A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

President Bearwarden's Speech
"To the Bondholders and Stockholders of the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company
and Representatives of Earthly Governments.
"GENTLEMEN: You know that the objects of this company are, to straighten the axis of
the earth, to combine the extreme heat of summer with the intense cold of winter and
produce a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round. At present the
earth's axis--that is, the line passing through its centre and the two poles--is inclined to
the ecliptic about twenty-three and a half degrees. Our summer is produced by the
northern hemisphere's leaning at that angle towards the sun, and our winter by its turning
that much from it. In one case the sun's rays are caused to shine more perpendicularly,
and in the other more obliquely. This wabbling, like that of a top, is the sole cause of the
seasons; since, owing to the eccentricity of our orbit, the earth is actually fifteen hundred
thousand miles nearer the sun during our winter, in the northern hemisphere, than in
summer. That there is no limit to a planet's inclination, and that inclination is not
essential, we have astronomical proof. Venus's axis is inclined to the plane of her orbit
seventy-five degrees, so that the arctic circle comes within fifteen degrees of the equator,
and the tropics also extend to latitude seventy-five degrees, or within fifteen degrees of
the poles, producing great extremes of heat and cold.
"Venus is made still more difficult of habitation by the fact that she rotates on her axis in
the same time that she revolves about the sun, in the same way that the moon does about
the earth, so that one side must be perpetually frozen while the other is parched.
"In Uranus we see the axis tilted still further, so that the arctic circle descends to the
equator. The most varied climate must therefore prevail during its year, whose length
exceeds eighty-one of ours.
The axis of Mars is inclined about twenty-eight and two thirds degrees to the plane of its
orbit; consequently its seasons must be very similar to ours, the extremes of heat and cold
being somewhat greater.
"In Jupiter we have an illustration of a planet whose axis is almost at right angles to the
plane of its orbit, being inclined but about a degree and a half. The hypothetical
inhabitants of this majestic planet must therefore have perpetual summer at the equator,
eternal winter at the poles, and in the temperate regions everlasting spring. On account of
the straightness of the axis, however, even the polar inhabitants--if there are any--are not
oppressed by a six months' night, for all except those at the VERY pole have a sunrise
and a sunset every ten hours--the exact day being nine hours, fifty five minutes, and
twenty-eight seconds. The warmth of the tropics is also tempered by the high winds that
must result from the rapid whirl on its axis, every object at the equator being carried
around by this at the rate of 27,600 miles an hour, or over three thousand miles farther
than the earth's equator moves in twenty-four hours.