engine room. I will show this to you when we go below."
"What is the gun named, captain?" I inquired.
"Everyone knows it," he replied, "as the ÔP-B Gun.' I am told it got its title from the first initials of the last names of its two joint inventors."
"Captain," I said, "if there had not been others in our group than myself and Mr. Bizet, I would have told you before this that it was we who invented and developed this line-thrower, so of course we understand it well. I allowed you to go on because I wanted the others to hear your delightfully clear description of our invention."
"Well, well," said the captain. "I am very glad to meet the inventors in person, for the ÔP-B Gun' has already saved many lives. Life-lines of one kind and another carried from the shore over stranded ships have probably saved not less than 15,000 lives since they first went into service over a hundred years ago."
I then explained to our group that the electric gun used by ships and by life-saving crews on shore operates in principle exactly the same as the kilometer-long gun which Jean and I used in our early experimental flights in Utah.1
When we had inspected all parts of the vessel with the captain to instruct us we began to feel like old sea-dogs. Even Stub came to know that starboard, right, and green go together, and that port, left, and red are associated--easy to remember because the former three have more letters in each of the words than the latter three.
The time of passage of our ship from New York to Bergen usually required twelve days--considerably longer than the six hours required by stratosphere plane. We had been on our way several days in fair weather and expected to pass between the Orkney and the Shetland groups of islands on the morrow.
Captain Knudsen did not talk much at the dinner table this night. He appeared preoccupied and concerned about something. Shortly before getting up from the table he told us, speaking confidentially and cautiously, that the barometer and his radio reports indicated that a storm of exceptional violence might be expected before morning.
Our passage to this time had been smooth, and the mild May weather delightful; but before daylight the rolling and pitching of the vessel began in earnest. Only a half-dozen of our forty-two passengers appeared for the morning meal. Many of us were seasick, and we began to feel alarmed for the safety of the ship, perhaps even for our lives, as the waves were running ten to fifteen meters high. The gale which roared was greater than the captain had ever known.
All passengers were ordered below and the hatches closed, but just before this order was given a tragedy, especially sad for me, had happened. Stub Brink ventured on the deck to get some relief from the misery of his insides, and to take one brief look at the tempestuous waters--a sight wholly new to him. Painfully and cautiously he climbed to the highest deck, little thinking, I suppose, that any more water than wind-blown spray could reach him when he stood grasping the railing. Then, without warning, a mountainous wave of extraordinary size came against the ship's side and a goodly portion of its curling crest hurled itself on deck just where Stub was standing. The old and sick man was knocked down with violence, and his skull was crushed by striking a large pulley block.
Thus passed my dear old friend--a man who on land had seen death come very close a hundred times, but never quite touch him. Now he met death by remorseless ocean.
It would appear that Mother Nature, wearied with sameness, continually seeks to make departures from normality. Lincoln's famous remark, "The Lord must love the common people because he made so many of them" is a choice witticism, but it hardly expresses the real facts. At times Nature spurns the commonplace and dislikes mediocrity, and sometimes--when in a benevolent mood--she showers her richest gifts on a singled-out darling of her whimsical choosing. Thus, on rare occasions she combines in a singe personality physical and mental health, tremendous vitality, dramatic power, superlative beauty of face and form, and the voice of a nightingale--and thereby creates a grand opera star to shine very bright and very far above the mass of common humanity. Or again, in an especially ambitious attempt she evolves a magnificent sequoia. To this greatest of trees she adds a thick bark to protect it from lightning-kindled fires, an organization which makes the giant tree immune to every kind of bacterial disease, and, for full measure, gives to a few selected trees a life extension which matches the sum of years permitted to a hundred generations of men. Sometimes, again, Nature in angry moods leaps far beyond her ordinary activities. Perhaps, when it is her purpose to stir up the ocean, we unhappy mortals may find ourselves embarked upon a sea which is soon to show a frightful temper.
Our engine-driven liners, built by man to ride out all ordinary storms, become quite helpless if Nature, adding to the fury of the gale and the monster billows, decides to shake the ocean floor in vertical movements with a submarine earthquake. To the hazards of wind and waves there is then joined the resistless power of extensively heaved-up water. The so-called tidal wave, added to storm waves, can drive on sandy shoals or jutting rocks the newest, the biggest, and the strongest seagoing craft.
I have set down these comments in my desire to explain why our small but well built ship, in spite of anything her able captain could do, was borne by an onrushing swell of high-uplifted water and the landward-roaring gale to the low-lying southeastern shore of an island of the Shetland group. Our steamer, which no ordinary waves could destroy, drifted helpless on the curved surface of a mighty tidal swash. This wave, on receding, dropped our sturdy vessel on ragged rocks about half a kilometer from what was apparently the shore.
Our ship was soon receiving destructive punishment from the huge billows which beat upon her and threw thousands of tons of water upon her decks. All hatches had been securely closed. The passengers were prisoners below. Most of them were convinced their end would come soon. After some frightful hours in which everyone expected the death dealt to rats in a submerged trap, Captain Knudsen suddenly appeared at the door of the stateroom where all of our party had gathered.
"Friends," said he, "you must have courage. Our circumstances are desperate. We are stranded on a rocky bottom and the storm is not letting up. Life-guards on shore have sighted us, and they are well supplied with life-saving equipment--probably old-fashioned. They are making efforts to shoot us a life-line, but the landward gale has blown every projectile shot toward us off its course, and dragged back the line. There is not the least chance that any of their life-lines can reach us. It is impossible to get a boat to us. It would be pounded to kindling wood on the rocks before it had gone ten meters. We will never be reached from shore. To be saved we must reach shore with our life-line. This line must be shot to the life-guards with the P-B Gun, but already nine of the ten projectiles we carried have dropped short of the shore by fifty to one hundred meters. The gun is not doing its duty; it should be able to send the projectiles twice as far. You are the inventors of the gun; perhaps you can show me how to get more range out of it. If we fail to send our last projectile to the life-guards I wouldn't give a cent for our lives."
"Captain"--I was the first to speak--"the electric gun when working right has an unfailing range of over five hundred meters. You are not getting its full power. Take us to the generator room at once, and we will have a look at it. I hope we can locate the trouble."
We were soon examining the generator, the switchboard, the instruments, and all the controls. Jean was the first to notice a seeming trifle. His discovery probably saved many lives. He chanced to observe the position of the handle of the rheostat used in circuit with the exciter which supplies field current to the alternator. This handle was so set that only about two-thirds of the rheostat's resistance was cut out, and yet the voltmeter which registered the voltage of the generator was reading several volts above normal full load. "Kad," shouted Jean, "this voltmeter reads wrong. With this setting of the rheostat handle the generator voltage cannot be over sixteen hundred volts, and the voltmeter says it is twenty-four hundred volts. Captain, this instrument has been fooling you."
Jean quickly cut out all the resistance in the rheostat, and the pointer of the incorrect instrument went off its scale. The true voltage of the generator was then at least twenty-six hundred volts.
"Captain," I cried, "the range of your gun is now more than doubled."
"Quick! Come on deck!" replied Captain Knudsen. "We'll try it. But with only one projectile remaining it is our last chance. May the Lord and the wind help us to get our life-line ashore."
It is hardly in accord with the purpose of my memoirs, already becoming long, to enumerate many details of this and other happenings which bear but indirectly upon the fulfillment of my life's endeavors, and the great venture to which Jean and I had become committed. But it is not too much to say here that I would not now be writing these pages if that last projectile had failed to carry its lifesaving thread of linen over the rocks and wicked waves to the distant shore. But it did carry! The line fell two hundred meters or more inland. The life-guards caught the cord, and with this they first pulled from the ship to shore a larger and stronger line. Then they hauled in a large hawser and secured it firmly to a mooring on the shore. The other end on our vessel was pulled with a winch until the hawser was as taut and straight as the guywire of a telephone pole. Running smoothly on the hawser was a pulley, and suspended from it was a so-called breeches buoy. With this very old and familiar contrivance our forty-one passengers, the crew, the body of my dear friend Stub Brink, and finally the captain, were hauled one by one to the safe land. I was the last passenger to be thus transported, and in my arms I carried my precious little boy. I also was able to take ashore most of our small package valuables, our money, and my important papers.
The rest of that day and the following night we were warm guests in a comfortable cottage home of one of the hospitable natives of the Shetland Islands.
After our rescue our fiercely battered ship--once a comely thing--lay upon the rocks, a sorry carcass. Before the storm had fully ended but little of its hull and masts showed above the waves of the still turbulent sea.
Our unnerving experience and Marie's desire to visit her parents at the earliest opportunity caused us to abandon our projected trip through Norway and our proposed visit to North Cape to view the midnight sun.
My first efforts after our rescue were directed toward getting into communication with Stub's granddaughter to give her the sad news, and to learn what arrangements she desired me to make for the disposal of the remains of Stuben Brinkelhoff--Stub Brink's real but unfamiliar name. I was requested to send the body to her home in Norway for burial. This done, Jean, Gertrude, Marie, our small son, and I took fast planes to Zurich, which we reached on the last day of May 1956.
1 Consult the Technical Supplement for further details.
The parents of Jean and Marie had not seen their adored children since they had left home to live in America. Little Kad--for a long time we always called him this, although he bears my full name--had through the medium of many letters and numerous photographs become the idol of his Swiss grandparents. Jean's wife Gertrude was also greatly loved by pere and mere Bizet, because gorgeous accounts of her charm and person had come to them very often from across the sea.
At our first meeting in the station of the chemin de fer kisses passed around and rare happiness entered all hearts. We were quickly taken to the Bizet home in an elegant new car which pere Bizet had recently acquired. A splendid meal, which the Swiss know so well how to provide, awaited us there.
As I sit now at my table writing--my old pointer, Mystery, lying as usual on a rug near my feet--sweet memories sweep me back to the ten weeks of this vacation, spent mostly in the lovable, the lovely, and the intellectual household of pere and mere Bizet. But forty years will soften outlines and dim features recalled by the most retentive memory, if it be unaided. I think it well, therefore, to preserve in my narrative such matters as it may appear profitable to recount, by transmitting to my pages certain carefully treasured letters which I wrote to my beloved mother and my dear father during this period. So here is one, set down exactly as written.
"For a month now Re have made pere Bizet's home our headquarters. I am sure after you have read the above sentence that you are wondering how four gown-ups and a child of seven with the activity of a porpoise could take possession of a professor's home without driving its lawful occupants to seek security in some beautiful Swiss valley, there to find quiet in a noiseless dwelling. I shall explain.
"Pere Bizet has had his exceptionally fine qualities and profound scholarship substantially recognized. The trustees of the University at last year's commencement made him Dean of the Graduate School and voted him an ample increase in salary. The Bizets now live in the ÔDean's House'--a commodious place with every modern appointment, and--rent free! Four extra persons and even a child possessed of a pet fox terrier do not overcrowd this new home. To be sure, the house is not cozy like their former small cottage. Marie and I miss the garden lanes, the flowers, and the rustic bench in the pavilion where the love we dared not then confess in words reached maturity faster than a puffball. But the new house is capacious, modern, and practical. It is larger and far more useful for occupancy by married couples than a vine-covered cottage with a little garden behind and a rustic seat for love-making.
"About a month after we reached Zurich, June fifth to be exact, pere and mere gave at their home a dinner in our honor. The invited guests were six gentlemen and their wives. These charming people were selected, it seems to me, for their geniality and their eminence both in the University and the country at large. Among them were those who could discourse with authority upon Swiss politics, the national defense, art, literature, education, and science. We were fortunate to have at the table the Swiss ambassador to Italy, and a military officer of high rank who is also chief technical adviser to the general staff of the Swiss army.
"Every one of the wives of the six men was a brilliant conversationalist and most charming. Never before, mother, have I sat down with a gathering of ladies more delightful and beautiful, but I have a prejudice which I think you share, and this compels me to add, that none of the ladies present was quite the equal of Jean's Gertrude or my Marie.
"To many of this group the recent scientific technical achievements of Jean and me were familiar; for the performances of our electric gun, in spite of our endeavors to avoid publicity, have become well known throughout Europe. The science journals and newspapers are responsible. I am telling you at some length about this social occasion partly because of its self interest and partly because it undoubtedly forecast an event equally surprising and pleasing to Jean and to your son Kad.
"What happened about a week later was this: Jean and I, returning from, a stroll in the city, were met at the front door by Gertrude and Marie. Each of them wore a whimsical smile. Gertrude, with mock formality extended her hand to Jean, and Marie her hand to me. Then both in perfect unison said: ÔI congratulate my learned husband. You have each received an important letter. Here is yours, Monsieur Bizet. Here is yours, Mr. Pseudoman.'
"ÔWhat nonsense is this, you charming ladies,' retorted Jean; and said I, ÔMarie, this letter may be important, but whatever the news, I prefer your roguish smile, you beautiful imp.
"ÔHand your letter back to me, Kad. I will read it to you. Both letters read practically the same: an important personage has written you both. Now listen to what Gertrude and I shall soon have to call you.'
"The size and elegance of the stationery made me think for an instant that the letters came from a king, but this thought fled immediately when I resected further that ac the present time kings are very scarce.
"Marie read aloud:
"Office of the President,
University of Zurich,
June 12, 1956
"Mr. Akkad Pseudoman, now residing at the home of Dean Bizet.
"My dear Sir:
"It gives me pleasure to inform you that both the Faculty of the University of Zurich and the Board of Directors of the University Council have formally voted to tender you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science, and, if you are willing to accept this degree, to confer it upon you at the commencement exercises to be held on Wednesday, June 25, 1956.
"It gratifies me to add that, inasmuch as the scientific achievements which this proffered honor recognizes have been shared by your friend and co-worker, Mr. Jean Francois Bizet, he also is invited to accept a like degree at the same time and place, and I have so informed him.
"I shall be glad to have you advise me whether you will be able to come to the University to receive your degree on the date mentioned. We do not customarily confer honorary degrees in absentia.
"ÔVery cordially yours,
"ÔA. F. Bruno, President.'
"You see, my dear mother, that since your son and Jean are not yet forty, we have gotten off to a good start in receiving honors. But we shall neglect our responsibilities if we do not strive our utmost to achieve something more which may justly entitle us to further honors. If I had not by pure luck discovered that rich gold mine, I would probably now be working for my living, doing only what some employer wished, and the winning of an honorary degree would be extremely improbable. When you gave me birth on the anniversary of Washington's Birthday you certainly started me off under a lucky star. "But I feel penitent that I have waited so long to tell you that little Kad is very well and full of vim. He already speaks French like a native, and is picking up some German. Marie and I have decided at the earnest solicitation of pere Bizet to leave him for a year or two in his grandma's keeping. He will be sent to school in Zurich.
"Marie, Jean, and I plan to take some walking trips in the Swiss mountains, but Gertrude will not go along. She expects her baby soon.
"Write me the news from home. And now goodnight, dear mother, with unbounded love from
DEFENSE OF SWITZERLAND
Two weeks after my letter to my mother last letter to mother I penned the following letter to my father.
July 14, 1956
Jean, Marie, and I returned yesterday to the Bizet home from a walking trip in the vicinity of Zermatt, which as I may have told you, was pere Bizet's birthplace.
"We had a delightful experience mountain climbing. All three of us climbed to the summits of Monta Rosa and also the Matterhorn. However, the thrill which mountain climbers got in bygone days when looking down on the world, has greatly diminished. Marie, Jean, and I have so often from our plane seen vast stretches of country and high mountain ranges from above their summits, that our chief pleasure in mountain climbing comes from exhilarating exercise, and from seeing Ôclose-ups' of mountain flowers, rocks, snow, and glaciers. But enough of this.
"My recent letter to mother has made you acquainted with our personal doings, and with such matters as men often call Ôthe little things,' and I will not repeat them here.
"In this letter, which may become rather long, I shall give you the high spots' of an important conversation which Jean and I had with pere Bizet last night. We were together in his study and talked late into the night about general conditions in Europe, and the present perilous position of Switzerland among her neighbor nations. We discussed the policies which we think this small country upholding pure democracy should pursue for its safety and continued existence.
"In the course of our conversation pere Bizet took the position that no war of any magnitude between nations has occurred on the continent of Europe since the World War of 19I4-19I8 because those nations which defaulted on their debts--France in particular--lost their borrowing capacity. He held that without money no large scale offensive war is possible; but that now, under the leadership of dictators and through reciprocal tariff agreements, industrial recovery has gone steadily forward. Europe at length has acquired enough money to fight an offensive war and she should be watched.
"In the thirty-eight years since the ending of the World War a new generation has grown up. My generation little realizes the devastating effects of war upon both armies and civilians, and its repercussions in destroying world wealth. Youth hardly takes in the significance of Tennyson's prophetic lines:
Ô. . . and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue.'
Kings with power derived from Ôdivine right to rule' are quite outmoded even in nations little advanced intellectually. But pere Bizet holds that hero worship with its willingness to follow and to be ruled by a single magnetic personality has been bred into the human race from that remote time when the first tribe accepted a single chief as its absolute ruler. The evident signs of this instinct in man are expressed today by the increasing acceptance throughout Europe of dictators and their rule. Some of these dictators are benign; some are constructive, having the good of the people at heart; some are dominating and cunning, and hold their power by skilful propaganda which suppresses true information; but all are ambitious. Each would become, if he could, the Supreme Dictator of all Europe.
"Switzerland is a little country: the circuit of her border with all its main sinuosities is only about 1500 kilometers, and the farthest distance from the centre of area on her map to her most distant frontier is not over 140 kilometers.
"Treaties, her mountains, the former primitive nature of offensive war engines, and her own brave inhabitants, thus far have saved her from invasion. Will this status continue? Pere Bizet thinks not. Mountains are no barrier to a fleet of bombers. Her pleasant valleys are not immune to explosive shells shot from afar by long-range guns; nor may we assume that her cities and her wealth will have no attraction for some powerful dictator intoxicated with greedy ambition.
"The balance of power' in Europe is adjusted now by rulers, not by the will of the people they control. If in the last fifteen years Switzerland has not been threatened with invasion it is largely because the development of engines for offensive war has lagged behind the development of defensive devices. Germany, for example, has not dared to attempt an invasion of France across her frontier, for she well knows that a concreted entrenchment, concealing cannons of huge size and many anti-aircraft guns of uncanny precision of aim, are telling her, ÔStay back!'
"Switzerland has no access to the sea. So even if it were possible to make the defenses of her border complete and to construct anti-aircraft guns so powerful, so accurate, and so rapid in repeated firing that no plane or squadron of planes could stay for a moment above her territory, this beloved land might nevertheless be subdued by starvation.
"Looking ahead to a possible holocaust--perhaps within the next decade or two--pere Bizet urges that Switzerland should, and promptly at that, do five things, if at all possible:
"First, make her entire border absolutely impregnable to an attack by land.
"Second, create means of defense against attack from above.
"Third, accumulate large quantities of food in storage--food which can be preserved indefinitely by modern freezing methods and other processes.
"Fourth, store up large quantities of raw materials for making explosives, also acquire many tons of the basic metals--iron, copper, aluminum, beryllium, etc.
"Fifth, devise for defense types of equipment which in time of peace may be utilized for industrial needs, and in time of war be instantly convertible into effective weapons of defense. In other words, devices for defense come nearest to ideal war equipment which in war are most effective and which in peace are industrially useful, and hence in cost self-liquidating.
"The realization of the above program, if it could be brought about, would make Switzerland one of the very few oases in a possibly war-devastated Europe where, when sanity returned, democracy, liberty, and freedom might still be found. Then the country, perhaps in this twentieth century, might serve as yeast to re-grow a civilization of good brew.
"Jean and I told pere Bizet that we quite agreed with him upon the necessity of providing greater security for Switzerland. But how could his excellent proposals be put into effect? I had already pondered this very matter, and had often talked it over with Jean. The success which we had in Utah with our large trial electric gun has led us to believe that we have in our possession the very means by which Switzerland could do precisely what pere Bizet would have her do. We explained our proposal to him about as follows:
"We told him that we believed his first requirement for the defense of Switzerland--namely, that her entire border be made impregnable to attack--could be accomplished at a reasonable cost by installing around it a cordon of electric guns.
"In the course of our study of this matter we had prepared certain maps, diagrams, and blueprints; and had also made numerous calculations. We explained to pere Bizet that cellars of moderate size, concreted and parapeted, should be placed at intervals of about fifteen kilometers along the entire borderline of the country. It was our estimate that one hundred of these would be adequate. Each cellar would contain an emplacement for a single electric gun. The guns would be of no ordinary type. The barrel of each gun would have an inside diameter of not less than forty centimeters. I enclose a small drawing which will make the general construction and the dimensions of the proposed guns quite clear.
"The gun barrel should rest on a gun carriage in such manner that the axis of the gun barrel makes a permanent angle of exactly 450 with water level. To aim the gun in the horizontal plane the carriage would be rotated around a vertical axis. In the vertical plane in which the axis of the gun lies, the aim could be effected, not by changing the elevation of the gun barrel, but by choosing the voltage applied to the gun coils so that the trajectory made by the projectile would land it, nose first, exactly on the object to be hit. With an electric gun this method of aiming in the vertical plane may be executed with great rapidity and precision because for every length of trajectory there corresponds a certain voltage which will throw the projectile the desired distance.
"The missile which this gun is designed to shoot up to eight kilometers constitutes a device for producing frightful destruction. The casing of this projectile would be made of light metal, and would have a large outside diameter. Its overall length would be around 2.5 meters, and it would be streamlined. The rear end would be Ôfeathered' with thin sheer metal so that, in flight, it would go nose first like an arrow, keeping its axis always in line with its trajectory. This projectile would not rotate--a feature which would add accuracy in shooting.
"Its hollow chamber could carry a charge of not less than 250 kilograms of any one of a number of powerful explosives. The charge would be fired with a detonating cap when the nose of the projectile strikes the object at which it is aimed.
"Two features of special importance should be noted:
I. The gun is absolutely silent when fired.
2. Any number of projectiles may be shot in rapid succession. In this last respect the electric gun becomes a gigantic machine gun which shoots explosive bullets of monster size.
"ÔBut how,' pere Bizet asked, Ôdo you propose to energize this novel type of gun, and are you sure your calculations prove it will operate as you think?'
"Pere Bizet's belief in the validity of our replies had to rest chiefly upon his faith in us. Deep student though he is of history, like many other scholars he is profoundly ignorant of modern science. However, he sees clearly enough the relations of technical achievements to social conditions, even though his understanding of the means employed by science is slight. Though he has never understood how our electric guns work, we did not fail to catch his imagination and arouse in him a great enthusiasm.
"The Ôammunition,' so to speak, of these guns is electric energy, with which little Switzerland is well supplied. As far back as 1928 Switzerland was developing 1.2 million kW., and was selling much of her electric energy to the countries which surround her--France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Her output of electric power has been increasing at the rate of about eight percent a year, and I now estimate that Switzerland can command around three million kW.
"Thirty years ago all but a very small percentage of her electric energy was supplied for light and power. All current then generated had a frequency of fifty cycles per second. Soon, however, high frequency induction furnaces used for melting metals of all kinds came rapidly into use in ever increasing numbers, and the high-frequency current which operates them came to be useful in many other industries. This high-frequency current is usually obtained from alternating current generators driven by existing fifty-cycle motors, from water or steam turbines, or Diesel engines. Today ten percent of her three million kW., --used at home for industrial melting and heating--is high-frequency current suitable for operating electric guns.
"So you see, father, that here in Switzerland they have ready at hand some 300,000 kW of a kind just suitable for Ôammunition.'
"Jean and I proposed to pere Bizet that the border of Switzerland should be encircled with a heavy three-conductor cable, which might be tapped to obtain this electric ammunition at any point and at any instant, in tremendous amounts. From the Bernese Oberland, which is fairly central on the map, and where the bulk of electric power is generated, cables like spokes from a hub could be run to the encircling cable along the border of the country. By a system of switches in the power-houses enormous amounts of power could be instantly delivered to the Swiss border just when and where it might be needed.
"Jean and I have not only made many calculations on the power--or more strictly, the energy--requirements to operate a gun of the size and character I have described, but we have also carefully checked our figures with experimental data obtained with our Utah gun. There is little question, therefore, but that the electric gun system of defense would function as predicted.
"I have now given you, father, in barest outline only, the substance of the proposals which Jean and I presented to pere Bizet. We sought his advice on how to bring this matter most satisfactorily before the general staff of the Swiss army. He at once suggested that the best man with whom we might first make contact is General Antoin Barnane, who was a guest at the dinner recently given in our honor. I have already mentioned in my letter to mother that General Barnane (though I believe I did not mention his name) is chief technical adviser to the general staff of the Swiss Army and Air Corps.
"An appointment followed shortly, and all I have told you and much more was laid before him. He was greatly interested and very cordial, but, as might be expected, he seemed skeptical. We suggested that he come to America and witness a demonstration with our Utah gun; and this he tentatively promised to do in the near future. He counseled us in the meantime to observe strict secrecy about the entire matter. I ask you, therefore, father, to hold confidential all parts of this letter which relate to electric guns for military use.
"Gertrude now has a baby girl. She is a wholesome little darling. Gertrude and the baby will remain with pere and mere Bizet for a few weeks; but Jean, Marie, and I expect to take a stratosphere ship for home very shortly, as we are eager to return to our problems, and to further work looking toward the perfecting of a moon-ship.
"We hope to find everyone well at home, and it will delight me to ride over the game farm and note the young birds, of which you must have many by this time. I also long to see my pointer pups. That last mating I made was a wonderful one, and they must be beauties. They are seven months old now and Derby prospects. I am sure they live mostly to eat--and why shouldn't they when they get such good meat?
"Well, good-bye this time and much affection from
BACK HOME: THURSTON'S PAPER
When we left Zurich pere Bizet came with us for a month's visit in America. As soon as we obtained his promise to make the journey, I cabled Perry Thurston to ask if he would give the Weft-Warp Club a paper on some historical or archeological subject. I wished to have pere Bizet our honored guest at the next meeting of the club, scheduled for August 1,1956. I knew that pere Bizet--profound scholar of ancient history--would find the meeting of maximum interest if Perry Thurstron should consent to be the speaker for the evening, and I was much pleased when he cabled back his consent.
The meeting of the club was held on the date planned, and proved to be one of exceptional interest. As the members expected, Dr. Thurston--historian, philosopher, and archeologist--presented something taken from ancient times. His choice of an archaic subject and his utter disregard of modern science made his paper quite unique in the club's annals. His remarks and paper follow--a justifiable inclusion in my memoirs.
Club members and friends:
I deem imagination the most fruitful activity of the human mind. It is the stuff chiefly of which genius is compounded: when expressed in its highest form through art, music, literature, or science, its products partake of immortality. The influence of its creations upon ceaselessly renewed generations of men grows stronger with time. But this wondrous birth from the brain of Genius is fraternal twins. I name them Truth and Fancy. Good names: for the twin Truth is the imagination used by one who employs the scientific method in his thinking. His is controlled or guided imagination--imagination restrained and held in leash by a will.
Fancy is of a different type. She is quite unrestrained. Fancy ignores Nature's laws and flouts Reality. Fancy soars aloft on wings, wheresoever they chance to take the mind. While the twin Truth is the imagination of a Leonardo da Vinci or an Isaac Newton, the twin Fancy is the imagination of a Scheherazade.
You, my fellow club members, who are moderns in thought, trained in science, well know the quality of controlled imagination which leads toward Reality--never from it. So of this type I need not speak. But it is my desire to express to you my understanding of the other twin, the one I have called Fancy. Fancy is wholly unrestrained in subject matter, form of expression, and literary style.
Philosophical or psychological analysis is incomparably dull. An example, even an indifferent one, is more enlightening, and it is a mental dose decidedly more pleasant to take. I shall now, therefore, seek to picture Fancy by reading to you a translation I have made of some cuneiform writings on a goodly pile of thin clay slabs. I was fortunate to find these slabs last summer in the basement of a king's palace which once topped a cubic tower of brick in the ancient city of Ur.
As you shall presently hear, these clay tablets present to us a chapter from the life of a king's son--an autobiography which he dictated to his Sumerian scribe. The king was the great Hammurapi. His time was 2076-2025 B.C. it Was he who was responsible for building up the highest Sumerian civilization, and for giving security to the advanced and ancient peoples who dwelt in the plains where flow the Tigris and Euphrates--the land we now call Mesopotamia. The cuneiform characters pressed with a reed-stylus into soft clay, to be hardened later in a furnace, bring to us a story told thirty-nine centuries ago. We can read it today because markings on baked clay hidden beneath debris do not fade with time, and because the labors of Assyriologists have taught us how to translate such writings. When you shall have heard my translation, I think you will conclude, as have I, that here is a beginning of those tales of obscure origin known as The Thousand Nights and One Night or, more commonly, The Arabian Nights.
A TALE OF ANCIENT UR
(As read before the Weft-Warp Club, August I,1956.
by Perry R. Thurston)
Kazar, my good scribe, take now two score of clay balls; roll them into thin sheets, and hold in hand your reed. I have a story to tell of my heart's longings and wondrous happenings in the month of Elul. All this I would have you put on record. When, after you have pressed your reed into the soft clay (thus to keep in permanence all which I shall tell) I wish you to have care and fire the slabs in an over-hot furnace: only thus will the inscription in all time remain for blood descendants of a King to read and profit thereby. Write every word I speak--even the words just now being spoken--from first to last, that no tittle or tattle of a King's recounting be lost. If any repeatment be missed of words spoken by priest or diviner, or if aught of the soothing syllables of Ishtar--goddess dispenser of love--be lost, or if there fall from my lips in repetition one single utterance divine of the almighty Sun god and it be not set down as said, it shall be a large cost to you, Kazar. If what you miss be small like a mouse, I shall get me another scribe; but if by stupid bungle you drop what is large like a camel, you shall surely die.
Let it be known by dynasties to come that I am Kharan, eldest son of the most mighty on earth, King Hammurapi, who rules in justice and power all lands and cities in Shinar even from Elam Mountains on the east into the land of Syria on the west. The plains made fertile by the confluent waters of Tigris and Euphrates, life's providers, my fathers have named land of Akkad, and land of Sumer.
Though I be the eldest son of a King who even now in majesty lives, I am myself a King. By decree of Hammurapi, my all powerful father, sent forth from his palace in Babylon when I had reached the age of twenty, I became King of the city of Ur, and much lands thereabout. While yet I was a youth little experienced with life and its emotions, a strange longing began to enwrap my spirit and press heavily on my soul. Beholders of my power and high estate believed me happy above all men, and ever joyous, since everything was possessed by me which befits a King, the eldest son of the mightiest King who ever ruled on earth, excepting not even Sargon the First, who without hinderance governed these lands five hundred years before my father.
My palace sits high upon a great tower of many-hued bricks. This tower, which no foe may climb, is both wide and deep alike, and in height as the tallest yew in the forest. Its spacious rooms house every product of craftsmen old and new, who with uncommon skill fashioned whatsoever delights the touch of soft, white hands or a damsel's tempting cheek. Melodious sounds fill the ears when trained fingers pluck the tuned strings, or when nimble hands strike with padded rods in turn pendent bars of bronze, to ring most pleasantly. When the head is turned and eyes are rolled in sockets, sight takes possession of grandeur in every decorated room and hall. My spacious salon, where my grandees and I are wont to gather when the feast is over, is hung with many jeweled lamps ornate with precious stones and pendants of colored crystal. When by my slaves these lamps are lit, the great room fills with light and much invites delight. Wide spread on the central floor is a carpet of finest wool, many-colored, as are those hues one sometimes sees when the Sun, giver of all, shines low in heaven and of a sudden the wind sweeps into countless drops the tops of scurrying waves on the waters of Tigris. Soft and beautiful is this carpet, acceptable to damsels' twinkling feet. In all the world for size and magnificence its like is not to be found. No! not even in my father's palace at Babylon.
Two, three, or sometimes more nights each week of the year it was my custom to recline in comfort upon my silken-cushioned divan. A roll of leopard's hide uplifted my head that I might better see what should come before my approving eyes. For this diversion I most often chose the hour before my night's retirement, after I had comforted myself with rarest wines from far-off Egypt. When the warmth which old wine gives had suffused my body and placed upon my cheeks a rose-red hue, I then would signal for my damsels, young and surpassing fair. In they would gracefully glide by twos and fours, or in greater number if so I fancied, for always two score or more dwelt within my palace chambers, each vying with the other to win my acceptance as the one most fair to satisfy my prurient desire.
Like Graces attendant to the Sun god, these damsels in cadence to music moved alluring limbs and danced and smiled. With sly glances they rolled eyes like unto buttons of jet set on a garment of creamy silk. Thus continued coaxings, half-concealed, the good part of an hour, until all but one I dismissed--she whom I deemed most acceptable to reserve for a night of dalliance.
After these happenings had continued for some seasons my mysterious longing had grown to a torture. For what I longed I knew not, nor could define if I knew. Then upon a certain night while in the quiet of my chamber I slept alone and dreamed, a goddess whispered in my ear. Ishtar, worshipful goddess of Love, spoke to me with soft accents saying: "Oh King, oh son of earth's mightiest ruler of mankind, distress has entered your young soul. Know you, Kharan, while seeming possessed of all which men desire, the greatest boon of all which Heaven above bestows on the buoyant soul of youth you have not known nor even sought. What you desire is Love. But never have you beheld her form or seen her face, likened to the shining moon when full and gliding among her stars. No god or goddess has vouchsafed to reveal to your soul true Love, the pure one, Love the trusting and trusted one, Love who stays by your side and abides in the heart even unto life's end, Love which equally receives and gives. Love is the allotter of life and Love repeats and prolongs life. If, then, you count life sweet seek Love earnestly until you find her. But if you would hold Love secure think not you may consort with unsatisfying Lust, which like fire out of hand will end by consuming both you and Love alike."
Awakened from sleep by these words of the goddess breathed into my ears and soul, I arose from my slumber and at once made pretense that for pleasure I and a goodly escort would go this very morn into the deep forest, there to hunt boar and deer where they much abound. Forthwith, my apparel donned, I summoned the master of the hounds and bade him make needful preparations for a pleasurable hunt. Then I notified my trusted Grand Vizier; and my archers, much skilled with the bow. Command was given servants to make ready my trained horses which of late the Kassites had brought into my realm from the highlands toward the east. My chamberlains, my diviner--most skilled of the sorcerers--together with visiting friends and grandees from Babylon, all were bade prepare for the chase.
When the cavalcade was well on its way I perceived that Ishtar, kind goddess of Love, rode on a stallion beside me. None other than I saw more than the horse which the goddess bestrode. The animal stayed by the side of my own richly caparisoned steed, as if it were there for my need should my own horse weaken or fall. All this was quite natural, for Love, by magic of her own, may hide herself well from whomsoever she wills.
When the pursuit had lasted some hours, with the taking of many carcasses of deer and boar, and the party had halted to eat and refresh, Ishtar on her horse drew closer, and leaning toward me spoke in my ear this wise: "Leave to others, Kharan, the filling of desire for food and rest. Follow me alone into the deep forest, where bears, stags, hinds, hares, and squirrels wander about seeking berries, succulent leaves, and other fodder, and, fearless, bother not to flee mankind. There I shall lead you unto a place where Love dwells. I am your destiny in all that pertains to the heart. Here, quite soon, you shall gaze on Love's glorious self."
"To hear a goddess speak in this wise is to obey," I replied.
I found myself, in moments few, seated on the moss-covered trunk of a fallen coniferous tree. Gentle Sleep, soothing me with quietude, started me nodding, and had well nigh pushed my eyelids shut, when a splendid stag of magnificent size stood before me. Like two forked limbs of a sycamore tree which lightning had deadened, from his most noble head great antlers ascended and branched. His sleek front limbs were straight and strong as are the pillars of my palace ceiling. His hinder limbs were built for leaping, and all four for a speed swift as moves thought in the brain when sudden danger impends. Like myself he stood up a King!
He raised high his kingly head, his nostrils expanded wide to catch the faintest odor borne on the gentle south wind which swayed a little the tops and kissed the trunks of the tall monarchs of these woods. His ears, held forward, had already heard twigs crackle and dry leaves rustle, and with keenest scent he had read the message on the breeze: the hind, his love, was coming. Soon she--loveliest of the female kind--came near. Her large soft eyes were made for projecting love and seeing its reaction returned. Those eyes, so large, round, and chestnut brown, with pupils black as the crow, had been designed for the central setting in Ishtar's vision of a perfected creature so companionate with a lover true. Slowly and gently the stag approached her. Noses touched together, and each in turn stroked the other's forehead with caressing tongue. The pair was beautiful to contemplate. Thought I, genuine love I witness at last. Then began to grow in my breast the anger of jealousy. Why should two creatures of the wild forest be so blest with what I, a King, had missed Then my spear arm rage and jealousy uplifted. I cast the weapon at the lover stag; but Fate deflected the shaft and the spear-point pierced only air, close to the head where the stag's antlers rose. On flew the shaft of ash until its forward end of pointed, sharp-cutting bronze, with deadly effect, buried itself in the sweet hind's neck--perfection's hope for what is loveliest in form and grace. The hind dropped to her knees in grief and pain, dying. And then my cruel eyes beheld a marvel: at once high up leapt the stag and dropped to ground, not on four feet, but on two; for on the instant while in the air, he had become a youth exceedingly fair, and with weapons well accoutered upon his breast he wore a shield of crocodile hide highly adorned with silver and gold. In a quiver swung by a thong at his back were arrows for the long bow held on his hip. His right arm was uplifted to balance his spear, of which I could see only the point, by reason that it aimed directly at me.
The Youth Paused for a moment to give utterance to these words: "Heartless one, I should cast this spear on the instant through your body; but live until you can tell me why you slew my one and only true love."
"Dare not," I said; know you not that I am a King, and, moreover, an archer of certain aim."
Hearing my words, he lowered his spear, and again spoke, thus: "King though you are, I do not fear you; but not by my hand will you be harmed until I shall have told you a tale. You seemingly have done me irreparable harm, but likewise you have freed me from sorcery. Now the wonder is mine if your spear cast be greater for my woe or my weal. I too am a King, whom one that was wicked bewitched. The cast of your spear has slain my loved one; but also it has expelled the sorcery which bound me. By decree of almighty Hammurapi I am ruler of the city of Larsa."
"And I'' I interrupted, "rule the city of Ur, under the will of Hammurapi, who is my very father."
"Then,'' said the King of Larsa, "the thing you say is very strange. I shall lengthen a little my tale as intended. Perchance we shall even become friends. I rule the people of Larsa and those thereabout in the province with all justice and power. I am the possessor of great wealth, and all good things which the heart desires. Not less than my most desired possession, and exceeding dear to my soul, is a virgin sister younger than I. She is kind and true and good to all, and her heart beats for the weal of others. She is fairer to look upon than any maid of our time; one would not find her equal for loveliness though he searched to the very circle encompassing the world. Her feet move more lightly over carpets and ground than drifts a tiny fleecy cloud in Heaven when its vault is blue like turquoise.
"My vizier, whom I have ever trusted as would a young son his mother, is a man of deep mind and power; but he is old, and of little grace in form or face. One day of late, on his knees before me he begged me to give him my sister in marriage. This request I refused forthwith, for well did I know that my sister, most worthy of great happiness, must find her deserving union with youth, and from love requited.
"My vizier masked his face with contentment, while under bland smiles he was hatching a villainous plot. With many shekels of gold and of silver and many precious gems, by his own treacherous hands filched from my treasury room, he set forth next day for Babylon, where lives a skillfully forecasting diviner who is also a sorcerer of might. With the stolen treasure he bribed him to ensorcell, bewitch, and transform me into the stag you erstwhile threw your spear to kill. For twice two fillings of the night-lighting moon I wandered alone and grieving in the expansive reaches of these deep woods. At length my sorrow was in part assuaged, for I came upon a hind beautiful to see, one that I could love truly. It was this hind your misaimed spear-point slew, and even so wounded my heart.
"Now it is well understood that the Sun god, nourisher of men and beasts, and dispenser of destiny to all mankind, limits a sorcerer's power over whomsoever he has bewitched to a single infliction of evil. When to my woe imposed by sorcery your spear-point, by Fate, brought added grief to my heart, at once, by might of the Sun god, all witchery ended and my natural form was restored.
"I see you are handsome and young; now that I know you are King of a city, neighbor to Larsa which I rule, and that I speak to the son of Hammurapi, it becomes my desire that in holy wedlock you take my sister for your Queen. But first an oath I must exact: that she shall reign equal with you even unto that time when comes the Destroyer of Delights and the Garnerer of Kings and Queens to the Tomb. Furthermore you must promise to put forth a decree that in all lands wheresoever you rule no man shall possess in wedlock more than a single wife.
"When thus you shall have sworn and your promise is made, I then will swear to you that I also will make for the land I rule a like decree.
Then the women of both Ur and Larsa shall be held in high esteem, and the same estimation of womankind shall spread throughout all Akkad and Sumer."
Here the King of Larsa stopped speaking, and in this wise I spoke, saying what Ishtar, the invisible, whispered in my ear:
"King of Larsa, when noble words are spoken by a King, I obey. Until now women have only touched me with their flippancy and flirting. Ishtar has led me to you and you have given me glad tidings that soon the deep yearning of my heart for a love that is true and responsive shall be satisfied. Here, swiftest of their kind in Ur, my steeds await us. Let us mount and be off for Larsa."
Some god had endowed the two stallions for this occasion with fourfold speed. Soon we were flying toward Larsa, the hooves of the steeds lightly touching the tree tops. In space of an hour they stopped before the entrance to the King of Larsa's palace. Like numberless fallen leaves impelled by a whirling wind, the inhabitants gathered around; they shouted loud welcome, they mad low obeisance, and mightily rejoiced that their King had returned.
Quickly we mounted the high staircase to the palace, which like mine stood on a high cubic mound of brick. Then into the arms of the young King come back, his long-weeping sister fell. With all respect I held back from their view until they had expressed their full joy and affection. Then the King of Larsa led his sister to the spot where I had taken my stand, with wits ravished by what I beheld.
The King, I had learned, was named by his people Gilgamesh; for to them he was like unto that gigantic hero, familiar from recorded writings as the doer of mighty deeds, and the assayer of strange adventure. Significant also is the sweet-sounding name of his sister. Enlila they call her, because to the people she seems like the consort of Enlila, the great Sumerian god of the air.
Kings when accosted do not bend the knee, but the light from Enlila's eyes caused mine to flex and my head to dip low. Then the King of Larsa addressed the two of us with these words:
"You, my sweet sister, are younger and fair, and your head is well stored with the wisdom recorded in many old tablets. Handsome and also young, is he who stands before us. His name is Kharan. He is King of the city of Ur, and quite equal in power with me, King of the city of Larsa. Not yet has Kharan made choice of the maid of high estate to become his Queen, who with grace and wisdom and in like degree shall rule with him the Kingdom of Ur. My hope rises high that you each shall see in the eyes of the other a love deep and lasting, which on the high seat of probity may be enthroned. If such be the case I will set a day and the hour for a lawful marriage to take place in Babylon, with the sanction of all-powerful Hammurapi, father of Kharan. Meanwhile there shall be seven full days for all my dependents, both high and low, of cessation from labor and toil. I shall provide food in abundance and wine for all; neighbors shall gather in parties at which there shall be much dancing, feasting, and song. Each day of the seven through the city streets shall pass pageants of the people all colorfully garbed; laughter shall float on the air, and much joy shall abound because lovers of high rank have found one another and are plighted for wedlock."
These were the words spoken by Gilgamesh. The flush in our cheeks and the look in our eyes sent their quick message to the King of Larsa, that the plan he expressed found haven in our breasts where two hearts were throbbing.
Enlila curtsied and replied, "Brother, I take your words for my joy."
And I-what with prosy words could I say? So, with the help of Ishtar I expressed myself with these few couplets:
"Both tongue and spirit vainly speak my utterance;
With Ishtar's kindly aid and guidance
My soul, long starved, now lasting love has found.
Enlila, may your life with mine bound
From lowly earth to heaven's blessed happiness.
Sweet maid, surpassing fair, and true and wise,
I you beseech; become my constant Queen
Enthroned with me. Then, as with cloudless sunshine, From you a heavenly light shall beam,
And we in union firm will justly rule our land.
Within my heart you already are enthroned And from this vantage seat my very wits you command.
My soul cries out what now I pledge:
By the Sun god, Ishtar, and God of Air
With you alone, love and trust a King shall share!"
At this point Dr. Thurston laid down his manuscript to remark: "I do not know whether you care to hear the rest of Kharan's tale. If you do, it will be necessary for some one of you, with modern magic, to piece together a second pile of clay tablets which I found beside the first pile, but which-long ago--were broken into small bits by falling debris. Possibly I may assume that you think this ancient accident a piece of good fortune for the club.
"The paper which--with a patience quite sublime--you have just heard me read to its very end is not such as to invite discussion, so I thank you for your consideration, and suggest to our president that he declare our formal meeting adjourned."
HOW SHALL WE STEER
Refreshed in body and mind by our recent stay in Switzerland, Jean and I with great enthusiasm began the heretofore-never-attempted gigantic task of mind-creating, designing in detail, and actually constructing an electric gun to fling a huge missile with us inside toward and around the moon. Toward the end of 1956 a visitor to our plant at any daylight hour, and frequently at night, would have found us hard at work with calculations, or at a drafting-table, or in the laboratory conducting tests, or, perhaps, studying the abundant literature on the astonishing development of rockets. Often we were tempted to relax and to soften our minds by an undue indulgence in the fascinating social life so keenly enjoyed by Gertrude and Marie. But an urge, like the gadfly said to have tortured Socrates, kept us going.
The work we did and the life we led for some three years seems to me material not well suited for inclusion in a narrative. Consequently, I jump my story to the fall of Ô59 It was then that we believed we had sufficiently considered from all angles our designs of the electric gun and the moon-ship projectile the gun was expected to propel beyond the clutch of the earth's gravity, to justify us in beginning actual constructions.
At the above-mentioned date "rocketeering" had advanced so far, and the spectacular entries of "reaction projectiles" into the stratosphere were so numerous, that we could safely borrow from this development all we required concerning rocket construction as we planned it for our moon-ship.
As a side line, we had engineered a project--now in full fruition-for the utilization of travelling magnetic waves to transport the mail at hitherto unattainable velocities between widely separated centers of population, such as New York and Chicago. Since I had the basic ideas of the method broadly covered by patents, I was beginning to receive large returns in the form of royalties. This was most fortunate, as our moon trip could only be made possible by spending very large sums.
A problem which had given us from our early beginnings much concern may now be stated thus: How can a projectile of any type moving freely through vacuous space have its course altered at will in any direction? How, if unable to steer a course, could we hope to aim our gun accurately enough to reach a desired point near the moon so that we would temporarily become its satellite; and how, when we desired to break away from this circular orbit--in order that a return to earth would be possible--could this be done, by any means known to science Our whole project was destined to become a fizzle if we failed to find some means of steering ourselves in space as effectively as the pilot of an aeroplane guides his plane with a rudder on which air presses.
I have the stenographically recorded transcript of a conference between Jean and me, held some time before we reached our final decision to build a moon-ship. I feel impelled to transcribe to this narrative most important words then spoken between us. Here they are:
Dr. Pseudoman. Jean, I actually started on my plan to build a moon-ship when I found the money to undertake it. That was in 1946. Our many experiments, our trial flights in Utah, and our often repeated calculations have convinced both of us that sufficient technical progress has now been made to justify our belief that this thing is humanly possible. By employing polyphase electric currents in combination with rocket propulsion two persons should be able to go along the line between earth and moon in a hermetically sealed projectile beyond the pull of the earth's gravitation. We both know that any mass which arrives at about thirty-eight thousand kilometers from the moon will then be drawn toward it by the pull of the moon's attraction; but if we are the passengers in a ship which passes to one side of the moon, what then? Why, unless we do something pretty clever, we shall become satellites of a dead planet, first, as two beings who are slowly starving to death, and eventually as two perfectly preserved corpses, for millenniums to come. Not a pleasant prospect! But our lives are given to the task of securing photographs of the hemisphere of the moon which no eyes on earth have ever seen. If we use our brains and have the courage we shall succeed.
Dr. Bizet. Kad, I will always be with you.
Dr. P. I knew as much, Jean. You need not have told me that. As I see it, our next important step is to determine the best, or possibly the only method for steering our moon-ship. When we have made one-half revolution around the moon, and have secured our photographs, we must be in possession of some certain means for changing our circular motion to a straight-line motion directed toward the earth. Then we must be able to give our moon-ship sufficient acceleration to carry it out of the moon's attraction into the attraction of the earth.
Dr. B. Kad, we have often discussed this feature before, and I think you and I are pretty well in agreement that we have the problem solved--at least in theory. For the sake of clarity, and to uncover any hidden facts, suppose we hold a mock debate. You describe what now appears to be the best method for steering the moon-ship, and defend it. I shall be the objector.
Dr. P. Good. I will begin.
Suppose a cannon shoots a shell freighted with shrapnel. This shell has a definite point in its interior called its center of gravity. However much the projectile may rotate, turn over, or wabble, its center of gravity lies always in its line of flight, unless application is made of some force additional to the force which started it on its trajectorial flight. When the fuse burns to the charge, the shell is shattered into many bits, its content of bullets scatter in all directions; but--as you know--a fundamental law determines that in the first instant following the explosion the center of gravity of all the flying masses will continue to move in the original line of motion. The center of gravity must continue on its course until an external force, such as air friction, acts to change the course of the center of gravity of all the scattered pieces and bullets.
Dr. B. State this law, Kad, and show me what significance it has on the problem of steering our moon-ship.
Dr. P. Why do you ask me to tell you what you already know ? But here it is. The law is called the law of the conservation of the movement of the center of gravity. It reads: "The state of rest or movement of the center of gravity of several bodies is not altered by the reciprocal action of these bodies. Or, the motion of the center of gravity of a system of bodies is changed only by forces external to the system."
This law is all-important to us. When we are far above the earth's atmosphere in our moon-ship, no ordinary outside force will be at our command for changing the movement of our center of gravity. Rudders are only effective in a fluid or in air: interplanetary space is empty. It is plain, therefore, that however much we may spin gyrostats, move weights, or twist our bodies, we cannot alter in the minutest degree the direction in which the center of gravity of our ship will move.
Dr. B. With one stroke of sound science you appear to have destroyed all hope of steering our course. If this is so, our whole enterprise collapses.
Dr. P. But, Jean, though the law states that the motion of a system of bodies is changed only by forces external to the system, you have jumped to an invalid conclusion if you assume we cannot command and utilize an external force.
Dr. B. You refer of course to a rocket which expels gas at the rear end of our projectile?
Dr. P. I do; but I add that the gas must be ejected exactly in the line of the long axis of our projectile--the axis which passes through its center of gravity. If the gas were to be expelled in a line making an angle with this axis, it would start our moon-ship spinning around its center of gravity, probably at a speed we could not endure.
Dr. B. I admit that the reaction force of the violently ejected gas should be directed along the axis of the projectile, but this force can only accelerate the motion of our moon-ship in the direction it happens to be pointed. How then does it provide a means of steering our interplanetary vehicle so we may not perhaps drop into a crater of the moon?
Dr. P. I shall reassure you. Either the projectile will be pointed in exactly the direction we wish it to travel, or it will be pointed in some indeterminate and undesirable direction. In the former case, there will be no occasion to steer it by calling upon the propelling force of a rocket; in the latter case our first object will be to rotate our projectile slightly so that its axis will lie in a desired direction. Let us assume that the center of gravity of our ship is moving in a line pointing directly to the pole star, while the axis of the projectile lies along an east-west line, that is, at right angles to the direction of motion of its center of gravity. Do you not see that if the rocket is then put into action the high-velocity gas, which possesses considerable momentum as it issues from the tail of the moon-ship, will exert a strong reaction force to urge the ship in the direction in which its nose is pointed? This force is equivalent in all respects to an outside force pushing on the tail of the projectile. Since this force is directed along the axis of the projectile in which its center of gravity lies, the projectile will have its linear motion increased without any force acting which can cause the projectile to rotate. If the nose of our moonship is pointing due east, its center of gravity will acquire a velocity in this direction which is proportional to the propelling force of the rocket in its tail and to the time this rocket is acting. When the rocket is cut off, the center of gravity of the moon-ship will have acquired a certain uniform velocity in an easterly direction. This newly acquired velocity of its center of gravity, when compounded by the ordinary parallelogram rule with the original velocity which was directed toward the pole star, gives a final resultant velocity directed to a point in the heavens east of the North Star. In other words, by properly utilizing and timing the reaction force of a rocket in the tail of the projectile, we shall steer our ship so that it moves in a new direction.
Dr. B. I take exception to your argument on the ground that you conveniently assume the axis of the projectile is lying in a line exactly at right angles to the direction of motion of its center of gravity; but suppose the axis of the projectile lies--as axes of projectiles generally do--accurately in its line of travel. If this be the case, your rocket may be ever so powerful and act for any length of time, and the sole result will be that you reach a destination sooner than planned--but, most likely, not a desired destination.
Dr. P. Your objection is good, Jean; but wait for my complete explanation. Your idea has merit only if we have no means for turning our projectile in space and so pointing its axis in any direction we may require. I can easily prove to you that we can rotate the axis of our projectile to any degree we wish. Rotating a body moving through interplanetary space is quite a different matter than attempting to alter the direction of motion of its center of gravity, by other than rocket means.
Dr. B. How do you propose, Kad, to so easily point the moon-ship to any star in heaven?
Dr. P. First, you must have faith that all things which violate none of nature's laws are possible to man. Seeing is believing, Jean. Last night I made a little cardboard contraption which you haven't seen yet. This simple thing, made out of ten cents' worth of material, will demonstrate to you in the simplest manner possible the validity of my contentions.
Du. B. You are always ingenious, Kad, when it comes to demonstrating recondite physical principles with simple devices. Please let me have a look at it.
A sketch of a MODLE OF TWO-DIMENSIONAL SPACE-SHIP will be put here
Dr. P. It is in this table drawer. Here. I also have a diagrammatic sketch of this device, which represents an imaginary two-dimensional projectile that can be steered through interplanetary space. Its operation will be better understood if you consider the sketch in connection
with the model.
This table top is level, and quite smooth. I now wet these four six-millimeter steel balls so they will not, at first, roll about too readily. I place them carefully on the table, and position them so that each one occupies the corner of a rectangle. Here is a piece of bristol-board, rectangular in shape but pointed at each end. This is my streamlined, two-dimensional projectile. I set this down, so, on the four steel balls.
Now, Jean, blow gently against the cardboard projectile, and note what a slight force it takes to move it in any direction in the horizontal plane.
Dr. B. It certainly moves with the slightest force: much more easily I think than if it floated on water with its surface tension.
Dr. P Good! The three small brass tubes, about two millimeters in diameter, which stick out from the end of the projectile nearest you, will serve as rockets. The middle tube lies precisely in the line of the long axis of my cardboard projectile. It is longer than the other two because in practice it will be called upon to produce a reaction force much greater than the reaction forces of the two side rockets. As appears on both the model and the sketch, these side rockets are set exactly parallel to the central rocket. This one, marked R on the sketch, is placed to the right of the central rocket; the other, marked L, is placed an equal distance to the left.
Dr. B. I am impatient to see your little brass tubes behave like rockets.
Dr. P Easy enough. The upper end of each tube is closed, and I have pushed into the open end of each one a fuse taken from a large firecracker. You see the ends of these fuses sticking out a short distance from the tail ends of the tubes.
Dr. B. I see. When you light the end of a fuse it burns back within the tube and the gas produced rushes out of the open end of the tube with considerable velocity. In this way you get a reaction force directed toward the front end of the projectile and precisely parallel with its lengthwise axis.
Dr P. I will light the fuse in the middle tube. There, see how the central rocket propels our moon-ship in the direction it is pointed. It shoots forward until it bumps against the cardboard fence I have put around it.
Dr. B. Your model certainly works fine, Kad, but what does it teach ?
Dr. P. It shows us that we can accelerate a moon-ship with a single rocket--the middle one--along any line in which it happens to be pointed.
I will now demonstrate that if we wish to steer our moon-ship to starboard, or port, we can do so by using one of the side rockets. Now, I place the cardboard in its original position and light the fuse of the right-hand rocket, and the cardboard is subjected to a force (see f on the sketch) that makes it rotate around its center of gravity, located at the point marked G. If you prefer, you may think of the entire mass of the projectile as concentrated in the two equal masses m and n on the sketch, and imagine that these two masses are at the ends of a thin rod, the center of which coincides with the center of gravity of the projectile. You may further assume that the rod connecting the masses lies in a line at right angles to the lengthwise axis of the projectile. It is quite obvious that the push of a reaction force given by the right-hand rocket will make the two masses rotate around their common center in a counter-clockwise direction; and oppositely, if the left-hand rocket is working. We will try it. I light the right-hand fuse. Now the center of gravity of the cardboard moon-ship advances, but at the same time the direction in which the ship is pointed has rotated toward the left. If there were no friction it would continue to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. To avoid this continued spinning, I now start the central rocket going. The ship's motion is accelerated, the angular motion ceases when the side rocket is stopped, and the ship's center of gravity now moves in a new direction; let us say, toward the northwest. Obviously, by starting the left-hand rocket the center of gravity is moved in a northeasterly direction.
Dr. B. Kad, your demonstration is swell, but not even Einstein could contend that we will be travelling in a two-dimensional space. How do you propose to orient the projectile into any direction in a vacuous and three-dimensional space ?
Dr. P. As a privileged objector in this debate, Jean, I see you are trying to make me tell what you already know better than I. Of course, for three-dimensional space we shall use five rockets all pointed along lines parallel with the axis of our moon-ship. One, the large propelling rocket, is at the center of an imaginary square, while the other four smaller rockets occupy the corners of this square. By operating this system of rockets in various combinations we can give to the center of gravity of our moon-ship a motion directed toward any point in heaven's sphere.
Dr. B. I must acknowledge the correctness of your theories, Kad. But--can these theories be put into practice?
Dr. P. I conclude the debate by saying: we call and we will put them into practice but there are many designs yet to be worked out. Many experiments must be made, and much costly equipment must be built. It may take us another five years or more before we are ready for our adventure. But our past studies and experiments have taught us that we can make use of forces which will send our loaded moon-ship beyond the moon and steer its course. We have made a good beginning--but let me restate a few other problems that you and I have often discussed without coming to any final conclusions.
First, we do not yet know the acceleration which a human being can safely endure. We have much more to learn about this. To get further data we should make several more tests with animals, using our Utah gun. These tests will be important, because--in a last analysis--what we decide is the limit of acceleration for a human being will determine the length and cost of the electric gun we must construct.
Second, means must be found for knowing at all times our precise position in space as referred to a line between the earth and the moon. If we cannot chart our course at every moment we may become lost in a region where no man has ever been lost before, and become wanderers in space where there is no harbor.
Third, we still have to determine just how we shall manage to make moving pictures of the other side of the moon from the enclosure of our ship, and how near we may approach to obtain views which are satisfactory close-ups. The nearer we approach the moon to obtain these pictures, the more forcibly will we be held in an orbit by the moon's attraction. When we are ready to return, the only possible means for reentering the earth's gravity is to use the energy available in our rockets. The closer we go to the moon's surface, the more rocket fuel we must carry with us.
Fourth, when our moon-ship has again arrived within the influence of the earth's attraction, its velocity will continually increase until, by the time it has reached the outer region of the earth's atmosphere, it will be moving with the speed of a meteorite. If we were to approach the surface of the earth in a vertical line with our parachute opened, its retarding action would not begin until we had reached the upper region of the stratosphere. It is very doubtful if a parachute strong enough and light enough could be built and carried with us, which would not be ripped away in the more dense air. Even if the parachute did hold, could we endure the tremendous deacceleration we would experience? I think not. It becomes our problem then to approach the earth so that we shall pass to one side of it, and at a distance from it where there is enough extremely thin atmosphere to open the parachute, but not enough to put a violent strain upon it. If this is successfully accomplished, we should be able to approach the earth's surface along the line of a huge spiral, and, at length, come down quite gently.
Dr. B. May I interrupt to suggest that we can scarcely hope to pick the place where we shall land. It might be at Floyd Bennett Airport; but it is a gambler's chance if we do not come down in the polar regions, or in mid-ocean while its surface is lashed with a furious gale.
Dr. P. We could live in our ship a long time, and the radio would soon bring rescuers.
Dr. B. Kad, you would inspire the most despondent to courage and action.
Dr. P. Thanks, Jean.
Dr. B. It is getting late, Kad. Suppose we end our discussion now, but plan to repeat these fruitful talks fortnightly at least. The Weft-Warp Club meets tomorrow night, and we will be lucky if we get to bed before daylight.
We had completed all of our designs for the electric gun and the moon-ship, and were about ready to let the contracts for their construction: as my notes indicate, this was sometime in October 1959. Dr. Plungin, who was possessed of the high intelligence usually associated with the educated Russians, had been of great assistance to us in many ways; and in our open discussions he had become perfectly familiar with every aspect of our problem. We had come to have an assured reliance on his integrity, in spite of Marie's intuitive perception that he might deceive us.
Entering my office one morning, I found a note on my table in Dr. Plungin's familiar handwriting. It read:
"Dr. Akkad Pseudoman,
"I regretfully announce that I feel it my duty to return to my native land and henceforth to give my entire services to the Soviet government. I am compelled to leave thus abruptly in order to catch a steamer from New York for which I hold a ticket.
"Wishing you, Dr. Bizet, and the ladies much happiness and success, I am,
I at once talked this over with Jean and Marie.
"I could not believe I was wrong," remarked Marie, "Dr. Plungin is doubtless taking with him copies of all your blueprints and calculations. You have no patents in Russia, and your ideas may be copied there."
Jean and I both agreed that from now on we were likely to have competition. This was disturbing, but it in no wise altered our plans.
Eight months after this a confirming episode happened, as I now describe from notes jotted down at the time. Jean and I were sitting in the office of my laboratory looking over blueprints we had made of several alternative designs of a moon-ship. We were intently discussing various features of this strange craft, and our "controlled imagination" was working hard. Neither Jean nor I possessed the mind of a copyist. This was fortunate, for there was no precedent for our enterprise. We had only our own inadequate experimental data, the immutable laws of nature, and our own inventive imagination to guide us.
Presently we heard a polite tap on the door. "Come in," I said. My secretary entered and handed me a personal card. I glanced at the name and passed the card to Jean, remarking: "Do you know who this is?"
"Bertrand Thompson," he read. "Why, Kad, he is my wife's brother Bert. We all thought he was in Russia."
Our visitor soon joined us in my office.
"Bert," said Jean, "you need no introduction to Kad, even though neither of you has ever seen the other. We are mighty glad you are here. Sit down, and tell us all about yourself."
Bert came at once to the special reason for his visit. He told us that he had not been far away from Leningrad in five years--"Been helping the Russians design and build nitrogen fixation plants, you see. I have just flown over here to fix up some contracts, and to explain something which I believe concerns you in a very important way."
"What is it, Bert" spoke Jean. "Have a glass of wine, light this cigar, and then tell us all about it."
"Thanks," said Bert. After lighting his cigar he went on: "I have learned the language since I went to Russia--about eight years ago; so my ears as well as my eyes have been picking up a few things. Whatever the people in America may think about them, I know that these Russians are a virile, brave, and forward-looking people. The country has made tremendous progress in technology. Social conditions have greatly advanced since their government decided you cannot permanently suppress basic human nature--the desire to own something you can call your own.
"I've followed in the technical press what you and Kad have accomplished by applying the principles of high-speed travelling waves. Your work is well known in Europe; and, I may add, you have many imitators who give you scant credit. I also know from frequent letters Gertrude has written me that you expect to be ready before long to attempt a flight around the moon. It's a daring adventure. I don't wonder you want to take all the time needed to get fully ready.
However, I am here to tell you why you should make your flight at the earliest possible date. I have positive knowledge that there is now under construction a monster electric cannon patterned closely after your own design. It is to be over a hundred kilometers long when completed, and will be adapted to shoot a projectile not less than one and one-half meters in diameter. Already a straight, inclined roadway up the side of a mountain in the Urals is completed. This was built, of course, to rest the gun on.
"I did some eavesdropping and have made some deductions from what I saw and heard. I have learned that the Russian government is back of this venture with unlimited funds. What they propose to do, as far as I can make out, is an exact counterpart of what you and Kad plan. The Russian technicians in some way have become quite familiar with your designs: they appear to be copying them about one hundred per cent. Their dare-devil aviators will attempt anything for the glory of Russia. They will not wait to perfect designs and constructions, nor take the necessary advance steps to give reasonable assurance of success. Those fellows will climb into a moon-ship which has not even been tested, and shoot and rocket their way to the moon; they will do this even if they think there is only a one per cent chance of returning alive.
"I have been able to get copy of a few of their most important blueprinted designs. I have these with me, and you will soon learn the extent of their plagiarisms. I think you will decide that the Russians are pretty good imitators."
Jean and I looked at each other. Each saw dismay in the other's countenance. Was all hope gone that we would be the first to escape from earth's gravity; were private expenditures to this end amounting to millions, and our hard-earned brain products, now to be suddenly snatched--yes, stolen from us?
I turned to Bert Thompson and said, "Your information and warning hit home, but Jean and I are nevertheless most grateful to you. We are your deep debtors.
"We will go now, if it please you, Bert, to my home. I want you to meet my wife, Marie, and become our guest just as long as your plans will permit."
As we rose to go I said to Jean: "Be with us at my home for dinner at seven. We will discuss this matter later and decide, irrevocably, what course to follow.
The following morning Jean and I, sitting in my office, made our decision. We decided to place contracts at once for the electric generators, the large banks of condenser units, the huge electric gun, and also the moon-ship itself. We would order in addition four extra projectiles of the same dimensions as the actual moon-ship, but without internal fittings. They would be weighted with sand to have the same weight as the fully loaded moon-ship. We planned to test the gun by shooting these dummies with full power, to learn whether the gun would produce the calculated muzzle velocity necessary for a projectile aided by rockets to escape from the earth's gravity. A race to the finish between the Russians and ourselves was on. If the Russians should succeed in getting off before us and returning, the ambition of our lives would be thwarted.
What we decided to do in the morning was already being put into effect on the same day. Contractors were consulted and bonuses were offered for anticipating expected dates of delivery. Their estimates indicated that everything could be ready by September 1960.
During the period of waiting for our equipment to be constructed, Jean and I determined we would work feverishly, reviewing, and if necessary revising, our numerous calculations. We knew that we sorely needed additional data on such matters as the performance of rockets, and the maximum acceleration a human body can endure, so we planned to construct several models of a moon-ship made according to alternative designs, and test these with our Utah gun.
To increase the chances for success we determined to give up every outside activity not directly in line with our plans. No vacations, no sports, and few social enjoyments would be considered. All our outside engineering work for others would be dropped. Win we would, if it were humanly possible!
At this time I had already written a paper for the Weft-Warp Club, outlining our program, and in a popular way describing the major problems which confronted us. Should we not return alive, the Weft-Warf Club would at least have on its records what we believed could be done. Furthermore, I thought we might benefit considerably from the constructive criticisms of our club members. This paper was given at the next meeting of the club on June 10, 1960. I shall reproduce most of it in these memoirs, omitting only such technical details as I have previously explained either in the narrative itself or in the technical supplement.
"Dear Kad," remarked Marie, who had just entered my study, "you have been writing for more than two hours this morning. It's a fine day. I think you should take a walk for exercise and rest; and I will go with you."
This was spoken on August twenty-second in the year 2000.
"You know best what is good for me, Marie. We will take the dear old dog along. Come on, Mystery, we're going for a walk. I say, old fellow, hurry up."
But my old pointer made no move. I went where he lay under my writing table. He was dead! His once powerful heart had given its last beat.
I beckoned Marie. She gazed at Mystery, now quite motionless. Then she leaned down and stroked his head. There was no light in his eyes. Turning to me she said simply, "Kad, after this we must take our walks without him. Oh, how I did love that wise old dog!"
"Not more than I, Marie. Man has done many marvelous things: his creative mind has made the wonders of our civilization; but I doubt if any single thing he has accomplished is more creative than his development, through selective breeding, of useful and noble animals. When man changed predacious wolves into loyal dogs he devised a mirror wherein to see reflected his very inner self, his deep emotions, his highest ideal of morals, of love, loyalty, and faithfulness."
"Kad," said Marie, "Mystery has of late had a large part in our lives. I wish you would include in your autobiography a few lines devoted to his memory. I want to put a copy of what you write on the stone we shall place on his grave."
"I will do it this very night," I answered, "even if it does interrupt the normal sequence of my story. Mystery was a glorious dog; he deserves my highest tribute. Throughout his life he has been our comrade, deserves of perfect trust. He has held much of the store of our affections."
So it happened that night that words were set down which are not less true than the truest I have thus far written.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF MY DOG, MYSTERY
As when physical forces no longer move the strings of the well tuned violin, the music--grave, harsh, inspiring, or gay--is gone; so forever has gone the spirit that: dwelt within you.
In the closing period of the cruelly limited years allotted your kind, you bore infirmity of body with patience unmatched; and saw not with fright death come near.
In accord with your bodily form, your faculties were better tuned than mine, and I grant you a character firmer than mine, be it only that you were my dog! You entwined your spirit with mine. Now it has gone. Where? Where mine also soon must go. For a little while maybe, we shall not be forgotten; and you, perchance, will be remembered with the greater love.
Mystery, my affectionate pal at home, my handsome pointer dog, adieu! My wish is to live the moments still allowed me as splendidly, as bravely, as you.
Your span of years dates February to, 1987, to August 22, 2000. Mine shall be February 22, 1920, to . . . ?
Now that I have made mention in my narrative of the episode of Mystery's death, I again turn back to events which occurred in the year 1960.
OUR PLANS FOR A FLIGHT AROUND THE MOON
BY AKKAD PSEUDOMAN
(presented before the Weft-Warf Club, June 10,1960)
Fiends and club members:
You see here beside me two metal balls about the size of buckshot; they hang from the ceiling by fine quartz fibers. Each of these balls weighs at this place exactly one gram. The fibers by which the balls are suspended are of equal length. I have placed the balls precisely one centimeter apart, between centers. If my measurements have been accurate, the distance between the centers of these small spheres is the same as the separation between the quartz fibers at their points of suspension on the ceiling of the room. The two fibers appear to the eye to hang perfectly parallel with each other. Within the accuracy of human measurement they are parallel, and it would be easy to conclude that there is no attraction between the small, freely-suspended masses. But this is not the case. They are attracting each other according to Newton's law that every pair of masses in the universe mutually attract with a force directly proportional to the product of the quantity of matter in each of the two masses, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers of gravity.
When the two masses--as I have chosen them here--are perfect spheres, the center of gravity and the geometric center of each sphere are located at the same point.
If, as we all believe, this law of Newton is strictly true, why do the fibers suspending the masses hang perfectly parallel? Why do the little balls not pull toward each other and thus cause the suspending fibers to incline from the vertical and so make the distance between them where the are attached to the balls less than the distance between them at their points of attachment above? The answer is found when we fully realize the inconceivably feeble character of gravitational attraction. If the balls were but slightly electrified-one plus and one minus--they would at once pull toward each other with a force millions of times as great as the gravitational force which pulls them.
Nevertheless, the actual pull of gravity between two one-gram masses placed with centers one centimeter apart, feeble as it is, is known with extraordinary precision. The force of the attraction under the above conditions is called the Newtonian constant of gravitation; it is generally symbolized by the letter G. I shall now give you the value of G in numbers; but these numbers are beyond the power of the mind to visualize. G is equal to 6.66 divided by 100,000,000; this is the attractive force expressed as the fraction of a dyne.
The dyne, known as the centimeter-gram-second unit of force, is in itself a small quantity which it is somewhat difficult for the mind to grasp. As defined, it is that force which, acting for one second on a mass of one gram (the mass being free to move in a horizontal plane) will impart to it a velocity of one centimeter per second.
I imagine you are thinking that if the force of gravitation is as feeble as I say, one ought to be able to jump to the moon. But let us examine matters a little further.
Suppose we picture to ourselves that one of the suspended balls grows in size until it has the mass and size of the earth; assume that the other ball, of mass one gram, now rests on the surface of the big one. What force is then acting on the small ball? By the most simple application of Newton's law we find that this force is directed between the centers of the two masses--one very great, one small--and that its magnitude is the weight we obtain on the pan of our chemical balance and call one gram.
The Newtonian constant G is more universal even than the constant which expresses the velocity of light and electromagnetic radiation of other wave-lengths. Light can have its velocity altered by sending it through glass. Nothing man can do with physical or chemical forces can change the gravitational attraction between masses of matter. When the masses are taken as unit masses, and there is a distance of one centimeter between their centers of gravity, the force of gravity which acts between them defines this constant G. It is, as far as we know, the one most unchangeable constant in all this universe. A feeble force? yes. But make one of the masses as great as the mass of our earth--we and everything on earth have never once escaped the grip that holds us and all else to this planet of ours.
All which goes up, always comes down! To be the first humans to attempt an escape from earth, where gravity has imprisoned man, would be a greater adventure than Prometheus undertook when he stole fire from the Olympian gods. But, my friends, Jean and I believe we can do it. The principal force we shall use to battle with gravity is an electric one.
I now propose to outline the major obstacles which confront us, and sketch in a popular way the means we have devised for overcoming them. For many years we have occupied ourselves with scientific measurements, with collecting empirical data, with lengthy calculations, and we have made experimental flights with manless projectiles high above the stratosphere. The highly technical matters involved should not be stated here further than to report certain conclusions. I know, however, that several members of this club are trained in physics, mathematics, and chemistry. For them I have I prepared several copies of sheets containing formulae, essential calculations, details of design, and other technical matter. These sheets will be given to each of you later so you may study them, if you so choose, at your leisure.1
If I live to report on our adventure, the strictly scientific material will be collected and placed in a technical supplement to a narrative I may write. Similarly, you may consider the extra sheets I have just mentioned as an appendix to this, my very general account of our plans.
THE WORK AND INITIAL VELOCITY REQUIRED TO TRANSPORT A KILOGRAM OF MATTER TO THE POINT BETWEEN THE EARTH AND MOON WHERE GRAVITY IS ZERO2
I preface my remarks which follow with this statement: our earth is surrounded with a blanket of air which must be pierced by any projectile which leaves the earth with a velocity which will take it into celestial space, never to return. The work which must be done to carry the projectile against the friction of the air is very large, and is not determinable by calculation. Only actual trials, so far never made, can reveal even approximately the magnitude of this work.
As an approach to the solution of our problem it is desirable therefore first to make all our calculations based on the assumption that there is no atmosphere surrounding our planet. With this presupposed, our calculations can be taken as accurate and rigid. Later I shall consider what reduction in the velocity of our projectile may be guessed at due to the drag of the atmosphere; I shall then briefly discuss the means we propose to employ to enhance our velocity after we have left the earth's atmosphere, until it becomes great enough to carry us to the moon.
It has been estimated that when a kilogram of steel left the muzzle of the "Big Bertha" gun which bombarded Paris near the close of the World War, it had stored up in it--due to its velocity--energy equivalent to fifteen hundred kilogram-calories. In electrical units this energy is equivalent to 1.75 kilowatt-hours.3 Now it may readily be proved that (in vacuum) the energy required to shoot one kilogram of matter to the moon is about ten times this figure, or 17.5 kilowatthours.3 This much work must be done to lift only one kilogram of matter from the surface of the earth to a place where it would feel the influence of the moon's gravity and be attracted toward it. To help you visualize what this means I recall to your minds that the U.S. submarine S-51, rammed and sunk by the City of Rome in September 1923, weighed a thousand tons, It sank in forty meters of water, and it required heroic efforts exerted for more than eight months to raise it from the ocean's bed to the surface of the sea. The work required to send only one kilogram of matter to the moon is about equal to the work required to raise the huge mass of this submarine to a height of 7.05 meters. Our best estimate of the total weight of our moon-ship with its load and passengers is 1,400 kilograms; Thus, if we are to succeed we must do work equal to lifting the S-51 to a vertical height of nearly 10,000 meters. Even this tremendous task would not seem impossible if we could choose sufficient time in which to do the work, but there is another condition which must be meet. It is easy to show that to do this much work we must impart to our craft, weighing 1,400 kilograms, a velocity of 11.2 kilometers (7.0 miles) per second.4 No cannon operated with an explosive has ever been built which can give to a projectile anything approaching this velocity; and if it did do this, passengers housed in its cavity would become a pancake of jelly on the floor of the cavity. Furthermore, the gun will have but about thirty-six seconds in which to do this work--over seventeen kilowatt-hours per kilogram of weight!
The study which we have given this matter has convinced us that there is only one known means of imparting a velocity of over eleven kilometers per second to any considerable mass of matter. We have decided that this may be done by using a sufficiently long electric gun, and by adding to the muzzle velocity of the projectile when it is above the atmosphere a velocity produced by means of rockets. It would be possible to obtain the required muzzle velocity with an electric gun alone (air friction neglected) because the crest of a magnetic wave may be made to move along the gun barrel with practically any prescribed velocity, but air friction will always put a limit on the final muzzle velocity. Hence we are under the necessity of combining rocket propulsion with the propulsion given by the electric gun, the rocket coming into action after the atmosphere has been pierced.
The electric gun has all-important advantages over any form of gun operated with an explosive. Steel cannon have very restricted upper limits in weight, bore, and length; the electric gun has none. It may be constructed to have a bore of several meters; and, if required, can be made hundreds of kilometers long. The sole restriction to the diameter and length of an electric gun is the cost of its construction. The projectile which is placed in the energized electric gun strives to catch up with the magnetic wave traveling along the gun barrel, and if the gun is long enough the projectile will eventually (air drag neglected) move at nearly the same speed as the waves of magnetism, however fast they travel. We have in our possession, therefore, a theoretically practical means of obtaining the velocity needed to carry a huge projectile to the moon.
For your precise understanding of the properties of linearly moving magnetic waves and how they may carry us beyond earth's gravity it will be necessary for me to give now some detailed information on the theory of traveling waves. This I shall do, making use of diagrams and charts.5
Now that we understand the theoretical possibility of giving to our moon-ship the required velocity, it will be well to consider how long our electric moon-gun should be, and how great its diameter.
` THE ELECTRIC GUN
For carrying two persons standing upright, with some freedom to move their limbs, the inside diameter of our cylindrical moon-ship should be about one meter. After much consideration of this matter, we have designed the projectile in which we shall travel so that its outside diameter will be 116 centimeters (forty-five inches). It is to be double walled, and its inside diameter will be one meter. To shoot this huge projectile requires an electric gun made of a succession of copper coils with an inside diameter of about 120 centimeters.
The chance of circling the moon and living to return will be determined in very large measure by the length of our gun; the longer we make it, the less our bodies will be accelerated while in its barrel. However, the cost of the gun, immense at the best, will mount in proportion to its length; and for this reason we shall make it as short as we dare.
Mt. Popocatepetl lifts its shapely white cone to a height of 5,450 meters (17,880 feet). Its southwestern side slopes toward the Pacific Ocean, 275 kilometers distant. It is reasonably smooth, and the slope is fairly regular. Here is a picture of it. We have selected this side of the mountain and the level plain below as the placement for our mighty gun. The muzzle end of the gun, located at the top of its snow-capped cone, will be in air which has just one-half the atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It should be observed that an electric gun need not be exactly straight, provided all curvatures are very gentle. The gun may conform, therefore, more or less to small undulations of the mountainside. The place we have selected will require a minimum of roadbed construction, and all heavy material needed can be transported by water close to the spot where the loading end of the gun is located. The ground construction and surfacing are already under way; and the gun itself--made in many sections, of course--is approaching completion. I shall ask but a few moments of your attention to de scribe in the body of my paper a few of the more salient features of the gun. The sheets of addenda which I have prepared for your leisurely reading describe the technical features of this gun in more detail.
The maximum velocity which the projectile can acquire when there is no air drag is the velocity with which the magnetic waves travel in the gun. With a given spacing of the windings, this velocity is directly proportional to the frequency of the current energizing the gun coils. Since we plan to have the velocity of the projectile increase as closely as possible from zero velocity at the beginning to at least eleven kilometers (seven miles) per second when it leaves the muzzle, we have found it advisable to divide the total length of the gun into five sections, each forty kilometers long. Each of these five sections will be energized with currents of different and increasing frequency: 1,000 cycles per second will be used for the first section, 2,000 cycles for the second, 3,000 cycles for the third, 4,000 cycles for the fourth, and 5,000 cycles for the fifth section, which will have its muzzle end placed near the mountain top, 5,400 meters above sea level.
Five large three-phase generator sets will be used. One will be placed near the middle of each gun section. Each one of the five generator sets will supply current of proper frequency to the section it energizes. Power will not be fed to the whole length of any one gun section at the same instant. By a special arrangement of switches,7 which the advancing projectile will automatically close and open, only a short length of any one section will have power fed to it at any given instant. Thus, the length of gun which is receiving power at any given time will be about twice the length of the projectile. Otherwise expressed, power will be supplied to the gun only where needed at any instant for driving the projectile forward. By this arrangement relatively small generators will be required. Our Utah gun was operated successfully in this manner.
In addition to the coil windings of the long gun, a great many electric condenser units will be connected to the coils in the same manner and for the same purpose that we used them in operating our experimental gun at Park City, Utah. You are all familiar in a general way with that gun. The experience which we had with our Utah gun, and the data obtained, give good assurance that the great moon gun will function as planned.
CHIEF FEATURES OF THE MOON-SHIP
Exhaustive tests and many "shots" made with our Utah gun have revealed what propelling force may be expected to act upon the double-walled, hollow cylinder of the moon-ship.
The inner shell of the ship will be made of thin and very light sheet metal. There will be a small space between the outer and inner shell--about a centimeter. In this space will be carried alcohol previously cooled with dry ice to - 77.5 C. As heat develops by friction with the air and by electric currents set up in the projectile, this cold alcohol will be heated, and finally it will become vaporized; thus at the same time keeping the projectile cool and adding to the propelling force by ejection of its combustion products from a nozzle at the rear end. That is, the alcohol will be mixed with oxygen in an explosion chamber, where the mixture will be fired by an electric spark. Ejected with great speed at the rear the gaseous products will provide a powerful rocket action. Our calculations have demonstrated that if we pass through the atmosphere at a velocity as low as nine kilometers per second the propelling force of our rockets will increase the velocity to that necessary to take us to the moon.
The proportioning, the length, the streamlining, the general form, the rocket features, the selection of the best device for controlling interior temperatures, the arrangements for supplying pure air at normal pressure, the method of steering, the controls, the design of windows for photographing and viewing things in exterior space, the aids to withstand the great acceleration to which our bodies will be subjected, the designing of a huge parachute which will automatically open when we return to the thin air high above the earth, the shifting of the power to the point in the gun where lies the projectile--these are but a small fraction of the features which have occupied our concentrated attention for the past several years. I touch here on only a few points of construction which are most salient. To help you to an understanding of these, I have prepared the cross sectional drawings of our moon-ship, one drawn parallel with its long axis, and one at right angles to this axis. These drawings I am now handing to you for examination while I discuss some of the features to which I have just referred.
A drawing must be inserted here is:
THE PROPOSED COURSE AROUND THE MOON
Average velocity from start g to a = 1.8 km. per second.
Constant velocity from a to b = 0.88 km. per second
Average velocity from b to f =1.8 km. per second.
Time to go from g to a =60 hours.
Time to go from a to b = 6.4 hours.
Time to go from b to f = 60 hours.
Estimated total time for trip (g to f) = 126 hours.
The feature of our moon-ship projectile which is perhaps of prime importance is this: the propelling force which the gun imparts to the thin-walled cylinder is precisely proportional to the length of this cylinder; but the weight of any cylinder also increases directly with its length. If this cylinder were to carry no load of human beings and rocket-propelling fuel, and no parachute, internal fittings, or instruments, it would make little or no difference to the muzzle velocity acquired whether the cylinder were made long or short. Such, however, is not the case. Our moon-ship will carry a heavy load of material upon which the magnetic forces do not act. It becomes desirable, therefore, to have the shell of the projectile quite long. The weight of the "dead" load then becomes a smaller percentage of the total weight to which a very high velocity must be imparted.
As soon as the projectile has left the gun it is desirable, for lessening air friction and for lightening the load, to drop off such length of the projectile as carries no useful load. The mechanism for doing this is quite simple, as I shall now explain. The double-walled, long cylinder will be about twenty meters in length; it will be streamlined to look very like a slender Zeppelin airship, but will be much more pointed at both ends, for better streamlining at high velocities. Inside this cylinder and fitting it closely, we plan to place a short cylinder. This short cylinder will be located forward of the center of gravity of the long cylinder. The short cylinder--about three meters long--is the moon-ship proper, and will carry the passengers and the load.
For brevity I call the short inner projectile the "load-ship." It is our purpose to send only the load-ship with its human cargo into the most distant space.
At a proper moment after the moon-ship has made its exit from the gun, we propose to shoot the load-ship out of the long cylinder, with a force which will accelerate it with respect to the cylinder in the same manner as the gun accelerated the combination--long cylinder and load-ship. The forward end of the long cylinder will consist of a very thin sheet-metal cap, attached to the cylinder by bolts. When these bolts are retracted, the cap will be forced off by the trapped air. The load-ship will then be ejected into space ahead of the long cylinder by firing some of the central rocket fuel.
The velocity remaining in the long cylinder, now left behind the load-ship, will not be sufficient to carry it beyond the earth's attraction. In time it will be drawn back to earth; it is our hope that it will fall into the sea, and not in a populous city. This is but one of the many chances we must take.
We are quite aware that the air friction on our moon-ship (the long cylinder and load-ship combined) will be very great, however well we streamline it. All the calculated quantities I have given up to this point have excluded air friction. For purposes of calculation we have assumed that the performance of the gun, with the muzzle velocity acquired and needed, is what it would be if no blanket of resisting atmosphere surrounded our globe. If space were a vacuum at the top of Mt. Popocatepetl it is certain that a velocity of 11.2 kilometers per second would more than carry our load-ship into the moon's attraction. But the many kilometers of air above our earth are gravity's best aid for confining man to his earthly prison.
No data are available for calculating the retarding force of the atmosphere at the high velocities we hope to attain. Therefore, however powerful our electric gun, we shall certainly require some means for giving our load-ship additional velocity when it has left the earth's atmosphere and emerged from the long cylinder. An application of the rocket principle here offers the only known means for changing our velocity when once we have left the earth. Thus, since we need to use the rocket principle both for steering our ship and for giving it additional velocity, we have been led to consider the theoretical possibilities and limitations of the rocket. I think it will not be without interest to you if I briefly sketch some of our conclusions.
THE ROCKET FEATURE
Many people have a false conception of how a rocket works. They think an increasing velocity is imparted to a rocket-driven missile by the push of an ejected gas against the air, and that a missile would cease to gain velocity after going above the atmosphere. As a matter of fact, it was found experimentally by Professor R. H. Goddard many years ago that rocket fuel will accelerate a projectile with about twenty per cent more efficiency in a vacuum than in air at normal pressure. He has also shown that the more nearly the rocket attains a velocity equal to the velocity in a reverse direction of its ejected gas, the greater will become the efficiency of the rocket.
If these are fact--and I assure you they are--why, you may ask, do we not attempt our journey around the moon without the aid of an immensely costly electric gun? Why should we not gradually impart velocity to our moon-ship with the rocket fuel alone, until we are traveling the required eleven kilometers per second? The answer is interesting.
A mixture by weight of one part gasoline and 3.53 parts liquid oxygen, when burned, will produce per gram of the gasoline 11,530 gram calories. The energy per gram of mixture is thus equal to 2,550 gram calories, and represents about 3.4 times as much work as can be derived from one gram of gunpowder. A proper gasoline and liquid oxygen mixture is the most efficient fuel that it is practical to use for propelling a rocket. It may be shown that--even if there were no air friction--if one gram of this oxygen and gasoline mixture were burned and ejected from the nozzle of a rocket in a manner to produce motion with one hundred per cent efficiency, the mixture would still be far short of having enough energy stored in it to take it to the moon.
Professor Goddard made numerous calculations in 1916 and later, Upon the theoretical possibility of reaching the moon with a rocket. He took into account air friction and many other factors. He concluded that 438 kilograms of rocket would be needed at the earth's surface for every kilogram which would reach the moon, if the propellant were smokeless powder, used at fifty per cent efficiency. This achievement with the best propellant known is only possible upon the assumption that as the rocket rises more and more of itself is automatically dropped behind. The moon will never be reached by a human being in a car propelled by rockets only, unless the dream of some scientists is realized whereby wk will be able to release and control the almost limitless energy stored in atoms.
However, Jean and I have satisfied ourselves that the moon may be reached if the major part of the necessary velocity required is first imparted by an electric gun, and the rocket principle is later applied to supply the deficiency.
I have now described to you, in outline only, the general plan of our contemplated procedure. I have given you our reasons for the hope we nourish of leaving earth's gravity behind, circling the moon, and returning to earth.
I have already suggested that to withstand while in the gun an acceleration that may approach thirty-two times the acceleration of gravity, we must employ a device which we expect will prove effective. We plan that at the take-off each of us will be tightly encased from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet in a strong canvas suit. On the outside of each suit, suitably distributed, will be attached many small steel rings. From the upper end of the inside wall in the load-ship will depend many strong cords, with snappers on their free ends. Before the take-off these cords will be attached by the snapper's to the steel rings in the suits. When we are suddenly changed from zero acceleration to an acceleration that may become thirty-two times that with which a mass falls, our bodies will not slump down to the base of the load-ship, but will be held up by the cords. When our moon-ship leaves the gun it will have acquired a large but not precisely predictable percentage of the necessary velocity. When this has happened we shall feel no further acceleration until we start a rocket. It will be quite easy to unsnap the supporting cords and remove the suit which tightly grips the body, as it will be held together with zippers.
I know chat my description of our ambitious plans has aroused in you a desire to put some difficult questions to me. I now close my formal paper, and with the permission of our president open the meeting for discussion. To the best of my ability I shall answer any questions you may wish to ask.
Our president at the time was Kenneth Strong. He requested and received a very full discussion. I select here for inclusion in my narrative only a few of the many questions asked, and my replies.
Question (Horace Portland): How much muzzle velocity do you expect to lose due to air friction?
Answer: By the time our velocity is high, the moon-ship will have ascended the slope of Popocatepetl to a considerable height. Near its summit, where the muzzle of our gun will be placed, and where further increase in our velocity due to the gun will end, the pressure of the atmosphere is but half of what it is at sea level. For this reduced atmospheric pressure and for the extremely high velocity we shall certainly attain, there are absolutely no precise experimental data which enable us to predict what back-drag we shall encounter in the rare air from friction. However, from the drag produced upon projectiles shot from ordinary cannon we have some data, and our experiments with the Utah gun supply us with still better information. We expect quite a considerable reduction in speed as a result of air friction, and for this reason we shall carry a large supply of rocket fuel both in the long cylinder and in the load-ship. This will be used to accelerate the ship after it is well above the earth's atmosphere. If with the rocket propulsion to aid us we still fail to acquire a velocity which will take us into the moon's attraction, we shall fail to circle the moon; but our safe return to earth will in no wise be endangered from this cause.
Success in attaining our objective depends most of all upon this unpredictable air friction. However, our study of streamlining for excessive velocities, and data we have obtained from trials made with our Utah gun, give us strong hope that we shall succeed in reaching the moon's attraction.
Question (Walter L. Hasbrouch): When a meteor enters our atmosphere it becomes white hot, and, if small, it burns up. How do you expect to avoid an overheating of the load-ship?
Answer: We hope to avoid overheating very effectively. We also expect, by the means we adopt, to add materially to our velocity. The long cylinder within which our load-ship is placed, as I have explained, will have an outer and an inner wall, spaced several centimeters apart. Between these shells there is room for a considerable amount of cold alcohol. When this is successively warmed, vaporized, mixed with oxygen, and fired, the combustion products will pass out of the opening in the tail with high velocity, carrying away a large amount of stored heat. Thus, the shell of the projectile cannot heat excessively as long as any alcohol remains. Moreover, there will also be large heat dissipation due to the rapid passage of air over the surface of the projectile.
The load-ship itself will not get hot, because it will be shielded from the magnetic field; and it will be entirely surrounded by the double-walled cylinder kept cool by the alcohol. When we have ascended above the earth's atmosphere the front cap of the cylinder will be forced off as I have described. Then the tail rocket in the loadship will be started. This will further add to the velocity of the loadship, which will shoot out of the long cylinder like a projectile from a gun. Both cylinder and load-ship will continue their flight through space, but the former will gradually lag behind and eventually return to earth.
Question (Malvern Hill Battle): How long will it take to reach the moon, half circle it once, and make the return journey?
Answer: Your question is important. We should know as closely as possible just how long we shall be confined in the moon-ship in order to estimate just how much oxygen our lungs will use. The blackboard sketch I shall now draw will help you to understand how we arrive at an approximate time for our journey.
Starting from the earth at g on my diagram, we plan to pass to one side of the moon at the point marked a. We shall endeavor to maneuver our moon-ship with its rockets so that when we reach the point n we shall be 6,370 kilometers from the center of the moon. This distance was chosen arbitrarily to be the same as the radius of the earth. It may be shown that when we reach this point we shall start on a circular orbit about the moon, provided our velocity is exactly 3,150 kilometers per hour.8 We shall then move with uniform velocity to the point b, diametrically opposite to the point a. The distance from a to b along the circumference of the circle drawn in dotted line is 20,000 kilometers (12,430 miles). While we are traversing this distance the rockets will not be used, and the moon-ship will not be expending any energy. On account of our relatively slow motion it will take 6.4 hours to move from a to b. We shall have plenty of time to take photographs.
After arriving at the point b we would continue in a circular orbit forever if we did not then make use of the propulsive force obtainable from our rockets to alter our direction of motion. If, however, we apply this force in a proper manner and to a sufficient degree, we shall begin the return journey to the earth along the line bf.
AT THIS LOCATION IN THE BOOK IS A DRAWING OF THE MOONSHIP
The time to go from g to a and the time to return by the path b to f will be approximately the same. On the return trip the earth's attraction will gradually increase our velocity. The average velocity in returning, as in going, will be about 1.8 kilometers per second; and the total distance traveled in going and returning on these courses is twice the distance to the moon, or about 768,800 kilometers. The time to travel this distance at an average speed of 1.8 kilometers per second is approximately 120 hours. This time, added to the 6.4 hours spent in making the half circle around the moon, brings the total time required to complete our journey to about five days and six hours.
Question John P. Haynes): On the return trip you will doubtless arrive at the upper region of the earth's atmosphere with a velocity of about eleven kilometers per second. I should suppose your parachute will not retard your velocity very much until you have come into the ionosphere or so-called Appleton layer, which lies above the stratosphere, some hundred or more kilometers above the surface of the earth. Can you slow down to a suitable speed in so short a distance?
Answer: Our load-ship will be made to approach the earth tail end first. We expect to have some rocket fuel left, and will use our five rockets to exert a propelling force in a direction away from the earth. Through this means we shall not arrive at the upper region of the earth's atmosphere at the high speed you have mentioned. We hope to make a reduction in speed of at least ten per cent with the rockets before we enter the outer reaches of the atmosphere; but what we chiefly rely upon for decelerating our motion is the manner in which we shall approach the earth. The load-ship will be steered so that if it were to continue in a straight line it would pass to one side of the earth by a hundred or more kilometers. When we have reached a point which would lie on an extension of a radius of the earth, the parachute in the front end of the load-ship will be opened: it will begin to catch some of the extremely thin air far above the earth. For some time it will only slightly and gradually retard our motion. Then as we further approach the earth in a line which is nearly straight, and only inclined a little to the surface of the earth, we shall be slowed down more and more, but not so rapidly as to put a strain on the parachute. Our nearly straight line of motion will begin to change to a curved line, bending down more and more toward the surface of the earth.
By the time we are as far above the earth as, say, the crest of Mount Everest, our speed will have been sufficiently reduced so that our parachute will function in a normal manner, and land us gently. If our landing is in water, we shall float until rescued. If we fall on land anywhere except in the arctic regions we shall be safe. Probably even in those regions we should soon be found by airplanes.
You will better understand what I have tried to make clear in words if you again look at my sketch on the blackboard. Here f is the point at which we plan to open the parachute. After this our approach to the earth should be along the line fp.
Question (Walter L. Hasbrouch): The 200-kilometer-long gun will not be placed vertically as was the case with your Utah gun. Your loaded projectile is very heavy. I should suppose, therefore, that there would be an immense amount of friction of the lower side of the projectile with the inner wall of the gun, and that at a high velocity a great deal of heat would be developed. Is this so?
Answer: No, because the powerful electric forces present in the energized gun act to force the projectile (or for that matter any cylinder) toward the central axis of the gun. At the position of stable equilibrium for the projectile its axis coincides with the lengthwise axis of the gun. Thus, when the projectile is moving it will not touch the inner wall of the gun, and there will be no friction.
Following my answer to this last question the formal meeting adjourned. My friends gathered around me each eager to ask further questions, and to wish us good fortune.
Before we separated for the night, John Haynes spoke to Jean and me privately. He said, "I have faith in you and in your venture. I hope --I even believe--you will succeed, but what amazes me even more than your elegant solutions of many mechanical, physical, and electrical problems of great complexity is the fact that you find yourselves in a position to finance so tremendous an undertaking. You must be able to command at least two million dollars."
"Not quite so much as that, John," I replied. "It is true that the cost of the equipment and its erection will probably exceed two million, but the ground equipment is not destroyed or injured by being used. The great mass of copper in the gun can be sold at the prevailing price of unfabricated metal. The boilers, the turbo-high-frequency generators, and the condensers are of the same construction as those now extensively used for high-frequency inductive melting, and for the heat treatment of metals. These should find a ready market at a price not far below their first cost. When I presented these facts to the banks I was promised loans as needed up to about fifty per cent of the purchase price of this equipment. Expenditures for temporary buildings to be used for power-houses, road building, grading, et cetera, plus the difference between first cost and resale value of permanent equipment, I shall be able to meet by hypothecating my entire resources."
"Kad," said John, "I stand ready to back you with five additional million dollars which I think you will eventually require. Your great enterprise must not fail for lack of funds. It is better that the financing and control of the whole enterprise be kept among ourselves--life members of the Weft-Warp Club."
"John," I replied, "I accept your offer, and thank you. A successful termination of what we strive for now rests flatly on our scientific skill, our determination, and the care we use in making adequate preparations. We will take a great chance, and may lose our lives, but if success is the gift of fate, our achievement will be absolutely unique in history. We feel also that it will be glorious, and it is not unlikely that--without sacrifice of honor or propriety--we may reap a large financial return."
We parted for the night. Jean and I were happy and very hopeful, but sobered by thoughts of what we were soon to undertake.
1 See Technical Supplement, under various headings.
2 See Technical supplement, pp. 246-249.
3 See Technical Supplement, p. 248.
4 See Technical Supplement, p. 249.
5 I omit a portion of my paper here, as it is a repetition in considerable measure of what is given in the Technical Supplement, beginning on page 259.
6 See illustration facing page.
7 Supplement, p. 274
8 Technical Supplement, p. 283.
9 This value was obtained by the calculus. Note that as the moon-ship leaves the earth on the outward trip its velocity must decrease rapidly at first, while it is near the earth, then more slowly. The average velocity thus is comparatively low.
A FEW COMMENTS, TECHNICAL AND OTHERWISE
By postponing to a considerably later date our final attempt to circle the moon Jean and I saw that our chances of success would be much increased--and we would have longer to live should the Fates be unkind to us. We also clearly perceived the utmost importance when constructing our moon-ship of utilizing the very latest findings of science and the newest developments in technology. We wished, for example, to select for our use the best of the many light alloys that had been developed and that, at about this time, had begun to come into commercial use. We were particularly impressed with the properties of some of the new alloys of beryllium. This metal when pure, has a density of 1.8--only eighty per cent heavier than water. It melts at 1350 C. When to the pure metal a very small percentage of certain other metals is added, same of the alloys obtained are exceedingly strong and ductile. Pure beryllium itself does not easily corrode; and, what is of higher importance, many of its alloys, in the form of bars, sheets, et cetera, may be readily welded electrically. In short, we had about decided, after having tested many samples of beryllium alloys, that any one of several of them would be ideal material with which to construct our moon-ship.
A subsidiary of The Aluminum Company of America was already marketing in quantity a remarkable beryllium alloy, ninety-five per cent beryllium--a boon to aviation. We learned from the makers that they would soon be able to supply it to us in a form particularly suited to our needs, probably within a year or less. We would wait for this, we thought.
Furthermore, we were continually finding by our many tests important ways in which we might improve the construction and safety of our ship. We were also learning much about rockets of the type we must use to steer a course through space, and to get us free from the grip of the moon's gravitation when we reached the point in space at which to begin the return journey.
The technical world, the commercial world, and the United States government had become fully aware of the protean character of the linearly moving magnetic field, for we had repeatedly demonstrated it, and had shown with our Utah gun the enormous velocity that may be imparted to gross matter by its means.
About 1958 a company had been organized for the purpose of sending the mail in cylinders propelled by travelling magnetic waves. By the middle of 1959, mail was actually moving in aluminum cylinders between the New York and Chicago post offices in about two hours.
Our army and navy were also building and testing electric ordnance operated on the travelling wave principle that I have so fully described.
At this period Jean and I with our families were enjoying a very delightful social life, when we had time, with our local and out of town friends. No wonder then that we were not eager, with events shaping up as I have explained, to set an early date for our projected attempt to fly around the moon. However, we were ever mindful of Bert Thompson's visit, and of what he had told us regarding the activities of the Russians. We were certain also that Dr. Plungin had in his possession practically all we knew respecting the technical features of our planned equipment for the adventure. These and other considerations spurred us to push the world forward rapidly. So, as I shall describe in the following, we were soon to leave for the moon.
HASTY PREPARATIONS FOR OUR MOON TRIP
A year had passed since my paper before the Weft-Warp Club given June I0, 1960. Jean and I were at last able to say that our 200kilometer-long gun, the five temporary power-houses, and all the electrical equipment, had been completed, satisfactory installed, tested, and found good.
To protect the electric gun from the weather we had enclosed its entire length in a tunnel-like covering of strong white canvas. Seen from an airplane, the gun had the appearance of a very long white cord, reaching from a point far in the level country and up the ascending slope of Popocatepetl to its very snow-capped crest. The five temporary power-houses, made of sheet metal, housed five generators of 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 cycles respectively. These were located close alongside the gun at intervals of forty kilometers. Seen from the sky they might be taken for shiny, grey beads attached by very thin black threads (in reality the power cables) to a long white cord.
The mountain as it appeared in the distance to a camera pointed west is shown in a sketch which I reproduce for these pages. Our gun rested on a roadbed and trestlework placed wherever needed to carry it over depressions and other inequalities of the ground. It extended in a nearly straight line down the southeast slope, and then passed somewhat to the south of the town of Puebla, which appears in the middle foreground of the sketch.
Here is a picture page of a snow-capped mountain
Now that our paraphernalia were in order, we thought it precautionary to spend at least one, or perhaps several weeks in further tests of the equipment. We wished to determine, in particular, what velocity would remain to an empty projectile shot with the full power of the gun, after it had passed through the earth's atmosphere-where it would encounter an unpredictable backward drag. We had provided four extra projectiles to determine by trials this loss of velocity. These were loaded with sand to equal the weight of the one which would carry us. They also held some compressed oxygen and powdered magnesium. By means of an automatic firing device carried in the projectile one-half of the oxygen-magnesium mixture would fire first and be ejected from the nozzle in the rear, giving a brilliant flash of light. This first flare would occur when the projectile had passed through the atmosphere; then the other half would fire at a predetermined later time. By photographing these two successive flashes from two stations located at a selected distance apart, the space traveled by the projectile in a known time, and hence its velocity, could be calculated by the ordinary methods of trigonometry.
The first of the four projectiles had been shot up quite successfully, and its velocity when first free of the atmosphere was found to be 9.3 kilometers per second. This told us that we must obtain an additional 1.9 kilometers per second with rockets. The outcome of this test was satisfactory, although we wished to make further trials to confirm our results, and we looked forward to several weeks more of experimentation. Then something happened which changed our plans. We had scarcely completed our analysis of this first and only test flight when a cablegram, clear to us only, was delivered to me. It read:
June 28, I96I,
10 p.m. local time.
"Have information electric is completed stop will be used within next twenty to thirty hours.
I read the cablegram aloud to Jean. It was plain to us that an early moon-flight of the Russians was meant.
Jean remarked, "Kad, no more tests. We must be off at once or we shall be anticipated."
"We leave at sundown," I replied. "We can then travel a small part of the way in the earth's shadow. It is now 4:00 p.m. by local time. It is 1:00 a.m. by Russian time. The Russians will probably wait for sunset before they take off. We will beat them to it by at least several hours.
" The momentous day had arrived--the time for which Jean and I had lived our lives, and spent a fortune!
OFF FOR THE MOON!
At seven o'clock in the evening of the same day that we received Bert Thompson's cablegram--June 28, 1961--Jean and I had completed all the necessary arrangements for our journey. After a hurried final inspection of the moon-ship, we encased ourselves in the tightly fitting canvas suits I have already described. Before the zippers closing in the face and chest were pulled, each of us shook hands with the members of the Weft-Warp Club who were present to see us off. Then each kissed his brave but tearful wife and crawled into the loadship. The ship had been so constructed that an elliptically shaped portion of its side wall could be removed and replaced, for entry and exit, in a manner to make the interior strictly air-tight.
This last maneuver had been rehearsed often, so everything proceeded without a hitch. Our assistants closed us in and we secured the door from the inside. A flashlight provided us with light. We fastened the snappers of the cords to the rings in our suits. For each of us two cords were also fastened to the platform on which we stood, instead of to the load-ship wall above our heads. We had taken into account that when we issued from the gun a deacceleration due to the friction of the air on the outside wall of the long projectile would begin--which would reduce the velocity with which the projectile left the gun. In consequence of this, our bodies by their inertia would tend to maintain the same velocity, and therefore--unless proper precautions were taken--we should be violently thrown upward against the top wall of the load-ship chamber. This was prevented by anchoring our bodies from below. It may be noted here that the canvas suits fitted so tightly that it was very discomforting to endure their pressure, which was equally great over all parts of the body; but I should not now be writing my memoirs if we had not worn them.
Our flow of rocket fuel and oxygen to breathe were under perfect control with hand-manipulated valves. Scores of ground trials had familiarized us with their operation, which had become as automatic to us as the manipulation of a car or an airplane.
It was not long before our assistants outside, with suitable lifting apparatus, had placed the moon-ship in the breech of the electric gun. Then we received a sound signal that everything was ready. The generators were all running at full speed. It only remained to throw one switch which would connect the first section of the gun to the bus-bars and we would be off. All the other switches would close and open automatically as the projectile advanced in the gun. Each second shortly after the start we should be gaining speed at the rate of over 300 meters per second. At the end of thirty-six seconds or a little more we should be leaving the muzzle with a velocity which would not be far from eleven kilometers per second--25,000miles per hour.
At precisely 7:45 p.m. the switch was closed and we were off.
Thirty-six seconds is not long, but a man can die in much less time. The instant our acceleration started I began to have weird sensations. The pressure of the tight-fitting canvas suit on my body seemed to increase many fold; but this increase in pressure was not the same all over my body. It was greatest about my feet and ankles, less over my chest and back, and much less over my neck and face. I felt as if my blood and all the organs in my body were going into my legs. Some blood surely did leave my retinas and brain, for all went black before my eyes and I lost consciousness.
When my senses came back, my first conscious act was to examine the stop watch fastened to the wall before my face. It read 7:48:25--three minutes, twenty-five seconds after starting. I knew then that it must be about three minutes since we had left the muzzle of the gun, and that we were probably already 2,000 kilometers above the earth. We were, therefore, far out of the atmosphere and the influence of its backward drag. I felt perfectly comfortable. It was curious that I seemed suddenly to have lost all my weight, as does a man when he drops a very heavy burden from his back.
My next thought was for Jean. I looked at him. He showed no visible signs of life. With nervous haste I unfastened the snappers from my own suit and hastened to unfasten his. When the last cord was loosed, his body remained erect, but he had every appearance of being lifeless. Filled with terrifying forebodings, I slid back the zippers of his suit and pulled it off. His face was very white and covered with cold perspiration. A thought, expelling all other consciousness, took instant seat in my brain.
"Oh, Jean, it was I who brought you to this strange death!"
But my relief came soon. Jean's limbs began to quiver; some color returned to his face; his eyes opened; and his lips parted to say, "Good, Kad, you are alive too, and we are on our way!"
"Yes," I said, "we both fainted; but we are all right now, and kind fortune rides with us. We can soon start taking observations."
As previously explained, the load-ship in which we were housed was located inside the twenty-meter-long cylinder. For a very brief time we had moved in the earth's shadow, but already the fierce rays of the sun, untempered by a blanket of atmosphere, were striking our ship like fiery shafts. Would they heat it until we were cooked, or, what would be just as disastrous, would they boil away our life sustaining cargo of liquid oxygen? Or, on the other hand, would we be frozen by the cold of celestial space?
To take care of this latter possibility, we had provided for detouring from the rocket-explosion chamber small quantities of gasoline and oxygen and burning this mixture in a metal tube located near the inner wall of our enclosure. As to the other possibility: knowing full well in advance what might happen, we had given all surfaces of our load-ship, inside and out, a heavily plated coating of burnished silver. This gave our ship an excellent mirror surface. We expected that the silvery surface would reflect back such a large percentage of the sun's unobstructed rays that the interior of our craft and the fluids it carried would be little heated. When we finally emerged into full sunlight our expectation was realized: the rise of the mercury in the thermometer was practically nil. The silvered surfaces and the alcohol cooled with "dry ice" had done their work, and our load-ship was at a comfortable temperature.
Six radially projecting bolts securely held the load-ship in place in the long cylinder so that the distance between its forward end and the front cap of the cylinder was about two meters. One of the first things we did was to retract these six bolts, leaving the load-ship free to move forward within the cylinder, and also freeing the cap, which was driven off by the expansion of the air carried in the space between it and the front end of the load-ship.
Our second act was to start the central rocket in the rear end of the load-ship. When we did this, the ship received a sudden acceleration, and emerged from the cylinder. We gained velocity rapidly, and soon left the cylinder behind us.
The light of the waning moon, now one-quarter full, came into our car through one of its six windows. We took observations of the moon and determined that we were moving in a direction which made an angle of about thirty-eight degrees with a line between us and this body. This gave us no concern because, when ready, we could easily alter our direction of flight.
I should state here that we carried a dictograph of modern type and of small size and weight, which recorded every sound and word spoken. Because of this I am able to record accurately all which I select.
All this time we tried a thing sound in theory and now proved true in practice. It was this: when one of our windows was out of line of sight of something we wished to observe, as a star or the moon, one of us could bring this window into line by turning his body in the opposite direction we wished to rotate the load-ship. The law of action and reaction for rotation is precisely the same as it is for linear motion. In this way we could see or photograph whatever we wished.
When no rocket was operating, we had, of course, absolutely no sensation of motion. We seemed to be hung in space as immovable--and I may add, as lonesome--as a fixed star; yet we were moving many kilometers per second.
We next operated momentarily two of the steering rockets in addition to the central rocket, and soon our ship was pointed straight at the moon.
In order to see what lay directly ahead we made use of a retractile tube fitted with telescopic lenses, giving a magnification of sixty. This tube could be pushed through another tube connecting the inner and outer walls of the load-ship; the end of the movable tube then extended half a meter or more beyond the outside wall. Near the object-glass end of this tubular construction was an opening in its side wall, and behind this opening was a forty-five degree prism, which caught the rays from any object directly ahead or behind and turned them at right angles to pass through the telescopic tube to the eye. We used this telescope to observe the moon, toward which we were directly headed. Already it showed an increase in its apparent size. By rotating the telescope through 180o we could see the earth, which by this time we had left well behind us. It had taken on the appearance of a disk of vast dimensions.
We were viewing the earth as from a fixed point in space. That is, if our position had been such that a straight line drawn through it from the earth's center continued and also passed through the sun's center we would have seen all of the earth's disk in full illumination. However, if the line from the earth's center through our position made an angle with a straight line between the centers of the earth and sun, part of the earth's disk would appear to us in shadow. As we actually saw the earth's hemisphere which faced us we judged it to be about two-thirds illuminated. This condition continued all the time that our moon-ship was on its round trip journey between the earth and moon.
For an hour or more I watched our beautiful earth, a strange and wonderful sight from our position, which no one before us had ever occupied. Then I rotated the telescope until the moon was in view. The earth had grown visibly smaller, the moon was getting larger. I estimated by the angle which the disk of the moon subtended that we had thus far gone about 45,000 kilometers.
It may be well to describe here a certain structural feature of our load-ship which helped us to avoid the consequences of an accident which might easily have brought disaster. The space between the inner and outer walls of the load-ship was divided lengthwise into six compartments. Two of these six compartments were filled with rocket fuel--gasoline, vital for giving the ship both direction and added speed. There was a small quantity of compressed air in the gasoline chambers, to drive the liquid into the combustion chamber when a valve was opened. The other four chambers contained our supply of liquid oxygen, required for burning the gasoline and for our lungs. It is clear that the smallest hole pierced in the outer wall of one or more of these chambers containing gasoline or oxygen would permit one or both of these precious fluids to escape into outer space; and an irreparable puncture through both inner and outer walls would be still more disastrous, allowing the breathable air within the load-ship to escape. This being understood, I now tell what happened.
After some discussion we decided that we would operate the propulsion rocket for increasing our velocity until we had used all of the gasoline in one of the two chambers. We did this, and then found that our velocity was what we calculated it should be, in order to reach that point where we would begin our semi-orbit around the moon at a distance somewhat in excess of 6,000 kilometers from its center.
All had gone well for about five hours when Jean excitedly said: "Kad, the barometer shows the air pressure in our ship is falling fast. We have a leak!"
With a flashlight we at once began an inspection of every square centimeter of the inner surface of the ship.
"Here's the trouble!" I exclaimed, and pointed to a hole not larger than a match stick. It was not five centimeters above my head. There was also a corresponding hole through the outer wall of the ship. With my eye placed near the inner hole I could see out into space. Our air was escaping rapidly. I turned to examine the diametrically opposite side of the load-ship wall, and there found an identical hole in both the outer and inner walls.
"Hurry, Jean, hand me those rubber patches we brought along." I quickly covered both holes in the inner wall and our life fluid escaped from the inside no more.
"Are we losing our gas and oxygen? " asked Jean.
"No, Jean," I replied. "A miracle has happened. That tiny meteor, attracted by the sun and going possibly twenty kilometers per second, twice pierced our ship, but its path was through the gas and oxygen chambers we have just emptied! What is more, it missed my head by a very narrow margin. These tramp meteors are apparently a very real hazard in navigating celestial space."
The silence in our ship, when we ourselves made no sound, was absolute. It was oppressive. Our bodily sensations were not unpleasant, but unlike any we had ever felt before. To break the awful silence with our voices, and also to clarify our minds on the causes of our peculiar sensations, we started a discussion running as follows.
WHERE THERE IS NO WEIGHT
"Jean," I began, "suppose we carried in the bottom of the load-ship a pool of mercury. Assume that at this moment we were to open a hole at the bottom of the pool which might let the mercury flow out into space, what do you say would happen? "
"The mercury, unless pushed out by the air in our ship, would not run out of the hole," Jean replied, quite correctly. "You see, Kad, our ship and all that is in it are falling toward the earth with the same velocity. Of course, we are leaving the earth at great speed, but our velocity is growing less each second of time by just that amount which a body at this distance from the earth falls each second toward the earth's center. It is not wrong, therefore, to say we are falling. If the mercury were to run out of the hole in the bottom of our ship, and so be left behind it, a fundamental law in mechanics would be violated--the law that Galileo first announced in stating that regardless of their density or size all to the time all masses in a vacuum fall equal distances in equal times; or otherwise said: the velocity of decent is proportional to the time of falling, and is the same for all bodies. Our ship is losing velocity directed away from the earth each second of time. If the mercury were to run out of the hole and fall behind our ship, it would be falling toward the earth more rapidly than the ship itself. This would violate Galileo's law."
"Correct, Jean," I replied, "but would you say that the mercury has no weight because it does not run out of the hole in the bottom of its container?
"It has mass, Kad, but its weight while in the moving ship is gone."
"Then, Jean," I queried, "if with a dipper you were to dip up some of this mercury from the pool and raise it, let us say, one meter above the surface of the pool, your muscles would have to do no work?"
Jean replied, "You would do no work in overcoming a weight to lift the mercury, but I don't think your statement entirely covers the case. You see, Kad, one must exert a trifling force to start the mass of mercury moving and a like force to bring it to rest again at any point. It is quite true that we and all else inside our projectile give no evidence of possessing any weight whatsoever. But our projectile and all that it contains have lost none of their mass. The quantity of matter remains the same. The measure of any weight, as everyone knows, is the product of its mass by the increase in its velocity per second when it is freely falling toward the center of a gravitationally attracting body, usually the earth. As for this projectile and all that is in it, we may state that its weight, a force pulling toward the earth's center, was annulled by the kinetic energy imparted to the projectile and its contents when they left the muzzle of our gun. As you well know, weight is only relative. Mass alone is absolute, and though Einstein believed mass may be converted into energy, still it never goes out of existence. At this moment our projectile and everything inside it are being deaccelerated by the pull of the earth's attraction, but all parts of it are being deaccelerated to precisely the same extent. Nevertheless, if with your muscles you move any free mass from a lower to a higher point within the interior of our ship while it is in free flight in space, you at first add a trifle to its present velocity through space, that is, you very slightly accelerate it. To do this requires the exertion of a slight force. Then when you have brought the mass to the position where you wish it to remain you must exert the same force to stop its motion. It is well to add that all such actions which may go on within our swiftly moving home do not by the minutest amount change the position of its center of gravity."
To this I replied: "You are quite right, Jean, and it becomes apparent that the only place on earth where we should find no gravity pulling us down is at its precise center. I think to have this experience would be far more difficult than we have found it to come here. We are indeed the only weightless creatures in the solar system."
"Unless," suggested Jean, "at this very time some others are on a venture like our own....let us make some experiments," he added.
We both stood erect with our feet touching--but not pressing--the floor board of the load-ship. Jean placed a finger on my shoulder, and by exerting a scarcely perceptible pressure his body rose upward until he arrested its motion by touching the inner wall of the loadship lightly with his outstretched hand. Then, when he withdrew his hands, his body remained like Mohammed's coffin as reported by the Faithful, suspended in space.
I then tried the same thing with little results. It was curious indeed to note that I could change my now weightless body to ally new position with but the touch of a finger against anything attached to the load-ship. We observed later, when we had reached the point in space where the pull of the moon's attraction and the earth's attraction are equal, that the phenomena above described were in no wise modified.
It was a strange condition which had so completely cancelled the pull of gravity on everything within our ship. This condition, I reflected, could not have been fully established until we had left behind us the earth's atmosphere; while we were passing through it, its backward drag must have acted to deaccelerate our projectile more than bodies unattached to the inside wall of the projectile. Therefore, during this period we must have felt as if we weighed less than nothing.
We noted when attempting to drink water from a glass that the liquid behaved in a most curious manner. In the first place, to fill the glass the water had to come from a small closed vessel with a pressure of air above the liquid to force it into our drinking glass. When there, it at once assumed a spherical shape, lying in the glass like a crystal ball. To drink it we had to toss it from the glass into the opened mouth. Again, when the glass was jerked back from its open end, the water by its inertia was left behind, and because of its surface tension took--after a few oscillations--the shape of a perfect sphere. This beautiful sphere of clear water could be blown about with the breath like a soap-bubble, to any part of the projectile's interior space.
It should be clearly understood, of course, that all I have just stated held true only so long as our rockets were not being operated. When at any time a forward acceleration was given to the load-ship by the push from a rocket, our bodies then pressed down on the foot platform with a force exactly proportional to this acceleration. Indeed, by measuring this force with a spring balance we were able to tell just what acceleration the rocket was giving us.
After we had been on our way for some hours, we began to take short sleeps in turn, our bodies being fastened to hooks in the wall. We expected to be over five days on the journey and some sleep was necessary.
1 See Technical Supplement, p. 274
2 See p. I85
THE INVISIBLE SIDE OF THE MOON
Some time after what has just been mentioned, while Jean was taking observations with the retractile telescope, he remarked: "Kad, the apparent diameters of the moon and the earth are now exactly the same."
"Let me see. . .. Yes, we have come almost exactly four-fifths of the distance from the earth to the moon. The real diameter of the moon is slightly more than one-quarter the diameter of the earth. If from our point of view both bodies subtend the same angle then their relative distances are in the ratio of one to four. We certainly can't get lost when we can see both the earth and the moon."
The earth behind us was no longer partially encircled by a glorious halo of sunlight produced by the refraction of its atmosphere. In the region of its southern pole this circle of light had greatly widened into a huge crescent, but the cusps of the crescent were not sharply defined as appear the horns of the moon. They blended gradually into the band of light which partly completed the circle.
Thus far, we had been travelling in a line pointing directly to the center of the moon. It now became advisable to veer our course slightly, so we would pass the moon to our left at a distance of about 6,370 kilometers from its center, or about 4,640 kilometers from its surface. This was accomplished without difficulty by operating our steering rockets. It was not so simple, however, to adjust: our speed so that at the proper moment and place our progress would be 3,150 kilometers per hour.
This velocity, we had calculated, was required in order that we should start on a circular orbit around the moon at that distance from the moon's center which we had chosen as equal to the radius of the earth. While we could at any time add to our velocity by starting n rocket, we possessed no means of reducing the velocity we had already acquired, without turning the ship end for end. If, at the radius we had selected, we attempted to begin our circular orbit with too high a velocity we would pass by the moon and never become its satellite.
That is, an excess velocity would make it necessary to steer our ship into an orbit of smaller radius. This we did not wish to do, because the smaller the radius of our orbit the more rocket fuel we would have to burn in order to escape from this orbit for the return voyage. However, we had so carefully charted our course and had so cautiously added increments to our velocity that we arrived at the proper point to begin our curved motion around the moon with a speed very close to that which we had calculated as right.
We now had been on our way about sixty hours, and in a few minutes, if our calculations had not deceived us, we would be moving around the moon in the arc of a circle with a radius of 6,370 kilometers. During this period the only expenditure of energy connected with our load-ship would be the little we needed for breathing or in muscular motion.
Our brains, however, seethed with activity, and this activity we could further stimulate by enriching a little the oxygen content of the restricted interior which formed our crowded home. We had plenty of leisure for making observations, taking pictures, and for discussing the nature of the uncanny things we saw and felt.
"Jean," I remarked, "we are now at a place where we should see a considerable portion of the moon's surface which is invisible from the earth. We see nothing, however, except a very narrow crescent of light in the west and a round, black hole in the star-clustered background. At this time most of the moon's surface is invisible from our position, because it is in shadow. The background to the moon, where no stars or planets shine, is jet black; and there is no light reflected from the earth to feebly illuminate and reveal this hemisphere of the moon. If our reasoning did not tell us otherwise, it would be hard to believe the moon is a sphere. As yet much of its hemisphere is wholly invisible to us. It is just blackness, for starlight is too weak to light its surface."
"Yes," replied Jean, "but that huge sharply outlined crescent of light is widening, and we shall later be able to get good photographs of much of the moon's surface. What is your opinion, Kad, of the cause of the roughness of this surface and its many so-called craters?"
"Well," I replied, "I think volcanic action, as we understand it on the earth, has played a comparatively small part in roughening the moon's surface. The tremendous quantities of ejecta and the great heights to which the material is thrown by a volcano on the earth are made possible only by volatile fluids such as oil or water coming into contact with molten material. Thus, a fissure may open in the rock which allows surface water to reach the white-hot scoriae below. Steam is generated in vast amounts which exert enormous pressure. The upper crust gives way at its weakest points, and the entrapped vapors escape, often carrying up the solid and fluid matter to a height of several thousand meters. The material falling back to earth builds up a ringlike mass, forming what we call a crater. These craters on our earth may sometimes become as much as ten or twelve kilometers in diameter--but never over a hundred kilometers in diameter, as are many of the so-called craters of the moon.
"When--untold millions of years ago--our moon broke away from the earth, supposedly where now is the Pacific Ocean, its unformed and whirling mass began its circular journey around the earth in the period of the earth's day, much shorter then than now. There must be a much smaller proportion of the heavy metals in the moon than in our planet. We know this because the average density of the moon is only sixty per cent of the average density of the earth. What happened at the birth of the moon may be compared to the overflowing of a huge ladle of molten steel and slag. The slag comes off first, and with it perhaps a little of the molten steel. After this fiery birth of our moon, its attraction raised at opposite ends of the diameter of tile earth mounds of molten matter of tremendous magnitude and tidal force. At that time the moon itself must have had the general shape of a football with its greatest length pointing to the center of the earth. A tremendous tidal friction was acting, and the moon started on its long spiral journey to where we see it now.
"Millennium followed millennium and the surface of the moon began to cool, its crust finally becoming plastic--exactly as a highly acid slag gradually becomes stiffer and stiffer above the molten mass of steel in a large ladle. This slag--which is a proper name to give the material of which the moon is mostly made--was filled, as are all complex slags, with occluded gases. As the cooling process progressed these gases sought escape, at first from the pressure resulting from a contraction of the moon's crust. The scarcely solid crust of the moon broke often into long and irregular cracks through which the superheated molten material below oozed out. Accompanying this, bubbles--many small, and some of vast dimensions--came slowly to the surface and broke, exactly as one may see them in the cooling slag over molten steel in a ladle.
"With apologies to Banquo for changing a word, I say:
The moon hath bubbles as the water has,
And these are of them.'
"The rims of sharp and ragged circular rock we call craters on the moon, when once formed, were too cool to become distorted by the moon's weak gravity. They at length became truly the Ôeverlasting hills' we now behold."
"Kad," said Jean, "if we get back alive from this trip I am going to see that you lecture before astronomers. I think your ideas have merit, and that the astronomers have much to learn from steel melters. Probably my brain has become weightless like my body, but we have plenty of time to talk so no harm will come if I do express some wild ideas. So here are a few of my notions about the man in the moon--the back of whose head we can now begin to see.
"I am inclined to think that many of the hundred thousand or more craters which have been mapped are nothing more than holes made by meteorites which have pelted the moon. Small meteorites may even now be falling into the moon. Of course, they make no noise when they hit, for sound is impossible where there is no air. I do not think they would make much light either, for there is no oxygen to burn them. The energy with which they strike could hardly produce more than a red glow in the surrounding rock, and this would not be seen through telescopes on the earth."
"How about life on the moon? " I inquired.
"Nonsense, Kad. Even though it is a favorite topic of fiction writers to assume some kind of strange life exists there. To me the moon is more interesting just because it is dead. Its very fixity is its most interesting feature. Not elsewhere does man observe such changelessness: only the moon's aspect alters; its rocks are set for eternity--no water, no air, no sounds. There is nothing like it on our planet."
The sun's rays were now illuminating a considerable area of the moon's surface visible from our position, but there was no softness in the long, black shadows cast by its ragged peaks. It was difficult to suppress the emotions of loneliness and fear which this scene of utter desolation and lifelessness evoked. "Not a living thing," we thought, "besides ourselves, is nearer to us than our earth, now nearly 400,000 kilometers away."
Reflections of this nature were passing through our minds when suddenly Jean said to me, "Kad, look through No. 3 window; you will see a very brilliant point of light. It seems to be only a short distance from us, and it is moving. What can it be?"
I looked and saw it--just a point of sunlight, the same as a bit of mirror sometimes directs to the eye. Then I pointed the telescope at it. I could now observe it as if at less than one-sixtieth the distance. My amazement was matchless--amazement that a chance so strange should bring this object into view; amazement that its like could be in this forbidden region of space! What I saw was a moon-ship, very similar in all external parts to our own. It was moving in the same general direction as ourselves and slightly faster. I noted also its line of motion was somewhat inclined to our course of some minutes it would come quite close to us.
"Jean, I said, "that point of light is a refection of the sun from the polished surface of the Russian moon-ship! It looks through the telescope just like our own. It is impossible that it could be anything else. Here, Jean, take a look at it yourself."
Just as expected, the ship gradually drew until it came not fifty meters from us. It was moving faster than we were and it was easy to conclude that its orbit could not be circular like our own. If it were moving in a circle or an ellipse it would forever stay with the moon, unless human hands altered its course. If it were moving along the path of a parabola it would go and go, to no one knows where in celestial space.
0f course our first thought was of the passengers it might be carrying--or was it perhaps a manless ship sending back to earth its automatically dispatched radio messages? Was it carrying living beings like ourselves; or had its fearless pilots been killed by the hazards they had surely encountered?
"If it carries voyagers and they live," said I, "They will surely make some response to any signals we can send them."
"I have it, Kad,'' said Jean. "We can signal with our propulsion rocket in the Morse dots and dashes. Let's try it."
We at once put into effect this excellent suggestion. After several repetitions of these signals with no signs of life returned to us, we concluded that the Russian moon-ship was either a manless ship, or that, if it carried pilots, they were dead. A good reason for believing the ship carried dead passengers was our observation that in its course through space it was moving tail-end forward. It seemed to us unlikely that living beings would choose to move their ship onward in this manner; and the more so that the tail of the ship was not precisely in front, being slanted somewhat to one side, as if no controlling hand were present.
The ship gradually drew away from us and in the course of an hour was lost to view.
"They could not," I remarked, "have been killed in the take-off, for if they had been their ship would not have gotten this far. Most likely a meteor pierced its walls."
"Yes, Kad," said Jean, "the fate we so narrowly escaped has probably overtaken them."
We were able to take many excellent photographs of parts of the moon's surface invisible from earth. We were mildly disappointed, though not surprised, to find that the topography of the other side of the moon differs little from that of its face visible from earth, and then only in minor and unimportant details. We observed and photographed the same types of small and large craters--also level areas which were most likely once seas and lakes of plastic and semi-molten slag. All the mountains and craters of the moon's invisible hemisphere we saw dispersed just as they are over its visible face, with complete irregularity. At no place did we see the slightest evidence of mountain chains such as those one sees in the Andes, the Rockies, and other mountain ranges of the earth. All were scattered broadcast as by mere chance.
"How knife-like sharp," I remarked, "are all the edges of this dead desolation which we are the first to see at close range. Here no frost, no snow, no rain, no air or winds can erode or round off the sharpest rocks, nor bring down the pointed pinnacles of mountains, high now as when first made many millions of years ago."
Our approach to the moon, its surface when observed through our telescope seemingly as close as seventy or eighty kilometers, enabled us to discover one feature of its existence not known to astronomers. The moon, we found, is attended by many tiny satellites which her attraction must have captured from closely passing swarms of celestial meteorites which have chanced to approach her with the right velocity, angle, and distance, and which now continue to move about her center of gravity in orbits of all types. Many others, of course, perhaps eons back, had plunged into her like projectiles fired from celestial cannon, and, unimpeded by an atmosphere, driven deep holes in her surface rocks. Several of these orbital meteorites, some as large as our load-ship, passed by us at distances alarmingly close. Those which were moving in the same general direction as ourselves we could observe easily, because their velocity was not greatly different from our own. It is our opinion that these attendants of the moon are numerous, but the largest of them is far too small to be discovered with any telescope located on the earth.
Six hours had passed since we began our semi-circular orbit around the moon. The moment was approaching when we should operate our rockets again and thus endeavor to steer our course homeward. Our planned procedure follows: We would first manipulate the steering rockets so that the nose of our load-ship would point toward the earth. This done, we would start the central propulsion rocket to drive us out of the moon's attraction. Then our fall toward the earth would begin, and continue with an increasingly accelerated motion. Our instruments would tell us when we were being more attracted by the earth than by the moon. Not until then would we cease operating our propulsion rocket. It is evident that during this time our load-ship would be moving toward the earth nose first. However, we would have to approach the outer limits of its atmosphere tail-end ahead, for the reason that our parachute--carried in the nose-end of the load-ship--might open behind us and not ahead of us. Thus, at some period of our return, before coming within tile earth's outer atmosphere, it would be necessary to turn our ship end for end. We planned to do this at some early stage of the return journey by manipulation of the four steering rockets.
When at length we should arrive near enough to the earth to reach some extremely thin atmosphere, we would steer our moon-ship so that its direction of motion would become, as nearly as possible, Parallel with the surface of the earth. Having accomplished this, we would set our parachute free. In order to be able to free the parachute we had provided a small bladder filled with compressed air, which had been placed beneath the folds of the parachute silk. Mixed with the air in the bladder was a small percentage of hydrogen, to make the mixture mildly explosive when ignited by an electric spark. At any chosen instant, by pressing a button, we could ignite the explosive mixture and so burst the bladder. The released compressed air would then lift the metal cap of the nose of the load-ship, and at the same time throw the parachute out to the full length of its attachment cords.
If the load-ship was then in a region of atmosphere having any appreciable density, however slight, the parachute would stay filled out and would slowly begin to retard our high speed. Since we would then be moving nearly as fast as when--shot up by the electric gun--we left the earth, it would be fatal to put the parachute in service unless the air were exceedingly thin. Otherwise it would be jerked from its fastenings. We foresaw, therefore, that great caution must be used to release it at the proper instant.
After the parachute began functioning, we anticipated it would reduce our velocity very gradually at first, and that this reduction would cause our ship to approach the surface of the earth progressively, with a continually lessening angle to the vertical. We hoped we would alight softly at that place where chance might take us--perhaps in a polar region; perhaps in mid-ocean; or, perchance more happily on friendly ground.
This carefully planned procedure we soon undertook. We knew it would take us about sixty hours to arrive at the outer reaches of the earth's atmosphere, so we decided to observe--leisurely, but studiously--the changing appearance of our earth as our distance from it became less and less.
What we saw was of extraordinary interest and beauty. Our photographs and descriptions, later published for the world, are too well known to make it worth while to repeat them to any extent in these memoirs. I therefore content myself with a few statements of how our earth appeared as we viewed it from that point in space where the homeward journey began--namely, that place where we ceased operating our propulsion rocket, because the earth's gravity had begun to pull us "down." This occurred just three days after we had left the earth. We now occupied a position in space where the illuminated side of the earth was presented to our view; and we were observing our planet, the friendly home to which we hoped we might return, from a distance of about 350,000 kilometers.
The earth appeared a huge sphere, four times as large as the moon when seen from the earth. It hung in a jet black heaven bespangled with innumerable stars of rare brilliancy and varying in color from red to blue. We viewed the stars through air-free space, and they did not twinkle. While we knew the universe was alive, that is--in all its parts and as a whole--ceaselessly in motion, all we saw appeared to be immutably rigid and fixed. Encased in the prison of our swiftly if failing ship we were entirely weightless and seemed to be without motion.
Reigning over all the glories of heaven, the orb--our earth--was queen. She was not like the moon of somber hue, but garbed in gossamers of delicate shades and many colors. The unobstructed radiance of the sun came reflected back to us from pure white clouds that this Queen of Heaven wore as a gauze-like fabric. We could faintly trace the contour of the Atlantic Ocean; where no clouds covered its surface its color was like the hazy blue of distant wooded mountains. The polar caps of the planet appeared like two inverted white saucers of indefinite outline viewed edgewise. North and South America on our left, with Europe and Africa on our right could be seen in those parts where no clouds hid the land. Their color was a delicate yellowish green. A conspicuous spot round and white as an ivory button gleamed central in the region of the North Atlantic Ocean, locatable by its bluish color. This white spot, we decided, was the reflection of the sun's rays from the top surface of clouds associated with a huge cyclonic storm. We could detect some yellowish and brownish patches both on the eastern and western limbs of the earth, which we attributed to desert areas. While for the moment we could observe no alterations in the colors or the markings which the earth's surface presented, it is certain that if we could but have viewed the earth from our position for a longer time we would have seen endless changes in its patterns and hues, slowly coming and again dissolving into others. The earth, seen from near the moon, is a gorgeous object--one which our fortunate eyes were the first to behold.
Our planned procedure worked out smoothly and according to schedule. Finally Jean said to me:
"Kad, our descent is now nearly vertical to The surface of the earth. We are going to come down gently, in daylight and on land."
"It is our reward, Jean," I remarked, "for time spent in making many experiments with trial equipment and parachutes. Didn't the silk umbrella open beautifully? When at length it fully filled out we hardly felt a jerk. I see by the altimeter, which is now registering, that at this moment we are but thirty kilometers up. It will not be long now before we land; but where?"
"I think," said Jean, "that we are somewhere over the western section of the United States."
A few moments, and the land, a country of plains and mountains, appeared to be coming slowly upward to meet us in friendly greeting. Then came the bump, but not so hard as to cause us harm. We unfastened the door in the side of our moon-ship and crawled out. We had landed on sandy soil of desert aspect, with sagebrush and mesquite growing here and there, and many mountains near by. I read my watch. It was 12:35 p.m. by New York time, The day was July 4,1961. We had lived--lived I rejoice to say--for nearly six days cramped in our load-ship. During most of this time we had dwelt in a place and existed in a state where we did not feel the eternal pull of gravity which attracts all things, the living and the dead alike. Now the full weights of our bodies again pressed on the soles of our feet. We felt strangely heavy--burdened. Jean spoke first.
"Kad, your splendid imagination and persistence have won out. We are safely back--but where are we?"
"Fate and chance, Jean," I replied, "are certainly beyond human comprehension. Do you see those buildings and chimneys not three hundred meters from here? Over there is an extensive gold mine being actively worked. I know every square meter of this place almost as well as I know the game farm. Where those busy structures stand is the very spot at which I discovered the lost Apache mine. Stub Brink and I explored all this territory round about. We are in Cochise County Arizona. But see those airplanes approaching us from a half-dozen directions! We must have been sighted before we landed. We shall soon be interviewed, and I suppose we shall be dragged before the microphone to tell our story to the world."
Life is certainly full of surprises, and they are not all to be found in fiction. The first plane to come close to us I at once recognized as my own. It began to circle; and presently, with skilled hands at the controls, dropped gracefully to ground quite near us. Two smallish figures emerged. They came running to us. Their names, their faces, their movements in another brief moment were to affect both Jean and me more than any experience we had had in the last few days, for the two human beings who fell into our arms, and whose beauty not even an aviators garb could cloak, were Gertrude and Marie --our darling wives were first on hand to greet us.
"Tell us" Jean exclaimed, "how you ever managed to get here ahead of that flock of reporters still in the sky?"
It developed that Marie and Gertrude were flying to Palomar Mountain, northeastward from San Diego by about seventy kilometers, to beg from the Observatory staff the privilege of looking through the monster telescope with its five-meter reflector, in the hope that they might see our speck of a ship as a point of light against the dark background of the moon. By mere chance they had arrived close to the very spot and at the very instant we landed.
Within five minutes after Marie and Gertrude in my plane had dropped down to greet us, many others began to arrive. They were mostly reporters, each with keen rivalry striving to be the first to get our story. But I shall not pad my narrative by describing the rapid, but not unusual happenings of the next few hours and days. Back in the twenties when it was a daring achievement to "fly the Atlantic," news gatherers in the same way flocked to the place of landing; wires and radio broadcast the story. Early editions of the press under big headlines printed the news; parades followed --thousands filling the air with fluttering bits of paper. The heroes, some of the moment only, were received with great acclaim. Still later came honors and awards, and certain selected ones received the highest award given by the National Geographic Society.
When I write here that human curiosity seldom changes, that our achievement was of such nature that it mightily affected the imagination of the peoples of the world, and that in greater degree receptions and honors given to the great aviators of early days were bestowed on us--though little to our liking --I have set down all I wish to express upon this matter.
WE REST AND PLAN
Some months after our successful trip, on a certain evening a family party of six was gathered before the open fireplace in my father's beloved library. The group consisted of father, mother, Marie, Gertrude, Jean, and myself. It was a party, a time, and a place to elicit reminiscences, to evoke philosophizing, and to formulate plans for the future.
When first I saw our beautiful moon, seemingly so near, from the window of the stratosphere ship in which I was a passenger, a boy's resolution was formed: I would leave gravity behind and fly to that moon! Now, my purpose accomplished, I asked myself: What next? I had lived with a single all-ruling idea for many years. Jean had shared this idea unselfishly, persistently and courageously. Our bold purpose to be the first to look upon the face of the moon always turned away from earthly eyes had at last been converted from a fantastic dream into a reality. So, I asked myself, what purpose, what ambition, should be my pole star from this time on? I was only forty-one and something worthwhile besides my family and friends I must continue to live for. Neither Jean nor I was so constituted that either of us could be happy to think that for the remainder of our days we would be drifters on the tide of existence, however deserving we might appear to rest content with laurels won. It is not the attainment, it is the endeavor and ceaseless striving which alone yields continuing joy. When to fly in celestial space had become for us no longer something to attain, Jean and I both felt "let down." I might compare this feeling with what many have experienced when some childhood, boyhood, and manhood friend, long the partner, side by side, in sports, in studies, in combating life's difficulties, comes to one and says, "Dearest friend, my duties and my work take me far away to live. It is little likely we shall ever see each other again. So good-bye, and again good-bye. I am leaving this very hour."
My friend for long --and for a lesser time Jean's friend--had been a Vision, a driving thought, an Idea, a daring Ambition. Now this friend had left us, for Realization had ruled, "You need him no more.
When I expressed these thoughts father, I recall, made some pertinent comments. Of course, after all these years, I do not remember the words that passed among us. I can, however, re-create in its essentials the conversation that followed. I am able to do this because Marie, most persevering, seldom omitted making daily entries in her diary of such happenings as appeared to her of importance in our lives. So I now in imaginative phraseology give some part of our talk.
"You know, Kad," said father, "that from the time you were a small boy I have urged upon you the importance of living your life in a manner to realize some definite objective. You, and Jean also, have magnificently demonstrated what definiteness of purpose combined with intelligence and hard work can accomplish. You also have bravely risked your lives, and made the seemingly impossible come true. I think it is now desirable that you give yourselves a prolonged rest, and, as you would put it, Ôdrift' for a time."
"Thank you, father," I replied, "your advice is wise and acceptable. I believe also it is very good, because Jean and I will need to consider fully what we may strive for next and do together. Our lives should not go in diverging paths now, and they will not. To work out a new plan for joint action will require time, and an escape from the curious."
Jean spoke up to add, "I am a rubber stamp on Kad's statements. Both of us have been strongly urged to tour the country lecturing, and to appear in the movies. Neither of us will do this. A lecturer usually talks for money, which fortunately we do not need. To exhibit ourselves in scenarios would be banal. I think also there are many other methods better suited for wide scattering of information --a commodity that in most heads is short-lived."
"I know," said Marie, "what we could do."
"What have you in mind, Marie?" father asked.
"You explain, Gertrude," said Marie.
"All right, I will. It would be a nice plan if you and Aunt Margaret (as Gertrude always called my mother) are willing to take two youngsters into your keeping until called for. My father and mother have asked Kad, Jean, Marie, and me to pay them a long visit. The public cannot reach us in my father's home or follow us on his hunting pre serve. We can be quite alone there to talk, and think, and plan, and hunt quail with Kad's magnificent pointer dogs. The open season for quail shooting starts soon. All of us love dogs, pointers especially, and we think there is no finer sport than shooting bobwhite over the points of good bird dogs."
After this remark all agreed that for a time at least our best plan would be to make no plan. So it was decided that night we should leave immediately after the next meeting of the Weft-Warp Club, which was to be held on the following evening.
I had recently purchased a fine new six-passenger plane. Into this we put guns and dogs, besides ourselves, and quickly flew to Georgia and the welcoming home of the Thompsons. In their commodious but old-fashioned house we were hidden from prying eyes and, like the most obscure, could live a natural life. Here also for perhaps three months we would rest, enjoy the delights of hunting, horseback riding, and the many satisfactions of the unambitious, the unconcerned, and the care-free.
Our stay with the Thompsons is one of my most precious memories, and now in my eighty-first year I re-read Marie's diary and long for the impossible --to be young once more.
But I must hasten on with this narrative, for there is still much to write. So I pass over the next few years--quite devoid of excitement, but important in so far that Jean and I acted on a decision satisfactory to both of us for the continuance of our future work together.
THE SCHOOL OF ASSOCIATIVE SCIENCE
Nine times our home, the beautiful earth, had journeyed around the sun since we had left it to go once round the moon. During this period our lives had run as smoothly as certain stretches sometimes seen in a trout brook, meandering with crystal waters through a northern woods, its surface unruffled by boulders below or wind above.
It was in the month of April 1970 that Jean and I were seated in the front court of two handsome newly erected buildings in the New York Bronx between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle. We were in a reminiscent mood and gave voice to thoughts about our past.
Musingly Jean asked, "Are there two other beings in this greatest nation on earth more fortunate than we?"
"You may be right, Jean, for each of us has superb health, considerable wealth, fame--even to our annoyance--and, best of ail, homes wherein are housed normal youngsters and devoted wives. Thus far at least our destinies have been friendly, and certainly unusual. I think we should feel great satisfaction that fate has permitted us to contribute as we have to the forces which make civilization move forward and not backward. But Time and others must be our judges, not our own conceits."
"Right, Kad," Jean replied, "we will do no bragging. To any well ordered brain, bragging is disgusting. But an occasional inventory may save us from some mistakes in the future. After we returned from that hunting trip in Georgia it did not take us long to make plans for the future and decide on what we could do together. We saw that we had gained too much momentum in one direction--flights in space--to start activities in any other line; but we also decided that we owed too much to our families to put our lives in great jeopardy a second time. Nothing seemed left to us, therefore, but to open an office in New York and act as consultants and engineering experts in all that pertains to space travel. Our emulators have done well, using our advice.
"It is wonderful, Kad, the progress in space travel which has been made in the decade just passed. Our Utah gun, for example, has contributed greatly to the exploration with automatic recording instruments of regions of space a hundred kilometers or more above the earth. The physicists are really beginning to learn something definite about cosmic rays.
"Again, how useful the electric gun has become for shooting mail across continents in a few minutes. It also seems quite certain that Switzerland will soon defend her borders with electric guns very much as we first recommended. New inventions come to help out the old. The ÔNitramon' explosive called Ôthe ultimate in safety,' twenty per cent stronger than the TNT put out by the du Pont Company in the year 1935, I believe, has greatly added to the efficiency and practicability of our proposals. Those demonstrations we gave the committee of Swiss army engineers and officers recently seem to have made a deep impression. I believe Switzerland will not delay action much longer."
"Jean," I replied, "what you say is true enough, but what gives me even more satisfaction is that we have made enough money to finance the establishment and endowment of the new school of higher learning whose two buildings we now see standing before us wholly completed."
Our conversation drifted on for an hour or so; then we parted for our homes.
It is well for the interest in my narrative that I explain in a more direct way some of my reflections and doings at this period of my life. The school of higher learning referred to in the conversation with Jean just recorded was conceived and planned jointly by us at least eight years earlier. We determined then that if we ever acquired the means we would create and endow such a school, for we both felt it would be the greatest contribution we could possibly make for the advancement of knowledge through the sound methods of a broadened science.
In retracing my development and education I came to realize that I had been chiefly influenced by motives of personal aggrandizement and a desire to glorify myself. Uncommon success had come to me early--at the age of forty-one--and I was then in a position to serve others in more or less abundance, if I so chose.
The fame, flattery, medals, honorary degrees, and other awards that followed our achievement in circling the moon gave little balm to a certain inner craving of my spirit. What I had done constructively in science would undoubtedly have some good influence in the slow upward climb of civilization. This much was satisfying; but my expectation of life was still considerable, and I could not live it out with a maximum of internal peace unless I felt that henceforth I should be striving the best I might to serve humanity--disciplined to be wholly forgetful of self.
The endless and astounding achievements of science in my generation--by their very wonder and magnitude--confused and benumbed the minds of many, and let their emotional lives hungering. Where was civilization going? In what direction was I, one of its units, going? Why was I going at all; and if to fill the law of living I must keep going, in what direction should I travel? These are questions every intelligent person at times asks himself. Answers given from pulpits do not often satisfy, for they are so contradictory--based too on mere guesses. Trained minds feel this; intelligent people crave for sounder information which is based on something other than pure speculation and worthless surmises. Man's spirit seeks for firmly established truths to guide his living. Spiritual songs and pulpit orators may stimulate one to faster motion, but they give little help to lead one out of the vast forest of uncertainties.
With such reflections chronically in mind I resolved that the remainder of my life should be chiefly devoted to removing the green-brier growths which now obscure the only paths which can lead us toward Truth.
My father died in 1962; he left me a considerable inheritance which, added to what I already possessed and the steady income from my royalties and earnings, removed financial limitations to the execution of my plans.
The length assigned for this autobiography permits me only to record here in barest outline the aims of the school we established, and the plan adopted for its functioning. But this, in general, is what we worked out.
We called the school the School of Associative Science--briefly, the S.A.S.
There are two buildings of equal size; one to serve for demonstrations, lectures, and executive offices, and the other for private tests and experiments to be conducted by students under the guidance of instructors. Tablets of stainless steel in the entrances to these buildings read:
THIS SCHOOL OF ASSOCIATIVE SCIENCE
is the gift of
A memorial to his father, Ephraim Pseudoman,
who constantly strove to cultivate in his children
habits of an inquiring mind and a love for all
truth that is based solely on evidence.
Founded September 20,1962
Higher dimensions than three are considered by mathematicians to be realities in extension, but they are unrealities of mind because they are incapable of dimensional construction, actually or mentally. It has always been my belief that the only enlargement of our knowledge of reality is that which may be obtained from evidence received through the senses. If the mind can form no mental picture of what mathematics states, then its worth in the advancement of scientific knowledge is nil. Mathematically it may be proved that space is curved. As a mathematical extension this may be true; as a conceptual idea it is meaning less. With such thoughts in mind I early decided that the S.A.S. should omit all instruction which deals with inconceivables.
It is now universally conceded by science that all phenomena of both the so-called material and the so-called living result from the ebb and flow of one postulated entity called energy. It can be shown by experiment that the atoms of different kinds of matter may spontaneously or by bombardment with some of the constituents of atoms be wholly or completely converted into energy. From these experiences we assume that all which we call matter is convertible into energy. These facts of experience in a few instances cannot be proved to hold universally, but at least they are mentally conceivable. We speak glibly of energy, and when pressed we say it is a kind of radiation in space, like "darts" of light or radio waves, or X-rays, or cosmic rays, or the radiation which comes from radium, or magneto-electric vortices in space. Yes, scientists say all is energy which is expressing itself under different forms to produce what we call phenomena: spectra, radiant heat, mechanical motion, thoughts--indeed, everything of which we are cognizant.
As yet we have not been able to decompose energy into components more elemental than is energy itself. Then let us say, "The ultimate of existence is energy and its nature is unknowable and ever will be." If one accepts this thesis, all phenomena considered in the many artificially classified branches of science, from astronomy, chemistry, and physics to psychology and sociology, are but various expressions of this one and single ultimate which for convenience only we have called energy. The spiritually minded may prefer the word God, but one name is as good as the other. There is, then, but the one science; and its subject matter is: How and in what ways does energy reveal itself to us through the senses? What is our understanding of the phenomena produced by energy, and how are these phenomena associated and interrelated?
To make broad inquiry into the analogies, the associations, the interrelations of all forms of energy expressions which are conceivable by a human mind is perhaps the most important aim and purpose of the S.A.S. Science has at length taken over the entire field of philosophy. Philosophy means love of knowledge, but true knowledge is acquired only by using the methods which science employs. Your true philosopher is one whose synthesizing mind considers the natural relationships of all phenomena in the one universal science, the science of energy. A modern philosopher must be first a modern scientist.
The major branches of science, as usually listed, are mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, psychology, and sociology. Each branch has its devotees who use pencils, spectroscopes, test tubes, telescopes, microscopes, human minds, and populations in pursuing their studies. In the main, advances in knowledge have come through ever narrowing specialization; but this intense specialization in most cases has left each specialist totally ignorant of the work and problems of other specialists. This must be so where truth is gathered bit by bit and in small fragments. The world today is in sad need of what has been called science-philosophers who will fit the jig-saw puzzles together and teach bewildered masses of mankind how best to live.
If the features of the Venus de Milo are closely observed through a pinhole in a card, every curve and square millimeter of the marble surface may be intimately studied and analyzed; but not until the card is cast aside and the glorious statue observed as a whole does any one small area acquire the meaning and beauty which at once appears when all the parts are viewed in the light of the whole. So it is with specialized scientific facts, classifications, phenomena, and deductions; their meaning and grandeur are visible only to the science-philosopher who can see particulars fitting into the frame of the whole. Such science-philosophers are not metaphysicians, nor emotional speculators, nor seekers for truth in the realm of their personal consciousness: rather they are those rare minds that can guide civilization by announcing sound policies to live by, and reveal data of ethics which mankind may accept rationally.
To help educate a few such is the aim and ideal of the School of Associative Science. Otherwise expressed, the ideal set for the school is to lift a few gifted minds to a height where, escaping from the customary focusing on particulars, they view at times these particulars in their right settings on the ancient and vast landscape of mankind's accumulated information.
The practical operating methods of the S.A.S. were planned as follows: The assumption was accepted that growth of mind results chiefly through its own exercise, and that true education is n drawing out process - not a continual pumping in. Hence it was considered that all instruction by lectures, demonstrations, and laboratory work should be supplemented by extensive extracurricular study, reading and exercises, and that frequent written reports should be prepared by students on the subject matter taught in the school. Further, all progress, standing, and certificates of accomplishment should be based on the extent and quality of such written reports. Examinations of the customary types would be wholly taboo.
The school was planned to accommodate not over five hundred students, and the maximum time any one student could attend the school was limited to four years. This limitation was made so that over a period of years a larger number might receive the benefits of the school. Instruction from the beginning was and still is given by persons of eminence, carefully selected for their learning and breadth of view--not necessarily professional teachers. The number of lecturers on the staff was made sufficient so that persons active in other walks of life could find time to serve the school.
Lecture rooms were supplied with every available modern device for clearly, rapidly, and vividly imparting information--operative models, equipment for demonstrating physical, chemical, and psychological phenomena, projection apparatus, et cetera. In the laboratory building complete equipment in duplicate was made available, so that several students at the same time could often personally test and verify by trial the truth of assertions made in the lecture courses. It was not planned that the laboratory should be a research laboratory for discovering new facts and principles, but rather a place where individual verifications could be made of the teachings of what is known and generally accepted as true.
Plans for the laboratory courses included a generous staff of paid instructors to guide students in making experiments and tests. In the laboratory work, as in the lecture courses, the extent and merits of any student's work are determined wholly by his frequent written reports.
By priority in making an application to take courses in the school, with a year's tuition paid in advance, any one of the white race of any age and either sex may enroll in the school.
No degrees are given to any student who has taken part or all of the courses. But to each student when he leaves the school permanently after an attendance of at least six months a certificate is given. This certificate states in detail and at length the recipient's standing in the school, and his accomplishments as evidenced by his written reports.
This in a very general way is the type of school which it gave me very great happiness to establish. Along the passing years the S.A.S. more and more has demonstrated its worth and cultural value. My interest in it has continued steadily to grow, and in the remaining years of my life, to the time of this writing, I have been largely occupied with its affairs.
Jean Bizet: served as its first president, so a common interest which bound our lives together before the school's creation, though shifted into an entirely different channel, continued and held us closely together as long as Jean lived.
VISIT TO MOSCOW: ITS UNDERGROUND VILLAGE
A year after the S.A.S. began functioning, Bert Thompson was still doing his work and living in Russia. One day Gertrude received a letter from him urging us--Jean, Gertrude, Marie, and me--to visit him in Moscow, where he was then located.
At that time foreign travel had become a matter of trifling consequence and of little annoyance. One was whisked in a streamlined bus to an airport, and after a comfortable voyage--all in the light of one day--in a luxurious cabin in a wing of a huge stratoship, landed safely at any chosen place in Europe.
We accepted Bert's invitation and soon were at his Moscow home.
A development of an astonishing character and magnitude, even for this mighty metropolis, had recently come to completion and was then being shown for the first time to the public. I refer to the Lenin Underground Village. This was the first of a succession of underground villages which have been completed during the later years of my life. They are destined, I believe, to become larger and larger and more and more numerous in many parts of the world.
As Bert's guests, we, with a dozen others, entered at ground level a commodious elevator. It plunged downward for four minutes at a speed of five hundred meters per minute, and came to rest two kilometers below the city's traffic. From the elevator we stepped into a luminous, quiet, and wondrous place - the Lenin Underground Village. Its vast dimensions astonished us, and with my background of an engineer's training I was filled with wonderment that a pocket so huge could be made in hard granite by puny men. As I soon learned from folders and maps, this pocket in which a population of a goodly number were to live, transact business, and amuse themselves, had a floor space with the contour of an ellipse. Its shorter axis was one kilometer long, and its long axis three kilometers. The side walls, with the curvature of a parabola, rose to an apex over one-half kilometer above the door. I estimated that on each square meter of the ceiling the granite rock above was pressing down with a force of over four thousand metric tons, but that the ceiling and side walls did not collapse because the fifteen hundred meters of solid stone above was held up by the principle of the arch or dome. I later found that the possibility of creating so large a hole in the earth's crust was fully established as early as 1934 through investigations carried out at Columbia University by Prof. Philip B. Bucky and sponsored by the Engineering Foundation.
I remarked as we swept our eyes over the interior of this vast man-made cavern that we were viewing a marvelous realization of many bold engineers, and the triumph of a still bolder faith of the Soviet government which supplied the money to build it. Marie and Gertrude expressed wonderment and delight when they saw circular gardens located at the center of several elliptical expansions of the broad street which ran lengthwise of the interior. In these gardens were growing plants and flowers from many climes --orchids, magnolias, rhododendrons, and cacti. There were cherry trees in full blossom. It was the month of February and a blizzard was sweeping the streets of Moscow, but here below man arranged the climate, the moisture, the temperature, and the light exactly to suit his fancy and requirements at all times. When I looked at the cherry blossoms I wondered how the trees could know when to drop their leaves and when to grow them; when to bud and when to flower. Anyway, in this place the cherry trees had decided it was springtime.
A tall, ornamental thermometer said with its red column of neon light on one scale that the temperature was 70 F. and on another scale 21.1 C. I knew that little or no artificial heat need be used, for the earth supplies heat. From the vaulted ceiling came from hidden sources a flood of imitation sunlight, perfect in every respect, with all the spectral rays of pure sunshine. It was a light good for man, and good for all species of fauna and flora. Among the trees numerous song birds were singing and flying about. I learned from our guide (who spoke English) that every particle of food was provided for the insectivorous birds, because in this place there is no insect life. I make one exception to this statement, for I did see many honey-bees, which I learned were placed there to cross-fertilize the plants.
On the facing page is a drawing of the underground village.
No dust or germs were in the filtered and conditioned air. A pamphlet explained that no one would be allowed here as a dweller who did not furnish a certificate of complete freedom from any infectious disease.
Here was a quiet from every sound which jars. Music and voices did not reflect nor reverberate from any surface because all the walls were made completely sound absorbent. Turning to Jean I remarked, "Look at this outline map, and note the size and arrangement of this place. It is the first extensive and permanent occupancy by man of a trifling portion of the interior of our globe.
"All these artistic enclosures are for privacy only. Those which extend around the entire periphery of the main ellipse are homes in which four thousand or more will live, The larger, more ornate and extensively windowed enclosures which border the streets are business offices, hotels, and ateliers where every article for men and women is offered for sale."
Most books interpret a civilization which has passed. New and startling things have happened so fast one can scarcely keep up with them. Our parents arrived in an electrical, a chemical, a biological, a social, and a political world totally unlike the one in which my generation is living. Our children and children's children will take the new Aladdin's world as the perfectly natural stage on which every man may briefly play his trifling part.
I remarked to Bert Thompson, "I believe we have come to the threshold of a new kind of occupancy of this planet, to which an all too powerful gravity holds most of us. Now that man has lived for millions of years on the surface of the earth and received satisfaction from what it offers, why should he not rejuvenate his caveman's instinct? This underground village proves he is able, so why should he not to an increasing extent inhabit the inside of the globe's crust? Into deep-lying caverns and the communicating passages which may be constructed he could take with him all the pleasant things on the earth's surface and leave all else above ground--mosquitoes, rats, mice, insects, disease germs, the weather and--perhaps of most importance--the danger of destruction by enemy bombs.
"I maintain that our means for defense against an enemy are now outstripping engines of offense. Indeed, we see here the entry of a development which is certain to go forward with an ever accelerating speed. Then, when it has made a far advance, battles to the death between nations will become a physical impossibility. People living from one to five kilometers deep under the crust of the earth simply can't get at each other's throats however much they try, whatever their fury. Moles must find it difficult to be combative.
"Speaking of living underground, I have often had the thought that astronomers start with an incorrect assumption: namely, that life on the planets exists only on the surface. For example, take the idea of most astronomers that Mars is uninhabited and uninhabitable. I can well imagine and I think there is some evidence for my opinion, that Mars developed a civilization equal to or superior to our own. Then, in the course of vast stretches of time, Mars very gradually lost more and more of her atmosphere. The inhabitants, with physical characteristics not far different from our own and with an intelligence perhaps exceeding ours, began to look to the interior of their planet. In vast caverns in its cruse, excavated kilometers below the surface, they gradually took up more and more their abode. Having learned as we have to manufacture artificial air, natural sunlight, and synthetic food products for plants, they found--very gradually of course--that they could support life and live even more comfortably than on the nearly exhausted surface of their planet. The so-called Ôcanals' of Mars are long lines of the excavated material from below. The Martians would be fools if this tremendous amount of material, removed by degrees over many centuries, were to be piled up in mounds. They are not fools, and as any engineers on earth would do, they deposited and laid it up in long straight lines of considerable width but of small height."
"Not a bad idea, Kad," Jean answered, "but if we wish to see Lenin Underground Village we must be moving about."
"Well," I suggested, "I know one thing for certain: normal men, and women also, seldom lose their appetites, so I propose we go to the Central Restaurant for a porterhouse. With a better feeling inside, we can better enjoy the sights."
My suggestion was very popular. A mysteriously propelled, topless conveyance took us in a jiffy to the door of this restaurant.
While seated at table Marie gazed about her, but saw no provisions for cooking, though the transparent walls made everything near-by plainly visible. This puzzled her and developed doubt whether we were in the right place to get a dinner. But a waiter promptly appeared with an extensive menu card, to take our order. We all ordered a steak dinner with extras, and then prepared to wait twenty or thirty minutes for it to be served. But in less than five minutes the vegetables and steaks, all piping hot, were set before us.
The two women were amazed. "Kad," said Gertrude, "where was that cooking done, and how can anyone cook a porterhouse with half a dozen vegetables in less than five minutes?"
"You must realize," I replied, "that you are living in the new electrical era. No fire, not even an electric stove, is used now to cook in very high-class restaurants like this. The food and the plates on which it is served are simply set between two metallic sheets, in this case concealed in the furnishings; between these sheets of metal a very high frequency and an exceedingly intense electric field is maintained. The food, which is a fair conductor of electricity, rapidly absorbs energy from the air, and becomes cooked in less than a minute. The plates on which the food rests are poor conductors of electricity, and absorb less energy, but still enough to become suitably heated in the time that the food is cooking. The Russians have kept up with the times."
In a personal narrative such as I am penning it would not be meritorious to wander off into detailed descriptions of physical, architectural, and engineering developments; nor to recount inventions with which my life has not been closely associated. I shall not, therefore, much further describe Lenin Underground Village. Motion pictures, magazines, newspapers, lecturers, and radio orators, assisted by television pictures, have supplied such information aplenty. Two more features, however, I will mention because their beauty, impressiveness, and the reminiscences awakened, stamped an enduring image upon my mind.
The intended ending of our interesting but fatiguing sightseeing, which had lasted now for hours, was near; the clocks said it was bedtime --twenty-three o'clock. Then without announcement the light began to dim until imitation sunlight became slowly transformed into counterfeited moonlight. This moonlight then ceased entirely for a period or' about five seconds, leaving us in the Stygian darkness of the wholly blind. Suddenly light reappeared, and the high vault above became the starlit canopy of its midnight prototype above ground. The deception was perfect. The crescent of the new moon in its first quarter, with all the planets visible above the environs of Moscow at this time of year, shone above us and were seen to move, slowly as in very reality, among countless stars.
"What grandeur! Gertrude exclaimed. "Have your scientific men, Jean, even captured high heaven with all its glory and placed it down here?
"Oh, yes," Jean replied, "quite simply - the opticians of the Karl Zeiss Works in Jena are very clever. They have done even this, with a few planetarium projectors of super size. For the extra brilliant light required to spread the image of heaven on a white ceiling of stainless steel five hundred meters above our heads they employ a form of mercury lamp that gives a continuous spectrum of great brilliancy, which perfectly simulates sunlight. These projectors, as you see, are very powerful. They can duplicate exactly all the nightlights of the sky. I read also in a folder that a total eclipse of the sun, showing the prominences, Baille's Beads, the corona, and all else seen in a total eclipse, can be made to order at any time. All this is done so cleverly that our eyes do not detect the deception. We certainly seem now, don't we, to be out beneath the stars?"
"How wonderful and beautiful it is," said Marie. "I should think the dwellers here would want the day short and the night long."
Bert Thompson here explained that if we took seats in the central concourse we would probably soon see some very striking moving pictures in color, and if we rented and wore "polaroid" spectacles that the pictures would appear to us in three dimensions.
It was a piece of good fortune for us that the feature picture was entitled "Space Travel." I was thrilled when this feature picture, fully described by an announcer, reenacted some of the new developments of which we might claim to be pioneers. Little did the announcer or the audience suspect that the Americans who had first succeeded in space travel were present. At the close of this demonstration we took the lift and went to our hotel, to the wintry blasts and the night noises of Moscow.
With Bert Thompson as our host and guide, we travelled about this astonishingly progressive land for a fortnight, when we returned in a stratoplane ship to our homeland.
THE YEARS PASS
The years passed without the coming into my life of any great sorrow, nor were there surprising happenings in Jean's career or mine. As with thousands of others prominent in our broad land, the story of the little that the public observed and the press occasionally mentioned regarding us would have but trifling interest to readers of my memoirs. My inner self, my reflections of life's significance, may also be passed over because my numerous scientific papers, my occasional public addresses, my routine engineering work, much of my social life, and my many talks at the S.A.S.--best indicators of the worth of my thinking--are already on record.
Then came a great grief: on the occasion of the annual opening of the S.A.S., September 20, 1989, Jean Bizet, my brother-in-law; my devoted, my dearest, my most intimate friend and companion; the equal in all my acclaimed achievements, died suddenly while he was giving a lecture. Life for Marie and me then turned drab, and has never been quite the same since. In hope of assuaging our sorrow, Marie and I, without companions, journeyed in Africa, where we remained for three months. We moved leisurely from one section to another observing its unmixable population, and reflecting profoundly on the present and future of this great area of our earth where natural resources have hardly been scratched. For many years the place has no longer been "Darkest Africa" and I am thinking that perhaps it is here that the center of gravity of: a future civilization will be found.
Upon our return home (we still lived near the game farm, which had been much expanded) we enlarged our house. Marie had very definite ideas on how our new home should be designed. In fact, she assured me that we did not need an architect because she knew exactly what she wanted and just how everything should be arranged. No one builds now; most houses of small and moderate proportions are prefabricated by several large companies, who set them up ready for occupancy. They cater to a large variety of tastes, so that the purchaser is free to express his or her fancy in most varied ways. The housekeeper may use her ideas of beauty without having any special knowledge of materials or constructional features. It was a house of this character which Marie designed. When it was finished I was never more amazed at a woman's capacity for creation and non-neglect of the smallest details to secure artistic effects, convenience, and homelike comforts.
We had a large house erected, because my widowed daughter, with my two grandchildren, wished to live with Marie and me. It proved good for us to have youth, jollity, and fun in our home. Indeed, looking back, I can truly assert that no technical triumphs in my life, no I honors I have received, no activities of mine among men, have yielded me as much solid joy as has my family life.
To keep my brain pleasantly occupied, and as a talisman against morbid thoughts, I have devoted what probably will be the last decade of my life to writing books on various subjects in which I feel a special interest.
My last book was completed in manuscript just prior to beginning this narrative; but now it is my intention to have it published after these, my memoirs, shall have appeared. The title chosen for this other book is: How America has changed in Fifty Years. In this register of my observations and thoughts I have pictured with my pen a progress curve which--like true representations with curves of the happenings in nature and in life --is neither level nor straight slanting down, nor straight slanting up. Rather, at times it is rising, and then invariably goes down only to rise again. I believe, however that its general drift through much time is ever upward, and that Tennyson's written lines are true:
"I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns."
The curves I have pen-described I would have express the rise and fall, and again the upward trend, of social ideas, man's adjustment to man in the spirit of love, falling to the canker of hate only to rise once more to justice observed. I have tried to trace the pendulum swings in religious thought, in literature, in the speculations of science, in the rise and fall of money power, in the drift toward nationalism, followed again by a trend toward world federation.
I have endeavored to draw a picture of the mad man-made changes in men's environment, with their inexorable reactions upon the thinking of mankind and his modes of living. I may add that in my writing I have tried to tell what I honestly believe gives the greatest happiness in living, and to tell how I think one must proceed to extract the most from his conscious existence.
I had planned to publish this other book as a companion publication to the present narrative of my personal life, but now I see that I cannot do this: even as I write these sentences my once powerful constitution is fast yielding to the foe pneumonia--or should it not be called the old man's friend, because it removes him so quickly and so gently into that oblivion where all which is living and thinking must finally go?
From birth I have been a fortunate human being indeed, and I feel that I have gotten from life about the best it has to give. I am also solaced to reflect that I have secured my own happiness without filching happiness from other lives. Consoled with this thought and realizing that I have had my time, I am ready to die as I have tried to live, an owner of the one undisputed virtue, courage.
With these parting words I now go to a sick-bed. Marie in all likelihood will live on a little time longer and hold memories of our supremely happy union and joyous living. If I do not rise again - and my physician tells me I probably shall not--Marie will fulfill her promise and arrange that this narrative of my eighty years of life, and my other book completed in manuscript, are not left unpublished.
Finally, it is my deepest conviction that all of me which will survive that is worthy is the little of influence I shall leave behind to advance our human race.
Life, I adore you, but very soon I must say: Forever farewell!