Many thanks to Kevin Geiselman for bringing this to my attention, to Roger Robinson and Brian Ameringen for several useful suggestions, and to Andy Sawyer and the Science Fiction Foundation for making the Science Fiction Studies reprint available, which gave me the impetus to seek out the original.
In the final equation s is the relative surface of each planet.
NEW ORLEANS, May 4th, 1847
The undersigned, on the part of the admiring audience who listened to your amusing and instructive Lecture on Friday evening last before the People's Lyceum upon Aerial Navigation, and many others who had not the advantage of being present on that occasion, respectfully solicit from you a copy for publication.
Respectfully, yours, &c.,
J.D.B. DE BOW.Dr. J.L.RIDDELL,Present.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~BRANCH MINT, NEW ORLEANS,
May 8th, 1847
I this day received your note of the 4th inst., in which you do me the honor to ask a copy of my late Lecture before the People's Lyceum for publication. That you esteem it worthy of this compliment is to me sufficient warrant to risk it in print. I feel much gratified, therefore, in complying with your request.RESPECTFULLY, YOUR OBEDIENT SERVANT,To Messrs. BULLARD, PETERS, COHEN, FROST, BLANC and others.J.L. RIDDELL.
NEW MODE OF AERIAL NAVIGATION,
EMBRACING A NARRATIVE OF A VOYAGE TO THE MOON,
BY ORRIN LINDSAY.
READ BEFORE THE PEOPLE'S LYCEUM OF NEW ORLEANS,
APRIL 30TH, 1847,
By J. L. RIDDELL.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Each year for several successive years past, I have had the honor by invitation from the Directors, to deliver a lecture before the members of this institution. After receiving an invitation and signifying my acceptance this year, I immediately concluded to prepare a discourse on the history, practice and prospects of Aerial Navigation, intending to illustrate the philosophy thereof by sundry chemical and philosophical experiments. I had proceeded so far in my designs as to investigate the subject carefully in books, and make divers mathematical calculations relevant thereto, when the receipt of a new letter from Mr. Orrin Lindsay, announcing some new and astonishing discoveries in aerial navigation, induced me to suspend my labors.
Mr. Lindsay is a native of Cincinnati, whom I knew eleven years ago as a devoted student in natural science. He attended lectures which I then gave on chemistry, and I remarked of him that, although he was shy and eccentric in his habits, he manifested great capacity, zeal, and talents for the acquisition of truth. In the course of a short visit which he made to this city in March 1846, he communicated to me confidentially some theoretical notions which he entertained, respecting the availability of the force of gravitation as a moving power, which it is not now improper for me to explain.
Mr. Lindsay, believing with the followers of Newton that gravitation, the grand principle that sustains the planets in their orbits and gives weight to terrestrial objects, is the result of a direct influence which matter exercises upon matter, near or remote, conceived the possibility of compounding and preparing a substance of such a molecular structure as to be to this influence impervious. This impervious substance would manifest no weight, for gravity could not act upon it. Interposed between a naturally heavy body and the earth, the heavy body would have no tendency to fall, simply because the influence of the earth's gravitation would be intercepted. Thus it is apparent that any amount of moving power might be directly obtained from gravitation simply by alternately interposing and removing the impervious screen.
I am frank to own that I gave Mr. Lindsay my unqualified opinion that he was in error; that from careful inquiry I felt convinced that gravitation was not the direct, occult, immaterial principle generally supposed, but the rational effect of material impulses, in some attenuated medium of matter;* and that therefore, by no conceivable or possible arrangement of material molecules or impervious screens, could its influence be avoided by or diverted from terrestrial bodies. In short, I had no faith in his projects.
* "GRAVITATION: In respect to the comparative merits of the hypothesis of inherent gravitation, as contrasted with the doctrine of impulsive gravitation, much might be said. The former stops short and assumes an inherent inexplicable and occult quality, as residing in ponderable matter; the latter refers the phenomena to antecedent causes, rigidly accordance with the known vis inertiae of matter and the established laws of motion. If gravity be an inherent quality, what is its nature, and how may it be defined? Admitting its existence, it cannot be material, else it would necessarily be inert, like other matter: it would require to be forcibly radiated to the objects or bodies proposed to be affected by it; in which case it would necessarily produce repulsion rather than attraction. Matter may be defined, properly, to be something, anything, or everything occupying, per se, length, breadth and thickness in space. And, conversely, whatever independent entity occupies space, must be matter. If gravity be not matter, then it cannot be conceived to exist space; and if it does not exist in space, it exists nowhere and must be nothing.
Gravity cannot be abstract motion or momentum, for motion or momentum obviou can have no existence separate from matter moving. Thus, if b = the mass of a moving body, v = its velocity, and m = its momentum, by the laws of motion bv = m. If, then, we remove the idea of the body or call b=0, then in the equation, Ov = m = 0. Hence, velocity and momentum = 0, when there be no moving body.
Gravity cannot be momentum necessarily inherent in matter because we can clearly conceive of matter at rest; and, further, it cannot arise from momentum resident in the attracting body, for this momentum in being propagated to a distance, and then transferred to another body, would tend to make the bodies recede, not approach.
If gravity be an inherent quality, pent up and quiet in matter, how can it produce action at a distance? If it be an incessant emanation from matter in all directions, why does not matter become exhausted of it? If it emanates only towards attracting bodies, how can it know in what direction to travel?
Thus it may be seen that the admission of attraction as an inherent quality precludes all rational inquiry. Yet so far as man has studied and comprehended nature, her ways are in accordance with reason and with the equivalent relation of cause and effect. And infinitely beyond what human researches and inquiries can every attain to, we are, by analogy, warranted in the inference that this equivalent relation holds good." Memoir on the Constitution of Matter and Laws of Motion, by J. L. Riddell, N. 0. Medical Journal, March, 1846, volume II, page 602.
Unconvinced by my reasoning, Mr. Lindsay returned to Cincinnati, resolved to test his views thoroughly, if possible, by experiment. Pleased with this Southern climate, he came down in the fall to spend the winter in Natchez, bringing with him an assortment of artisans' tools as well as considerable chemical and philosophical apparatus. He fixed his habitation, hermit-like, in a small secluded house at the bottom of the Devil's big Punch-bowl, a gloomy gorge opening upon the river about two and a half miles above Natchez. Here my accomplished friend Dr. T.B. Osserman found him out and, becoming his confidant, rendered him in various ways essential assistance in the prosecution of his experiments.
I will take the liberty of reading Mr. Lindsay's letter to me, before alluded to.
DEVIL'S PUNCH BOWL (near Natchez), March 12, 1847
Dear Sir: You will excuse-my long delay in writing to you when I inform you that for the last four months I have been incessantly engaged in testing the validity of the views and projects which I partially explained to you a year since, by experiments, trials and careful mathematical researches. You may be incredulous when I assure you that I have succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations. I have no time to write you particulars at present, further than to say that I have successfully tested my invention in the way of aerial navigation. Indeed, only four days since, I returned from an unparalleled voyage through the unsolid regions of space, full particulars of which I am now engaged in putting into shape, which, with your assent, I will in a few days transmit to you, to be inserted in some one of the literary or scientific periodicals of New Orleans, or to be published in any way which you may think proper. I trust you will allow me to lay myself under obligations to you, by inspecting and revising the proof sheets. You will keep dark on these matters until you hear from me again, as I have not yet completed the requisite measures for securing to myself a patent for my invention.RESPECTFULLY, YOUR OB'T SV' T,To DR. J.L. RIDDELLAND FORMER PUPIL,ORRIN LINDSAY
Curious to learn the particulars of what Mr. Lindsay had accomplished, I had to content myself with conjecture until the 24th of March when, by the hand of Dr. T. B. Osserman, a package from Lindsay containing the promised narrative of his proceedings, accompanied with the following note, was received.
I have several times perused Lindsay's narrative with intense interest and much astonishment, feeling now and then, in spite of myself, a qualm of incredulity. He seems to have carefully observed and recorded a great number of scientific facts. These I have patiently collated with the relevant facts and deductions of other learned observers. I have also diligently looked into his mathematical inferences and am compelled to acknowledge that all his statements respecting the atmosphere, meteors, nebulous matter, etc., are sustained by the received doctrines of science, as based upon the multiplied observations and logical deductions of modem philosophers. According to my mode of thinking, I am unable yet to conceive the possibility of Lindsay's grand invention. But it may properly be said, preconceived opinions have to give way to the onward course of discovery. If fifty years ago, some eccentric genius in advance of his age had asserted that the fearful spirit of the thunder storm might be enslaved by man, and made to transmit human thought, in a moment's time, across the breadth of a continent; who would not have said, inconceivable and absolutely impossible! Yet we now see all this actually accomplished by the magnetic Telegraph.
DEVIL'S PUNCH BOWL, Natchez, March 21, 1847
Dear Sir:Your favor of the 15th inst, was duly received. Availing myself of Dr. Osserman' s visit to your city, I send you herewith an account of my experiments, adventures, and discoveries, and thank you in advance for the pains you have promised to take in superintending their publication. Since you desire to advert to my doings in the lecture intended to be delivered by you before the people's Lyceum, you have my permission to do so; as by the time you mention, there will be no occasion for further concealment. Do not fail to send me, as soon as practicable, a printed copy of my paper." ** Here follow some business items, the reading of which I will omit.RESPECTFULLY, &c.To DR. J.L. RIDDELLORRIN LINDSAY
I shall now proceed to read before you Mr. Lindsay's entire narrative, being convinced that, considering the amount of scientific truth which it embraces, I cannot afford you a better entertainment.
SOME NOVEL EXPERIMENTS UPON GRAVITATION.
AND ALSO A
NARRATIVE OF TWO VOYAGES INTO EMPTY SPACE.
BY ORRIN LINDSAY, A.M.
It is now six years since, when, reflecting upon the various sources of mechanical force offered by nature and made available by man, such as wind and water power, steam and electro-magnetism, it occurred to me that a vast reservoir of momentum, an inexhaustible supply of force, must exist in that ever active, though inscrutable principle, gravitation. This principle gives weight and causes bodies to fall, and to it are we indebted for our notions of up and down. It is said to be a force exercised mutually by material bodies on each other, in the right line or shortest path between them, varying in intensity inversely as the squares of their distances from each other, and directly as their respective amounts of matter. Such being the case, it appeared a fair inference that if we could command the means of intercepting the attractive influence at pleasure, we might thereby advantageously make use of the principle of gravitation as a moving power. I thereupon bethought me of every expedient which my reason and imagination could devise to compass this desirable end. I made many experiments, but without any result that made promise of ultimate success, until at length I began to think it best to give the project up as hopeless. I could not, however, wholly divert my mind from the subject, but continued to seize upon, and canvass in reference to the matter, every new fact in molecular philosophy which the rapid progress of experimental science revealed. More than a year since, I met with the splendid researches of Faraday, on magnetism, which suggested to my mind some new and valuable ideas. I reflected again much upon the subject, and last summer, renewed my experimental researches with an increased zeal and more definite ideas of what I had to do. Without following step by step, the course and order of my experiments, suffice it at present to say that I found well prepared steel, after being superficially amalgamated with quicksilver, and then strongly magnetized, to possess the quality of an impervious screen to the influence of gravitation. In preparing steel for this purpose, the difficulty consists in combining it properly with the quicksilver; the true mode of accomplishing which, I do not intend to reveal until shall have properly secured my rights as an inventor, in England and France, as well as in my native country, the United States.
Among the numerous satisfactory results first obtained, I will here advert to a few, the most remarkable. A smooth bar of steel, thus completely invested with the coating impervious to gravitation, was found to lose its weight and manifest a tendency to rise in the atmosphere. Prepared plates, made into a box, of the capacity of one cubic foot, exercised an ascending power, sufficient to suspend in the air a weight of one ounce and one-tenth avoirdupois; which is about the weight of the cubit foot of air which it displaced; and this result occurred alike, whether the box was empty or filled with any material whatever tried, such as earth, wood, bread, nails, &c.; the influence of the earth's gravitation, being completely excluded from the contents of the box. Opening a hole laterally in the box, resulted in the earth's attraction acting in a line almost horizontal, which gave the box a tendency to move in the direction of the hole.
The applicability of this invention, as a cheap, efficient and inexhaustible moving power, must therefore be at once apparent. Nothing can be better adapted to the propulsion of railroad cars, vessels floating upon water, and stationary machinery. It at once occurred to me that mine was the invention par excellence, which would render the void regions of space easily accessible and safely navigable. In early life I had allowed my fancy to go wild on the subject of aerial navigation; I envied the birds of the air in the possession of their talent of flying, and longed to be able to imitate them. I fondly hoped and believed that human science and skill would at length attain to this desideratum. But when, with a better informed and more mature mind, I canvassed the means of aerial navigation which are possessed, I came to the reluctant conclusion that it would never be possible for man to attain to much in the way of flying through the air. My fortunate discovery, however, at once changed the prospect, and I resolved to lose no time in pressing into my service one of the great original forces of nature, in furtherance of aerial navigation.
The first relevant experiment which I made worthwhile here to relate was by confining a young bull terrier dog, weighing about fifteen pounds, in the square box before mentioned, attaching a twine to the box and allowing it to ascend in the air. The dog did not seem to relish this compulsory mode of making him contribute to the cause of science; but up he went, box, twine and all, near two hundred feet high, to the length of the twine. I pulled him down and let him ascend slowly for several times. I had all along kept a tight string upon the box, so as to moderate the velocity of ascent; but, wishing to observe the velocity which it might attain, unimpeded, I gave it at last a slack twine. Starting slowly at first, it gradually increased its rate of ascent (on the same principle as the ascent of a vertical ash pole, sunk deep in the water and then let to go) until it came to the length of the string, of which I kept hold, by which time, it had acquired so much momentum as to snap the twine. It continued to ascend with still accelerating velocity, its course modified a little by the winds, until it finally entered a fleecy cloud, and was forever lost to my sight.
Delighted beyond measure, with my success, I deliberately set to work to devise the kind of machine upon this principle, in which I might personally venture to make an aerial voyage, as well as to determine, upon the various instruments, appliances, and accessory matters that might prove subservient to the scheme. I devoted six weeks in maturing and perfecting my plan, after which, I supplied myself with everything that I had beforehand determined upon. I also employed, confidentially, Mr. Abner Josslin, a skillful philosophical instrument maker of Cincinnati, to assist me in carrying my plan into execution. Preferring a winter's residence in a southern climate and, moreover, being unwilling to expose the progress of my grand experiment to the unpleasant scrutiny and interference which curious observers in Cincinnati could not fail to have awarded me, on the 15th of October, I put the boxes containing all my fixtures on board a Steamboat, (the Pike No. 8,) and, with Josslin, took passage for the City of Natchez, where we arrived on the 22nd. Taking excursions into the country, with a view of selecting a suitable site for my intended operations, I at length fixed upon and secured a vacant secluded house, some distance from the river, in the bottom of the biggest and gloomiest of those wonderful circular gorges, called the Devil's Punch Bowls, upon Capt. J.B. s wild lands, two miles and a half above Natchez. Providing ourselves with various necessaries, we transshipped everything from the store of the wharf boat, to a small up river Steamboat, (the Charlotte,) and were landed as per contract, two and a half miles higher up. We soon established ourselves comfortably in the Devil's big Punch Bowl where, for a long time, we had all the privacy we desired.
It is unnecessary to enter into special details of our progress in the construction of the Magnetic Balloon, or into a circumstantial account of our mode of living. I cannot omit, however, to express my gratitude to Dr. T. B. Osserman for the valuable assistance which he rendered me in various ways, and for the fidelity with which he has kept secret my plans, confided to him some three or four weeks after we were ensconced in the Punch Bowl. Hunting, one day, for fossil mastodon bones in the exposed strata of the gorge, a perfect stranger, he found us out. We soon became acquainted, and I thought it prudent to make him a confidante. I am also under great obligations to Messers Wilkinson and Harmason, proprietors of the Natchez Foundry, for their courteous conduct and skill in constructing for me various isolated pieces of machinery.
II. NARRATIVE OF THE FIRST AERIAL VOYAGE.
The Magnetic Balloon, having been completed on the 15th of February after a few preliminary trials to the height of the brim of the Punch Bowl, one hundred and fifty feet, I concluded to adventure myself into the sky. I will here briefly describe the balloon. Its external form was globular and ten feet in diameter. It consisted of a strong frame of wood work, covered with poplar boards, upon which, externally, were secured plates of the magnetic amalgam. There was one considerable opening, in the manner of a door, into the interior, externally also covered with the amalgam; and twelve circular spy-holes, or windows, symmetrically and equidistantly placed over the whole surface of the sphere, each one six inches in diameter, with twelve plates of the magnetical amalgam, to close the openings at pleasure. Within, the furniture consisted of a small low table, a chair, a box of philosophical instruments. &c., &c.
At 10 A. M., giving my directions to Josslin, I entered the balloon alone not without some misgivings. I seated myself, lighted a wax taper, closed the twelve spy-holes the rope was loosened. An indescribable sensation seized me. I could not distinguish up from down. I had lost all bodily weight. The flame of the taper became globular and less luminous the heated air from it, seemingly not know which way to rise, diffused itself slowly in every direction. The slightest springing effort sent me slowly from one side of the balloon to the opposite. Hitting the chair, accidentally, with my foot, it played about the balloon like a mote in a sunbeam, being like myself apparently devoid of weight. Fortunately the chest and table I had taken the precaution to fasten down. I very shortly recovered my self possession, and got at an air gauge, and observed that the pressure of the air was about half what it is at the surface of the earth, from which I inferred that I had attained an elevation of three miles and a half. I immediately opened several of the windows, until I found in which direction the earth lay. Instantly the force of gravitation took rule again, and the rapid ascent was checked. Bodies acquired weight, and the perception of up and down, was re-established. I then proceeded so to adjust the openings that the ascending power of the balloon was about balanced by the gravitation allowed to be exerted upon its contents, which left me nearly at rest in mid air. I experienced a most uncomfortable sensation of coldness. The temperature of the air at the surface of the ground when I left was 50° Fahr. Now at the height of three and a half miles, I observed the thermometer fairly exposed stood at two degrees below zero. The day was fine, with very few clouds and little air stirring below, but I perceived that I had got into an invisible current, bearing me at the rate of near five miles an hour towards the north-east. The prospect was grand, beyond my power to delineate. The deep blue sky, as far above me as ever, still bent over me its hemispherical vault, like an enormous soap bubble. The surface of the earth seemed hollowed out into a corresponding hemisphere, in form like the sky, turned bottom side up. The whole country, with its rivers, lakes, fields, forests, towns, &c., lay spread out below me like an immense concave map. The scenery seemed to rise in the distance, appearing less and less distinct, more and more blue, until in my horizon it shaded off all around imperceptibly into the murky, smoky blue of the lower sky. I ventured to ascend still higher, and the higher I went, the colder it became, at the rate of about one degree Fahr. for every 352 feet.* I could all along, approximate closely to my height, by observing the volume occupied by a small portion of air, confined by mercury, in a graduated glass tube, called an air gauge: it being well understood that at the height of 3½ miles, the air has half its normal density, or twice its volume at the level of the sea; at 7 miles high, one-fourth the density, or 4 times the volume, and so in the same ratio.† Indeed, if the whole atmosphere were of the uniform density which it has at the level of the sea, it would only extend to a height of 26,057½ feet, almost equal to five miles. The higher I ascended the deeper became the blue of the sky, until, at my greatest altitude, it became almost black; from which it may be inferred, that the blue tint of the sky is solely due to the earth's atmosphere; and had the earth no atmosphere, the sky would appear black.
* Suppose the temperature at the surface of the earth to be 50° Fahr. and decreasing 1° for every 352 feet of elevation. It would be -2°, at the height of 18,840 feet. 50° (18,840 -:- 352 = 52) = -2°. So at five miles high, it would be -24°.
† Tenuity of the atmosphere at different heights:
Height above the surface of the sea. Corresponding density. Miles. Atmosphere. 0 .............................................. 1 7 .............................................. 1/4 14 .............................................. 1/16 21 .............................................. 1/64 28 .............................................. 1/256 35 .............................................. 1/1024 42 .............................................. 1/4096 49 .............................................. 1/16384 56 .............................................. 1/65336 (Ed. Ency. XV 753.)
At mid-day I found myself about 26,400 feet, say five miles, from the surface of the earth. My altitude, was equal to the highest peak of the Himmalaya mountains, the highest known upon our globe. The highest ascent by means of a balloon, hitherto on record, was made Sept. 6th, 1804, by Gay-Lussac, from Paris. He reached the enormous elevation of 23,100 feet, near 41/3 miles. But my ascent was 3,300 feet higher, nearly 2/3 of a mile higher still.
My breathing became quick and laborious from the greatly rarefied condition of the air. The thermometer fell to 24 degrees below zero.* I began to feel an unavoidable drowsiness stealing over me, and knowing the fatal consequences of yielding to it, I resolved to commence my descent. For this purpose I increased the lower opening, and looking down, far below me, I beheld a mass of fleecy sun-light clouds, of a pure white appearance, like giant locks of the finest cotton. I had prepared myself with several 8 oz. numbered phials, fitted with corks. Just as I began to descend I filled one of these phials, by means of a small bellows, with the air of that region, and then corked it up. And so near as practicable for every half mile of my descent, I filled a phial with the circumambient air. I may as well go ahead of my narrative to relate that a few days afterwards, having the means, I subjected these samples of air, to chemical analysis, and found that although the higher the region in which the phial was filled, the less air it contained, as might have been anticipated from the indications of the air gauge yet in respect to the relative proportions of elementary ingredients, hardly a shade of difference could be made out. They all yielded oxygen gas, or vital air, rather under 21 per cent. by measure, nitrogen or azotic gas, near 79 percent.; carbonic-acid gas, varying near one-fifth of one per cent.; the vapor of water, nearly one-fifth of one per cent., but more variable and microscopic organized matters, about one part in 50,000 by weight.
*. 6th September, 1804, Gay-Lassac ascended from Paris to the greatest height ever reached, 23,100 feet.†
(Ed. Ency. Art. Aeronautics.)
† "It is found that in ascending into the atmosphere, the temperature diminishes at the rate of one degree Fahr. for about every 352 feet. The rate of decrease is probably much slower at considerable distance from the earth."
(Roger's Ed. Turner's Chem. p. 168.)
Line of perpetual ice in different latitudes. Latitudes Height in English Feet. 0° .............................................. 15,207 20° .............................................. 13,478 40° .............................................. 9,001 60° .............................................. 3,818 80° .............................................. 457 (Rogers Ed. Turner's Chem. p.159)
Recurring to my narrative, I allowed the balloon to descend slowly, until I sunk gently into the cloud before mentioned, which I found by the air gauge, to be about a mile and a half high. While there I observed that the hollow vesicles of liquid water, which, repelled from one another by electricity, constitute the cloud, were much larger than I had ever seen them before; so much so as to be very distinctly visible to the naked eye. These little hollow watery globes were all, apparently, of the same size, and about as large as mustard seed. Saussure says he saw them on the top of Mont Blanc as large as peas. They looked on a small scale like the soap bubbles which boys sometimes blow up and throw off from the bowl of a tobacco pipe. It was curious to observe that they would not jostle or come in contact with each other, being held asunder in consequence of all being excited with the same kind of electricity. I soon found myself below the cloud and in a moderate current of air, moving to the south, some ten miles northeast of Natchez. By judiciously opening an attraction in the direction of Lake Concordia, I soon had the satisfaction of finding the balloon moving, despite the wind, in the direction of the Devil's punch bowls, at the rate of about 15 miles an hour. Moderating my gait, in due time I caused the balloon to subside gently and safely into the big punch bowl; landing, at 3 P. M., not ten feet from where I had started five hours before, to the great joy of Josslin, who, losing sight of me in the clouds, had given me up for lost. The balloon was carefully secured in the shed under which it was built, and I can truly say that I felt thankful in having so safely escaped from the frigid and dizzy region of the sky, and in feeling myself on the firm earth, surrounded by an atmosphere warm enough and dense enough to be breathed with comfort. Two days afterwards, Dr. Osserman visited me, having just returned from a week's excursion over on Black River. From him I learned that my balloon had been observed by sundry persons during my aerial trip of the 15th, and that it was supposed to be one of those fire balloons often sent up for amusement, by means of rarefied air, and therefore excited no particular inquiry.
III. PREPARATION FOR THE SECOND VOYAGE.
Knowing by experience the circumstances which produced discomfort during my first voyage, I set about devising means to obviate them in future, as well as to supply such necessaries as would enable me to continue for some days above the surface of the earth. To provide against the excessive cold, Josslin and myself lined the interior surface of the balloon, with sheep's wool, woolen blankets, and buffalo skins, arranging the twelve openings so that over them the lining might be removed at pleasure; but before these blankets, skins, &c., were permanently attached to the interior, we had introduced an air-tight lining of sheet lead, and adapted air-tight plate glass to the twelve small openings, so that the air contained in the balloon could not escape as it ascended, in order that the accustomed atmospheric pressure of near fifteen pounds to the square inch, might be constantly maintained; such is the usual atmospheric pressure near the level of the sea. The moveable plates of magnetic amalgam covering the twelve windows were to be managed by turned copper rods, passing out externally through airtight packing boxes. Sundry thermometers, air gauges, and other philosophical instruments, calculated to give information of the exterior condition of things, were also made to pass out air-tight and were screened by moveable plates of the amalgam, as was also a curious rotary valvular cup for excluding anything from the balloon without permitting the escape of air. The door of entrance was intended to be made impervious to air, by thick sheets of India rubber. For a voyage of some days' continuance, it was obvious that the balloon could contain about 500 cubic feet, about one hundred cubic feet of which would be oxygen, would be sufficient to support the respiration of two men only a comparatively short time, especially as long before the oxygen is consumed, the air would become so vitiated by the carbonic acid exhaled from the lungs, as to produce asphyxia and death. A healthy man consumes near 23¾ cubic feet of oxygen, weighing near 14,000 grains or 2 pounds avoir., in twenty-four hours, which is absorbed into the lungs and combined with the blood. About the same weight, 2 pounds, but near one-third less volume, of carbonic acid gas formed in the general system is exhaled from the lungs and mingles with the air, in twenty-four hours.* In ten days a man consumes 237 cubic feet of oxygen. Two men in the same time would consume 474 cubic feet, equal to forty pounds, of oxygen. I thought it prudent to lay by a fund of vital air of this amount, for which purpose I had two strong copper reservoirs constructed and adapted to the interior of the balloon; both these reservoirs being together of the capacity of 24 cubic feet, so that compressing the oxygen by a force-pump to one-twentieth its normal volume, I was enabled to store in them the required amount. The interior pressure upon reservoirs was near three hundred pounds to the square inch, and brass stop-cocks were adapted to them so that the oxygen might be allowed to escape when required. The amount of pure oxygen was procured by heating in a large iron retort, 108 pounds of the chlorate of potash previously mixed with a little black oxide of manganese to facilitate decomposition, it being well known that chlorate of potash yields by heat 37 per cent. of its own weight of pure oxygen gas. Now, I reasoned thus: The nitrogen of the atmosphere is not essentially increased or decreased by the process of animal respiration. The oxygen alone is diminished. I had contrived a way to keep the proportion of oxygen good. But carbonic acid gas will be constantly produced by respiration almost as fast as oxygen is consumed. This must be got rid of. I thought it best to provide slaked lime to effect its absorption by converting it into carbonate of lime; and I found by calculation, that 65 pounds of pure slaked lime would be a trifle more than was necessary to absorb the 40 pounds of carbonic acid gas which two men would exhale in ten days, which amount of lime I provided. The balloon was liberally supplied with ten days' provisions, with a sufficiency of water, a few bottles of wine, a bottle of brandy, and numerous other matters unnecessary here to recapitulate. Finding the room considerably abridged, I regretted that I had not in the first place constructed it upon a larger model, yet I felt convinced that two persons might therein make shift to accommodate themselves for some days. I had now comfortably provided for eating, drinking, breathing, &c., when it occurred to me that the constant transpiration of the vapor of water through the skin and lungs, might in time so overload our air with moisture as to render the balloon uncomfortably damp. To guard against this contingency, I put on board a small tin trunk containing lumps of unslaked lime, which has the power of abstracting moisture from the atmosphere, so that by keeping the lid of the trunk more or less open or shut, as required, the hygrometric condition of the air, could be regulated at pleasure.
*. The amount of carbonic acid gas produced by respiration in and exhaled through the lungs, from an adult person in twenty-four hours, is 39600 cubic inches=18612 grains in an average, according to Allen and Pepys. (Muller's Physiology, p. 296.) Berzelius says this estimate is too great. The estimate above is one-fourth less.
IV. NARRATIVE OF THE SECOND VOYAGE.
The last day of February had arrived, and everything was in complete readiness for our departure, which was fixed for the following day. Accordingly, at 4 P. M., on the first of March, in presence of Dr. Osserman, Josslin and myself entered the magnetic balloon. The thermometer stood at 60°. The day was clear, with a moderate breeze from S.S.W. We proceeded first by means of clamps, screws, and sheets of India rubber, to secure the door of our entrance air-tight, and then, by the assistance of the doctor, to determine that the whole balloon was impervious to air, as we desired. Finding all satisfactory, we lighted a wax taper and proceeded to close the windows or spy-holes with the moveable plates of magnetic amalgam, which, excluding all gravitation, robbed us of bodily weight and the discrimination of up and down, the same as in my first voyage. That the balloon was ascending, was apparent by inspecting from time to time an air gauge; and when by its indications we supposed ourselves about three miles high, we ventured to admit a little light to several of the windows, checking our rate of ascent and enabling us to know the direction of the zenith. The balloon getting steady, we left open our windows near the zenith for the admission of light, which we could not do at the time we left the surface of the earth, on account of the danger of the balloon's rolling over as it ascended and thus being drawn to the earth. Every way comfortable, we quietly floated an hour or so in an easterly direction, enjoying the sublimity of the scene around and below us. We were slowly descending and were but one mile high, when we thought it time to set forward in earnest on the unexampled journey for which we had provided. Darkening, therefore, every spy-hole through which the earth's attraction could reach us, we soon perceived that we were again rising, and twenty minutes thereafter, the air-gauge showed that we were fourteen miles high, while our upward velocity was still increasing. Turning my attention to an exposed thermometer, I perceived the mercury frozen in the bulb, an occurrence which is known to take place at -39° or thirty-nine degrees below zero. I then regretted that we had omitted to supply ourselves with an alcohol thermometer to measure greater degrees of cold. The air-gauge soon became useless, so immensely was the atmosphere expanded without; yet within the balloon, protected as we were, we suffered neither from the cold nor the rarefied medium which surrounded us.
It was my intention to ascend about seventy miles high, so as to be beyond the confines of the atmosphere, which is supposed to extend to the height of fifty miles, and then to open an attraction upon the moon, which that evening rose at half-past five. When clear of the atmosphere, I knew the balloon would pursue a tangent line to the east, with the velocity of the earth's rotation on her axis, which at the latitude of Natchez, 31½° is not far from one mile in four seconds of time. I knew that this tangent line would be towards the constellation Leo, in which the full moon then was, and I had good reason to suppose that this tangential velocity, conjoined with the moon's attraction, would carry us into the neighborhood of the moon, 240000 miles from the earth, in a few days. Had I depended for motive power for the performance of this journey solely on the moon's force of attraction, I had determined that it would take forty-four days, seventeen hours and twenty-four minutes to arrive at the moon.
At seven o' clock we took careful observation as to our position. The sun was still visible in the west, and the moon apparently one and a half or two hours high, in the east. I suppose we were fully one hundred miles high. We forthwith opened an attraction on the moon, and relying on the unfailing consistency of the mechanical laws of nature, permitted ourselves to be swiftly borne into the abyss of space never before explored by mortal man. Thus, for a length of time equal to almost four terrestrial days, we pursued our noiseless path towards the moon, Josslin and myself taking turns as to keeping on watch. For eleven hours after starting, the sun shone upon the balloon; for eighteen hours afterwards, the sun was shaded by the earth; during the rest of the time mentioned, we had perpetual sunshine, the sun being behind us, and nearly in the direction of the earth.
As to the nature of the region through which we were passing, called ethereal space, it is everywhere filled with invisible matter so attenuated as not to manifest sensibly what we call weight, nor does it sensibly obstruct mechanical motion. This matter constitutes the medium which transmits the impulses of light. The temperature of this region, if it may be said to possess temperature, is far colder than we had means of measuring. We were here presented with no azure sky, no diffuse daylight as on the earth. The sky was intensely black, and multitudes of stars, ever visible whether the sun shone or not, glittered with a brilliancy never seen through the earth's atmosphere, like diamonds upon a ground of blacit velvet. We many times, when the sun was in our sky and invisible to us because behind us, observed faint flashes of light, apparently near us, in continuous lines of momentary duration. They were first noticed when near one hundred miles from the earth. From attentive observation, I satisfied myself that the phenomenon was caused by the sun's shining on small patches of nebulous, incoherent matter, which were performing orbital revolutions about the earth; and I have since found by calculation that a body maintained in an orbit 100 miles from the earth's surface, would go entirely round the earth within 1 hour 27 minutes 45 seconds, else the earth's attraction would ultimately bring it down to the atmosphere, which I presume often happens, Indeed I have no doubt that what we call shooting stars, have an origin analogous. These nebulous masses impinging upon the atmosphere with great velocity, necessarily produce the phenomena of heat and light. For a while I was apprehensive that some of the more substantial of these denizens of ethereal space, such as produce meteorites or solid sky stones, might by chance impinge upon and destroy the balloon. Nothing of the kind occurred, and we continued to pursue our journey safely and rather comfortably than otherwise. We very seldom ventured to look in the direction of the earth we had left, because by opening a spy-hole in that direction, the earth's attraction tended to impede our progress. The moon we had in full sight without intermission, increasing in apparent magnitude and brilliancy as we approached her. From the easterly progress of the moon in her orbit round the earth, at the mean rate of 39 miles a minute,* it resulted that our course as we neared the moon had become directed towards the extreme western limits of the moon's disk. This I had anticipated, and had intended to take advantage of it in the way of gliding along horizontally through the moon's atmosphere, so as to get rid of our immense velocity without harm, preparatory to landing on the moon's surface. At the expiration of ninety hours from the time of starting, we found ourselves within about 100 miles of the moon's surface, near the line separating her day from night, and moving nearly parallel with the surface below us. Our velocity at the time was incredibly great, and fearing we might fly past the moon and be irrecoverably lost in the outer wilds of chaos, I at once removed the magnetic screens from all the windows, so that the moon's attraction might draw us into her atmosphere. It shortly afterwards appeared that our projectile force was so great, as just about to counterbalance the moon's attraction, and the result was that the balloon began to circulate about the moon, as the moon does about the earth. In one hour, 54 minutes and 17 seconds we had performed a complete revolution about the moon, and so we continued to do no less than five, or rather four and a half successive times, at a mean distance, as I have since inferred from the observed time it took us to get around, of 100 miles from the moon's surface; though in some parts of our orbit we were within 20 or 30 miles, and in others, proportionately remote, our path being ellipsoidal. During these circumgyrations, we were mostly employed in observing the wonderful appearances presented by the moon: which is known to be a globular body, rather more dense than the earth, 5½ times as dense as water, and 2180 miles in diameter. I will briefly set down the inferences from our observations. And first, the moon's atmosphere is exceeding thin and light, and does not seem to rise more than one third of a mile from her average surface. Probably the air is more rarefied than in the nearest approach to a vacuum which we can produce in our air pumps. Not a vestige of a cloud anywhere obscured it, unless near some active volcano vent. As to her immediate surface, nothing on earth can be compared thereto, if we except perhaps, those enormous volcanic craters on some of the Islands of the Pacific Ocean.** There were no seas, lakes nor rivers of water; indeed not a drop of water was anywhere visible. There were no indications of animal or vegetable life; but all seemed a cold, dry, dreary, wild and barren waste. We were everywhere presented with the evidences of former volcanic action, upon a scale more grand and sublime than any part of our earth can exemplify. The predominant features consisted of lofty conical mountains, deep rocky chasms, immense circular depressions, and radiated streams of lava long since congealed. Some of the mountain peaks were fully five miles high, and of the circular depressions, some probably three miles deep. The side of the moon which was dark at that time, and which, by the by, is never turned towards the earth, we could not so well inspect; but here we descried a volcano in a state of active eruption. The crater, sunk deep in the bowels of the moon, was circular and near four miles in diameter. It sent forth a red and lurid light, which was partly obscured by what seemed to be rolling clouds of sulphurous smoke. The transition from day to night and night to day on the moon, is sudden and complete, being unattended by any sensible twilight, because the moon has so very little atmosphere.*** This apparent want of an adequate atmosphere, induced us to give up all idea of attempting to land; and, having satisfied our curiosity as far as our means permitted, we resolved to set out upon our return to our native planet the earth: with this view, while emerging from behind the moon's limn, on the eastern side of her disk, our course being in the direction of earth at that time, we screened every window from the moon's attraction which had retained us in our orbit about her, and of course, off we came in the direct tangent line.
Hence, extremes of moon's absolute motion per minute = 1094 & 1172 miles per minute.
* The moon's motion in her orbit = 39 miles a minute. The earth's " " = 1133½ " **. The crater of Kirauea on the island of Hawaii, one of the Sandwich Islands in the Pacific Ocean, is about eight miles in circumference. It is annular like the extinct craters of the moon, as seen through a powerful telescope. The sides are near 1000 feet high presenting within a deep and awful gulf.
E.G. Kelly, in Silliman's Journal, vol. XL. p. 117.
***. From all which the telescope has revealed to us, as well as from the inferences which astronomers have drawn from the observed duration of stellar occulations, it is clear that the moon must have much less atmosphere than the earth.
By observing the moon when her phases were extremely falcated, Schroeter discovered a faint glimmering light extending from both the cusps beyond the semicircle.
Breadth of moon's twilight = 2" = about two miles on the moon's surface. The denser part of the moon's atmosphere, is therefore 1500 feet high.
Sid. Messenger, p.21
Prof. Loomis infers that the pressure of the moon atmosphere is equal to 1 over 45 of an inch of the barometer column; from which, if true, it would follow, as the earth's atmosphere sustains 30 inches of mercurial pressure in the barometer, that the moon's atmosphere is 1 over 1350 as dense as the earth's.
Loomis, in Sid. Messenger, p. 21.
If we permit ourselves mentally to ascend the stream of time to that transcendently remote period in the history of nature when, as nebulous matter, the components of the atmosphere extended from the earth to the moon and far beyond, we may then picture to ourselves the original circumstances which perhaps determined this unequal distribution of atmospheres. The parent planet and her satellite would each appropriate and ultimately condense so much of the nebulous matter lying in the direction of each other as extended from each respectively to the point or line of equal and neutral attraction.
To determine the point of neutral attraction between the moon and earth, put
e = mass of the earth =1. m = mass of the moon = 0 0146. c = distance between them = 240,000 miles. x = the distance from the moon's centre to the point of equal attraction.
The following equation is derived from the well known laws of gravitation, and from the conditions of the problem, namely:, whereforeThis point is therefore distant from the earth's centre,
= 26,226 miles(= c - x), 213774 miles.
The amount of space contributing to the atmosphere of each would then approximate the ratio of the cubes of these distances, (x, and c - x); and these cubes, divided by the relative surface of each planet, would also approximate the relative amount or weight of atmosphere, condensed over an equal surface of each.then = 2.43 = density of the moon's atmosphere and = 97.67 = relative density of the earth's atmosphere.
Put x = surface of the earth = 1
h = surface of the moon = 0.0742.
Whence it would appear that the earth's atmosphere should be rather more than 40 times more dense than that of the moon.
Respecting the appearance of the earth before starting from the moon, it is proper to relate the fact that she looked much like a new moon, but fifteen times larger, subtending an angle of 1°54'13".* Now had we succeeded in landing upon the moon, as we had hoped, from the time of leaving the moon, it would have taken us 4 days 19 hours 46 minutes and 46 seconds to reach the earth's surface solely by the force of her gravitation.** But starting as we did, with a tangential velocity of more than a mile per second, we could travel without any other aid the whole distance in about two and a half days. Availing ourselves of both circumstances, we performed the distance in two days, three hours and a half reckoning from the time of leaving the moon, March 5th 6:30 P. M. of Natchez time, until we first impinged upon the earth's atmosphere, on the 7th March at 11 P. M. During this rapid journey, the chief object of interest was the earth that we were approaching. She looked like an enormous moon, almost in her first quarter, presenting different special appearances according to the distance. For instance, when we were 10000 miles off, she subtended an angle of 33°, and appeared consequently more than 4300 times as big as we usually see the moon. A delicate blue ring, mottled with flakes of white, invested the luminous portion of her disk an appearance due to her atmosphere. The prevailing green of fertile islands and continents, the pale sands of arid deserts, the naked rocks of mountain ranges, the glistening ramifications of rivers, and the polished convexity of the oceans were all clearly to be discriminated. The intense rays of the sun were reflected from small tract of the ocean, and the whole was set off by occasional patches of cloud of dazzling whiteness. A far more inviting orb seemed our earth than the colder barren moon we had lately left, and as we continued rapidly to approach our planet, new features worthy of admiration were perpetually developing themselves. Brilliant beyond description was the appearance of the icy regions about the South Pole, illuminated as they were by the sun; and truly beautiful and inimitable was the delicate rose colored shading of day into night; a feature wholly wanting in the cold luminary we had so lately explored.
*. The diameter of the earth is almost 8000 miles, the diameter of the moon 2,180 miles: at her mean distance, as seen from the earth, the moon subtends an angle of 31'8". Hence (2180: 31', 8", :: 8000: 1° 54', 13", nearly) the earth as seen from the moon, must nearly subtend an angle of 1° 54', 13".
**. Vide Hutton's Mathematics II, p. 387.
At 10 P. M. Natchez time, our balloon first came in contact with the highest and most rarefied stratum of the atmosphere, not far from over the city of Quito in South America. At least I inferred that it was near Quito for we were near the equator, and on the western margin of South America, and just before we struck, I saw a large city with two mountain peaks hard by, one of which I supposed was Javisac and the other Pinchincha. So exceedingly great was our velocity that I feared for the consequences of the impact. We had a clear moonlight, and were moving horizontally west. We felt a slight shock, and perceived a flash of light as we passed through the aerial billow; the friction of the balloon upon the air being sufficient to produce that effect. In a few moments our meteoric light ceased, and again after some twenty minutes had elapsed, the light re-appeared accompanied with another slight shock; and thus for perhaps eight or ten times at decreasing intervals, the shocks and the luminosity returned, both becoming at each successive return less and less perceptible. These singular phenomena, I presume were produced by the balloon's rebounding from the aerial billows, just as a cannon ball will ricochet along the surface of the water. After these occurrences we continued to move quietly but with immense velocity, through the thin upper region of the atmosphere across the Pacific Ocean, and then across a vast expanse of land and water embracing the East India Islands, the China sea, Malabar, the Bay of Bengal, Hindostan,. the Arabian sea &c the whole journey having been performed in the night time by the light of the moon, which, on account of our rapid transit towards the west, actually presented to us the anomaly of setting in the east.
For the same reason, after we had crossed the straits of Babel Mandel, and were nearly over the city of Mocha, in Arabia, the sun in all his effulgence appeared to rise in the west. We continued our fearful flight across the broad African continent, recognizing the head waters of the Nile, the Abyssinian mountains, the river Niger, the southern confines of the great desert of Sahara, and the river Senegal as we passed. Leaving the Cape Verd Islands behind us, we boldly commenced spanning the Atlantic, although it was apparent our pace had sensibly slackened. Fearing we might descend so low as to encounter too much atmospheric friction, I shut off the earth's attraction for half an hour, which resulted in our pursuing a straight horizontal line, without reference to the curved surface of the earth, whereby we regained a higher and more rarefied region of the atmosphere. Admitting the earth's influence again, we kept on our way until we had the satisfaction of beholding the southern coast of Georgia, when shearing a little to the north, and losing by degrees the incredible velocity with which we had long been traveling, we descended triumphantly and landed safely at our port of departure, the Devil's big punch bowl, at half past two P. M. on the 8th of March; having been in fact hermetically sealed up for the space of six days, twenty hours and thirty minutes, and during that time, having performed a voyage, which, without incurring the risk of being thought egotistical, I will venture to say is without any authentic parallel in the history of aerial navigation. We very soon loosened the air-tight India rubber fastenings to the door of the balloon, and, with inexpressible satisfaction, once more set foot in the open air upon terra firma, thankful that we had escaped in safety the perils of the great deep of ethereal space in which we had had the temerity to sojourn.
Thus endeth Mr. Lindsay's narrative, which, whatever may be thought of its authenticity, certainly embraces and connects together many authentic and important facts in Natural Science.
I have since received a letter from him, the concluding part of which reads thus:
DEVIL'S PUNCH BOWL, April 1st, 1847I find that the pecuniary outlays with which I have prosecuted these experiments, have made such considerable inroads upon my moderate fortune, that I can no longer say I possess a competency. I therefore solicit your advice, as to the most proper and ready mode of realizing something from my invention, being fully resolved, so soon as I can command adequate means, to construct a balloon upon a more extended scale and make a voyage to the planet Mars. The telescope has revealed to us that like our earth, Mars possesses a considerable atmosphere and that his surface undergoes the changes of seasons. In short, analogy would lead us to infer that he may be peopled by intelligent beings, perhaps not inferior to ourselves. I have a strong desire to go and see; and if a refined and rational people are to be found there, who knows but they may be ten thousand years in advance of us in arts and sciences? And who can foretell the advantages which would accrue to our race from thus opening an inter-planetary commerce?RESPECTFULLY, YOUR OBEDIENT SERVANT,To Dr. J.L. RIDDELL.ORRIN LINDSAY