A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

North-Polar Discoveries
Two days later, on the western horizon, they beheld the ocean. Many of the streams
whose sources they had seen when they crossed the divide from the lake basin, and
whose courses they had followed, were now rivers a mile wide, with the tide ebbing and
rising within them many hundreds of miles from their mouths. When they reached the
shore line they found the waves breaking, as on earth, upon the sands, but with this
difference: they had before noted the smallness of the undulations compared with the
strength of the wind, the result of the water's weight. These waves now reminded them of
the behaviour of mercury, or of melted lead when stirred on earth, by the rapidity with
which the crests dropped. Though the wind was blowing an on-shore gale, there was but
little combing, and when there was any it lasted but a second. The one effort of the crests
and waves seemed to be to remain at rest, or, if stirred in spite of themselves, to subside.
When over the surface of the ocean, the voyagers rose to a height of thirty thousand
metres, and after twenty- four hours' travelling saw, at a distance of about two hundred
miles, what looked like another continent, but which they knew must be an island. On
finding themselves above it, they rose still higher to obtain a view of its outlines and
compare its shape with that of the islands in the photographs they had had time to
develop. The length ran from southeast to northwest. Though crossed by latitude forty,
and notwithstanding Jupiter's distance from the sun, the southern side had a very
luxuriant vegetation that was almost semi-tropical. This they accounted for by its total
immunity from cold, the density of the air at sea-level, and the warm moist breezes it
received from the tepid ocean. The climate was about the same as that of the Riviera or of
Florida in winter, and there was, of course, no parching summer.
"This shows me," said Bearwarden, "that a country's climate depends less on the amount
of heat it receives from the sun than on the amount it retains; proof of which we have in
the tops of the Himalayas perpetually covered with snow, and snow-capped mountains on
the very equator, where they get the most direct rays, and where those rays have but little
air to penetrate. It shows that the presence of a substantial atmosphere is as necessary a
part of the calculation in practice as the sun itself. I am inclined to think that, with the
constant effect of the internal heat on its oceans and atmosphere, Jupiter could get along
with a good deal less solar heat than it receives, in proof of which I expect to find the
poles themselves quite comfortable. The reason the internal heat is so little taken into
account on earth is because, from the thickness of the crust, it cannot make itself felt; for
if the earth were as chilled through as ice, the people on the surface would not feel the
A Jovian week's explorations disclosed the fact that though the island's general outlines
were fairly regular, it had deep-water harbours, great rivers, and land-locked gulfs and
bays, some of which penetrated many hundred miles into the interior. It also showed that
the island's length was about six thousand miles, and its breadth about three thousand,
and that it had therefore about the superficial area of Asia. They found no trace of the
great monsters that had been so numerous on the mainland, though there were plenty of