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Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935). 
Photograph by V. V. Assonov, 1920 







FOREWORD. ‘Translated by -A. Shkarovsky . 

ON THE MOON. Translated by A. Shkarovsky . 

DREAMS OF EARTH AND SKY. Translated by D. Myshne 

ON VESTA. Translated by A. Shkarovsky 

OUTSIDE THE EARTH. Translated by V. Tulmy <. 

THE AIMS OF ASTRONAUTICS. Translated by X. Danko . 
CHANGES IN RELATIVE WEIGHT. Translated by A. Shkarovsky 
LIVING BEINGS IN THE COSMOS. Translated by X. Dunko . 
BIOLOGY OF DWARFS AND GIANTS. Translaled by A. Shkarovsky 
ISLAND OF ETHER. Translated by A. Shkurovsky 


INGS. Translated by A. Shkarovsky 


T. To Inventors of Reaction-Propelied Machines 
JJ. Is This Mere Fantasy? . 
IT. Pages from a Young.Man’s Notebook . 


Taken as a whole, this book makes interesting, even 
fascinating reading. Tsiolkovsky’s stories are of tremen- 
dous interest and urge us to ponder over the many purely 
specific problems of space travel. They will, undoubtedly, 
increase the number of enthusiasts in this branch of science 
and technology. His “On the Moon”, “Outside the Earth” 
and other stories afford hours of entertainment and leave 
a lasting impression. 

Illustrated here is the world outlook of Konstantin 
Tsiolkovsky, original thinker, self-taught scientist, founder 
and keen enthusiast of space travel. Though man is bound 
by every fibre to his home-planet, Tsiolkovsky argues 
that he stands to gain immeasurably by gradually con- 
quering space. Life in space, where there is no accelera- 
tion of gravity in relation to manned spacecraft, or even 
on such objects as the Moon or the asteroids, where the 
gravity is negligible compared with the Earth’s, presents 
tremendous advantages, Tsiolkovsky claims, since with 
the same effort it is possible there to accomplish an in- 
comparably greater amount of work. In addition, in the 
absence of disease-producing germs and drawing on the 
Sun’s continuous radiation, it will be possible to cultivate 
in artificial hothouses with temperature control and air-con- 
ditioning, various kinds of plants, which provide food for 
a human population and also consume the excreta of 
animal organisms. 

The achievement of this balance between animal and 
plant life on mammoth space rockets, a balance which 
would make possible space journeys of indefinite dura- 
tion, provided the consumption of solar energy is con- 
trolled, presents an extremely interesting idea that should 
be closely examined with a view to the possibility of 
actually putting it into practice. 

One may also agree with Tsiolkovsky in thinking that life 
will develop and prosper wonderfully in the absence of 
gravity pull as well and that for anima! organisms atmos- 
pheric pressure can be much lower than what is usual 
and normal on the Earth. What he has to say about the 
different apparatus for making rocket travel comfortable 
in the absence of gravity, is most absorbing. 

His descriptions of lunar landscapes, and journeys on 
the Moon, his fantastic stories about leaping lunar animals 
or beast-plants which either hide in crevices or try to 
keep abreast of the Sun to escape the approaching cold 
of the lunar nights, are most entrancing. Even these 
fantastic stories seem quite in place, because, for all their 
absolute improbability, they soften the picture we have of 
the harsh and rigorous natural conditions on the Moon. 

However, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky lets his imagination 
run away with him, when he begins to describe the imag- 
inary life of intelligent creatures on Mercury, Mars, the 
asteroids and other planets. Consequently, “Life in Space”, 
“On Vesta”, “Mercury”, “Mars”, “The Asteroids” and 
several other stories are fantasies of the first water, and 
where mention is made of intelligent beings on planets and 
asteroids no worthwhile information is desirable. Stories 
of this kind include his “Island of Ether’—about the 
structure and evolution of the Universe. Like the physicists 
of the nineteenth century, the author assumes that there 
exists “light ether” which, in his opinion, does not extend 
far beyond the limits of the material Universe accessible 
to us. Thus, in his opinion, our system of galaxies must 
be hopelessly isolated from other similar systems, as in 


the absence between them of an ether medium capable of 
transmitting light, they must be totally inaccessible to 
observation. These arbitrary assertions—and this should 
be emphasised—do not at all coincide with Tsiolkovsky’s 
general outlook, since he considered that there were no 
limits to our cognition of the infinite Universe. 

And even those of Tsiolkovsky’s writings, which are 
acceptable from the scientific point of view, contain 
several errors to which attention should be drawn. 

In the first place, Tsiolkovsky does not sufficiently take 
into account that even in the case of diminished gravity 
the same inert mass remains, to which the same force 
must be applied to impart a definite acceleration as that 
applied on the Earth. Further, he overestimates the possi- 
bility of protecting a living organism from the excessive 
gravity which occur, for instance, during rocket accele- 
ration, by immersing the living organism in an air-tight 
water bath. It is true, as Tsiolkovsky indicates, that the 
immersed organism would scarcely feel any violent blows 
on the outside of the vessel. But it would certainly feel 
intensive deceleration or acceleration of the vessel as a 
whole, and this might even prove fatal. The author com- 
pletely underestimates the danger of collisions with me- 
teorites and his descriptions of the way one might catch 
approaching bolides from the spacecraft, using something 
like a butterfly net, are most curious and can be attrib- 
uted to his own typical brand of humour. Because in 
actual fact every time one of the host of micrometeorites 
whirring through space hits a spacecraft, it produces a 
minor explosion and is sure to dent the plating of the 
spaceship. These direct hits which should occur extremely 
often would almost immediately destroy the external 
green-house suggested by the author, which is shielded 
from its cosmic environment only by thin glass panes. 
Even far from the Earth, where its gravitational pull exerts 
almost no influence, the relative speed at which the me- 
teorite collides with the spacecraft will nevertheless be of 


the order of several kilometres, even tens of kilometres, a 
second. Hosts of meteorites thus would constitute a con- 
siderable danger to the safety of the spacecraft. 

Various factors in some of Tsiolkovsky’s writings are 
occasionally wrongly appraised. For instance, he points 
out several times that the temperature in the focus of 
mirrors concentrating the Sun’s rays of a definite inten- 
sity will reach 6000°C. Purely theoretically a temperature 
of this order is conceivable only when the Sun’s angular 
dimensions are magnified by mirrors to the dimensions of 
a complete sphere which, in practice, is not possible. 

In accordance with the notions current at the time his 
stories were written, Tsiolkovsky speaks about each star 
being surrounded by a family of planets and all these 
planets being inhabited irrespective of their temperatures 
and other physical conditions. In his opinion—to which, 
incidentally, other authors have frequently subscribed— 
the living organism can be composed of any kind of ele- 
ments able to produce liquid compounds at a given tem- 
perature. There is not even the slightest mention of the 
unique part played in the structure of the living organism 
by compounds of carbon with oxygen, hydrogen and also 
nitrogen, which require absolutely specific, strictly defined 
conditions. Neither did Tsiolkovsky think an atmosphere 
indispensable for organic life, presuming that organisms 
can produce and subsist on their own micro-atmospheres. 
There is no need to show the completely fantastic nature 
of such ideas. 

Tsiolkovsky rendered a great service in so zealously 
advocating attempts to conquer outer space. But his fan- 
tasies in this direction knew no limits. He wanted to 
emphasise that mankind will of necessity migrate to other 
planets circling around some other sun, when our own 
Sun will have greatly cooled, which he thinks may happen 
in several million years from now. Of course, in Tsiolkov- 
sky’s time the gravitational energy of compression was 
thought to be the sole means by which the Sun maintained 

3 b 

radiation. However, to think today that the Sun may cool, 
in the direct sense of the word, is out of the question. It 
may, of course, ultimately pass into the category of white 
dwarf stars, which though of unusual density and having 
insignificant radiation, nevertheless have a high internal 
temperature. This process will require not millions but at 
least several thousands of millions of years. In some of 
his writings Tsiolkovsky suggests that the populations of 
the numerous planetary systems in various parts of the 
Universe establish associations or alliances of mutual as- 
sistance for promoting migrations to the most suitable 
planets, in order to avoid the dangers arising from their 
own suns “going out of commission”. Here Tsiolkovsky 
reaches the extreme limits of fantasy. 

Actually life in outer space should be viewed as a rare 
exception, and not a universal rule. However, this in no 
way minimises the vast scientific and practical importance 
of Tsiolkovsky’s ideas about space exploration, on the 
threshold of which we now stand as a result of the tremen- 
dous Soviet scientific and technical achievements that have 
now ushered in a new era in the history of mankind. 

The break through into space is proceeding along much 
the same lines as those which Tsiolkovsky forecast with 
such extraordinary insight so many decades ago. Tsiolkov- 
sky was a most unique person and everything associated 
with him is of great interest. So though many of his state- 
ments are unacceptable today, they still serve as the best 
possible illustration of the fact that Tsiolkovsky was more 
than a designer of jet engines. In his dreams and scientific 
fiction he was already beginning to live in space. 

Moscow, October, 1960 


A Tale of Fantasy 

I woke up, and, as I lay in bed, pondered over the dream 
I had had. I had dreamt I was bathing, and this dream of 
summer bathing was particularly pleasant, since it hap- 
pened to be winter. 

But it was time to get up. 

I stretched myself and sat up in bed. How easy it was! 
Easy to sit, easy to stand. What can have happened? Was 
I still dreaming? I felt I was standing so lightly, that I 
might have been up to my neck in water. My feet hardly 
touched the floor. 

But where on earth was the water? I could see none. I 
flourished my arms about: but I felt not the slightest 

Was I dreaming? I rubbed my eyes; everything was 
just the same. 

How odd! 

But I had to get dressed. 

I moved chairs, opened wardrobes, took out my clothes, 
lifted various objects and—I could not understand a thing! 

Have I grown stronger? Why was everything now so 
ethereal? Why could I lift objects which I could not shift 

No! These feet, these arms, this body could not be mine! 

Mine were always heavy and moved with difficulty. 

How was it that my arms and legs were now so strong? 


Could it be that some force was drawing me and every- 
thing else upwards and so lightening my work for me? But 
in that case what a strong pull it was exerting! A little 
more and it seemed to me that I would bump against the 

And why was I leaping instead of walking? Something 
was pulling me in the direction opposite to gravity, tensing 
my muscles and making me leap. 

I could not resist the temptation, I jumped. 

I seemed to have ascended rather slowly and descended 
equally slowly. 

I leapt higher, and looked round the room from a fair 
height. Ouch! I knocked my head against the ceiling. The 
rooms are high-ceilinged and the concussion was unex- 
pected. ...I decided to take more care in future. 

The yelp I gave awoke my friend. I watched him turn 
over and, a little later, hop out of bed. And I saw him 
‘make the same spectacle of himself as I, all unawares, had 
just made of myself. In fact, I derived the greatest satis- 
faction from watching his rolling eyes, his comical pos- 
tures and the unnatural agility of my friend’s movements. 
His odd exclamations, so like mine, amused me. 

I gave my physicist friend time to exhaust the supply 
of surprises; then I asked him to solve just one question: 
what had happened? Had we grown stronger or had the 
gravity diminished? 

Both conjectures were equally astounding. But one be- 
comes indifferent to everything once he grows accustomed 
to it. My friend and I had not yet reached that stage, but 
we already wanted to know what was at the bottom of it 

My friend, accustomed to analysing problems, soon 
sorted out the mass of phenomena that had stunned and 
confused my mind. 

“We could use a dynamometer or spring balance,” he 
said, “to measure our muscular power and discover 
whether it has increased or not. Watch me press my feet 


against the wall and pull at the dynamometer hook. As 
you see, it is five poods.* I haven’t grown any stronger. 
You can do the same, and you'll also see that you have 
not become a Hercules.” 

“How can I agree?’ I objected, “when the facts are 
against it? Just explain why I can lift the end of this book- 
case, though it weighs at least 50 poods? At first I imagined 
it was empty, but when I opened it, not a single book was 
missing. And while you’re about it, explain how I managed 
to leap to a height of five arshins.’”’** 

“You can lift heavy loads, leap so high and feel so light 
not because you are stronger—the dynamometer refuted 
that supposition—but because the gravity is less; you will 
see jt for yourself by using the same spring balance. We 
can even find out how many times less it has grown.” 

And he picked up the first weight to hand—it happened 
to be a 12-pounder—and hung it on the dynamometer. 

“Look!” he continued, taking the reading. “This 12- 
pound weight now weighs only two pounds. That means 
gravity is six times less.” 

Then after a moment’s thought he added: 

“This is exactly the gravity on the surface of the Moon, 
owing to its small volume and small density.” 

“We're not on the Moon, are we?” I guffawed. 

“Supposing we are,” the physicist laughed, assuming a 
frivolous tone, “there is not much to worry about, for if 
such a miracle is possible, it can be repeated in reverse 
order which means we'll get back to where we belong.” 

“That’s enough quibbling. But suppose we weigh some- 
thing on an ordinary pair of scales? Will the diminished 
gravity be noticeable?” 

“No, because the object being weighed will lose the same 
amount of weight as the weight on the other pan. The 
scales will balance despite the changed gravity.” 

* One pood is 36 lb.—Tr. 
sè One arshin equals 28 inches.—Tr. 


“I see!” 

Nevertheless, I tried breaking a stick, hoping to find I 
was stronger. But I could not do it though the stick was 
not thick and only the day before had yielded in my hands. 

“How stubborn you are! Chuck it!’ said my friend. 
“You'd do better to think about how perturbed the world 
probably is now because of all the changes.” 

“You are right,” I replied, dropping the stick. “I’d for- 
gotten it all, forgotten about mankind with whom J, like 
you, passionately wish to share our thoughts.” 

“Something’s happened to our friends. Could there 
have been other upheavals?” 

I had opened my mouth to speak and had pullea aside 
the curtains (drawn to the night before to shut out the 
moonlight that prevented us from sleeping), but immediate- 
ly recoiled. Horror of horrors! The sky was blacker than 
the blackest ink! 

Where was the town? Where were the people? 

This was some wild, inconceivable place, bathed in 
bright sunshine! 

Perhaps we had indeed been transported to a desert 

These thoughts passed through my mind, I could not 
express them. I merely muttered incoherently. 

My friend rushed across to me, presuming that I felt 
faint, but I pointed to the window. He looked out and was 
petrified with astonishment. 

That we did not actually faint was because the small 
gravity prevented too much blood from rushing to the 

We looked around us. 

The curtains were still drawn and we could no longer 
see the astonishing spectacle. Meanwhile, the normal ap- 
pearance of the room and the familiar objects helped to 
restore our peace of mind. | 

Standing close together, and still a little scared, we 
first lifted a corner of the curtain and then drew it 


completely aside. Finally we decided to step outside and 
observe the funereal sky and our surroundings, 

Though our minds were filled with thoughts of the walk 
we intended to take, there were one or two things we par- 
ticularly noticed. Thus, when we walked about the large, 
high-ceilinged rooms, we had to use our crude muscles 
with some caution, otherwise our feet just slid over the 
floor; there was no danger, however, of falling as might 
happen on damp snow or ice. But our bodies bobbed about 
very much. When we wanted to move rapidly, we had 
first to lean perceptibly forward like a horse when Starting 
to pull a heavy cart. It only appeared to be like that, be- 
cause actually every movement we made was extremely 
light. How boring it was to descend a Staircase, step by 
step! How slow to move at a walking pace! Soon we aban- 
doned all these procedures, so suitable on the Earth but 
so ridiculous here. We learned to move by leaps and 
bounds; we took ten or more steps at a bound up or down 
the staircase like the most harum-scarum schoolboys; 
sometimes we jumped the whole flight or leapt through 
the window. In short, by force of circumstances we were 
transformed into jumping animals, like grasshoppers and 

So, after rushing all over the house, we jumped out and 
ran in leaps and bounds towards the nearest mountain. 

The Sun was dazZlingly bright and seemed almost blue. 
Shielding our eyes with our hands to protect them against 
the glare of the Sun and the brightness of our surround- 
ings, we could see the stars and planets which were also, 
for the most part, tinted blue, Neither stars nor planets 
twinkled, which made them like silver-capped nails stud- 
ding the black firmament. 

Ah! there was the moon, in its last quarter! We could 
not help being amazed, since its diameter seemed three or 
four times larger than that of our old familiar Moon. And 
it shone more brightly than it does in daylight on the 
Earth, when it appears as a small, white cloud. Silence 


reigned. The skies were clear and cloudless. We could see 
no plants, no animals. A desert with a black monotonous 
firmament and blue cadaverous Sun overhead. No lakes, no 
rivers, not a drop of water! If only the horizon were 
lighter—that would indicate the presence of vapour. Alas, 
it was as black as the zenith! 

There was nothing of the wind that rustles the grass 
and sways the tree tops on the Earth. No chirping of 
grasshoppers. No birds, no brightly coloured butterflies! 
Nothing but endless mountains, forbidding, high mountains, 
on whose peaks no snow sparkled. Not a snow-flake any- 
where! And there lay the valleys, plains, and table-lands, 
heaped high with stone and rock, black and white, large 
and small, and all of them jagged and shining. None were 
rounded or softened by waves; they had never rolled here, 
had never merrily, noisily, dragged at them in play, had 
never worked on them! 

Here was an undulating, smooth area, without a single 
pebble. Only dark crevasses sprawled out in all directions 
like snakes. This was a solid floor of rock with no soft 
humus, no sand, no clay. 

A gloomy spectacle! Even the mountains stood bare in 
shameless nakedness. They had no flimsy veil, none of the 
transparent, grey-blue mist which envelopes mountains 
and remote objects on the Earth. Nothing but severe, 
Strikingly well-defined landscapes! And the shadows! How 
deep they were! What sharp changes from darkness to 
light! There was nothing of the so familiar colour modu- 
lations that only an atmosphere can produce. Even the 
Sahara desert would seem a paradise compared with what 
we were seeing here. We would hardly have minded the 
scorpions and locusts, the white-hot sands tossed up by 
the dry wind, not to mention the rarely encountered sparse 
vegetation and groves of date palms. But we had to think 
of returning. The ground was cold and our legs and feet 
felt frozen, yet the Sun was baking hot. We had the un- 
pleasant feeling of coldness which one gets when one is 


freezing cold yet trying to get warm in front of a blazing 
fire-place; the room seems too cold to get warm in, and 
although a pleasant feeling of warmth covers the outer 
skin, nothing seems able to prevent one from shivering. 

We warmed ourselves on the way back by skipping with 
chamois-like ease over large rocky boulders. They were 
rocks of granite, porphyrite, syenite, rock crysta!, various 
quartzes and silica, transparent and opaque, and all of 
volcanic origin. Incidentally, we observed also traces of 
volcanic activity. 

At last we were back home! 

Inside we felt fine: at least there was an even temper- 
ature. So we felt inclined to try out a number of new 
experiments and to discuss everything we had seen. Clearly 
we were on another planet, which had neither air nor any 
other atmosphere. 

If there were gas, the stars would twinkle; if there were 
air, the sky would be blue and the distant mountains 
veiled in mist. But how were we able to breathe and hear 
each other? That was something we could not understand. 
From a mass of phenomena it was evident that there was 
neither air nor gas of any kind: we could not light a cigar, 
and we rashly used up innumerable matches trying to do 
so. We were able to compress a closed, impermeable rub- 
ber bag without the slightest effort, which we could not 
have done if there had been gas inside. Scientists indicate 
that there is no gas on the Moon, too. 

“Perhaps we are on the Moon, after all?” 

“Have you noticed that from here the Sun seems no 
bigger and no smaller than from the Earth? This would be 
so only from the Earth and from its satellite, as these ce- 
lestial bodies are almost equidistant from the Sun. From 
other planets it should seem either larger or smaller. Thus, 
from Jupiter we would see the Sun at a fifth of the present 
angle, and from Mars, at two-thirds the angle. From Venus, 
on the contrary, the angle would be one and a half times 
greater. On Venus the Sun burns twice as fiercely, 


whereas Mars feels only half the warmth. And there is 
the same difference from the Earth’s two closest planets! 
But on Jupiter, for example, the warmth received from the 
Sun is only one twenty-fifth of what the Earth gets. We do 
not see that sort of thing here, though we well could, if 
it existed, because we have enough of protractors and 
other measuring instruments.” 

“Yes, we are on the Moon. Everything points to it!” 

“It is even borne out by the size of the cloud-like moon 
we saw, which is evidently the planet we departed from not 
of our own accord. What a pity we cannot now discern 
its spots, its profile, and determine our location once and 
for all. Let us wait till nightfall.” 

“So you say,” I remarked to my friend, “that the Earth 
and the Moon are the same distance away from the Sun? 
But in my opinion, the difference is all the same fairly 
large, 360,000 versts*.” 

“But I said almost, since 360,000 versts are only 1/400th 
part of the total distance to the Sun,” the physicist 
objected, “and 1/400th can be ignored.” 

How tired I was, not so much physically as morally! I 
had an irrepressible desire to sleep. What would my watch 
tell me? We had risen at 6 a.m. and now it was 5 p.m. 
Eleven hours had passed, yet, judging by the shadows, the 
Sun had scarcely moved. The shadow from the steep hill 
yonder had barely reached the house and it was in the 
same position now; the shadow cast by the weather-vane 
still lay on the same boulder. 

More proof that we were on the Moon! 

Indeed, its axial rotation was as low as that. Here, the 
day lasted for as Jong as about 15 of our 24-hour days, 
or 360 hours. And the night was just as long. Not very 

* One verst is 3,500 feet.—Tr. 

2—761 17 

convenient. The Sun prevented us from sleeping. I remem- 
ber experiencing the same thing when I spent a few sum- 
mer weeks in arctic lands. The Sun never sank below the 
horizon and 1 grew sick and tired of it! However, there 
was a great difference between my experiences then and 
now. Here the Sun was moving slowly but in the same 
way. There it moved quickly, describing a circle once 
every 24 hours just above the horizon. 

But in both places there was the same remedy: to close 
the shutters. 

But was my watch right? Why did my watch not tally 
with the pendulum clock on the wall? My watch indicated 
five o’clock, and the clock on the wall—only ten a. m. Which 
was right? Why was the pendulum swinging so lazily? 

Quite obviously the clock on the wall was slow! 

My watch, on the other hand, could not be wrong as its 
pendulum is not swung by gravity but by the resilience 
of a steel spring, which is the same on the Earth as on the 

I could check this by feeling my pulse. It used to beat 
70 times a minute. Now it beats 75 times. A little more 
than usual, perhaps, but that may be due to the nervous 
excitement of finding myself in such unusual circum- 
stances and to all the strong new impressions. 

There was still another way of checking the time. At 
night we would be able to see the Earth turning on its 
axis once every 24 hours. That is the best clock, an infal- 
lible one! 

Though we could hardly keep awake, my physicist friend 
could not resist the temptation to put the clock right. I 
watched him remove the long pendulum, accurately meas- 
ure it and shorten it to a sixth of its previous length. But 
even the shortened pendulum behaved staidly, though not 
quite like the longer one. After the metamorphosis, the 
clock ticked off the hours in harmony with my watch. 

At last we went to bed and covered ourselves with the 
light blankets, which here seemed almost ethereally light. 


We hardly made use of pillows or mattresses at all. One 
could sleep soundly on boards here. 

J could not rid myself of the idea that I was going to 
bed too early. The Sun! The time! They were frozen stiff 
into stillness like the whcle nature of the Moon! 

My friend was no longer conversing with me; I too 
dozed off. 

We woke up in good spirits. We felt cheerful, but 
famished. Until now, the excitement had deprived us of 
our customary appetites. 

How thirsty I was! I removed the stopper from my wa- 
ter-bottle but what did I find? The water seemed to be 
boiling! Slowly and gently boiling. Cautiously I touched 
the water-bottle in case it was too hot. But no, the water 
was only warm and most unpalatable! 

“My dear friend, what have you to say about this?” 

“We are in an absolute vacuum, which is why the water 
is boiling, not being subject to atmospheric pressure. Let 
it boil a while. Don’t put the stopper back. In a vacuum 
boiling water gradually freezes. But we shall not let it 
freeze. That is enough! Pour some water into a glass and 
stopper the bottle, otherwise too much will boil out.” 

How slowly liquid pours out here on the Moon! 

The water in the bottle became still, but in the glass it 
continued its lifeless agitation, which with time became 

The water left in the glass turned to ice. Then the ice 
evaporated and grew smaller in size. 

How would we be dining now? 

It was easy enough to eat bread and other more or less 
solid foods, though they rapidly dried up in our by no 
means air-tight box. The bread had turned to stone, the 
fruit had shrivelled and become pretty hard. Of course the 
skin and peel had helped to retain some moisture. 

“This habit we have of eating hot dishes! What are we 
going to do? We can’t start a fire here: no wood, no coal, 
even no matches will burn here!” 

2* 19 

“What about making the Sun do the job? After all 
people cook eggs in the hot sand of the Sahara desert!” 

We adapted our pots, saucepans and other utensils, so 
that the lids fitted tightly. Then, filling them all accord- 
ing to the rules of culinary art, we set them out in the 
sunshine. Then we collected all the mirrors from the 
house and set them up so that the sunlight was concen- 
trated onto the pots and pans. 

In less than an hour we were enjoying well-steamed, 
well-baked food. 

But why talk about it? Have you heard of Mouchauld?* 
We left his improved system of solar cooking far behind! 
Call it boasting or bragging, if you like. Perhaps our pre- 
sumption should be attributed to our ravenous appetites, 
due to which any foul food would have seemed perfection. 

There was one nasty thing about it, however: we had 
to hurry. I must confess that we more than once choked 
and spluttered over our food. And no wonder, for the 
soup boiled and cooled not only in our plates but even in 
the throat, oesophagus, and stomach. If we did not look 
alive about it, we found ourselves swallowing a lump of 
ice instead of soup. 

It was surprising that our stomachs remained unharmed! 
The pressure exerted by the vapour greatly distended them. 

At any rate our appetites were satisfied and we felt 
at peace with ourselves. We did not understand how we 
were living without air, and how we, our house, our gar- 
den and orchard, our stores of food and drink in the cel- 
lars and barns had been transported from the Earth to the 
Moon. We even had our doubts. We began to think per- 
haps we were asleep and dreaming or that we had fallen 
victim to some diabolical hallucination? But for all that, 
we grew accustomed to our situation and treated it with 
mixed feelings of curiosity and indifference. The inexpli- 

* Mouchauld chose astronomical subjects for the science fiction 
stories he wrote in the 1890’s.—Ed. 


cable no longer astonished us and the thought never en- 
tered our minds that we might die of starvation, alone and 

As the story of our adventures unfolds, you will dis- 
cover why we were so incredibly optimistic. 

An after-dinner constitutional would not be amiss, I 

I persuaded my friend to accompany me. 

We Stood in a big courtyard, with a climbing pole stand- 
ing erect in the middle, and a fence and outhouses all 

But what was the reason for this boulder? One could 
easily fall over it. In the yard the ground was of ordinary, 
soft earth. Let’s chuck it out, over the fence! Pick it up 
boldly! Don’t let its size perturb you! With our united 
efforts, we lifted the 60-pood boulder and tumbled it over 
the fence. We heard it drop with a thud on the Moon’s 
rocky surface. We heard the thud not through the air, but 
from the ground. The impact produced a concussion on the 
ground and then on our bodies and the bones in our ears. 
In this manner we could often hear the blows we struck. 

“Perhaps this was the way we heard one another?” 

“Hardly so! The sound would not be heard as it is 
heard in the air.” 

The ease with which we moved gave us a Strong desire 
to climb and jump. 

Sweet childhood days! I remembered climbing onto 
roofs and tree tops, imitating the cats and birds. How 
wonderful it had been! 

And the competitions for the high jump over ropes, the 
long jump over ditches! The races for a prize! These were 
my passion! 

Should I recall old times? I was not very strong, espe- 
cially my arms. I could jump and run pretty well, but 
climbed ropes and poles with difficulty. 

I had always longed to be physically strong! To pay 
back my enemies, to reward my friends! The child and the 


Savage are one. These dreams of being strong were now 
ridiculous. My eager childhood longings had now been 
fulfilled. Because of the Moon’s insignificant gravity I 
seemed now to be six times as strong as before. 

Moreover, the weight of my own body now meant noth- 
ing to me, which fact increased the effect of being strong. 
What was a fence to me now? No more than the threshold 
or a stool on the Earth over which I could step with ease. 
And, as if to test this thought in action, we soared up and 
without a running start leapt over the fence. Then we 
jumped and even bounded over the shed, but for this we 
had to have a running start. How pleasant it was to be 
racing about! We could hardly feel our feet. Let’s run a 
race. Off we go! 

Whenever our feet struck the ground we leapt several 
yards, especially horizontally. Whoa, there! In one minute 
we had raced round the entire yard. Five hundred sazhens* 
—the speed of a race horse.** 

We took some measurements. At an easy gallop we 
rose some four arshins upwards and in length we leapt five 
sazhens or more, depending on the speed at which we ran. 

“Now for some gymnastics!” 

Making hardly any effort, and simply to amuse our- 
selves, we climbed the rope, using only the left hand. 

It was terrifying! After all, it was a four sazhens drop! 
We still felt we were on our own clumsy planet. Our heads 
went round and round. 

My heart was in my mouth, but I decided to jump first. 
Here I go. Ouch! I knocked my heels! 

I should have warned my friend, but instead I slyly 
egged him on. Raising my head I shouted: 

“Come on, jump! You won’t hurt yourself!” 

“I don’t need you to persuade me. I know perfectly well 
that to jump from this height is the same as jumping from 

* One sazhen equals 2.3 metres.—Tr. 
** The speed is slightly exaggerated.—Ed. 


a height of two arshins on the Earth. I know I'll bash my 
heels a bit!” 

My friend jumped. It was a slowish process, particularly 
at first, and took him about five seconds. 

Time enough to think of many things. 

“Well, physicist?” 

“My heart’s beating fast, but that is all.” 

“Now for the orchard, to climb the trees and race along 
the paths!” 

“Why haven’t the leaves shrivelled?” 

The verdure is fresh and will shield us from the Sun. 
Tall lime-trees and birches! We leapt and climbed among 
the thin branches like squirrels, and they did not break 
under our weight. No wonder, for here we are no heavier 
than a couple of fat turkeys! 

We flitted over the bushes and among the trees, moving 
as though we were flying. What a merry time we had! 
How easy we found it to keep our balance! We swayed 
unsteadily on a branch, about to fall, but the inclination 
to fall was so slight and the deviation from equilibrium 
proceeded so slowly, that we had only to shift the leg or 
arm slightly, to regain balance. 

Now for the wide, open spaces! The big courtyard and 
orchard seemed like a cage. At first we raced over the 
level ground. On our way we encountered shallow ditches 
some ten sazhens across. 

We took them in our stride, fleeting over like birds, We 
came to a hillside. At first we went up a gentle slope but 
later the going became steeper and steeper. So steep, 
indeed, it was that I felt sure [ would get out of breath. 

But there was no reason to fear. We took the ascent 
easily in long and rapid strides. It was a high hill and we 
felt tired on the Moon with its low gravity. We sat down 
to rest. Why was it so soft here? Could the rocks have 

I picked up a large stone and struck it against another. 
Sparks flew. 


After resting we turned back. 

“How far are we from home?” 

“Not very far now, perhaps 200 sazhens.” 

“Do you think you could throw a stone that far?” 

“T don’t know, but I can try!” 

We each picked up a small piece of rock. Who would 
throw it farthest? 

Mine flew right over the house. It was just as well. As 
I watched its flight I greatly feared it might smash a 

“Where did yours go? Farther still, think!” 

Shooting was very interesting here. Bullets and cannon- 
balls should fly horizontally and vertically for hundreds of 

“But will gunpowder do its job here?” 

“In a vacuum the force of explosives is even greater 
than in the air, as the latter only hampers the expansion 
of gases. As for oxygen they don’t need it, because they 
themselves contain as much as they need.” 

We reached home. 

“I shall sprinkle some gunpowder on the window-sill in 
the sunshine,” I said. “Now focus your burning glass on 
it. You saw the flash and the explosion, though it was 
noiseless. And there was the familiar smell, only it van- 
ished instantaneously. 

“You can fire a rifle, only don’t forget to put the per- 
cussion cap on. The burning glass and the Sun will take 
the place of the trigger.” 

“Let’s aim the rifle vertically, in order to retrieve the 
bullet afterwards close by.” 

There was a flash, a slight pop and the ground shook 

“Where’s the wad?” I exclaimed. “It ought to be close 
by, though it won’t be smoking!” 


“The wad went up with the bullet and will most likely 
remain with it. Back on the Earth it is only the atmos- 
phere that prevents it from winging after the lead bullet. 
Here a feather will fall or fly up as headlong as a stone. 
Suppose you pluck a feather from your pillow while I take 
a little iron ball. You'll find you can throw your feather 
and hit something, even far away, just as easily as I can 
with my little ball. I can throw the ball 200 sazhens; you 
can throw your feather just as far. True, you will not kill 
anyone with it and you will not even feel that you have 
thrown it. So let us throw our projectiles with all our 
might—I think we are about the same in that respect— 
at one and the same target—that lump of red granite, for 

We watched the feather slightly outfly the iron ball, as 
if carried away by a strong whirlwind. 

“But what can have happened? It is already three min- 
utes since we fired the shot, and still there’s no bullet!” I 

“Wait a couple of minutes, it’s sure to come down,” 
replied the physicist. 

And indeed, roughly in the time specified we felt the 
ground tremble slightly and saw the wad bobbing about 
near by. 

“But where is the bullet? The scrap of tow could not 
have caused the ground to tremble?” I asked in astonish- 

“Most likely, from the impact the bullet heated up to 
melting point and the splashes flew off in different di- 

After searching around we indeed found some tiny pel- 
lets—evidently particles of the vanished bullet. 

“The bullet certainly flew quite a time! How high 
should it have gone?” I asked. 

“Up to some 70 versts—all because of the small grav- 
itational pull and the absence of atmospheric resistance.” 

* * * 


We were tired mentally and physically and needed rest. 
The Moon is all very well in its way, but all the leaping 
about had made itself felt. As the flights were prolonged 
we did not always fall on our feet and so we sometimes 
hurt ourselves. In the four to six seconds we spent in flight 
we not only had a bird’s-eye view of the vicinity, but 
could also move our arms and legs. But we never seemed 
able to somersault in space. Later we learned to control 
our bodies and even do as much as three somersaults in 
space. This is an interesting experience and it is interesting 
to watch others doing it. 1 spent a long time observing the 
movements of my physicist friend; he performed many 
experiments off the ground and without any support. To 
describe them I would have to write a book. 

* * * 

We slept for 8 hours. 

It was getting warmer. The Sun had risen higher and 
was not beating down so fiercely. Now it shone on a small- 
er surface of the body, but the ground had warmed up 
and no longer gave off coldness. In general, both the Sun 
and the soil were warm, almost hot. 

It was time, however, to take precautions, as we clearly 
realised that we would become burnt up before noon. 

What were we to do? 

We proposed different plans. 

“We could spend a few days in the cellar, but there’s 
no guaranteeing that towards evening, that is, in about 
250 hours from now, it will not be like a furnace there, 
because the cellar is not deep enough. Then we shall also 
long for comfort and be sick and tired of remaining in a 
confined space.” 

True, it is easier to suffer boredom and inconvenience 
than to be baked alive. 

But would it not be better to choose one of the deeper 
crevasses? We could climb down and spend the rest of the 
day and part of the night in pleasant coolness. 


That would be much more amusing and romantic. What 
a cellar, after all? 

Necessity compels people to hide in the queerest of 

So we chose a crevasse, the idea being that the more 
fiercely the Sun beat down, the lower we would descend. 
Incidentally a few sazhens will be quite deep enough. 

We took along sunshades and provisions in tightly 
closed boxes and barrels. We threw fur overcoats over our 
shoulders; they would come in useful whether it was too 
hot or too cold. Moreover, here they were not much of a 

Several hours passed, during which we ate, rested and 
talked of lunar gymnastics and of the wonderful miracles 
circus acrobats from our Earth could perform here. 

We could tarry no longer. It was infernally hot, at least 
outside. In sunny places. the rocky ground was so hot that 
we had to tie thick wooden boards to the soles of our 

In our haste we dropped some of our glass and china- 
ware but nothing broke, so feeble was the gravitational 

I almost forgot to tell of the fate that befell our horse, 
which, as chance would have it, was also with us. When 
we wanted to harness it to a cart, the unfortunate beast 
somehow broke loose, galloped off faster than the wind, 
tumbling and bruising itself and then, not understanding 
the force of inertia, and failing to avoid a huge boulder in 
its path, dashed itself to pieces. Its flesh and blood first 
froze and then dried up. 

Then there were the flies. They could not fly at all, but 
merely jumped up and down. 

* * * 

And so, taking with us all we needed, making a tremen- 
dous load on our shoulders, which highly amused us as all 
of it seemed hollow and fragile, and having barred doors, 


windows and shutters so that the house would not get too 
hot and damaged from the high temperature, we set off in 
search of a suitable crevasse or cave. 

Meanwhile we marvelled at the sharp fluctuations in 
temperature. Places that had been long in the sunshine 
were as hot as a fiery furnace. We tried to get past them 
as quickly as possible and then to cool off and rest in the 
shade of a boulder or a cliff. And we cooled off so thor- 
oughly that had we tarried any longer our fur coats would 
have come in for some use. But even these spots were not 
so dependable. We realised that the Sun would have to 
move round and shine on what had previously been in the 
shade and cold. So we looked for a crevasse on which the 
Sun would not shine for any length of time, and would 
not therefore make the rock very hot. 

We found a crevasse with almost overhanging cliffs, 
only the very tops of which we could see. The crevasse 
itself was dark and seemed bottomless. We walked round 
it and found a gentle slope, which seemed to descend 
straight into Hades itself. We took a few steps without 
mishap. But then it grew so dark that we could see no 
further than our noses, and it seemed too horrible and 
risky to proceed. Happily we remembered the electric 
lamp; candles and torches were not possible here. The 
beam of light flashed before us, revealing a crevasse some 
20 sazhens deep; the slope of the land made the descent 
quite possible. 

So much for the bottomless gorge! Hades, indeed! We 
were most sadly disillusioned. 

First of all, the darkness was because the place lay in 
shadow, the crevasse was narrow and deep and the light 
reflected from the sunlit environment and tall mountains 
could not penetrate it to these depths. Secondly, it was 
dark because there was no atmosphere to reflect light to 
it, whereas the atmosphere on the Earth sends diffused 
light down to the deepest of wells which are therefore not 
so dark as on the Moon. 


As we descended, now and then clutching at the walls, 
the temperature dropped, though not below 15°C, Evidently 
this was the mean temperature of the latitude we were 
in. We chose a convenient, level spot, spread out our fur 
coats and made ourselves comfortable. 

But what was this? Had night fallen? Shielding our eyes 
from the beam of the lamp, we peered at the slit of black, 
star-spangled sky overhead. 

Our timepiece showed that little time had passed and 
we knew the Sun could not have set so suddenly. 

Confound it! An awkward movement has shattered the 
lamp, though its carbon filament continues to glow and 
even more brightly. Back on the Earth it would have gone 
out at once, burning itself out in the air. 

Out of curiosity I touched it. It snapped, and everything 
was plunged in darkness. We could not see one another. 
Only high above us we could just discern the edges of 
the crevasse, and the long narrow strip of the dark firma- 
ment seemed studded with still more stars. 

We could not believe that it was broad daylight up 
there. I became impatient; with some effort I dug out a 
spare bulb, switched on the lamp again and began the 
ascent. It grew brighter and warmer. The light blinded me, 
and my lamp seemed to have gone out. 

It was indeed daylight; both the Sun and the shadow 
were there as before. 

How hot it was! I hurried down again. 


Idle, we slept like logs. Our refuge kept cool. 

Now and again we climbed out to find a shady place and 
observe in their stately motion the Sun, stars, planets and 
our big moon, which compared to your miserable Moon 
was as large as an apple compared to a cherry. 

The Sun moved almost in step with the stars, barely 


perceptibly falling behind them, just as when observing 
it from the Earth. 

Meanwhile, the moon hung quite still and was invisible 
from our crevasse, which we greatly regretted, as from 
the darkness we might have observed it just as well as 
at night-time, for which we had to wait a long time. It 
was unfortunate that we had not chosen some crevasse 
from which the moon would have been visible. But it was 
now too late. 

It was almost midday. The shadows were no longer 
growing shorter and the moon had dwindled a slender 
crescent, growing paler and paler as the Sun drew 

The moon was as large as an apple, the Sun the size 
of a cherry. Would the cherry glide behind the apple? 
Would there be an eclipse of the Sun? 

On the Moon this is a frequent. and magnificent phe- 
nomenon; on the Earth it is rare and insignificant. There 
the umbra, the size of a pinhead (it is sometimes several 
versts long—but what is that if not a pinhead compared 
with the size of the Earth?), pencils a strip across the 
planet, and, in favourable circumstances, passes from 
town to town, spending a few minutes in each. But here 
the umbra covers either the whole Moon, or, in most 
cases, a considerable part of its surface, so that complete 
darkness lasts for several hours. 

The crescent grew slenderer still, and was barely notice- 
able beside the Sun. 

Then it completely disappeared. 

We climbed out to observe the Sun through a piece of 
dark glass, 

It seemed as though a gigantic invisible finger had flat- 
tened one side of the Sun’s glowing mass. 

Then only half the Sun was visible. 

Finally, its last limb vanished, and everything was 
plunged into darkness. 

A vast pall of shadow stole up and covered us. 


But the feeling of being blind quickly vanished. We 
again saw the moon and a multitude of stars. 

This was no longer a crescent moon. Now it was in the 
shape of a dark circle, standing out magnificent radiance 
of deep red light that shone most brilliantly, though 
slightly paler on the side where the last of the Sun had 

What we were seeing was the same sunset glow we had 
once gloried in on the Earth. 

The entire surroundings were bathed in a blood-red 

Meanwhile, thousands of people on the Earth with the 
naked eye or through telescopes were observing a full 
eclipse of the Moon—and us! 

The eyes of our own human race! Could they perhaps 
see us? 

As we stood commiserating, the glowing corona as- 
sumed a more even shape and became more beautiful; it 
became similar in size to the crescent itself; the eclipse 
was at its height. Then the side opposite to that behind 
which the Sun had disappeared paled and grew more 
luminous, its brilliance increasing in intensity until it re- 
sembled a diamond set in a crimson ring. 

The diamond became a segment of the Sun and the 
outer radiance vanished. Night changed to day, the en- 
chantment was gone. The landscape before our eyes was 
as it had been before the eclipse. We conversed together 
animatedly about what we had just witnessed. 

Earlier I mentioned that we had chosen a shady place 
and made observations. But you may ask: “How were you 
able to observe the Sun from a shady place?” 

This is my answer: “Not all shady spots were cold 
and not all sunlit places hot. Indeed, ground temperature 
depends mainly on how long the Sun has been warming 
it. But there were areas on which the Sun began to shine 
just a few hours previously and which before that had 
been in the shade. Naturally, the temperature there could 


not have been so very high. On the contrary, it would 
have been excessively cold. Wherever there are cliffs and 
steep mountains throwing shadows, there will be places 
which are cold, though they are sunlit, and though from 
them the Sun can be seen. 

“True, they are not always to hand, and before they 
are found and arrived at, even a sunshade will not save 
you from being thoroughly baked.” 

For the sake of convenience and partly to get limbered 
up, we decided to take with us a fair supply of the many 
still cold stones lying about in our crevasse, planning to 
heap them out in the open and thus shield our bodies from 
the heat. 

No sooner said than done. 

We were thus always able to emerge and, squatting deep 
down among the pile of stones, conduct our observations. 

But the stones would get hot in time! 

Well, we could go back for more, there were so many 
of them down below, in the crevasse. With our strength 
increased sixfold because we were on the Moon, it was 
hardly likely to give out. 

We did all this after the solar eclipse, which we had 
not expected with certainty. 

Besides this, no sooner had the eclipse passed than we 
determined to ascertain our latitude. This was easy enough, 
having in view the Sun’s altitude and the period of the 
equinox (this being evident from the recent eclipse). We 
found we were in latitude of 40°N, so we were not on the 
Moon’s equator. 

Thus half the day—-seven Earth days from the sunrise 
we had not seen—had already gone by. Indeed, our time- 
piece showed that our sojourn on the Moon had lasted five 
Earth days. Consequently we had arrived on the Moon at 
48 o’clock in the early morning. That was why we found 
the ground very cold when we awoke. There had been no 
time for it to warm up after being terribly cooled off by 
the preceding long night of 15 Earth days. 


* + * 

We slept and woke, and each time saw more and more 
new Stars above. They were the self-same Stars set in the 
same familiar pattern as those seen from the Earth. Only 
because of the narrowness of the deep hollow we were 
lying in, we could not at a glance see their vast numbers. 
Nor did they twinkle against their black background, and 
they moved twenty-eight times more slowly than the 
speed observed from the Earth. 

Then Jupiter appeared. Its satellites could here be seen 
with the naked eye and we observed their eclipse.* Then 
Jupiter went out of sight and the Polar Star came out. 
Poor star! It is of no importance here. The crescent alone 
would never peep into our crevasse, if we sat there for 
a thousand years, for it is eternally immobile. Only if we 
move ourselves on this planet, can it be set in motion. 
Then it will descend, rise and set. But we shall return to 
this point later. 

* * E. 

We could not sleep and sleep all the time! 

And so we began to make plans. 

“Tonight we shall climb out of our crevasse, but not 
immediately after the Sun sets when the ground is at 
its hottest, but several dozen hours later. We shall set off 
for our house and see what has happened there. Whether 
the Sun has been up to mischief? Then we shall make a 
voyage by moonlight, enjoy the sights of this moon. So 
far we have seen it as a milk-white cloud; at night-time we 
shall admire it in its full beauty, its brilliance, every as- 
pect of it, since it revolves rapidly and shows itself in not 
more than 24 hours, a mere fraction of the lunar day and 
night together.” 

* An observer on the Moon would never be able to see Jupiter’s 
satellites, and still less eclipses of them, with naked eye.—Ed. 

3—76l 33 

Our large moon, the Earth, has phases like the Moon 
we used to watch from afar with dreamy curiosity. 

In our locality new moons or, rather, new earths occur 
at noon: the first quarter is at sunset, the full moon—at 
midnight, and the final quarter—at sunrise. 

We are in a locality, where nights and even days are 
eternally moon-nights and moon-days. This is admirable 
but only while we exist in the hemisphere, visible from 
the Earth. As soon as we pass to the other hemisphere, 
invisible from the Earth, we shall immediately lose the 
light during the night. And this will be so for as long as 
we stay in this unfortunate, and, at the same time, so 
mysterious hemisphere. It is mysterious for the Earth since 
the Earth never sees it and that is why it intrigues scien- 
tists so very much. It is unfortunate because its inhab- 
itants, if any, are deprived of a nocturnal luminary and 
a magnificent spectacle. 

Indeed, are there any inhabitants on the Moon? What 
are they like? Are they like us? So far we had not met 
them. It would have been pretty difficult to do so, since 
we had been keeping almost in one place all the time and 
had occupied ourselves far more with gymnastics than 
with selenography. Of special interest is the unknown half, 
whose dark heavens at night are eternally studded with 
a legion of stars, most of which are telescopically minute 
since their tender glow is neither destroyed by multiple 
atmospheric refractions nor dulled by the harsh light of 
an immense moon. 

Could there be depressions there, in which gases, liquids 
and a lunar population could accumulate? These formed 
the subject of our conversations, as we waited for the 
sunset and the night. Impatiently we waited for nightfall. 
It was not really boring, for in addition we called to mind 
the experiments with lamp oil, which my physicist friend 
had mentioned earlier. 

The fact is, we had succeeded in getting drops of huge 
dimensions. For instance, when drops of oil fell from a 


horizontal plane they reached the size of an apple. Drops 
from a sharpened tip were much smaller. Oil poured 
through a hole, flowed at a speed that was two-fifths of 
what it would be on the Earth, the conditions being the 
same. Capillary attraction* on the Moon was six times 
greater than on the Earth. Thus, round the sides of the 
container the oil rose above the general level with an in- 
tensity six times greater than that on the Earth. 

In a small wine glass, the oil assumed a compressed, 
almost spherical, shape. 

Nor did we forget our sinful bellies. Every 6-10 hours we 
fortified ourselves with food and drink. 

We had with us a samovar with a lid screwed on tightly 
and we often sipped a brew of the Chinese herb. 

Of course we could not get the samovar going in the or- 
dinary way, as air is required to make coal and wood chips 
burn. We merely stood it out in the Sun, packed round 
with a pile of hot stones. The water soon began to sim- 
mer, but did not boil. Hot water would spurt from the 
open tap, under the pressure of the inside steam, which 
was not offset by outside atmospheric pressure. 

Taking tea in this way was not particularly pleasant, 
because of the possibility of scalding ourselves, for the 
water spurted all over the place like exploding gun- 

So we put the tea into the samovar, then let it first 
heat up thoroughly, then shifted the hot stones away and 
waited for it to cool off. Only then did we drink the 
ready-brewed tea without scalding our lips. However, 
even this tepid tea spurted out fizzing into our glasses and 
seemed like soda water in our mouths. 

* Capillary attraction is the adhesion of liquids by virtue of 
which kerosene, for instance, rises up a wick, or sap flows towards 
the leaves. It is a complex phenomenon which occurs in a multitude 
of forms. 

3 35 


Soon the Sun would be setting. 

We watch the Sun touch a mountain peak. On the Earth 
we would have done this with the naked eye. Here it was 
impossible, because here there was no atmosphere and 
no water vapour, and consequently there had been noth- 
ing to detract from the Sun’s bluish tinge, its heat, or 
its brilliance. We were able only for a brief instant to 
glance at it without dark-tinted glass. It was not at all 
like the rosy, soft light of the Sun when it is rising or 
setting on the Earth! 

Slowly the Sun sank lower and lower. Half an hour had 
passed since it first touched the horizon, yet half of it 
had not disappeared. 

In St. Petersburg or Moscow the Sun sets in three to 
five minutes. In tropical climes the sunset lasts for about 
two minutes. Only at the poles does it take several hours 
to set. 

Finally, the last segment of the Sun, seeming like a 
bright star, died out behind the hills. 

And no sunset glow at all! 

Instead we saw all around us the multitude of moun- 
tain peaks and other hilly areas glowing in a rather bright 
reflected light. 

This light was quite enough to prevent complete dark- 
ness for several hours, even when there was no moon. 

One remote peak shone like a beacon for 30 hours. 

Finally this, too, went dim. 

Now only the moon and the stars were shining down, 
but the light from the stars was very faint. 

Immediately following the sunset and even for some 
time afterwards, the reflected sunlight was more power- 
ful than the moonlight. 

But when the last mountain beacon had faded, our noc- 
turnal luminary reigned in full grandeur over the Moon. 

We turned and looked at it. 


Its surface was 15 times greater than that of the Earth’s 
Moon, which, as already mentioned, was the size of a 
cherry compared with an apple. 

The light it emitted was 50 to 60 times more powerful 
than that of the Moon, we had been accustomed to. 

It was possible to read without straining the eyes, it 
did not seem to be night at all—rather a fantastic kind 
of day. 

Its glow prevented us from seeing either the zodiacal 
light or the smaller stars, without using special screens. 

What a spectacle! Greetings, Earth! Our hearts beat 
with a bitter-sweet longing, our minds were filled with 

How precious and mysterious now was this once cursed 
and banal Earth! We saw it as a picture behind a pale 
blue glass. The glass was the ethereal] ocean of the Earth! 

We saw Africa and part of Asia, the Sahara desert, the 
Gobi desert and Arabia! Lands, where it never rains and 
the skies are always blue! They are unblemished, always 
open to the eye of the selenite. Only as the planet turns 
on its axis does it carry these deserts away. 

The white amorphous tufts and strips are clouds. 

The ground seemed to be a muddy-yellow or muddy- 

The seas and oceans were dark, but of different shades 
which most likely depended on how turbulent or still they 
were. Where the sea was whitish white horses rode the 
billows, perhaps. In places the waters were obscured by 
clouds, not all snow-white, though few were greyish. They 
were evidently covered by upper light strata composed 
of an icy, crystallic dust. 

The two diametrically opposite sides of the planet shone 
particularly brightly due to the polar ice caps. 

The white cap at the north was purer and larger than 
that in the south. 

Had the clouds been motionless it would have been 
difficult to distinguish them from the snow. Incidentally 


the snows for the most part lie deeper down in the ocean 
of air, so that the blue colouring that conceals them is a 
shade darker than that above the clouds. 

There was a sprinkling of snow scattered over all parts 
of the planet, even along its equator. These were the moun- 
tain peaks, which were so high, that even in the tropics 
the snow caps did not melt. 

There were the gleaming Alps! 

And there the Caucasian Mountains! 

And over there the Himalayas! 

The patches of snow were more constant than the 
clouds, but even they changed, disappearing and reappear- 
ing with the different seasons. 

If we had only had a telescope, we would have been 
able to detect all the details. It would have been a lovely 

The planet was in its first quarter. Illuminated by the 
feeble moonlight, the Earth’s darker half was barely dis- 
cernible, being much darker than the darker (ashen) part 
of the Moon that is visible from the Earth. 

We felt hungry. But before descending into the crevasse 
we decided to find out whether the ground was still very 
hot. We stepped down from our rocky platform—by now 
we had renewed it several times—and plunged into what 
seemed like an incredibly hot bathhouse. The heat quickly 
penetrated the soles of our boots, and we beat a hasty 
retreat. The ground would not cool for some time*. 

We dined in the crevasse, the edges of which had al- 
ready ceased to shine; from there a mighty host of stars 
was visible. 

Every two or three hours we climbed out to observe our 
moon—the Earth. 

We could have taken it all in at a glance but for the 
clouds covering our planet. To some parts the clouds 

* As the Moon has no atmosphere, its surface cools extremely 
rapidly.— Ed. 


clung obstinately, trying our patience, even though we 
still hoped that we would see them. And when fine 
weather set in, we did observe them. 

kod * * 

We spent five days under cover in the depths of the 
Moon, emerging only to spend brief intervals in the im- 
mediate vicinity. 

The ground cooled and after five Earth days, or towards 
lunar midnight, it was so coo] that we resolved to em- 
bark on a journey over the hills and dales of the Moon. 
Actually, we had not as yet visited any low-lying place. 

The accepted name for these vast, darkish low-lying 
lunar expanses is the maria or seas, which is really quite 
wrong because no water has ever been found there. Would 
we be able to discover in these “seas” and still lower 
places any traces of Neptunian activity—traces of the 
water, air and organic life, which some scientists consider 
long vanished from the Moon? It has been suggested that 
at one time all this existed on the Moon, and perhaps still 
does in some of its crevasses and abysses; that there had 
been both water and air but that with the passage of time, 
it had all soaked into and been absorbed by the soil, and 
had formed chemical compounds with it; that there had 
once been organisms—vegetation of a simple order, and 
shell-fish, because where there is water and air, there will 
be mould, and mould is an original form of organic life, 
at least of the lowest order. 

As for my friend, the psysicist, he thought, with good 
reason, that there had never been any life, water or air 
on the Moon. If there had been water and air, their tem- 
peratures would have been so high that any organic life 
would have been impossible. 

My reader will forgive me for giving here the personal 
view of my friend, which has no proof to support it. 

At any rate, when our round-the-Moon voyage is over, 
we shall know who was right. 


And so, shouldering our loads, which had grown much 
lighter due to the vast quantities of food and drink con- 
sumed, we parted with our hospitable crevasse and, tak- 
ing our bearings by the immobile moon suspended in the 
black firmament above, set off for our house, which we 
shortly discovered. 

The wooden shutters and other wooden parts of the 
houses and sheds had become rotten and charred on top, 
due to the prolonged action of the Sun’s rays. In the court- 
yard we found broken bits of a water cask, which had ex- 
ploded from the pressure of the steam. We had stupidly 
bunged up the cask and left it out in the baking Sun. There 
were, of course, no traces of water, it having completely 
evaporated. By the porch we found some slivers of glass. 
This was from the lantern, the frame of which was of an 
easily fusible metal. Quite understandably, it had melted 
and the glass had fallen out. Inside the house, we found 
less damage: its thick brick walls had given good pro- 
tection. In the cellar everything was intact. 

Taking from the cellar everything required to prevent 
us dying of starvation and thirst, we set forth on a long 
journey to the lunar pole and to that other, mysterious 
hemisphere which no man had ever seen before. 

“Would it not be advisable for us to trail the Sun west- 
wards, at the same time deviating a little towards one of 
the poles?” my physicist friend suggested. “We would kill 
two birds with one stone, the first being that we would 
reach the pole and the reverse hemisphere, and the sec- 
ond, that we would avoid excessive cold, since if we keep 
abreast of the Sun, we shall travel through places warmed 
by the Sun for a definite period of time, that is, through 
places having a constant temperature. We may even 
change the temperature at will, to suit our requirements: 
by overtaking the Sun we shall raise it; by lagging be- 
hind we shall cause it to drop. This will be particularly 
advantageous considering that we are approaching the 
pole, where the mean temperature is low!” 


“Really? Is that possible?” was my response to the 
physicist’s odd theories. 

“Quite possible!” he replied. “Just bear in mind how 
easy it is to run on the Moon and how slow the Sun’s ap- 
parent motion is. The greatest lunar circle is ten thousand 
versts long. To keep up with the Sun, this distance has to 
be covered in 30 days or seven hundred hours, in terres- 
trial terms. Consequently, we must go at fourteen and a 
half versts an hour.” 

“Fourteen versts an hour on the Moon!” I exclaimed. 
“That’s a mere trifle.” 

“Well, there you are!” 

“Well do twice that with the greatest of ease,” I con- 
tinued, recollecting our gymnastics. “Then we shall be 
able to sleep twelve hours out of the twenty-four.” 

“The parallels are different,” the physicist explained. 
“The nearer to the pole, the shorter they will be, and since 
we intend to cross the pole, we shall keep up with the 
Sun even by gradually slowing our pace. But the polar cold 
will prevent us. AS we approach the pole, we must get 
closer to the Sun, if we are not to freeze to death. In other 
words, we must travel over places which, though near the 
pole, will have been longest in the Sun. At the pole the 
Sun does not rise high above the horizon and so it heats 
the ground much less intensively, and even at sunset it is 
only just warm. 

“The nearer we draw to the pole, the closer we must be 
to where the Sun sets in order to be in the most constant 

“So, Westward Ho!” 

We slid along like shadows, like ghosts, our feet noise- 
lessly touching the pleasantly warm ground. By now the 
moon was almost completely spherical and therefore ex- 
tremely bright, presenting an. enchanting picture behind 
a pale-blue glass which seemed to thicken towards the 
outer edges where the shade of blue was darker. At the 


very edges we could not distinguish the land, the water or 
the shape of the clouds. 

First we saw the hemisphere, a wealth of dry land. 
Twelve hours later, we saw just the opposite: a hemisphere 
with an abundance of water, almost the size of the Pacific. 
It poorly reflected the rays of the Sun, consequently had 
it not been for the brightly lit clouds and ice, the moon 
would not have been as bright as it then appeared. 

We climbed ascending slopes easily, and ran down again 
with still greater ease. From time to time we dived into 
the shade, from which more stars were visible. So far we 
had encountered only small hills. But even the tallest 
mountains were no obstacle, because on the Moon the 
temperature does not change with the altitude. Mountain 
peaks are just as warm and free of snow as the valleys. 
Undulating stretches, cliffs and abysses are not formi- 
dable on the Moon. We leapt over uneven ground and cre- 
vasses ten to fifteen sazhens wide. When they were very 
wide and beyond our powers, we either by-passed them 
or climbed their steep cliffs and terraces with the help of 
a line, sharp hook-handled sticks and spiked boots. 

You will understand why no stout ropes were required 
when you remember how little we weighed. 

“Why not head for the equator? We haven’t been there 
yet, have we?” I ventured to remark. 

“There is nothing to prevent us,” my friend acquiesced. 

We changed our course at once. 

We were running too fast, and so the ground grew 
warmer and warmer. Finally, we found it impossible to 
run because of the heat; we had reached places which had 
been more fiercely heated by the Sun. 

“What will happen,” I asked, “if, despite the heat, we 
run on at the same speed and in the same direction—west- 

“Running at this speed, in seven Earth days, we would 
first see Sun-lit mountain peaks and then the Sun itself 
rising in the west.” 


“Would the Sun really rise where it usually sets?” I 
said, doubtfully. 

“Yes, it would, and if we were legendary salamanders, 
insured against fire, we would actually be able to convince 
ourselves of the fact.” 

“Would that mean that the Sun would appear and again 
vanish, or that it would rise in the usual way?” 

“As long as we run along the equator, say, faster than 
fourteen and a half versts an hour, the Sun will be mov- 
ing from west to east where it will set. But as soon as we 
stop, it will at once move in the usual way and, forcibly 
elevated in the West, will again sink below the horizon.” 

“And supposing we keep going steady at fourteen and 
a half versts an hour, no more and no less, what will 
happen then?” I persisted. 

“Then the Sun will stand still in the skies, as in the 
days of Joshua of Jericho, and there will be no end either 
to day or night.” 

“Could this hocus-pocus be done on the Earth?’ I in- 

“Yes, as long as you are able to run, ride or fly at a 
speed of over 1,540 versts an hour.” 

“Fifteen times faster than a tornado or hurricane! I 
won’t undertake to do that ... oh! I forgot ... I mean, 
I wouldn’t undertake to do it!” 

“Of course not! What can be done here with ease is 
quite unconceivable on that Earth,” said the physicist, 
pointing at the moon. 

So we debated, seated on the rocks. As I said, it was 
impossible to continue running because of the heat. 

Tired out, we soon fell asleep. 

The cold awoke us. Agilely jumping to our feet, and 
leaping forward, five arshins to the bound, we raced on- 
wards to the west, veering towards the equator. 

You will remember that we determined the latitude of 
our house as being 40°; so it was still a fair distance to 
the equator. But do not imagine that a degree of latitude 


on the Moon is as long as on the Earth; remember that 
the size of the Moon compared to the Earth is like a cherry 
to an apple; hence a degree of lunar latitude is not more 
than 30 versts, while a degree of terrestrial latitude is 
104 versts. 

By the way, we realised that we were nearing the 
equator from the fact that the temperature in the deep 
crevasses, representing the mean temperature, was gradu- 
ally rising; but after reaching 50°R it stopped there. Then 
it even began to drop, indicating that we had crossed into 
the other hemisphere. 

We determined our position more accurately astronom- 

But before we crossed the equator, we had encountered 
many mountains and dry “seas”. 

People on the Earth are very familiar with the shape 
of lunar mountains. They are mostly rounded with a crater 
in the centre. 

But the central crater is not always empty, not always 
of the most recent origin. Sometimes, in the middle, there 
is another big mountain again with an inside depression 
indicating a crater of more recent origin. It is very seldom 
active and has reddish lava inside at the very bottom. 

Were these perhaps the volcanoes that had at one time 
ejected the rocks we found pretty frequently? Otherwise 
I could not understand how they came to be there. 

Out of curiosity we deliberately ran round the very top 
of the volcanoes and, glancing into the craters, twice 
watched the glowing, undulating waves of lava below. 

On one occasion, to one side of us we spotted above 
a mountain peak a huge tall pillar of light, probably con- 
sisting of a large quantity of white-hot luminescent rocks. 
Our light feet felt the tremor as they struck the ground. 

Whether because of the shortage of oxygen on the 
Moon or for some other reasons, we only found unoxidised 
metals and minerals, mostly aluminium. 

Contrary to the convictions of my friend, the low-lying, 


level areas and the dry ‘‘seas’”’ in other places were covered 
with obvious, though meagre, traces of Neptunian activity. 
We liked these lowlands where our heels threw up dust; 
but as we ran so quickly, the dust remained behind and 
settled at once as there was no wind to rake it up and 
blow it into our eyes and noses. We liked them because 
after bruising our heels on the rocks, they felt like soft 
carpets or grassland. This alluvial layer did not impede 
our progress for it was not more than a few inches thick. 

The physicist flung his arm to show that on my right 
hand was what looked like a bonfire throwing out red 
sparks in all directions. The sparks described beautiful 

We agreed to make a detour to find out what this was. 

Upon reaching the place, we saw scattered lumps of 
more or less molten iron. The smaller lumps were already 
cold, but the larger were still red. 

“It’s meteoric iron,” the physicist said, picking up a 
cold chunk of aerolite. “They fall on the Earth too,” he 
continued. “I have seen them more than once in museums. 
However, the only thing is, that the name given to these 
celestial stones, or, rather, bodies, is wrong, especially here 
on the Moon, where there is no atmosphere. They are never 
visible here, until they strike the rocky ground and be- 
come hot, because some of the energy of their motion is 
transformed into heat. On the Earth they are discernible 
almost as soon as they dive into the atmosphere, as friction 
against the air makes them red-hot.” 

After crossing the equator, we again decided to deviate 
towards the North Pole. 

The cliffs and piles of rocks were wonderful. Their 
shapes stood out boldly in precarious positions. We had 
never seen anything like it on the Earth. 

If transported there, to your planet, they would inevi- 
tably crash down. But here, they retained their fantastic 
shapes due to the small gravitational pull, which could 
not disturb their balance. 


We dashed on and on, drawing closer and closer to the 
pole. The temperature in the crevasses was steadily drop- 
ping. But on the surface we did not notice it, because we 
were gradually catching up with the Sun and were soon 
to witness its miraculous rising in the west. 

We did not run quickly; there was no need. We no 
longer descended into crevasses to sleep. We did not want 
to freeze. So we took our rest and meals wherever we 
made a halt. 

We even dozed en route, abandoning ourselves to 
broken dreams; this was not surprising, since such things 
happen on the Earth; they are all the more possible here, 
where standing is the same as lying prostrate (from the 
viewpoint of gravity). 


The moon sank lower and lower, shining down on us 
and the lunar landscapes with a light now faint, now 
strong, depending on which face it showed us, that with 
most dry land or that with most water, and on whether 
its atmosphere was cloudy or not. 

Then came the moment when it touched the horizon and 
began to dip beyond it, thus signifying that we had 
reached the other hemisphere, which is never visible from 
the Earth. ad 

Four hours later it had disappeared completely and w 
saw only a few illumined mountain peaks. Then even they 
grew dim. The gloom was wonderful. There were stars 
galore! From the Earth such a host can be seen only 
through a very powerful telescope. 

It was unpleasant, though, to perceive their lifelessness, 
their immobility, so far removed from the immobility of 
the blue sky of the tropical climes. 

And the black background was depressing! 

But what shines so brightly in the distance? 

Half an hour later we discovered that it was mountain 
peaks. Then more of them shone forth. 


We had to climb a mountain. Half of it was shining. 
The sunlight was there. But as we climbed up, darkness 
swooped down upon it and the Sun was not visible 
from it. 

This is apparently where the Sun had set. 

We quickened our pace still more. 

We went swift as arrows shot from a bow. 

We need not have hurried so; all the same we would 
have seen the Sun rising in the west even if we had gone 
at five versts an hour, in other words, if we had not run 
at all—what sort of running was it, indeed—but merely 

But we felt we had to hurry. 

And lo! What a miracle! 

In the west an ascendant star gleamed forth. 

It quickly increased in size. A limb of the Sun appeared, 
and then all of it! It rose, separated from the horizon and 
rose higher and higher. 

And yet it was all exclusively for us, as we ran; the 
mountain peaks behind us faded out, one after another. 

Had we not looked at the approaching shadows, the 
illusion would have been complete. 

“Enough, we’re tired!” the physicist jokingly exclaimed 
addressing the Sun. “You may retire.” 

We sat down to wait for the moment when the Sun, 
setting in its usual way, would vanish from view. 

“Finita la comedia!” 

We turned over and fell into a deep sleep. 

When we woke up we again, without hurrying, merely to 
have light and warmth caught up with the Sun and no 
longer let it out of sight. It ascended and descended, but 
was ever in the sky, ever giving us warmth. When we fell 
asleep the Sun was fairly high in the sky, when we woke 
up we caught the rascally Sun trying to slip away, but we 
curbed it in time and made it rise again. 

We were almost at the pole! 

The Sun was so low and the shadows so vast that we 


froze as we dashed across them. In general, the contrast 
in temperatures was Striking. A place of prominence be- 
came so hot that we could not get close to it. It was im- 
possible to cross other places that had lain for 15 Earth 
days or more in the shade for fear of the rheumatism. It 
should be remembered that here the Sun, even when al- 
most on the horizon, warms up the sides of the rocks 
turned to its rays just as much, even twice as much, as 
the Earth’s Sun when directly overhead. Of course, this 
does not happen in the Earth’s polar regions, because 
firstly, the energy of the Sun’s rays is almost completely 
absorbed by the atmosphere, and, secondly, on your planet 
it does not shine down so obstinately on the pole as well; 
there, every 24 hours the light and the Sun circle round a 
boulder but without losing sight of it. 

But you will ask: “What about heat conductivity? 
Should not the warmth of the boulder or mountain be ab- 
sorbed by cold and rocky ground?” “It does, sometimes,” 
is my reply, “when the mountain is an integral part of the 
continent. But many granite boulders, despite their size, 
have been simply thrown down and have only three or four 
points of contact with the ground or another boulder. 
Through these points of contact, the warmth escapes very 
slowly, or, it would be better to say, imperceptibly. So the 
mass continues to warm up, while the radiation of heat 
is very faint.” 

Incidentally, our difficulty was not these boulders but 
the very cooled valleys lying in the shade. They interfered 
with our progress to the pole, because the closer they 
were to it, the more extensive and impassable these shady 
places became. 

If only the seasons of the year had been more pro- 
nounced here, but there were hardly any at all. In the 
summer the Sun at the pole does not rise above 5°; where- 
as on Earth it rises five times as high. 

And when could we expect this summer, which most 
likely would allow us to reach the pole somehow? 


So by moving in the same direction, trailing after the 
Sun and making circles, or rather spirals round the Moon, 
we again moved farther and farther away from this partly 
ice-cold spot with the hot boulders scattered all over the 

We desired neither to freeze nor to scorch ourselves! 
We moved farther and farther away. It grew hotter and 
hotter. We were obliged to lose sight of the Sun. We had 
to lag behind it, in order to avoid being baked. We ran on 
in the darkness, which at first was embellished a little by a 
number of peaks in the mountain range. Soon they, too, 
were gone. It was now easier to run: we had consumed 
much of our food and drink. 

The moon, which we had forced into motion, would 
soon appear. 

There it was! 

Hail to thee, precious Earth! 

We were overjoyed to See it, no joke! 

No wonder, after such a long separation! 

Many more hours fled by. Though we had never seen 
these regions and mountains before, they did not arouse 
our curiosity and seemed monotonous. We were sick and 
tired of all these marvels! Our hearts ached. The sight of 
the splendid, so inaccessible Earth only aggravated the 
pain of recollection, the pangs of irreparable loss. If only 
we could soon reach our house! We could not sleep. But 
what would await us there? Merely familiar, but inanimate 
objects that could only give us more painful torment. 

What was the reason for our nostalgia? We had hardly 
felt it before. Had the novelty, the interest in our sur- 
roundings, overshadowed it until they had begun to 
bore us? 

We hurried in the direction of our house, if only to get 
away from the sight of the dead stars and funereal 

Our home should have been near by. We had established 
astronomically that it should be there. But despite the 

4—76l 49 

definite indications, we not only failed to discover our 
familiar courtyard, but even to recognize a Single view, a 
single mountain that should have been known to us. 

We searched high and low. 

We walked hither and thither—it was nowhere to be 

We sat down in despair and fell asleep. 

The cold awoke us. 

We fortified ourselves from our now scanty supplies of 

To escape from the cold we took to our heels. 

As if to spite us, not a single suitable crevasse, in which 
to take refuge from the cold, ever came our way. 

Again we ran in the wake of the Sun. Ran like slaves 
lashed to a chariot! Ran through eternity! 

Through eternity? Far from it! There remained enough 
food for one meal. 

And what then? 

We ate our last meal. 

Our eyes closed in sleep. The cold forced us to huddle 
close together. 

Where were the crevasses, which were always there 
when we had no need of them? 

We did not sleep long, the unceremonious, merciless 
and ever-increasing cold awoke us. It gave us barely three 
hours respite, no chance of a good, long sleep. 

Weak and worn out with longing, hunger and the ap- 
proaching cold, we were no longer able to run at our 
former speed. We were freezing to death! 

When sleep almost overpowered me, my friend pre- 
vented me from succumbing; and I restrained from the 
sleep of death my physicist friend who had taught me the 
significance of this horrible last slumber. 

We supported and fortified each other. And, as I re- 
member now, the idea of deserting one another or post- 
poning the hour of death never for a moment crossed our 

The physicist fell asleep, raving about the Earth. I flung 
my arms round him in an endeavour to give warmth to 
his body. 

* * * 

Enticing dreams of a warm bed, of flames in an open 
fire-place, of food and wine took possession of me. I was 
with my friends and relations, being cared for and cher- 

* oe * 

What pleasant dreams! Of a blue sky and snow on the 
roof tops. Of birds flying past. Faces, familiar faces. A 
doctor. What was he saying? 

“Lethargy, prolonged sleep... his life has been in danger. 
Considerable loss of weight, terribly emaciated. But the 
breathing is improved, consciousness is returning. The 
crisis is over.” 

All round were happy, tear-stained faces. 

In short, I had been in a morbid coma, from which I had 
just awakened; I had gone to bed on the Earth, and had 
awakened on the Earth; my body had remained here, in 
thought I had flown to the Moon. 

Still, I was delirious for a long time: J asked about the 
physicist, talked about the Moon and wondered how my 
friends came to be there. The terrestrial was confused with 
the cosmic: I imagined myself on the Earth, then thought 
I was on the Moon. 

The doctor’s orders were that no one should argue with 
me, or irritate me. He was afraid I would lose my reason. 

Very slowly I regained consciousness and still more 
slowly recovered. 

It goes without saying that my physicist friend was very 
surprised when, having fully recovered, I told him the 
whole story. He advised me to write it all down and to 
add to it a few explanations of his own. 


Chapter 1 



1. Size of the Earth. If we walk continuously unim- 
peded and tirelessly, day and night, “over land, over sea”, 
at the rate of 4.5 kilometres an hour, in a year’s time we 
shall have walked round the large circumference of the 

If we spend only one second examining each square 
kilometre of the Earth, it will take 16 years to examine 
the whole of its surface, and to examine the land alone 
will take from 4 to 5 years. If we take one second to ex- 
amine one hectare of land, we shall need 400 or 500 years 
to do it. Despite the enormous 1,500 million population of 
the Earth, there is an average of only 3 people per square 
kilometre on its surface. Including the sea there are about 
33 hectares to each person, or about 8 hectares of land 
alone. There are 2 square kilometres or about 200 hectares 
of land and sea for every family of six persons. 

If we convert the Earth into cubes, and reckon that it 
will take us one second to examine each cubic kilometre, 
we would need 32,000 years to examine the whole inter- 
nal and external mass of the Earth. The size of the Earth 
compared with the size of a magnificent fairy-tale palace 
(120 m in length, width and height) is the same as that 
of the palace compared with a tiny droplet (1 mm in 

The volume of the Earth per person would be equal to 
that of a planetoid about 10 kilometres in diameter* or a 
field 1,000 kilometres square and 1 metre thick. 

2. Comparative measurements of the water, atmosphere, 
mountains and the hard crust. Imagine the Earth as a 
polished ball with a diameter as long as the index finger 
(120 mm). The tiniest granules of sand (0.1 mm) adhering 
to it will represent the height of the tallest mountains. 
Let us dip this ball in water, and then shake off the drops; 
the adhering layer of water will represent the deepest 
oceans. The Earth’s atmosphere which rises to a height of 
about 300 kilometres will appear on our ball as a layer of 
liquid 2.5 mm in thickness. But if we only consider the 
layer of air in which man can breathe, this layer will be 
no thicker than cigarette paper. 

The deeper into the interior of the Earth, the higher the 
temperature; this leads one to assume that only a small 
part of the Earth is cold and solid, whereas its internal 
mass is hot, molten and liquid;** according to our scale, 
we can think of this hard crust as a thin layer of card- 
board about 0.6 mm thick (the thickness of a visiting 

3. The sizes of the members of the planetary system. 
If we think of the Earth as a small pea (5 mm), the Sun 
will then be a giant water-melon (550 mm), the Moon—a 
millet grain (1.5 mm), Jupiter—an apple (56 mm), Saturn— 
a smaller apple with a thin ring encircling but not touch- 
ing it, Uranus and Neptune—two cherries, the other 
planets and satellites—small peas and grains, and the 
asteroids—granules of sand and specks of dust. 

4. The distances between the members of this system. 
The absolute distances separating the heavenly bodies are 
so immense that the figures expressing them in the usual 

* The planet Agatha is no more than 6 kilometres in diameter. 

“* However, the mass of the Earth is liquid only under the 
crust, while deeper down the tremendous pressure prevents it from 
melting, despite the monstrous temperature, Astronomers-mechanics 
also find that the Earth, generally speaking, is a solid body. 


measures are more likely to stagger the imagination than 
convey anything to it. 

For example, the distance from the Earth to the Sun is 
so great that we should have to walk day and night for 
4,000 years to cover it. To follow the Earth along its orbit 
around the Sun we should have to walk 25,000 years. It 
would take almost a million years to walk round Neptune's 
orbit, a distance which Neptune itself covers in 165 years 
travelling at the rate of 5.3 kilometres a second. The 
figures we would have to use to show the time it would 
take to traverse the interstellar spaces can easily be writ- 
ten and pronounced but not imagined. 

By reducing the interplanetary spaces in proportion to 
the reduction in the sizes of the heavenly bodies we find 
that the pea-Earth will be 180 steps (120 metres), the ap- 
ple-Jupiter about 500 metres and Neptune a little over 
3 kilometres away from the water-melon—Sun. 

Thus, in the planetary system known to us (up to Nep- 
tune), the Earth is just a pea on a round, 8,000-acre field. 

The grain-Moon will be less than 150 mm distant from 
the Earth. 

5. The motion of the planetary system. All these ap- 
ples, peas, grains, granules of sand and specks of dust not 
only spin like tops but also move round the water-melon- 
Sun which in relation to them is almost motionless and 
only rotates. 

The planetary system lies, as it were, in one field which 
carries away in a Straight line all the movable and im- 
movable objects lying on it. 

It is remarkable that the axes of rotation of almost all 
the members of the planetary system point approximately 
in one direction; they seem to be placed on the imaginary 
field. Remarkable also is the fact that the rotation and 
motion round the Sun take place in one direction. If we 
stand at the North Pole of the Earth or the Sun, we shall 
see that they are moving counterclockwise. The satellites 
move in the same way. 


6. The speeds of planets. The pea-Earth rotates on its 
axis once in 24 hours and takes one year to revolve round 
the water-melon-Sun. The closer the planets, or the 
spheres which represent them, are to the water-melon-Sun 
the faster they move, and the farther away they are the 
slower they move. The same is also true of the planetary 
satellites. For example, Jupiter with its satellites forms a 
miniature planetary system, except that in this case the 
central body (Jupiter) does not emit its own light.* 

Although our peas and cherries move very slowly and 
rotate altogether sluggishly, the true speeds of these 
movements are far from what they appear. For example, 
the extreme points of the Earth, which are some distance 
from the axis of rotation, move with the speed of bullets 
or shells fired from the biggest guns, the large planets 
rotate still faster, and the total motion round the Sun of 
all the points of a heavenly body is even hard to imagine. 
For instance, the Earth travels at a rate of about 27 kilo- 
metres a second. If only a particle of the Earth, equal in 
size and mass to a small bomb, were to hit an immovable 
wall, the force of impact would be 2,000-3,000 times as 
great as the distructive force of the finest artillery gun. 
If a stone were thrown from the surface of the Earth at 
the speed at which the Earth moves round the Sun, it 
would forever move away from the Earth and, hurtling 
eternally in the same direction, would lose less than half 
of its initial speed. 

7. An idea of the speed of light which will help us in 
our narrative. Light travels at such a speed that it can 
circle the Earth 7 or 8 times in one second. It travels 
through interplanetary space with about the same ease as 
a fly flies from one end of a room to another, or a bird 
from one part of a town to another. For example, a ray 
of light reaches the Earth from the Moon in about one 

* If Jupiter does emit light, it does it very feebly, and its lumi- 
nescence is like that of an active terrestrial volcano, only on a 
grandeur scale. : ` 


second and the Earth from the Sun in 8 minutes; it travels 
through all the interplanetary space known to us—from 
Neptune to the Sun and back—in 8 hours. Thus the 
planetary system is really not so small, if even for the 
swift ray of light it represents a greater distance than 
30 kilometres for a hiker (since the hiker will cover this 
distance in less than 8 hours). 

Indeed, light moves 500,000 times as fast as a cannon 
ball which would take 400-500 years to cover the distance 
a ray of light travels in 8 hours. 

8. The Milky Way. The Milky Way is a galaxy of thou- 
sands of millions (literally, and not in the sense of a multi- 
tude; I shall always try to express myself exactly) of 
stars or suns occupying in aggregate a disk-shaped space, 
like a bun or a flattened sphere, and all tremendous dis- 
tances apart from one another. The whole starry sky 
visible to the naked eye, together with the nebulous band 
of stars distinguished only through telescopes, is the 
Milky Way. The stars which appear large are closest to 
us, the smaller ones are farther away, while the smallest 
ones appear as a whitish mist because of their remoteness. 
On our Earth we are about in the middle of the Milky 
Way. Across it we see only the relatively close stars 
which therefore do not merge into a single nebulous mass. 
Lengthwise along the Milky Way we observe so many and 
such remote stars that they appear as a mist to us. 

The Sun is one of the stars of the Milky Way, but we 
are so close to it that it blinds us. All stars are like this 
if we get close to them; the satellites of the suns*—the 
planets and the satellites of the planets—are an exception. 
With the naked eye not more than a dozen of them are 
visible. INumined by the Sun and relatively close to us 
they look like stars, but if we came closer to them, they 

* If the satellite of a sun (i.e. of a star) is very large, it has 
not had time to cool and is therefore radiating light, like a sun; 
such a system is known as a binary star; there are also multiple 
or complex ste@rs. . 


would turn out to be mere planets, like the Moon. Through 
a telescope several hundreds of them can be seen; they 
are all satellites of our Sun; the satellites of other suns 
cannot be seen because of their remoteness.* 

The distance to the nearest stars is so enormous that 
even by reducing it, as we reduced the size of the Earth 
by making it as small as a pea, we should still find it to be 
thousands of kilometres. Hence, the stars, according to 
our picture (our miniature), are self-luminous water- 
melons of different size located thousands of kilometres 

But how bright these water-melons must be to be seen 
thousands of kilometres away! Some of the stars in our 
model will therefore appear like mountains. For example, 
the diameter of Sirius will be about 6 metres. 

By imagining the solar system as the average space 
occupied by a star in the Milky Way, we can say that the 
Earth in the latter is like a drop of water in the ocean. 

This space, or distance from the neighbouring stars, is 
so enormous that even a swift ray of light takes years 
to traverse it. It takes light thousands of years to traverse 
the entire Milky Way known to us with the help of teles- 
copes. The smallest of the infusoria, barely visible through 
a microscope, is of incomparably greater significance in 
the waters of the Earth than is the Earth in the Milky 
Way. I mean, of course, not the spiritual significance of 
the Earth, but only the space it occupies. 

9. The grandeur of the Universe. The Milky Way has 
so many stars that, if they all merged into one, we would 
have a sun that would occupy the whole planetary system 
at least as far as Jupiter. 

But there is more than one Milky Way; there are numer- 
ous similar galaxies of stars. From the Earth, i.e., from 
our Milky Way, these galaxies appear as rather rounded 

* Except the enormous luminous ones. 


telescopic nebulous spots.* Their number may be as great 
as the number of stars in the Milky Way. 

The distance between the galaxies is immense and at 
the speed of light it would take millions of years to 
cover it. 

Had they appeared 100,000 or 200,000 years ago we 
would not be able to see them today because in that time 
a ray of light would not have succeeded in reaching us. 
They must have appeared millions of years ago if we see 
them as we do today<...>>** 

A group of galaxies in all probability constitutes some 
other unit of a higher order... . 

10. The movement of stars. I said that the imaginary 
field of our planetary system carried along, as it were, 
by a storm, moves in a straight line so that the Sun also 
traverses several dozen kilometres per second. All the ob- 
served stars also have similar speeds but they move in 
various directions. But the speed of the remote stars is 
extremely difficult, as yet even impossible, to measure. 
Some stars travel at the rate of hundreds of kilometres a 
second but though they move so fast, the naked eye would 
never observe any movement even in the course of thou- 
sands of years. 

Hence, the incorrect, although generally used expres- 
sion “fixed stars”. 

The reason for this is the enormous distance between 
the stars. If the nearest star decided to run with the speed 
of light round the Sun or round us (which is the same 
thing since, relatively speaking, we are at almost the same 
point as the Sun) it would need years or even dozens of 
years to do it. How long, then, must a star travel at its 

* That such a spot is not a rarefied gas—father of suns and 
planets—is evident from its characteristic spectrum which differs 
from that of gas and is typical only of incandescent solid bodies 
and stars. 

** The angular brackets here and below show a cut in the 


natural speed which is hundreds of thousands of times 
less rapid! f 

To do this a star would need millions of years, whereas 
thousands of years would only see it through a small frac- 
tion of a degree. 

If we lived and thougtt amazingly slowly so that for us 
a century turned into a second, we would see with our 
own eyes the wonderful sight of stars crawling in different 
directions. Some of them would grow brighter, others dim- 
mer. Some would pass so near that their light would blind 
us.... But the Milky Way would long appear unchanged 
because of its remoteness. 

11. A view from different points of the Universe. What 
will a man see as he moves at an arbitrarily chosen speed 
from one point of the Universe to another? Since he starts 
from the Earth he will see, in the first place, how rapidly 
the Earth grows smaller, after appearing at first as a 
greyish bowl, into the interior of which he is looking, 
and occupying a little less than half the sky. The bowl 
grows smaller and smaller and changes into a gigantic 

The Sun will change much more slowly; to avoid being 
burned, we shall move away from it, in view of which we 
shall dress more warmly. The appearance of the starry 
sky will long remain the same; but now the Sun has 
changed into a star; the Earth and the other planets have 
long become invisible; the pattern of the constellations is 
clearly not what it was; only the small stars and the Milky 
Way are the same as before. 

We shall move faster, and all the large stars will appear 
to be moving, like trees to a person who is travelling 
swiftly past them; some of them will draw nearer and 
shine brighter, others will move away and totally disap- 
pear. We shall go on still faster because we have seen 
enough of this change of scenery. If we move along the 
Milky Way bun, the mist on one side of it will gradually 
turn into stars and finally disappear. We shall see stars 


all around us, but the Milky Way, in a semi-circle, is only 
on one side.... Later we shall see the stars also only on 
one side. They will grow increasingly dimmer and smaller, 
until they disappear and only the arc of the Milky Way 
will remain, and this, too, will gradually diminish and 
become a nebulous spot. 

I look hard and see many such nebulous spots all 
around. These are other galaxies. I see no Stars or Sun, 
but only these very faint, whitish spots. I fly past the 
whole association of spots leaving them to the side, in a 
heap. The heap grows smaller and disappears. Total dark- 
ness. Can this possibly be the end of everything, the end 
of the world? Not by a long shot! We fly faster in the same 
direction, and new association of spots comes into view 
out of the darkness. Everything is repeated in the reverse 
order, and we enter a new world, the existence of which 
we can only guess at. 

And how many worlds like this can there be, how many 
tranquil associations of tiny spots are there in the whole 
of infinity?!<...> 

Chapter 2 

12. How weak is the mutual attraction of terrestrial 
bodies. A stone falls into a well, and a weight presses 
against the floor—this is gravity. Its cause is as yet the 
unexplained property of matter to attract other matter, 
like a magnet attracts iron, but much more weakly. Al- 
though many attempts have been made to explain gravita- 
tion, all the explanations proved unsatisfactory* and hence 
were discarded. In addition, they introduced principles 
which were no more intelligible than the mutual gravita- 

“The most ingenious of these explanations was offered by 
Georges-Louis Lesage in 1818. 


tion of all bodies at a distance. Since the acceptance of 
some inexplicable principle is inevitable, it is best to ac- 
cept a principle like the law of gravitation which is per- 
fectly clear, is expressed mathematically and has already 
explained a whole mass of phenomena. 

The force of attraction of a given spherical or point 
mass diminishes (the greater the distance from it), as 
does the intensity of light, the farther the distance from 
the spherical source. But there is apparently very little 
in common between gravity and these partial forces. In- 
deed, gravity does not disappear, does not become ex- 
hausted, does not depend on temperature or lighting and 
does not require time for its propagation. Otherwise an 
incandescent or luminous body, for example, would be 
attracted by the Earth with an inconstant force, i.e., it 
would weigh differently, something that no one has ever 
yet observed. Further, different parts of the globe, being 
differently heated, would display a tendency to explode 
or to distort the shape of the Earth. Differing physically, 
the Earth and the Moon would be unable to move in con- 
cert round the Sun. 

Thus all bodies attract each other at any distance. 

But only very precise and difficult experiments* reveal 
the attraction of terrestrial bodies to one another, because 
even the attraction of such masses as mountains is ex- 
traordinarily feeble. The mass of the Earth is enormous, 
and that is why we easily notice its attraction. 

The attraction of small bodies would be revealed in 
their drawing nearer if this were not prevented by fric- 
tion. Two stout men at a distance of 1 metre attract each 
other with a force of 0.05 mg. This force may bend a hair 
one metre long but will never break it; it will not even 
break the finest cobweb. Can it, then, possibly move two 

* The most precise experiments on the attraction of spheres 
were performed by Cavendish and, on the attraction of mountains, 
by Maskelyne. Airy’s experiment in mines is also well known. 


men, overcome their relatively considerable friction against 
the ground on which they stand?! 

Spherically shaped and with their centres one metre 
apart, one ton attracts another with a force of 6.66 mg. 

12,The power and law of attraction of a given mass 
depends on its shape and density. Don’t imagine that the 
force of gravity of a given mass depends entirely on its 
size and the distance and mass of the attracted body! Only 
for spheres or material points is the attraction propor- 
tional to the product of the attracting masses and inverse- 
ly proportional to the square of their distance apart. For 
bodies of a different shape the laws of gravitation are 
pretty capricious. For example, an endless plate limited 
in thickness by two parallel planes, and, consequently, 
also an infinite mass, should attract with an infinite force, 
and yet this is not at all the case; the attraction is quite 
weak, depending on the thickness and density of the 
plate; it is at a right angle to it and is everywhere the 
same at every distance from it. 

If the distance of the body in relation to the size of the 
plate is smail, then for purposes of calculation it may be 
assumed to be endless. We saw, for example, that for each 
inhabitant of the Earth there is a mass equal to the mass 
of a flat field 1,000 kilometres square and 1 metre thick 
(its density must equal the average density of the Earth, 
or 5.5). A man walking along this field will experience 
over almost the whole of its area and on heights up to sev- 
eral dozen kilometres the same attraction (as if the plate 
were endless) which is 6 million times less than the Earth’s 
attraction or 2,000-3,000 times less than that on the sur- 
face of an asteroid 6 kilometres in diameter (Essay 31).* 

To exert an attraction equal to that of the Earth the 
endless material plate of the same density as the Earth 
must be 4,000 kilometres thick (2/3 of the terrestrial 

* Agatha. 


But, on the other hand, the attraction of such a plate 
does not diminish at any distance and does not change 
its direction (of course, on the other side of the plate the 
gravity will be in the opposite direction). 

The Earth flattened into a disc exerts less attraction, 
the thinner the disc. Thus, theoretically, the attraction of 
the Earth can be reduced at will. The disc can be gently 
revolved so that the interattraction of the parts of the 
flattened planet does not bend it into a tube or turn again 
into an astronomic drop, and the centrifugal force will 
eliminate the attraction and prevent the destruction of 
the disk. 

Loosening the spherical planet also reduces the attrac- 
tion on its surface and inside it; for example, an eightfold 
decrease in density, without affecting the mass, reduces 
the attraction fourfold; a thousandfold loosening reduces 
the gravity hundredfold. 

Sometimes enormous masses of whatever size produce 
no mechanical effect on bodies. 

Thus an empty sphere with concentric walls and an 
empty cylindrical pipe with similar walls* produce no 
mechanical effect on bodies placed inside them, not only 
in the geometrical centre but anywhere at all. The exter- 
nal attraction of a pipe is inversely proportional to the 
distance of the body from its axis, whereas the external 
attraction of a sphere is inversely proportional to the 
square of the distance from its centre. 

13. The effect of gravitation on the shape of planets; 
gravity on different planets. We know how amazingly 
large the heavenly bodies are, and they alone clearly re- 
veal their attractive force. 

Owing to gravitation all suns and large planets are in 
the shape of almost perfect drops. Even if the heavenly 
bodies were cold and made of the strongest material, for 

* True for endless pipe.—Ed. 


example, steel, they would, if they were any shape but 
round, break up and become rounded. They would retain 
relatively negligible unevenness, like the granules of 
sand on the polished ball. 

The attraction on the surface of different suns and 
planets varies with their mass and density. 

If a man lifts 80 kilogrammes and jumps over a chair 
on the Earth, he will lift a cow and jump over a high fence 
on the Moon. On the Sun he would be unable to stand 
up; he would fall and be killed by his own gravity which 
is 27.5 times greater than on the Earth. On Mars and 
Mercury he would lift 160-240 terrestrial kilogrammes 
and would easily jump over a table. On Jupiter, without 
carrying any load, he would barely drag his feet along, as 
though he were carrying a stout man too heavy for him. 
On asteroids he would lift houses and jump over the 
tallest trees, belfries, forests, wide ravines and more or 
less tall mountains, depending on the size of the asteroid 
he was experimenting with. Finally, on aerolites few 
dozen metres across he would feel no gravity at all. 

The force of gravity on different planets limits the 
height of the mountains, buildings and organisms. On the 
Moon the mountains would be six times as high as they 
are on the Earth, and if they are as high as those on the 
Earth it is only accidental or due to the looseness of the 
material forming the lunar mountains; after all, on the 
Earth the mountains do not reach their maximum height. 
On asteroids the unevennesses are so enormous that they 
exceed the size of the planets themselves, and so their 
shapes are infinitely varied and may not be spherical at 
all. Some of them are shaped like an irregular stone or 
fragment, others like a disk, a ring, etc. (This is just a 
mere supposition: their shape cannot be distinguished by 
the telescope. We have arrived at this conclusion partly 
theoretically and partly because the strength of their 
light is deceptive). As they rotate, they reflect sometimes 
more and sometimes less of the rays of the Sun and 


Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1910 

Tsiolkovsky’s old house in Kaluga where he lived from 1904 
to 1932 and which has been turned into a museum 

A corner of Tsiolkovsky’s workshop 

through the telescope appear to the observer as variable 
stars of every possible size. 

If a man on the Earth were two to three times his pres- 
ent size (his shape being the same) he could hardly drag 
himself along, and if he were six times his present size 
he could only lie on a soft couch or stand up in water; 
but on the Moon the same 12-metre giant would feel per- 
fectly at ease. 

Giants the height of a very tall belfry would move about 
easily on asteroids. A giant whose hand could touch the 
top of the Eiffel Tower and who weighed 334,000 tons 
would skip and frolic like a goat on an asteroid 150 kilo- 
metres round (supposing it to be spherical) and having the 
average density of our Earth. On the other hand, only 
Lilliputians 6.6 cm tall could live on the Sun. 

It will be observed that these conclusions about organ- 
isms of this structure are strictly mathematical. 

The effect of gravity on the shape of the planets is 
complicated because they rotate round their axes. 

Because they do so, the Sun and the planets are more 
or less flattened at each end of their axes. If the rota- 
tion accelerated, the planet would first turn into a flat 
bun and then into a ring with a central spheroid; the ring 
could break up into separate parts revolving round the 
central body. 

Perhaps this is how Saturn with its rings and the 
planets with their satellites came into being; perhaps this 
is how the whole planetary system was formed. 

14, What would happen to the Earth, if the Sun no long- 
er stretched its attracting arm towards the Earth? Grav- 
itation keeps the planets near the Sun and the satellites 
near their planets and does not allow them to escape into 
cold and infinite space. 

If the Sun were not retaining the Earth as if with a 
rope, then within one year every living, unprotected 
earthly thing would perish; the Sun would become a very 
bright star, and its luminosity and heat would be 37 times 

5—761 65 

Jess strong than it is today. Within two or three years 
the temperature of the atmosphere and external parts of 
the planet would scarcely differ from that of outer space 
(about 200° below zero); then light—the last consola- 
tion—would vanish, too, just like a playful electric sun; 
nothing would remain but ice-cold night and the sky, 
beautiful but sad. The oceans would freeze and the air 
would liquefy and destroy man, trying to keep warm in 
caves—his last refuge. 

Everything would straggle off in different directions’ 
and the planetary system would cease to exist. And if in 
a few hundred thousand years, the planets with their 
hapless inhabitants encountered some other sun, which 
would be most unlikely, they would immediately lose it 
again in the space of two or three years, in so short a 
time for the extinct or, rather, the remaining spark of life 
to spring up again. 

See what a role gravitation plays! 

Like light and sound and heat and magnetism it rap- 
idly diminishes with distance and according to the same 

As gravitation recedes from its source, as it were, it 
disperses, dissolves into expanding space. 

The Earth is drawn to the Sun with a force 50,000 times 
less than the force which would attract the same Earth 
if it were lying on the surface of the Sun; and yet this 
force is sufficient to change the natural rectilinear motion 
of the Earth into a circular, or to be more exact, an 
elliptical motion. 

Very rapidly moving heavenly bodies cannot be long 
detained by the Sun; it diverts them from their straight 
course, but not for long: speed gets the upper hand and 
the bodies move off into infinity. These bodies are the 
comets. Some return to the Sun, their course (trajectory 
or orbit) being a greatly elongated circle (an ellipse, like 
a long bleb in a bad window pane). 

15. The mutual attraction of the stars and the Milky 


Way. Where is there no gravity? When we move away 
from a candle its light grows feebler; gravitation depends 
on distance in exactly the same way. 

If we move 10 or 100 kilometres away from a candle 
we finally lose sight of it; similarly, if we move far 
enough away from the source of gravitation, our sense 
organs completely lose their ability to determine or even 
notice the infinitely diminished force of gravity. 

Interstellar space, especially the space between the 
“spots” of the galaxies is of this kind. 

Even between the stars gravitation is at least 100 mil- 
lion times as weak as the Earth’s force of gravity at its 
surface. This means that if a motionless body were placed 
there it would acquire within 24 hours a speed of 9 mm a 

Within a year this speed would be no greater than that 
imparted to a man jumping from the height of a table 
(5/6th of a metre). 

The attraction between the spots of the galaxies, or 
the accumulations of stars, is 1,000 times as weak as the 
foregoing; it follows that in the course of a year man 
acquires the same speed there as he does when falling 
from a height imperceptible to the eye (1/1,250 mm). The 
speed of the stars is so great (Essay 10) compared with 
the effect of gravitation that even if their course is curved 
the curvature is very small. Perhaps stars are incapable 
of escaping the field of gravity of their own galaxy; but 
they certainly cannot escape the sphere of a neighbour- 
ing star and assume a distance mid-way between them. 

Although there are numerous “binary” and even “‘ter- 
nary” stars (“compound stars”), or stars revolving round 
one another, as the Earth revolves round the Sun or the 
Moon round the Earth, and which form systems, like the 
planetary system, but composed only of self-luminous 
members, they are nevertheless exceptions which came 
into existence because of the relatively negligible distance 
between such stars. 

5* 67 

16. The apparent absence of gravity. There is no need 
to climb so high in order to witness phenomena in the 
absence of gravity. 

Let us imagine ourselves on a tiny little planet revolv- 
ing round the Sun somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, 
i.e., in the zone of asteroids or outside it, closer to the 
Earth. At any rate there can be no shortage of these tiny 
planets, and if they can’t be seen through a telescope it 
is only because they are so small. In the planetary sys- 
tem, all round the Sun, there is plenty of planets the size 
of a pebble, pea or speck of dust which from time to time 
cross our atmosphere, becoming heated through air fric- 
tion and shining like stars (aerolites or “shooting stars”); 
sometimes they strike against the hard surface of the 
Earth. We collect them up and keep them in museums, 

And so, we are on a tiny planet a few dozen metres in 
diameter; we can disregard its gravity, since indeed with 
a diameter of, say, 12 m anda density equal to the mean 
density of the Earth (5.5) it exerts at its surface an at- 
traction 1,000,000 times as weak as that of the Earth. 

The question is, will our weak gravity alter on this tiny 
planet under the influence of the Sun’s attraction? 

The Sun imparts a certain motion to the planet, but it 
imparts exactly the same motion to our bodies; the Sun 
alters the motion of the planet, but it also alters the mo- 
tion of our bodies. Hence, if we, for example, did not 
come into contact with the planet’s surface prior to the 
Sun’s attraction, then after it sets in we would neither 
draw nearer to, nor recede from the planet. This shows 
that our relation to the planet does not alter under the 
effect of external gravitation (no matter how many forces 
of this kind there may be and regardless of the direction 
in which they attract), as long as the distance between 
their centres and the group of bodies under observation 
is large in comparison with the size of the group itself. 

You will understand this if you think of a handful of 
wood chips being carried away by a current, the position 


of the wood chips in relation to each other remaining un- 
changed for a long time. We and the tiny planet are the 
handful of wood chips, the attraction of the Sun is the 

It follows that the apparent absence of gravity may be 
encountered on every small asteroid measuring a few 
metres across. But the attraction of even large masses, of 
any enormous size, may also have no influence on other 

Calculations show that a hollow sphere produces no 
mechanical effect on bodies located inside it or on its in- 
ternal surface. If our planet is a hollow glass sphere con- 
taining air and plants to purify it, we have a fine arrange- 
ment for performing experiments. True, the air itself at- 
tracts, but this attraction is relatively negligible. 

Our glass sphere revolves round the Sun between the 
orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Won’t this be a little too far? 
Can’t we create, on the Earth or very near it, conditions 
in which there will be no gravity? Yes, we can; but let 
us keep it a secret for a while and imagine that, by some 
miracle, the Earth’s gravity has disappeared. Let us des- 
cribe what will happen then. Man is in such close affinity 
with his environment that there can be no more suitable 
method for describing the phenomena occurring without 
gravity. We shall therefore try to preserve the entire 
surroundings with only a few exceptions. 

Chapter 3 


17. Vanished gravity. The Earth has lost its gravity: in- 
stantly the air disappeared, rivers and seas became still, 
boiled up or frozen over; plants shrivelled, animals per- 
ished. Much more would occur, but not everything can be 
foreseen or described. 


There is no gravity, but let us suppose the air and the 
seas and rivers remain. This is not easy to arrange, but 
anything can be assumed. So let us, incidentally, assume 
that the centrifugal force of the Earth’s daily revolution 
has not hurled from its surface everything that was on it. 
For our purpose, the Earth must not rotate, the air must 
be retained from dissipation by a strong crystal envelope 
like the imaginary sky of the ancients. Then, the moisture 
will remain, the plants will not shrivel nor the living 
creatures die. 

Let us further assume that the terrestrial world has 
become a hollow sphere, turned inside out. The air, trees, 
houses, people, rivers—all are on the inside of the 
sphere, while the masses of the Earth gush out of its 
bowels. In this way, gravity will be naturally abolished 
(Essay 16). 

Now let us place a small sun in the centre of our new 
habitation and make the best of our eternal daylight. 

However we look at it, we are living in our usual con- 
ditions, the only thing lacking is gravity. 

18, What happened inside the house (subjectively). The 
previous night we had gone to bed in the ordinary way, 
but on this particular day we awoke in an environment 
devoid of gravity. 

It was in this way. I awoke with a dreadful sinking of 
the heart, the sort of feeling that assails anyone falling 
from a height. I flung off the blanket and then observed 
that the bed was standing on end, yet I hadn’t slipped off 
it. My friend, sleeping in the same room, was awakened 
by the same sinking of the heart and a feeling of cold- 
ness: his mattress had springed him and his blanket com- 
pletely off the bed and he was floundering close to the 
ceiling, unable to cover one half of himself with the blan- 
ket and shivering in the cold morning air. 

My blanket, somehow caught up in the bed, was scarce- 
ly covering me, and my body hardly touched the mat- 


I had a constant feeling that I was falling. My heart 
sank ... I looked round... everything was in its place.... 
I calmed down; then I dozed to be awakened with the 
same sinking feeling. Gradually the intervals between 
these sinking feelings grew longer and the false sensa- 
tion of falling weakened. I got up in order to dress, when 
suddenly I found myself gliding fairly smoothly to the 
opposite wall. My heart thumped alarmingly... I could 
no longer distinguish floor from ceiling, top from bottom. 
The whole room and the garden and sky glimpsed through 
the window seemed to be whirling round for no reason at 
all. I was in a dreadful state of indescribable confusion. 

I travelled through the air to all the corners of the 
room, to the ceiling, the floor, and back again; I tumbled 
around in space like a clown, only involuntarily; I knocked 
every limb on every possible object, setting in motion 
everything I hit into. The room swam about, bobbed up 
and down like a balloon, receded, struck me, came to 
meet me. My head was in a whirl of confusion, and all the 
time there was that ghastly sinking of the heart. 

We tried to grab various articles of apparel, but the 
movement from place to place continued, and everything 
whirled and floated about in the air; objects knocked 
against one another, against us, against the walls. 

Our unmentionables floated about the room in a friendly 
embrace with a hat; coat and scarf gracefully writhed and 
quivered; shoes and socks lay in separate isolation. As I 
moved after one article, another hid itself in some nook, 
revelling in its solitude. 

We were no good at controlling our direction and beat 
about like flies in an oil-lamp glass. We continually forgot 
to cling to something and to hold fast to the smaller 
articles we required for dressing. Round the room we 
tumbled, our trousers only half on, forgetting to catch up 
our jackets and causing ourselves additional trouble. 

Books from the shelves, various small objects, all 
seemed to be alive and were sedately roaming round 


with apparently no serious intention of ever coming to 

The room was like a fish-pond; it was impossible to 
turn without knocking against something: tables, chairs, 
sofas, mirrors were suspended in air, each in its own 
fashion, performing stately twists and turns in somewhat 
unpicturesque disorder, yet as though in a state of rev- 
erie. The books fluttered open, their pages puffed up as 
if to say: “Read us on both sides; we’ve brought ourselves 
to you out of sheer boredom.” 

If we pushed aside some plaguesome object as it dived 
for our eyes, brushed the nose, ticked the ear or tweaked 
the hair, it thrashed about from corner to corner, striking 
us and knocking into other objects with the extraordinary 
fury of one possessed, as though angered and paying us 
back for our insolence; and its capers only doubled the 
general confusion. Gradually it quietened down and 
gently nudged a doll as if to say: “Why aren't you joining 
in the row?” And the doll, too, joined in the commotion. 

My watch, captured by its chain by sheer chance, writhed 
and squirmed like a snake as it showed us the time and, 
by way of reward, was returned to my waistcoat pocket. 

It was quite impossible to restore order: the more zeal- 
ously we tried to set things to rights, the more they fell 
into confusion. The pendulum clock stopped and refused 
to start despite all our efforts. The pendulum would not 
swing. A jolt sent the water out of a decanter flying across 
the room like an oscillating balloon until it burst into drops 
as it struck some object, splashing against and oozing down 
the wall. 

Nor were things in their accustomed place in the other 
rooms, but as no one tried to restore order, at least they 
did not behave wildly; they did not shift about, leap in the 
air or knock other things about. On closer scrutiny, how- 
ever, we did notice some slight disturbance. 

The garden looked much as usual, unlike the chaos in- 
doors: the green, swaying trees, the rustling grasses, the 


fragrance of the flowers reaching us through the net cur- 
tains over the open window. I hesitated about opening 
the curtains for fear of losing articles which had several 
times approached the windows, peeped into the garden 
and, as though regretting they could not promenade 
further, had very slowly withdrawn. 

We became a trifle used to our new situation. I no longer 
cried out every time I found myself head downwards, 
between “sky and earth’; my heart no longer sank from 
time to time. We learned to remain on one spot or to move 
in a desired direction. 

What we could not learn was how to float around with- 
out revolving; we pushed off and without fail began 
revolving, although slowly; it was dreadful because on all 
sides everything appeared to be going round and round 
till the head began to spin. It was equally difficult to rid 
ourselves of the idea that the house itself was tottering 
and mobile. It was hard to convince ourselves that we 
alone were moving. When we pushed off it seemed as 
though we had given the room a shove and it was floating 
away, just like a skiff, in the direction we had shoved it. 

19. An unsuccessful leap that ended safely (subjective- 
ly). Do not imagine, dear reader, on the basis of the pre- 
ceding essay that in space, where there is no gravity, bod- 
ies have the property of being set in motion of their own 
accord. Quite the contrary. In a gravity-free environment, 
a body which has no motion will never acquire it without 
the action of some outside force, and on the contrary, a 
body in motion retains its motion forever. Everything in 
our room was in a turmoil because where there is no 
gravity there is also no friction, which largely proceeds 
from gravity itself, owing to which the least effort, the 
slightest puff of air is sufficient to move an object from 
its place and make it move eternally in one direction and 
to revolve eternally. 

It is very difficult to put down an object without some- 
how giving it an accidental jolt. Try putting a samovar 


down straight on the floor! It seems that nothing could 
be easier, yet you will not be able to do it, even if you 
yourself are held steady. 

While your hands hold the samovar everything is splen- 
did, the samovar stands up; but the moment you withdraw 
your hands it begins very, very slowly to turn to one side 
and lean over; you will find that within five minutes it 
is an inch off the floor, no longer touching it. The whole 
point is that when you withdrew your hands, you imparted 
motion to the samovar through the involuntary, imper- 
ceptible shaking of the hands, and in the course of time the 
samovar reveals this motion. 

If the objects in our room gradually settled down, it 
was due to the resistance of the air and the loss of speed 
through impacts. 

The wandering of these objects in the free medium can 
be compared to the motion of motes in a pond. Note how 
agitated they are, eternally stirring, eternally crawling 
about, yet in the water they encounter relatively terrific 

From wall to wall, not without mishaps, we floated in 
broken lines through all the rooms, until we came outside 
to the doors of the porch. Here we paused to think. A 
wrong move and we would be flying into the “sky”. And 
how would we return? We leaped into the garden; we had 
miscalculated (leapt too high) and flew upwards, not even 
brushing the tallest tree. 

Vainly we stretched out an arm to grab a tree top: the 
trees receded, descended, as though falling down from us. 
In addition, the flaying of arms and legs in the air caused 
me to begin to revolve; it appeared to me that the entire, 
vast terrain from which I was receding was also revolv- 
ing: now it was straight over head (an abyss beneath 
me), now it was a wall, now a mountain pointing sky- 

I was alone; my friend had lagged behind, although he 
had shouted: “I'll catch up with you in a second!’ I 


wanted to wait for him, I swung my arms about, but it 
was quite useless. 

I knew I was flying but my senses could not register 
the fact; I seemed to be absolutely motionless and the 
Earth to be moving. What I had feared was now happening. 
I was being carried away into infinite space to become a 
satellite of the Sun, in a word—a planet. 

What I had once thought about long ago as I lay in 
the grass looking up into the clear sky came to pass. 
“What if I fall off into what is there?!” had been my 
thought. And now I was falling, the approaching air ruf- 
fling my clothes. Bah! This air should stop my planetary 

Yet an hour passed and I was still flying. I made des- 
perate efforts, but in vain. My friend had disappeared from 

Something appeared far ahead of me ... closer and 
closer ... a barrel! It bashed into me. Ah, deuce take it! 

A lucky trail it followed. The impact sent me flying in the 
opposite direction. Splendid! Back ... to the garden ... to 
my friend flying helplessly.... I grabbed his outstretched 
leg and together (not particularly gracefully) we plunged 
into the shady coolness of the garden... . The leaves tickled 
our faces ... but we paid no attention to anything and, 
tortured by anxieties and with the caution, born of our 
unfortunate experience, made our way from tree to tree, 
from branch to branch to the summer-house where we 
locked ourselves in so as not to get lost and gave our- 
selves up to sleep. 

If anyone had seen us Sleeping, he would have likened 
us to corpses floating in the breeze. Obviously there is no 
conceivable bed quite as soft as that in any part of an 
environment free from gravitation. l 

20. In the garden. We glided along close to the ground, 
barely brushing the grass. Like butterflies we touched the 
flowers and delighted in their fresh fragrance. Like birds 
we flew among the shrubs and trees, clutching at them, 


then after circling around a few times, hesitated like young 
birds swiftly alighting on a twig, and then stood still. 

If you cannot manage to keep still hanging on to a 
supple sapling and make a half or even a quarter turn, the 
direction of your motion will change, but not altogether. 
It was good lying motionless close to the ground; some- 
times we felt we were immersed in wonderfully clear 
water or lying on the finest plate glass. 

In order to move faster it is convenient to kick off from 
the sapling, rather like I used to when I swam on my 
back. In this way I flew through the air at ten to fifteen 
kilometres an hour. But the air resistance soon slowed 
me down, and I found it better to kick off more often and 
more gently. Because of this resistance, and starting with 
this initial speed we could scarcely be carried beyond the 
atmosphere. Incidentally, calculations show that the mo- 
tion of a body never ceases when it is in a liquid medium 
(or in the air), and, although the speed rapidly diminishes, 
it does not diminish to zero; in these conditions the body 
traverses infinite space in an infinite space of time. Yet 
air currents, terribly weakened by the absence of gravity, 
could freely carry us away. 

21. What happened in the town. A town acquaintance 
dropped in, or rather he flew into our garden in a state 
of agitation and, while nibbling at a ripe apple, gave us 
the essence of what was going on in the town. Things 
were in a terrible mess: the horses, carriages, people and 
even completely furnished houses, where their foundations 
were poor, were flying through the air as lightly as specks 
of dust and bits of fluff. The ladies had tied tape round 
the lower part of their skirts, because they had little use 
for their legs, and also because the situation was embar- 
rassing. Some were wearing male clothing—emancipation 
of a kind! 

... Water flowed out from rivers, ponds, and wells. was 
absorbed by the ground or flew about in the shape of 
spheres of various sizes, like soap bubbles, only not so 


fragile. When a particularly enormous water sphere 
touched someone not sharp enough to avoid it, it drenched 
him from head to foot, and he had to shake himself dry 
like a sheep-dog. Subsequently, everyone learned to travel 
safely, but at first it was amusing and at the same time 
bitter experience. ... 

Because of capillary attraction the subsoil water, no 
longer restrained by gravity, rose to the surface. The plants 
obtaining enough moisture now could do without 
rain. Indeed, we found the ground damp everywhere, like 
it is after rain, yet the grass and leaves were dry. 

There was a clamour and uproar everywhere; everyone 
was flying about, but never for a moment in the desired 
direction; people were crawling about, spinning round; 
there were shouts of horror, exclamations of surprise ... 
and peals of carefree laughter. 

Creatures that had never been known to fly—cats, crawl- 
insects, yelping dogs—were tumbling about in mid-air. 
And their flight was peculiar—upwards, ever upward for 
they were evidently not adjusted to the new conditions. 
An entire herd of cattle was mooing in the heights be- 
neath the clouds. A company of soldiers with no mind for 
discipline, some upside down, some sideways-on, others 
swaying like rickety posts; one standing on the head of 
another ... and the whole lot like a handful of matches, 
scattered untidily on an invisible cobweb. 

22. Out in the open. We moved along smoothly, at one 
and the same height; when we came to a ravine or a river 
the ground dipped below us. At the bottom, the remaining 
water sparkled and assumed marvellous, fantastic shapes. 
But there was no occasion for us to fear: we did not fall 
into the abyss, but floated over it like clouds, soared like 
birds, fluttered like bits of fluff caught up by a strong 
wind. Sometimes we brushed lightly against a wall or a 
hill; but pushed off, soared up and alighted on it so imper- 
ceptibly that it was as though the wall or hill had itself 
obligingly descended. We clutched at the grass, shrubs 


and stones on the hill sides in order to change our direc- 
tion and again made off in a horizontal direction. 

But our motion gradually slowed down; we had to im- 
part ourselves motion again through some kind of impetus; 
for this reason it was not convenient to fly high, since there 
was nothing to kick off from. 

Sometimes we flew head downwards, and the earth 
stretched above us like a ceiling, with overturned forests 
and mountains, while beneath our feet was an abyss into 
which, however, we did not fall. When we flew in a recum- 
bent position, it seemed as though we were ascending or 
descending alongside a wall, the Earth standing to the side, 
like a wall, the trees also sideways-on; on all the other sides 
of us there was a chasm! 

Then all the illusions vanished, we no longer regarded 
the Earth as a capricious spinning-top and began to realise 
precisely how we were moving about. In this way does the 
wayfarer floating in his boat down a river gradually comes 
to the realisation that the river banks are not really slipping 
past him, but that he is moving past them. 

In time we learned to move at any altitude and in any 
direction. For this we used wings which had no weight of 
their own, despite their large surface, and which sped 
along at our backs without the slightest effort. The wings 
rid us of the unpleasant rotation, and we found that, like 
birds, we could easily set ourselves in motion and with the 
minimum expenditure of effort. We easily flew 10-12 kilo- 
metres an hour without feeling particularly fatigued. In a 
recumbent position we could move twice as fast. Since 
we tired most from the variety of frolicsome evolutions we 
performed, we settled ourselves on a hill, rested, ate our 
fill, then dozed a little or simply admired the beautiful 
view. During our meals, bread, meat and pitchers of 
water—all of them rested in the air as they would have 
been set out on the table. 

It was wonderful to fly over mountains, through dark 
ravines, over forests and water.... After a few days of 


playful travel, we found ourselves in a warm climate. We 
protected ourselves from venomous snakes, beasts of 
prey, and the like, by flying inside an iron net. Actually, 
the poor dumb creatures were entirely disarmed and just 
as helpless as the population had been when the upheaval 
started. Most of them had perished and the rest were 
doomed, too, because it was only by chance that they 
found food and water. 

Our food consisted of delicious nuts and fruits which, 
it goes without saying, we procured without any difficulty. 

The people became more and more accustomed to the 
new conditions; the animals perished because of their 
limited understanding, the plants survived because of 
their total lack of understanding. 

In forest clearings we sometimes encountered men and 
women performing beautiful folk dances. We heard human 
singing and music in the air at the height where the larks 
hover and sing. And here the poses the dancers’ bodies 
assumed were a joy to behold. At times we were so en- 
tranced that the dancing and singing plunged us into an 
imaginary fairy-tale world of mermaids and other fabu- 
lous creatures. 

Sometimes we witnessed the tragedy of an unfortunate 
ruminant dying of starvation within a few metres of thick, 
succulent grasses. By kicking about violently in the air 
it had, accidentally, of course, scarcely approached the 
ground and begun to crop the grass than a new, foolish 
movement of the legs carried it up into the air again, and 
it found itself still farther from food than it had been be- 

It was even worse with the beasts of prey (the birds 
of prey adapted themselves to their new conditions, al- 
though not without some difficulty); they very rarely en- 
countered food and food rarely came their way!... But we 
also witnessed scenes where an unfortunate lamb, cham- 
ois, deer, cow, hare or horse was carried willy-nilly into 
the jaws of a bear, lion or wolf.... In chorus they bleated, 


mooed and neighed but could not evade their inexorable 
fate. Incidentally, an animal was carried within a metre of 
a beast of prey, which in spite of its sincere desire to make 
the best use of the wild game, was unable to do so. Then, 
again, a domestic animal sometimes knocked into the back 
of a beast of prey, bounced off and away from it, thus 
escaping its claws. When it was possible and necessary 
we rescued an animal ... for the purpose of eating it our- 

Chapter 4 


(A Touch of Humour) 

23. One of my friends was a very odd fellow. He hated 
terrestrial gravity as though it were something living; he 
hated it not as a harmful phenomenon, but as his personal, 
bitterest enemy. He delivered threatening, abusive speeches 
about it and convincingly, so he imagined, set out to 
prove its entire worthlessness and the bliss that “would 
come to pass” through its abolition. 

“For pity’s sake,” he cried, “you can’t build a house 
without gravity hindering it with all its might.... Drag 
up the bricks, haul up the logs.... Why shouldn’t I be 
able to straddle a log and ride it out of the forest?... And 
all because of this mischievous gravity! It won't let us move 
fast, comfortably and cheaply. 

“Isn’t it to gravity that we owe all the frightful expen- 
diture on the railways, which are still very imperfect, in- 
sufficient and costly?! 

“You can’t go down a mine or climb a mountain without 
difficulties, dangers or expenditures. 

“You have to thank gravity,” he yelled, “for killing 
workers by burying them underground, for the bridges and 
buildings that cave in and bury people under the wreck- 


Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in his study (1932) 

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky works on the design of his all-metal 
airship (1933) 

age, for drowning people and sinking ships laden with grain 
and other riches, for smashing people to smithereens when 
they fall from buildings, and for destroying crops with 
hail, for preventing the glorious development of the animal 
and vegetable world, and for countless other vile tricks. 

“It forces you to build massive, luxurious homes, to buy 
upholstered furniture, mattresses, pillows and feather- 

“You have to thank gravity,” he continued, “for press- 
ing you down to the Earth like worms, for shackling you, 
and scarcely allowing you to look at the sky and Earth, 
for the miserable altitude of 10 kilometres, to which man 
rises with much sacrifice and danger to life, represent, in 
the heavens, no more than a grain of sand on the peel of 
an orange. 

“Isn’t it gravity that limits our portion of space and 

“But an environment free from gravity,” he would say, 
with great emotion, “that’s the thing! It makes the poor 
equal to the rich, for it gives both a comfortable carriage 
with wonderful horses which need no fodder and are tire- 
less. Everyone sits, sleeps and works where he chooses, 
needing no ground and using fine furniture of comfort 
quite beyond compare. Houses of any size can be built ev- 
erywhere, on a hill or mountain, which is a tremendous ad- 
vantage in many respects: they don’t have to be strong 
and, at the same time, they can serve as airships carrying, 
inside or outside, as many passengers and as much cargo 
as space will permit. 

“The high speed of such ships, if they are streamlined, 
will be outstanding. Travelling eternally they will provide 
their owners with all the blessings and treasures of the 
Earth, the journey round which having become a mere 

“But that will lead to complete chaos,” we tried to 
argue. “What will become of the seas, the oceans, the 
air?! How will raindrops fall and how will the fields be 

6— 761 8! 

irrigated? Indeed, salt water will flood your house, your 
garden and vegetable patch. How will you keep it out?” 

But there was no stopping the odd fellow; he would not 
listen to anything and would grow angry at the objections, 
saying that no one understood him. 

Then we would ask him: “But where is there such an 
environment? And has it anything to do with us? And 
isn’t this ‘happy Arcady’ merely a figment of your imagi- 

“I have invented no ‘happy Arcady’, and there is really 
such an environment on the asteroids,” he would reply. 

“But there is no air there, no atmosphere,’ we would 
say. “Besides, it is too far from us, unless you consider a 
few hundred million kilometres a short distance.” 

“To begin with, distance is nothing because it depends 
on the speed of motion and the convenience of the means 
of communication. Before Columbus, America was inac- 
cessible, although it was relatively not far away; now it 
is only 5 to 7 days’ travel from Europe. Besides, why do 
you think that creatures cannot live without visible 
breathing? Why shouldn’t people be able to adapt them- 
selves to such a life in the course of time? According to 
some naturalists, the atmosphere must, in time, be ab- 
sorbed by the Earth’s crust and together with its elements 
form a chemical compound, then human beings and animals 
will have to be content with less and less oxygen, anyway. 
Must everything perish and not become adapted to the 
new life? 

“Finally, gravity can be done away with on the Earth, 
too. Don’t you know that even now it is being weakened 
by centrifugal force, and that at the equator gravity, 
partly because of this, is less than it is at the poles?” 

And then he would talk such nonsense that his audience 
would merely shrug and walk away. 

And yet many of his fantasies appealed to me for their 
scientific and philosophical undercurrent, wealth of images 
and the train of thoughts they invoked. 


He said, for example: 

“If we lived at the bottom of the seas under tremen- 
dous pressure, and were merely fish that could think, 
and if we were told that there were organisms living 
without water and without its pressure, we would cry out: 
What?... Without water?!.. Without pressure?! For 
goodness’ sake! Then how do they swim? What do they 
eat? Why, the sun would dry them up! Of course, for sure 
they would be dried up by the Sun!” 

Let us, for the time being, leave aside these arguments, 
this diversity of fantasies and make use of them sparingly 
and in their proper place. 

Chapter 5 


24. Increasing the gravity in a spinning bowl. It is ex- 
tremely easy to increase relative gravity in a medium of 
a known volume. 

Imagine an enormous round bowl about 25 metres wide 
and let it spin like a clay bowl under the hands of the 
potter who is shaping it. Let us enter this bow], taking 
with us a 5-Kg weight and a spring balance. 

When we stand at the very bottom, in the centre of its 
rotation, the balance shows 5; but as soon as we move 
away from the centre the balance appears to be incor- 
rect, and the farther we move away from the vertical axis 
of rotation the more incorrect is the balance. According 
to the distance we move away, it shows successively 10.5, 
11, 12, 13, 14 pounds; at the same time we also feel 
somewhat ill at ease, heavy; head, arms and legs feel as 
though they were full of lead and the heart beats faster. 
As long as the bowl spins evenly, this phenomenon is in- 

6* 83 

If the bowl is in the shape of a paraboloid and spins 
with sufficient but not excessive speed, we can walk freely 
all round its walls, remaining perpendicular to them, like 
people walking on the Earth. 

At its edges we stand almost on our sides, i.e., in a re- 
cumbent position, although we are not lying but standing 
in relation to our location; it has to be confessed, how- 
ever, that we are standing with great difficulty, because 
the gravity is as great as it is on Jupiter. 

If the bowl were closed on all sides and were spinning 
fairly smoothly (for example, rotating like the Earth) we 
would not notice that it was spinning but would only feel 
the increased gravity. 

Water poured into our spinning vessel is distributed 
along its curved surface of the vessel.* The terrestrial 
seas and oceans are limited by a convex surface, whereas 
here the surface is concave. 

The phenomena in the bowl become somewhat com- 
plicated when the observer moves rapidly. But if the 
movements are slow or normal, but the bowl is large, we 
would not in any way distinguish this artificial gravity 
from that of the Sun or Jupiter: bodies would fall, the 
pendulum would swing and the clock would tick in just 
the same way, liquid would be distributed in the same 
manner, the same laws of Pascal and Archimedes would 
apply, etc., etc. We would observe literally the same phe- 
nomena that occur many millions of kilometres from us, 
on other planets with greater gravity. This artificial gravity 
would produce absolutely the same effect on organisms as 

* But if the shape of the vessel is irregular, it will in no way 
prevent the liquid from restricting itself to the surface of the para- 
boloid. Assuming uniform rotation, complete silence all round, ab- 
sence of shocks, and a vertical axis of rotation, we shall have a 
splendid reflector or a concave mirror. By using mercury could we 
not use it like Newton’s reflecting telescope? This mirror may be 
larger but it is inconvenient because of its eternally horizontal 


does real, natural gravity. Thus, it is known that the main 
trunk of most plants rises and grows in the direction of 
gravity. If we covered the interior of our bowl with a layer 
of fertile soil and planted seeds of cereals, flowers and 
trees in it, they would all give shoots in different directions" 
along the entire surface of the bowl, but everywhere in 
the direction of the relative gravity, i.e., normally to the 
walls of the bowl. 

Such experiments have already been made, and confirm 
what has been said; the vessel with soil and germinating 
seeds rotated by means of a small water-mill. 

I experimented with insects, and calculated that their 
weight increased 300-fold. Thus they became 15 times as 
heavy as gold coins of the same volume. In precisely the 
same way I increased the weight of the cockroach, and 
even this seemed not to affect it. It evidently follows that 
the cockroach, and still less other very small insects, 
would suffer no discomfort at all if transferred, say, to the 
Sun, assuming, of course, that it was cold there and at- 
mosphere was suitable. It would be interesting to know 
what amount of increase in gravity has no harmful effect 
on other, larger creatures, and especially human beings. 
These experiments are not at all difficult. I increased the 
gravity of a chicken several fold (I do not remember ex- 
actly how much, but I think—fivefold) but this did not kill it. 

Here gravity is the result of two factors: the attraction 
of the Earth and motion; but it is possible by motion alone 
to produce the purest mathematically identical environ- 
ment of relative gravity, a phenomenon which will not 
differ one iota from natural gravity no matter what the 

For this purpose, it is necessary to impart uniformly 
accelerated and direct motion to the medium in which it is 
desired to produce artificial gravity. Naturally, in practice 
this motion can continue for only a few seconds or, at 
best, minutes. 


If bodies fall rapidly to the ground, it is a sign of grav- 
ity; if, on the contrary, the bodies are motionless and the 
ground moves towards them at a uniform speed, we have 
the phenomenon of apparent gravity which, incidentally, 
in no way differs from natural gravity. 

It is known that the weights in Atwood’s machine move 
at a uniformly accelerated speed. If we make ourselves 
as small as a fly and alight on these weights, we shall feel 
during their motion an increase or decrease in our gravity, 
depending on whether they move upwards or downwards. 
The heavier one weight, compared with the other, the 
closer to zero is the seeming gravity on this weight, 
whereas it becomes almost doubled on the other weight. 

25. Examples of an apparent change or even the com- 
plete annihilation of gravity in the given environment. 
When you skate or toboggan down a good, ice-covered, 
fairly steep hill, the direction, as well as the stress of 
gravity (with respect to the skates or toboggan), are dis- 
turbed. The gravity diminishes, while the direction is nor- 
mal to the surface of the hill. The steeper the hill, the 
weaker the relative gravity and the more does the body 
of the skater or tobogganer deviate from the vertical; on 
the contrary, the gentler the slope, the less does gravity 

When people ride on the roller-coaster the same thing 
occurs, only with more variety, i.e., with an increase, a de- 
crease and the total destruction of gravity (in relation to 
the coaster and the people in it), 

Of course, all this lasts only a few seconds, and the 
passengers, unable to account for the phenomena, merely 
experience the thrill and have the sinking feeling, which 
people who like keen sensations find so pleasant. 

Gravity changes its direction and stress on all bodies 
on which uniform or nonuniform curvilinear motion exists. 
All sorts of swings and roundabouts are places of a seem- 
ing change of gravity which makes itself felt in sinking 
feelings, dizziness, etc. 


Somewhere, someone proposed to give the lovers of keen 
sensations a special thrill. The idea was to put these 
“thrill-lovers” into a chamber and to have it fall from a 
high tower straight into a tank of water, where it would 
gradually lose speed and would then re-emerge into the 
light of day to the general delight of the public and the 
lovers of thrills. 

But what feeling do these people experience during their 
fall and swift immersion in water? 

Assuming that the chamber falls from a height of 
300 metres, i.e., from the Eiffel Tower, we shall find that 
for a period of almost 8 seconds, before hitting the water, 
the passengers will be in an environment of seeming ab- 
sence of gravity. This is because the gravity of the Earth 
attracts the chamber together with the bodies it contains, 
owing to which the gravity does not disturb the position 
of these bodies in relation to each other and in relation 
to the chamber. 

For example, how can a stone fall to the floor of the 
chamber if the chamber itself is falling at the same speed 
as the stone? 

Furthermore, during the immersion in water the relative 
eravity in the chamber has a chance to increase to such 
an extent (depending on the shape of the chamber) that 
the “lovers of keen sensations” will be flattened out under 
their own weight like bugs crushed underfoot. 

I would propose another method which, the height of 
the tower being the same, offers twice as much time to ob- 
serve the space free from gravity and, in addition, a meth- 
od in which the subsequent increase in gravity occurs 
fairly uniformly and depends completely on us; this being 
the reason why under certain conditions this method can 
be perfectly safe. 

The method is as follows: a carriage is placed on the 
rails which have the form of a propped-up magnet or a 
horseshoe. The carriage firmly grips the rails on both sides 
and cannot be derailed. Falling from one end of the rails 


the car describes a semicircle at the bottom and rises to 
the other end where it stops automatically as soon as it 
loses all its speed. 

During the descent to the semicircle (the curve) the 
relative gravity disappears; on the curve it emerges again, 
in a greater or lesser degree, depending on the radius of 
the semicircle, but is approximately constant. During the 
ascent along the straight or upright rail gravity disap- 
pears; it also disappears during the return drop if not 
retained at the top. Thus the time for observing the seem- 
ing absence of gravity is doubled. If the friction of the 
car against the rails and the resistance of the air are dis- 
regarded, the car ought to roll back and forth eternally, 
like a pendulum. In that case the observers sitting in the 
car would alternately experience the absence of and the 
increase in gravity. 

The following are the results of calculations in which we 
disregarded the complicating conditions of friction against 
the rails and the resistance of the air; nor are they of any 
importance at low speeds and heights. 

Data: the Eiffel Tower—300 metres tall; radius of the 
curve—I5 metres; conclusions: longest time of the grav- 
ity-free space—15 seconds; increase in gravity during mo- 
tion along the curve—40 (a man weighing 60 kg would 
weigh 2,400 kg or twice the weight of gold of the same 
volume as the man); time during which it was observed— 
slightly over 1 second. 

With a fourfold increase of the arc radius normal grav- 
ity increases only tenfold (600 kg in man) and will con- 
tinue for 4.5 seconds. 

If a drop is 4 times less, the time, during which the 
seeming absence of gravity is observed, will decrease 
only twofold (8 seconds), but gravity, with the same arc 
(15 m) will decrease fourfold and a 60 kg person will 
weigh 600 kg, while with a radius of 30 m he will weigh 
300 kg; in a recumbent position or in water (up to the 


neck) man will in all probability tolerate such a weight 
without ill effects. 

With a still lower drop the safety increases more, but 
the time for observing interesting phenomena is too short. 

When a man skating or tobogganing down an icy hill 
rapidly changes his direction at the foot of the hill, his 
relative gravity increases, although only for a short time, 
10-20-fold or more, depending on the circumstances. It is 
well known that the man feels none the worse for it. 

There are conditions under which even a tremendous in- 
crease in gravity proves perfectly harmless to man—for 
example, immersion in water. It would be extremely in- 
teresting to perform such experiments in a spinning bowl 
(Essay 24). 

25. Can the human organism endure weightlessness? 
A method of protecting the organism from the effects of 
the dreadful force of gravity. Something similar to the 
absence of gravity can also be experienced for prolonged 
periods on the Earth. 

Let us imagine a large, well-lighted tank of clear water. 
On immersion in the water, a man whose mean density 
equals that of the water loses gravity and the effect of 
this is balanced by the reciprocal effect of the water. By 
putting on special spectacles one can see as well in water 
as in the air if the water is not deep and is clear. It is 
also possible to use a breathing apparatus. And yet the 
illusion will be very far from complete. True, the man will 
be in equilibrium in any part of the liquid; by hooking a 
small object, he can also give his body any steady direc- 
tion he chooses, but the resistance of the water is so enor- 
mous that the motion imparted to the body is almost 
immediately lost, unless it is extremely slow and imper- 
ceptible to the eye. Since such a position in water is per- 
fectly harmless, it must be assumed that the man will 
also endure the absence of gravity for any length of time 
without any ill effects. As a matter of fact, the absence of 
gravity eliminates the weight of the column of blood and 


must therefore increase the blood pressure in the brain. 
But the same increase also occurs upon immersion of the 
body in water; almost the same thing occurs in a recum- 
bent position, so that the organism experiences nothing in 
particular by the elimination of gravity. 

The most fragile bodies placed in a liquid of the same 
density sustain, without breaking, the hardest blows by a 
vessel or against the vessel as long as the vessel itself re- 
mains intact.* And yet under these blows, the relative 
gravity in the vessel increases, if only briefly, several 
hundred- or several thousandfold. It is well known that 
nature places everything that is weak and delicate—em- 
bryos, the brain—in liquids, or surrounds them with liq- 
uid. Could we not also avail ourselves of this method for 
a variety of purposes?! 

26. The apparent and prolonged elimination of terres- 
trial gravity is impossible in practice. Let us suggest more 
examples of weightless environment existing for a longer 
period of time. 

If its mass is very small, an imaginary satellite of the 
Earth, like the Moon, but as close to our planet as we 
choose only beyond the limits of its atmosphere, that is, 
about 300 kilometres distant from the Earth’s surface, will 
offer an example of a weightless environment. 

We explained in Essay 16 why, although it is close 
to the Earth, the bodies lying on it or near it are apparently 
not affected by gravity. 

* You can personally prove the correctness of the above. Take 
a glassful of water, a hen’s egg and salt. Put the egg in the water 
and pour salt into the glass until the egg begins to rise from the 
bottom to the surface of the water. At this point add some water, 
so that the egg is suspended in equilibrium at any point in the ves- 
sel, i.e., so that, being suspended at an average height, it will nei- 
ther rise to the surface nor drop to the bottom. Now strike the glass 
against the table as hard as the strength of the glass will permit 
and you will observe that the egg in the glass will not stir. Without 
the water the egg naturally breaks immediately even from the slight- 
est blow. I have described these experiments in Volume 4 of the 
Transactions of the Moscow Society of Amateur Naturalists, 1891, 


“So near and yet so far.” To be sure, despite the rela- 
tive proximity of such a satellite, how could we get be- 
yond the terrestrial atmosphere to reach it, even if it actu- 
ally existed? Or how could we impart to a terrestrial body 
the speed necessary to develop a centrifugal force over- 
coming the gravity of the Earth, if this speed must be 
close to 8 kilometres a second? 

If we could build a train which sped along the Earth’s 
equator at the rate of 8 kilometres a second, gravity would 
be eliminated in the carriages by the centrifugal force; 
but unfortunately the air will under no circumstances allow 
motion at such speed. 

If we could build a platform belting the Earth at a 
height beyond the atmosphere, then out there in an ab- 
solute vacuum this speed could be attained, but then, prac- 
tically speaking, the platform itself at a height of 300 kilo- 
metres is an absurdity. 

If the Earth gradually increased the speed of its rota- 
tion, it would at first flatten out along the equator into a 
pancake and would then break up and form, under favour- 
able conditions, something like Saturn with its system of 
rings; there would be almost no gravity on these rings. 

But such a thing is even less conceivable than fast 

What else is there, then? Should we perhaps build high 
towers or fire cannon balls like those “fired” by Jules 

As we ascend a tower, gravity gradually diminishes; 
and, if this tower is built in the equator of a planet and 
therefore rotates rapidly with it, gravity also diminishes 
not only because of its gradual departure from the centre 
of the planet but also because of the increase in the centri- 
fugal force which is proportional to this recession. The 
attraction decreases as the light of a lamp placed in the 
centre of the Earth decreases as it moves away from it, 
while the centrifugal force, acting in the opposite direc- 
tion, increases. Finally, on the Earth gravity is destroyed 


at the top of a tower 5.5 Earth’s radii tall (34,000 kilo- 
metres from the Earth’s surface; the Moon is about 
11 times as distant). 

As such a tower is ascended, the gravity gradually di- 
minishes without changing direction; at an altitude of 
34,000 kilometres it vanishes completely, and higher up 
appears again with a force proportional to the removal 
from the critical point, but in the opposite direction, so 
that the climber is turned head towards the Earth which 
he sees above his head. 

Here are a few more calculations of this kind, concern- 
ing the planets which differ most from each other. 

1. On Mercury and approximately on Mars the critical 
point is at a distance of 6 radii of the planet or 3 radii of 
the Earth. 

2. On Venus it is about the same as on the Earth. 

3. On the Moon it is at a distance of 50 radii of the 
Moon or 13 radii of the Earth. 

4. On Jupiter it is at a distance of 1.25 radii of Jupiter 
(reckoning from the surface of the planet, as in all these 
calculations) or 14 radii of the Earth. Incidentally, the new 
satellite of Jupiter is at a distance of only 0.25 of the 
radius of the planet. 

5. On Saturn the critical point is at a distance of 0.80 
of its radius or 6 radii of the Earth. At this distance, or, 
to be exact, somewhat closer to the planet, Saturn’s ring 

6. On the Sun its attraction is eliminated by centrifugal 
force at a distance of 26 radii of the Sun or 2,800 radii of 
the Earth. The height of such a tower constitutes 0.125 of 
the total distance from the Earth to the Sun. 

There is no need to speak of the possibility of such 
towers existing on planets, and yet, even in the planetary 
system, which is just a speck in the space of countless 
numbers of other such systems, we see something of the 
kind when contemplating Saturn’s ring through the tele- 


If we fired a cannon-ball—a compartment with people, 
air and food—how long would it all last? Besides, with a 
cannon even a few kilometres long, so powerful is the rela- 
tive gravity formed in the barrel when the cannon-ball 
passes through it that, even before the cannon-ball leaves 
the barrel, a man in it would be crushed by his own weight, 
which would be a thousand times greater than his or- 
dinary weight. 

Yet, on leaving the dark barrel, always supposing that 
by some miracle the traveller inside the cannon-ball has 
remained intact, his weight will immediately disappear 
and he will find himself close to the Earth, yet apparently 
outside its influence; it makes no difference whether the 
speed of the missile is high or low (i.e., gravity is elimi- 
nated anyway), but it should be high in order that the mis- 
sile keeps travelling and does not crash back to the Earth 
like a ball thrown up in the air. For the cannon-bal]l to 
move farther and farther from the Earth eternally and 
become a satellite of the Sun it requires a speed of 11 kilo- 
metres a second; for the cannon-ball to move away eter- 
nally from the Sun and become a transient comet it re- 
quires a speed of at least 27-30 kilometres a second (with 
the cannon-ball being fired in the direction of the annual 
revolution of the Earth). 

I suggested a cannon not more than a few kilometres 
long, but if we build them horizontally several hundred 
times as long, then relatively speaking the undertaking 
would not be so inconceivable because the relative gravity 
in the cannon-ball does not increase very much, and under 
favourable conditions (immersed in liquid) a man could 
easily endure it. 

Chapter 6 

27. The crank’s thoughts about the harmfulness of air 
and the possibility of living in a vacuum; his dreams of a 
special race of rational beings living without an atmos- 


phere. This crank of mine turned out, in addition, to be an 

“Air impedes rapid motion,” he said excitedly, as usual. 
“Air destroys motion! 

“Air in an environment devoid of gravity is a down- 
right nuisance! 

“If there were no air I could push off and fly millions 
of kilometres; but, as it is, first I have to replenish the 
motion by constantly pushing off, wasting energy in pro- 
portion to the distance or time passed; secondly, if the 
speed of cleaving the air is to be high, the low expend- 
iture of work at low speeds increases extraordinarily 
rapidly and becomes an unbearable burden.” 

Thus, a tenfold increase in speed increases 1,000-fold 
the amount of work per unit of time spent on cleaving the 
air; a 100-fold increase in speed increases this work 
1,000,000-fold. Yet in an absolute vacuum the speed, how- 
ever high, once acquired by a body is retained by it eter- 
nally and requires no expenditure of energy. 

True, there are forces, in addition to friction and others 
that are well known, which decelerate motion—electrical 
and mechanical induction, for instance. The influence of 
the Moon produces the tides on the Earth, the phenomenon 
which decelerates the diurnal rotation of the Earth*; I 
call this mechanical induction. Ordinarily its influence 
is entirely unnoticeable. 

“You said,” he continued, “that the equatorial train 
can’t move at the rate of 8 kilometres a second because of 
the resistance of the air, and that it was therefore impos- 
sible to eliminate the gravity in the carriages of this train.” 

“JI pointed to the resistance of the air,” I rejoined, “as 
being one of the main reasons for the impossibility of at- 
taining such speeds, but this does not mean there are no 
other obstacles.” 

* But maybe it is accelerated just as much by the contraction 
of the Earth due to cooling. 


“Wait and let me finish. Just imagine there is no at- 
mosphere on the Earth and our planet is smooth. In that 
case why shouldn’t the train have the speed which de- 
stroys gravity by centrifugal force?” 

“Once we had imparted such speed to the train,” he ar- 
gued with growing animation and preventing us from in- 
terjecting a single word, “the train itself would lose grav- 
ity, would no longer press against the ground or touch it 
and would travel eternally round the Earth, like the Moon 
does, never tiring and retaining for its passengers the 
wonderful conditions of an environment devoid of grav- 

“All this is very fine,’ we would say, “but you're run- 
ning away with yourself, forgetting that the Earth is not 
smooth, that it has oceans and an atmosphere, and that no 
human beings or plants can live without them.” 

“I don’t mean the Earth alone. I mean the planets in 
general and the living beings which perhaps inhabit them. 
For example, on the asteroids and the Moon there is no 
air or water, the surface on them can be made smooth, 
or at least a road can be levelled out and so impart fast 
motion to the trains; there the creatures may be adapted 
to living in a vacuum. Don’t we see life existing on the 
Earth in all kinds of conditions: in water, salt and fresh, 
in the air, in the soil and on heights, in warmth and in 
cold, in arid deserts and in the marine depths, under 
frightful pressure and in the mountains where the pres- 
sure is relatively very low. You must agree,” he continued, 
“that even if living beings need oxygen, its extreme rare- 
faction does not play the decisive role and does not negate 
life. For example, its solution in rivers is not greater than 
1/140 of the density of the atmosphere and yet it suffices 
to maintain life. But it is not at all difficult to maintain 
such density and a correspondingly low pressure in thin, 
closed vessels. 

“Let us imagine a glass sphere several metres in di- 
ameter equipped with a strong protective steel-wire mesh. 


Or let us imagine an incomparably larger steel sphere with 
a continuous series of holes hermetically sealed by clear, 
transparent panes of glass. 

“Put some soil, plants, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitro- 
gen and moisture inside, and all the conditions for the ex- 
istence of animals will be observed. 

“This sphere is speeding with all its content through 
an absolute vacuum without encountering the slightest re- 
sistance, like an asteroid, and in rapid motion like the lat- 
ter, loses relative gravity which cannot therefore break 
it or crush it by its own force. The only concern is to 
contro] the negligible pressure of gases.” 

“That’s too artificial and unstable; it isn’t natural.” 

“Spectacles are also unnatural, yet you wear them. The 
greater man’s progress, the more he replaces the natural 
by what is artificial.” 

“But first you must prove that organisms can exist in 
a vacuum without any of your spheres; you must prove 
that they live there as freely and naturally as fish in water.” 

“Certainly. What do they need? Heat! They get that 
from the Sun, and the intensity of the heat does not make 
much difference; what’s more, it partly depends on the 
surrounding conditions. For example, when the Sun is in 
its zenith over the Himalayas, the peaks are closer to the 
Sun than the foot-hills, and yet the temperature, on the 
contrary, is lower at the summits than it is at the sea 

“One and the same body becomes heated to extraor- 
dinarily varying degrees, depending on how it is placed 
in relation to the Sun and what colour it is; here the at- 
mosphere is of no consequence. 

“What else do animals need? Motion! That is provided 
by the same Sun, because the energy of its rays is not 
small; each square metre of surface, being in a position 
normal to their direction and at the distance of the Earth, 
receives 2-3 steam hp, which is equal to the steady work 
of 20-30 men; if we could make use of 0.5 per cent of this 


physical work by transforming it into mechanical work by 
means of special motors (something that can also be done 
on the Earth) we would still have more than enough for 
one anthropoid being; in an environment devoid of gravity 
even this is superfluous. 

“The animals also need oxygen and food for thinking, 
growth and muscular activity,” he said pursuing his line 
of argument, “oxygen can be formed by the chemical 
work of the Sun’s rays in the body of the animal or in its 
special organs, just as it is formed in the green parts of 
the plant from the carbon dioxide of the air. 

“The animal’s carbon dioxide, instead of dispersing in 
the atmosphere, will remain in the animal and will serve 
as the material for forming oxygen and new reserves of 

“As in plants, the chemical activity of the Sun will gen- 
erally be complex and multifarious and will provide the 
animals with all they need for life. 

“Thus in these wonderful creatures the animal will 
merge with the plant into a single whole and such a crea- 
ture can, therefore, be called an animal-plant. As is well 
known, there is something of this kind in the world of 
terrestrial organisms.* 

“But the digestive, respiratory and other excretions of 
our imaginary animal-plant are not lost; they are fully 
reprocessed with the aid of sunlight into food and oxygen 
which the creature uses again as food, thus completing an 
eternal cycle and never becoming exhausted. 

* Green grains of chlorophyll have been found in radiolarians— 
minute, unicellular animals living in very large numbers on the sur- 
face of the sea; chlorophyll has also been found in relatively large 
animals—the hydra, sponge, medusa (bell-shaped), actinia, etc. The 
role of chlorophyll consists in reprocessing the carbon dioxide ex- 
creted by the animals, by means of sunlight, into the oxygen and 
carbon required for nourishment and respiration. Such a creature 
can, theoretically, do without external oxygen and external food. 
Scientists hold that the green of these creatures is an entirely sep- 
arate organism so that in this case they regard it only as an 
example of symbiosis. 

7—761 97 

“There is nothing impossible in this. Do we not see the 
same thing, only on a larger scale, on the surface of the 
Earth?! Don’t the selfsame materials eternally serve for 
the vital processes of plants, animals and even man him- 

“The Sun keeps working, but the material is always the 
same and never becomes exhausted. Why do you not want 
to admit on a small scale what already exists on a large 

“But we do! Calm down and merely explain how your 
creatures will manage not to dry up like mummies?” 

“That's simple. Their skin is covered with a hyaline 
layer, rather soft and thin, but absolutely impermeable to 
gases, liquids and other volatile bodies and therefore safe- 
guarding the animals against all and every material loss. 

“These animals have no external apertures in their bod- 
ies; the cycle of gases, liquids and dissolved solids—all 
this takes place inside the animals and not through the ex- 
ternal environment. The surface of the body with small 
wing-like appendages illumined by the Sun serves as a 
laboratory for producing life and power. If such append- 
ages cannot be burdensome in the environment of grav- 
ity, in space devoid of gravity they are imperceptible even 
with a surface of several thousand square metres.” 

“I say! And how will they, your animal plants, com- 
municate with each other, exchange ideas without air? For 
ether does not transmit sound waves.” 

“Firstly,” he said, quite unperturbed, “sound vibrations 
can be communicated from one creature to another along 
a conductor, like a wire, and weakening even less because 
of the distance than when they move through a liquid or 
gaseous environment. Secondly, do we exchange ideas only 
by means of sound, voice? What about books and letters? 
Something like that, but much more perfect and natural, 
serves them for communicating with one another. On one 
of the visible parts of the body, through its transparent 
coating, as in the camera obscura, a series of living pic- 


tures appear, follow the thoughts of the creature and give 
them precise expression. It depends on an influx of vari- 
ously coloured subcutaneous fluids into extremely thin 
vessels, the fluids painting a series of rapidly changing 
and easily understandable pictures.”’ 

Chapter 7 

(From the Odd Fellow’s Fantastic Stories) 

28. How I found myself on an asteroid. In addition to 
the eight large planets with their satellites and asteroids 
which are also quite large and which move between the 
orbits of Mars and Jupiter, a mass of small planets, so 
small that they cannot be seen through a telescope, also 
revolve round the Sun. 

The certainty that they exist arises out of the follow- 
ing: no one doubts the existence of numerous stones 
(aerolites) which, like the planets, revolve round the Sun; 
some of them brush up against the Earth and fall on to 
it; others, presumably losing their speed because of the 
resistance of the ether and excited by the motion of in- 
duction, fall on to the Sun giving a little support to its 
luminosity. If there are large and small heavenly bodies, 
why should there not be intermediate ones?* 

I have been on asteroids and still smaller planets and 
have seen life on them. Oh, each is a marvellous country! 
<1... There were wise creatures who <...> sur- 
rounded me with every comfort, supplied me with an arti- 

* When our cranky fellow expressed this idea the planetcsimals 
of up to 6 kilometres in diameter had not yet been discovered. Thus 
he forecast this discovery. When our instruments and methods are 
perfected we shall no doubt discover still smaller planets—real 
heavenly Lilliputians. 



ficial atmosphere, enclosed in a spherical, partially hyaline 
contrivance in which there were plants with lovely ripen- 
ing fruit that satisfied both hunger and thirst excellently. 

But that was not all; when I wanted to see how they 
lived, they covered me up closely without affecting the 
shape of my body or interfering with my freedom of mo- 
tion; the covering was a rather thin membrane which pro- 
tected my body against the dangerous absence of atmos- 
pheric pressure; they supplied me with oxygen-contain- 
ing vessels and various other apparatuses which were con- 
nected with my body and for some time took the place of 
air and food. Owing to the almost total absence of gravity 
these apparatuses, of course, would not have been a bur- 
den to me even if they had been 1,000 times as massive. 

Thus I used to leave my abode and see everything. 

To them it made no difference whether they lived in an 
atmosphere or without it, because gases and foreign bodies 
in general could not penetrate their skin; the layer of 
atmosphere only retarded to some extent the process of 
their nutrition through the Sun’s rays. 

I shall omit the infinitely complex, vast and multiform 
structures, the mysterious deeds and the mass of phe- 
nomena which I could not divine, and shall only describe 
the things that strike the eye and can be grasped by our 
human mind. 

When I grew accustomed to them and learned their 
visual language (they supplied me with a special mecha- 
nism which gave a “pictorial” expression of my thoughts) 
I conversed a great deal with them. 

I shall not speak about their figures, because ideas 
about beauty are extremely subjective even among one 
race of bipeds; still, I can say that even to me, a human 
being, their figures seemed highly elegant. 

Is there any need to remind you that from the asteroids 
the Sun appears very small and emits 3, 4, 5 and even 
20 times as little light and heat as it does on the Earth? 
The asteroids closer to Mars receive one-third of what we 


get, and the farther they are from it, the less light and 
heat they get from the Sun. On Jupiter the power of the 
luminary decreases about 25 times and the Sun looks like 
a voltaic arc, almost a star.* 

I therefore required some protection against cold, the 
amount depending on where I happened to be at the time. 
The inhabitants of these places, too far removed from the 
Sun, were cold-blooded, like our fishes and insects, and 
were made of substances which do not freeze easily. 

29. My conversation with the natives. “Where are you 
from?” I once asked them. 

“We are migrants from other large planets.” 

“But how did you get here and how do you live in a 
vacuum, if your bodies were adapted to life in an at- 

“I can’t explain to you how we even got here, because 
it is too complicated; as to the atmosphere, our bodies 
were gradually transformed and became adapted to life 
in a vacuum, just as your aquatic animals were gradually 
transformed into land animals, and the nonflying into 
flying animals. Generally speaking, the aquatic animals 
were the first to appear on the planets, then came the 
animals that lived in the air and, finally, those which lived 
in a vacuum.” 

“<...> Would you kindly tell me what you feed on?” 

“<...> We feed and develop like plants—through the 
action of the Sun’s rays.” 

“<, ..> But I still don’t understand. Plants feed on the 
nutrient fluids of the Earth and the gases of the air, which 
the energy of the Sun’s rays transforms into plant tissue.” 

“You see the green appendages of our bodies that look 
like beautiful emerald wings? They contain grains of 
chlorophyll, like that which gives leaves their character- 
istic colour; some of your animals also have such grains 

* But the intensity of this light is also at least 20,000 times as 
great as our lunar light under the most favourable conditions. 


in their bodies. Because of their hyaloid membrane the 
wings allow nothing to escape, but freely absorb the 
Sun’s rays. These rays break up the carbon dioxide dis- 
solved in the fluids which flow through our wings, like the 
blood of your body, and perform thousands of other chem- 
ical functions which produce various gases, liquids and 
solids. All of these immediately enter into a relation, partly 
physical, partly chemical with the other constituents of the 
juices and form liquids, i.e., enrich the juices with new 
substances. Thus enriched, the juices constantly supply our 
bodies with all they require for their nourishment: oxygen 
in a weak chemical compound, hydrocarbons and nitroge- 
nous substances. The Sun does something like this in your 
plants ~...°>.” 

“But kindly tell me how, the surface of your wings 
being so small, you obtain so much from it, even without 
fertilisers, for in order to subsist on the Earth, a man 
needs several hectares of land, a thousand times more, in 

“Let me tell you how,” one of the natives said. “In a 
vacuum, the energy of the Sun’s rays is extraordinarily 
great; besides, we transform a much greater part of it 
(1/6th) into potential chemical energy, than you do on your 
planet through your plants, and it quite suffices to main- 
tain our vital processes. You must know, indeed, that a 
square metre of surface illumined by the rays of the Sun, 
which are normal to it, produces work equal to almost 
3 hp. But we are farther from the Sun and receive 3-4 
times as little energy from it. Thus with a total wing sur- 
face of about 3-4 square metres we have work in one day 
equal to the potential energy of 5 kilograms of purest 
carbon, assuming that during the production of the energy 
it burns in oxygen. The greater part (5/6th) of this energy 
heats our bodies and the rest (1/6th) is used up as food. 
The energy of this food corresponds to almost 1 kilogram 
of carbon. One would require very much food in its usual 
form to obtain that much energy from it (almost 4 kilo- 


grams of bread or 5 kilograms of meat*). It follows from 
this that we cannot be hungry.” 

“What? Do you really never experience the unpleasant 
sensations of hunger, thirst or indigestion?” 

“Never! We have a regulator which indicates when we 
should turn our wings to the Sun -....° . When there is 
a danger of exhaustion the regulator carefully points it 
out. Incidentally, there are no clouds in our environment, 
and we get our nourishment unimpeded.” 

“So that’s what your beautiful wings are for! They serve 
as your orchard, vegetable garden, field, cattle-yard and 
so on, since they supply all you need for your table. At 
first I thought you used them for flying.” 

“We can fly without wings; in a vacuum wings are use- 
less for your ordinary flying. Can your flies fly when the 
air is pumped out of the bell-jar?” 

30. More conversations. These creatures with their prop- 
erties surprised me; they neither ate nor drank <...>, 
and did not seem to ail or die! And yet they had a bodily 
membrane! Here are some more of our arguments con- 
cerning these things. 

“Do you ever ail?” I once asked. 

“Very rarely; one in a thousand may fall ill in the 
course of a thousand years.” 

“Do you live so long?” 

“Like your plants we have a life of indefinite duration. 
There are very rare cases of death due to some unfavour- 
able course of events; death from disease is even rarer.” 

“But how do you account for such longevity, almost 

“Some of your trees live for thousands of years de- 
spite the fact that they are continuously in the grip by 
disease, crawling with parasites, felled by winds and 
gravity, and the stronger they are, the older and more 
massive they become. We are insured against all this and 

* Lebon’s Physiology. Nutrition and Its Methods. 


against much more.... Why should we not live long? We 
owe our longevity to the cleanliness of our bodies which 
carry no infectious agents—all the cocci, bacilli and fungi 
which teem in your wretched bodies and produce a con- 
stant threat of destruction; we owe our longevity to the 
complete isolation of our bodies from harmful elements, 
thanks to the absolute vacuum that surrounds us and the 
impermeability of our skin; we owe our longevity to the 
wonderful structure of our bodies possessing organs of 
which you, inhabitants of the Earth, have no idea what- 
ever. We have special life regulators which prevent the 
body from growing old and weak and changing in any way 
that could be detrimental to the body. 

“You have already gained some insight into certain 
principles of the causes of death. Your experiments with 
generations of infusoria* have shown that reproduction 
of budding (i.e., successive division of one infusorian into 
two individuals) increasingly exhausts their numerous 
progeny. In just this way the cells of the terrestrial 
body become exhausted: at first there is an <...> increase 
in its volume—the body grows; then the rate of growth 
becomes increasingly retarded because, although the num- 
ber of cells increases, their volume continually decreases 
due to degeneration; there comes a moment when the 
bodily volume ceases to increase. This would be no mis- 
fortune if the quality of the cells (and the various body 
tissues composed of them) did not deteriorate with each 
new generation of cells; old age sets in, the body grows 
thin, fat takes the place of useful tissues, the walls of the 
vessels, through which the fluids of the body circulate, 
grow weak and burst under the pressure of the blood in 
different parts, producing various diseases and death. 
This is natural, “lucky” death—from old age. 

“With us, the cells have an opportunity of forming con- 
nections with other cells and reproducing by budding 

* Probably colonies of stylonichias. 


<...>. This is the merging of two cells into one with the 
result that the weakened cells are rejuvenated, becoming 
young and strong <...>; the regulators do not allow them 
to grow old, nor do they allow them to increase in size 
beyond a certain limit; their total volume does not change 
because the amount of material of each individual cell is 

“Yes,” the lucky creatures said, “we see that you are 
ceasing to understand us. We shall try to explain to you, 
from another point of view, the possibility of extraordi- 
nary longevity and even physical immortality. Look at your 
mankind as a single whole. Is it not immortal in mass? 
Does this whole die? Or if it dies, are there any definite 
limits to its longevity?! Who can tell how many thou- 
sands or millions of years it will live? 

“Think of mankind as a single being, as one of us, and 
make a comparison; the resemblance will be striking: 
your people are the different cells of one of our bodies; 
your instincts, your love and, very likely, your reason are 
the regulators which support the existence of the whole 
and do not. allow it to grow old and die; if we take your 
entire organic world with its atmosphere and soil for 
comparison, the resemblance will be still more amazing: 
is it not true that you live by the same amount of sub- 
stance, belonging to your planet, as each of our bodies 
does? In the final analysis is it not the Sun that feeds you 
as it feeds us? Is any water, any food supplied to this 
great (although pitiable) organic body from outside, from 
another world (say, from another planet)? Perhaps you 
are given servants, money, or special air? You are given 
nothing, and yet there is enough of everything, and there 
cannot fail to be enough as long as the Sun shines and as 
long as the size of the “great body” does not increase ex- 
cessively at the expense of inorganic matter. And you 
can easily picture to yourself the regulators which pre- 
vent that excessive growth <...>. 

“Our body represents in miniature the organic life of 


the Earth,” the natives said <...>. “You, people, will also 
be happy, and your generations will not become extinct 
if you are reasonable.” 

“That’s true, mankind does not die but lives like one 
of your marvellous beings; it is immortal,” I observed. 
“But you show me an example of individual indefinite 
extension of life on the Earth.” 

“I can do that,” one of them interrupted. “You have in- 
fusoria. The life of each of them consists in its separat- 
ing from itself similar creatures, one after another, in con- 
sequence of which (maybe not from this, but the details 
would lead us too far) it weakens, degenerates, diminishes 
and within a few hundred births grows so small that it 
changes beyond recognition; it begins to die! But another, 
suitable individual approaches this dying one, merges with 
it into a single whole and after this—oh, miracle!—it is 
rejuvenated, resurrected, begins to grow rapidly, reaches 
the normal size, reproduces again, etc.” 

“Yes, yes. I read something about it,’* but you prob- 
ably know better than we do-<...°>.” 

“Are there many of you?” I asked with interest. 

“The solar system, i.e., the Sun itself, can theoretically 
support the energy of life of 3 x 10% beings like ours 
and this number is 15 x 10! as great as the number of 
inhabitants on your Earth, assuming it to be 2,000 mil- 

“Look here!” I rudely interrupted. “How do you know 
all these details about the Earth? You have surprised me 
more than once on this score!” 

“Well, here I am talking with you.... What makes you 
think we have never talked with other people like you 
from the Earth? Moreover, if you had ever seen our tele- 
scopes, our astronomical apparatus....” 

“I understand. You say—so many times greater than 

* Maupas and Delfeb. The former performed experiments with 
a colony of stylonichias, the latter advanced an explanation of the 
results obtained by the former. 


the population of the Earth.... But it comes to a colossal 
number!! How can one grasp it in a more perceptible 

“Like this. Imagine a box 25 m high filled with poppy 
seeds, each of which is not more than 1 m in diameter. 
Imagine that each of these seeds is a terrestrial sphere 
with all its rational inhabitants; this will give you a clear 
idea of the number of beings the Sun can feed. As a mat- 
ter of fact it feeds about 1,000 times less, but not because 
it cannot feed any more. This real population, according 
to our arbitrary terminology, will be expressed in a box 
5 cu m filled with poppy seeds. 

“There are very few of us, belonging to the group of 
planetoids that travel between the orbits of Mars and 
Jupiter, just a handful of poppy seeds,” the asteroid in- 
habitant continued. “And don’t forget that each seed is 
an Earth with all its inhabitants.” 

“I beg your pardon, but I don’t agree that there are so 
few of you. I even fail to understand how there is enough 
room for you all. The surface of the asteroids known 
to us is positively negligible.” 

“We don’t need any planet surface; we are satisfied 
with the world space, sunlight and the material which we 
find in abundance by digging and breaking up the aster- 

“ `. 
<, > 

31. The planet from which one can escape by one good 
leap. We are on an asteroid which is invisible from the 
Earth even through the finest telescopes because its dia- 
meter is not more than 6 kilometres.* The gravity here is 
so low that it is enough to make a sinall effort and take 

* These planetoids are observable with extraordinary difficulty 
only through the most gigantic telescopes. They are best discov- 
ered by means of photography. Thus, the discovery of the planetoids 
Agatha, Philahoris and Erigona has been confirmed beyond all 
doubt. The first of these has a diameter of not more than 6-7 kilo- 


a long leap to recede from it eternally, never to approach 
it again. We free ourselves from its gravitation by one 
good jump which would only raise us about 1.25 metres 
from the surface of the Earth. 

Only the Sun will swerve us from our straight course 
and make us revolve round itself like a regular planet; 
owing to this we may, within a fairly long space of time, 
again come close to the asteroid we left behind, receding 
from it along a circle and overtaking it from behind. 

Please, don’t think of our asteroid as being very small: 
it has a circumference of about 17.5 kilometres, a surface of 
almost 10,000 hectares, a volume of 92 cubic kilometres and 
a mass 6,000 times as great as that of the whole<. . .>Earth. 

The relative surface of this asteroid is truly diminutive; 
it can accommodate not more than 3,000* terrestrial in- 
habitants with their wasteful economy <...>. 

Here gravitation is 2,250 times as weak as it is at the 
surface of the Earth. This means that here you can carry 
2,250 poods as easily as you do 1 pood on the Earth; you 
do not feel the weight of your own body because you are 
pressed to the ground with a force of only some 30 grams 
(in terrestrial figures); a propped massive pig-iron body 
about 2 sq m produces practically the same pressure here 
as a basketful of bread does on the Earth; the weight of a 
barrel of water produces the impression a glass of wine 
does on the Earth, a full-grown man on your shoulders 
feels like a doll weighing 30 grams and 2,250 men like one 
man on the Earth, even less, because on the Earth you 
also feel the burdensome weight of your own body, some- 
thing you don’t feel here. 

You stand upright on the surface of an asteroid, as you 
do on the Earth but the slightest movement you make 
sends you up in the air like a bit of fluff. The effort re- 
quired to jump on a terrestrial threshold would carry you 

* The planet is farther from the Sun than is the Earth, and the 
energy af the Sun’s rays is therefore 3 times as low. 


here to a height of about 250 metres, or a little below 
that of the Eiffel Tower. Gravity is so negligible here that 
it would take you 22 seconds, almost half a minute, to fall 
from a height of 1 metre. 

If you deliberately lean over in order to drop to the 
ground like a felled tree, you will wait several minutes for 
this pleasure to come to an end and, of course, wil! feel 
no impact from the fall. If you draw up your legs in order 
to sit down, your legs will hang in space for 10 seconds 
without any support—long enough to light a cigarette 
(a pity that the absence of air will not allow you to do it!). 
If, while lying down, you stir, stretch, sneeze or yawn, you 
immediately rise a few metres into the air, just like a 
feather caught in a light breeze which is carried some dis- 
tance and dropped again. You can stand and lie on sharp 
stones, you will not be cut or get cramp. If you are 
thoughtless and spring up suddenly from the grass, as 
you might (on the Earth) in order to greet an approaching 
lady, you will be carried several hundred metres into 
space leaving the poor (even if only imaginary) lady 
deeply perplexed. You rise for about 3 minutes, and it 
takes you as long to land at some spot about 300 metres 
distant away from the ill-starred person. 

Don’t throw smal] things about because they fly away 
forever; nor is it difficult to chuck 20-kilogram rocks 
about, so that they become aerolites and disappear for- 

Here a terrestrial seconds pendulum, about one metre 
long, swung 47 times more slowly, and the clock, instead 
of showing that 1 hour 34 minutes had passed, showed 
only 2 minutes, time appearing to move 47 times more 
slowly. Our seconds pendulum is so short (less than 
0.5 mm) that it is invisible. Watches keep exact time (i.e., 
their movement hardly depends on gravity at all). 

It is very inconvenient to run or even walk on our 
planet. At the slightest attempt to do so you fly upwards. 
Incidentally, what you can do is run with giant steps, 


covering several metres at a step, but you must step 
lightly; the moment you step the slightest bit heavily you 
begin to tumble about in space and to take the next step 
using head, arms, sides—anything, but not your feet. It’s 
inconvenient, very inconvenient, just try it yourself. 

If you want to travel or, rather, fly round the planet 
along the different meridians and examine its surface, it 
is best to do so like this: push off with your feet from 
some rock or projection of the planet, but do it lying down 
and in a horizontal direction. Then you will fly, or swim 
like a fish in water—using side-stroke, breast-stroke or 
on your back. If you push off gently, vou will fly a few 
hundred metres and then approach the ground again 
slightly scraping it as you move along; here you again 
push off horizontally from some jut on the ground, re- 
peating the operation 5-10 times until you no longer con- 
tact the ground at all; this will mean that the centrifugal 
force has overcome the planet’s gravity. You become its 
satellite, its moon, and cease to feel the influence of grav- 
ity; you are in an environment of a seeming absence of 

Don’t imagine you need great speed! One single hori- 
zontal leap, needing about half the effort it takes to move 
completely away from the planet; this leap is therefore 
equal to a terrestrial high jump of about 5/8 metre. And 
it is best immediately to acquire the necessary speed 
(3.6 m per second) by pushing off mightily, as you push 
off with your feet from the side of a terrestrial swimming- 

It will be observed that during any kind of jump or 
flight (even on the Earth, not considering the air) you are 
also in an environment of apparent absence of gravity un- 
til you touch the ground, just as you are when travelling 
round the planet. The journey is made without the slight- 
est effort (except the momentary effort, i.e., the jump for 
l hr 24 min at the rate of 3.6 m per second). You must 
not move any faster of you will recede from the planet, 


and at a speed 50 per cent greater than that mentioned 
(5 m per second, or about 18 km per hour), you will move 
away, never to return. 

If the planet were rotating, the phenomena described 
would become more complicated. 

Although no effort is required to make such a round- 
the-planet trip, even if you travel for trillions of kilo- 
metres, the only drawback is the low speed (about 18 km 
per hour). True, by arranging the train to travel upside 
down, as though reflected in a plate-glass ceiling, we could 
travel at any speed because the centrifugal force will be 
checked by the rails. By moving 47 times as fast (550 km 
an hour) such a train gives rise to a centrifugal force 
equal, but inverse to terrestrial gravity. The passenger 
“falls”, so to speak, “to the ground from the clouds”; 
when moving 2.5 times as slowly, the gravity is the same 
as on the Moon. The appearance of gravity naturally in- 
creases the friction and makes it more difficult for the 
train to move. 

The many millions who populate the planet live on it 
only part of the time; most of them, in pursuit of light 
and room for themselves, form—with their machines, ap- 
paratus and structures—a moving swarm around it shaped 
like the ring around Saturn, only relatively larger. This 
living ring is located in a plane perpendicular to the direc- 
tion of the rays of sunlight and is therefore never deprived 
of its life-giving force; as the planet revolves round the 
Sun, the motion of the ring changes artificially, so that 
its “face” continues to “look” at the luminary; the speeds 
of the elements of the ring are so negligible that the 
direction of its plane may be changed not merely once a 
year, but even 100 times a day. 

The diameter of the ring is 10 times as big as that of 
the planet, and for this reason the inhabitants of the for- 
mer receive 100 times as much solar energy as do the 
inhabitants of the planet proper. Thus, the inhabitants of 
the ring number some 800 million individuals. 


I visited their ring, flying from one part of it to an- 
other and pushing off higher and higher. It always seemed 
to me that the planet was rotating and we were standing 
still or moving only when we wanted to. 

The parts of the ring moved more slowly the farther 
away from the planet they were; on the outskirts the 
speed did not exceed 3.5 km/hr (1.12 m/sec), whereas 
down below, at the actual surface of the planet, it was 
3.33 times faster (3.6 m/sec). 

I travelled together with my house and all my house 
furnishings, as built for me by the inhabitants of the aster- 
oid. I was thus able, whenever I wanted, to enjoy the at- 
mosphere and everything I was accustomed to. As soon 
as I grew tired of my customary way of living, I donned 
my “skin” and attached all the equipment I needed for 
living in a vacuum and wandered about in it, quite im- 

32. An asteroid with a diameter ten times greater. Here 
is an asteroid with a diameter of 56 kilometres,* a cir- 
cumference of 176 kilometres and a surface of 9,856 
square kilometres. Since this planet is in the proximity of 
the one described above, it uses the same energy of the 
Sun’s rays but can provide subsistence, on the basis of 
its surface, to about 800 million inhabitants. Its volume 
is 1,000 times as large as that of the former planet, What- 
ever you Say, it’s quite a planet. A jump no longer raises 

* Some asteroids are smaller, others larger. There are about 
220 of the former and close to 130 of the latter. The following are 
the diameters of some asteroids in kilometres, assuming that they 
are spherical: Agatha—7, Hestia—25, Atalanta—30, Virginia—32, 
Leucotea—37, Themis—-52, Polymnia, Thocea, Parthenopa, Pomona— 
about 60 each, Euterpa, Lutecia, Thalia, Proserpina—about 67 each, 
etc.; then comes a series of small planets showing a steady increase 
in size. Judging by the steady increase in size of this series, it must 
be assumed that it shows an equally steady decrease down to the 
asteroids that are invisible because they are so small. Their masses 
are not known at all; their shape is very irregular, which allows 
not only theoretical gravitation but shows that gravitation is most 
likely because of the extraordinary variability of their brightness or 
of the sunlight they reflect. 


you high in the air—only about 281 metres. Of course, it is 
not difficult to jump over a belfry or a river. But gravity 
makes itself felt; terrestrially speaking, your body now 
weighs about 400 grams; an 800-litre barrel is no longer as 
light as a glass of wine, but like five litres, and a bucket of 
water presses with the force of about 50 grams. 

It is quite a size! And it is more convenient to run on it 
than on the other one. Only don’t hurry; if you do, you will 
begin tumbling about. 

A stone thrown with a speed of 50 m/sec leaves the 
planet forever; on the Earth a stone with this vertical 
speed will go up to about 125 metres; that is why not only 
bullets and cannon-balls, but even an arrow shot from a 
toy bow leaves the planet for good. A stone thrown from 
a sling or by any other simple method easily achieves the 
speed necessary to escape the planet. 

A train developing a speed of 36 m/sec (126 km/hr) 
loses its weight through the centrifugal force; on the 
planet this is no speed at all on a good road. Indeed, there 
is no air, the gravity is 225 times less than on the Earth, 
and so the friction of all kinds is as many times less. 
Moreover, with this speed of 120 km/hr sometimes de- 
veloped by terrestrial locomotives, gravity and, it fol- 
lows, friction disappear altogether; the train soars and 
speeds away eternally without any expenditure of power; 
whereas it is easy for the train to run in the beginning, 
it becomes even easier later on, because with the increase 
in speed its small weight diminishes still more, until it 
reaches zero. 

On this planet you could go cycling by adapting the bi- 
cycle a little to the low gravity, provided the road were 
good and smooth. But a little extra effort, and the bicycle 
would leave the planet and would take you cycling through 

The inhabitants of the small planets have special meth- 
ods and devices for accelerating, braking and preventing 

8—761 113 

Round this planet, as round the smaller one, a living 
ring rotates and receives enough energy from the Sun to 
support the existence of 20,000 million inhabitants. The 
population of the ring is twenty-five times, while its sur- 
face only six times, that of the planet. The plane of the 
ring as well always “faces” the Sun, and its elements 
change their motion as they revolve round the luminary. 
The diameter of the disk is about 5 times as large as that 
of the planet. Its inhabitants maintain constant contact 
with those of the planet in the following way. 

All round one of the meridians of the planet there is a 
smooth road and on the road a moving belt circling the 
entire planet. This belt is a long annular platform on 
numerous wheels. By means of solar motors it moves 
steadily in a continuous strip round the planet at the rate 
of 4 m/sec. On this platform another, similar but lighter, 
platform moves by the same method. On the second plat- 
form there is a third, and so on. Altogether there are 9 of 
these platforms. Thus the last annular platform moves at 
the rate of 36 m/sec, at which speed it loses its gravity. 
There is no reason whatever to be surprised that such 
multi-tiered trains are possible; their total weight is 
45 times less than one of them (of an average mass) 
placed on the Earth. 

The system described is good for the inhabitants in 
that it always ensures convenient communication between 
the ring (or disk) and the planet. If, for example, I wish 
to make my way to the ring and lose my gravity there, I 
stand on the planet near the first platform, as you would 
do, if you wanted to hop on a moving tram. Here they have 
a contraption to make the whole business easy. But you 
can manage without it: just run alongside the platform 
until you catch up with it; it is not difficult to run on a 
small planet at the rate of 4 m/sec, or 14.4 km/hr (it is 
possible to run at that speed on the Earth, too); after this 
preliminary run you will jump without pushing off on to 
the first platform, and from this, in the same way, on to 


the second and, finally, you will find yourself on the last 
one, where you will be rid of gravity. 

33. The asteroid with a diameter ten times greater still. 
It has a diameter of 560 kilometres,* i.e., one-sixth that 
of the Moon. As you see, this is already quite a good-sized 
planet. Gravity on this planet is 22.5 times lower than it 
is on the Earth. A man can jump only about 20 metres, 
i.e., he can jump over a tall birch-tree, a five-storied house, 
a 20 m wide ditch or river. A 65 kg person weighs here as 
much as a 3 kg suckling pig weighs on the Earth. A man 
of average strength, without any effort, can carry on his 
shoulders, head or in his arms, wherever most convenient, 
a crowd of 22 people like himself. The strength of ma- 
terials in relation to the force of gravity is very great 
here, too. For example, a person can sit on a swing sup- 
ported by strings slightly thicker than ordinary terres- 
trial sewing thread. Buildings of similar construction as 
those on the Earth are 22 times as tall. On your Earth a 
tower is 300 metres tall, whereas here it could be 6.6 kilo- 
metres tall. A stone cannot be thrown by hand so that it 
flies away into infinity or revolves round the planet like 
a satellite. But cannon-balls fly away altogether, while 
bullets, losing their gravity, revolve round the planet 
without falling on it. 

To destroy the attraction of centrifugal force, a train 
must travel at the rate of 360 metres a second, or 1,280 
kilometres an hour. 

The question is: Is it possible to attain a speed which 
is about 10 times as fast as that of the fast terrestrial 

Air is the main obstacle to fast motion; but there are 

* The asteroids known to me are smaller, namely: Vesta—406 km, 
Ceres—367 km, Pallas—225 km, Eunomia—187 km, Juno—172 km, 
etc. How did our cranky friend ever get to a 600-km planet which, 
in addition, had a ring greatly exceeding it? Was he not perhaps 
confusing our Sun with some other sun? Astronomers could never 
have overlooked such an asteroid in our planetary system. 

8* 115 

no gases here. The gravity is 22 times as low and friction 
as many times less; speed can therefore be at least 5 times 
as great, i.e., 640 kilometres an hour. At this speed the 
centrifugal force will constitute only one-fourth of the 
force of gravity and will therefore not destroy it. Still 
the decrease in gravity will somewhat increase the speed 
of the train, but it is doubtful whether the speed will reach 
the appropriate degree. 

Incidentally, the inhabitants of the asteroid attain the 
speed they need by the extraordinarily easy methods I 
have already described: by means of many-storied per- 
petual-motion circuit trains driven by solar motors. 

I shall describe these motors in a moment. But first of 
all, allow me to observe that the inhabitants of the aster- 
oid have achieved great success in the production of un- 
commonly strong metal vessels which are absolutely 
closed but capable of changing their volume; for example, 
like bellows or a concertina. 

Now imagine that a vessel, permanently filled with the 
vapours of some appropriate liquid, has one half black, 
which is warmed immediately by the Sun, and the other— 
shiny and silvery. When the black side of the vessel is ex- 
posed to the Sun, the temperature and resiliency of the 
vapours reach their highest magnitude, and when the 
light half faces the Sun—their lowest. Hence it is clear 
that, if the vessel rotates (which it can do by inertia), 
and turns its dark and shiny halves alternately towards 
the Sun, the walls of the vessel begin to draw closer to 
each other and then away from each other with a known 
power, which the natives utilise by means of simple de- 
vices. Thus they convert one-third of the solar energy into 
mechanical energy. This is the simplest possible system, 
but they also have many more systems, which I do not 
undertake to describe. 

When use is made of a square metre of the Sun’s surface 
at a distance twice as great as that from the Earth to the 
Sun (as in the case of our miniature planet) work equal tc 


1/3 hp, i.e., the work performed by three good workers, 
is obtained. 

Working eternally, everywhere and at every altitude, 
such motors need nothing but the Sun. The inhabitants of 
the asteroids have them everywhere, in every possible 
design and for every possible use; they trail after the na- 
tives like obedient animals, always offering their services 
and never tiring. 

It is these motors that set the many-storied trains into 
proper motion. 

The number of trains or stories is not great—about 10, 
but the difference in their speeds is much greater than 
with the preceding asteroid, 36 metres, in fact. It is very 
difficult to pass from one train to another without the spe- 
cial devices they have there. Here is one of them. On each 
train and on the planet itself is an additional railway track 
with light carriages at different places. Before it is coupled, 
each carriage either stands still or moves together with 
the railway track. But it is enough to create slight fric- 
tion between the truck and the side of the moving train, 
and it, too, begins to move at the same speed with the 
latter. Thus, I get into the first carriage and push it against 
the first train to create friction; within a few minutes I am 
speeding along with it at the rate of 128 km/hr. From the 
carriage I pass on to the train and uncouple it from the 
train, causing it to roll on for a while until it comes to a 
standstill. From the first train I easily climb in to the 
next relatively motionless carriage, connect it by friction 
(through pressure) with the other train, acauire this train’s 
double speed, and in this way rise higher and higher, 
gathering speed until, in the final train, it becomes equal 
to the gravity itself. 

Then I proceed unimpeded to any part of the ring, at a 
height of thousands of kilometres, as in an environment 
devoid of gravity. 

All the trains (while in motion) weigh only one-fourth 
of what one of them would weigh if placed on the Earth, 


34. On the rings of the asteroids.* I shall now describe 
what I experienced many times on the ring and have not 
yet passed on to you; this is a more exact description of 
phenomena in an environment of seeming absence of grav- 
ity, I observed these phenomena in great detail for the 
first time on the rings. 

I was in a magnificent palace surrounded by my distin- 
guished friends who suggested I take part in various ex- 
periments. They placed me in the middle of the hall in a 
perfectly motionless position. Do not imagine that this is 
easy; on the contrary, it is as difficult as balancing a chair 
on two legs or a stick on its sharpened tip. They took a 
lot of trouble and used all sorts of cunning methods be- 
fore they got me into a state of complete physical calm. 
I don’t remember ever before being so absolutely motion- 
less in an environment devoid of gravity. Usually I was 
always crawling off somewhere, and if I was brought to 
a halt by some obstacle, I rebounded like a rubber ball 
and then continued moving in some other direction; and if 
I was attached to something, though movement became 
restricted, it was evidently unavoidable; I bobbed about 
like an angler’s float. And so, after getting me into a state 
of equilibrium they asked me to approach them. I started 
vigorously moving my legs and swinging my arms but 
got no closer to the goal. This made me angry and for 
some moments I alternated between anger and despair, 
but never advanced an inch. Finally, seeing the futility 

* On Pallas and Ceres Schröter observed atmospheres of enor- 
mous height, which were three times in excess of the diameters 
of the planets. Could he not, perhaps, have been seeing the rings of 
the asteroids composed of numerous small parts with intervals which 
therefore appeared to be semitransparent, like liquids or the spokes 
of a rapidly revolving wheel?! It seems the diameter of this 
ring is 7 times that of the diameter of the planet; these dimensions 
are not far from the relative sizes of the rings described by our 
“wonder worker”. And perhaps the asteroids themselves are the 
disks inhabited by the beings mentioned by our story-teller and 
formed by them artificially. For the densities and masses of the 
planetoids are not known to astronomers. 


of my efforts, I relaxed my limbs and refused to continue 
the experiment. 

My terrestrial friends would certainly have scoffed at 
my situation, have tormented me for an hour or two by 
disappearing and leaving me to the mercy of fate; but here 
I was surrounded by beings of another kind; they im- 
mediately extricated me from my unfortunate situation by 
suggesting another experiment. 

“Throw something to us,” they said, “the stick you’re 
holding will do.” 

I immediately threw the stick and observed that my po- 
sition in the centre of the hall became disturbed, one wall 
of the hall drawing closer to me; I had moved in the op- 
posite direction to that of the stick and in a moment came 
up against the wall with a gentle bump. 

On another occasion, and under the same conditions, I 
was asked to stand upside down; of course, in an environ- 
ment devoid of gravity there is no up or down and every 
direction, physiologically speaking, is absolutely the same, 
so that I use these expressions merely to save time and 
to make myself clear. 

Much as I tried to take some other direction, it was 
useless, and when I calmed down and assumed the for- 
mer, most restful posture, my face still looked in the same 
direction. All my efforts proved futile, and yet I could 
freely move all my limbs, in fact, just as on the Earth. 
I curled up in a ball, sat down Turkish-fashion (not in a 
seat, of course) crossed my arms on my Chest or moved 
them in any direction, bent my head up, down, and to the 
sides; in a word, my body and limbs could assume any 
position I chose, but as soon as I adopted the ordinary 
posture, I found I had neither moved nor turned in the 

Yet it was all very simple. 

If you want to turn round, take off your hat and make 
it spin about its imaginary axis, parallel to which you, too, 
want to turn; keep your eye on the hat and don’t let it 


get away; the moment it seems to be making off, pull it 
in closer and make it spin again. And so, you'll find that 
as soon as your hat begins spinning, you are turning, too, 
but in the opposite direction. When you have turned as 
much as you wanted to, stop the hat; you, too, will im- 
mediately stop and will be facing in the opposite direc- 
tion* without having made any effort. 

Thus you can turn about the longitudinal axis of the 
body and about the transverse axis (perpendicular to the 
longitudinal axis), i.e., you can spin like a top, swing your- 
self like an acrobat on a trapeze or move sideways like a 
bug on an entomologist’s pin. 

The greater the mass of a body, the more losely packed 
and voluminous it is, the more difficult it is to make it 
rotate, and thus you will spin faster and the body—more 
slowly (the ratio of angular velocities equals the ratio of 
the moments of the bodies’ inertia). 

When pushed away, the speed of the repulsed body is 
greater, the smaller its mass, and vice versa. When the 
masses, that of you and of the repulsed body, are equal,both 
fly off at the same speed, only in opposite directions. There 
are many different laws involved here, and our terrestrial 
mechanics know them all in detail. 

The motion of a body is for the most part complex, i.e., 
the body rotates round the so-called free axis and at the 
same time moves forward so that the axis is in direct 
and uniform motion. The slightest effort is enough to im- 
part speed, if there is some support, even as tiny and un- 
stable as a falling raindrop. But if there is no support only 

* Pick up a cat and hold it horizontally on its back, paws up. 
When the cat has calmed down, quickly withdraw your hands so 
that it drops unexpectedly. You will see the cat make a rapid half- 
turn in the air and land on its feet. What happens to make the 
cat turn without support? The whole point is that actually the cat 
has support, but it is invisible because it is inside the animal. Its 
support is the animal’s abdominal organs with their contents; if 
necessary, they can twist sharply in any direction by means of the 
internal muscles. 


an outside force can impart speed to you. And once you 
have speed, you cannot change it without some support. 
Thus, sometimes I would fly within a metre of the object 
I needed, but could not get hold of it because, having no 
support, I was unable to turn sideways. 

35. How terrestrial gravity was arranged for me on the 
ring; various experiments and observations. The kindness, 
forethought and tender solicitude of the natives towards 
me made my sojourn among them definitely pleasant. 
Once, while I was on the ring, they suggested I make use 
not only of the terrestrial surroundings, which I had 
earlier enjoyed there whenever I wanted, but also of ter- 
restrial gravity. 

An enormous hollow metal sphere, full of air, light and 
plants which regenerated the atmosphere I polluted by 
‘my breathing and supplied me with all kinds of most de- 
licious fruits (unknown to you terrestrial inhabitants) 
was at my service whenever I wished to take a rest in the 
conditions to which I was ordinarily accustomed. In this 
sphere there was no gravity, which I had come to miss, 
no top and no bottom; here you needed no soft couches, 
feather beds, pillows or beds, nor did you need hangers 
or shelves. Instead, there were simple contraptions to fix 
things in their places. These were thin threads with hooks 
that held the objects where they were supposed to be 
and prevented them from slipping about in disorder; the 
pots with plants stood at the windows and sunlight gave 
them life, making them tirelessly bear fruit which very 
well replaced the most nutritious substances existing on 
the Earth. 

Should gravity make its appearance, all this would 
break loose and tumble together into a single disorderly 
heap. The comfortable atmosphere of the environment de- 
void of gravity is unsuitable for the Earth which has its 
own style of comfort. 

And so, this blissful abode was transformed in advance: 
top and bottom were defined, a flat floor was laid on the 


bottom, furniture, including beds, were placed on the floor, 
a pendulum clock was hung on the wall, and pitchers of 
water and jars of oil, and various other terrestrial para- 
phernalia and articles were put on the tables.... But how 
did your natives manage to produce gravity? the reader 
will ask. 

Very simply and absolute gratis! 

They chained the sphere adapted to gravity to a fairly 
considerable mass which, however, only slightly exceeded 
the mass of the sphere itself, and they made the whole 
system rotate about its centre of gravity (in mechanics 
it is called the “free centre”; its position coincides with 
that of the centre of gravity). To prevent the system from 
interfering with the motion of the rings, motion of several 
metres was also imparted to its centre, this motion being 
enough for the system to rise over the ring and float in-. 
dependently as a satellite of the planet. 

With a speed of 50 m/sec and a chain 500 m long the 
sphere developed from the centrifugal force a gravity 
equal to that existing on the Earth. 

Suddenly I felt I was in my old surroundings, but I had 
grown unaccustomed to it and it stunned and crushed me, 
fettered me and pinned me down; within a few minutes 
I was begging my new friends to arrange lighter gravity 
for me. But before help arrived, J had already recovered 
and become acclimatised. First I lay down on the bed and 
alternately raised arms and legs as though testing their 
weight and, as though doubting that weight was possible. 
Then I sat up, stood up and walked a bit; I wanted to 
jump, but found I could not—I lacked the energy; I waited 
a while and then jumped, but not high. I walked over to 
the clock and touched the pendulum which began to 
swing, ticking away the seconds. I poured out some water 
and drank it. I threw an eraser; it described an arc (pa- 
rabola) and hit the carpet; I tilted the table and the pen- 
cils rolled. I experienced everything I had not experienced 
for a long time. 


When, at my request, my friends who flew after me 
(outside) halved the speed of the system’s rotation re- 
ducing it to 25 metres, I felt I was only 50 per cent heav- 
ier than on the Moon, because the gravity had become 
four times as weak. 

The pendulum swung at half its previous rate and the 
water flowed more slowly, but I felt much stronger and 
jumped almost to the ceiling. 

I sat down in an armchair and looked about me. 
Through one window I saw the black sky with stars 
that did not twinkle, through others the bright, bluish 
Sun. It seemed as though the entire heavenly firmament 
with the stars, Sun, the planetoid and its rings were re- 
volving round with me as the centre, making a complete 
revolution in 63 seconds. My room seemed to be abso- 
lutely still. For me my room became a planet. I sought out 
the fixed points on the heavenly firmament—the poles, 
round which it revolved so hurriedly. Of course, the axis 
of a system can be fixed at will; thus any star and even 
the Sun can be taken as the polar points; in the latter 
case the Sun appears to be still, shines into the same wind- 
ows and casts the same shadows. 

With a chain 125 m long (but in order to produce the 
same gravity) the speed will be only 12.5 m/sec and a 
complete revolution about the axis will take 32 seconds. 

This gravity obtained by rotation is eternal and for 
its maintenance requires no expenditure of power. 

They gave me any gravity I asked for. 

When the speed of rotation was accelerated the gravity 
increased and I increasingly felt the roughness of its paws; 
it got to the pitch when I lacked the strength to rise from 
my bed or alternately, to seat down on it, and I crashed 
down on it instead. But when it reached the stage when I 
could not raise my arms, I gave the signal for the experi- 
ments to be discontinued. 

I grew tired of it all, and wanted to be once more in 
the tender embrace of an environment devoid of gravity. 


While the rotation was being slowly stopped, I observed 
the effect of the gradual diminution of gravity on certain 

On the table before me was a glass of water with a glass 
tube in it. I saw water trickling from the wash-stand and 
drops of water splashing one after another on the floor. 
The more the gravity weakened the higher the water in 
the tube rose above the level of the water in the glass; the 
water in the glass also rose higher and higher round the 
edges forming a deep hollow; the drops of water falling 
from the stopped-up wash-stand grew larger and larger: 
at first becoming as large as peas, then as cherries, then 
apples. They fell to the floor more and more slowly and 
hit it more and more gently. 

Then the water reached the edge of the glass and began 
to overflow, the tube filled to the top, and the last enor- 
mous drop of water from the wash-stand almost hung in 
the air. Finally, all the water flowed over the edges of 
the vessels and scattered in all directions leaving a wet 
place. The pendulum hung motionless to one side, I rose 
with my armchair into the air, the bodies ceased to fall, 
everything began to move about, became agitated.... 
The illusion of gravity had disappeared.... 

Gravitation between small bodies is more easily revealed 
in an environment devoid of gravity. Thus inside a sphere 
whose mass, according to analytical conclusions, cannot 
exert any influence on the bodies within it, all these bod- 
ies have a tendency of mutual attraction; but the speeds 
derived therefrom are so negligible that the bodies seem 
motionless and a considerable time is required to notice 
that they have moved at all. 

Two motionless persons of average size which at a dis- 
tance of 2 metres develop a mutual attraction of 0.01 mg 
(the weight of a grain of sand) traverse 18 mm during the 
first hour, about 54 mm during the second hour, and close 
to 108 mm during the third hour—a total of 180 mm in 
3 hours, each body traversing 90 mm, 


It would take more than 5 hours for them to come into 
direct contact with one another. 

They could revolve next to each other (properly speak- 
ing, round the middle point of the distance from each 
other) and make a complete revolution in 44 hours at a 
speed of 1 mm in 26 seconds. 

Clearly too much patience is required to observe so 
inert a phenomenon and, besides, it is very difficult to 
make bodies motionless; you constantly give them imper- 
ceptible jerks and impart enough motion to them to drive 
them into different corners and, relatively speaking, pretty 
fast at that. 

Lead spheres, weighing 1 kg each, at a distance of 2 dec- 
imetres revolve a little faster, i.e., making a complete 
revolution in 12 hours. 

If solid lead spheres with the same distance* between 
their centres (2 decimetres) are enlarged so that they 
almost touch, they will make one revolution in 1.8 hours, 
and this is intolerably slowly. 

35. Terrestrial view on an asteroidal ring (continuation). 
The wisdom and power of my friends were astounding. 

On one occasion I said: 

“Why don’t I ever see our lovely blue sky with the 
merrily twinkling stars, our mountains and seas? Here, 
you know, the sky seems black and the stars dead-silver 

And seeing how sad I felt, they took the hint and pre- 
sented to me an absolutely terrestrial view. 

Within a few minutes they had carried me off. 

At first we flew, then gravity formed and we rolled 
down a long corridor. Finally, they closed my eyes and 
when I opened them again, I was sitting on a river bank 
under a willow tree as though preparing for a swim. I had 
migrated, heart and soul, to the old world, had an irresist- 
ible desire to plunge into the cool watery depths.... 

* Incidentally, the time of revolution of contacting spheres does 
not depend on their size and the distance from their centres. 


In the distance were hills enveloped in a blue mist, close 
by were corn fields, the ears of grain swaying in the breeze, 
several groves of trees and poor Russian villages. The sky 
was blue and clear. 

“Watch us making big waves on the river,” they 

And they gave orders for the force of gravity to be re- 
duced. The more it weakened the larger grew the waves, 
and the larger they became the more slowly they rolled. 
I felt the effect on myself of the lessened gravity because 
the ground on which I sat became, as it were, softer. I 
saw the waves rise like mountains, ready to sweep over me. 

“On oceans we could make waves several hundred me- 
tres high, provided there were sufficient water,” they ob- 

There was no question of swimming in such a river; but 
they moderated the agitation of the waves by increasing 
the gravity to its lunar magnitude (one-sixth of terrestrial 
gravity). I plunged into the water, and how easy it was 
to swim! It took little effort to keep on the surface, but to 
leave yourself to the mercy of fate could probably mean 
drowning. When I had dressed again and was seated in a 
boat, rowing, I found that the harder I rowed and the 
weaker gravity became, the more did the boat rise out of 
the water. It reached a point where it barely touched the 
water and was moving very fast. This happened when 
gravity was reduced 30-fold. 

36. A trip round the Sun. Inhabitants without planets. 
All of us, who live on planets, travel round the Sun. The 
planet itself is the safe carriage and the tireless horses. It 
is the same even with you people who live on the Earth. 
But how would you like to take a trip alone or in the 
company of good friends without a planet?! 

You have seen asteroidal inhabitants freely soaring over 
their planet and they can even move very far away from 
it; you have also seen that a cannon-ball on a planet some 
500 kilometres in diameter recedes from it forever or, after 


making one revolution round the Sun, overtakes it from 

Here the point is that the speed you imparted to the 
cannon-ball is gradually taken away from it by the gravita- 
tion of the planet, and the cannon-ball retains only the 
speed it shared with the planet before, i.e., a speed high 
enough to prevent it from falling on the Sun but not enough 
to make it move away from the planet forever. In a word, 
the course of the thrown body coincides approximately 
with the orbit of the planet itself. 

But, since the body moves almost at the same speed as 
the latter or slightly faster, they may not catch up with 
one another for hundreds or even thousands of years. 

On all asteroids the inhabitants have special mechanisms 
which conveniently impart the requisite speeds to them- 
selves and their accessories. Do you remember their multi- 
tiered trains for communication with the ring? They have 
something similar to enable them to move completely away 
from the planet. Incidentally, on the small asteroids, 5 kilo- 
metres and less in diameter, a good jump suffices <...> to 
attain the requisite speed. Vast numbers of the inhabitants 
of such planets travel round the Sun, forming a series of 
settlements in space which form a precious necklace adorn- 
ing the luminary. These are the inhabitants without planets. 

On the large asteroids the matter is more complicated. 

The last train, or the final, highest platform of the ar- 
rangements described earlier, loses gravity, but its speed 
suffices only for that and is not enough for complete reces- 
sion from the planet. If a new platform moving in the same 
direction but faster were placed on this last platform, it 
would rise and fly away or would break up into links and fly 
away just the same, although it would not leave the planet 

What can be done? 

Rails, with their free ends pointing downwards, are fas- 
ened to the platform, and on these rails, already beneath 
hem roll the wheels of the next higher platform; the plat- 


form is supported by the platform below and could not be 
carried away by centrifugal force, if this underlying plat- 
form is not able to fly away. Hence it is evident that all 
the platforms—to the last one on the ground—should be 
similarly coupled with one another. 

Thus, these devices, built separately, are exactly the 
same as the ones described, but since the speeds of half the 
higher platforms develop a force greater than the gravity 
of the planet, and consequently the higher platforms are 
able to fly off or drag the lower platforms behind them, 
they are all firmly coupled together. 

A planet of the same density as the Earth (as we usually 
assume), with a diameter of 56 kilometres should impart 
to the uppermost platform a speed of 50 m/sec, and a 
planet with a diameter of 560 kilometres—500 m/sec. 

In passing from the lower trains to the middle one, grav- 
ity gradually diminishes and then altogether disappears 
in the last train; ascending higher, the relative gravity is 
again manifested, but changes to the opposite direction 
and, increasing, becomes equal in the last train to the grav- 
ity of the planet. 

In the upper trains man is standing upside down in rela- 
tion to the planet. It is enough, so to speak, to fall off the 
last train, to fly off the planet entirely and become a satel- 
lite of the Sun. 

Imagine that the gravity of the Earth has changed its 
direction, and the Earth, instead of attracting, repels you 
skywards (into the blue abyss), so that you can barely held 
on sitting up in a tree, upside down, clinging to whatever 
comes to hand. 

You have the same experience in the uppermost train [of 
the asteroid]; the centrifugal force presses you against the 
ceiling of the carriage and if you get out of the window you 
will fall into the sky. 

In relation to the train, this will be a perfectly real fall 
(at least during the first minutes)—you will be falling like a 
stone with increasing speed. 


The only good thing here is that the gravity pressing you 
to the ceiling is very weak and even on an asteroid 560 
kilometres in diameter it is 22.5 times as weak as it is on 
the Earth, so that you can easily avoid falling, if your left 
hand holds on to a ledge on the roof. This effort is equiv- 
alent to about 3 terrestrial kilograms, assuming your ter- 
restrial weight to be 64 kilograms. 

From the middle train you can fly wherever you please 
and become either a satellite of the planet or part of its 
ring; from the lower trains you drop onto the planet; from 
the upper ones you fly away higher, the closer the particu- 
lar train is to the uppermost train from which you fly off 
into space and become either an independent asteroid or 
part of the solar “necklace”. 

The many-tiered circular trains of the planet, moving 
along a meridian and at the same time rotating very slowly 
with it are thus able to throw off bodies in all directions 
and, within a certain limit, at any speed desired. 

37. How are things managed in a weightless environment? 
I have already given the reader an idea of the laws of mo- 
tion in an environment devoid of gravity or in one with a 
seeming absence of gravity. I shall describe the simplest 
devices the natives use for all practical purposes. 

Here is an apparatus to prevent (to some extent) the 
vibration or rotation of dwellings and the like; it is fairly 
stable, not rotatory, despite the forces which can rotate it. 

The apparatus consists of a sort of room with two ex- 
tremely rapidly revolving wheels on two adjacent walls; the 
massive wheels do not press on bearings and therefore re- 
volve freely, without friction; but when attempts are made 
to turn the apparatus, to send it in the opposite direction, 
the wheel axles begin to press on the bearings because of 
the pressure encountered and give rise to friction according 
to the speed of the discs, the friction being overcome by 
weak solar motors. In such a room I was able to move 
about, turn from side to side and perform all the usual 
movements, and yet the room did not begin to rotate no- 

9—761 129 

ticeably, as in the case of an ordinary room without rotat- 
ing disks. 

They make each of the latter in pairs, i.e., it consists of 
two parallel wheels revolved by motors in opposite direc- 
tions; they are paired in order to be able to brake or accel- 
erate them (for greater stability), without disturbing the 
immobility of the chamber. 

To this the natives add an apparatus which enables them 
to set the room in position quite arbitrarily prior to im- 
parting stability to it. It also consists of a pair of mutually- 
perpendicular, but simple (not paired), motionless wheels. 
When these wheels are revolved, the chamber also revolves; 
when they stop the chamber also stops. At first one axle 
with its wheel is revolved arbitrarily as gently as possible 
until the other assumes the desired direction. At this point 
the first wheel is stopped and the other set in motion so 
that the axle of the first is given the desired direction. 
Thus the chamber is set up as required—with the axles 
directed at the stars desired—and then stability is imparted 
to it. The axles of the wheels usually coincide with the 
imaginary “free” axes of the chamber. Now I must also 
describe how translational motion is imparted to it. 

For this purpose the chamber has something like a long 
cannon which shoots cannon-balls. To impart a definite for- 
ward motion to the chamber, it is set up so that the cannon 
points in the direction opposite to the desired path. The 
cannon is then fired (or the cannon-ball is moved by solar 
motors) and the chamber flies in the desired direction at a 
speed of several dozen metres a second, according to the 
mass and speed of the cannon-ball. By firing another can- 
non-ball in the same direction we get (approximately) the 
same speed and fly twice as fast. This is how the desired 
speed is obtained. The motion can be stopped or retarded 
by firing cannon-balls in opposite direction. By firing can- 
non-balls in different directions, we can turn corners and 
move along broken lines; by ejecting a continuous stream of 
liquid or small bodies we get curvilinear motion of the kind 


required. To keep these cannon-balls from causing damage 
when meeting bodies during flight, they are made soft and 
loose in texture, even though they are massive. 

For short-distance travels the natives use a long chain 
with a mass at the end; the mass is released without much 
force; the chain unwinds and is paid out together with the 
mass as far as desired. At the same time the chamber 
moves away in the opposite direction. With a large re- 
pulsed mass and a long chain the motion can be pretty 
considerable. For example, when the thrown mass equals 
that of the chamber with its contents and the chain is 
2 kilometres long, the missile travels one kilometre from 
its place in any direction. The chain can be made much 
longer because it does not snap due to gravity, nor does 
it bend or stretch where gravity is absent. The impact of 
the cannon-ball can be as gentle as you like, and the long- 
er the chain, the more harmless it is. 

Yet the natives rarely travel or live singly; usually a 
native when he wants to travel employs as a support the 
mass of others. By pushing off consecutively from very 
many of his fellow creatures a native does not perceptibly 
alter their motion yet at the same time acquires the neces- 
sary speed and direction. 

Of some interest are the joint evolutions of the inhab- 
itants [of an asteroid]. For example, several of them, mov- 
ing in conformity, take the form of various motionless fig- 
ures: circles, triangles, etc., the location of the centre of 
gravity of their total mass remaining constant. Sometimes 
they arrange themselves in two circular concentric chains. 
One of the chains, by pushing off from the other, imparts 
to itself and the other chain motion in opposite directions, 
thus forming two sets of a round dance perpetually circling 
alongside each other. Now if the members of one of the 
sets make a closer ring, their velocity—both angular and 
absolute—will increase until finally they will lack the 
power to draw closer, owing to the developed centrifugal 
force. For example, a tenfold reduction of the diameter of 

gr 131 

the ring will increase the angular velocity 100-fold, the 
absolute velocity 10-fold, and the centrifugal force 1,000- 
fold. Such a centrifugal force scatters their uncoupled 
members radially against their will. 

Sometimes two of these beings agree to push off from 
each other as hard as possible by means of some special 
device. As a result one of them acquires greater speed and 
describes an ellipse, instead of a circle, round the Sun 
moving away from the luminary; the other loses part of 
his inherent natural speed and, describing an ellipse, ap- 
proaches the Sun. If pairs, rather than individuals, have 
pushed off from each other, then one of the pairs, for 
example, that which has approached the Sun can still 
break apart, one member of the pair coming still closer 
to the Sun and the other member receding from it. These 
evolutions are infinitely variable. 

The inhabitants of very small asteroids (for example, 
1,000 metres in diameter and even smaller) transformed 
their planet into a guided missile, imparted to it the rota- 
tion they wanted and thus changed their diurnal period at 
will; they also imparted more or less translational speed 
to their planet which sometimes receded from the Sun in 
a spiral and sometimes approached it. They drove the 
planet as we drive horses. When they drew closer to the 
Sun their year grew shorter, as they receded from the Sun 
it grew longer. In the latter case the Sun gave them less 
heat, and their summer turned to winter. On the other 
hand, as they came closer to the Sun their cold weather 
was replaced by heat. They changed the axis of rotation 
of their planet, each time forming a new polar star and 
equatorial constellations; thus they governed the seasons 
of the year. 

They changed the position of the axis on the planet itself 
without changing its position in relation to the stars. They 
changed the plane of their trajectory around the Sun, the 
trajectory itself, moving in the direction they required. 
They were in a position to recede from the Sun forever or 


be hurled into its fiery abyss serving as an addition drop 
in the source of solar radiation. 

It stands to reason that in all such changes in motion 
and position, the planet inevitably loses part of its mass, 
and the more of these changes it undergoes the more of 
its mass it loses; as for the work these changes require, the 
planet gets this from the Sun. 

One small asteroid was broken up into a circle by its in- 
habitants so that there was nothing left of the planet and 
its low gravity decreased another100-fold. The inhabitants 
were directly interested in transforming their planet into a 
disk which would receive a relatively tremendous amount 
of sunlight to give the inhabitants life and power. 

This ring, or disk as it dispersed in space, formed a 
“necklace”, a chain of settlements without a foundation, 
revolving round the Sun like the rim of a wheel revolves 
round its bush. 

A great many asteroids—even large ones—were trans- 
formed into such collars or “necklaces”. In the Solar Sys- 
tem they stretch like thin threads around the luminary. 
They are invisible to man because, even if they are one 
kilometre wide, their length of several million or, perhaps, 
several thousand million kilometres makes them look much 
finer than a cobweb, scarcely perceptible to the eye, even 
when viewed through the most powerful telescopes. These 
threads partly regulate their motion by parting and alter- 
ing their speed when there is a danger of falling or run- 
ning into some intolerable minor planet flying too close. 

There are no “necklaces” near the large planets. [The 
large] planets a are e fatal to them. 

a Let us see how ‘the natives travel from one 
asteroid to ‘another. 

Here is a series of imaginary asteroids, each 6 kilometres, 
let us say, in diameter.* 

* About the size of Agatha. 

Assume that they perform strictly circular revolutions 
round the Sun in one plane and at about a distance at 
least twice that between the Earth and the Sun. 

Calculations show that the asteroids about 6,000 kilo- 
metres apart (even less, 3,000 kilometres sufficing if there 
are not many asteroids) do not greatly influence each other 
and cannot under any circumstances collide, especially if, 
in addition, the planes of their orbits do not align. 

Each planet moves at a speed 23 cm greater than the 
next one immediately following at the closest distance of 
6,000 kilometres. It is clear from this that the translational 
speeds of the asteroids are almost equal and if they do not 
merge into one (planet) it is only because of their weak at- 
traction (1/2,250th of the terrestrial attraction) which is 
made much weaker still by the relatively enormous dis- 
tances between them; moving in one direction they travel 
for long distances side by side and in sight of each other. 

Consequently, one planet will surpass the next by a 
whole circle, i.e., will meet it again only in 31,000 years. 
In 100 years one planet outstrips the other by only 1° 
(1/360 of its circumference). 

Clearly, flying from one asteroid to another is not in the 
least difficult or dangerous. By properly imparting to our- 
selves on the requisite circuit train, the appropriate speed, 
say, about 10 m/sec (32 km/hr) we can reach the nearest 
planet in 10 days. The difference in the speeds is slight, 
and the impact, if the simple precautions are taken, is neg- 
ligible. In the event of an error in direction, this can easily 
be rectified by means of the devices already described 
(Essay 37). 

We know about 350 asteroids between Mars and Jupi- 
ter along a length of 46,000 terrestrial radii, each asteroid 
occupying an average distance of 131 terrestrial radii; but 
then the asteroids, on the average, also have a much great- 
er mass and, consequently, mutual attraction than do our 
imaginary minor planets with a diameter of 6 kilometres. 
The mean difference in their speeds will be about 60 m/sec. 


This speed is not so great as to prevent the inhabitants from 
communicating with each other. It will be remembered 
that, on the average, one asteroid outstrips another by a 
whole circle and they meet again in 200 years. Inciden- 
tally, the asteroids are actually very eccentric; they by no 
means revolve in one plane and differ in their masses. 

But can we possibly know all of them, if dozens of new 
ones are discovered every year?* 

The inhabitants of the “necklaces” are free and happy 
beings—they are not slaves to gravity, they can travel 
wherever they please; a trip from one “necklace” to an- 
other, covering many thousands of kilometres, presents 
no difficulties at all. Such trips are a common occurrence; 
some travel away from the Sun, others travel towards it. 
In general, the motion of the “necklaces” barely changes 
despite the constant role of the support. Such trips are 
particularly easy between Mars and Jupiter because the 
asteroids scarcely interfere with them, especially, if the 
trips cover the space between the part of the “necklaces” 
farther away from the asteroids. This is even more so, 
since these parts will catch up with the asteroid only af- 
ter the elapse of scores or even hundreds of years. It fol- 
lows that the time available for the trip is very consid- 

Movement in the other intervals between the neighbour- 
ing orbits of other large planets is just as free. 

It is only somewhat more difficult to travel from one 
inter-orbital space between two large neighbouring plan- 
ets into the other. 

Let us take, for example, a flight from a zone of asteroids 
into the zone between the orbits of Mars and the Earth. 
At a distance of 200 terrestrial radii from Mars, closer to 

*The number of all the known asteroids is about 350. Of these 
220 are less than 50 kilometres in diameter, 100 planetoids are 50-90 
kilometres, and 30 are 90-180 kilometres in diameter; lastly, Vesta, 
Ceres and Pallas have much greater diameters, the largest of them 
—Vesta—being 406 kilometres in diameter. 


or farther from the Sun, i.e., at a distance of 1,250,000 kilo- 
metres, bodies running past Mars along circular orbits like 
planets do, are in danger of being attracted by it. 

Thus, between two “necklaces” insured against attrac- 
tion by the planet there remains a space of 2,500,000 kilo- 
metres. While Mars is on the side opposite to the inhabit- 
ants of the “necklaces”, they can pass swiftly over this 
distance in one year, moving at a speed of only 75 m/sec 
or 270 km/hr (composite speed in the direction of the Sun 
and not absolute); for outer spaces this speed may appear 
negligible to us, if we recall that even the multi-tiered 
trains on the asteroids easily developed speeds 5-6 times 
as great (500 m/sec); on the ‘necklaces’, where there is 
no gravity, such speeds are much more conveniently at- 

It should be noted that much more time than one year 
is available to make a safe flight across the orbit of a 
large planet, since, for example, Mars catches up with the 
outer “necklace” on a semi-circumference in only 60 years. 

During this time, and even longer, the orbit of the plan- 
et can be freely traversed. 

Crossing the orbit of the Earth, which has a mass 
about 10 times as great as that of Mars, is somewhat more 
difficult but, as calculations show, is also perfectly possi- 
ble and requires a speed of less than 500 m/sec to be com- 
pleted in six months. The orbits of other planets, closer 
to the Sun, can be traversed still more easily, because of 
the smaller mass of these planets.<...> 

38,. Across a planet in forty minutes. On one occasion, 
I happened to be on a spherical, nonrotating planet which 
has a tunnel running diametrically through the whole 
planet. For small planets, not exceeding 400 kilometres in 
diameter, such tunnels are quite possible; in general, every 
kind of deviation from the spherical form is possible. 

If you jump into this tunnel, you reach the opposite end 
in about 40 minutes; near the exit you slow down some- 
what, grasp the edges and climb out to the antipodes. If 


you do not desire to do so, you will [swing] eternally back 
and forth, like a pendulum. During all this time you feel 
no gravity in relation to the things you have with you; but 
do not grasp the walls of the tunnel or friction will soon 
bring you to a halt. With low gravity it is easy to come 
to a halt by this method at any distance from the centre 
of the planet; then we would see that there is no gravity 
in the middle of the tunnel and that it increases in propor- 
tion to the distance from it, right up to the exit. 

It is interesting that from whatever point in the tunnel 
you begin to fall, the return to the former place is com- 
pleted in one and the same period of time (for a planet of 
the density of the Earth it is 1 hr 20 min) so that it takes 
the same time to travel small distances of a few millime- 
tres and long distances of several hundred kilometres. It 
is like a pendulum: whether the amplitude is consider- 
able or small, it requires roughly about the same time 
for each swing (the isochronism of swinging). 

It is also interesting that in other planets—much larger 
and much smaller—we also made this diametrical trip in 
about the same space of time. 

Theoretically, if all the planets were of the same form 
and density, it would always take the same period of time 
to travel from one of their edges to another. Even if the 
Earth had a through tunnel, we would dive through it to 
the antipodes in 40 minutes. Through the Sun we would 
cover this journey in 1 hr 20 min (because its density is 
only one-fourth that of the Earth) and through the Moon— 
in 53 minutes. 

It transpires that it takes the same period of time for 
the enormous diameter of the Sun (more than 1 million 
kilometres) to be pierced by the force of gravity, as it does 
for a tiny clay sphere. 

38,. On three primordial asteroids. I also once sojourned 
on a primordial planet left untouched by the inhabitants of 
the asteroid belt, in commemoration of the past, just as 
we preserve localities of definite geological interest. Good 


God! What an irregular mass it was! From afar, and close 
up, it looks like a rough fragment, nothing like our com- 
paratively polished Earth. Gravity being very low on it 
because of its smal] size is infinitely varied in direction 
and intensity. 

On another occasion I visited a primordial rotating plan- 
et of almost spherical form. Owing to the rotation, the 
relative gravity at the surface of the planet also greatly 
varied: at the poles of rotation the magnitude was at its 
greatest and the direction normal, towards the centre, but 
the farther away from the poles the weaker the gravity 
became and the more its direction deviated towards the 
equator, so that a person coming from the poles, as it 
were, descended an increasingly steep hill, although it 
was not difficult to keep one’s feet on the increasing slope 
since gravity grew weaker; at some distance between the 
poles and the equator the direction of gravity coincided 
with the horizon, i.e., it was parallel to the surface of 
the planet, and you seemed to be descending a sheer 
wall. Further on, the ground presented itself as an inclined 
ceiling which at the equator became an ordinary hori- 
zontal terrestrial ceiling, and you had to grasp at what- 
ever came to hand in order not to fall off the planet. 
Here you had to stand on your head in the manner of boys 
and acrobats the only difference being, however, that the 
blood did not rush to your head, your face did not redden, 
and the terrible terrestrial gravity did not press you to the 
ground, on the contrary, it tended to pull you lightly away 
from the ledges to which you were clinging. Here there 
were no stones; they had all flown off the planet due to 
centrifugal force, but as they circled round the planet 
they approached it from time to time. 

Once, the ledge I was clinging to broke away, and I 
began moving away with it from the planet; I pushed off 
from the fragment as hard as I could causing the frag- 
ment to move rapidly away from me and the planet, where- 
as I approached the planet; but as this time I fell on to 


a smooth part of the planet and there was absolutely noth- 
ing at all I could cling to, I had to move away from the 
planet again. At first I moved normally in relation to its 
surface and with increasing speed; then I noticed I was 
no longer receding from it, but even beginning to approach 
it once more. I did not hit it but merely brushed against 
it, although at an entirely different spot, then began to 
move away normally from it again. My impression was 
that the sky repelled me with invisible hands and put me 
on the planet, but the planet also refused to receive me 
and similarly repelled me without a blow, mysteriously. 
Thus I kept rising and falling and always at different spots 
on the planet. It was a rare occurrence to fall twice on 
the same spot. 

The faster the rotation of the planet, the farther do the 
bodies that have fallen off the equator recede. But for a 
complete removal from the planet quite a low speed of ro- 
tation is required for small asteroids. At that speed things 
are thrown off once and for all by centrifugal force, and 
become Satellites of the Sun. 

There was one other almost spherical and rotating plan- 
et, but with a relatively enormous mountain on its equator. 
Everywhere on this planet gravity had the upper hand, ex- 
cept for the mountain, the upper part of which moved 
more rapidly and so developed a centrifugal force that ex- 
ceeded the planet’s attraction. AS we ascended from the 
foot-hill of the mountain, we observed that the gravity 
grew weaker and weaker and at some point disappeared 
altogether. Above this critical point it reappeared, but in 
the opposite direction, tending to throw everything off the 
ground, and you had to walk on your head—on your 
hands, to be exact—grasping at whatever came to hand 
in order not to fall off the planet. 

On another similar planet there stood a terribly tall 
tower, thin at the top and bottom, like a spindle, and with- 
out any support, i.e., it did not touch the planet. We walked 
under this air castle and wondered why it did not drop 


on our heads. The point is that, owing to the centrifugal 
force, the upper part of the tower tended to fly away, 
while the lower part pulled it in the opposite direction. Its 
form and position were such that it was invariably in a 
state of equilibrium. 

38,. An asteroid with a moon, I shall tell you briefly 
about another planet 56 kilometres in diameter, which was 
situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It had a 
Satellite, 6 kilometres in diameter. The satellite moved at 
a distance of 60 radii of the planet (1,680 kilometres), at 
the rate of 4.5 metres a second (about 14 km/hr), making 
a complete revolution in 28 days, like our Moon. 

From the planet it was, of course, not difficult at all 
for the natives to reach the satellite (Essay 38); it took 
them roughly a day. They had long since grown tired of 
this satellite because with the power of its attraction it 
caused perturbations and disorder in their rings as they 
revolved round the planet. 

So they decided to do away with it as a satellite and 
transform it, right to the centre, first into a thin disk and 
then the disk into a planetary ring. 

Owing to its symmetrical position and continuous ac- 
tion such a ring no longer produced perturbations in the 
planet’s own rings and did not hinder them from expanding 
to the very Satellite that had been transformed into a 

Thus, the planet with the satellite formed a system like 
that of Saturn with its rings. 

The satellite was transformed into a ring with the aid 
of solar motors in the course of 10 years. But it later 
took 1,000 years completely to change the planet into a 
disk. After that the disk easily changed into a solar 
necklace (Essay 37). 

39. Temperature at different distances from the Sun. 
The power of the Sun’s rays increases as their distance 
from the Sun decreases in absolutely the same manner as 
the force of the Sun’s attraction. It follows that in the solar 


system space the temperature varies endlessly. In a way 
it is true, but artificially the temperature may differ very 
much in one place and, on the other hand, may be the 
same at different distances from the Sun. By very simple 
methods the natives make it as cold as they like where in 
ordinary conditions they should disintegrate from the heat. 

Even at the distance of the Earth and in its atmosphere 
a black surface, in certain circumstances, becomes heated 
to 100°C. What is it like, then, in a vacuum under the 
continuous action of the Sun’s rays and at a distance, for 
example, 10 times nearer, at which the Sun appears to have 
a diameter 10 times as large and to be 100 times as vast, 
bright and warm?! 

Imagine that in so hot a spot the inhabitants [of an 
asteroid] are under the shade of a shiny metal sheet which 
does not lose its reflective capacity, despite the rise in 
temperature. The screen repels the greater part of the Sun’s 
rays, although it heats to 300-400°C. 

It disperses this heat in space in every direction, and 
the natives in the shade some distance from it receive a 
relatively small amount of heat. 

By using another screen behind the first, and standing 
in the shade cast by the first, and heated by it alone, we 
can get a temperature that at least can be borne by living 

Using several screens, placed one behind the other, it 
is possible to reduce the temperature of, so to speak, the 
very nose of the Sun, to the point where water and alcohol 

Now you believe that my distinguished friends were 
not afraid of flying close to the Sun, although their per- 
manent residence was not very near it. 

On the other hand, those who receded from the Sun 
raised the temperature artificially; they had numerous meth- 
ods of doing this. Picture to yourselves, for example, a 
reflector or a concave mirror and a living creature in the 
cone of the rays reflected by it. It stands to reason that 


as the creature approaches the apex of the cone it raises 
its temperature as required. 

Even when these mirrors are of an enormous size they 
may be thin and fragile as you like; owing to the absence 
of gravity there is no need to fear that they will break; 
nor is there any danger of their losing their lustre, since 
there is no atmosphere. 

The colour of the natives and their clothing also enor- 
mously affect the amount of heat they assimilate. An ob- 
ject with its black half facing the Sun and the white, shiny 
half in shadow is in the best possible conditions as re- 
gards the degree to which it is heated by the Sun. 

By this simple method, the natives obtain the temper- 
ature of the human body even in the asteroidal zone. If 
you are hot in this position, turn at a small angle and the 
temperature will drop. 

Because of its constancy, this outer-space temperature 
is extremely healthful; no day or night, no wind, damp nor 
rain—nothing disturbs its perfection and complete depend- 
ence on rational beings. 

Constant and exactly how you like it! Is it not truly 
wonderful!? Simple screens either lower or raise the tem- 
perature depending on whether they are protecting the 
object from loss of its own radiation or from the radiation 
of the Sun. While protecting a body from loss of its own 
heat and at the same time reflecting the Sun’s rays on to 
the object itself, the screen still further helps to raise its 

The side screens along which the Sun’s rays only slide 
are also effective; they retard the radiation from the body. 
Poor heat conductors, i.e., the clothing, also exert some 

Using a variety of devices, the natives came so close 
to the Sun that its rays melted glass, and it oozed like wa- 
ter, while chemical compounds broke up into their com- 
ponents with amazing rapidity. 


They also moved so far away from the Sun that in the 
shade, under the protection of a consecutive series of 
screens, they produced such low temperatures that gases 
were converted into liquids and, on freezing, became as 
hard as steel. Hydrogen was well preserved in a shiny 
metallic form (like blue steel). 

It is of an enormous convenience to be able to produce 
tremendous temperature contrasts, wherever needed. The 
natives made use of these contrasts for transforming the 
energy of the Sun’s rays into mechanical work by the 
simplest and most advantageous methods. We have al- 
ready described one type of their solar motors. 

40. From star to star or from sun to sun. Once I asked 
my friends: 

“Well, then, you live by the Sun and need no nourish- 
ment but light. But what will happen when this light van- 
ishes? For the Sun will not shine forever! Our terrestrial 
mathematicians find that it will shine for another dozen 
million years, after which it will be covered with a dark 
crust or heavy clouds and will be like Jupiter, which is of 
no use to us at all. Must you perish then?” 

“To begin with, your mathematicians also know that 
universal gravitation is an inexhaustible source of energy; 
their assumption that the Sun will cease shining is based 
on the idea that the Sun cannot become denser than the 
Earth, or something of the kind. This assumption is wrong. 
Secondly, even if the Sun stops shining for a time, and we 
shall know about it many thousands of years ahead, there 
is nothing to stop us flying to another Sun and living 
there until it becomes exhausted. There are stars with dia- 
meters 10 times* that of the Sun, and according to your 
own theory these stars should shine at least 1,000 times 
as long as the Sun. 

“We shall wander from star to star, as they become 

* The diameter of Sirius is 14 times that of the Sun. 


extinguished, until the same stars begin shining with a 
new, more abundant, more resplendent light.* 

“But how is this so,” I objected, “the interstellar dis- 
tances are so frightful.... When will you reach another 
home, another source of life, if it takes light months and 
even years to traverse these distances?” 

“It does take light years, and we cannot move with the 
speed of light,” they answered. “On our ‘necklaces’ we 
develop speeds that equal those of the planets, i.e., up to 
100 km/sec and more. Thus, if light requires years to trav- 
erse a certain distance, we shall travel for thousands of 
years covering the same distance; if light requires months, 
we need hundreds of years.” 

“But what do you subsist on during these thousands of 
years? The weak Stellar light, perhaps, that accompanies 
you on your cheerless voyage?” 

“No, we live on the reserves of solar energy, as you 
always do.” 

“You mean you will become transformed and take nour- 
ishment like we, human beings, do?” 

“Not at all. We only convert the reserves of energy 
into light which, like the Sun, keeps us alive. It is the 
same as when you convert the energy of the Sun, con- 
tained in coal, into mechanical work and the latter into 
electric light.” 

* According to the Boscovich hypothesis, accepted with minor 
corrections by the great Faraday, matter consists of centres of forces, 
of mathematical points interconnected by attraction or repulsion, 
whose law for molecular distances is unknown. If this is so, there 
is nothing to prevent matter from infinitely becoming condensed. 
This condensation can serve as an inexhaustible source of energy 
liberated by suns in the form of heat and light. For example, water 
was long considered to be incompressible. But what are the facts 
today? According to Cailletet, water contracts in proportion to pres- 
sure, like gas, only 20-30 times as weakly as air contracted to the 
density of water. Experiments were performed up to 705 atmospheres. 
There are no reasons to regard contraction of bodies as limited. 
Solids contract similarly (Buchanan). Thus the pressure in the cen- 
tre of the Sun should condense steel 600-fold. 


“But how much energy, what reserves of it, do you need 
for thousands of years and for millions of creatures?’ 

“The reserves are carried without any effort in infinite 
quantities and endlessly according to the well-known laws 
of inertia. Each of you requires but a small reserve for 
1,000 years of subsistence, whereas we need very little 
indeed. One cubic kilometre of grain contains 1,000 years 
of nourishment for 3 million people; ten cubic kilometres 
of it contain enough to feed 3,000 million people. On our 
rings and necklaces the Sun prepares such a reserve in just 
a few seconds. Finally, we can exist in a state of blissful 
lethargy, and in this semicoma a thousand years passes 
like a minute, like your pleasant deep slumber. 

“This state requires nothing but a definite temperature 
and an extremely small amount of light.” 

41. Return to the Earth. How many years had passed I 
do not know. The time came for me to leave my good genii. 

With my human, sinful heart I had grown very much at- 
tached to them, to their life, to their environment and 
kindly solicitude that surrounded me. 

I found them as beautiful as precious ancient vases and 
admired them as the finest productions of the human mind 
and heart... <...> 

Yes, my friends, I have told you many wonderful things, 
but not even a millionth of what actually existed there. 

And yet, where had I been and what had I seen?! Only 
the solar system. But how many are there of these sys- 
tems? Billions in our Milky Way alone. How many galaxies 
are there? Who can tell? The world is infinite. 

Chapter 8 


42. The total energy of the Sun. We said (Essays 3 and 4) 
that, if we imagined the Earth as a small pea, the Sun 
would be a large water-melon 180 steps away from it. This 

10—761 145 

shows the relatively insignificant amount of solar energy 
representing the Earth’s share. 

But the energy of all the rays emitted by the Sun is so 
enormous that, if it were fully converted into mechanical 
work, it would overcome the mighty attraction of the parts 
of our planet, would mechanically disintegrate them into 
mist in a very short period of time, and would change 
their shapes the more easily by turning them into cubes, 
buns, rings, etc. 

Here we should note two things: firstly, no physical 
energy is fully, without a trace, converted into mechanical 
energy, but engines can be designed which in a vacuum 
can convert one-fifth (approximately) of the solar energy 
into mechanical work; secondly, I am not here dealing 
with the methods used for separating the parts of the 
planet or changing its shape, I am only assuming that 
there are such methods and that they are so perfect that 
in this process the work of the rays is fully utilised. 

The whole outline which now follows will take into ac- 
count similar conditions which are, in practice, impos- 

Jupiter, our largest planet, disintegrates mechanically 
into an infinitely rarefied mist* in the course of 115 years; 
the Earth is disintegrated by the total solar energy in 4 
days, the Moon in 3 minutes; a planet or a satellite half 
the diameter are disintegrated in less than one second. 

This energy is enough to heat the cold (by supposition) 
Earth to 3000°C in 24 hours. It can heat a mass of icy wa- 
ter equal in volume to the Earth to 100°C and then con- 
vert it to steam in 4 hours. 

The solar energy liberated in 3 days corresponds to the 
energy of a quantity of coal, equal in volume to the Earth 
(assuming the density of coal as unit), when burned in oxy- 

* Here the relatively insignificant force of cohesion of matter 
(adhesion, etc.) 1s ignored. 


In one second it produces more power than that from 
food prepared to feed 2,000 million people (more than the 
population of the Earth) for 25 million years. 

Here you involuntarily exclaim: what enormous wealth 
our luminary sends out every second, yet we cannot take 
advantage of it, and it slips through our fingers! 

In less than one day a volume of water equal to the 
volume of our Earth is chemically decomposed by the Sun’s 
energy into its constituents (hydrogen and oxygen). 

The total energy of the Sun fully converted into mechan- 
ical work, can impart to the Earth its diurnal rotation 
about its axis in 11 hours and to an asteroid, one-tenth 
its diameter, a similar diurnal rotation (a complete diur- 
nal turn about its axis) in 0.5 sec. 

The translational speed of the Earth along its orbit is 
acquired in almost a month; the motion of the Moon round 
the Earth in 3 seconds. 

It is this energy in particular that is extremely great 
in relation to the transformation of the small asteroidal 
planets which it rubs, crumples, changes to any shape, 
breaks up into mist, disintegrates chemically and physi- 
cally, imparts rotation and translational motion, removes 
from the Sun or brings closer to it, drives onto the Sun 
or throws away into void <...> in the course of a few 
seconds or even fractions of a second. Compared with 
this force the Earth itself is nothing: condensation of its 
atmosphere into liquid, every kind of disintegration—chem- 
ical, mechanical and physical—of the substance of the 
planet and the imparting to it of any shape or motion, are 
a matter of a few days, at most a few months. 

43. Part of the energy received by the planets. But the 
planets make use of only a small part of the solar energy. 
For example, the Earth receives from the Sun only a 
2,000-millionth part of the energy that the latter dissi- 
pates in space. All the planets together receive extremely 
little energy from the Sun. Saturn, for example, not count- 
ing its rings, receives about as much as the Earth, Jupiter 

10* 147 

about 4 times as much, Mars about 8-9 times less, and 
Venus about twice as much, so that hundreds of millions 
of times as much energy is dissipated as is utilised. Ah! 
and how is it utilised>?* 

Let us assume that the energy of the Sun’s rays falling 
on the Earth is distributed equally over its surface and is 
completely converted into mechanical work; then, each 
square metre will receive 0.5 hp working incessantly day 
and night, while 5 square sazhens will receive 75 hp. The 
work of such imaginary machines would lift a layer of 
water 1 metre thick and uniformly covering the entire 
Earth at the rate of 5 cm/sec; in 24 hours this mass of 
water will be lifted to a height of 4.32 kilometres, and in 3 
months it will reach the extreme limits of the atmosphere 
(about 300 kilometres). 

This work is at least 17 million times greater than that 
performed by all the people. If five able-bodied workers, 
capable of working tirelessly, were placed on each square 
metre of the Earth’s surface, their work would equal that 
performed by the Sun’s rays on the Earth. Actually the 
Sun’s rays perform much less mechanical work; it pro- 
duces the winds and sets the waters in motion; the great- 
er part of it is converted directly into heat which sends 
out rays into outer space.** 

If the gravity were the same on all planets, the mechan- 
ical effort of solar power would be the same everywhere, 
i.e., on each planet a layer of water 1 metre thick would 
steadily rise at the rate of 5 cm/sec; but on the Moon, for 

* If we assume that each hectare of the Earth’s surface yields 
an average of 2 tons of grain, sugar and other nutrient substances 
a year, we will find that only 1/5,000th part of the solar energy is 
being utilised. 

** In the course of time all the mechanical and chemical work 
of the Sun is converted into heat. Only here and there peatbogs 
and the like, representing the potential energy of the Sun, are ac- 
cumulated. Formerly these reserves accumulated more intensively, 
forming heavy seams of coal. 


example, the gravity is 6 times less, and the same layer 
of water would therefore rise for nearly 0.33 m/sec. It 
follows that on the small planets the relative action of 
the Sun’s rays is much more pronounced. 

The entire Earth is mechanically disintegrated by the 
energy it receives in the course of 26 million years. Have 
I not astounded you with the power of gravitation? As a 
matter of fact, for large planets it is very tangible. But 
let us take the small planets! The Moon, for example, is 
disintegrated in only 170,000 years, and the asteroid* 6 
kilometres in diameter, invented and described by our 
crank (Essay 31), is disintegrated by the energy of the 
rays received by the planet in only one week; the next 
asteroid, 56 kilometres in diameter in 20 years, and the 
still larger one (560 kilometres in diameter) in 20,000 

But we have seen that, being able to form rings round 
themselves, the small asteroids can make use of incom- 
parably more of the Sun’s energy; if we assume that the 
surface lighted by the normal rays of the Sun is only 100 
times greater, then the periods of time given will be con- 
siderably reduced. For example, the disintegration of the 
asteroid 560 kilometres in diameter will take only 200 

The periods of time required to alter the planets into 
all the possible shapes are shorter than those indicated. 
It also requires less time than indicated for the above fig- 
ures to alter a planet into a thin rotating disk consisting 
of rings (like the rings of Saturn) revolving at different 
speeds and overcoming by their motion the force of attrac- 
tion of their parts. 

Incidentally, it requires only a little less work to trans- 
form the whole planet into a very thin and, consequently, 
weakly rotating disk. 

* Or the minor planet Agatha, assuming that it is spherical and 
has the same mean density as the Earth (5.5). 


Although the existence or, to be exact, the formation 
of rings, like those of Saturn, around the large planets is 
inconceivable because of the enormous speeds, which must 
be imparted to them, to prevent them from falling on the 
planet (or being destroyed by gravity), and because of 
the resistance of the planetary atmospheres (whence the 
process of motion will have to be begun), and presumably 
for many more reasons, nevertheless, trying to give the 
reader a clear idea of the relation of the Sun’s energy re- 
ceived by the planets to the energy of gravitation, I shall 
give here the results of calculations of this nature. 

A disk 1 cm thick of a density 3 material (almost the 
density of aluminium) consisting of a series of rings ro- 
tating at different speeds and having a diameter 10 times 
as large as that of the Earth is formed in about 3 years 
(2.63 years) round our planet by the energy of the rays 
it receives. 

If we take into account the fact that with an increase 
in the number of rings or in the size of the disk the force 
forming it also increases, then the time required for its 
formation will be much less. 

A similar disk on the Moon with its diameter of 10 lu- 
nar diameters would require 40 days’ work. 

If we disintegrate (mechanically) the planet to its very 
centre, i.e., completely, and in doing so use the continu- 
ously and rapidly increasing surface of the disk as a 
[condenser] of solar work, it stands to reason that this dis- 
integration can be accomplished in periods of time which 
are not at all as dreadful as those we have given. In this 
case it would not take the Earth 26 million years and the 
Moon 170,000 years to disintegrate. Theoretically, these 
periods of time could be reduced a thousand times. 

I repeat that all this is impossible in practice and, if at 
all applicable, only to the small asteroids that are not 
surrounded by atmospheres and have diameters of only 
some hundreds of kilometres <...>. 


Chapter 9 


44. Formation of galaxies and their rotation. Formation 
of suns with planets and their satellites. Their rotation. 
Under the influence of the condensation of matter by the 
force of gravity, the primordial nebula divided into innu- 
merable nebulae of the second order. These divided into 
numerous nebulae of the third order, etc., just as the outer 
layer of the Earth, contracting from heat and loss of mois- 
ture cracks into large and small parts, or as a large mass 
of water vapours, condensing in the air, forms drops. 

We cannot solve the problem as to the order of nebula 
from which were formed our disk-like Milky Way and 
similar groups of stars, which from the Earth look like 
more or less rounded spots of mist because of their re- 

For the sake of simplicity we shall consider that the 
nebula from which the Milky Way and similar groups of 
stars were formed was one of the first order. Therefore, 
the Milky Way is a nebula of the second order, and the 
nebula from which the solar system and the like were 
formed is a nebula of the third order. 

My question is: when the first nebula that did not, we 
assume, have a common rotation was dividing into parts, 
was it possible that during its break-up these parts did not 
get a common, even if extremely weak, rotation? 

If two men were to pull each other by the hand, then 
undoubtedly in addition to translational motion, they would 
certainly impart to each other rotatory motion as well, 
which would immediately be destroyed by friction against 
the ground. Swing a pendulum on a thin thread by hand 
so that it does not rotate. It is impossible to throw or 
move anything so accurately that it is not given just the 
slowest rotation. 


Push a stone on smooth, clean ice and you will have 
one more proof of this. According to the theory of prob- 
ability, when nebula is broken up, its parts are given 
reverse rotations. 

According to the laws of nature, a rotation of all the 
parts in one direction (assuming that the first nebula did 
not rotate) is impossible, but more or less reverse rota- 
tions are admissible and necessary. 

Thus during the break-up of the principal nebula the 
nebulae of the second order acquired rotatory motions 
which, however slow they may have been at the outset, 
accelerated increasingly as the nebulae condensed. Having 
a speed of a few metres at the periphery (along the edges) 
they had increased this speed many hundred thousand 
times when, owing to condensation, the diameter of the 
nebulae reached the size of the Milky Way or similar stel- 
lar groups. This conclusion is a strictly mathematical one. 
The work of rotation is acquired, during the condensation 
of matter, by the potential energy of gravitation, the sup- 
ply of which is theoretically infinite. 

But do the stellar nebulae and the Milky Way really 
have a common rotation? 

Their disk-like shape convinces us that this is so; the 
motion of the solar system towards the constellation of 
Hercules, i.e., almost in the plane of the Milky Way also 
confirms this. 

To proceed, assume that the nebula of the second or- 
der, say, the Milky Way, for example, condenses in its 
turn; it breaks up into billions of nebulae of the third or- 
der, each of which gives rise to a planetary system with 
a central luminary—a star or sun. 

Of course, here the same thing must happen as did dur- 
ing the break-up of the nebula of the third order; for 
example, rather weak rotation was imparted to the one 
that gave rise to our solar system; this rotation was added 
to the common motion, which although also rotatory, had 
such a relatively enormous radius of curvature that this 


original motion may be considered almost rectilinear. This 
explains not only the translational motion of the solar 
system (around some centre, somewhere far distant in 
the Milky Way) but also the rotation of the Sun and all 
the planets according to the well-known law (Essay 5). 

As the tertiary nebula condenses, its weak rotation in- 
tensifies. During this condensation the nebula breaks up, 
as usual, into parts or rings which as they break up, in 
their turn, in most cases form spherical masses or give 
rise to planets with their rings and satellites. 

The break-up and acceleration of rotation described 
above recurs with these, at first spherical, nebular masses 
of the fourth order and bodies of the fifth order are formed, 
which give rise to the planetary satellites or rings like 
those of Saturn. 

This theory advanced by Laplace explains excellently 
the motion and rotation in one direction of the Sun, plan- 
ets and their satellites. 

45. A grand picture of a Universe full of marvellous, 
living creatures. Without as yet touching upon gravitation 
as the cause of the radiation of the suns (from afar—the 
stars) for millions and even billions of years, let us turn 
to the grand picture that the mind’s eye has conjured up. 

In the Milky Way alone, telescopes show billions of 
suns. Yet how many similar galaxies there are, which 
taken as a whole are a mere grain of sand in the edifice 
of the Universe! 

The innumerable stars, or suns, shining (if we were to 
approach them) even more brightly than our Sun, are sur- 
rounded by still more countless numbers of planets—dark 
heavenly bodies receiving heat and light from their suns. 

Our solar system counts them in hundreds (350); one 
of them is called the Earth. But who can tell how many 
of these earths there are in the world, and existing in 
conditions almost the same as those of our Earth?! 

Is it probable for Europe to be inhabited and not the 
other parts of the world? Can one island have inhabitants 


and numerous other islands have none? Is it conceivable 
for one apple-tree in the infinite orchard of the Universe 
to bear fruit, while innumerable other trees have nothing 
but foliage?! Spectral analysis indicates that the sub- 
stances of the Universe are the same as those of the Earth. 
Life also extends everywhere throughout the Universe. 
This life is infinitely varied. If life is varied on the Earth in 
relatively uniform circumstances how infinitely varied must 
it be in the Universe, where any conditions are possible?! 

All the phases in the development of living beings can 
be seen on the different planets. What humanity was like 
several thousand years ago and what it will be like in 
a few million years—all this according to the theory of 
probability can be found in the planetary world. 

All that which is marvellous, and which we anticipate 
with such a thrill, already exists but we cannot see it be- 
cause of the remote distances and the limited power of 
our telescopes.... 


Let us imagine ourselves on Vesta. Although this is 
not freedom, it is a foretaste of freedom. Vesta is the larg- 
est asteroid. It moves round the Sun almost in a circle. 
If it is spherical, its mean diameter is not more than 400 
kilometres. If it has the same density as the Earth, the 
gravity on it is 30 times as low as on the Earth. If there 
are liquids and gases there, the liquids should scarcely 
evaporate and the gases should have an enormous molecu- 
lar weight (at least 5 times that of oxygen) in order not to 
be dissipated at such low gravity. All this is possible. Even 
on the Earth there are liquids which scarcely evaporate. In 
this case life can be engendered and can exist in these 
liquids as in our ocean or atmosphere. Only oxygen will 
be replaced by some heavy gas or non-evaporating liquid. 
One transparent liquid is also enough, in which case this 
liquid will be an atmosphere for the living being. 

The living beings on Vesta frolic and swim about in 
their liquid medium like fish; sometimes they leap out of 
their sea (like flying fish into the air) into the vacuum, or 
crawl on to heights that are not submerged. But here 
they begin to gasp and pant and hurriedly plunge back into 
their medium. 

Some of these creatures subsist on plants and the weak- 
est living beings, others are nourished by the Sun alone, 
like plants, yet others combine the functions of plants 


and animals, like our actiniae, and so on; in a word, they 
contain chlorophyll. 

The rays of the Sun penetrate the transparent cover- 
ing of their bodies and produce chemical phenomena which 
engender life. 

These creatures crawl out of the seas on to the heights 
in the vacuum where they take delight in the primordial 
power of the Sun’s rays. The process of life continues in 
these creatures in the vacuum but their bodies lose part 
of their fluids, although these fluids evaporate very weakly. 
Within a few hours these creatures have to go back to 
their sea, like our aquatic animals which sometimes come 
out of the water. 

Some of them have a covering permeable to rays but 
almost impervious to matter. Such creatures can remain 
in a vacuum for an extraordinarily long time. They very 
rarely have to renew the substance lost from their bod- 
ies, either from the liquid or from a surrounding mineral 
mass. After swallowing this mass they tightly close their 

In the beginning these creatures spent part of their lives 
in oceans and the other part in a vacuum. Later the first 
period (in liquid) grew increasingly shorter and finally it 
ended. The creatures were born and lived all their lives 
on land and in a vacuum. This phenomenon is similar to 
the adaptation and evolution of the Earth’s aquatic ani- 
mals into land animals. 

These creatures become more and more intelligent. By 
various artificial methods they adapt themselves to life in 
a vacuum more and more, constantly improving it. 

In time their oceans disappeared, and the population in 
them perished; but the creatures on land survived and 

But how could human beings live here? Let us assume 
that these creatures are more civilised and wiser than hu- 
man beings. And this must inevitably occur, if we give 
them enough time for civilisation; then they will help us 


to settle on Vesta. They build spherical or cylindrical cham- 
bers from strong net frames with numerous transparent 
window panes. These chambers contain oxygen (0.1 density 
of the air), a little carbon dioxide and water vapours. They 
also have fruit-bearing plants growing in humid soil. They 
bear the fruit required for our nutrition. The plants pro- 
duce food and oxygen. On the other hand, our excretions 
serve as food for them. We breathe, feed and excrete, and 
so do the plants. An eternal, monotonous exchange, eter- 
nal energy and life. 

We live in the cylinders as if we were at home. But we 
can also get out of them into the vacuum, for which pur- 
pose we have to wear special clothing. We put on very 
elastic and very thin clothing which is impervious to mat- 
ter. Rarefied oxygen continuously circulates between the 
covering and the skin. Before the mouth, nose and eyes 
there is a larger space, before the eyes—transparent glass. 
We breathe in this oxygen and give out carbon dioxide 
and other gases and vapours. Passing through special ap- 
pendages of the clothing these are absorbed, while oxygen 
is continuously liberated from another appendage. One 
kilogram of oxygen is enough for a whole day of stren- 
uous life. But since a human being gets tired and wants 
to eat after 5-6 hours, about 200 grams of oxygen in a 
weak chemical compound and in the liquid state is quite 

Neither the clothing nor these insignificant appendages 
can inconvenience or burden the human being. The ma- 
chine with the pumps, the covering and the substances, 
which absorb the human excretions and give oxygen, weigh 
together not more than 3 kilograms, which on Vesta is 
equivalent to only 100 grams. 

On Vesta we make ourselves at home. In the vacuum 
we do as we please. And when we get tired, hungry and 
thirsty we enter our transparent cylinders, take off our 
suits, eat, drink and sleep, i.e., do the same as on the Earth. 


We walk freely on the surface of Vesta in our light 
suits, we breathe freely and look about us. 

To begin with, the temperature! The average distance 
from Vesta to the Sun is 2.36 times as great as from the 
Earth to the Sun. The temperature of the dark surface of 
the planet, with which our bodies merge, is about 0°C, 
according to the table and calculations. This is a very 
low temperature, especially since it is the maximum; but 
there is nothing to prevent us raising it by various 

To keep warm, let us, for the time being, wear warm 
clothing. lt is 30 times as light as clothing on the Earth, 
and will not hamper us in any way, but will merely keep 
us warm. 

We look about us. The diameter of the Sun appears two 
to three times as small, yet the Sun shines intolerably. 
In intensity the light is very like a solar eclipse in a clear 
sky and at its low phase (1:6). The ground of the planet 
also shines brightly, making our pupils contract. We see 
only the largest stars in a black sky. 

But if we stand with the back to the Sun and shade 
our eyes from the light of the ground with the palm of 
the hand, we shall see a little later, when the pupils have 
dilated, countless numbers of stars. It is also good to look 
through a cone blackened on the inside. 

The sky looks like a vault as it does from the Earth, 
only it is not flattened at the top, but is perfectly spher- 
ical. It is as black as soot and is studded with the same 
constellations, without the least change, that are seen from 
the Earth. But there are many more stars; they do not 
twinkle and to people with good eyesight they look like 
points without rays. It is the same at night, only then 
there seem to be more stars. 

Zero temperature on Vesta, or in the vacuum in general, 
is not at all the same as it is on the Earth, especially in 
a strong wind. Loss of heat in a vacuum takes place only 


by radiation. Thus it is difficult even to imagine how 
warm it is (in the lightest of clothing) on Vesta at zero 
temperature and even below. If you place screens, which 
very well reflect radiant energy, on five sides of you and 
allow free access to the Sun’s rays on the sixth side, the 
temperature of the body can be raised greatly. But there 
is no need for it now. On Vesta it is enough to have 
light, black clothing and the Sun’s rays. The rays can 
cause sunstroke because they are not weakened, not ren- 
dered harmless by an atmosphere, but in this case, properly 
dyed clothing and a transparent plate before the eyes offer 
good protection. 

Let us move about, lift weights, work, talk, etc. Our 
words are not heard, but if a thread is stretched between 
the suits of two human beings, they can converse splen- 
didly even over an enormous distance. 

On the Earth I can freely carry someone of my own 
weight. This means that 1 am actually carrying two peo- 
ple—myself and the other person. On Vesta I can carry 
with the same ease 30 times as much, i.e., 60 people—59 
and myself. This means 4 tons without any strain; or 4 
cubic metres or 8 barrels of water. 

On the Earth, by crouching down about 50 cm, I can, 
by straightening up swiftly, jump another 50 cm, i.e., my 
jump totals 1 metre. On Vesta the same effort results in 
a jump 30 times as high, i.e., 30 metres. This is the height 
of a 10-storied house, a very tall pine-tree or a fair-sized 

Acceleration on Vesta is 30 cm/sec. This means that 
when a body falls it drops 15 cm during the first second. 
In a vertical jump a man acquires in the first moment a 
speed of about 4.5 metres. It follows that when a man on 
Vesta jumps he rises for a period of 27 seconds. It takes 
him as long to descend. This means that the jump will 
require 54 seconds, i.e., about a minute, Just think what 
you could do during such a jump!!! 


The best long jump should be made at an angle of 45° 
to the horizon, in which case the vertical rise will be only 
half as high, i.e., 15 metres, while the horizontal displace- 
ment will be 60 metres. This means that on Vesta one 
can easily jump across ravines and ditches as broad as 
rivers, and over trees and buildings 15 metres tall. And 
all these jumps can be made without a preliminary run.* 

* Written before 1919. 



Hidden somewhere among the loftiest ranges of the 
Himalayan Mountains there stands a beautiful castle. In 
it live a Frenchman, an Englishman, a German, an Amer- 
ican, an Italian, and a Russian. Disappointment in people 
and the joys of life drove them to seek refuge in seclu- 
sion. They found happiness in science. The meaning of 
their life lay in imaginative thinking, which drew them 
together in an anchoretic brotherhood. They were fabu- 
lously rich and could freely indulge their scientific whims. 
Costly experiments and installations continually taxed 
their purses, but could not deplete them. Their only con- 
tacts with the outer world were for the purpose of those 
installations, the building of which required many people, 
but as soon as everything was ready they returned to 
their researches and their seclusion. The only other inhab- 
itants of the castle were the members of the household 
staff and workers, whose attractive houses nestled in the 


The top of the castle was occupied by a spacious glazed 
hall where our anchorets were especially fond of gather- 

In the evening, after sunset, planets and countless stars 
shone down through the transparent dome. Thoughts 

11—761 161 

inevitably turned to the sky, and the conversation would 
drift to the Moon, the planets, and innumerable distant 

What dreamers they were! Time and again they would 
elaborate fantastically bold projects of travel through 
stellar space, but their own vast knowledge mercilessly 
shattered their dreams. 

One clear summer night three of our friends were en- 
gaged in a lively conversation. Suddenly the Russian burst 
in like a whirlwind and began hugging and pummeling 
the three men till they pleaded for mercy. 

“Would you kindly explain what all this means?” the 
Frenchman Laplace asked when he had finally extricated 
himself from the Russian’s arms. “And what were you 
doing all this time in your study? We even feared some- 
thing had happened to you during your experiments, and 
we thought of forcing the door.” 

‘Tve invented something terrible! No, not terrible, but 
amazing and wonderful!” 

“Well, what is it? Don’t act like a madman,” said the 
German Helmholtz, who had suffered most. 

The flushed, sweaty face and dishevelled hair of the 
Russian were signs of an unnatural inspiration, his spar- 
kling eyes expressed bliss and fatigue. 

“We reach the Moon in four days.... We escape the 
atmosphere in a few minutes, we reach interplanetary 
space in a hundred days!” the Russian, whose name was 
Ivanov, blurted out. 

“You're mad,” said the Englishman Newton, gazing at 
him intently. 

“Or in too great a hurry, to say the least,” Laplace 

“True, gentlemen, I’m carried away with excitement, 
but please call in the rest of our colleagues and hear what 
I have to say.” 

The others soon came and they all gathered about a 


large round table, and looked up to the sky from time to 
time as they waited impatiently for the Russian’s announce- 


“My friends,” the Russian began, “my idea is most 

“Judging by appearances, we had expected more,” re- 
marked the Italian Galileo, who had already been briefly 
informed of the preceding events. 

“You know what is meant by the energy of combustion 
of different fuels,” the Russian went on. “The combustion 
of a ton of petroleum, for example, develops an amount 
of work capable of lifting an identical mass to a height 
of several thousand kilometres from the surface of the 
Earth. A ton and a half of petroleum is capable of im- 
parting to a mass of one ton a velocity sufficient to leave 
the Earth forever. ...” 

“In other words,” the Italian intervened, “a mass of 
fuel 50 per cent larger than the mass of a person can im- 
part to him a velocity sufficient to leave the Earth and 
travel around the Sun....” 

“Ivanov has probably invented a giant cannon,” Frank- 
lin, the American, declared. “But, firstly, this is not new, 
and secondly, it is totally impracticable.” 

“We've discussed this at length and long since rejected 
the idea,” Newton added. 

“Please let me continue!” The Russian said in a vexed 
tone. “You’re all wrong.” The others stopped talking and 
he continued. “You might call it a cannon, but it’s a fly- 
ing cannon, with thin walls and it shoots gases instead of 
shells. Have you ever heard of such a cannon?” 

“T don’t follow you,” the Frenchman said. 

“But it’s so simple, I have in mind a kind of rocket.” 

“And that’s all?” the impetuous Italian asked, disappoint- 
ed. “A rocket is a mere plaything. You can hardly sur- 

11* 163 

prise us with that. You don’t mean to say that you want 
to penetrate into outer space in a big rocket?” 

The others smiled, but Newton pondered while the Rus- 
sian replied. 

“Yes, in a rocket, but appropriately designed. It may 
seem ridiculous and impossible, but strict calculations in- 
dicate the contrary.” 

Newton listened attentively, the others contemplated 
the starry sky. 

When they turned to Ivanov again he went on. 

“Irrefutable calculations reveal that the blast of an 
explosive from a gun barrel of sufficient length can devel- 
op a velocity of 6,000 metres per second. If the mass of 
the gun is equal to the mass of the ejected gases, the for- 
mer will receive an oppositely directed velocity of 4,000 
metres a second. If the mass of the explosive is three times 
that of the cannon, the latter’s velocity will reach 8,000 
metres a second. Finally, if the barrel’s mass is seven 
times greater it will attain a per-second velocity of 16,000 
metres, which is more than necessary to leave the Earth 
and travel around the Sun.” 

“The per-second velocity needed for this is 11,700 me- 
tres,’ Newton remarked. “But please go on and describe 
your rocket.” 

“Go on, we're all ears!’ the others exclaimed, Galileo 
loudest of all. 

“Imagine an egg-shaped capsule. Inside the capsule is 
a pipe with an exhaust nozzle, accommodation for myself, 
and a stock of propellant explosives. When the propel- 
lants burn a gaseous jet escapes through the exhaust noz- 
zle. The continuous burning of the propellant and the 
ejection of the combustion products with tremendous force 
generates a thrust force in the opposite direction which 
tends to propel the capsule upwards with mounting ve- 
locity. Three cases are possible: the thrust of the gas jet 
is insufficient to overcome the weight of the projectile; 
the thrust is equal to the weight of the projectile; and the 


thrust is greater than the weight of the projectile. The 
first case is of no interest to us because the projectile won't 
move or it will fall back if not supported. The only result 
will be to reduce its weight. In the second case, it will 
lose its weight, that is, it won’t fall if its supports are 
removed. In the third and most interesting case, the pro- 
jectile will climb upwards.” 

“Using oxy-hydrogen gas,” Laplace remarked, “it could 
hover in mid-air for 23 minutes and 20 seconds, if the 
weight of the propellant is seven times that of the vehicle 
and its payload.” 

“Quite right! But hovering in the air is of no use to us, 
so we won’t consider that case. I'd only like to note that 
the apparent gravity inside the vehicle would not change, 
that is, all objects would retain their weights.” 

“You undoubtedly assume,” Newton intervened, ‘that 
your gun stands vertically, muzzle downward?” 

“Of course, though it could also be inclined to the hori- 
zon. But let us consider the third case. The greater the 
exhaust rate of the propellant, the better the perform- 
ance of the rocket and the greater its acceleration. 

“But then, firstly, the rapidly attained velocity will be lost 
due to the resistance of the air during flight through the 
atmosphere. Secondly, the gravity inside the vehicle will 
increase so much as to crush all living creatures inside. 

“Furthermore,” Franklin noted, “the gun would have 
to be very strong, therefore its weight would be too 
large, which is also a drawback.” 

“True enough. I think that a registered pressure ten 
times larger than the weight of the projectile and its load 
would be sufficient. In this case a person would feel only 
ten times heavier than usual. I have invented a device 
which will enable him to sustain this load with ease.” 

“It would be interesting to hear of this device,” Helm- 
holtz ventured. 

“You shall, but in due course. To proceed. The projec- 
tile will move with acceleration. By the end of the first 


second its velocity will be 90 metres a second and it will 
have climbed to a height of 45 metres. After two seconds 
its velocity will have doubled and the path travelled will 
have quadrupled. Let me draw a table showing the time, 
and the corresponding velocities and distances travelled 
by the projectile.” 

“Tll do it for you,” Newton said, and wrote three rows 
of figures in large characters on a big blackboard: 

Seconds 1 2 40 30 100 
Velocilies 90 180 900, 2,700 9, 000 
Melres > 45 350 4,500 40,500 450, 000 

“I don’t approve of such a high rate of acceleration,” 
Galileo remarked, studying the table. “True,” he added 
after a moment, “in less than a minute the projectile will 
already be outside the atmosphere, but it will neverthe- 
less lose much because of the drag. It would be preferable 
for the initial velocity, the velocity in the air, to be as 
low as possible. I would make bold to submit another 
table, based on tripled weight.” He walked up to the black- 
board and wrote the figures: 

Seconds 1 2 10 50 109 
Velocities 20 40 200 1, 000 2,000 
Metres 10 40 4, 000 20, 000 100, 000 


“In fifty seconds,” the Italian continued when he had 
completed the table, “the projectile will have ascended 
25 kilometres, where the resistance of the atmosphere is 
negligible, while the speed is still not too high. After es- 
caping the atmosphere the thrust force and the accelera- 
tion can be increased, but in the air they should be kept 
as low as possible.” 

“Wonderful!” the Russian exclaimed. “Your remarks 
not only reveal your attention, but they are very useful as 
well. It goes without saying that I accept them with grat- 
itude.” Ivanov paused. “But now imagine the rocket 
shooting towards the sky. It moves slowly at first, then 


faster and faster, till it disappears from sight and loses 
all connections with the Earth....” 

The others waited for Ivanov to continue, but he was 
silent. The lights in the hall had not been lit and a red- 
dish Moon that had just risen cast a faint light. The Rus- 
sian had fainted. Carried away by his idea, he had worked 
for several days without food or sleep and reduced him- 
self to a state of extreme exhaustion. The lights were 
turned on and everyone leapt into action. Ivanov soon 
came round, but the others would not allow him to speak. 
Instead they made him drink some wine and eat a little 
food. They were all extremely excited, but for their com- 
panion’s sake they refrained from discussing the subject. 

It was decided to continue the discussion of what now 
interested them all on the following day. The Russian was 
left in Galileo’s care, with instructions to build up his 
strength and get a good sleep. 


While the castle and its inhabitants repose in slumber, 
let us find out more about them. 

Two kilometres from the castle there was a waterfall 
which revolved turbines, which in turn drove dynamos, sup- 
plying an abundance of electricity. The current was trans- 
mitted by wire to the top of the hillock on which the 
castle stood. Electricity illumined all the rooms, performed 
all manner of chemical and mechanical operations in 
the workshops, provided heat when it was cold, ventilated, 
pumped water, and did a variety of other jobs which it 
would be too tedious to list. It was also used, incidentally, 
to prepare the supper with which our friends ended the 

At night the castle was ablaze with electric light and 
presented a beautiful sight from afar, gleaming like a stel- 
lar constellation. 

In the daytime, however, it was even more beautiful, with 


its turrets and domes and terraces. It presented a charm- 
ing sight against its background of sunlit hills. At sundown 
it glowed as if burning from inside. 

The rugged environment was in keeping with the mood 
of the castle’s inhabitants. They were all disillusioned, 
emotionally shaken people. One had lost a wife in tragic 
circumstances, another—his children, others had failed in 
politics or had been the victims of outrageous injustices 
or human stupidity. City noise and the presence of people 
only served to lacerate their wounds. On the other hand, 
the majesty of the surrounding hills, the eternally spar- 
kling snow-capped peaks, the pure, transparent air, and the 
abundance of sunlight soothed and stimulated them. 

All eminent scientists of world-wide fame, they were 
like thinking machines and, therefore, had much in com- 
mon. Suffering and meditation had dulled their emotional 
susceptibility and elevated their minds. Affinity to science 
drew them together. 

Their differences were not characteristic: Newton was 
more of a philosopher, a profound thinker and phlegmat- 
ic; Franklin inclined to pragmatism and religion; Helm- 
holtz had made many discoveries in physics, but at times 
he was so absent-minded that he forgot which was his 
right hand; he was more of a choleric; Galileo was a zeal- 
ous astronomer and an ardent art connoisseur, though for 
some reason he inwardly despised his passion for refine- 
ment; Laplace was mainly a mathematician, while Ivanov 
was a great dreamer, though possessing vast knowledge; 
more than the others was he capable of abstract thought, 
and it was he who most frequently broached such unusual 
subjects as the one discussed by our companions on the 
day described. 

Contact with the outside world was maintained by huge 
metal dirigibles capable of carrying hundreds of tons of 
cargo at speeds of one hundred and more kilometres an 
hour. For small cargoes and few passengers aeroplanes 
were used. 



The following evening the Russian continued his report. 

“We see that in a few seconds the projectile will reach 
extremely rarefied atmosphere, and several seconds later 
will be travelling in total vacuum. Assuming the average 
thrust force of the gases to be ten times greater than the 
total weight of the rocket and its pay load, we find that, 
given the most powerful propellants, it will consume its 
entire fuel supply in 160 seconds. By then it will have 
risen to an altitude of 1,152 kilometres and attained a 
maximum velocity of 14,400 m/sec. This speed is suffi- 
cient to carry it away forever not only from the Earth, 
but from the Sun as well. All the easier will it be to reach 
any planet of our system. From what has been said you 
will undoubtedly also realise the difficulties of such an 
enterprise. We’ll need air for breathing, but no means 
of getting it....” 

“We can take a supply of air,” the Italian remarked. 
“True, it will soon be exhausted.” 

“But sunlight is capable, through the medium of plants, of 
purifying the air polluted by breathing,” Helmholtz objected. 

“In any case,” the Russian said, “this problem will re- 
quire a thorough study before it is put to practice. Now 
another question: how are we to return to Earth or land 
on another planet? A special reserve of explosives will 
be necessary if we hope to remain alive.” 

“For some time I’ve been experimenting on the problem 
of explosive energy,” Franklin intervened. “I think I’ll be 
able substantially to reduce the mass of the propellant by 
replacing conventional explosives by new ones.” 

“The best of success to you,” the Russian commented. 
“Only by joint effort can we hope to put our plan into 

“In any case, it’s far too risky,” observed the cautious 
Newton. “You’ve forgotten about food. You can’t travel 
long without food and water.” 


“I don’t contemplate long journeys at first,’ Ivanov 
objected. “A trip to the Moon and back, for instance, can 
be made in a week. This disposes of the food question, at 
least in the initial stages. Several kilograms of food and 
water are of no consequence. 

“And so, gentlemen,” he summed up, “let us work togeth- 
er on the details of the project. Then we'll experiment 
with flights beyond the atmosphere at an altitude of about 
500 to 1,000 kilometres.” 

“Later we can expand the scope of the experiments,” 
Laplace remarked. “I wouldn’t even mind being the first 
to fly, once everything is completely worked out, and I’m 
convinced the experiment is not dangerous.” 

Franklin smiled. 

“Anyone would embark on the flight, given such assur- 
ances!” he said. 

“We'll all fly together with Laplace,” a chorus of voices 
echoed. , 

“But meanwhile,” said the Russian, “it wouldn’t be a 
bad idea to reproduce in vivid colours the picture of our 

“I’m a Star-gazing enthusiast,” said Newton, “and Prd 
be very happy, with your kind permission, to devote our 
evening leisure hours to a series of lectures, which could 
be attended by all the inhabitants of the castle who wished 

The company decided unanimously that it was an excel- 
lent idea and directed Newton to lead their astronomical 

“But you mustn’t forget,” said Newton, “that your au- 
dience will include not only scientists: many other people 
in the castle will want to hear you, and some of them don’t 
even know the difference betwen a star and a planet.” 

“Exactly,” said the Italian. “Your lectures should be 
both interesting and popular. Maybe I’ll be able to help 

“And I, and I!” the others exclaimed. 



“Thank you, gentlemen,” Newton replied. 

“Well work during the day,” Helmholtz said, “and in 
the evening we shall discuss the unparalleled event.” 

“When we have successfully concluded our work, we'll 
call a special meeting,” Franklin suggested. 


At dusk the following day they all assembled in the 
round hall together with the several people from the 
castle who wished to attend the lectures. 

Five of the scientists sat at the table, the others occupied 
soft couches along the walls. 

“The planet inhabited by mankind,” Newton began, “rep- 
resents a sphere with a circumference of 40,000 kilome- 
tres. A person walking 40 kilometres a day would take a 
thousand days, or about three years, to circle it.” 

“The speed of modern steamships and railway trains,” 
Franklin remarked, “makes it possible to reduce the time 
it takes to journey round the world twenty-four times. Ac- 
tually, it is possible to average 40 kilometres an hour 
instead of a day and to circumnavigate the globe in 42 

“But what supports this enormous sphere?” one of the 
workers exclaimed. 

“The sphere rests on nothing and is supported by noth- 
ing,” Galileo replied. “It hurtles through the ether like 
a balloon driven by the wind. 

“The globe is a double magnet. The first magnetism di- 
rects the magnetic needle of the compass; the second mag- 
netism is called gravity. It is the latter that holds on to 
every object on the Earth’s surface: the oceans, the at- 
mosphere, people. If it were not for gravity, the air, thanks 
to its ability to expand, would long since have escaped 
from the Earth. Similarly, a single leap would carry a 
person away forever and make him a free body in the 


“What is this ether? Is it like the ether we have in our 
clinic?” another worker asked with a smile. 

“Oh, no!” said Helmholtz. “It’s something in the na- 
ture of air, only extremely elastic and rarefied. The nature 
of ether is still very much of a mystery.* It is a medium 
which fills the whole of space and through which light 
travels. Thanks to it we can see near and distant objects, 
if they are large and bright enough. Without it we’d be 
unable to see the Sun or the stars.... 

“.,. If we were to line up all the people on Earth one 
metre away from each other, they would girdle the globe 
200 times.’’** 

“Only? But I thought there were 5,000 million people 
on the Earth,” someone remarked. 

“Quite right,” Newton said. “So you can imagine the 
immensity of the Earth compared with man, who rightly 
judges of the greatness of nature in relation to himself. 

“If humanity were evenly distributed over the whole 
surface of the Earth, in hot and cold countries, on seas 
and lands alike, the closest neighbours would be more 
than one thousand metres apart. They would hardly be 
able conveniently to engage in conversation. The quanti- 
tative insignificance of man is even more striking: if his 
aggregate mass were pulverised and spread evenly all 
over the globe it would make a layer some 1/23,000th of 
a millimetre thick, i.e., one-thousandth the thickness of a 
sheet of tissue-paper.” 

“The slightest breeze would waft him away,’ 
operator exclaimed. 

“The Earth, man’s heritage, is beautiful,” Galileo inter- 

an engine 

* Some scientists even deny its existence. See also K. E. Tsiol- 
kovsky, The Kinetic Theory of Light (The Density of Ether and Its 
Properties). Publication of Kaluga Society for Natural Studies and 
Local Lore, 1919.—Ed. 

** The story was begun 20 years ago. Later, when I altered it to 
move the events 100 years away, I made the population 5,000 mil- 
lions. The result was a discrepancy which I omitted to amend. (The 
author’s note was supplied in 1927,—Ed.) 


vened. “But if he were told: go and survey your domain, 
how long do you think it would take him?” 

“We don’t know,” voices exclaimed. 

“If he were to survey only the dry land, which occu- 
pies about one-quarter of the Earth’s surface, and if it 
took him a second to inspect every hectare, it would take 
him 400 or 500 years!” 

“I was sure that a lifetime wouldn’t be enough to see 
the whole world,” one worker commented. 

“And you were right!” Newton said. “But imagine then 
how great the mass or volume of the Earth is! If someone 
were to knead the globe into spheres of equal size and 
give one to every person, including, of course, women and 
children, what would be the size of such a globule?” 

“It would undoubtedly be a large chunk,” someone ven- 

“It would be a whole planet 11.75 kilometres in dia- 
meter,” said Laplace. 

“Its surface would be 380 square kilometres,” Newton 

“Why, that’s as much as a whole German principality,” 
the Russian commented. “There would be sufficient elbow- 
room on it!” 

“There are other ways of showing man’s insignificance 
as compared with the planet,” Newton continued. ‘‘Pic- 
ture to yourself the Earth and everything on it reduced 
to the scale, say, of 1/10,000th. We would have a 
sphere 1,260 metres in diameter, and on it a pygmy 1/5th 
of a millimetre in height. And that would be the tallest 
inhabitant of the Earth.” 

“He could drown in a sea the depth of a grain of sand,” 
Helmholtz added. 

“The atmosphere would be 20 metres high and the tall- 
est mountains only 85 centimetres. The oceans would be 
only slightly deeper.” 

“But that is sufficiently noticeable,’ someone remarked. 

“Take a smaller scale,” Galileo said, “and you would 


discern neither mountains nor oceans. Picture the Earth 
as a ball 12.5 centimetres across, and the tallest moun- 
tains and deepest seas would be represented by uneven 
patches of 0.1 of a millimetre, the thickness of a sheet 
of writing paper.” 

“Which means that our globe is pretty well ironed out,” 
joked a turner. 

“Yes,” Newton answered, “provided one travels far 
enough from the Earth for its apparent size to be 12.5 

It was getting late and so they decided to separate until 
the following evening. 


The sky was unusually clear when the population of 
the castle assembled for their evening talk. Although hard- 
ly an hour had passed since sundown, the sky sparkled 
with stars. There was no Moon: it rose late. 

“See how many stars there are!” said the Russian, point- 
ing to the sky which could be observed very well through 
the polished glass dome, 

In good weather a portion of the ceiling could be opened. 
This was done now, letting in the pure mountain air which 
brought a pleasant coolness after the hot day. 

“I wonder what the stars are made of,” one man asked 
after staring at the sky for a while. 

“Let us first discuss the Sun and Earth,” Newton sug- 
gested. “Then we’ll be able to understand what the stars 
are. The previous lecture gave us a fairly vivid idea of 
the tremendous bulk of the Earth. Now I want to give 
you an idea of the size of the Sun. The Sun is a fiery globe 
which could be made into 1,280,000 fiery globules the 
size of the Earth.” 

“Some globules!” one of the listeners observed. 

“But why does it seem so small?” another asked. 


“Because of its terrific distance from us,” Galileo an- 
swered. “It is 150 million kilometres distant from the Earth.” 

“And yet at that distance it can feel so hot!’ someone 
exclaimed incredulously. 

“That is hardly surprising, if we take into account its 
size,” Newton replied. “Its diameter is 108 times that of 
the Earth. So if we pictured the Earth as a ball 12.5 cen- 
timetres across, the Sun would be a sphere 14 metres in 
diameter, the height of a five-storied building! But in spite 
of the difference in their volume, the Earth and the Sun 
are, in effect, almost identical....” 

Galileo interrupted him. “I’m afraid you're exagger- 
ating,” he said. 

“I know,” Newton replied. “My listeners haven’t quite 
understood me.” 

“It does seem strange,” one of the men said. “The Sun 
is an immense burning-hot body while the Earth is a com- 
paratively tiny cold, dark ball.” 

“That’s so, but not quite,” Newton remarked. “The 
thing is that this little ball is still terribly hot inside. There 
was a time when the Earth sparkled and shone like a little 
sun, and the time may yet come when the Sun will cool 
down like the Earth.” 

“God forbid,” the listeners sighed. 

“The Earth is a tiny cooled sun, while the Sun is an 
enormous Earth which hasn’t cooled yet only because of 
its size.” 

“Impossible!” the listeners exclaimed. 

“Yet this is not only possible but quite obvious,” the 
lecturer observed. ‘‘Firstly, the Earth still retains its in- 
ternal heat. Secondly, what, in fact, is soil, what are gran- 
ites and the overlying sedimentary rocks? They are all 
products of the combustion of metals, gases and metal- 
loids. The Earth is covered with ash and is composed of 
ash. This all points to the huge conflagrations which once 
raged on Earth. Gases burned, and the purest metals and 
metalloids burned.” 


“And the very water of the oceans,” Galileo interjected, 
“is merely a product of the combustion of hydrogen in 
oxygen. We are surrounded with ash: the rocks are ash, 
water is ash, the mountains are ash. The incombustible 
remnants are negligible. They exist, but are concealed in 
the depths of the Earth and are inaccessible to us. Man 
tries to extract his incinerated property from the ash in- 
herited by him. He mines gold, silver, iron, aluminium 
and many other things for his needs, but how paltry are 
his gains!” 

“As for the Sun,” Newton continued, “it will continue 
to glow for a very long time, yet there already appear on 
its surface huge cinders the size of the Earth, and many 
scientists think that one day the Sun will be extinguished.” 

“How awful! When will that happen?” 

“The demise of the Sun will occur in at most several 
tens of millions of years....” 

“Oh!” the audience sighed with relief, “that means nei- 
ther we nor our children have anything to fear.” 

It had grown quite dark. The air was pure and countless 
stars twinkled overhead. 

“All those stars are actually suns,’ Newton said. 
“Enormous, blazing suns not inferior to the luminary 
which sustains organic life on our Earth.” 

“And I thought there was only one Sun,” a fitter re- 
marked with naive surprise. 

“If you undertook to count the stars, you would count 
not more than five thousand suns.” 

“But why does the number of stars on a dark night 
seem infinite?” the listeners asked. 

“We feel this instinctively,” the Russian said, “and our 
impression is not wholly unjustified.” 

“Precisely,” Newton confirmed. “The better the glass 
at our disposal, the more stars can we see. The best tele- 
scopes reveal as many as 200 million stars. ...” 

“Two hundred million suns!’ several voices repeated. 


“You will realise the magnitude of this number if in- 
stead of every star visible to the naked eye you imagine 
40,000 suns, that is, eight times more than are immediate- 
ly apparent in both hemispheres of the sky.” 

“In which case,” Laplace put in, “we would have 10,000 
stars on a patch of the sky the size of the Moon, and each 
of them would be a distant sun.” 

“Look at that bright red star,” an engine operator ex- 
claimed. “That must be a terribly big sun.” 

“Why, that’s Mars,” Galileo said. “A paltry planet like 
the Earth, one of the tiny cooled suns that we call planets. 
It is not self-luminous, like fire, and shines only thanks 
to the reflected light of our Sun. It is brighter than the 
stars because of its nearness to the Earth: the mere 70 
million kilometres separating us is nothing on the scale 
of interstellar distances.” 

“Are there many such planets among the true suns?” 
asked a listener from the seats by the wall. 

“There are seven planets visible to the naked eye in 
both hemispheres of the sky. In telescopes more than 600 
can be observed. The seven big ones are called planets, 
the others, planetoids.” 

“Is that all?” someone asked incredulously, “considering 
the multitude of stars that is rather strange.” 

“You forget their small size and their obscurity,” Gali- 
leo said. “That is why we see so few of them. We can 
See only the nearest planets belonging to our solar sys- 
tem and travelling round the Sun like the Earth, the eighth 
major planet. If our Sun has more than 600 planets, we 
may well assume that other suns have planets, too. But 
how can we see them if the enormous distances make suns 
themselves nothing more than glimmering pinpoints! Most 
of them can’t be seen at all.” 

“Assuming,” Galileo said, “that each sun has an aver- 
age of at least 600 planets—for our Sun is no better than 
any other—the total number of planets should be not less 
than 80,000 millions.” 

12—761 177 

“Which means,” Laplace remarked, “that every person 
could receive a gift of 16 planets, some of which would 
be larger than the Earth. 

“But who is to guarantee that with our weak eyes and 
our puny instruments, we See all the actually existing 
stars? If we see 200 million suns and presume the exist- 
ence of 80,000 million planets, what, then is the number 
of suns and planets invisible to us?” 

The population of the castle used the French language 
for communication. At first there had been a violent con- 
troversy over the common tongue to be used, but it was 
finally decided that it should be the simplest and most con- 
cise. An investigation was carried out, and French was 
found to meet the requirements. All mute letters were dis- 
carded and a phonetic orthography was introduced with 
each sound being written just as it is pronounced. 


The lectures were discontinued for a while because 
our scientists were completely absorbed in the Russian’s 

Franklin invented a propellant 100 times more efficient 
than anything known. Recurrent blasts shook his laboratory 
and piercing hissing sounds and screaches often frightened 
the peaceful inhabitants of the castle. Newton and Lap- 
lace were engaged in endless computations. They wrote 
long rows of figures and formulas, whispered mysteriously 
and meaningfully together, sometimes ejaculating loudly 
as if in heated argument. Helmholtz worked on problems 
of life in ethereal space and elaborated breathing and feed- 
ing systems. 

The Russian consulted one or the other and drew blue- 
prints and travel plans. Galileo was all eagerness, and to- 
gether with Ivanov he worked on a model of a celestial 
vehicle. There were setbacks at first and they had to go 


from models back to drawings and computations, then on 
again to models. A month passed in this manner. They 
met in the glass hall daily, but outsiders were not al- 
lowed in. 

The day finally came when our scientists brought their 
researches to a happy conclusion. 

Everything was abustle in the workshop where the 
strange vehicle, in which our companions planned to visit 
the Moon, was being assembled. They decided to test the 
projectile in a high shed where it was held securely to a 
frame, Let us follow our companions into the well-lit shed 
and have a look at their vehicle and the experiment. 

The vehicle was a 20-metre long cigar-shaped metal 
structure 2 metres in cross-section standing on end. Nu- 
merous portholes let in a sufficient amount of light. Three 
pipes ran down along its walls, protruding at the lower 
end. There were many mechanisms partially shielded by 
metal casings and large tanks of strange liquids. When 
mixed they produced a continuous, uniform blast the prod- 
ucts of which escaped with tremendous force through the 
pipe nozzles in the lower part of the projectile. A row of 
knobs and numerous dials were intended for steering the 
projectile and varying the thrust. The other parts will be 
described in due course. 

Franklin, Ivanov and Galileo entered the vehicle, while 
Laplace, Helmholtz and Newton retreated to a safe dis- 
tance, where they kept glancing from their watches to the 
projectile. An explosion thundered forth followed by a 
deafening roar. The vehicle shuddered and rose as high 
as its tethers would allow. The spectators outside shouted 
something, their eyes sparkling, but words were drowned 
by the noise. Ten minutes passed and the party inside con- 
tacted their companions by telephone and congratulated 
them on the success of the enterprise. The experiment 
went on. For another ten minutes the rocket continued to 
hover and then slowly descended. Ivanov and Franklin 
climbed out and without a word threw themselves into 

12° 179 

the arms of their friends. They were followed by the tardy 
Italian, who declared that only 1/100th of the propellant 
taken for the experiment had been expended. 

The next test—of the controllability of the projectile— 
had to be conducted in public, which was inconvenient in 
the cramped space of the shed. 

It was decided to set the vehicle up in the courtyard 
and observe its manoeuvres there. This time the English- 
man, German and Frenchman boarded it. The spectators 
gathered a short distance away, behind a low fence sur- 
rounding the projectile, which gleamed in the sun like a 
mirror. Many were not aware of the actual purpose of the 
rocket and thought that it was only for meteorological 
research in the upper layers of the atmosphere. 

The three friends took their seats inside and nervously 
awaited the time scheduled for the flight. Helmholtz shiv- 
ered slightly; tense silence reigned. Newton had his hand 
on the lever controlling the rate of combustion and the 
thrust generated by the ejected gases. Laplace was to 
steer the rocket, while Helmholtz looked on, ready to re- 
place either of them in case of need. 

The long-waited moment arrived, and Newton shifted 
the lever.‘Laplace had set his lever in advance, and the 
projectile began very slowly to climb. 

“Gentlemen, the rocket is behaving excellently,” Helm- 
holtz exclaimed joyfully. It was all he could do to retain 
his composure. “Weve climbed 100 metres. Now stop 
the motion!” 

Newton shifted his lever and the rocket stopped mov- 
ing, although the gases continued to escape with tremen- 
dous force. After a few seconds of hovering flight Newton 
suggested that they accelerate their upward motion, in 
which case their apparent weight inside the vehicle would 
double, i.e., each would weigh from 128 to 160 kilograms. 
The safety of this test had been established in the course 
of the preliminary research. His companions had no objec- 
tions, and they sat back more firmly in their seats. New- 


ton moved the lever. They all grew pale. The cushioned 
seats sagged beneath their increased weight. 

“Gentlemen, I can’t stand any more,” Laplace pleaded 
after 20 seconds. ‘‘That’s enough, please!” he entreated 
looking up comically from the depths of the seat into 
which his increased weight had pushed him. Newton turned 
the lever to end the test with a hand weighted down 
by the increased gravity. When they felt well again they 
all hastened to their feet and peered out of the portholes. 

“We've flown the devil of a distance away,” Helmholtz 
remarked with annoyance. The castle and surrounding 
buildings could hardly be seen in the distance. 

“Not the devil of a distance but only two kilometres,” 
Laplace remarked, glancing at the barometer. 

“If we had taken precautions about breathing,’ said 
Newton, “in ten minutes we could have risen to an alti- 
tude of 1,800 kilometres. But now we must think of return- 
ing immediately, otherwise in several seconds we'll suf- 
focate in the rarefied atmosphcre, for the rocket is trav- 
elling at a rate of 200 metres a second.” 

While Newton spoke they had climbed another kilometre 
and began to gasp for air. Newton stopped the burning of 
the propellant. At the Same instant they lost their weight, 
each becoming lighter than a speck of dust. It was a curi- 
ous sensation, but as they continued to coast upwards 
and had to struggle more and more for breath they had 
no desire to make observations. After climbing another two 
kilometres the vehicle stopped as if uncertain of the course 
to follow and began to descend exclusively under the 
force of gravity. The state of weightlessness continued, 
but after 20 seconds the rocket’s fall was retarded, and 
several seconds later a series of blasts brought it lightly 
to rest on its pad in the castle courtyard. During those 20 
seconds they were again pinned down to their seats by the 
increased weight. l 



Our scientists’ success was complete and they decided 
to undertake a flight beyond the atmosphere. 

They marked the occasion by gathering in the round 
hall for a third lecture at which they informed the public 
of the vehicle for flight in ethereal space. 

After briefly describing the projectile, Newton said: 

“Now, with the promise of interplanetary flight, astron- 
omy should be of special interest to us. We learned at our 
previous lectures that the visible universe of stars, or suns, 
contains not less than 80,000 million planets. In our own 
solar system we know for sure of the existence of over 600 
planets. In view of our forthcoming journeys, it would be 
interesting to consider the distances of the planets from the 
Sun and the Earth. Can we cover these distances? Moreover, 
is a human life long enough to undertake such journeys. 

“Our closest celestial neighbour is the Moon. The Moon 
is a child of the Earth, just as the Earth and the six hun- 
dred other planets, including the major planets, are chil- 
dren of the Sun.” 

“Which means,” a voice from the audience remarked, 
“that the Moon is a grandchild of the Sun.” 

“Exactly,” Galileo agreed. “But the Sun has many other 
grandchildren as well: the moons of other planets. Jupiter, 
for example, has eight moons, eight children, and all of 
them, like our Moon, are grandchildren of the Sun.” 

“Let us discuss the Moon,” Newton continued. “It is 
380,000 kilometres from the Earth. Travelling in our space 
vehicle at an average of five kilometres a second, we could 
reach it in 76,000 seconds, that is, less than a day.” 

“There’s the Moon rising,” said one of the listeners. “One 
could probably fly to it in a balloon or an aeroplane... .” 

“Yes,” Ivanov replied, “if the atmosphere extended that 
high! But even then it would take a thousand days, or 
about three years, because we can’t travel in air as fast 
as in a vacuum.” 


“The atmosphere, however,” Laplace remarked, “envel- 
opes the Earth like the skin of an orange, i.e., to an insig- 
nificant height. It is very light, diaphanous attire.” 

“The atmosphere extends to an altitude of 300 kilo- 
metres,” Franklin went on to explain. “But at a height of 
ten kilometres it is already so rarefied that a man is un- 
able to breathe and would inevitably perish. 

“At the very most, the atmosphere reaches to not more 
than 1/1,000th of the distance to the Moon and, naturally, 
it can’t be used for flying to the Moon in a balloon.” 

“Ts that so!” the same listener exclaimed. “I always 
thought that not only the Moon but the stars, too, were 
floating in our atmosphere.” 

“The stars are too far away!” another listener remarked. 

“Yes,” Newton confirmed. “The nearest star is our Sun, 
and it is 150 million kilometres away. You can imagine 
how far off the other suns must be if we see them as mere 
glittering specks though some of them are actually much 
brighter than the Sun.” 

“Flying in our vehicle at a speed of 10 kilometres a 
second,” Franklin said, “we could reach the Sun in 
15,000,000 seconds, or less than half a year. The distance 
to the planets of our solar system can also be expressed 
in terms of years and, if we discount difficulties other than 
time, it would be quite feasible to reach them in our vehicle.” 

“The planets of other suns, however, are inaccessible to 
us,” Helmholz remarked. “The human span of life would 
be too short to reach them in.” 

“In fact,” the Russian said, “the second closest star (a) 
of the constellation Centaurus, is 38,000 million kilometres 
away. It would take about 12,000 years to cover this dis- 
tance, even travelling at 100 kilometres a second, which 
is a feasible speed. If a Jarge company embarked on such 
a journey, only the four-hundredth generation would ar- 
rive at that sun.” , 

“What a pity,” Galileo exclaimed, “that those 80,000 


million planets which Newton mentioned are forever inac- 
cessible to us!” 

“Indeed it is,’ said Ivanov, “but don’t forget that hu- 
manity is immortal and 12,000 years is nothing to it. So 
even if those suns and planets are not our inheritance, 
they may become the inheritance of mankind as a whole.” 

“And yet,” Newton observed, “the Sun with its planets 
and their satellites are more important to us, for we can 
settle them while we can only dream of other suns and 
their planets. Here is a scale model of our planetary sys- 
tem. The scale is 1/1,000,000,000th. Imagine a fiery 
sphere 139 centimetres in diameter—the Sun. Revolving 
round it in approximately the same plane are the planets 
and their moons. The nearer to the Sun the greater their 
speed. The nearest and fastest is Mercury. In our model 
it is shown as a ball five millimetres in diameter (a small 
pea) and 58 metres from the Sun. Next comes Venus, 
represented by a 12-millimetre ball (the size of a hazel- 
nut) 105 metres from the Sun.” 

“And there’s Venus itself,” Galileo interrupted, point- 
ing to the West where a bright star gleamed in the gather- 
ing dusk. 

“Venus shines brighter than any other star,” Laplace 

“I once even observed it in daytime, when the Sun was 
shining,” said Franklin. “Mercury and Venus can be seen 
either in the West or in the East. Mercury is the more 
difficult to observe because it is very close to the Sun 
and sets almost immediately after it.” 

“Let us continue,’ Newton said. “After Venus, at a 
distance of 148 metres from the central body, we have 
the Earth, a nut 13 millimetres across.” 

“At last!” one of the listeners remarked. “You’ve re- 
duced the Earth almost to the other planets.” 

“It was not my intention to belittle the Earth,” Newton 
replied. “That is how nature has made it and you'll have 
noticed that it is larger than the first two planets. The 


next planet is Mars, represented by a pea 6.5 millimetres 
in diameter. It travels more slowly than the Earth because 
it is farther away—227 metres. Look there! See that bright 
red star in the East? It has already risen fairly high. 
That’s Mars. It has two satellites, tiny specks too small for 
our scale, which circle it with terrific speed and at the 
same time travel about the Sun together with their 

“You've forgotten the Earth’s Moon,” Laplace broke in. 
“The Moon is the most accessible to us, and therefore the 
most interesting body. Our exploration of celestial bodies 
will start from the Moon.” 

“That’s so,” Newton agreed. “Our Moon is represented 
by a millet seed 3.5 millimetres across and 38 centimetres 
from the Earth. It revolves round the Earth and together 
with it round the Sun, like the other planets and their 

“Beyond Mars we find more than 600 planets represent- 
ed by tiny poppy seeds and specks of dust. They vary 
widely in size but all are very small. They form a rather 
tightly packed belt, which, however, doesn’t prevent them 
from moving uniformly in one direction around the Sun. 
Beyond this swarm of planets we find the largest planet 
of all, Jupiter, represented by a big apple or a small melon 
14 centimetres across. The Earth looks puny by compar- 
ison, for we could make 1,390 terrestrial globes from the 
material of Jupiter. 

“It’s the biggest planet, and in our scale it will be 750 
metres from the Sun. It has eight satellites the size of 
millet and poppy seeds.” 

“The nearest one,” Laplace remarked, “is a speck of 

“And with this planet,” Newton said, bowing to his 
audience, “allow me to end my narrative.” 

Everyone thanked the lecturer and, after wishing each 
other good night, they separated. 



The lectures, however, were discontinued: our scien- 
tists were so engrossed in their space vehicle that they 
lost interest in instructing their audience in the celestial 
sciences. They decided to carry out a flight beyond the 
atmosphere as soon as possible. The vehicle was hermet- 
ically sealed and filled with pure oxygen (without nitro- 
gen) to one-tenth of atmospheric pressure, or half the 
pressure of the oxygen of the air. This made breathing 
easy while at the same time avoiding the overstimulation 
produced by the inhalation of oxygen of atmospheric pres- 
sure. Furthermore, the low internal gas pressure enabled 
the rocket hull to be made comparatively thin. It was 
planned to take a large stock of substances, by mixing 
which oxygen could be produced. Carbon-dioxide and 
other human refuse would be absorbed in the vehicle by 
alkalies and other preparations, thus continually purifying 
the atmosphere of the capsule polluted by breathing. 

The daily requirement per person of these substances 
for breathing purposes was about 10 kilograms. 

Since in the unusual flight conditions a person might 
easily lose his presence of mind and fail to operate the 
necessary controls, it was decided to develop an automatic 
pilot which would shift the various switches at the re- 
quired time and steer the rocket at the correct speed and 
in the right direction. 

By common consent it was decided to feed the follow- 
ing instructions into the automatic pilot: the rocket would 
take off parallel to the plane of the equator at an angle 
of 25° to the horizon in the direction of the Earth’s rota- 
tion. During the first 10 seconds its velocity would in- 
crease rapidly to 500 metres. In passing through the atmos- 
phere the rate of the acceleration would be low until the 
air was sufficiently rarefied. With the Earth’s atmosphere 
left behind the velocity would again increase rapidly, the 
direction of flight gradually changing until, at an altitude 


of 1,000 kilometres, the rocket would enter into circular 
orbit. The speed at that point should be such as to keep 
the vehicle in a circular path about the globe without 
approaching it. The automatic pilot, of course, could be 
switched off or reset. 


Time flew swiftly. There was much work to be done, 
many tests to be carried out and there were many more 
setbacks. Much time was spent on improving the injector, 
a device for feeding the two liquid propellants into the 
combustion chamber, where they exploded on contact. The 
temperature was enormous, and it was hard to find mate- 
rials which would be both refractory and durable. Ordi- 
nary pumps were unsuitable because they required a high 
driving power, and consequently an engine capacity which 
the rocket did not possess. A possible design was that of 
a Giffard steam-jet pump (injector) in which the work was 
done by the propellant itself. Unlike conventional rockets, 
their projectile required an injector. In conventional rock- 
ets the pressure of the combustion gases acts on the 
propellant storage tanks, which therefore have to be thick- 
walled and very heavy. When the propellant supply is 
small a rocket can climb and fly even with heavy tanks. 
With an enormous propellant supply the tanks had to be 
relieved of pressure to reduce their weight. This could 
be achieved only if pumps or injectors were employed. 
During the initial tests, when the flights were of short 
duration, it was possible to do without them. It was also 
necessary to find suitable materials for the exhaust pipes, 
the rocket skin and other parts. Much time went into per- 
fecting the controls, the temperature and air-breathing reg- 
ulators, etc. At long last the date was fixed for a flight 
beyond the atmosphere, round the Earth. 


At an altitude of three or four kilometres the sultry 
climate of tropical countries, which is so oppressive in 
lowlands lying close to sea level, turns into eternal spring, 
with its mildness, sunlight and stable weather conditions. 
This was the sort of the locality where our anchorets lived. 
There were very many clear days and an abundance of 
light, the air was dry and the temperature even, generally 
10-15°C lower than at sea level. The temperature ranged 
from 10 to 20°C in the shade during the day-time, drop- 
ping considerably at night. But then, at night they hardly 
ever worked in the open, preferring to find jobs indoors, 
where it was warm. Thanks to perpetual spring, people 
could work all the year round in the shade of trees or 
awnings. They had to shield themselves from the sun, for 
it was much more intense than down in the low valleys, 
and more liable to produce a sunstroke. 

* * * 

From the simple rocket they proceeded to the compound 
rocket made up of several simple ones. The complete set- 
up represented an elongated, streamlined body, 100 me- 
tres long and 4 metres across and resembling a mammoth 
spindle. It was divided by lateral partitions into 20 sec- 
tions, each of which constituted a self-contained rocket- 
propelled apparatus, i.e., each section carried a supply of 
propellants, a combustion chamber with a self-operating 
injector, an exhaust nozzle, etc. There was a middle sec- 
tion which had no propulsion motors and served as a com- 
partment. It was 20 metres long and 4 metres in diameter. 

The injectors were designed for continuously feeding 
the propellants at an even rate into the combustion pipe, 
and they were similar in operation to Giffard’s steam in- 
jectors. The compound-rocket construction made it pos- 
sible to achieve comparatively low weight combined with 
tremendous thrust. The combustion pipes formed coils 
which expanded gradually towards the exhaust nozzle. 
Some of the coils wound athwart the rocket, others were 


wound longitudinally. By revolving in two mutually per- 
pendicular planes the exhaust gases gave the rocket great- 
er stability. It did not yaw and pitch like a poorly guided 
vessel but flew straight as an arrow. The exhaust nozzles, 
which projected along the sides of the rocket, were all 
pointed in almost the same direction, forming a spiral 
about the circumference of the rocket. 

The combustion chambers, injectors and exhaust pipes 
were made of extremely refractory and durable substances, 
such as tungsten. A motor was encased in a chamber 
through which flowed one of the propellants. The evapo- 
ration of the liquid kept it sufficiently cool. The other 
liquid was kept in isolated tanks. The rocket skin consist- 
ed of three layers. The inside layer was of a strong metal, 
with portholes of quartz covered over with a layer of or- 
dinary glass, and air-tight doors. The second was a refrac- 
tory layer with very low heat conductivity. The outside 
layer was a fairly thin but very refractory metal shell. 
During the rocket’s acceleration through the atmosphere 
the external shell would heat to a white glow, but the 
heat would be radiated into surrounding space without 
penetrating inside. Inward radiation was prevented by a 
gas coolant continuously circulating between the outside 
and inside layers through the porous, low heat-conductive 
middle layer. The thrust was controlled by a complex sys- 
tem of injectors. The combustion could be started or 
stopped at will. These and other devices made it possible 
to change the direction of the exhaust and the orientation 
of the rocket’s axis. 

The interior temperature was controlled by a system of 
valves regulating the flow of the gas coolant through the 
middle layer of the rocket walls. Oxygen for breathing 
was supplied from special reservoirs, Other devices were 
designed for absorbing the waste products of the skin and 
lungs, and they too could be adjusted to suit the passen- 
gers’ needs. There were compartments containing supplies 
of food and water. There were special suits to be worn 


for emerging into vacuum space or the hostile atmosphere 
of strange planets. There were numerous general- and 
special-purpose tools and irstruments. There were tanks 
of water to accommodate the travellers during periods of 
increased relative gravity. Submerged in the water, they 
were provided with spevial breathing pipes protruding 
into the rocket’s atmosphere. The water offset any increase 
in weight during the short period of acceleration. In 
such a tank a person could move his limbs as freely as 
on Earth without any sense of burden, like a swimmer 
or like the olive oil in wine in Platos experiment. This 
ease and freedom of inotion made it possible to operate all 
the rocket contrcls freely, to keep control of the tempera- 
ture, thrust force, direction of flight, etc. For this, levers 
and switches were submerged in the water. Furthermore, 
there was a special automatic pilot which could operate 
all the rocket controls for several minutes. During that 
time there was no need to look after the controls, which 
operated by themselves according to commands fed to 
them in advance. The supplies included seeds of various 
fruits, vegetables and sereals to be planted in special green- 
houses which would be erected in outer space from pre- 
fabricated structural elements. 

The volume of the rocket was about 800 cubic metres. 
It could have carried 800 tons of water. Less than a third 
of this volume (240 tons) was occupied by the two liquid 
propellants discovered by Franklin. This quantity was suf- 
ficient for 50 accelerations of the rocket to the velocity 
required to escape from the solar system forever and for 
50 corresponding decelerations. Such was the propulsive 
power of the fuels. The rocket proper with all its accesso- 
ries weighed 40 tons. The supplies, instruments and green- 
house elements weighed 30 tons. The passengers and every- 
thing else weighed less than 10 tons. Thus, the weight of 
the rocket and the pay load was one-third of the weight of 
the propellants. The living quarters, i.e., the sections filled 
with rarefied oxygen, occupied a volume of about 400 cu- 


bic metres. It was decided that 20 people would embark 
on the flight. Each would be provided with 20 cubic me- 
tres of living space which, with the atmosphere being con- 
tinually purified, was quite adequate. The 21 compartments 
were connected by small passages. The average volume 
of each compartment was about 32 cubic metres, half of 
which was occupied by the necessary furnishings, equip- 
ment and the propellants, leaving 16 cubic metres of free 
space. The middle compartments were larger and provided 
excellent quarters for one person. One compartment in the 
broadest section of the rocket was 20 metres long and 
served as a drawing-room. All the compartments had port- 
holes provided with inside and outside shutters. 


The outside world had been totally unaware of our scien- 
tists’ plans. The newspapers had kept silent, and the scien- 
tists had said nothing. These events took place in the year 
2017. But even then there were secluded places, remote 
nooks from which hardly any news leaked to the greater 
world. The whole population of the community consisted 
of the personnel, workers and associates of the scientists, 
and none of them cared for publicity. 

The rocket site was not far from the castle, on a slope 
with a gradient of 25° or 30° to the horizon. It was open 
to observation from airships and aeroplanes which often 
carried cargoes and passengers over the area. In many 
respects it was like the case of the Wright brothers more 
than a century earlier: Europe and the world began to 
believe in them only after two years, and although many 
train passengers had seen the brothers flying their aero- 
plane, people had refused to give credit to the stories of 
eyewitnesses. i 



Newton, Laplace, Franklin and Ivanov were chosen for 
the flight. The crew also included 16 workers handpicked 
to perform all the duties required to man the rocket. The 
whole community came to see the travellers off. Long be- 
fore launching time a crowd surrounded the rocket. The 
weather was fine and the sun shone brightly. True, there 
was nothing extraordinary in this as it was the usual weath- 
er for the locality. The air was dry, crisp and invigor- 
ating. The dryness of the region made it necessary for 
the castle’s inhabitants to irrigate their fields, orchards 
and gardens. There were many waterfalls and rapid moun- 
tain streams from which water was diverted to the 
orchards and cultivated fields. The rocket stood amidst 
attractive fruit trees, and stately sequoias towered a short 
way off. Good wishes and embraces were exchanged and 
to the excited shouts of the crowd all twenty travellers 
boarded the rocket. They sealed the openings hermetically 
and switched on the electric lights. The double shutters 
were drawn and the men submerged themselves in the 
water tanks. They breathed through the breathing pipes 
and could move their hands freely and steer the vehicle 
with the help of levers submerged in the water. Newton’s 
job was to control the thrust in the exhaust pipes; Lap- 
lace was to steer the rocket and also to neutralise any rota- 
tional motion that might appear; Franklin looked after the 
air conditioning; Ivanov looked after other things and 
everything. He could communicate with his companions, 
and they among themselves, through a system of voice 
pipes. The other sixteen men could only inform one of the 
head-workers of their needs, the latter, if necessary, passed 
the information on to Ivanov. This time Ivanov was 
elected to supervise the flight. 
` “Gentlemen,” he inquired. “Can we start our flight? Is 
everything in order? Are you all ready?” 

Everything was reported to be in order and the passen- 


gers ready. Ivanov shifted a lever, as he had done before. 
A series of blasts could be heard which soon turned into 
a monotonous deafening roar. The passengers’ ears were 
protected by the earpieces and the layer of water, other- 
wise their eardrums would not have withstood it. Electric 
light penetrated through small windows in the coffin-like 
tanks where our friends lay submerged in water. The ‘‘de- 
ceased” were lively enough, however, and they looked 
about them unperturbed, examining the familiar walls of 
the rocket and the cabinets and instruments which they 
themselves had attached. 

“Gentlemen,” Ivanov informed them, “the relative grav- 
ity is now ten times greater than terrestrial gravity. Some 
of you now weigh 650 or 800 kilograms. Do you feel the 
difference? Does anyone feel any pain or discomfort?” 

“All is fine! An excellent bath! Complete relaxation! No 
change in weight! Complete freedom of motion! Simply 
wonderful!” a chorus of reassuring and even happy voices 

Several seconds passed. 

“It’s hot, the breathing air’s too hot!” one rather stout 
worker complained. 

Ivanov passed the complaint on to Franklin who turned 
a switch to accelerate the circulation of the gas coolant. 
The temperature dropped. 

Several more seconds passed. 

“It’s getting cold,” someone complained. 

This was also rectified. All complaints were immediately 
dealt with: at one point it became hard to breathe because 
of the accumulation of carbon dioxide; then the rocket 
began to rotate about its longitudinal axis and the weaker 
passengers felt giddy. No one complained, however, when 
there was an excess of oxygen, but this was not allowed 
just as drinking is not allowed, even though it enlivened 
everybody. l 

The thrust was not constant, since considerations of 
economy in regard to the propellants—their energy reserve 

13—761 193 

—called for a strict, previously computed sequence of 
gas pressures to be maintained. This was effected automat- 
ically. As a result the relative gravity changed continual- 
ly. No one noticed this, however, nor could they have done, 
thanks to the water in which they were submerged, which 
had the same density as the average density of their bodies. 
Only several poorly secured objects fell off the walls. 
However no one heard them fall because of the roar and 
din of the rocket motors. 


Let us leave our companions to continue their flight and 
return to the castle’s inhabitants who had gathered to see 
them off. The crowd saw the rocket lurch forward and 
gather speed at an angle to the horizon. Many started 
back in fright. All were deafened by the roar, but it sub- 
sided rapidly as the rocket climbed higher and higher, 
heading towards the east, in the direction of the Earth’s 
rotation about its axis. In ten seconds it had covered five 
kilometres and was travelling with a spead of 1,000 me- 
tres per second. It could hardly be seen through a power- 
ful field-glass, and then only thanks to the fact that it had 
begun to glow from air friction. Actually it disappeared 
from sight almost instantaneously. A deafening roar mount- 
ed steadily and then grew weaker. Peals of thunder con- 
tinued to shake the air even when the rocket had disap- 
peared from sight. The people looked up for clouds, but the 
sky was clear. The thunder was caused by the atmospher- 
ic wave produced by the rocket cleaving through the air. 

Helmholtz and Galileo invited everyone to the assembly 
hall where they could relax and talk. Some took armchairs, 
others occupied seats forming an amphitheatre. Fruit and 
soft drinks were served by way of refreshment. There was 
a buzz of conversation, as people discussed the rocket and 
its passengers. 

Galileo suggested that they discuss the event. The 


people made themselves comfortable and the hubbub sub- 

“Gentlemen,” Galileo began. “I should like to give you 
an idea of how our friends must have felt in the rocket. 
I’ve overheard some of your arguments and I find that 
many of you are wrong. Let us assume that acting on the 
rocket—the rocket alone, but not the bodies in it—there 
is a constant force in one direction, for instance, the thrust. 
Assume, for a moment, that the gravitational] attraction of 
the Earth and other celestial bodies has disappeared. The 
thrust force will propel the rocket with uniform accelera- 
tion, i.e., the velocity will increase in proportion to the 
time. Anybody inside the rocket not touching the walls 
or floor will seem to be falling in the opposite direction 
of the external force acting on the rocket. Thus a body 
will seem to be falling with uniform acceleration. If a 
floor, table or any other obstacle restricts this motion, the 
falling body will press against it. This pressure will be 
equal to the apparent weight, the action of which in no 
way differs from weight due to the attraction of a planet. 
The magnitude of this apparent weight will be greater, the 
greater the per-second increase in the rocket’s velocity. 
The acceleration of the free fall on Earth is approximately 
10 metres per second. If an external force imparts to the 
rocket the same acceleration, the weight of an object in- 
side will be the same as at the surface of the Earth. If the 
per-second acceleration is ten times greater, the apparent 
weight inside the rocket will also be ten times greater 
than on Earth. This artificial gravity, as I have remarked, 
will be directed opposite to the force acting on the rocket.” 

“What effect have the Earth, the Sun and the planets on 
the apparent weight inside the rocket?” several voices asked. 

“J shall now proceed to explain this,’ Galileo replied. 
“Let us consider, for example, the effects of the Earth’s 
gravitational attraction. 

“The Earth’s gravity acts not only on the rocket but on 
all the objects in it as well. If the rocket moves in any 

13" 195 

direction under the influence of this all-penetrating force, 
any object inside or near the rocket subjected to the action 
-of the same force will move in a similar way. An observer 
inside the rocket will see no difference between the motion 
of the rocket and the objects about it. Thus, the effects 
of the Earth’s gravity can’t be observed in relation to the 
rocket. We therefore conclude that neither the Earth nor 
any other celestial body has any influence on the apparent 
gravity inside the rocket, i.e., they can neither increase 
nor diminish it. This, of course, holds good for rectilinear, 
uniform, all-penetrating forces.” 

“Consequently,” Helmholtz said, “the apparent gravity 
inside a rocket depends only on the acceleration caused by 
the exhaust gases ejected from the nozzles. If the per- 
second increase of velocity (or acceleration) is 100 metres 
all objects inside the rocket will be 10 times heavier than 
on Earth. The Earth, Sun and planets, for their part, don’t 
affect the apparent gravity.” 

“From this, it can also be concluded,” the Italian re- 
marked, “that when the combustion of the fuel is stopped 
and the rocket is no longer accelerated by the pressure of 
the exhaust gases the relative gravity will disappear com- 
pletely, regardless of the magnitude of the all-penetrating 
gravitational forces. The crew will then float in their atmos- 
phere, neither falling nor pressing against the floor or 
obstacles. They'll be like fish in water with.the advantage 
that they won't have to overcome the great resistance of 
water when they move.” 

“What a wonderful state,” several voices exclaimed. 

“I have a question,” one of the listeners said. “When 
the rocket leaves the atmosphere there will no longer be 
any external pressure acting on it. Won’t the elasticity of 
its internal atmosphere explode it?” 

“The rocket’s walls can stand a pressure one hundred 
times greater. Besides, the rocket is filled with pure oxy- 
gen of one-tenth the density of the atmosphere. Its elas- 
ticity is one-tenth that of air, and the partial pressure is 


half that of the oxygen of the atmosphere. Thus the pres- 
sure on the walls will be one-tenth of normal atmospheric 
pressure. This is too small to damage the rocket.” 

“Isn’t there a danger of developing a haemorrhage in 
such a rarefied atmosphere?” a worker asked. 

“The effects of such an atmosphere were successfully 
tested during the preliminary experiments,’ Helmholtz 
said. “But if the crew experiences discomfort they can 
make their gas medium denser by adding as much nitro- 
gen as they want to.” 

“Just one question about the temperature,” asked a very 
young man. “The temperature of outer space is very close 
to absolute zero, or 273°C below freezing point. Can people 
stand that temperature?” 

“The temperature of space is determined by means of a 
thermometer,” Helmholtz explained, “and what we actual- 
ly do is to determine the temperature of the thermometer. 
In the absence of any celestial or terrestrial radiating 
bodies, the thermometer like any other isolated body loses 
all its heat through radiation, ultimately cooling down 
to absolute zero, or 237°C below freezing point.” 

“We don’t even know what might happen to a body in 
such an event,” Galileo remarked. “Its properties may 
change completely. Its internal cohesion may increase in- 
definitely and it may contract tremendously even to the 
point of disappearing altogether.” 

“Yes,” Helmholtz agreed, “it’s difficult even to imagine 
what might happen to a body in such conditions. But 
ethereal space is filled with a variety of vibrations, and 
electrons and many smaller particles of matter move vio- 
lently in it. This is caused by the radiation of the Sun, 
planets, Earth, and the ether itself. In practice, therefore, 
the atoms of a thermometer or any other body can’t stop 
moving and a body can’t lose all its energy. We can neg- 
lect the radiation of distant suns, or stars, and of the plan- 
ets, which is negligible compared with that of the Sun. Our 
rocket, flying some distance from the Earth, will be almost 


constantly subjected to solar radiation. The question is, 
to what temperature can this radiation heat the rocket?” 

“That depends not only on the distance of the body 
from the Sun,” said Galileo, “but on its shape, colour, mo- 
tion, and other factors.” 

“Precisely,” Helmholtz assented. “The scientist Stefan 
developed a law by which to determine, at least approxi- 
mately, the temperature of planets and other even very 
small bodies subjected to different conditions. According 
to his law, a plate perpendicular to the Sun’s rays at the 
distance of the Earth, with the side facing the Sun covered 
with carbon black and the reverse side prevented from 
losing any heat should be heated to 152°C. This is the 
maximum possible temperature on Earth, and we might 
expect such temperatures on the Moon. If we had a revolv- 
ing dark ball, its mean temperature would be 27°C. The 
same could be achieved with a rocket painted black, and 
if its shaded side were prevented from radiating heat and 
given the right shape its temperature could reach 152°C. 
If the ball isn’t black and reflects an appreciable quantity 
of heat back into space, its mean temperature will be 
lower. Thus, in the conditions of the Earth, which reflects 
20 per cent of the Sun’s rays, the temperature would be 
13°C (the mean temperature of the Earth reduced to sea 
level is 15.5°C).” 

“That’s all very well,” one of the workers objected. “But 
what will it be like in the rocket at the distance from the 
Sun of, say, Mars? Won’t the passengers freeze to death 

“The answer is best supplied by figures,” Galileo replied. 
“Even twice as far from the Sun as the Earth, the maxi- 
mum temperature of a black plate is 27°C above zero. By 
using different means to prevent radiation from the shaded 
side of the rocket and facilitating the absorbtion of solar 
rays on the other side, we could achieve, if not 27°C, at 
least 20° or 15°C, which is quite adequate. We could use 
heating, but this is unnecessary, considering the constant, 


if weak, radiation of the Sun. In fact, we could increase 
the temperature of the rocket at will, by beaming solar 
rays on it with a system of mirrors. There, in ether, metal 
mirrors would become neither dim nor deformed under 
gravity, since it is nonexistent outside or inside the rocket.” 

“Well,” a young worker remarked, “it’s clear that the 
rocket need not fear the cold. What I can’t understand, 
though, is why the relative gravity in the rocket, when 
fuel combustion begins, doesn’t crush the passengers. You 
said that it could increase tenfold for a short time, which 
means that if I weigh 80 kilograms now I’d weigh 800 in 
the rocket. If my head weighs three kilograms, it would 
weigh thirty in the rocket. Why, it would be just as if you 
had loaded over 700 kilograms on me! I couldn’t stand it! 
My blood would be almost as heavy as mercury! My blood 
vessels would burst and my hands would be torn off by 
their own weight.” 

“That’s so!’ a chorus of voices exclaimed. 

“True enough,” Galileo confirmed. “And yet our friends 
will remain hale and hearty, because they are submerged 
in the recumbent position in a liquid of the same density 
as the mean density of their bodies. You'll understand 
when I show you an experiment. Observe this figurine, 
which is made of a very fragile material. I drop it and it 
breaks into pieces. Now I take a similar figurine and place 
it in a strong transparent sphere filled with a liquid of the 
same density as the figurine. Observe that it neither buoys 
up nor sinks down, no matter how I turn the sphere. Now 
let us throw the sphere and hit it with a hammer. You 
see the figurine is intact. Now I place the sphere in a cen- 
trifugal machine and by rotating it increase the weight of 
the figurine, the sphere and the liquid a hundredfold. See, 
the figurine still remains intact.” 

“The reason is,” Helmholtz interjected, “that the weight 
of the liquid balances the weight of the figurine, so that 
its members don’t press against each other or the walls 
of the sphere. It doesn’t even touch the walls.” 


“Different parts of the human body,” Galileo went on, 
“have different densities. Bones, muscles and fats are all 
of different density. This makes for some tension between 
them, which increases considerably when the relative grav- 
ity is great. But a tenfold increase is not enough to cause 
a rupture of the tissues. We can perform the same exper- 
iment with living creatures: a fish, a frog, and so on. 
We can increase their weight a hundredfold. See, they all 
remain alive.” 

“Gentlemen!” someone exclaimed. “These creatures are 
alive, but how about our friends travelling beyond the 
atmosphere? Are they well, and where are they?” 

“They may be flying over our castle at this very mo- 

All eyes turned involuntarily to the transparent dome. 

“What is that little star creeping eastward?” a very 
young worker asked. “Could it be an aerolite?” 

“Where? Where?” several voices asked. “Oh, there it is! 
There, there, in the constellation of Cassiopeia!” 

“Gentlemen,” Galileo said, “that is no meteor. A meteor 
leaves a trail in the atmosphere and usually disappears 
rapidly. This star leaves no trail. Furthermore, it moves 
much more slowly and, as you see, remains in the sky. 

“Ten hours have passed Since our friends embarked on 
their flight. In this time they must have circled the Earth 
six times. What we probably see is the rocket displaying 
a powerful electric light. Our friends are signalling to us 
that all is well.” 

Galileo had hardly uttered these words when the star 
began to blink, disappearing and reappearing again at reg- 
ular intervals. 

“Unquestionably our friends are there,” Helmholtz said, 
“and they’re communicating with us by Morse. They are 
reporting that everything is well and they are alive and in 
good spirits.” 

The meeting broke up in a tumult of joyful cheers. 
Eyes sparkled and everyone breathed more freely. 



Let us see how our friends are faring in the rocket. We 
know that they felt well in their water-filled “coffins”. 
They communicated with each other and freely moved 
their limbs. Their only concern was not to expose a single 
limb of their bodies, otherwise it would become very 
heavy and fall back into the water like a piece of lead. Their 
bodies could be exposed only after the rate of combustion 
was reduced. Ten minutes later the oppressive roar of the 
rocket ceased and only a ringing sound lingered in their 

“The motors have been switched off,” Ivanov informed 
the others, and proceeded to emerge from the water. 

The sensation was as if the rocket had suddenly stopped 
moving. Yet they were hurtling forward at a terrific 
rate. The only thing that had ceased was the chemical 
reaction between the combining propellants. Many were 
reluctant to leave the water, just as we are often reluctant 
to get out of a soft bed in the morning. They saw the Rus- 
sian clamber out of his tank and several times fly back 
and forth about his compartment before he finally grasped 
something to cling to. The water creeped out of the 
tank and flew about in drops until they hit the walls and 
the water spread all over them. Ivanov laughed as he 
dried himself with a towel. 

“Gentlemen,” he said, “it’s time to get up, you’ve rest- 
ed long enough.” 

Urged on by curiosity, our companions quickly clam- 
bered out of their tanks, and found themselves repeating 
Ivanov’s antics. They still felt a ringing in their ears, but 
their laughter and vociferations drowned that nervous 
sound. They dried themselves and donned light clothing. 
The water was carefully collected and deposited in the 
tanks. Everything was set in order. Loose objects drifting 


back and forth, tumbling until they gradually slowed down, 
were all firmly secured in their places. 

The crew gathered in the big cylindrical cabin in the 
middle of the ship. It was about four metres in diameter, 
like the other compartments, but five times longer, i.e., 
20 metres. It was large enough for 20 persons. The doors 
leading to the other compartments were open, and our 
companions flew in one after another: one Sailing side- 
ways, another upside down, though each thought it was 
he who was right side up, and the others were not, that 
he was motionless while the others were flying about. It 
was difficult to keep from moving. The Sensation was very 
weird and called forth no end of witty remarks, jokes and 
laughter. The men’s eyes bulged from fright, perhaps, or 
surprise. ... 

“Gentlemen, we'll be having much more occasion for 
surprise and merriment,” Newton remarked. “Let us calm 
down and discuss our Situation. I mean not your sensa- 
tions but our position in outer space.” 

The hubbub subsided, but the men continued to drift 
about and jostle each other like fish in water, only their 
bodies pointed in different directions. Everyone was all 

“Judging by the time,” said Laplace, looking at his 
watch, “‘we’ve left the atmosphere behind. The rocket 
seems to be at rest, but that is purely illusory. According 
to the previously drawn-up programme carried out by the 
automatic pilot, the rocket should now circumnavigate 
the Earth forever. Its location is very stable: one thou- 
sand kilometres from the Earth’s surface, travelling in a 
circular orbit with a constant speed of about 7'⁄ kilome- 
tres a second, and circling the globe once every hour and 
forty minutes, approximately. Like the Moon we are now 
an Earth satellite and like the Moon we can never fall 
back, because the centrifugal force is balanced by the at- 
traction of the Earth. 



“Gentlemen, we're not moving at all!” an anxious voice 
exclaimed. “Were sealed off in an illumined vault going 
nowhere. I can’t understand what’s happening and I don’t 
believe were moving or anything....”’ 

“I must be going mad,” someone else said. “Everything 
is in commotion, nothing keeps its place, and we’ve just 
become so many birds or fish. But they, at least, can 
keep their balance, while we twirl about head over heels 
and bump into each other, even though the room is large 
enough. I know I’ve lost my relative weight, but I never 
expected to feel as I do now. It’s positive phantasmago- 
ria! My heart jumps every minute and I’m afraid of falling 
as soon as I see that nothing supports me....” 

“Be calm, friends,’ the Russian said. “Well gradually 
become accustomed to this strange state and it will seem 
quite natural. As to your doubts, they'll be dispelled as 
soon aS we open the shutters and see God’s world. I think, 
however, that we shouldn’t hurry with this: we’re wrought 
up as it is, and there’s no telling what will happen when 
we see sky and Earth changed beyond recognition. Some 
of you may wonder at all these precautions, but the view 
may be so startling that the first impressions may com- 
pletely unnerve you. At the same time, however, I can 
reassure you with the news that Laplace has already looked 
out of a small porthole and found that the rocket has 
become a Satellite of the Earth, we are in complete safety, 
and everything is proceeding according to the programme. 


“Instead of getting worried,’ said Franklin, “let us 
rather think of our ‘home’ and engage in something more 
pleasant. It’s light, warm and clean here, the air is pure, 
there are twenty of us.... We.can read, sleep, eat, con- 
verse or retire to our cabins, of which there are twenty 


besides this fine drawing-room. Let one remain on duty to 
look after the temperature and air-conditioning.” 

“Hear, hear!’ several voices exclaimed. ‘‘Let’s retire to 
rest or converse,” and the rocket’s inhabitants fluttered 
away in ones and twos and threes to their respective cab- 
ins. The cabins were lit up and had all the necessary con- 
veniences. To move around the men had to push against 
the walls. This mode of travel was not so easy, and many 
collided with door jambs, from which they rebounded to 
continue their flight. Others, however, were nimbler and 
shot through all the doors without brushing against a 
single one. When one of them reached his cabin, he had 
to steady himself at the wall before diving in. Some put 
out the electric lights and went to sleep in mid-air, the 
slightest involuntary motion sending them drifting slowly 
from one end of the room to the other. Even breathing and 
the circulation of the blood affected their motion and po- 
sition. There were no beds, but no one complained of hard- 
ness. It was warm, too, and when preparing for sleep, 
each member of the crew could raise the temperature of 
the air in his cabin by several degrees. If he preferred to 
keep his head cool he could crawl up to the neck into a 
special woollen sleeping-bag. Some took books to read. 
There were light folding frames to which one could strap 
oneself to avoid floating about. This was convenient for 
reading at a lamp, but for sleeping it was not necessary. 
Those who customarily tossed about in their sleep could 
fasten themselves to two straps attached to the walls or 
slip behind a net screen, rather like a fisherman’s net. A 
book could be held with the greatest ease since it weighed 
nothing, but the pages fanned out and had to be clamped 
down by a spring or simply held down with a finger. Some 
found solace in talking about the Earth and in nostalgic 
reminiscences of the life left behind. Others refreshed 
themselves with food. Special provisions had to be taken 
for eating and drinking in the rocket, as the normal pro- 
cedure was impossible. A table and chair would not stand 


in place and the slightest push would send them drifting 
away in all directions; you could catch your furniture and 
set it down, but it would only float off again. The furni- 
ture, of course, could be screwed to the walls, but what 
need was there for a table, if the dishes didn’t fall? What 
need for chairs or couches if a person could rest on air 
and wouldn’t move unless pushed? What need for beds, 
spring mattresses, blankets and pillows if the air was soft- 
er still? Merely to create an illusion of the terrestrial way 
of life? But what was the use of an easy chair or bed, if 
you could stay in it only if you were strapped down! 
Plates and decanters and the food itself would have to be 
fastened. If you laid your spoon or fork on the table and 
it sailed away towards your neighbour who had to be on 
the alert to prevent a fork poking his eye out or a knife 
from grazing his nose! It would swing on a string or de- 
scribe circles, smearing the table or the face of your neigh- 
bour. When cut loose, crumbly food would scatter about 
and get into your nose, mouth, eyes, ears, hair and 
pockets. They would sneeze and cough and rub crumbs out 
of their eyes and fat off their faces. If you wanted a glass 
of water, the water would not pour. You could throw 
back your head to toss off a glass of wine, but the wine 
would fly out, break into several Jarge globules and float 
away, wetting the hair and clothes of diners or entering the 
mouth of someone who had had no intention of drinking.... 

For chairs there can be light racks to keep a person in 
place; for tables, similar racks, for food containers— 
something like a light what not with many compartments 
from which the food and drink containers could be taken 
and then clamped back into place. All this was available 
in the rocket, for the scientists had foreseen and provided 
for practically every exigency. The food was in closed 
containers. Semi-liquid and liquid products had to be 
pushed out of their containers by pumping in air, which 
pressed on a special piston forcing the liquid through a 
valve with a flexible tube attached to it. The would-be 


diner took the stem in his mouth and opened the valve 
for a moment. The semi-liquid food entered the mouth 
from where it could be pushed down into the oesophagus 
by the tongue and then swallowed. Solid food and such 
semi-solid dishes as jellies or fruit were kept in plates 
by springs and nets. A person pinned a piece down with 
his fork, cut off a morsel and dispatched it to his mouth 
where he could make short work of it with his tongue 
and teeth. Knives, forks and other implements had to be 
strapped to the already secured plate or its support. 


When they had rested, the scientists invited the crew 
to assemble in the drawing-room to see some physical and 
chemical experiments connected with the absence of 

“As you will have observed from the very fact of our 
conversing here,” Newton began, “sound propagates here 
just as it does in the Earth’s atmosphere. The gas inside 
the rocket has retained its elasticity, and consequently its 
ability to vibrate... .” 

“Let’s sing a song to illustrate this,’ someone sug- 

“Fine,” said Laplace, “and we can add music.” 

The assembly agreed. Musicians unfastened themselves 
from their racks and flew away to fetch their fiddles, trum- 
pets and scores. They were back in no time. Most of the 
company preferred to strap themselves to the racks de- 
scribed before to keep from tottering or drifting away in 
all directions. Otherwise the assembly looked quite re- 
spectable. The conductor gave a sign and the chorus began 
singing to the accompaniment of musical instruments. 
They sang with such gusto that one might have thought 
they had been long deprived of music. Many forgot they 
were not on the Earth and, hovering in mid-air, muttered 


remarks quite out of keeping with their existing state. The 
final chord rang out, everyone applauded and cried “en- 
core”. They sang several more songs with equal success, 
until finally the musicians pleaded for mercy. , 

“You thus see,” said Newton, “that we have no lack of 
sound. Any experiment in acoustics staged here would be 
an exact replica of a similar one on the Earth. 

“There is no gravity, that terrestrial measure of mass,” 
he went on after a pause. “And yet we can feel mass 
here, especially when we wish to impart motion to bodies. 
The greater the resistance of a body to your push, the 
greater its mass. The mass of any body is immediately 
registered by the hand pushing it. 

“But of course, neither a spring balance nor scales can 
register mass here: the spring doesn’t stretch, the balance 
pans remain in equilibrium in any position regardless 
of the load. Still, mass can be determined with great ac- 
curacy with the help of various instruments, notably a 
suitably devised centrifugal machine. Mass is also manifest- 
ed when we stop a moving body with our hand. The hard- 
er it is to stop one of several bodies moving with the 
same speed, the greater its mass. Mass is further manifest- 
ed in impact, being proportional to the impact force. The 
speed of a mass should also be taken into account, for a 
small mass travelling at a high speed may produce a 
strong blow, and vice versa. Firearms are more effective 
here than on the Earth.” 

“Disregarding the resistance of the air,” Ivanov noted, 
“motion here is rectilinear, infinite and uniform. The in- 
fluence of the Earth and other bodies can also be felt; but 
in the rocket and within a radius of several tens of kilo- 
metres it is negligible.” 

“Here is a mercury barometer,” said Franklin. “You 
see that the mercury fills the whole tube. No matter how 
long the tube, the mercury will fill it to the top, because 
it has no weight. But the aneroid barometer or the mano- 
meter do their work here, because in them the gases press 


on a tube or membrane, the elasticity of which is manifest- 
ed even without gravity.” 

“An ordinary pendulum doesn’t swing here and a pen- 
dulum clock won't work. If we push a pendulum it will 
merely revolve about its point of suspension until halted 
by the resistance of the air. But a watch and other ma- 
chines and instruments the action of which is not 
based on gravity, operate well,—a sewing machine, for 

“Heated air doesn’t ascend because there is no ‘above’ 
here. A burning candle or paraffin lamp goes out because 
there are no convection currents and the flame is envel- 
oped in the combustion products through which oxygen 
penetrates very slowly by diffusion. On Earth many ap- 
paratuses are based on combustion in the oxygen of the 
air. Here furnaces and similar installations will rapidly 
break down without a stimulated blast. 

“Hydrogen and other light gases don’t rise here and 
they can’t lift balloons, for there is no direction in which 
to lift them. Aeroplanes are unnecessary, and all that is 
needed is a motor for translatory motion. A heavy body 
hovers without support side by side with a light one, and 
neither moves unless pushed. The same is true of liquids, 
in which bodies of any weight, shape and volume remain 
in equilibrium, Archimedes’ law for bodies submerged in 
water is useless here because, being based on gravity, it 
is just non-existent. 

“Liquids cannot be siphoned, but air and suction water 
pumps work, of course, if there is a surrounding elastic 
medium, as there is in the rocket. Power water pumps and 
centrifugal pumps even work in a vacuum. 

“Fountains, which are based on gravity, are here im- 
possible, but those based on the elasticity of the air work 
wonderfully, producing a straight smooth jet, like a glass 
rod. At some distance, however, this jet bursts into a vol- 
ley of flying water bombs. 

“Liquids, of course, can’t flow out of vessels, they aren’t 


bound by horizontal surfaces and are not distributed ac- 
cording to density. 

“Molecular forces in bodies are especially manifest in 
liquids. As a result, every liquid mass, no matter how 
great, takes the shape of a sphere. You can break it up 
into several masses, and each will gather into a globule. 
Water enters a tube of any size of its own accord and 
fills it completely. The molecular forces of non-wetting 
liquids, on the other hand, force them out, like mercury 
from a glass tube. Nets, frames, vessels and other solid 
bodies can give liquids any desired shape. Thus, we can 
produce various double-convex or double-concave lenses 
out of water or oil and use them in optical instruments. 
We can even build complex telescopes, and microscopes 
with wire frames and liquids. 

“Fire engines of all types can work only if provided 
with forced-draft fire-boxes. But water in a boiler won’t 
separate from the steam, which may cause a breakdown 
in conventional engines.” 

“Maybe we've had enough physics?” an old worker ven- 
tured, when the Englishman paused for breath. 

“All right,’ Newton agreed. “Lets postpone our talk 
and experiments for another time.” 

“Gentlemen,” a young worker objected, “why not just 
have a break. We can have tea or coffee, relax and then 
continue. I'd like to know how our rocket’s exhaust noz- 
zles work.” 

“Fine, agreed,” a chorus of voices concurred. 

They arranged their racks round a large vessel in a 
frame attached to the rocket with twenty pipes issuing 
from it. The water was heated by electricity in a few min- 
utes, tea and sugar were added and the beverage was left 
to cool a little. Some air was pumped into the vessel, each 
man took a pipe stem into his mouth and drank the ex- 
cellent tea by opening a tap. 

Refreshed, they cleared away the tea things and pre- 
pared to listen. 

14—761 209 

“You raised the question of the rocket,” said Newton, 
turning to the young worker. “I was just preparing to dis- 
cuss the question. Segner’s wheel, the water-mill and the 
water turbine cannot work here, as there is no gravity. 
But we can demonstrate other reaction instruments, which 
are operated by springs, steam, the elasticity of gases or 
other forces not dependent on gravity. 

“This little boat carries a hidden spring which shoots 
out beads. Observe how well the boat moves in the oppo- 
site direction. Take this box. The force of compressed air 
in it throws out a jet of water. See how it travels with 
increasing speed across the room. Here is another vessel, 
an airship, if you like. A jet of steam ejected from the tail 
end propels it marvellously. See how strongly it hits the 

“Steam can be replaced by an explosive, as in a toy 
rocket,” Laplace remarked. 

“Of course,” Newton agreed. 

“That’s all very well,” the young worker said, “but all 
these devices work so well here, in a gaseous medium. 
The ejected bodies are repulsed, pushed away by it. If it 
weren’t for this atmosphere there would be no motion.” 

“The motion of our own rocket contradicts your con- 
clusion,” Newton observed. “Our vehicle has travelled 
hundreds of miles through vacuum with mounting speed 
propelled by the pressure of the elastic products of com- 

“We can make the devices displayed here move in vac- 
uum,” Ivanov declared. 

A tiny little vessel with compressed air was again 
launched before the audience. Tied to a rod passing through 
the plate of an air pump, it described circle after circle 
like a fettered horse. Then it was covered with a large 
bell and the air was rapidly evacuated, 

“Gentlemen! Observe that the motion, far from stopping 
in the rarefied atmosphere of the bell, is accelerating. 
Hardly any air remains under the bell, yet the ship contin- 


ues to move until it exhausts its store of compressed air. 
The answer to the question posed is thus self-evident.” 

“The main thing in this, my friends,’ Newton went on 
to explain, “is the inertia inherent in all gases, just as it 
is in all other states of matter.” 

“What, then, is the basic principle of reaction engines?” 
one of the group asked. 

“It is simple,” Newton said. “Imagine two balls with 
a spring compressed between them in a gravity-free field. 
If we let the spring go, it will push one ball to the right 
and the other to the left. The same will happen if two 
rubber balls are pressed tightly together and then released, 
in which case there is no need for a spring. Or imag- 
ine a tube with compressed gas. If one end is opened, 
the gas will press only on the other end, causing the tube 
to move, say, to the right, the gas escaping to the 
left. This is very much like the action of our rocket. The 
same happens when a shotgun or cannon is fired.” 

“It seems, then,” a young engine operator remarked, 
“that in all these experiments the material medium, or at- 
mosphere, surrounding these contrivances plays a second- 
ary part and may even reduce the total reaction force.” 

“Quite right,” Ivanov confirmed, “though the role of the 
atmosphere is not yet quite clear.” 


After dinner and a brief rest everyone gathered again 
in the drawing-room. 

“Friends,” said Newton, “we shall now open the shutters 
and see a wonderful sight. Those who don’t trust their 
nerves had better not take part in this ceremony.” 

“Ceremony, indeed!” muttered one of the men suspend- 
ed in mid-air. 

“The more courageous will then tell the others what 
they’ve seen, and so prepare them for some unusual im- 
pressions,” Newton went on, ignoring the remark. “Our 

14* 211 

supplies of light, different forms of energy and food are 
very small. We’ll have to begin by limiting our consump- 
tion of electricity and making use of the daylight....” 

One of the double shutters was opened and the lights 
were turned off. A dazzling beam of sunlight pierced the 
hall. The other shutters were opened and the more daring 
members of the crew flew over to the portholes. 

The sight was hailed with cries of delight: 

“The sky’s pitch-black!” 

“It’s blacker than soot!” 

“What a vast number of stars!” 

“And they’re all sorts of colours!” 

“The constellations are the same, but there are more 
stars! But why are they so lifeless? They don’t radiate or 
twinkle and they look like mere dots. How clearly they 
stand out! They seem so close and the celestial sphere so 

Men at other portholes saw the Earth at a distance of 
a thousand kilometres. They didn’t realise at first that they 
were looking at the terrestrial globe. But then they began 
to recognise the familiar contours of lakes and islands and 
continents amidst patches of clouds. It was like a huge, 
distorted map of a hemisphere. In actual hemisphere maps, 
the edges are clear and their scale is double that of the 
central portion. Here the reverse was true: the edges were 
reduced radially and very vague. 

“How strange our Earth looks! It occupies almost half 
the sky (120°) and seems to be not convex but concave, 
like a plate with people living on the inside.” 

“The edges are uneven and in some places they’re jagged 
because of the mountain peaks. Something like a mist 
lies farther in from the edges and there are many elongat- 
ed grey spots—clouds darkened by the thick layer of the 
atmosphere. The spots stretch round the Earth’s circum- 
ference. The farther they are from the edges the lighter 
and broader they seem, and towards the centre they’re 
rounded or irregular in shape, not stretched out.” 


“The Earth, Sun and stars seem very close, practically 
within reach! They all seem to be attached to the inside 
of a very small sphere.” 

“The Sun seems small, close and bluish, but how hot it 
ist The stars, too, are mostly bluish, but some are of 
other colours as well.” 

The men were stunned by the sight, some felt exhausted 
and moved away from the portholes. Others, alarmed by 
their cries, hesitated to look out. Many flew away to their 
cabins, drew the shutters and lit dim electric lights. Others, 
however, darted excitedly from porthole to porthole with 
cries of surprise and delight. They were like children on 
their first train or steamboat journey. The Earth fascinat- 
ed them most. It was full at first, but waned as the rocket 
sped rapidly eastwards. Gradually it turned into a huge 
crescent moon. Its dark side glimmered in the weak light 
cast by the Moon. The boundary between the dark and 
daylit parts (the terminator) appeared rough and broken 
due to shadows cast by the mountains. The Moon could 
also be seen in the sky. Like the Sun, it seemed very close 
and small, much smaller than usual. Actually, though, the 
angular dimensions of the Moon, Sun and stars had hard- 
ly changed at all. 

“Gentlemen,” Newton said, “our rocket is circling the 
Earth once every 100 minutes. The solar day lasts 67 min- 
utes, and the night, 33 minutes. In 40 or 50 minutes we 
shall enter the Earth’s shadow. The Sun will set almost 
instantaneously. We’ll hardly see the moonlit Earth, but 
its edges will shine brightly with all the colours of the 
dawn. This light will be our substitute for moonlight. 

“Im warning you in advance what to expect to pre- 
pare the people whose nerves are not strong....” 

Meanwhile the Earth continued to wane and at the ter- 
minator the oblique shadows of mountains and elevations 
grew longer and longer. The impression was as if the stars 
were falling to the jagged sunlit edges of the Earth in 
tens, hundreds and thousands, so large was the portion of 


the sky occupied by the Earth and so great was the num- 
ber of stars that could be seen in the void. At the other 
edge, where its dark side looked vaguely, with huge ser- 
rated shadows cast by the descending Sun, the stars 
seemed to appear out of nowhere. Actually they were emerg- 
ing from behind the dark face of the Earth which had 
eclipsed them. The rate of motion of the stars was 3.6° 
per minute, which meant that they travelled the diameter 
of the Sun or Moon in eight or nine seconds. That, approx- 
imately, is the apparent motion of al! celestial bodies— 
the Sun, Moon, planets and stars—in relation to the Earth. 
The size of the seas and continents, as seen from the 
rocket, can be imagined from the following comparison. 
In optimum conditions, a distance of 100 kilometres, or 
one equatorial degree, could be observed at an angle of 
6°, i.e., 12 times wider across than the Moon. Features 
not too far from the central portion, which was not so 
much obscured by air and clouds, could be seen in consid- 
erable detail. The sight was an impressive one. They 
could see cities, large villages, rivers more than a hun- 
dred metres wide. Sometimes the land below assumed one 
colour, as if covered with snow, and it was difficult to 
see anything. The view presented by a telescope can hard- 
ly be described. The rocket had no atmosphere to distort 
the image or obscure the smaller stars. The sky was so 
tightly packed with stars that there was hardly an empty 
space left: a black sky powdered with silver stardust, with 
the exception of the so-called coal-sacks, which were as 
black and empty as viewed from the Earth. 

Binary, ternary, multiple, and vari-coloured stars could 
be seen everywhere. The moment of eclipse, or night, was 

“Gentlemen!” someone exclaimed, “the invisible edge 
of the Earth has covered one side of the Sun.” 

In four seconds only half the Sun remained, and four 
seconds later it was night time. Their eyes soon grew ac- 
customed to the darkness, however, and they could see 


a glowing ring of dawn circling the dark Earth. The dawn 
was especially bright where the Sun had just disappeared. 
The beautiful halo was about 10 degrees high. It gradually 
became uniform in size, and 16 seconds after sunset it 
presented a continuous colourful ring embracing almost 
half the sky (its diameter was 125°). The crimson glow 
was bright that one could read without artificial light. 
Some found the sight unbearable. Others continued to dart 
from porthole to porthole with cries of delight. As it was 
comparatively dark many more stars could be seen on 
the opposite half of the sky. They continued to fall like 
snow into that flowing sea, only to burst forth from the 
other side of the crimson ring like sparks from fireworks. 
Gradually the ring paled on one side and brightened on the 
other, passing through different hues. Scarcely 17 minutes 
had passed when a strip of the Sun appeared. Everything 
sparkled and the glow of dawn dimmed. In nine seconds 
the full Sun emerged in all its glory, blinding everyone 
with its light. 

“Not much of a night,” a young worker remarked. “Only 
half an hour!” 

“Tt was an eclipse, not night,” a friend corrected him. 

“It was both night and eclipse,” said Ivanov. “This is 
the only night we’ll have and other nights will be as short. 
An hour-long day (67 minutes) is followed by a half-hour 
night (33 minutes). Unless we change the speed of our 
vehicle we'll have to put up with this rapid succession of 
short days and nights.” 

“Did you notice the coolness of night?’ Newton asked. 

“No, we didn’t feel cold,” several voices replied. 

“That,” Newton explained, “is first of all, because our 
rocket is protected by a layer which keeps it from radiating 
heat, secondly, the night was very short, and finally, the 
huge, though dark, surface of the Earth radiates heat to- 
wards us. Generally in the course of our brief night the 
temperature should fall one degree centigrade or even less.” 

“Thus, the short day and proximity of the Earth have 


their advantages,” Franklin remarked. “Namely, we have 
no cold nights.” 

“We needn’t mind our nights. After all, we can’t sleep 
for half an hour! We aren’t accustomed to it. I suggest 
that we stay up for 16 hours and sleep eight hours, approx- 
imately, of course. Everyone can arrange his own night 
by closing the shutters or make day with the aid of elec- 
tricity. In short, we can keep sleeping and waking hours 
at will. No danger threatens us and we have no need to 
keep watch or arrange shifts.” 

Several days and nights passed, but actually it was 
only 10 hours. In one of these short nights they passed 
over the Himalayan Mountains. They could see the famil- 
iar snow-capped peaks, but they couldn’t discern the castle 
even through a telescope. Laplace suggested that they 
telegraph to their friends in the castle by means of light 
signals in Morse key. It was simple, and all that was re- 
quired was to press a button which sent a powerful cur- 
rent to an arc lamp of 100,000 candle-power. It was the 
light of that lamp that had been observed and understood 
at the castle. A long push of the button gave a long light, 
which was received on Earth as a dash, a short tap pro- 
duced an instantaneous flash which was received as a dot. 

* * * 

It was decided to have a good terrestrial sleep. Re- 
freshed after sleep and a cup of coffee, our friends assem- 
bled in the drawing-room. 

“I request your undivided attention, gentlemen,’ New- 
ton addressed the meeting. 

The conversation subsided. 

“So far we have only observed, admired, wondered at, 
and studied the conditions of our new existence. We 
examined and inquired, but we gave no thought to our 
daily bread. Our vital stores are not too plentiful. Before 
we have exhausted them we must decide whether we shall 
remain here until they are exhausted and then return to 


the Earth—which we could do a hundred times with our 
stock of propellants—or try to produce the necessary things 
for life here before we use up all our supplies. Then we 
can remain in the ether for a long time.” 

“Let's remain in the rocket and try and grow our bread,” 
one of the company suggested. “If we are unable to pro- 
vide for ourselves we can return to the Earth.” 

“Hear, hear!” several voices cried. “Why not try?” 

“But shall we be able to produce oxygen and food?” 
a sceptical voice asked. 

“If we fail, we’ll return home,” a young mechanic said. 

“Well, the risk is not great.” 

“It’s decided, then, that we remain up here!” 


But there were dissenters as well. 

“Better return!” 

“I feel somewhat peculiar.” 

“Something’s missing,” they complained. 

“T feel an itch in my muscles. They need some work, I 

“That’s easily remedied,” Ivanov remarked. “We've got 
several kinds of treadle tools—get down to work!” 

“That’s easier said than done,” a worker observed. “As 
soon as I press my foot on the pedal I'll shoot upwards: 
there’s no gravity!” 

“That’s so,” said Laplace, “but if you looked closer 
you'd have noticed certain attachments to all the tools: 
Straps in the floor for your feet and a waist strap which, 
however, leaves you with complete freedom of motion.” 

Thus our dissenters were given work for the common 
good and were thereby made completely satisfied. 

4 k A 

There were dissenters of another category, however, 
who longed for gravity. 


“I want to see water pouring and weights falling,” one 
of them said. “I want to sit and recline properly.” 

“There’s no need to return home for that, either,’’ New- 
ton said. “Nothing could be simpler than simulating grav- 
ity here. For this we merely have to revolve our rock- 
et—best of all about its middle lateral axis. Centrifugal 
force will generate gravity in every cabin. The gravity will 
be greatest in the outermost compartments and least in 
the middle one, i.e., in the drawing-room. Objects will fall 
along the rocket’s longitudinal axis, water will pour, and 
everything will be as on the Earth: you can sit, recline 
and walk, get tired, carry weights and pails of water, etc.” 

“For example,” said Laplace continuing Newton’s 
thought, “if one end of our rocket, which is a hundred 
metres long, sweeps through one metre a second, the syn- 
thetised gravity will be 0.002 of terrestrial gravity, or the 
Same as on a planetoid 24 kilometres in diameter. The 
rocket will describe a complete circle in 314 seconds 
(5 minutes). If the speed is increased to 10 metres per 
second, the gravity will increase a hundredfold and be 
1/5th of terrestrial gravitation, which is slightly more 
than on the Moon. The rocket will describe a complete 
circle in half a minute. This is still slow enough not to 
cause dizziness.” 

“There are several ways of making the rocket rotate,” 
Newton said. “For instance, if we spin this wheel, or just 
give it an initial push (it will continue to revolve by iner- 
tia) the rocket wil] start turning. However, rotation is 
easier achieved with the help of the two exhaust nozzles 
by turning them in opposite directions perpendicular to 
the rocket’s longitudinal axis.” 

This was done and the dissatisfied were appeased. Hav- 
ing worked themselves to a sweat and revelled in gravity, 
they pleaded for relief. The rocket’s rotation was stopped 
by directing the exhaust opposite to the rotation. Only a 
negligible part of the powerful propellant discovered by 
Franklin was used for this manoeuvre. 



“Well, gentlemen,” Newton said, addressing the crew, 
“we’ve humoured ourselves sufficiently and it’s now high 
time we got down to work while our supplies are still 

“You will have noticed,” he continued, “the great num- 
ber of portholes along one side of the rocket. If all the 
shutters are opened, the total windowed area will be 
eighty by four metres (one-third of the circumference of 
the rocket). Up till now we've had no use for such an 
abundance of sunlight, which would be unbearable: it 
would get too hot and the bright light would weary the 
eyes. This volume of light falling on an area of 320 square 
metres, or 16 square metres per person, can yield, with 
the aid of certain plants, considerable quantities of oxy- 
gen and food in the form of fruit containing starch, sugar, 
oil, nitrogenous and aromatic compounds.” 

“Even if we are unable to maintain our food supplies 
at one level,” Ivanov added, “we can at least consume 
them much more slowly.” 

k * * 

The excretory products of the lungs, skin, kidneys and 
other organs were absorbed in special vessels and provid- 
ed excellent nourishment for the plants. Seeds were 
planted in boxes with soil fertilised by these excretions. 
When the seeds sprouted the boxes were placed in the light 
and the shutters were opened wider and wider. The unu- 
sual force of the sunlight, not weakened by the thick layer 
of the Earth’s atmosphere, its continuous action, the ver- 
tically-falling rays, the absence of pests, and favourable 
water and air supplies all combined to work miracles: 
hardly a month had passed when the diminutive plants 
were covered with juicy, nutritious, fragrant fruit. The 
blossoms were a wonderful sight. Fertilisation was arti-- 
ficial. Thanks to the absence of gravity the plants branched 


freely in all directions and the fruit did not weigh 
them down. When the foliage became so thick as to almost 
obscure the portholes the glass shields were removed, 
leaving only the quartz. As a result, the plants abundantly 
provided with ultra-violet radiation, developed twice as 
fast. Still, the yield was not sufficient to satisfy the food 
problem; besides, the oxygen supplies had to be used for 
breathing. Nevertheless, things were going so well that it 
was decided to build, at a later date, a greenhouse outside 
the rocket in order completely to meet all food require- 
ments and, as it were, to enable them to stand on their 
own feet. 


While the seeds were sprouting, growing, blossoming, 
ripening and yielding fruit, our companions were not mark- 
ing time. They decided to investigate the space surround- 
ing them and leave their rocket, their wonderful blooming, 
fragrant haven, and take a broader look at God’s world 
than was possible through the portholes. 

We shall describe this event. One day the boldest mem- 
ber of the crew remarked, as he admired the beautiful 

“It’s very nice in here. The air is clean and we've got 
plenty of space: a hundred-metre corridor along which we 
can fly back and forth to our heart’s content. A hall 20 
metres long with ceilings four to five metres high pro- 
vides lots of elbow-room and space to fly about and gambol 
in. We have light and merriment, food and warmth. We’re 
in high spirits. If anything goes wrong we can return to 
our beautiful Earth: there it is, a mere thousand kilo- 
metres away! 

“This is all very well,” he went on, “but shall we never 
leave these walls and go out into the boundless, though 
seemingly limited, space that we see through our port- 


“Why not? It is quite possible,” Newton said. “We have 
all the necessary contraptions to do it. They were prepared 
back on the Earth: special suits, provided with breath- 
ing apparatus and absorbing the waste products of the 

“Well, why not open a porthole or door and fly straight 
out?” someone asked naively. 

“The Sun is shining so brightly, it looks so delightful, 
it would be fine to get out of doors!” 

“Firstly,” Laplace interposed, “we can’t open a door 
or a porthole: the air would immediately rush out of the 
rocket and we'd perish at once, for our bodies require 
atmospheric pressure and oxygen. Secondly, even if that 
were not to happen, the direct rays of the Sun would kill 
any mortal who failed to shield himself with suitable trans- 
parent or opaque covers.” 

“But why is no one killed by the Sun on Earth?” some- 
one asked. 

“On Earth the strength of solar radiation is halved by 
the thick atmosphere,” Franklin observed. “What is more 
important, it is rendered harmless, though not completely, 
for sun-stroke is not infrequent, especially in hot countries 
and high in the mountains where the atmosphere is rarer 
and more transparent.” 

“Finally,” said Newton, “even if we left the rocket 
without letting the gas out—which is easily achieved—we 
wouldn’t find a single molecule of gas for at least 800 kil- 
ometres (to where the Earth’s atmosphere begins). How 
can we breathe and get along without the customary, es- 
sentia] pressure on our bodies? I ask this question only to 
demonstrate to you that we can’t simply leave the rocket 
through an open door.” 

“But what are we to do?” the one who longed for space 

“All these problems were solved by us on Earth,” New- 
ton said. “Ivanov, please bring the suits for survival in 
vacuum. You know where they are?” 


“Certainly. I’ll be back in no time.” 

He returned in a few minutes with two space-suits. 

“TIl explain how they work,” Ivanov said, demonstrating 
the suits and equipment. The others gathered closer round 
and looked on with interest. 

“Some day,” Ivanov began, “we may have to land on 
planets into atmospheres unsuitable for breathing either 
because of their composition or their extreme rarefaction. 
The same type of outfit is suitable for survival in a void 
and in rarefied or hostile atmospheres. Here you see a 
suitable space-suit. It covers the whole body including the 
head, and is gas- and vapour-tight, flexible, light, and al- 
lows the body freedom of movement. It is strong enough 
to withstand the internal pressure of gases surrounding 
the body and the helmet has special flat visors. It has a 
thin, warm living through which gas and vapour can pass. 
It has reservoirs for urine and other purposes and is con- 
nected with a special cylinder which provides an adequate 
supply of oxygen. Carbon dioxide, water vapours and 
Other products excreted by the body are absorbed in spe- 
cial vessels. Automatic pumps continuously circulate the 
gases and vapours inside the suit through the permeable 
lining. Each man needs not more than a kilogram of oxy- 
gen a day. The suit has an eight-hour supply, and its total 
weight is 10 kilograms. Here, however, it weighs nothing. 
The suit, you will observe, doesn’t even disfigure the 

“We'll need these suits in our future greenhouses where 
the gas will be very rarefied,” Franklin observed. 

“And also for building the greenhouses,” Newton added. 

“And now, gentlemen, which of you would like to don 
this suit and have a jaunt in space?” Laplace asked. 

All but two young workers retreated hastily as if they 
had been scolded. The two were helped into the space- 
suits. Capering comically, they several times pranced 
about the room to the delight of the others. Their voices 
were quite audible through the suits. 



“Well, gentlemen, are you ready?” Newton inquired. 
“Oh, one moment,” he added, “if you go as you are, you'll 
be uncomfortably warm. Bring them a couple of light 
white cloaks. Here, fling them on and attach them so that 
they won’t fall off. If you feel cold,” he instructed the 
two, “fling the cloaks aside until you get warm. Without 
the cloaks the mean temperature of the black space-suits 
may reach 27°C.” 

“The temperature can rise even higher,” Laplace added. 
“if you use the white cloak to reduce radiation from the 
shaded part of the body and open the sunlit part com- 

“Yes, but above 20°C the heat is oppressive,” Newton 
remarked. “So they'll more likely want to reduce the tem- 
perature than to increase it. For this they should use their 
cloaks to shield part of their bodies from the Sun.” 

“You realise, of course,” the Russian said, addressing the 
spacemen, “that when you leave the rocket you'll fly in the 
direction you push off. You’ll have no means of stopping 
of your own accord, and several years may pass before 
you meet the rocket again. Long before that you'll have 
starved to death or suffocated from lack of oxygen.” 

“What!” the two spacemen exclaimed. “Suffocate after 
eight hours? That’s more than we bargained for. Wander 
about in space to die? You should have warned us!” 

“Tm not going!” one of them declared flatly. 

“Neither am I,” the other echoed from his space-suit. 

“Undress me, immediately!” 

“And me, too.” 

“What cowards you are!” Newton said. “I haven’t fin- 
ished yet. You'll be quite safe. First, we’ll let you out on a 
leash... .” 

“Like a dog? Gratified, I’m sure.” 

“It'll be a kilometre long and you'll be able to fly in any 
direction and be sure of returning.” 


“What if the leash snaps?” the elder of the two asked, 

“You’ve nothing to fear. You will be provided with a 
special device which acts like a rocket and which you can 
steer, by regulating the gas jet. With its help you can fly 
in any direction and return home whenever you want to.” 

“The main thing is not to lose sight of us,” Franklin 
admonished them. “Otherwise you may lose us completely. 
Each of you take a spyglass for safety’s sake. Here, I'll 
fasten them to your cloaks.” 

“But what if I use up all the propellant?’ one of the 
spacemen inquired. “How will I be able to return to the 
rocket even if I’m a couple of feet away?” 

“You have an adequate supply of propellant, but you 
should expend it with care. Don’t use it all up: this indi- 
cator will tell you how much of it you have left. Besides, 
if you get lost we’ll find you and bring you back home.” 

“What if you don’t find us?” 

“Anything may happen,” Ivanov said. 

“Then we’ll be done for!” the spaceman said, with a 
wry smile, which remained unobserved beneath his helmet. 
Pride, however, triumphed. It would be humiliating to get 
out of the space-suits in front of everybody and to be the 
laughing-stock of the crew. 

“Come on! It’s nothing,” one of them encouraged the 
other. His resolve inspired several other volunteers. 

“I wouldn’t mind going myself,” remarked one of the 
spectators, who was flying back and forth impatiently. 

“Nor I!” 

“Nor I!” 

“Very well, but not now,” Laplace said. “Let’s dispatch 
those who’re ready.” 

They were provided with everything necessary and one 
of them entered an air-lock, a very narrow box-like cham- 
ber. This was done by first opening the inner wall of the 
air-lock and then hermetically sealing it up. The remaining 
insignificant amount of air was then pumped out, so that 


not a drop of it would be wasted. The spaceman no doubt 
looked bewildered but waited impatiently in the darkness. 
A minute or two later the outer door of the air-lock opened 
and he bounded out of the rocket. Soon he was joined 
by his companion. 

The men inside gathered round the portholes. They could 
see the spacemen flying off in different directions, their 
leashes unwinding. They turned, veered, threw open their 
cloaks or drew them about their bodies, soared and whirled 
like toy spinning tops. Their antics, however, were fa- 
miliar to our travellers, for they had experienced the same 
sort of thing inside the rocket. One of the spacemen un- 
hooked his leash and flew so far away that they could 
hardly sce him. He reappeared soon, growing in size as he 
approached the rocket, and sped close by. A thin cloud of 
smoke could be seen: the spaceman had switched on his 
jet motor and was Steering himself towards the rocket. He 
grasped a bracket and peered in. The men inside could see 
his laughing face through the porthole. He signalled that 
he wanted to enter the rocket. He entered as he had left, 
the same precautions being observed, so as not to lose 
any air. The other man returned and was let in too. Every- 
One congratulated the two on their return and showered 
them with questions. There was quite a commotion. The 
men took off their space-suits and pleaded for rest and 

“Have patience!” one of them said. “Let me digest my 
impressions, and then Pl] tell you everything.” 

“Yes,” the other rejoined, “give us a rest.” 


Two hours passed, the Sun set and rose again before our 
travellers came to the drawing-room to describe their ex- 
cursion outside the rocket. The others surrounded them, 
impatiently awaiting to hear their story. 

“When the outside door opened and I found myself on 

15—761 225 

the threshold of space I faltered and made a convulsive 
movement which pushed me out of the rocket. I might 
have expected to have been already accustomed to hovering 
without support in this room, but when I glanced down 
and saw nothing below me, a complete void without sup- 
port of any kind, I just fainted and came to only when 
the whole leash had unwound and | was a kilometre away. 
The rocket looked like a thin white rod at the other end 
of the leash. I was covered with the shiny cloak, which 
reflected almost all the sunlight. I felt cold, and that was 
probably what brought me out of the faint. I pulled on the 
leash and sped towards home. Soon I felt better, especial- 
ly when I saw your inquisitive noses pressed against the 
rocket windows, I was ashamed of having shown my fear 
and of seeking refuge in the rocket. So after flying about 
on my leash I unhooked it and flew off on my own. When 
the rocket was almost out of sight J resorted to my jet 
motor and flew back. But it was frightening. You must 
have seen how I spun round, yet I myself felt nothing: it 
seemed to me that the celestial sphere with everything 
on it and even the rocket itself were all revolving about 
me. I was able to stabilise myself with the aid of the two 
levers operating special devices attached to my space-suit. 
These levers actuated two mutually perpendicular heavy 
disks. Thanks to them I was able to stop spinning and 
orientate my body at will or turn about any axis. As far 
as I was concerned, however, no one would have con- 
vinced me that I was not actually whirling the whole heav- 
enly sphere round together with the Sun and stars, just 
like a merry-go-round. I could turn it quickly or slowly 
or stop it altogether. The axis of rotation of the sphere 
also depended on me. The rocket seemed to jump from 
right to left, and I was the only motionless object and 
could turn the Universe at will. At one moment I] saw the 
Sun below me and it seemed that I would fall into its mol- 
ten mass; my heart quaked, but I didn’t fall. Then our 
Earth, which covered half the sky would appear below 


me, and I felt that there was ‘below’ and I was ‘above’. 
My heart sank again, and I felt as if I were falling and 
would dash my brains out or get drowned in the ocean. 
You could observe that I assumed the same postures as 
you do here, that is, I changed my position, if I got tired 
or for any other reason. If it felt cold and I forgot to 
draw aside the cloak to catch the rays of the Sun I hud- 
dled up as we usually do when the morning chill creeps 
into our bed. If it felt hot, 1 extended my limbs subcon- 
sciously in order to increase the radiating surface and give 
off the excess heat. If neither happened I changed my 
position whenever I felt like it: when I was tired of being 
prone I curled up, crouched, pulled up my knees, made 
swimming motions, shook my hands and feet and head, 
and moved my limbs if they felt cramped. When I was 
in translatory motion you could see me move, but as far 
as I was concerned, if the motion was strictly translatory 
I could swear that everything stood stock still, except the 
rocket which either approached or receded from me.” 

“Actually the rocket did move a little,” Newton re- 
marked. “But as its mass is 5,000 times greater than the 
mass of a man, its displacement was no greater than 20 

“It seemed to me,” spaceman continued, “that the rocket 
obeyed me dutifully whenever I pulled the leash. Only my 
rotation created the illusion of a moving sky. 

“It’s unfortunate that in these ethereal expanses, in 
this brilliant, beautiful and awesome world you are de- 
prived of the satisfaction of motion. It may be that this 
subjective sensation will pass and then we’ll feel ourselves 

“There’s hardly anything I can add,” the other space- 
man said. “My sensations were the same as just described, 
only I didn’t faint. I felt frightened, but my fright passed 
almost at once. My nerves are stronger! 

“Of course, gentlemen,” he went on, “you all know how 
tremendous and free is the space surrounding the Earth, 

15° 227 

how full of light and how empty it is. This is unfortunate. 
We are so cooped up on Earth and we prize every sunlit 
spot to cultivate plants, to build homes and live in peace 
and quiet. When I roved in the void about the rocket I 
was struck by its immensity, the freedom and lightness of 
motion, the mass of wasted solar energy. Who is to pre- 
vent people building greenhouses and castles here and 

living happily?” 


“Pardon me for interrupting you,’ Newton intervened, 
“but you’ve reminded me of something of immediate im- 
portance to us. We’ll deal with it at once. In what con- 
dition did you find the rocket’s surface, which had been 
highly polished before?” he asked the spacemen. 

“It was white,” one of them replied. “I didn’t pay atten- 
tion to it.” 

“It had a dull silverish lustre and sparkled like snow,” 
the other declared. 

“This must have been caused by the high temperature 
to which the outer shell was heated during our flight 
through the atmosphere,” Ivanov suggested. 

“So far,” said Newton, “we have maintained the tem- 
perature in our rocket by heating it a little and wasting 
our supplies of energy. Now we can discontinue this. We 
shall drape the rocket in a black cloak and so regulate the 
temperature. At night we can draw the cloak off. In the 
daytime, if it gets too hot, we can gather it into folds, just 
as you did with your own cloaks,” he said, turning to the 
Spacemen. “Now we can all leave the rocket and go about 
our affairs both inside and outside.” 

“We could paint a portion of the rocket,” Laplace sug- 
gested. “That would be quicker, though it would be harder 
to regulate the temperature.” 

“As soon as we go outside,” said Ivanov, “we'll 
take the necessary steps, and will no longer have to 


waste our supplies of energy to maintain a constant tem- 

After a further conference it was decided to use easily 
removable paint to obtain the average desired temperature. 
The temperature of each small cabin could be regulated 
from inside by working a system of inside and outside 


The company broke up for food and rest. They gathered 
again only eight hours later. The crew adhered to ter- 
restrial time, which presented no difficulty in the presence 
of the Earth, Sun and Moon and with our scientists’ 
thorough understanding of the laws governing the motion 
of celestial bodies and the rocket. An ordinary pocket 
watch served, and it was checked astronomically once in 
a while. 

“You,” said Newton, addressing one of the spacemen, 
“raised the question of the possibility of living in outer 
space and its advantages compared with life on the Earth. 
This is a very interesting question for discussion.” 

“There are many things I don’t understand,” one of the 
listeners interjected. “Maybe you would reply to several 
preliminary questions concerning the surrounding Uni- 

“You’re welcome to ask your questions.” 

“Why, for instance, didn’t the spacemen fall to Earth 
under the influence of its attraction once they left the 

“That is very simple. On leaving the rocket they had its 
speed, i.e., 7.5 kilometres a second. This is ten times the 
velocity of a cannon-ball and it is sufficient to develop a 
centrifugal force equal to the Earth’s gravity. You can't 
fall down for the same reason that the Moon can’t fall. 
Reduce the Moon’s velocity, and in five days’ time it will 
fall like a stone to the Earth and convert it into a ball of 


molten, gaseous matter. As long as you move in ether the 
resistance of which, if it has any, has never been detected 
and, to say the least, is highly doubtful, you can’t lose 
your speed. You travel like a bolide which, unless it enters 
the atmosphere or hits the Earth, will continue to coast 
along forever.” 

“That seems clear. Now, why is the sky black?” one of 
the hovering listeners asked. 

“Did you ever climb a mountain?” Laplace asked. “If 
you did, you undoubtedly saw the sky grow darker and 
darker as you ascended higher and higher. At an altitude 
of ten kilometres an airman sees a very dark sky. The blue 
colour belongs to the air. Remove the air, and the colour 
disappears. Since there is no air here there is nothing to 
make the sky blue.” 

“What about the air in the rocket?” one of the men 

“Such a thin layer can have no perceptible colour, just 
as a thin layer of water or glass is transparent while a 
thick layer is opaque.” 

“That’s clear, too. Now, why are there so many stars, 
why don’t they twinkle, why are they so brilliant and dif- 
ferently coloured?” 

“Here too, the reason is the absence of the Earth’s 
atmosphere. Its ever-changing state affects all rays pass- 
ing through it: they scatter and a star grows fainter and 
disappears, then they converge and a bright image strikes 
the eye, they waver and a star seems to oscillate. All this 
is impossible here, and we see every star as a bright dot. 
Furthermore, the thick layer of terrestrial air absorbs and 
scatters rays which have the highest refractory power— 
violet and blue—letting through a greater proportion of the 
red rays which reach the eye of the earthbound observer 
(this is not so apparent when a star is in its zenith). Thus 
from the Earth the stars seem reddish, although in a void 
they are mostly blue, green or the like. Similarly, a cloud 
observed through a red glass will seem red. Here in the 


ether we see the stars in their natural colours, not dis- 
torted by the vast two-hundred-kilometre layer of air. As 
they have different colours, that is how we see them.” 

“The atmosphere,” Ivanov added, “not only scatters 
and absorbs light coming from the stars, obscuring the 
weaker stars, it also outshines them in daytime when its 
light is so powerful that it hides the stars from us. At 
night this diffused light dims the stars, blotting out the 
weaker ones completely. That is why we see such a multi- 
tude of stars here.” 

“Why doesn’t a spaceman feel any motion in the ether?” 
one of the workers asked. 

“Because there are no manifestations of motion in the 
ether, none of the sensations that accompany motion on 
Earth: the resistance of the air, the jolts, jars and vibra- 
tions, the fields, gardens and buildings rolling past, etc. 
We've gradually come to trust our little rocket when we're 
inside, but outside we still refuse to trust it. This may 
pass, and then we shall feel our motion not only in the 
rocket, but in the ether as well. For thousands of years 
people have never felt the rotational and translatory mo- 
tion of the Earth and the Solar System. Even now, though 
we are aware of it, we don’t feel it, no matter how we 


“If there are no more questions,” said Newton, “‘let’s talk 
about the advantages of life in a void with no gravity.” 

“The best thing in it is,” one of the men ventured, “that 
you need no effort or muscular power to move about or 
shift the largest of masses,” 

“There’s no need for trains, ships, horses, airships, aero- 
planes, coal, firewood, etc.,’’ another echoed. 

“You can travel at tremendous speeds,” added a third. 
“All that’s needed is an impulse, i.e., a first thrust. Motion 
persists, because there’s nothing like the resistance of air 
or water to prevent it.” 


“Consequently, passenger and goods traffic over any 
distances and at any speeds costs nothing....” 

“Structures of all types aren’t subjected to gravitation- 
al forces. Walls can be very thin and buildings enormous; 
gravity can’t destroy them.” 

“How wonderful is the realisation that you can’t fall 
and bruise yourself. There’s no danger of falling over a 
precipice or of a ceiling or wall collapsing. You can’t drop 
or break a plate, and you can work in any position.” 

“All this is so, but even more important is the profusion 
of light, solar energy, space....” 

“Where are the clouds, dirt, moisture, mist, cold, heat, 
exhausting labour?” several enthusiastic voices cried. 

“Where are the darkness and cold of night, the bitter 
winds and snows and blizzards, the hurricanes and ship- 
wrecks, the impassable deserts and inaccessible mountains?” 

“Gentlemen, your enthusiasm is carrying you away!” 
Newton said. “All this is so, of course, but we shouldn’t 
let the roses hide the thorns.” 

“What thorns?” several voices asked. 

“Tve but to open a porthole or pierce this wall or even 
accidentally break a glass and we’ll all perish without the 
air, which will immediately escape from the rocket due to 
its boundless ability to expand.” 

Many glanced about in terror. 

“Our windows are made of thick double glass reinforced 
by wire mesh. They are sufficiently strong, and yet by 
carelessness they can be broken. The walls are of metal, 
but they too can be pierced.” 

“Let’s close our eyes to the negative aspects of our new 
existence for the time being and turn to the brighter as- 
pects,” Laplace intervened. 

“The temperature here can rise from zero to 100°C and 
more,” said Ivanov. ‘‘All we have to do is to increase the 
dark surface of the rocket. We can raise the temperature 
as high as we want to, say, to 25°C. We'll have no need 
of clothing then! True, our clothes are almost resistant to 


wear and tear. The soles of our shoes don’t wear out. But 
we have to move about and operate machines. We can 
hardly get along without moving at all. This will ulti- 
mately destroy our clothing.” 

The crew decided to reduce their clothing to a minimum 
as soon as possible, at the same time raising the temper- 
ature inside the rocket to 30°C. 

“Being so close to the Earth,” said Franklin, “we can’t 
achieve very low temperatures: the Earth continuously 
radiates heat from both its daylight and night sides and 
warms our rocket. High temperatures, however, are more 
easily obtained by simply painting the rocket and prevent- 
ing it from radiating heat. Spherical, parabolic and flat 
mirrors can raise the temperature to 150°C and higher. 

“This will make it possible to operate different types 
of solar motors, to fuse metals and perform many other 
technical jobs without the use of fuel.” 

“With a constant aperture,” said Newton, “the temper- 
ature in the focus of a spherical mirror (my calculations 
are based on the works of Stefan) doesn’t depend on the 
size of the mirror. The size only increases the heating 
surface proportionally. Given an ideal reflecting surface 
and a black heating surface, a 60° mirror, or a reflecting 
arc of one-sixth of a circle, can develop a temperature of 
4402°C. It doesn’t even depend on the distance to the Sun, 
only the diameter of the focus area expands in proportion 
to the angular diameter of the Sun, i.e., the closer the Sun 
the larger the heating surface, the farther the Sun the less 
the surface. A mirror with an angle of 120° is capable of 
raising the temperature in its focus to 5000-G000°C. On the 
Earth half the rays are absorbed by the atmosphere; fur- 
thermore, a conic beam is cooled considerably by the air, 
and we could hope to obtain as much as 3000°C only un- 
der the bell of a vacuum pump with glass of an ideal trans- 
parency. In normal conditions, of course, we could never 
achieve such a temperature. However, even platinum 
melts in the focus of a mirror, which means that on Earth 


the temperature in this case is above 2000°C. The heating 
area, or the diameter of the focus, i.e., the image of the 
Sun, for a mirror of one meter radius (with an aperture 
of 60° this will also be the diameter of the mirror) is four 
millimetres. If the mirror diameter is increased tenfold, 
the focus area will correspondingly increase to four cen- 
timetres. Here in vacuum we can probably obtain a tem- 
perature of five or six thousand degrees. We could raise 
it even higher by special methods, but there is no need for 

“Which means,” Ivanov remarked, “that we have excel- 
lent facilities for sundry metal-working jobs—in the space 
outside the rocket, of course, and wearing space-suits. 
When we work in the atmosphere the air attacks metals 
and tools and damages the products of our labour. Here 
welding, for instance, is very simple: all we have to do is 
to concentrate a beam of light on the welded parts and fuse 
them with a rod of the same metal, or even just joint the 
heated edges. The focus and temperature can be controlled 
with great precision. Why, it’s wonderful! 

“And we shouldn’t forget,” he went on, “that, here, 
mirrors won't become deformed under their own weight, 
they can be transferred and revolved in their light frames 
without effort and their surfaces won't oxidize and grow 
dim. Marvellous! Why, a mirror even 1,000 metres across 
is quite feasible, and such a mirror will produce a four- 
metre focus. How do you like that? But even with a small 
mirror we can consecutively weld together large sur- 

“You have again mentioned the absence of gravity,” an 
elderly worker intervened. “Of course, it is indubitably 
absent, since I simply can't feel it, and yet I don’t under- 
stand it: the Earth is so close, its gravity is practically 
the same, so why don’t we feel it?” 

“I've already explained,” Newton said. “But lets ap- 
proach it in another way: do the people on the Earth feel 
the attraction of the Sun and the Moon? It exists, but no 


one feels it and even scientists don’t take it into account. 
It is manifested only in the ocean tides. The gravitational 
force on any planet and on Satellites depends only on its 
mass. Even the most exacting astronomers ignore the in- 
fluence of the mightiest of suns. In our rocket, too, gravity 
depends only on the mass of the rocket, its shape, etc. 
And since its mass is negligible compared with the mass 
of a planet, its attractive force is also negligible.” 

“And yet,” another elderly worker remarked, “the ab- 
sence of gravity has its drawbacks, and somctimes it’s a 
downright nuisance. All sorts of odds and ends are drift- 
ing about the rocket, dust doesn’t scttle—how are we to 
wipe it away? Water refuses to stay put in open vessels, 
you can’t take a bath or wash, and in the lavatory it’s 
just awful....” 


“First of all,” Laplace said, “the air in the rocket is 
continuously pumped through special filters and all impu- 
rities are removed. There may be a pencil or something 
drifting about, but that’s due to our own carelessness. 
Secondly, you’ve probably had no occasion or time to take 
a bath in our specially equipped bath-room.” 

“True, I haven’t had a chance to take a bath yet,” the 
stout man Said, good-naturedly. 

“Our bath,” a young worker said, “consists of a sealed 
cylindrical tank three metres in diameter with one en- 
trance, which rotates about its axis. The tank is half filled 
with water. To take a bath you set the tank rotating. The 
water flows to the walls and makes a cylindrical surface 
of uniform depth. Thanks to the centrifugal force bathers 
can stand chest-high in the water, their heads pointing 
towards each other like the spokes of a wheel. There are 
several windows and various devices and you can have 
an excellent bath.” 

“You don’t say! And here I’ve been wanting a bath so 


“That’s always possible,” the young worker said. 

“Furthermore,” Laplace continued, ‘“‘who’s to stop us 
from generating gravity in the whole of the rocket by re- 
volving it as we’ve already done. We can maintain arti- 
ficial gravity as long as we want to, at practically no cost. 
Gravity can also be developed in any structure outside 
the rocket. When we spin a vessel of water, or rotate 
vanes submerged in it, the water will accumulate round 
the equator of the vessel and remain there. Revolve this 
pot and you'll see that the liquid won’t pour out. The sim- 
plest thing is to close a vessel tight and stir the liquid with 
vanes whenever you want it to pour. All you have to do 
is open a tap and a fountain of water will gush out.” 

“We've been bathing quite often,” one young man re- 
marked, “and J must say I enjoyed it very much. How is 
it that the water is always so pure? Is it changed often? 
For we cannot have unlimited supplies of water!” 

“It’s continually being purified by distillation, filtration 
and by other physical and chemical methods,” said Ivanov. 
“It is also disinfected by heating and other means.” 


“I should like to sum up our talk,” Newton said after 
a pause. “Thanks to the Sun we have the temperature we 
want and can therefore get along without shoes or cloth- 
ing; this is further facilitated by the absence of gravity. 
Weightlessness also provides us with the softest of quilts, 
pillows, beds, etc. To it we owe the ease with which we 
can cover long distances quickly and effortlessly. We shall 
also be completely provided with food and air when we 
have built several greenhouses. If the yield from the plants 
we have with us were absolutely perfect the existing sur- 
face of the rocket would be sufficient. The space we could 
occupy round the Earth, at only half the distance to the 
Moon, receives a thousand times more solar energy than 
the terrestrial globe does. I imagine that this space or 


ring, which explorers after us will in time occupy, be per- 
pendicular to the Sun’s rays. It is already ours, and we 
have only to fill it with dwellings and greenhouses, and 
to populate it. Parabolic mirrors can produce temperatures 
up to 5000°C, while the absence of gravity makes it pos- 
sible to build mirrors of practically any size and, conse- 
quently, to obtain heating areas of any size. High temper- 
ature and the chemical and thermal energy of sunlight 
not weakened by the atmosphere make it possible to car- 
ry out a wide range of industria] jobs such as, for instance, 
welding, reducing metals from ores, forging, casting, 
rolling, and so on. True, we lack terrestrial variety, the 
romance of highlands and oceans, storms, rains and frosts. 
On the other hand, we're not quite deprived of the Earth,” 
Newton went on, pointing to the visible contours of the 
seas and continents. “Yet to most of the mortals on our 
planet, all that romance is nothing but a source of annoy- 
ing, often cruel and distressing cares. Nevertheless, the 
Earth remains ours and it will always be ready to embrace 
people who find separation from it unbearable. In short, 
we can always return to it. But do we really lack romance 
here? We have left to us science, matter, worlds and man- 
kind surrounding us on all sides in this boundless space! Is 
not Man himself a being of the loftiest romance? Is not the 
Universe more accessible to us from here, than from the 

“That’s all very well,” said Ivanov, “but now allow me 
to list the shortcomings of this world. The vicinity of the 
Earth robs us of a simple means of obtaining the low 
temperatures required for the more efficient work of our 
solar motors, for such industrial purposes as the liquefac- 
tion and solidification of gases for storage.” 

“That handicap is easily rectified,” Newton remarked. 
“All we have to do is travel away from the Earth. We 
can even obtain much more space and sunlight if we set 
up our new dwellings in a ring about the Sun extending 
beyond the Earth’s orbit. There we can receive thousands 


upon millions of times more energy than the Earth re- 
ceives. The temperature can easily be lowered to almost ab- 
solute zero.” 

“Certainly,” Ivanov agreed. “The absence of low tem- 
perature is easily remedied. But I could point out other 
negative aspects of our life here. True, we have no need 
of clothing and furniture, but then, we are confined to a 
dungeon, light and beautiful though it may be. We can 
leave it only in space-suits, which are complex apparatuses 
and much more cumbersome than clothes.” 

“Space-suits,”’ said Franklin, “serve one single purpose 
and are needed to overcome one single obstacle. They are 
essential here to one and all. The manufacture of hundred 
millions of one single item will reach perfection and become 
inexpensive. In this respect the space-suit cannot be com- 
pared with clothing. But here our dwellings also take the 
place of clothing. And dwellings here can be furnished very 
simply and with great uniformity. We can therefore say 
that once we have dwellings, there is no need to have 

“That’s so,” the Russian said, “but in these dwellings 
we are constantly exposed to the risk of losing gas and 

“Dwellings will be as uniform as clothing. When built 
for hundreds of millions of people they will be improved to 
perfection. The environment is extremely uniform, which 
makes it possible to perfect them in the same way as the 
space-suits. Besides, doesn’t everyone on Earth risk his 
life every minute of the day even now? If the heart is 
pierced, a vital ganglion injured, the carotid damaged or the 
aorta severed, you'll die. Here, though, the surrounding 
population will be so numerous, so wise and united and 
will have such remedies, such instruments, that it will 
always be possible to find a means of counteracting any 
danger or misfortune.... I can’t forecast all the possibil- 
ities of improvements in the next millenium,” Newton 
said with some heat. 


“Maybe mankind will so evolve that in the void it will 
need neither space-suits nor shelters,” Franklin noted. 

“Or it may create even earlier a gaseous, unenclosed 
atmosphere in the ether!” the Russian added. 

“We can hardly hope to interpret all the ideas we have,” 
Laplace concluded. 


“Gentlemen, that’s enough. Let’s refresh ourselves with 
a bath!” one of the listeners exclaimed. 

The suggestion was approved and several members of 
the crew pushed off and flew to the bath-house compart- 
ment. They found there a large drum about four metres 
long and three across occupying almost the whole of the 
compartment. First they made it turn about its axis. In 
the absence of gravity the drum revolved by inertia and 
only a slight impetus was needed to keep it turning. On 
one side of it, at the drum axis, was a hatch «bout a metre 
in diameter which they opened. Divesting themselves of 
their colourful loin-cloths and loose-flowing robes—a very 
light and unburdensome costume—they plunged one after 
another into the bath. Revolving together with the drum, 
the water spread over its circumference, with the cylin- 
drical surface as the bottom. Pushing and jostling, our 
companions dived into the water. They began revolving 
together with it and regained their weight. With what 
satisfaction they soused themselves in the cool liquid! 
How easy it was to swim there! Ivanov saw Newton di- 
rectly overhead, ducking and splashing with the same de- 
light as he, with Franklin alongside and the others at right 
angles. To see Newton, Ivanov had to lean back as if in- 
specting a church dome. The men stood with their heads 
towards each other and their feet away. This was the only 
peculiarity of their bath. In other respects it was just like 
one on the Earth. They ducked, dived, caught one another 
by the feet, splashed about, swam this way and that, 


agitated the water, shouted and laughed and, most im- 
portant, felt splendidly refreshed. The artificial gravity was 
not great. What need had they for more? Hence, it was 
much easier to swim here than on the Earth. All the hy- 
drostatic and hydrodynamic laws based on gravity, such 
as Archimedes’ law held good again. After revelling to 
their heart’s content, the company flew out of the bath 
just as they had entered it. There was no need to dry 
themselves: the hot sunlight, which shone continuously 
through the thick foliage, dried them rapidly. They put on 
their loin-cloths and went about their private affairs. The 
water was filtered and the residue from the filters was 
used for fertilising purposes. 


The next meeting was opened by Newton, who report- 
ed on the existing state of affairs. 

“Gentlemen,” he began, “I should like you to pay at- 
tention to our domestic affairs. Our supplies are steadily 
dwindling. They are turned into fertilisers for the plants, 
but we aren’t growing enough fruit and vegetables to utilise 
all the fertilisers. The rocket is too small for the pur- 
pose. We have to add a greenhouse, then we’ll have more 
Space to move about in without getting into our space- 
suits. We shall no longer use up our supplies of oxygen 
and food: the surplus plants will provide us with both. All 
excretions and waste products will be completely ab- 
sorbed. We shall get from our plants as much as we give 
them. There will be no need for us to husband our sup- 
plies, for we'll be adequately supplied with carbonaceous 
and nitrous substances from the fruit we grow. Having in 
view the easy life we have, the absence of arduous labour, 
and the thirty-degree temperature, such a diet is both 
wholesome and necessary.” 

“Wouldn't it be better,’ Laplace suggested, “to set up 
greenhouses separately from the rocket? Plants don’t re- 


quire as much gas, and an environmental préssure as wé 
people do. Their atmosphere can be different and made 
to have an excess of carbon dioxide, moisture, and so on, 
all of which is unsuitable for human beings. The green- 
house may be limited in size to that of a pipe two metres 
across: just large enough for a gardener to fly through it 
freely in order to tend the plants and collect the fruit. This 
and the low density of the surrounding gaseous medium 
will make it possible to effect a considerable saving in 
building materials, our stocks of which are not endless.” 

“I fully agree,” Newton said. “If I’m not mistaken, the 
sections of the greenhouses are almost completely prefab- 
ricated and they are built precisely on the lines just 
described. We'll have adequate space inside the rocket, 
and if anyone feels cooped up, there’s nothing to stop 
him getting into his space-suit and gallivanting for hun- 
dreds of miles around. The rocket itself, thanks to its 
exhaust nozzles and its tremendous stocks of propellants, 
can be steered away from the Earth to the Moon or as- 
teroids or wherever we wish to go. We are journeying at 
this very moment and beautiful, changing pictures of the 
Earth are forever unfolding before our eyes. One might 
say we were travelling in eternity. As for the greenhouse, 
we'll connect it to our rocket by two narrow tubes: one 
for removing carbon dioxide and other human refuse from 
the rocket to the greenhouse, the other for delivering the 
fresh oxygen exhaled by the plants to the rocket. We’ll 
need pumps, but our solar motors brought from the Earth 
work excellently.” 

“Gardening will be a wonderfully simple job here,” Frank- 
lin said. “The soil was baked to destroy all weeds, harm- 
ful bacteria and pests. As to useful bacteria, for legumi- 
nous crops, for instance, we'll introduce them ourselves. 
Thus there will be no need to weed our garden. All we'll 
have to do is look after the composition of the soil, the 
moisture and the gaseous atmosphere. 

“The liquid and soil for the plants is prepared just be- 

16—761 241 

fore planting. The garden will be irrigated automatically. 
Water will be condensed from vapour in specially de- 
signed cold sections of the rocket and pumped to the con- 
sumers. Flowers will be pollinated almost instantaneously 
with the help of air fans. The atmosphere will be produced 
by our breathing. Finally, the fruit will be touched by 
no disease and will grow in all directions without weigh- 
ing down the plants, as there is no gravity.” 

“But won't we have to leave the rocket to get to those 
separate structures?” one of the workers asked. 

“Of course,” said Newton. “Don’t you like the idea?” 

“On the contrary, Pd like very much to have a jaunt 
outside the rocket,” the same voice replied. “I haven’t been 
there yet.” 

“We'll all have to go out to work,” said Newton. “Be- 
sides, we shall frequently have to visit the new greenhouse 
to bring in the harvest and look after the plants, and we'll 
have to wear our space-suits for that, since the gas pres- 
sure in the greenhouse will be too low and the atmosphere 
unsuitable for human breathing.” 


Several hours later they began building the greenhouse. 
They unpacked the structural elements, mainly thin cylin- 
drical tiles of a specially strong and resilient glass rein- 
forced by rectilinear wire netting. There were spherical 
parts, finished metal attachments and very thin metal 
sheeting. The materials were placed in a special chamber, 
the air was evacuated, a hatch opened and the materials 
pushed out into ethereal space. 

Large sections were simply leashed to the rocket, small- 
er Ones were stored in a special spherical wire cage out- 
side. Once inside the cage, the objects wandered back and 
forth like beasts and would not settle down for a long 
time. The cage, of course, was strapped to the rocket and 
had a door and lock. The structural elements were all 


numbered and ten workers assembled them in a matter 
of hours. The workers left the rocket as described before. 
At first they moved about very clumsily but they soon 
grew accustomed and proceeded with their job. They 
couldn’t help glancing down apprehensively to where the 
void yawned underfoot. The work was very easy: no mat- 
ter how heavy an object it could be moved by the slight- 
est effort. However large, thin or weak the various parts, 
once they were joined, but slightly, they neither separat- 
ed, fell, deviated nor bent. A senior worker supervised 
the construction. Elastic strings stretched between the 
men made it possible for them to converse among them- 
selves, or even all at once, with the usual confusion which 
results in such cases. Vibrations caused by the vocal chords 
were transmitted through the air in the helmet to the 
space-suit, to the string, and through it despite the sur- 
rounding void to some else’s space-suit. 

The shell of the greenhouse was soon assembled, but 
the parts had to be welded together to prevent gases from 
escaping at the joints. 

The welding, that is to say the sealing of the transpar- 
ent and opaque sections, was an exceedingly simple mat- 
ter. The workers could surround the greenhouse on all 
sides, and all postures were equally convenient to them. 
They stood parallel or perpendicular or at an angle to the 
structure, swarming over it like flies. For welding, however, 
the greenhouse had to be placed in a special position in 
relation to the Sun, for the work was carried out in the 
focus of parabolic mirrors. The job was like gas-welding 
on the Earth, only more simply and perfectly performed, 
in the absence of oxygen and combustion, and because the 
workers were not compelled to adopt inconvenient, unna- 
tural positions. The temperature was higher and more 
stable. In short, it was more like play than work. Only the 
frequent setting of the Sun 67 minutes after it had risen, 
interrupted their work. But even when the Sun disappeared, 
the Earth, which occupied one-third of the sky (120°), 

16* 243 

provided both light and warmth and they could continue 
to work during the night on jobs not requiring the Sun’s 
heat. The constant switching from one kind of work to 
another was, however, irksome; the men were unwilling 
to interrupt the work, which was going so well. But half 
an hour (33 minutes) later, the Sun would come again 
to their aid in all its grandeur. 

Soon the welding was completed, and tested to ensure 
that it was air-tight, all the cracks and fissures detected 
were sealed, and the walls were declared to be completely 
air-tight. The greenhouse was a cylindrical tube 500 metres 
long and two metres across. A huge window occupying 
one-third of the circumference extended from end to end. 
Flattened out, the window was 500 metres wide and two 
metres high. In spite of its size, the pipe was not massive, 
but it was strong, flexible and durable. Although there 
was a possibility of breaking the glass, though only with 
great difficulty, this would not let the gas escape thanks 
to the strong metal reinforcing netting of the glass which 
prevented it from splintering. Small fissures were gas-tight. 
The wall, if struck, only vibrated elastically. The workers 
in their space-suits swarmed over the finished hull. When 
they bumped into one another, they tumbled about comi- 
cally, and then calmly restored their equilibrium. They crit- 
ically surveyed their handiwork from all sides and at 
various points distant from it. 

Lastly it was necessary to bring into the greenhouse a 
vessel containing a semi-liquid soil, let in the rarefied 
gases, plant the seeds and regulate the temperature, humid- 
ity, fertilisers and the composition of the gas-forming en- 

A sectional, opaque, metal vessel was installed, extend- 
ing the whole length of the greenhouse along its axis. It 
was filled with a soil-and-water mixture and had many 
little holes in which seeds or seedlings were planted. In- 
side, its walls were moistened with a liquid, while on the 
outside, they were coated with a special enamel. Thanks to 


this the liquid could not leak outside and in accordance 
with well-known hydroscopic laws remained confined in- 
side the central pipe. Two thin tubes passed down the 
middle of this pipe with rows of holes in them. One sup- 
plied gases to the soil, the other liquid fertilisers. Per- 
petually operating air pumps produced the required gas 
mixtures which permeated the soil. Other pumps delivered 
to the soil liquid containing fertilising substances. 

You may be astounded that such an enormous green- 
house could come out of the rocket. But, firstly, its volume 
was almost equal to the volume of the rocket; secondly, 
the pressure of the gases and vapours in the greenhouse 
was so Small that its walls could be very thin, no thicker, 
in fact, than ordinary cheap window glass. Thus, the whole 
shell weighed some 20 tons, whereas the rocket and its 
pay load weighed 400 tons. The greenhouse provided an 
additional 1,000 square metres of surface exposed here to 
strong sunlight throughout two-thirds of the day, that 
is, 50 square metres per person! It is not difficult to imag- 
ine what a tremendous amount of nutritious fruit could 
be provided by that surface up here, in these wonderful 
growing and lighting conditions! The glass was of pure 
quartz which lets through chemical rays greatly intensify- 
ing plant development and good yields. 

Finally everything was completed, the seeds planted and 
the greenhouse began to function. Shoots soon appeared. 
The transparent part of the greenhouse was continuously 
set perpendicular to the Sun’s rays. The back surface was 
twice as large, but as it reflected diffused sunlight, it lit 
up the whole shaded part of the central pipe with its del- 
icate sprouting leaves. Nevertheless, the distribution of 
light was uneven and the soil pipe was turned so that 
the young plants would receive equal quantities of solar 
energy. The rotation was automatic, though it could be 
done by hand without leaving the rocket. In general, 
the fertiliser supply, lighting conditions, etc., could be 
controlled from inside the rocket, so there was no need 


to get into space-suits very often. It should be noted that 
both the rocket and the newly constructed greenhouse were 
always orientated most advantageously in relation to the 
Sun. This could have been achieved by keeping a constant 
sleepless vigil, but a more convenient solution was found. 
Light is known to exert a slight—very slight—pressure 
on bodies, amounting to half a milligram per square metre 
of a surface. By itself this force was too weak to turn the 
rocket, but it performed the same service as a ship’s com- 
pass. An even simpler device was a magnifying lens at- 
tached to the greenhouse wall so that it cast a bright, hot 
spot on a screen placed in its focus. Any deviation by the 
spot from a specific point set in motion the attitude-con- 
trol mechanisms of the greenhouse which returned it to 
the required position. An even simpler method of attitude 
control would have been to make the rocket and green- 
house revolve gently about some axis. 

Strawberries, various vegetables and fruit grew by the 
hour. Many plants yielded every ten or fifteen days. Dwarf 
apple- and pear-trees and other diminutive fruit-bearing 
shrubs and trees were planted. They blossomed continu- 
ally and bore amazingly large and tasty fruit. Some trees 
blossomed while others were already carrying ripe fruit. 
The most successful crops were water-melons, musk-mel- 
ons, pine-apples, cherries and plums. It was only necessary 
to prune the growing shrubs and trees very often. The 
harvest was picked continuously, as there reigned an un- 
changing climate with no seasons, They could artificially 
change the climate over a broad range, making it possi- 
ble to grow the sort of crops to be found in the different 
countries of the Earth. Large trees were impossible, both 
because of the limitations on size imposed by the dimen- 
sions of the greenhouse and the shortage of soil and fer- 
tilisers. When millions of human beings inhabit these emp- 
ty ethereal expanses matters will be arranged differently. 

The space travellers frequently visited the greenhouse 
to collect fruits or simply for the sake of an outing. They 


had to wear space-suits for these excursions, as the pres- 
sure of the gases and water vapours in the greenhouse 
was not more than 20 millimetres of the mercury column, 
i.e., one fortieth of atmospheric pressure, which is totally 
inadequate for human beings. The composition of the 
gases, which completely suited the plants, was wholly 
unsuitable for human breathing. The humidity was far 
below the saturation pressure corresponding to the tem- 
perature because the vapour from the leaves and soil was 
condensed, before it could reach saturation point, in spe- 
cial appendages of the greenhouse, which were kept con- 
stantly in the shade and where consequently the tempera- 
ture was close to zero. Thus the vapour pressure was nev- 
er greater than 4-10 millimetres. Carbon dioxide, oxygen, 
nitrogen and other gases were also in an extremely rarefied 
state. But this, it is known, hardly affects plant develop- 

Thus, on Earth the content of carbon dioxide—the prin- 
cipal gas for plants—does not exceed one-thousandth, i.e., 
the partial pressure is not more than one millimetre. 

The crew took great delight in visiting the greenhouse, 
especially at first. The plants grew so thick that they could 
hardly make their way through the lush vegetation. Flying 
along the tube they had to keep their bodies parallel to 
the walls in order not to touch the fruits. This sometimes 
happened, for all that, and much of the ripe fruit came 
away from the plants. They would never have come away 
of their own accord, no matter how ripe, for they had no 
weight. Even when separated from the plants, the fruits 
did not fall, but drifted about until they got caught in the 
dense foliage. A spaceman, flying about like a bird in the 
greenhouse could simply have caught the fruit in his 
mouth, but unfortunately the space-suit made it impossible. 
The fruit and berries bounced off the helmet and had to be 
caught in a net like butterflies and stored away in light, 
semitransparent bags. 

Access to the greenhouse was not simple, despite the 


space-suits. To pass inside from outer space one had to 
enter a special air-lock and close the outside door. Air 
from the greenhouse was then let into the lock through an 
open hatch through which the person entered the green- 

Later, when an air-lock was made to connect the rocket 
and the greenhouse, the whole procedure became simpler. 
Anyone dressed in a space-suit could enter the lock with 
the atmosphere of the rocket. Then the air was pumped 
into the dwelling section, the second door was opened, 
and the person entered the greenhouse. If he wished to 
go from the greenhouse into outer space, he entered the 
outer air-lock of the greenhouse. The gases and vapours 
in the lock were pumped back into the greenhouse, the 
door into ethereal space was opened, and the spaceman 
flew out. 


Our travellers were now established comfortably. They 
had consumed their stores but had no further need for 
them as the greenhouse produced an abundance of tender, 
fragrant fruit and vegetables, containing sugar and oil. The 
more they ate the more fertilisers they had and, conse- 
quently, the more food they could grow—to the extent, 
of course, allowed by the solar energy falling on a unit of 
surface. Their bodies spent so little energy on movement 
and protection against cold that they put on weight in 
spite of their vegetarian diet. They enjoyed the “feather- 
bed” state of their gravity-free environment and the ab- 
sence of diseases. Diseases and their infecting agents had 
no opportunity of developing in the rocket, and even if 
some bacteria were to make their appearance, the fierce 
rays of the Sun would destroy them all. The only area not 
completely disinfected was the inside of the human body! 

Being completely provided for, they could have con- 
tinued in their blissful state until death if death had any 
power there. 


They had a rub-down or bathed almost every day. The 
bath was easily transformed into a shower, and artificial 
rain produced by centrifugal pumps driven by solar mo- 
tors sprayed abundantly from all sides of the bath-house. 

The tranquillity of their life, however, brought boredom. 
They searched for new activity. It was necessary to send 
to Earth a detailed report on their condition, work, achieve- 
ments, and state of mind. Most of the electric-power re- 
serves had already been exhausted and other means of 
telegraphy had to be devised. 

Ivanov estimated that solar light reflected by a flat mir- 
ror was 40,000 times more powerful than light scattered 
by a ground glass surface in similar conditions. There was 
sunlight in abundance and plenty of mirrors. One square 
metre of mirror reflected as much light as a silver-backed 
ground glass 200 metres square. At a distance of 1,000 
the brightest planet. reaches only 0.6 of a minute at its 
closest opposition, and then only a narrow crescent is 
seen. Clearly the mirror could be observed much better 
than Venus in the most favourable conditions which meant 
that it could be seen even in daytime. The best time for 
reflecting the light was just before sunset and immediate- 
ly after sunrise, and this happened twice every 100 min- 
utes, which was the duration of a day and night up here. 
Long and short flashes were produced by manipulating 
the mirror slightly. The flashing of the new star could be 
observed from parts of the Earth immediately below and 
the Morse signals readily deciphered. 


What was our Earth like in the year 2017, to which 
our narrative relates? 

There was a Single authority for the whole world, a 
congress of elected representatives of all nations. It had 

* Written before the 1917 Revolution.—Ed. 


been inaugurated more than 70 years before, and it dealt 
with all mankind’s problems. Wars were impossible. Mis- 
understandings among peoples were settled by peaceful 
means. Armies were drastically limited, or rather, they 
were labour armies. Thanks to the fairly favourable con- 
ditions of the preceding one hundred years, the population 
had trebled. Commerce, engineering, the arts, and agri- 
culture had progressed considerably. Huge metal airships 
capable of lifting thousands of tons made travel and goods 
traffic both convenient and cheap. 

Especially effective were the largest airships, which by 
using air currents were employed to transport almost free 
of charge such inexpensive commodities as wood, coal 
and metals. Aeroplanes were used for the rapid transport 
of small numbers of passengers or valuable commodities. 
Most widespread were single- and two-seater aeroplanes. 

Mankind was peacefully advancing along the road of 
progress, but the rapid growth of the population was a 
matter of concern for all thinking people and rulers. 

Ideas about the technical feasibility of conquering and 
exploiting the deserts of the Universe had been voiced 
more than a hundred years before. In 1903, a Russian schol- 
ar wrote a serious work on this subject and proved math- 
ematically, on the basis of the scientific data available 
at the time, the feasibility of colonising the Solar System. 
His ideas, however, were all but forgotten, and it was left 
to our company of scientists to revive them and partially 
carry them out. 


Many people observed an unusual phenomenon which re- 
curred before dawn and at dusk: a bright flashing star trav- 
elling rapidly across the sky. At first it was thought to 
be an airship, signalling with an electric light, but it was 
pointed out that an airship would have several bright, un- 


blinking lights at night. Furthermore, the deciphered sig- 
nals carried an amazing message. 

Rumours had it that a space vehicle based on the rocket 
principle had departed from the Earth, but the news had 
been ridiculed as merely another newspaper sensation. 
Then one day the following telegram was deciphered: 

“April 10, 2017. On January first, this year, we the un- 
dersigned, 20 persons in all, took off in a reaction-pro- 
pelled vehicle from a valley of the Himalayan Mountains 
(name supplied). We are now circling the Earth in our 
rocket at a distance of 1,000 kilometres, making one com- 
plete orbit every 100 minutes. We have built a large green- 
house, planted fruit and vegetables, and have already gath- 
ered several harvests. Thus we have plenty of food and 
are alive and healthy and adequately supplied for an in- 
definite period of time. We are surrounded by boundless 
space capable of providing a home for countless millions 
of human beings. We invite you to move up to us if you 
are inconvenienced by overpopulation and if terrestrial life 
burdens you. Here life is a virtual paradise, especially for 
the weak and ailing. 

“Details of our flight can be obtained from our place 
of departure, where full information about our achieve- 
ments is available. There you can obtain the necessary in- 
formation about the construction of reaction-propelled ve- 
hicles for space flight.” The telegram was signed by several 
famous names, 

The report was received by many telegraph operators 
and printed in all newspapers. Everyone had seen the won- 
derful flashing star. Scientists and academicians studied it. 
They determined its distance from the Earth, the time 
when it appeared, the elements of its orbit, its velocity, 
etc. Their data confirmed the authenticity of the telegram, 
for no airship could rise to an altitude of 1,000 kilometres 
in order to hoax the world. A wave of excitement spread 
over the Earth as if the end of the world had been an- 


nounced, but this was joyful excitement. What prospects 
were now thrown open to the human race! 

People of every nationality knew, besides their own 
tongue, a universal, world-wide language. There was a com- 
mon alphabet, certain common laws which united people 
possessing the most diverse qualities and natures. News of 
the world-shattering events spread rapidly to the farthest 
corners of the Earth. Airships delivered newspapers, books, 
preachers and lecturers at very low expense, often just 
with the aid of a fair wind. 

Everyone participated actively in terrestrial affairs. The 
announcement of the accessibility of the deserts of the 
Universe was hailed with great delight, for many people 
had been longing for the freedom of outer space. The ail- 
ing hoped to be cured, the old and the weak, to prolong 
their lives. Our Himalayan anchorets were the centre of 
interest, a source of happy news and information, towards 
which the eager ears of the world were ever turned. 

Countless commissions from scientists and engineers 
were dispatched to our hermits in order to investigate 
their work on the spot. A vast number of schools were 
opened for studying the sky and reaction-propelled vehi- 
cles. Graduates from these schools qualified as reaction- 
propulsion engineers. Factories were built for the manu- 
facture of space projectiles. Technicians, foremen and 
workers were trained. In short, the wheels were spinning, 
and in less than a year a thousand reaction-propelled vehi- 
cles were ready for the transmigration. 


But what were our rocket men doing meanwhile? Sev- 
eral months passed before the curiosity of mankind was 
satisfied. Daily they received hundreds of questions from 
‘the Earth which had to be answered. Finally, the curiosity 


began to abate and a telegram as follows was flashed to 
the Earth: “Are traveliing in spiral path away from the 
globe. Will explore the space area round the Earth. Ex- 
pect no telegrams meanwhile.” 

Once again the crew assembled in the drawing-room. 
Newton opened the meeting. 

“We've reported all our experiences to the Earth, what 
we have felt and have found. Let the inhabitants of the 
Earth make use of these expanses, this sunlight and 
warmth, this carefree, affluent social existence and the 
opportunities it provides for unhampered thought and en- 
terprise. We have supplied the technical data necessary 
for organising an exodus and forming a colony round the 
Earth. There is nothing to keep us here any longer, but 
it would be a good idea to pave the way for the further 
advance of mankind.” 

“Hurrah! We're flying on!” enthusiastic cries welcomed 
his words. 

“But, in effect, we haven’t even explored the space 
round the Earth as far as the Moon’s orbit. This is a vast re- 
gion which receives thousands of times more light than the 
Earth. We shall place it at the disposal of man. The rocket 
and the greenhouse with its continuously ripening fruit 
provide us with everything, from the material point of 
view,” Newton continued. “We can’t part with the green- 
house and will have to drag it along on our spiral journey.” 

“Well switch on our motors,” said Laplace, “and the 
rocket will take the greenhouse in tow.” 

“Here we won’t need a powerful thrust,” Ivanov re- 
marked. “Before, our acceleration reached 100 metres a 
second, which increased our weight tenfold, compared with 
the Earth. This forced us to submerge in water to protect 
ourselves. Now a thrust of one ten-thousandth is all that 
is necessary and adequate. An acceleration of one centi- 
metre per second will be enough.” 

“The relative gravity,” Franklin commented, “will be 
one-thousandth of the terrestrial gravitational force, i.e., 


quite negligible. It can’t harm the greenhouse or the plants 
in it, to say nothing of the rocket, which can withstand 
large loads.” 

“In fact,” Laplace remarked, “our flight will hardly affect 
our present state. In the rocket and the greenhouse we 
shall fall in the direction of their long axes. A falling body 
will travel five millimetres in the first second; it will take 
ten seconds to fall 500 millimetres, or half a metre, and 
one hundred seconds to fall 50 metres, or half the length 
of the rocket. We’ll be able to enjoy standing and walking, 
although we shall find it rather difficult. A sneeze, a cough 
or a sudden wave of the hand or foot will waft us off our 
feet. A man weighing 100 kilograms will weigh only 100 
grams. Of course, the objects, plants and people lashed 
secure in the rocket and greenhouse will remain in place. 
We'll continue to fly about without even noticing the slight 
weight we possess.” 

“The purpose of this small acceleration,” said Newton, 
“is to describe a spiral about the Earth and explore the 
surrounding space as carefully as possible. Our spiral mo- 
tion will carry us farther and farther away from our plan- 
et towards the Moon’s orbit. We can’t have a great accel- 
eration or thrust force as, in that case, the greenhouse 
would be destroyed by its own weight. We could dis- 
mantle the greenhouse and stow it away in the rocket, 
but this would be a nuisance and we should lose too much 
time. Besides what would we eat? We have no more stores, 
and a final harvest before dismantling the greenhouse 
would last no more than a fortnight. We’d probably spend 
more than that on dismantling, re-assembling, planting, 
and waiting for the fruits to ripen. 

“Even this acceleration of 1 cm/sec is a lot,” Newton 
continued. “It will take 200,000 seconds, or about a day 
and a half, to increase the rocket’s velocity by one kilo- 
metre per second. In the meantime the rocket will have 
circumnavigated the Earth more than ten times and trav- 
elled a considerable distance away from it. Due to the 


increasing distance from the Earth, the actual velocity will 
gradually decrease, and near the Moon’s orbit it will be 
only one kilometre a second, as compared with 7.5 now. 
By then we shall have almost completely overcome the 
Earth’s gravitational pull. Furthermore,” Newton conclud- 
ed, “if we find it necessary we can stop the motors or we 
can accelerate the rocket.” 

“Why not fly straight from the Earth round the Sun?” 
one of the crew asked. “What can we expect to find in the 
neighbourhood of the Earth? Isn’t the space round the Sun 
and onwards to the orbit of Mars and the minor planets 
more interesting? If anything, it is a million times great- 
er than the Earth-and-Moon backwoods!” 

“Why, listen to him talk!” several voices exclaimed. “He 
calls an area a thousand times greater than the surface 
of the Earth mere backwoods!” 

“A trip round the Sun independently of the Earth is pos- 
sible,” said Franklin. “But caution is the best counsel. No 
harm will be done by exploring the neighbourhood of the 
Earth more carefully. We want to know whether it is suit- 
able for life and whether there are bodies in it that might 
endanger the colonies of man. We’ll have time enough for 
the other trip. At present we are more interested in the 
neighbourhood of the Moon. We may even visit it.” 

“How interesting! That’s really something!” several ex- 
cited voices exclaimed. 

All of a sudden a loud knock echoed through the ship. 
Everyone looked around. 

“Gentlemen, who did that?” 

The sound was an unusual one, rather like a bump from 
outside. Some grew pale, others hastened to the portholes. 

“Gentlemen!” one of the latter exclaimed. “A strange 
object is receding from the rocket. Maybe it hit us and re- 

The others peered out. 

“Why, it’s an aerolite!” Ivanov exclaimed, “a celestial 
rock, a tiny planet or part of a comet.” 


The rock was slowly drifting away and dwindling in 

“By the time we get into our space-suits and fly out,” 
Newton observed, ‘‘the bolide will be too far away and we 
may not find it.” 

“I think it would be a good idea to keep a lookout near 
the rocket,” Laplace suggested. “We really ought to cap- 
ture a body like that. The material may come in handy. 
The iron, nickel, carbon, oxides and other substances con- 
tained in these roving rocks can all be utilised.” 

The suggestion was accepted, a schedule was drawn up 
and one of the crew left to go on watch. 

“I think the rock which alarmed us so much is a satel- 
lite of the Earth,” Newton said. “The blow was relatively 
weak, which may mean that it is one of the Earth’s little 
moons revolving round it with a velocity corresponding to 
the distance. The velocity should be very much like that 
of the rocket, making the relative velocity of the rocket 
and the rock almost zero. Such celestial bodies present 
no danger to us since collision with them will be slight. 
Comet bolides, however, may well destroy the rocket and 
the greenhouse. This collision of ours is an extremely rare 
thing and the probability is no greater than the chance of 
an aerolite falling on a house on the Earth. We have as 
much cause to fear such a collision as to expect a bolide 
to fall on the head of a chance pedestrian on the Earth. 
We shan’t need watchmen to look out for such a contin- 
gency. On the Earth no one lives in fear of an aerolite. 
However, our watchman might be lucky enough to spot 
in a telescope some large body several hundreds of kilo- 
metres away. Then we could capture it and make use of 
the material.” 

“If there’s no danger,” said Ivanov, ‘‘do we really need 
a watchman? We can keep a lookout in all directions from 
the inside using spyglasses. There’ll be plenty of enthu- 
siasts. As it is, we are always staring out into space. If 


anyone notices something of interest a trapper can imme- 
diately set off after our celestial quarry.” 

The watchman was called in, and he was not at all dis- 


Two symmetrical exhaust nozzles were used and the 
expenditure of propellants was reduced to a minimum. 

The blast was hardly noticeable and soon everyone grew 
as accustomed to it as to the ticking of a clock. They 
looked out of the portholes with curiosity. They saw the 
same black sky, the huge crescent of the Earth, the gleam- 
ing bluish Sun, the dark sphere powdered with the silver 
dust of unblinking stars. At first they were amused by the 
sensation of gravity and falling, to which they had grown 
unaccustomed. But the falling was negligible and it had 
practically no effect on their usual flying about and gam- 
bolling in the rocket. Water poured into vessels from a 
slow-running jet, forming a horizontal surface over which 
large waves rolled lazily. Pendulums swung astonishingly 
slowly: the pendulum clock in the rocket went 32 times 
more slowly than one on the Earth. 

Previously, when anyone left the rocket in his space- 
suit and took care not to push off, he hovered near it; if 
he pushed off he moved steadily away. Now, he fell away 
from one end of the rocket and was pressed against it at 
the other end. The same occurred inside the rocket: in one 
hundred seconds a person, like any object, fell 50 metres 
from it, in one thousand seconds the distance reached five 
kilometres. The velocity grew in proportion to time. This 
was no joke and made a leash necessary. It grew taut, but 
hardly perceptible. If a person jumped forward from the 
front end of the rocket he soared up, with uniformly-retard- 
ed motion, the retardation being one-thousandth of the 

17—761 257 

magnitude of retardation in conditions of terrestrial grav- 
ity, and finally returned back to the rocket. The thrust 
could be increased and the phenomenon would be more 
pronounced. A large gravitational force, however, could 
damage the greenhouse. 

“It seems to me,” said one of the bolide searchers, 
“that the Earth and the continents and seas are growing 

“That is the natural consequence of our spiralling away 
from the globe,” Ivanov remarked. 

The days grew longer but the nights, while increasing 
absolutely (due to the slower motion of the rocket) became 
shorter as compared with the days. With each circle around 
the Earth the splendid evening glow, a crimson circle em- 
bracing almost the whole sky, grew smaller and weaker. It 
was quite light, but not as before. The Sun shined as 

All twenty men maintained a continuous watch, with 
weak and powerful telescopes from the well-polished port- 
holes of their cabins. They began to meet small bolides 
several centimetres in diameter, but they made no attempt 
to catch them as they were too far off. Soon there were 
more of them, some hardly moving. This meant that their 
motion coincided with that of the rocket, i.e., it was in 
the same direction and almost of the same speed. They 
were caught and moored to the rocket. Not a single bo- 
lide, however, came closer than within several kilome- 
tres. The men chased them in space-suits fitted with small 
jet motors and caught them in nets. Soon a sizable col- 
lection was assembled, Analyses revealed the presence of 
iron, nickel, silica, alumina, calcium oxide, feldspar, iron 
chromite, iron oxides, graphite and other simple and com- 
pound substances. The most frequently occurring were 
pure iron, nickel and silicon. 

Newton showed the company a collection of uranolites 
and informed them of the results of the analyses. 

“We have here,” he exclaimed, “excellent building ma- 


terial, the oxygen we lack, and soil for plants. True, the 
oxygen is in combination with other substances, but it is 
there and nothing could be simpler than to extract it in 
gaseous form. After all, we have such a powerful source 
of energy as the Sun. The temperature in the focus of our 
mirrors can reach 5000°C. 

“Weve lost very little oxygen and water vapour,” La- 
place remarked. 

“Water, too, can be obtained from these rocks,” Frank- 
lin observed. “Some of the feldspars contain chemically 
combined water.” 

“It is noteworthy,” said Ivanov, “that all these min- 
erals and elements are familiar to terrestrial mineralo- 
gists, since they are present in the rocks of our native 
planet. They have also been found in aerolites collected 
on the Earth and kept in museums.” 

“If the composition of this world is so like our own,” 
Ivanov went on, “what is to prevent it from becoming 
man’s habitation and an arena for his activity?” 

The farther they receded from the Earth, the more 
rocks they encountered. Some of the bolides were several 
metres across, but they left such giants alone as their bulk 
would hamper the motion of the rocket. Sometimes a shad- 
ow would flit by in the distance: these were splinters of 
comets travelling at terrific speed. The larger and more 
distant bodies travelled across the black sky like stars, 
though they were much closer. Most bolides between the 
Earth and the rocket moved faster than the latter, those 
farther away moving more slowly. The illusion was that 
the rocket was motionless while the bolides traced back 
and forth in different directions. Observing this, a young 
member of the expedition suggested that the relative mo- 
tion of the bolides could be used to accelerate or retard 
the rocket without expending any fuel. 

“All we have to do is to hitch a ride,” he said. 

“A splendid idea,” Laplace remarked, “but unfortunate- 
ly we can’t make use of it because we lack the necessary 

17* 259 

implements. The rocket would probably withstand the 
jar and we could survive if submerged in water, but the 
greenhouse would be destroyed.” 

The Earth grew smaller and smaller, the day became 
longer: thanks to the longer day, night set in suddenly, 
and more and more followed the lines of an ordinary solar 
eclipse lasting several hours. A day in the rocket was al- 
ready equal to ten terrestrial days. The Moon alternately 
expanded and contracted; at its largest it was a most strik- 
ing spectacle. At one point its maximum size became equal 
to that of the Earth. The latter’s dimensions did not change 
in the course of the day, i.e., as the rocket circled round 
it, but it shrank gradually, as the distance increased. In the 
course of half the rocket’s day the Moon expanded consid- 
erably, then dwindling rapidly until it became even small- 
er than as seen from the Earth. The apparent diameters 
of the Earth and the Moon became equal when the rocket 
reached a point 4/, of the distance between them, or 48 
terrestrial radii from the Earth. Soon that point was 

The cloudless day grew longer and longer. Flowers and 
fruit flourished in the Sun. During oppositions of the Earth 
and Moon the latter seemed larger. Lunar attraction exert- 
ed a growing influence on the rocket’s motion. The veloc- 
ity would first increase, then be retarded by the pull of 
the Earth’s satellite. The orbit or path of the rocket was 
distorted, and it could even have hit the Moon, but that 
did not happen. 

Finally, however, the rocket reached the orbit of the 
Moon, moving in the same direction and with the same 
velocity as the Moon, but on the other side of the circle, 
‘So that they could never meet. 

There were no more nights, only eclipses of the Sun, 
which were as rare as lunar eclipses on Earth. A continu- 
ous day set in. 

The motors were stopped. The Moon was far away and 
seemed even smaller than when seen from Earth, 


The rocket’s orbital period about the Earth was the 
same as that of the Moon, its synodic period (with respect 
to the Sun) being about 30 terrestrial days. In its spiralling 
away from the Earth the rocket more and more infre- 
quently overtook the Moon, until finally it began moving 
with the same speed as the Moon, which seemed fixed in 
the sky. 

This happened when the rocket was the same distance 
from the Moon as from the Earth. 

The distance between the rocket and the Moon became 
constant. As the rocket seemed stationary to its inhab- 
itants, so did the Moon and the Earth. Both traced their 
paths among the stars, but the impression was that the 
stellar sphere was moving. 


The space between the Earth and the Moon for 360,000 
kilometres round the Earth had been thoroughly explored 
and found to be quite safe and almost free of bolides. Peo- 
ple could now begin their transmigration. A telegram to 
that effect was flashed down to the Earth. This time the 
mirror had to be larger, and a reflector 10 square metres 
was used. A telegram from the Earth acknowledged the 
receipt of the good news. 

“Mankind will now embark on a new era of colonisa- 
tion,” Newton informed his weightless audience. “We for 
our part must discuss our future plans. We have good 
grounds for satisfaction and confidence: we have carried 
out our plans, the rocket is coasting round the Earth in 
the orbit of the Moon, which presents no danger to us 
and cannot perceptibly affect our motion, we are adequate- 
ly provided with food. Our position has changed only 
relative to the Moon and the Earth, remaining the same 
in relation to the Sun and the stars.” 

“We can take one of three courses by switching on our 
motors,” Laplace said. “We can land on and explore the 


Moon and attempt to determine its importance to the Earth 
and in general. We can accelerate our ship to a velocity 
which will take us forever from the Earth and put us in 
orbit round the Sun. Thus we can explore an expanse 
about our luminary which is hundreds of millions of times 
greater than the surface of the Earth. Finally, we can de- 
velop a negative velocity, i.e., reduce our speed with rela- 
tion to the Earth, in which case we shall begin falling 
earthwards drawn by its gravitational pull. In five days 
of accelerated fall we shall dash to smithereens against 
its surface.” 

“That’s the least desirable course,’’ several voices ex- 

“A trip round the Sun can also be postponed!” 

“Why not try to reach the Moon?” came the suggestions 
from all sides. 

“It is feasible,” said Newton. “But we can’t take the 
greenhouse to the Moon with us. When we start retarding 
our motion on approaching it there will be developed in 
the rocket and the greenhouse a relative gravity not 
less than the gravity at the Moon’s surface, i.e., minimum 
one-sixth of the Earth’s gravity at ground level. The green- 
house can’t withstand even that small gravitational 

“Consequently,” Franklin said, “we'll have to leave the 
greenhouse here and proceed in the rocket carrying stores 
of food and oxygen. This means that we shan’t be able to 
stay long on the Moon, especially if we all land together. 
On the other hand, we can’t leave anyone in the green- 
house because a space-suit must not be worn for more 
than six hours, and even if we could extend this time in- 
definitely, it would be most tiresome to remain contin- 
uously in a space-suit.” 

“Suppose we dismantle the greenhouse, stow it away 
in the rocket and then set it up on the Moon? Then we 
can dismantle it again and fly back,” some of the workers 


“This has been discussed,” Ivanov remarked, “and it was 
found impracticable.” 

“The only thing to do,” said Newton, “is for all of us 
to fly to the Moon for a short period without the green- 
house. We’ll gather as much fruit as possible and then 
reduce functioning of the greenhouse, leaving regulators 
to supply the plants with moisture, nutritious substances 
and everything they need for several dozen hours.” 

The question of visiting the Moon was debated for some 
time, before a satisfactory solution was finally arrived at. 
The greenhouse would be equipped with a slowly revolv- 
ing polyhedral mirror. The light reflected by its facets 
would be seen several thousand kilometres away. 

But let us now leave our weightless travellers and re- 
turn to the Earth. 


While reaction-propulsion crafts and greenhouse parts 
were being built, new experiments carried out and new in- 
struments manufactured, the inhabitants of the Earth were 
dreaming about, arguing over and reading everything that 
appeared in print about the new trans-atmospheric colo- 
nies. Some opposed the idea of colonisation, some were 
indifferent, but the majority ardently supported the idea. 
Many books appeared devoted to life outside the Earth. 
People poured over colourful pictures illustrating life on 
the future colonies. The children were the first to pounce 
on those pictures, they were followed by the younger 
men and girls, and finally the adults. Sceptics predominated 
among the old folk and women, but the girls were as 
enthusiastic as the young men. 

Lectures were delivered and papers read at meetings, 
learned societies, and academies all over the world. 

People impatiently awaited the first flights. The telegram 
from our trans-atmospheric travellers that they were well 
and had explored the space between the Earth and the 
Moon was received with general satisfaction. 


The question of selecting the first colonists was widely 
debated. Half the population of the world—some 2,000 mil- 
lions—had volunteered, but in their heart of hearts many 
thought, “Let someone else go first. Pll follow the lead. 
There’s no haste.” Children fancied themselves flying 
about, cavorting, playing and skimming in air and the 
boundless ether. 

People imagined how nice it would be to be rid of over- 
cast skies and to enjoy the constant sunshine. The inhab- 
itants of northern and cloudy lands were the most anx- 

“You can’t get along without nights,’ the sceptics 
wagged their heads. 

“Darkness is easily made,” the optimists countered. 

Weak, ailing and old people longed for the Sun even 
though they were apprehensive of some of the conditions 
in the new life. They wished for repose, freedom of move- 
ment and tropical heat, but they had their doubts about 
weightlessness. Poor people relished the prospect of break- 
ing away from want and the squalor that inevitably ac- 
companies poverty. 

“There’s nothing shameful in being naked among other 
naked people,” they said. “Why, some might even take 
pride in a beautiful body and give themselves airs—with- 
out having a penny in their pockets!” 

“How much energy it takes to overcome the hostility 
of beds, homes and clothing! It’s all very well for the rich 
to talk! But the poor and the weak suffer most from ver- 
min, especially in hot countries where the level of culture 
is low; it is they who find it so hard to combat vermin and 

Everyone was impressed by the possibility of control- 
ling the temperature from zero to 150°C. 

“This means,” they said, “that we can always have 30- 
35° C at home. In such easy conditions, with the tempera- 
ture almost equal to that of the body, the organism 
expends the minimum of energy, making it possible 


to be contented with every little food and still put on 

Vegetarians were pleased to hear that their diet would 
consist of fruit and vegetables. 

“But there’s nothing to prevent us from breeding ani- 
mals there,” contended the lovers of meat. 

“Oh, no,” the vegetarians argued, “you won't be al- 
lowed to.” 

The discussion spread to the newspapers. It was an- 
nounced that the higher animals would not be slaughtered 
in trans-atmospheric colonies. Even on the Earth the 
consumption of meat was gradually falling because of the 
increasing variety and quality of fruit and vegetables and 
because the expansion of world trade had made the finest 
fruits available to everyone. Moral considerations, natural 
compassion, and an organic abhorrence of blood had led 
to a position where only sick people included animal flesh 
in their food. 

Sick and aged people donated huge sums of money to 
hasten the beginning of the transmigration. Doctors as- 
sured them that there were better conditions for re- 
cuperation and prolongation of life in outer space: eternal 
sunlight, a constant, healthy temperature, complete bodily 
rest, absence of blankets, beds, clothing, no pressure and 
contact with anything. The slightest effort was sufficient 
to change the position of the sick patient. Every part of 
the body was free and accessible, and there was no danger 
of ever developing bed-sores. Finally, there was the total 
absence of infecting agents. 

“It’s immoral to expose the body,” the pessimists de- 

“There’s nothing to prevent you wearing clothing if 
you so wish,” the exponents of the new way of life coun- 
tered. “Besides, it will be obligatory to conceal certain 
parts of the body.” 

“Men and women almost naked! It’s awful!” the moral- 
ists exclaimed in horror. 


“They’ll get used to it,” replied the positive advocates. 
“If they don’t, it will surely mean that such people are 
spiritually unchaste and should be left on the Earth. Not 
everyone will depart, in any case. Someone will have to 
remain here. The Earth will continue to require looking 
after just as before and even more, otherwise it will be- 
come a hell. At first we'll send up just a few people, the 
most physically fit and, what is more important, morally 
sound. Later on, only the overspill population of the Earth 
will be resettled.” 

Everyone was glad that there was no need to do any 
travelling, no need to overcome gravity, friction, the re- 
sistance of water and air, with the exception of the air 
inside the rockets or the very rarefied air in the green- 
houses. The journey could be made without clothing inside 
the rocket or in a space-suit outside. In both cases people 
would be racing through the void without ever stopping 
or feeling the drag of the medium. 

“A rocket will be like a gaol,” the doubters grumbled. 

“Not a gaol but a spacious home with every possible 
convenience of the kind that even the most powerful peo- 
ple cannot at present enjoy,” the supporters replied. 

“Furthermore, you can leave the rocket from time to 
time. All you have to do is get into a space-suit and you 
are free to move in all six directions.” 

“A space-suit is cumbersome,” the grumblers continued. 
“Your eyes are always behind glasses. It’s clothing all 
over again, but worse and more inconvenient.” 

“Up there a space-suit will weigh nothing, and in any 
case it’s much more comfortable than the garments of an 
Eskimo or a Yakut. Space-suits are still far from perfect, 
of course, but when they are improved you'll be sur- 
prised at the result!” 

“We'll see! But then, you never have the pleasure of a 
stroll on foot, everything is so monotonous, and the black 
Sky and the lifeless stars are dreadful. Here I can see the 
blue sky, the glorious sea, the lovely colours of the air, 


hills, valleys and woods. A medley of sounds caresses the 
ear wherever you go. What can be better than a thunder- 
storm in spring, the babble of a brook, the murmur of the 
trees, the pounding of the surf on the beach... .”’ 

“That is so,” the exponents rejoined. “But how many 
people have the time and opportunity to enjoy them? On 
the other hand, in the greenhouses there will be flowers, 
fragrance and beauty galore, and, in addition, the oppor- 
tunity to enjoy them. A tired, work-weary person cannot 
take in the beauties of nature. Enlightenment and asso- 
ciation with large numbres of people will be a great rec- 
ompense for the absence of terrestrial romance. Besides, 
to some extent, reading books about the Earth and look- 
ing at pictures of the Earth will make up for its absence. 
People will be able to visit the Earth once in a while. But 
goodness! how disappointed they will be after their care- 
free life in the skies! The visitor to the Earth will be like 
an old man hankering after his native parts. His child- 
hood and adolescent memories are so pleasant that his 
childhood haunts him because of their seeming charm 
and delight, because childhood friends seem so attrac- 
tive.... Yet when he finally reaches home he finds.... Ah 
me! but every old man knows what he finds and how dis- 
heartened he is.” 

Many people agreed that a world without gravity had 
its advantages: walls couldn’t fall or ceilings cave in, 
people could not trip up and fall or slip and break their 
bones; every position was achieved effortlessly, the legs 
and arms would never grow numb, and freight haulage 
would cost nothing. All this was known and had been 
discussed, but it was pointed out that there were many 
occasions when gravity was essential, for example, when 
washing or in a Javatory. 

“Even if you are right to regard gravity as essential,” 
a physics teacher protested, “there is nothing simpler than 
to produce it by rotating your dwelling. Rotation up yon- 
der is permanent and costs nothing. Furthermore, its speed 


depends on us, we can make it less than on Earth or more, 
within infinite limits. This is our advantage. Terrestrial 
gravity is constant, but there it can be of any force from 
zero upwards. Now about the temperature. Close to the 
Earth it can’t be lowered very much because of the plan- 
et’s heat radiation. But farther away temperature control 
can be accomplished within very wide limits. At the dis- 
tance of the Moon, where our travellers are at this mo- 
ment, the temperature can be brought down to almost 
absolute zero, i.e., to 273°C below freezing point. This is 
of tremendous importance for industry,” the teacher went 
on. “On Earth it is very difficult and expensive to achieve 
low temperatures. Up there it is virtually possible to get 
+150°C and —250°C simultaneously. A difference of 400°C! 
Then take the absence of gases for metal-working. It’s 
impossible to enumerate all the opportunities and indispu- 
table advantages available! 

“Due to its spherical shape,” the physicist continued, 
“the succession of days and nights and the absorption of 
the atmosphere, the Earth receives only about one-eighth 
of the amount of radiant energy received up there. Clouds 
and mists further considerably reduce this figure. Then 
the absence of insects and other pests and the favourable 
moisture and fertiliser conditions afford fabulous yields 
of crops. A very small greenhouse can feed one person 
with hardly any tending. Weeds are destroyed by preheat- 
ing to a temperature of 100 degrees. And this requires no 
fuel, and in general fuel is redundant up there.” 

“You could be a lawyer,” someone remarked sarcasti- 
cally. “Better say what'll happen if by accident all the gas 
escapes from the greenhouses and dwellings? Everyone’ll 

“Proper care must be taken. If you make a hole in the 
dykes of Holland the whole country will be flooded!” 

“But some loss of gas is inevitable. How will you make 
up for it?” 


“Water seeps through dams, but it is not regarded as a 

“And the bolides and asteroids! They supply gases, and 
water (in solid state), and building material. An asteroid 
one kilometre in diameter has a mass of about 5,000 mil- 
lion tons and it can supply an enormous population for a 
long time. There are any amount of these asteroids which 
escape observation in the finest telescopes, even in fa- 
vourable circumstances.” 

“But no one has ever seen them!” several voices ex- 

“Hundreds of asteroids 10 metres and more in diameter 
have been discovered. Our travellers report that they have 
seen many bolides and even gathered a small collection 
of celestial rocks. We find many aerolites in museums 
here on the Earth. The smaller a celestial body, the more 
of them there are. There are thousands of ten-mile planets. 
There are probably many more smaller ones, only the low 
power of our telescopes makes it impossible for us to see 
them. There is a tremendous amount of interstellar dust, 
which manifests itself in the shape of shooting stars and 
which probably settles on the snow of the polar countries.” 

Unfortunately, we are unable to recount all the argu- 
ments of this nature. Often the same things were repeated 
over and over again and we have given here only the 
most characteristic arguments. 


The rockets were built and equipped along the lines 
already described. Thousands of them left the Earth one 
after another, roaring and thundering and spitting fire, to 
the delight of onlooking crowds. First only scientists, tech- 
nicians, engineers and workers were dispatched, all of 
them young, energetic and in excellent health, and all of 
them builders. 


On the advice of the scientists, a swarm of these rockets 
was put into orbit at a distante of 5.5 terrestrial radii, or 
33,000 kilometres, from the surface. They circled the plan- 
et in just one terrestrial day. Daytime was almost con- 
tinuous, being interrupted every 24 hours by a brief solar 
eclipse which could hardly be regarded as night. The Earth 
was seen at an angle of 16°, i.e., it looked like a huge 
moon 32 times broader than the Moon seen from the Earth. 
The latter seemed alternately slightly larger or slightly 
smaller than usual. Everything else was as described, only 
on a smaller scale. The rocket’s velocity in relation to the 
Earth was 3 km/sec. 

Newcomers to that strange world were first awed, then 
delighted, but they gradually got used to the situation and 
engaged in work as described before. They used structural 
elements to build a number of greenhouses. Later it was 
decided to adapt them for habitation as well. Accordingly, 
the gas pressure was brought up to one-fifth of atmospher- 
ic. It consisted mainly of oxygen—80 per cent—the other 
20 per cent including carbon dioxide, water vapour, etc. 
The absolute amount of oxygen was only slightly less than 
on the Earth at sea level. The oxygen, however, was much 
more stimulating, because it was almost pure and not 
overburdened, as it is on the Earth, with a lot of useless 
nitrogen. The pressure was rather low, but all the new 
settlers had passed the examination to test their ability to 
stand the reduced pressure. The greenhouse atmosphere 
had a double advantage: the oxygen was more effective 
and the walls of the structures were subjected to only one- 
fifth of atmospheric pressure, making it possible to reduce 
their weight without detriment to strength. The green- 
houses were not exactly identical with the one described. 
They were designed for living and were built stronger than 
the ones designed only for plants, and which had a very 
rarefied atmosphere. 

Thousands of rockets shuttled freight between the Earth 
and outer space. Several of them remained in orbit as 


dwellings for the builders, but they could always return 
to their native Earth at short notice. 

The homeward journey was a reverse of the upward 
path. The sensations and flight conditions were virtually 
the same, the only difference being that the velocity was 
reversed as the exhaust was directed against the motion. 
The speed was gradually reduced until it reached zero at 
the Earth’s surface. For safety reasons it was actually re- 
duced to nil long before landing. The rocket hovered in 
the air before slowly descending until it softly touched 
the ground. The landing technique may sound simple, but 
in practice it required great skill to stop the rocket at the 
split second when it touched the ground in the desired 
point. That is why a greater amount of propellants had 
to be used in landing than in launehing a rocket of the 
same mass. Usually a rocket would land in a big mountain 
lake not far from the launching site. Then it was towed to 
the shore and transported back to the launching pad. 

The construction crews were rarely relieved because they 
had to pioneer the building of space colonies, and in ad- 
dition, the work was very light and clean. Parts were rap- 
idly welded together with great accuracy by focusing sun- 
light in a parabolic mirror. 

The first greenhouse was finished in 20 days, It was a 
long tube like the one described, but 1,000 metres long and 
10 metres across. It was designed for accommodating and 
feeding 100 persons. There was 100 square metres of lon- 
gitudinal section of the cylinder, or 100 square metres of 
surface for each inhabitant continuously subjected to the 
normal rays of the Sun (except during eclipses). The side 
facing the Sun was transparent over one-third of the cir- 
cumference. The reverse side was opaque metal with small 
portholes. Thanks to an extremely strong, silvery wire re- 
inforcement glass could quite safely withstand the pres- 
sure of the inside atmosphere and heavy blows. The non- 
transparent wall was still stronger. The temperature in the 
long tube was regulated on the outside and inside, and 


could be varied from —200°C to +100°C. This was mainly 
achieved by altering the radiating capacity of the outer 
shell. The non-transparent part was black. Over it was a 
system of burnished shutters. When the shutters covered 
the black skin, the radiation of heat by two-thirds of the 
surface stopped almost completely. Sunlight continued to 
stream into the greenhouse and the temperature could rise 
to 100°C. When the burnished shutters were retracted, the 
exposed black metal envelope gave off intense radiated heat 
into stellar space and the temperature in the greenhouse 
fell. If the shutters were drawn over the glass to keep the 
sunlight out the temperature could drop to 200°C below 
zero. The temperature extremes could be further widened 
by means of a third, inside shell. If you recall the Dewar 
flask, in which things keep hot and cold so well, you will 
understand the principle. The centre of the cylinder, its 
axis in fact, was occupied by a pipe filled with soil. Pass- 
ing through it were two smaller pipes which continually 
supplied air, fertiliser and moisture to the soil. Seeds and 
seedlings of fruit-bearing plants and vegetables were plant- 
ed in numerous holes in the soil pipe. A silvery net divided 
the cylinder longitudinally into two semi-cylindrical com- 
partments. The front, sunlit section was only partially shad- 
ed by grapevines and other plants clinging to the win- 
dows. This section was open to all, regardless of sex or 
age. The second half was shaded by dense, lush vegeta- 
tion. It had few windows through which only the starlit 
sky, the Moon, and the Earth shining 1,000 times brighter 
than the Moon, could be seen. Adjoining these windows, 
i.e., the metal part of the greenhouse, was a row of com- 
partments or separate rooms, 200 in all. One hundred were 
for families; then came 50 rooms for bachelors and wid- 
owers and 50 rooms for unmarried women and widows. 
Every family occupied not less than two adjoining rooms, 
one for the husband, the other for the mother and chil- 
dren. Single persons were given a room each, but as half 
the rooms remained unoccupied, there were usually va- 


cant rooms separating the bachelor rooms. Further on was 
a series of rooms for families, then a series for girls, and 
finally for youths. There were six long drawing-rooms be- 
tween the dwelling quarters and a vast hall. Three draw- 
ing-rooms faced the family quarters: one for the married 
men, another for wives and children, the third for mixed 
gatherings of wives and husbands. The other three draw- 
ing-rooms faced the bachelor quarters: two for youths and 
girls separately and a room in between where they could 
meet together. 

The stainless lateral and longitudinal netting was cov- 
ered with dense foliage, flowers and ripening fruit. Their 
fragrance filled both private and public rooms. What could 
be more beautiful than these rooms, with their walls of 
blossoming, fruit-bearing verdure! The thin golden shafts 
of sunlight hardly pierced through the luxuriant foliage. 

All rooms except the children’s had only one door, which 
could be locked. The doors of the girls’ rooms, for exam- 
ple, opened into the girls’ drawing-room, which led to the 
joint girls’ and youths’ drawing-room, and finally to the 
hall where all the inhabitants could assemble. Working 
implements were mostly stowed away in the drawing- 
rooms, but if desired they could also be kept in private 

The general assembly hall was designed as follows. If 
you stood on the green partition, assuming it to be the 
floor, you would have the Sun directly overhead and it 
would give no shade. The Sun would have been unbeara- 
ble but for the plants, which softened its harsh light. From 
this position you would have a view of the magnificent 
hall with its vaulted glass roof and green floor. You would 
be in no danger of getting entangled in the foliage or fall- 
ing through the floor, as there was no gravity and the firm 
Silvery netting prevented it. The hall was 10 metres wide, 
5 metres high and 1,000 metres long. It provided ample 
space for the 100 inhabitants. If they all entered the hail 
simultaneously, each had about 400 cubic metres of space. 

18—761 273 

True, the plants occupied part of it, but not much. The 
cylinder was some 30 metres in circumference. Thus, the 
vault occupied 15 metres. The transparent part spanned 
10 metres, ending 2.5 metres above the green carpet. There 
were more rooms than were required. Let us imagine one 
of them. It is 2.5 metres high, 9 metres long and 5 metres 
wide. If we took up a position in it with our feet to the 
Sun, along the line of the sun-rays, we would see overhead 
a vaulted opaque ceiling with small portholes with rays 
from the Earth streaming through them, generally ob- 
liquely. The light is quite sufficient for reading. 

The six drawing-rooms were each 2.5 metres high, 167 
metres long, and 10 metres wide. The direction of height, 
width or length depended on the position of the observer. 
By making the greenhouse revolve slowly about a lateral 
axis its position in relation to the Sun was kept constant, 
because the plane of rotation possesses the property of 
maintaining a constant aspect. The gravity generated by 
the rotation was hardly perceptible and had no effect on 
freedom of movement. The artificial gravity was greatest 
at the ends of the greenhouse, where the toilets and baths 
were located, and there it served the useful purpose of 
keeping the water flowing through the vessels and helping 
with the natural functions of the body. 

Mention should be made of a very important part of 
the greenhouse: the moisture, or humidity, regulator. Sub- 
tected to the steady hot rays of the Sun, the plants trans- 
pired large amounts of water and rapidly drained the soil. 
This should, presumably, have made the greenhouse atmos- 
phere terribly humid. But this was not so. A special humid- 
ity-control system was set up to rectify this. Along the 
shaded external side of the greenhouse there passed a 
black metal refrigerating pipe. Air was continuously pumped 
through it, and the vapour condensed. The rate of con- 
densation depended on the temperature of the pipe, which, 
as explained before, could be lowered to almost —200°C. 
Of course, there was no need for such a low temperature; 


a few degrees of cold was sufficient. After heating, the air 
in the greenhouse became very dry. The condensed water 
was driven, by means of a jet of air or by the rotation of 
the greenhouse, to the ends of the greenhouse, where the 
toilets and bath-rooms were located. There it was finally 
purified for washing, after which it was pumped into soil 

One of the effects of the absence of gravity was that 
there was no air circulation in spite of differences in tem- 
perature in the differently shaded parts. The centrifugal 
force produced air streams, but they were too weak. Ven- 
tilators were therefore installed which mixed the air and 
cleaned it of dust, leaves, fruit and any objects that might 
be drifting about. Air streams flowing to the cooler could 
also be used for ventilation. 

The builders joined several greenhouses together into 
the shape of a star or some other shape and made them ro- 
tate slightly so that the transparent half of the structures 
would always face the Sun’s rays. 

But let us leave our architects to their work of build- 
ing trans-atmospheric habitations and return to our celes- 
tial explorers, travelling in the Moon's orbit at a speed of 
one kilometre per second. We shall visit the settlers again, 
when more of them have moved to their new dwellings. 


We left our scientists in the Moon’s orbit at a distance 
of 360,000 kilometres from the Earth. You will recall that 
they had decided to visit the Moon. At a new meeting, 
however, the original flight plan was completely revised. 
For the sake of fuel economy and so as not to jeopardise 
the greenhouse, which was their main source of food, it 
was decided that only two men, travelling in a specially 
designed rocket, would embark for the Moon. With a crew 
of two a large, strong, heavy rocket would be unneces- 
sary and the thrust force could be reduced to a fraction. 

18* 275 

In addition, a small rocket could be adapted for negotiat- 
ing the lunar surface and skimming over gorges, moun- 
tains, craters and volcanoes. The first was achieved by 
providing the rocket with wheels driven by accumulated 
power since, once on the Moon, it would not be possible 
to count entirely on solar energy; the second was achieved 
by placing additional exhaust nozzles in such a man- 
ner as to counteract the small weight the rocket would 
have on the Moon. Wings would have been useless, as our 
natural satellite has practically no atmosphere. 

So while down on the Earth far from our scientists new 
colonies were being arranged, inside the rocket a new 
lunar vehicle was being designed and built. An engineer 
by the name of Nordenskjöld passionately wished to fly 
to the Moon and Ivanov wanted to go with him. The com- 
pany voted that they should go. 

They were given a great send-off and, more important, 
their supplies and the functioning of their equipment were 
thoroughly checked. A large group of men in space-suits 
sallied forth to see the rocket off. It rapidly picked 
up speed, the send-off party fell back and the rocket 
disappeared. The men left behind returned to their 
quarters. i 

The exhaust gases escaped in the direction of the small 
rocket’s motion, and soon it accelerated to two kilometres 
per second. The relative gravity was small and there was 
no need for the lunar travellers to submerge in water. To 
save time, however, they later increased the exhaust to 
raise the gravity to terrestrial gravity. How pleasant it 
was to feel the tension in one’s muscles produced by just 
standing or lifting an arm! At first they turned pale, as the 
blood drained to their hands and feet. They had grown 
so unused to gravity and become so pampered by weight- 
lessness, that soon the change in gravity began to annoy 
them. When the state ended 100 seconds later, they sighed 
with relief. and felt no craving for a return to gravity. On 
the contrary, they relaxed in the small space of the rocket 


as they might have done in a feather bed after a hard 
day’s work. The apparent diameter of the Moon increased 
perceptibly. The relative velocity was one kilometre a 
second, but it gradually increased due to the Moon’s pull. 
This force, however, could not increase the velocity to more 
than two kilometres a second. The initial distance to the 
Moon, measured along the orbit, was 1,200,000 kilometres. 
In seven days it was almost halved. Now, if they did not 
retard the rocket, they would be taken away from the 
Moon. The velocity was reduced by firing the exhausts 
against the rocket’s motion, and their path curved down 
till it entered the Moon’s orbit. The motors were stopped 
and the relative gravity again disappeared. Five days later 
the Moon was at a distance of 200,000 kilometres and 
seemed twice as large as when seen from the Earth. As 
they drew closer the face of the Moon broadened, visually 
confirming their approach. On several previous occasions 
they had already been closer to the Moon than now, so 
its apparent increase in size did not interest them greatly. 
Still, knowing that within a few hours they would reach 
its surface, they inevitably cast apprehensive glances at 
it. For all they knew, something might go wrong and they 
would be dashed to death against its surface. 

“Isn't it time to decelerate?” the Swede asked anxious- 
ly, his eyes riveted to the Earth’s satellite. 

“No,” said Ivanov. “We must wait until the Moon’s at- 
traction increases the relative speed of the rocket to two 
kilometres a second.” 

There was still much time. They nibbled at some food 
and from time to time persuaded one another to take 
food as they nervously looked about them. The Sun was 
as blinding as ever, the huge Earth shone forth, displaying 
its pattern of continents, seas and lakes. All round them 
was the black sky studded with lifeless stars and occasion- 
al planets. They kept their eyes on the Moon, the apparent 
size of which soon equalled that of the Earth, only later 
to surpass it in size and then to dwarf it. 


Another day passed, and the Moon began to expand 
rapidly, growing in size by the minute. 

“How awful,” the Swede exclaimed involuntarily, gaz- 
ing with awe at the enormously bloated Moon. Seas, cra- 
ters, gorges and strange bright stripes and dots stood out 
with clarity. The map of the Moon lay before them in a 
Striking, transfigured, enchanted, living form. They saw 
valleys and mountains never in any telescope seen from 
the Earth. The travellers were approaching the Moon 
from “the side” and could see half of its reverse side. 

“Isn’t it time to brake the rocket?” the Swede asked, 
unable to hide his agitation. : 

“Yes, in a few moments.” 

At a distance of two thousand kilometres the Moon pre- 
sented an angle of 50°, and covered one-seventh of the 
celestial sphere. It was a terrifying sight indeed to behold. 
Its diameter was 100 times larger than usual. 

They switched on the braking rockets. Once again they 
felt their weight, though it was much less than on the 
Earth. They sat on the floor; beneath them was the huge 
Moon looking like an overturned embroidered parasol, 
forming part of the heavenly sphere. 

“We'll be on the Moon in half an hour,” said Ivanov. 

The gleaming parasol beneath them expanded till it cov- 
ered almost half the sky. Their pulses quickened in anx- 
ious anticipation. Mountains, valleys, cliffs and craters 
appeared as close and clear as a terrestrial landscape. 
Several kilometres separated the travellers from their 
destination. The retro-exhaust increased and the rocket 
slowed down. 

“We are motionless,” said the Russian, who had been 
observing the Moon in a goniometer. 

The exhaust was reversed, the rocket gathered speed, 
and the direction of the relative gravity shifted so that the 
Moon immediately seemed to be above their heads. Two or 
three kilometres from them were the hills and dales of 
the Moon. With the relative gravity directed away from the 


Moon, it was strange to see its surface hanging overhead 
like a ceiling. 

The illusion was so great that Nordenskjöld continued 
to mutter. “How are we going to walk on that ceiling? What 
shall we hold on to?” 

“Don’t worry,” Ivanov reassured him, “everything is all 

The rocket was approaching the Moon, only two and a 
half kilometres away, at a speed of 100 metres per second. 
The thrust force became equal to the: Moon’s gravitational 
pull. The rocket began coasting with a constant velocity 
of about 100 metres per second. The relative gravity 
vanished again and the travellers could observe the Moon 
from different aspects, depending on the position of their 
bodies. In 20 seconds they were only 500 metres away and 
braked the rocket once more. The gravitational force shift- 
ed and the Moon appeared beneath them. In another 10 
seconds the explorers touched the Moon with scarcely a 
bump. The manoeuvre was carried out as follows. When the 
rocket was almost grazing the soil and had all but come to 
a standstill, it was tilted over until it landed on its four 
wheels like a cat falling on its feet. It rolled on for several 
score metres and came to a standstill. 


Dead silence enveloped the motionless rocket. The two 
men seemed stunned, as if they had just come out of a 
deep sleep or come to after fainting. Finally, the Russian 
rose to his feet, stretched himself, and said: 

“Were on the Moon. Gravity here is one-sixth of that 
on the Earth. It’s quite perceptible,” and he flourished his 
arms and shuffled his feet. 

Gravity no longer seemed strange to them, for they had 
experienced it several times during their trip. There was 
a difference, however, between true gravity due to the at- 
traction of a mass and relative gravity. Relative gravity 


appeared when the rocket was accelerated or uniformly 
decelerated, and it depended on the thrust force. Since this 
force could never be absolutely constant in magnitude and 
direction, relative gravity fluctuated, creating slight jolts 
of the kind experienced on a fairly good road. Relative 
gravity induced by rotation was free of jolts or fluctua- 
tions. For objects and people moving not too rapidly, in- 
side a rotating body, relative gravity was not different from 
gravitational pull, except for the slight dizziness ex- 
perienced by some people. The majority, however, felt no 
unpleasant sensations, especially if the radius of rotation 
was huge. When one moved quickly, the gravity produced 
by centrifugal force displayed itself in very interesting 
phenomena, which will be described on a more suitable oc- 
casion. The travellers’ sensations on the Moon reminded 
them of their native planet. They were like some unexpect- 
edly familiar fragrance, conjuring up childhood memories. 

“It’s cold,” the Swede remarked. 

“Yes, it is chilly.” 

Night peered in at the windows. The ground could hardly 
be seen. The heavenly sphere embraced them from without, 
pitch-black and dusted with countless unblinking stars. The 
Earth was nowhere in sight. They felt helpless, sad, even 
frightened. A dark jagged mass looked dimly on the hori- 
zon. The sky above it was powdered with silvery star dust. 

“You know,” Ivanov said, “we're on the reverse side of 
the Moon, the side people have never seen and where the 
Earth never shines.” 

“But the Sun does shine here,” the Swede said, ‘‘and 
we'll wait until it rises.” 

“Naturally. And then we'll see what no one on Earth 
has ever seen.” 

“When will the Sun rise?” the Swede asked. “We'll 
freeze if this night lasts for several hours.” 

“The Sun will soon appear,” the Russian replied. “The 
horizon over there seems to be getting brighter already. 
Dawn must be approaching.” 


“There is no dawn here,” the Swede remarked. “The 
Moon has no atmosphere, consequently there can be no 

“There may be a very rarefied atmosphere, but it is not 
that which produces the light of dawn. The hills illumined 
by the Sun cast reflected light on the still dark summits, 
which then reflect it further, etc. This produces the lunar 
dawn, which is very weak and unlike dawn on the 
Earth. ...” 

“See how the light of dawn has grown brighter, while we 
have been talking,” the Swede said, peering out of the 
window. “But it’s terribly cold. Let’s switch on the electric 

“Go on then, press the button,” the Russian said. 

“We're not so badly off,” he continued. “Because of the 
void all round us and the polished double shell of the 
rocket, the cold penetrates to us very slowly. The rocket’s 
envelope reflects heat rays wonderfully, preventing them 
from escaping either into outer space or into the lunar 

“Half a tick!” the Swede exclaimed. ‘‘What’s that gleam- 
ing over there in the east?” 

“Direct rays from the Sun have lit up a mountain top,” 
the Russian replied calmly. 

“Which means the Sun will rise soon. .. 

“Oh, no! You’ve forgotten that the lunar day is 30 times 
longer than a day on the Earth and here the Sun rises 
correspondingly more slowly.” 

“Quite right. I had clean forgotten: if we were on the 
Moon’s equator, the rising of the Sun would last exactly 
60 minutes.” 

“Correct,” Ivanov said, “since at the Earth’s equator it 
takes two minutes for the Sun to rise.” 

It grew warmer from the heater, and their spirits rose 
accordingly. Another mountain top flashed into existence, 
followed at once by two more. It had already become light 
enough to discern one or two things. When they had landed 


they had not switched on the light, although they had tried 
switching it on, only to find later the surrounding darkness 
even more foreboding. So they had switched it off. They 
could then at least observe the familiar patterns of the 
constellations: the Dipper, Orion with the bright Sirius, 
the Milky Way spanning the heavens. This cheered them 
immensely. Now, since they had long ago grown ac- 
customed to the black sky, they could at least see some- 

An hour slipped by unnoticed in the pleasure of watch- 
ing the rising Sun kindling the mountain tops. They had 
been without the Sun for only two hours, but its loss had 
been such a torture that they hailed the first rays with 
shouts of delight. Their eyes were dazzled. The Sun grad- 
ually climbed over the horizon, but it was not the “red 
Sun” of terrestrial dawns. It was a bright, bluish Sun, 
twice as powerful as when directly overhead on the Earth’s 
equator. Towering hills, valleys, cliffs and rocks hove into 
sight. One side of the rocket faced the Sun, but thanks 
to its polished surface it did not become too hot. 

“Well be warm now without the heater,” the Russian 
remarked. “Please turn that lever to cover the side facing 
the Sun with a black surface.” 

“Ready!” the Swede reported. 

Soon it grew terribly hot. 

“I say,” the Swede said, “didn’t I switch the heater off? 
Why, it is off....” 

“I’m suffocating,” said Ivanov, and he pushed back a 
lever so that the side facing the Sun became striped, with 
sooty black and silvery bars. It grew colder. They moved 
the lever back and forth till they achieved the desired 
temperature of about 30°C. 

“Now it’s just right,” the Swede said with satisfaction. 
“And what are we going to do now?” 

“We can go out and take a walk to stretch our limbs,” 
Ivanov suggested. “By the way, a stroll here will be an 
unusual experience. We can explore the neighbourhood and 


then ride around the Moon in the rocket, which can travel 
like a coach on wheels. We can skim over gorges, craters 
and mountains by using the motor thrust to counteract the 
small lunar gravity.” 

“Splendid,” the Swede agreed. “But what about air? 
There seems to be no atmosphere here and the soil must 
have grown terribly cold during the long night.” 

“The temperature of the soil must be about —250°C, as 
the Sun hasn’t warmed it yet,” the Russian observed. “But 
that’s of no consequence. It was worse when we had 
nothing under our feet and nothing to protect us from 
radiation. Cold as it is, the ground gives off much more heat 
than interstellar space, which virtually sucks warmth from 
everything in it.” 

“But how can we walk on the cold ground?” 

“We'll get into our space-suits, take a supply of oxygen 
and put on special shoes with soles which hardly conduct 
heat. The hot Sun will warm us just as well as the rocket 
did. Here is the striped clothing that will absorb as much 
heat from the Sun as is necessary, even a little more.” 

“Suppose we wait until the Sun has warmed the soil,” 
the Swede suggested. 

“We’ll lose too much time: the soil is too cold to warm 
up very quickly.” 

They decided to leave the rocket, so they put on their 
Space-suits and special shoes. The Swede entered the air- 
lock first, closed the inside door, left through the outside 
one and slammed it tightly shut. The Russian followed suit. 
They alighted on the Moon’s soil. Alongside them was the 
rocket standing on wheels. Not being designed for travel- 
ling through air, it was built in the shape of an ellipsoid 
which was only three times as long as its height, and it 
looked like a funny old-fashioned coach. 

Everything around them sparkled and shone in the rays 
of the Sun. High mountains loomed in the distance. They 
stood on the fairly smooth floor of one of the so-called 
“seas”. The Sun warmed them and they felt no coldness 


from the soil. They looked about thoughtfully for several 
minutes. But they soon had to shift about, as their suits 
grew too hot on the sunny side and too cold on the shady 

The sight around them was strange and beautiful, their 
bodies felt light, the Sun was bright and warm. Their spir- 
its rose rapidly. The Russian rubbed his hands, hugged 
himself and experienced a tremor of sheer joy. The Swede 
pranced about delightedly and soared four metres up. The 
jump took him three seconds. The Russian ran ahead, 
making huge leaps three metres high and 12 metres long. 
Each leap increased his stride till he was jumping over 
clefts and fissures 24 or more metres wide. They picked 
up rocks so light that they seemed to be wooden or hollow. 
A 96-kilogram granite boulder weighed only 16 kilograms. 
When they threw up a Stone, it flew six times higher than 
when thrown on the Earth, and took so long to fall back 
that our friends grew tired of waiting, for its flight lasted 
six times longer and it travelled six times farther than on 
the Earth. 

Very slowly the Sun climbed higher and higher. The 
shadows stood out very sharply defined, though not 
absolutely black because the surrounding sunlit hills and 
mountains reflected light on them. It was impossible to 
remain in the shade for more than a few minutes, for 
without sunlight it was bitterly cold. Only the human body 
radiated heat and very soon the cold drove one to a sunny 
spot. The two men played leap-frog with the greatest ease 
and they could lift one another without the slightest effort. 
They could turn several somersaults during one leap, and 
even when they failed to land on their feet they hit the 
ground very softly. They gambolled and raced about and 
turned cartwheels like children, paying no attention to 
anything else. But soon they grew tired of romping about. 
The Russian stooped and scraped the ground with his foot. 
It was covered with a thin layer of dust below which was 
something hard like granite. In other places the dust layer 


was thicker, and deposits were of considerable thickness. 
Some were soft, others had caked into a harder crust, and 
others yet were quite hard. A special thermometer encased 
in a metal rod showed the temperature inside a dust layer 
to be —250°C. At the surface the deposit was already 
warmed by the Sun’s rays. There were outcrops of bare 
granite. The ground was strewn with rocks, which seemed 
very light, and big granite boulders lay scattered about in 
the distance. The hills and mountains looming beyond them 
seemed very close and small. There were many fissures, 
especially in the bare granite, most of them narrow and 
scarcely noticeable, others several metres wide. There was 
an occasional crevasse. The dust was pock-marked with 
holes, large and small. Our friends ran about in different 
directions to see the sights. They easily cleared large 
boulders and fairly wide gorges. Every now and again they 
stopped to share their impressions. They could not talk 
directly, because of the extremely rarefied atmosphere, so 
they had to put their helmets together or stretch a steel 
wire from one to the other. The ground did not transmit 
their voices as the soles of their shoes were poor sound 

“Tve always wondered,” the Swede said, “both here, 
and out in space, why it is we seem to See a ‘firmament’. 
There’s no air here, so why the illusion of a firmament, 
even a black one? Flammarion rejects the idea of a firma- 
ment on the Moon.” 

“This illusion is easily explained,” said Ivanov. “The eye 
is unable to discriminate between large distances. That is 
why the stars, Sun and Moon all seem equally far away, 
i.e., attached to the inside surface of a sphere with our- 
selves at the centre. This gives the illusion of a semi-spher- 
ical firmament. On the Earth it looks blue and flattened at 
the top because the denser air at the horizon obscures stars 
and terrestrial objects. We are accustomed to thinking 
that objects darkened by the air are more distant. That is 
why on the Earth the firmament seems flattened. In the 


ether and here there is no air, the stars and hills are not 
darkened and the sky seems round. That, by the way, is 
why the stars and hills seem so close and toy-like. Some- 
thing of the same, although to a smaller extent, is observed 
on high terrestrial mountains, where everything also seems 
closer and smaller than in the valleys. 

When the men looked towards the Sun they saw fewer 
stars because their pupils contracted in the sunlight and 
in the reflected light of the sunlit mountain slopes. From 
the depressions, where there were few sunlit features, from 
the shade, and especially from the hollows and crevasses, 
they could see as many Stars as at night. 

The Sun rose very slowly, climbing at the rate of one 
diameter an hour. It needed 180 hours to reach noon. The 
shadows were very long. It was dangerous to go too far 
from the rocket. The deep craters, into which the Sun’s 
rays could not penetrate, were dark and cold, and our 
friends were afraid of losing too much heat in them. 

They made a tentative descent into one gorge. The edges 
stood out in the Sun, but the bottom was lost in darkness. 
They found a sloping entrance and began to climb down. 
When darkness enveloped them and countless specks of 
stars glimmered overhead they switched on a powerful 
electric torch. The walls flashed into being. Here and there 
they were studded with what looked like hieroglyphic 
characters. The walls were warm, and at a depth of 5-10 
metres the thermometer showed about 20°C. The Russian 
fingered the granite rock and found that it closely resem- 
bled terrestrial graphic granite, or Jew Stone, which con- 
tains very little mica. The temperature hardly changed as 
they went deeper and it felt quite warm. At a depth of 
more than 100 metres the walls grew smoother and took 
on a lustrous hue. The Swede scratched an especially shiny 

“I say,” he exclaimed, “this is metal! See how it shines!” 

“Owing to the scarcity of oxygen only the top layers 
of the lunar crust have become oxidised,” the Russian 


responded. “This produced granites at the surface, leaving 
light metals and alloys lower down. This crevasse was 
probably formed after the Moon lost, or rather absorbed, 
its own atmosphere.” 

They chipped off samples of rock and metal at various 
depths and after reaching a depth of 1,000 metres returned 
to the surface. Both the descent and ascent were an-ex- 
tremely simple business. The 64-kilogram Swede felt as 
though he weighed a mere 12 kilograms, while the lighter 
Russian weighed only 11 kilograms. Similarly, their 16 
kilograms of minerals and metals weighed only about 3 
kilograms. There was no moisture or humidity in the gorge, 
though it mattered little to them as they were breathing the 
synthetic air mixture carried on their backs. 

It was time for a rest and food, and soon our companions 
with their precious loads reached the refuge of the rocket. 
After eating and resting they again put on their space-suits 
and went out the same way as before. 

In conditions of terrestrial gravity motion, though 
fatiguing, is freer than in unconfined ethereal space and 
it can be altered at will. On the Moon freedom of movement 
is further facilitated by absence of fatigue, thanks to the 
low gravity. Only the space-suits inconvenienced our 
travellers slightly. What a new world lay before them! 
What a wealth of astonishing discoveries! And how natural 
that their high spirits were due not only to the relief of 
treading on hard ground, but also to the pride of being the 
first explorers of the Moon, to their thirst for knowledge 
and simple curiosity. 

The Sun rose some 20 degrees, the shadows grew 
shorter and the soil warmer. Slopes perpendicular to the 
Sun’s rays became quite warm. The men ran towards a 
nearby hillock. They climbed to the top but were forced 
to halt before an abyss. They stood at the brink of an 
extinct volcano. It was still dark very far down, and they 
could hardly see the bottom. In the centre of the black disk 
there glowed one lone spot, probably a mountain peak lit 


up by the Sun. They did not venture down the crater, pre- 
ferring to make their way around it. At some points the 
ground sloped gently outwards and inwards; in other 
places it sloped steeply. Avalanches had heaped piles of 
rock and rubble at the foot of the hills. In general the inside 
slopes of the crater were steeper. Here and there they saw 
stately pillars of basalt. On their way back they collected 
samples of porphyries, basalts, trachytes, lavas, syenites, 
hornblendes, and feldspars. 

“It seems to me that something is moving in and out of 
the cracks,” the Russian said. 

“Tve noticed it, too,” the Swede remarked. 

They looked more carefully at cracks and holes. Sure 
enough, ever more frequently something would fleet by, a 
shadow would run and disappear hastily. The men tried 
to approach the apparitions, but they disappeared before 
they reached them. Finally the Swede raised his field-glass 
to the flat visor of his helmet. 

“It’s alive!” he cried. “There it is running across the 
plain... now it’s hidden in a hole....” 

“Let me have a look,” Ivanov asked, impatiently snatch- 
ing the binocular from his hands. “Why, they’re green, with 
something like twigs on their backs. They look like moving 
shrubs. We've got to catch one of them.” 

They were unsuccessful, however, for the nimble crea- 
tures disappeared as soon as the men approached. More 
and more of them appeared as the soil grew warmer. Some 
sat still, warming themselves in the Sun, others scampered 
across clearings between burrows. They were of different 
shapes, sizes and colours. Most of them were green, but 
there were also red, yellow, orange, and black ones, as well 
as some multicoloured. Their bodies were covered with 
spots which sparkled like glass. The smaller creatures were 
digging in the dust and seemed to be swallowing it. The 
larger ones chased the smaller ones, worried them and 
dragged them to their burrows where they probably 
devoured them. 


“Theoretically the temperature on the Moon should vary 
between —250°C and +150°C,” Ivanov said. “Obviously, in 
such harsh conditions, to say nothing of the lack of 
moisture and any adequate atmosphere, no plant can grow 
in the lunar soil.” 

“That is so,” the Swede agreed, “but you have in mind 
terrestrial forms of vegetation. If a plant could acquire 
some degree of intelligence, or at least instinct and the 
ability to move, it could live on the Moon. We can’t reject 
offhand the possibility of plants developing such capaci- 
ties, especially if we take into account the well-known 
facts, for example, the existence of insectivorous plants 
on the Earth. There is nothing to prevent these travelling 
plants from sheltering from the cold in deep crevasses 
where the temperature is quite normal, i.e., about 22°C at 
the equator and lower in the upper latitudes. When it gets 
very hot, i.e., towards the end of the long day, they could 
again seek refuge in the deep lunar fissures.” 

“T haven’t seen a single ordinary plant with roots,” 
Ivanov remarked. “The terrific temperature extremes here 
would have killed any stationary flora. Even in deep gorges 
plants would perish from the shortage of sunlight.” 

“Neither have I noticed any plants like those on the 
Earth,” the Swede remarked. “These travelling plants re- 
semble some marine species containing green chlorophyll. 
Many of them, particularly the very smallest, microscopic 
ones, owe their existence to the Sun alone, while larger 
ones live on sunlight and by preying on the smaller ones. 
The processes here are the same as in terrestrial oceans, 
without the water and the substances dissolved in it. 

“Here living creatures consume dust containing oxygen, 
carbon, hydrogen and many other elements necessary for 
life. The Sun transforms the elements into water and 
the various complex bodies which constitute the living 

“The outer skins of their bodies are practically im- 
pervious to gas, which prevents them from drying up,” the 

19—761 289 

Russian observed. “They derive energy from sunlight by 
devouring other creatures or, more frequently, in both 
ways. Thanks to this energy they move about and even 
think a little.” 

“Under the influence of the Sun’s rays,” the Swede 
added, “the chlorophyll of their bodies breaks carbonates 
and other simple compounds into carbon, oxygen, etc., 
which combine to form the complex tissues of the body. 
These, in turn, decompose during muscular and mental 
functioning into simple compounds which are generally 
excreted. These creatures, however, do not excrete them 
but with the aid of sunlight reprocess them in special ap- 
pendages to their bodies. Thus, once formed, these 
creatures have no need of food, i.e., no need to consume 
external substances, organic or mineral. 

“We've no time to discuss this subject, however, and 
even less time for experiments. Let’s travel round the 
Moon and rejoin our companions: before we exhaust our 
supplies. When we return the greenhouse will supply us 
in abundance. After all, we can’t eat these creatures; they 
may be poisonous, and we don’t know how to catch them.” 

“I think,” the Russian said, “that we should not ride 
inside the rocket but on its upper platform, with the spe- 
cial railing, seats and light adjustable awning.” 

“It will be more interesting to travel eastwards towards 
the Sun, across the unknown half of the Moon. Firstly, 
we'll come to steadily warmer ground and, accordingly, to 
more active life; secondly, the long lunar day will pass 
more quickly and we’ll be able to observe some interesting 
phenomena at sunset.” 

“Right you are,” the Russian agreed. “So let’s have a 
rest and then set out. We’ll gather some more minerals for 
our collection.” 

Several hours later found them reclining in seats on 
the rocket’s upper platform and racing towards the Sun 
almost along the planet’s equator at a speed of 10 to 100 
kilometres an hour, depending on the state of the road. 


They kept to valleys and plateaux, skirting the towering 
peaks and even the small craters and hills. They were 
forced to follow a tortuous route, and the Sun kept shifting 
to the right, left and rear. Their space-suits shielded them 
reliably from the lethal effects of the Sun’s rays. The wheels 
revolved as they steered their way to the south and then 
northwards. They negotiated small gorges without a hitch, 
took running jumps over the larger ones, and skimmed- 
over gorges several hundred metres (and even several 
kilometres) wide, clutching the railing for dear life, but 
not forgetting to steer the vehicle. When they spotted a 
gorge in the distance they switched on the motors, which 
cancelled out their slight weight and their vehicle raced 
with tenfold speed over crevasses, gorges, small craters 
and hills. But they rarely indulged in this sort of thing, for 
they were economising on fuel. 

Their rapid progress to the east made the Sun seem to 
quicken its pace and rise more rapidly. At a speed of 15 
kilometres an hour, the Sun seemed to double its pace 
across the sky, i. e., in an hour it appeared to pass through 
a whole degree instead of half a degree. At 105 kilometres 
an hour, the Sun seemed to pass through 4 degrees in an 
hour. This speed made it possible to travel round half the 
equator in 45 hours. 

“T say,” the Swede remarked, “‘the Sun is setting in the 

“That’s because we've turned back to skirt that mountain 
and aren’t moving westwards.” 

“It turns out that we can control the motion of the Sun, 
make it set or rise, move faster or slower or stand stock 
still, or make it rise in the west and set in the east,” the 
Swede remarked as his eyes swept the luxuriant landscape. 

“Quite right,” the Russian replied. “The Moon is small 
and the speed of its equatorial points is correspondingly 
small: less than 4 metres a second, or about 15 kilometres 
an hour. If we travel at that speed along the Moon’s 
equator in the opposite direction, our rotation will be can- 

19% 291 

éelled out and the Sun wili seem to stand still forever. At 
night this would keep us always in the dark, in the daytime 
we should remain continuously in the sunshine. By altering 
our speed we can make the Sun move now faster now 
slower, or rise and set unnaturally or in some unusual 

They had to stop every three or four hours and get 
inside the rocket for food, rest and to check their space- 
suits. After a rest they emerged in the highest of spirits 
and ran about collecting rock samples. So far they had 
found no precious metals. They usually made a halt when 
something special attracted their attention. They saw 
several avalanches of flashing, sparkling rock slide down 
the slopes of a steep, towering 10-kilometre mountain 
range, spanning the horizon behind them. Huge rocks, 
boulders and whole mountain-sides tumbled down the vast 
height. There being no atmosphere, the rocks hurtled down 
unimpeded at a terrific speed and smashed to smithereens 
at the bottom. The debris of recent avalanches not yet 
covered with dust sparkled in the Sun with all the colours 
of the rainbow. The sunlight playing in the translucent 
crystals produced an interesting spectacle. The reason for 
the landslides was quite obvious although the Moon has no 
dense atmosphere or abundance of water to cause rock 
erosion by their movement and freezing like on the Earth. 
The chief reason here for the landslides was the tremen- 
dous extremes of temperature during the day and the night 
which reached 400°C. These extremes gradually split the 
originally solid rock. The cracks grew deeper and wider and 
one day, if the slope was steep enough, the rock slid down. 
This was followed by more avalanches due to the same 
cause. The rubble heaped up at the foot of the hills soon 
prevented further landslides. Furthermore, as the gradient 
of the hillside decreased, the fractured rocks remained in 
place. Many mountains on the Moon had already reached 
that state and no longer crumbled or lost height. But many 
craters continued to disintegrate. On several occasions our 


companions felt distinct tremors due to huge avalanches, 
several of which they even observed. The sound reached 
them considerably muffled by its passage through the 
ground, as the extremely thin atmosphere scarcely trans- 
mitted it at all. 

The awning of the rocket hid the bluish Sun but did not 
prevent them seeing the black semi-spherical sky with its 
familiar pattern of constellations. Only the light reflected 
from the hillsides reduced the number of visible stars. 
Deathly silence reigned, except for the noise of the motors 
which reached them through the walls of the rocket and 
their chairs. Not a cloud or tree or blade of grass was to 
be seen. Only the green lunar animal-plants, scared by the 
movement and noise of the rocket, scampered out of the 
way. The absence of trees, green meadows, lakes and rivers, 
snows and the blue sky was discouraging. 

“Look there,” the Russian called out. “What’s that 
moving towards us? It looks like a green cloud. Over there, 
in the direction of the big cliff.” 

“T see it! It’s probably a flock of lunar animals.” 

The Swede raised the binoculars to his eyes and saw a 
flock of creatures leaping like kangaroos in hasty flight 
towards the west. Ivanov took the field-glass but the 
creatures, scared by the rocket, swerved suddenly and 
disappeared behind the nearest hill. Our travellers saw the 
creatures several times again. They came to the conclusion 
that not all the denizens of the Moon sought refuge from 
the cold in gorges and clefts. The larger and stronger 
species enjoyed eternal sunlight and the warmth of the soil 
by keeping pace with the luminary, spending their lives in 
constant migration and preying on weaker creatures. To 
keep pace with the Sun they had to cover an average of 
14 kilometres of ground an hour moving westwards. With 
the feeble attraction of the Moon, this continuous, moderate 
motion was quite possible and not at all difficult to achieve. 

During their halts the two men climbed over the debris 
strewn at the foot of steep, sometimes overhanging, granite 


cliffs, collecting whatever they most fancied. They found 
transparent quartzes in the shape of huge chunks of rock 
crystal; reddish orthoclase and dark hornblende were 
scattered about abundantly; occasionally they found zir- 
cons, garnets and tourmalines. Unbroken pillars of green- 
stones, reddish porphyries, and magnificent basalts of 
various colours stood all round. Our companions foraged at 
the foot of the pillars, going into raptures from time to 
time at the sight of the beautiful stones. They filled their 
hampers with red rubies, transparent orange-coloured 
jacinths, dark melanites, blood-red pyropes, violet alman- 
dines, sapphires, emeralds and amethysts. They also found 
diamonds of different colours, though rather small speci- 
mens. Many samples of rock crystal were pearly, pink and 
other colours. There were many hydrates (water com- 
pounds) of quartz such as chalcedony, semitransparent 
jasper and opal, but most of all there were flints. Among 
the chalcedonies there sparkled red cornelian, green blood- 
stone with a sprinkling of red spots, and agates. 

Once they spotted a white, snow-like mass in the dis- 
tance. When they approached it they saw among the frag- 
ments of gneiss and the mica schists a whole field of dia- 
monds, some of them as large as a fist. 

“Here are riches which exceed the combined wealth of 
all people!” the Russian exclaimed. His companion, how- 
ever, did not hear him, for their helmets were not in 

The men pounced eagerly on the treasure. They had to 
throw away many fine stones to make room for the most 
interesting diamond specimens. With their baskets full they 
hurried joyously to the rocket and sealed themselves in. 

There were many diamonds; they had also collected 
some gold dust. But their stores of food were running low 
and they had to leave the Moon without studying it as 
thoroughly as they would have liked to. While resting, they 
ate bananas, nuts and pineapples, and quenched their thirst 
with water-melons and grape juice. They cheerfully sorted 


their riches, poured aquamarines, emeralds and diamonds 
from one hand to the other, from time to time glancing out 
of the windows. 

“All these riches,” the Russian said, “probably with the 
sole exception of gold, of which there is not much here, 
are now only a mineralogical collection. When the Moon 
becomes accessible to everyone, its gems and diamonds 
will lose all their value even on the Earth.” 

“Look, there’s a bright light to the left!” the Swede 

The Russian turned and saw a sheaf of sparks rise from 
one of the lunar hillocks. Several seconds later, there was 
a loud crash, which probably reached the rocket through 
the granite soil, and which caused the walls and air inside 
to vibrate. 

“That was a bolide,” the Swede remarked. “It hit the 
granite surface of the hills full force without losing any 
of its tremendous velocity through the friction of the air. 
That’s why it flared up like a miniature sun.” 

“The fireworks were probably produced by a lump of 
iron which melted, let off steam and broke into pieces,” 
Ivanov said. 

This guess was confirmed when they left the rocket and 
found the bolide. The place of impact abounded in hot 
fragments of iron fused with rock. The smaller fragments 
had already cooled and the men gathered several for their 
collection. The pieces differed in no way from the familiar 
terrestrial aerolites. 


The temperature continued to rise and it was becoming 
tiresome regulating it. Here was a further inducement to 
abandoning the Moon. 

They selected a smooth slope with a gradient of 10 to 
20 degrees. They placed the rocket there, locked them- 
selves in and switched on the motors. 


“Farewell, Moon!” the Swede exclaimed, looking out of 
a porthole. 

They glided along the slope, took off and raced through 
the ether round the Moon. Higher and higher they climbed, 
accelerating gradually until they reached a velocity of 
1,600 metres a second. The motors were cut off and they 
went into orbit round the Moon at a distance of 250 kilo- 
metres from its surface. Travelling at that speed, they 
could circle the Moon in two and a half hours. At first 
they flew over unknown terrain with strange mountains and 
craters, but soon they came to the known side of the Moon. 
They saw it as a terrestrial observer would see it through 
a telescope with a thousandfold magnification. Their view 
of the known face of the Moon was much better than could 
be provided by the most perfect reflector, for there was no 
atmosphere or lenses to distort the image. The Moon was 
enormous. It occupied one-third of the celestial sphere 
(120°) and seemed concave, like a bowl, with the rocket at 
the very centre. In some respects it reminded them of the 
Earth at a distance of 1,000 kilometres, only the Moon was 
lifeless and dreary, having no atmosphere, water, clouds, 
vegetation. or snows. The rocket passed over the Sea of 
Tranquillity and the mountain ranges; they saw the craters 
Plinius and Posidonius, the depression Lacus Somniorum 
and more mountains; the craters Bessel, Menelaus and 
Manilius passed below, followed by more craters and 
mountains without end; the Caucasus slipped by 
and the crater Calippus beyond them. Beneath them were 
endless plateaux and the plains known as seas, but contain- 
ing less water than the Sahara desert. They were fringed 
with craters and mountain ridges. The terrain was littered 
with rubble and volcanic debris. Craters of all sizes pock- 
marked the face of the Moon and fissures snaked in all 
directions. It was an impressive and instructive scene, but 
there was no time to waste, for their stores had fallen low 
and they had a long journey ahead before entering the 
Moon's orhit and joining their comrades, As they flew over 


the known side of the Moon, they had a simultaneous view 
of the Earth. It was like a Moon in the sky, but its apparent 
diameter was 2°, i.e., four times larger than the Sun. The 
appearance of the Earth from near by has already been 
described. From afar it was much the same, only smaller. 

They circled the Moon for several hours before switch- 
ing on the rocket motors. When they accelerated to about 
2.5 km/sec and entered the orbit round the Earth they 
stopped the blast. The Moon grew smaller and smaller, its 
apparent size shrinking from 100° to 40°, 20°, 10°, 5°, until 
it became the size of the Sun. Long before that, their 
velocity had dropped too much and, time being precious, 
they accelerated the rocket. According to their estimate, 
they should have sighted the big rocket with the green- 
house already. In vain they scanned the sky with field 
glasses. They had all but abandoned hope, when suddenly 
they spotted a flash in the rocket’s polyhedral mirror, which 
reflected sunlight across thousands of kilometres. Joyfully 
they saw it flicker in the void. There could be no doubt 
that some two thousand kilometres away their companions 
were amusing themselves. They steered towards the flash- 
ing star, and three hours later sighted the big rocket and 


The reunion was a joyous one. The two men were greeted 
with a barrage of questions, but they declared flatly that 
they needed a rest and a good meal after their experiences. 
Several hours later Ivanov and Nordenskjöld gave a de- 
tailed report of their adventures and demonstrated 
their collection of minerals and gems. The listeners were 
especially delighted when they saw the huge glittering 

A message on the following lines about their adventures 
on the Moon was telegraphed to the Earth: “We are well 


and happy and circling the Earth in the Moon’s orbit on the 
diametrically opposite side. Two of us landed on the Moon, 
travelled across it and made a collection of lunar rock 
specimens. Owing to shortage of vital supplies they had to 
abandon the Moon without making the thorough study 
desired. Nevertheless we have obtained the following in- 
formation: the invisible hemisphere of the Moon differs in 
no substantial way from the visible side seen and studied 
by terrestrial astronomers. Hardly a trace of atmosphere 
and water exists. The firmament is semi-spherical, not 
flattened, black, with countless non-twinkling stars. Day 
and night are 30 times longer than on the Earth, therefore 
at night the temperature drops to minus 250°C while during 
the day it reaches plus 100-150°C. No ordinary, stationary 
and rooted plants were found. There is a fairly varied liv- 
ing world. It is a combination of the vegetable and animal 
kingdoms and can be treated either as mobile plants or 
animals with chlorophyll in their skins and capable of 
feeding on inorganic food like most terrestrial plants. The 
Moon is covered with innumerable cracks ranging in size 
from fissures to gorges. The temperature in the gorges is 
constant, reaching +25°C in equatorial areas. The lunar 
animal-plants use them as a refuge from heat and cold. 
They are quick and nimble as they must escape being 
caught and devoured by larger and stronger creatures. Of 
the latter, not all live in burrows, and some travel in the 
wake of the Sun’s rays, thereby constantly enjoying the 
temperature most favourable to them. We were unable to 
collect any specimens of living organisms. We saw no 
structures, such as buildings, machines or bridges, which 
would suggest the existence of intelligent beings and we 
presumed therefore that no lunar creatures have developéd 
to the level of Man. The Sun moves at one-thirtieth of the 
speed observed from the Earth. It is possible by running to 
keep up with its movement, to make it move in any direc- 
tion, to change day into night, and sunrise into sunset, etc. 
In general, all the astronomical data are confirmed. For 


example, the Earth is visible only from the hemisphere of 
the Moon visible from the Earth. It has the same ap- 
pearance as the Moon, but its diameter is four times 
larger. It always stands motionless at the horizan, a little 
above it or in the zenith. At the same time, its position 
fluctuates slightly in the course of a month. These fluctua- 
tions are hardly noticeable, except at the horizon. The 
Earth changes its position when one moves about on the 
Moon, even when walking very slowly. Thus it can also 
be made to move in any direction. A vehicle or person 
must travel at about 4 metres per second, or 14 kilometres 
an hour, to make the Sun change its position. This and 
much greater speeds are possible not only for vehicles but 
for pedestrians as well, as gravity on the Moon is only 
one-sixth of that on the Earth and there is no air re- 
sistance. Neither are there any winds, of course. The Earth 
is never visible from the unseen side of the Moon. The 
nights there are lovely with countless numbers of multi- 
coloured stars. With the Earth in the sky, the lunar night 
is so light that one can read print. It is also beautiful, 
though some time after sunset, when the temperature be- 
comes bearable. Stars can be observed alongside of the 
Sun and the Earth, though in varying numbers; from the 
bottom of craters, depressions and gorges as many stars 
as at night can be observed. The Moon is entirely un- 
suitable for living purposes, in view of the absence of 
water and air, but chiefly because of the tremendous 
difference (400°C) between the temperature in the daytime 
and that at night. For this reason alone it would be im- 
possible to grow any crops. The inorganic world is‘rich in 
minerals, gems, and unoxidised light metals and their 
alloys, to be found deep in the gorges. Mountains, eleva- 
tions and plains consist of granites, syenites, basalts, 
trachytes, and of the volcanic rocks generally known on 
the Earth. In some places we found a sprinkling of alluvial 
deposits which seemed to consist of settled dust. Few 
heavy or precious metals were found. On the other hand, 


diamonds were in such abundance as to cause apprehen- 
sion on Earth that prices would drop sharply. Beautiful 
women may look forward to adorning themselves with 
gems to their heart’s delight, when a steady traffic has 
been established between the Earth and the Moon. No 
volcanic activity was observed. Avalanches and landslides 
are frequent. Bolides strike the surface with tremendous 
displays of fireworks and blinding flash of light. Because 
there is no mitigating influence of water and air the con- 
trasts in temperature are extreme. The depressions and 
pits which are always in shadow are terribly cold. It is 
probably even colder in such places in the north and south 
polar areas. Thick layers of solidified water and air may 
possibly have accumulated there, but there are no factual 
data in support of this. An effect of dawn is produced by the 
many times reflected light from the mountain peaks which 
shines over the terrain. For the same reason shadows are 
not quite as pitch-black and also not as grey as on the 
Earth. In some places, most of them low-lying, thick allu- 
vial deposits were found which were probably formed 
when the surface of the Moon had not yet cooled com- 
pletely, when the temperature was uniform, and the water 
and gases had not yet become liquefied and absorbed by 
the soil, and therefore flowed and wore down the granite 
as on the Earth.” 


The telegram was received on the Earth with jubilation. 
Many were disappointed to hear that the Moon was unfit 
for habitation, but the jewellers were alarmed and began 
to plot against all reaction-propelled vehicles. Impecunious 
lasses slyly eyed their more fortunate wealthy rivals. But 
on the whole, this first visit to another planet aroused great 
enthusiasm, courage and hope. In any case the Moon could 
be of use to mankind! 

The news about the diamonds and gems created a sensa- 
tion among the dandies of the world. The price of jewellery 


dropped heavily. Many rich people invested large sums 
in the manufacture of reaction-propelled vehicles in antici- 
pation of a boom in diamonds and other lunar commodities. 

x k*k k 

Meanwhile at a distance of 5.5 terrestrial radii, or 34,000 
kilometres from the Earth’s surface, new colonies were 
expanding and people settling in. The greenhouse dwellings 
described before became populated with happy men, 
women and children. People lived comfortable, prosperous 
family lives. 


The finest types of people were selected for the colonies: 
people who were sociable, gentle, resourceful, industrious, 
physically enduring, not too old and, preferably, unmarried. 
But they outnumbered the requirements so they were as- 
sembled in terrestrial communities where they lived, in- 
terested themselves in one another and continued to se- 
lect people for the space colonies from among themselves. 
Even so there were still more people than the accommoda- 
tion available out in space, and a third selection became 
necessary. The men and women finally selected were ideal 
in every respect, regular angels in flesh and blood. How- 
ever these “angels” were subjected to rigorous tests 
before being allowed to leave for outer space. They were 
placed in an atmosphere containing the same amount of 
oxygen as at sea level but with the nitrogen removed. Then 
the amount of oxygen was reduced by half, bringing it to 
the concentration equal to that on top of a five-kilometre 
mountain. Those who fainted, felt discomfort or weakness 
or lost their appetites were not accepted. It was essential 
that they should feel well on a diet of fruit and vegetables. 
Thus at the very first selection many “angels” were reject- 
ed. There were cases when accidents occurred. Once almost 


all the air was pumped out by mistake. This was noticed 
only five minutes later. Everyone had fainted. Most people 
regained consciousness, but three of them died. The surviv- 
ors were readily granted permission to embark, for if a 
similar accident ever happened to them in the colonies 
because of some breakdown in a greenhouse, they would 
indeed be sure to survive. This was a great advantage. It 
was hoped that, by training, it would be possible to de- 
velop in people the ability to survive after short spells in 
a pure vacuum. They would then be almost completely 
safe in the trans-atmospheric colonies. 

The selectees were sent off in very crowded rockets, but 
as the whole journey lasted only 10 to 15 minutes it was 
not at all tiresome. The journey was too brief to require 
any description, particularly as we have already described 
one such flight. The passengers had hardly enough time 
to look round them and take stock of their surroundings 
before their experienced guides hauled them out of water 
and conducted them with the already described precau- 
tions to a greenhouse. 

At first the newcomers found themselves in a common 
hall 1,000 metres long, 10 metres across, and 5 metres 
high. They were impressed by the size of the room, the 
abundance of greenery and the golden sunbeams piercing 
through. There was some enchantment about the whole 
spectacle. The hall seemed endless. At first newcomers 
noticed only the foliage, the light, and the transparent 
vaulted ceiling. They felt lost, though the guides did every- 
thing to give them encouragement. Looking about, they 
saw dark specks fluttering in the distance like flies or 
butterflies. A closer look revealed that these were their 
companions who had arrived earlier, and they thereupon 
exchanged joyful greetings and warm embraces. The old- 
timers had small wings rather like fins down the sides of 
their bodies, which they moved with their legs, imparting 
translatory motion in a gaseous medium. They were easily 
folded and removed like clothing. 


People moved about like fish or birds. There was no 
gravity and wings were not essential if one made swimming 
motions or pushed off from fixed objects. Wings, however, 
were more convenient, as they made it possible to move 
quickly and gracefully with the slightest effort. 

“Mamma, what are they, angels or devils?” the children 
cried. “They won’t send us to hell, will they? You know, 
I did tell a lie. I did eat the pastry, only please don’t tell 

The children were wide-eyed in astonishment, some of 
them cried and tried to run away—but they ony floun- 
dered helplessly. Little by little the parents, themselves ex- 
cited enough, soothed their children, while the “angels” 
procured wings and helped newcomers to adjust them. The 
latter soon learned to propel themselves in any direction. 
It was all really quite simple, though at first there were 
many cries of dismay and annoyance. 

“Oh, Mummy, I’m flying in the wrong direction and I 
can’t turn!” 

But the “angels” would guide the child back and teach 
it to use its wings. 

“I’m afraid, Masha, it’s not so easy to learn to fly! I’m 
all tangled up in these plants and can’t extricate myself.” 

This one, too, was helped. 

“Alexander, what am I to do? I can’t turn to the right.” 

Alexander, who had already been put through his 
paces and could fly about dextrously, hurried to his wife’s 

“Look at me, Mummy, see how I'm flying!” little Olya 
squealed. “See, I can fly to the windows, to the wall and 

The people had not yet become hungry and everyone 
was in a delightful humour, though they felt a little bit lost. 
The transformation had been so sudden, that most people 
felt they were dreaming. 

“How warm it is!” the children cried. “Before it was only 
warm like this in hot summers.” =~ 


Everyone had cast off their travelling clothes in favour 
of light shorts. The temperature was about +-30°C. 

One family promenaded down the vast hall. Other fami- 
lies drifted towards them. The sunlight streaming through 
the foliage cast whimsical patterns on the fluttering groups. 
The latest arrivals were left to themselves to look around 
and become accustomed to their new life and new duties. 

What were the colonists engaged in? Could they do 
nothing but gambol, eat and sleep? They had every op- 
portunity of doing just that, but in actual fact things were 

So far the population of each greenhouse was not large, 
a mere 400. Yet it could provide food and shelter for up 
to a thousand. The space habitations were built by the 
people from the Earth and in part actually down on the 
Earth. Builders from the Earth arrived to assemble the 
greenhouses and fit them out with everything necessary 
for plant-growing. The new settlers owed their comfort 
to the Earth, to the effort of their brothers. That, as it 
were, was their reward for the good qualities they 
possessed which had earned for them the right to be 
selected for what was now their native planet. 

Could the colonists undertake immediately to build 
such a greenhouse dwelling for others or themselves? Not 
yet, because the settlement of outer space had only just 
begun. The population in space was still sparse and it was 
impossible to build the factories and workshops required 
for complex output. What is more, they lacked the necessary 
building materials. Delivery from the Earth was very cost- 
ly. It would have been easier to supply them from the 
Moon, but that would also be inexpedient. The explorers 
whom we left in the Moon’s orbit hoped to be able to give 
assistance in the form of inexhaustible supply of the 
necessary raw materials from space itself. Then would be 
the time for activities on a more varied scale, when there 
would be no longer any need to rely shamefacedly on help 
from the Earth. And yet, what was so shamefaced about 


it? The child relies on its parents, the infant takes its life- 
blood from the mother! Who should reproach the weak! 
The time would come when they would work to the best 
of their ability. 

The settlers, however, were sufficiently occupied with 
keeping their spacious homes in order, studying themselves 
and teaching others, engaging in scientific research, devel- 
oping themselves mentally, physically and spiritually. But 
it is impossible to manage without some form of social 
organisation. They had their own elected leadership. Each 
group of boys, girls, bachelors, married folk, old men and 
old women, put forward its own elected representative. 
In all there had to be 8 representatives, but since it would 
be wearying for one person to handle affairs without in- 
termission, each group elected 3 or 4 persons who took 
turns in the performance of their duties. These 20-30 dele- 
gates chose three or four from their midst to be respon- 
sible for the overall leadership; the latter also took turns in 
office. Elections were called whenever the population found 
it necessary to replace poor administrators or those who 
had been in office for too long. The elected representatives 
were issued special badges so that everyone could recognise 
his or her deputy. The badges were in the shape of a dried 
fruit, a flower, a sprig of immortelle, or something else 
of the kind. Here there would be a group of youths flying 
past like a swarm of bees following their leader with a 
large flower badge; there would come a charming flock of 
children with their elder; a group of girls wafted by with 
their elected leader ahead of them wearing an attractive 
wreath; there would be the old men and women with their 
representatives; the married men, the wives and the in- 

The other deputies kept together in a separate group 
until they would be called upon to exercise their authority 
in one way or another. The old folk had old leaders, since 
young people are not so readily capable of understanding 
their emotions, mode of life, behaviour and requirements. 

20—761 805 

Similarly, women were governed by women, as a women’s 
world is almost beyond the comprehension of the mind 
of the man. For the same reason children had their own rep- 
resentatives, for adults often forget their own childhood 
weaknesses and requirements and old women—their 
maidenhood and motherhood. 

A committee of representatives handled all the affairs 
appertaining to the population as a whole, regardless of sex 
or age. Actually these duties were relegated to one acting 
representative, either a man or a woman. Thus, all matters 
were dealt with speedily and efficiently. If many members 
of a population group found fault with the actions of 
their deputy, he was replaced. The deputy was the mouth- 
piece of the average cross-section of public opinion, which 
is why he was elected. Similarly, in every population group, 
in the girls’ group, for instance, the deputy expressed the 
common will, by virtue of which she could issue orders and 
partial laws for just as long as she enjoyed the confidence 
of the others. Inevitably there were dissenters, but the 
cohesion of each group and the whole population required 
such an organisation. Being in constant contact, the colo- 
nists could size up one another, which was very important. 
Thanks to this they were able to elect those candidates who 
best qualified for office and for the work. Marriages and 
divorces were made effective by a deputy from the whole 
population. Disputes inside each group were settled by the 
representatives of the group in question. Differences and 
quarrels among the members of the different groups were 
settled by the common representative for the entire colony. 
But in actual practice there were no reasons for squabbles 
or arguments. Work assignments were also issued by the 
various representatives. For instance, married women re- 
ceived instructions from their deputy. The main duties in 
a colony were: 1) to look after the temperature in differ- 
ent parts of the greenhouse. The temperature varied ac- 
cording to the purpose for which the particular premises 
were used. Thus, in the rooms for new-born babies the 


temperature was close to that of the human body, in those 
for the old people it was lower, in rooms for youths, lower 
still; 2) to look after the humidity of the air; for this there 
were special instruments, as already described; 3) to look 
after the pumps, delivering water and nutritious liquids and 
gases to the soil; 4) to look after the toilets; 5) to look after 
the plants; 6) to look after the composition and pressure 
of the atmosphere; 7) to look after the intactness and 
condition of the greenhouse skin and see that it was 

The temperature of the greenhouse skin was constant 
and nothing could really cause cracking and gas escape. 
Escaping gas would condense into a mist and be im- 
mediately noticed. In addition, escaping gas would close 
an electric circuit, and the number and location of the 
damaged place was automatically indicated. The worker 
on duty quickly located the trouble and placed an 
emergency plaster on the crack, after which it could be 
sealed permanently. 

Assignments for work were distributed according to 
ability, desire and physical fitness. Another duty was to 
keep the greenhouse clean. Leaves, twigs and fruit fell 
from the plants, and particles of earth sometimes broke 
away from the soil. All this floated about in the air until 
the slight centrifugal force accumulated it all at each end 
of the greenhouse where the toilets were located. Here it 
was converted into fertilisers. All human and vegetable 
waste products were dissolved in large quantities of water, 
which was pumped through the soil pipes. There the water 
was taken up by the soil and plant roots and given off into 
the atmosphere by the leaves, adding humidity to the air. 
The latter was directed through the outside cooling pipes 
where the moisture condensed into a form of dew, which 
collected into streams of pure, rain-like water which flowed 
to the toilets, bath-rooms, drinking tanks, etc. 

People wishing to do so could learn reading, writing, arts 
and crafts and study the sciences. Anyone could teach who 

20° 507 

possessed the knowledge, desire and ability and could find 
the pupils. Instructors were freed from other duties by 
order of the representative. The system of study depended 
on the disposition and desire of the teacher and the pupils. 
While there were still few colonies, arts and crafts were 
of no great importance and preference was given to science. 
The general curriculum included geometry, mechanics, 
physics and chemistry, the study of outer space and the 
Universe, biology, including the past, present and pre- 
dictable future of living creatures. Study was given, 
finally, to sociology and philosophy, and numerous prob- 
lems so far unsolved. All the sciences were based through- 
out on mathematical data. 


New colonies developed in rapid succession, andin sev- 
eral years there were very many of them. Communication 
between them was by means of corridors with air-tight 
doors. This was a precautionary measure against the pos- 
sibility of gas escaping from several sections at once if 
one greenhouse became damaged or destroyed by a bolide. 
The link-up of several greenhouses reduced the escape of 
gas and made life in the colonies richer and more 
pleasurable, since the inhabitants of one greenhouse could 
visit the colonists in any of the others. The connecting 
corridors were provided with air-locks, though actually one 
could pass through them as easily as going from one room 
to another and there was no need actually to evacuate the 
air-locks. The doors could have been left open, but they 
were firmly closed as a precautionary measure. 

Several hundred colonies constituted a new type of high- 
er unit. Each colony elected several of its finest members 
who, taking turns, governed their population. Part of the 
elected deputies from each colony were delegated to the 
highest greenhouse where, together with other delegates, 
they exercised authority in the manner already described. 


But there everything was on a more perfect, strict and 
principled moral plane. 

These delegates, after working together, went back to 
manage the lower colonies, while other deputies took their 
place. Thus all the delegates took turns in the manage- 
ment of affairs and in the sociological study of each colony. 

We have said nothing of diseases or deaths in the colo- 
nies. The reason is that no diseases had developed and 
the colonies were still too new for death with its scythe 
to have reaped its harvest. There was only one case of 
mild insanity. One of the settlers imagined himself dead 
and in “the other” world. No one could dissuade him of 
this and he became more and more illogical. The leader 
decided that the only hope of recovery was for him to 
return home. Soon there were rumours that he had re- 
covered, but had chosen to remain on the Earth. 

Let us now leave our colonies to multiply, organise, 
thrive, progress and expand, and return to the scientists 
we left travelling in the Moon’s orbit. 


Several times our travellers circled the Earth in the 
wake of the Moon before deciding what to do next. 

“The space between the Earth and the Moon which we 
have found suitable for settlement,” Newton began, open- 
ing the conference, “has one major drawback: a shortage 
of materials for construction and other public needs.” 

“The delivery of materials from the Earth is far too ex- 
pensive,” Laplace confirmed. 

“Materials could be delivered from the Moon,” observed 
Franklin. “The cost would be 22 times cheaper. But Ivanov 
and Nordenskjöld tell us that the Moon is unsuitable for 
habitation and work.” 

“One way out would be to transfer the colonies to the 
region of the minor planets, between the orbits of Mars 


and Jupiter,” Newton said. “There is only one thing I am 
doubtful about: the temperature in the area is rather low. 
The maximum temperature with a black surface and in the 
most favourable conditions at the distance of Mars would 
be about +83°C. Mars is one and a half times as far from 
the Sun as the Earth is. This is not so bad. Even at double 
the distance from the Sun the temperature is +27°C. But 
at the distance of Jupiter it drops to —80°C, and at the 
mean distance between Mars and Jupiter it is in the neigh- 
bourhood of —30°C.” 

“It could be raised by means of mirrors,” Ivanov 

“That applies to us in our travels, but not to the colonies, 
where the much simpler solutions should be found. Our 
ingenuity, of course, would save us from the cold even 
at the distance of Saturn....” 

“Thus,” Franklin reiterated, “the most convenient place 
for settlement is in the belt close to Mars. There, at a 
distance twice as far as the Earth from the Sun, the high- 
est temperature for them would be +-27°C.” 

“Wouldn’t it be better to build settlements between the 
Earth and Mars, or even closer to the Sun, between the 
Earth and Venus?” Laplace asked. 

“Either variant would be suitable,” said Newton, “if only 
we could be sure to find matter there in the shape of 
large bolides or asteroids several hundred metres in 

“One huge asteroid has already been discovered between 
the Earth and Mars,” Ivanov remarked. 

“That is Eros,” said Newton. “True, the eccentricity of 
its orbit carries it periodically beyond Mars. It could be 
made use of, but it’s too large. But generally speaking 
no body less than 10 kilometres in diameter can be detected 
in the planetoid belt, even using the finest telescopes and 
the most favourable conditions on the Earth. Thus, even 
if there are a million asteroids less than 10 kilometres in 
diameter, they can’t be seen. 


“And yet,” he continued, “they should exist. When you 
walk in a field, which stones do you see more of, large or 
small? Small, of course, and the smaller they are the more 
there are of them. The same should be true of the Universe. 
Consider, there are only 8 major planets, not counting 
their satellites. But there are 700 minor planets, or 
asteroids, and countless bolides and aerolites, to judge by 
the abundance of shooting stars. This means that we may 
expect the solar system to have much more than 700 little 
planets with diameters of less than 10 kilometres. The fact 
that we can’t see them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. 
If bolides didn’t pierce our atmosphere, we'd never see 
them, just as we wouldn’t have known of the larger 
asteroids, had there been no telescopes and sensitive photo- 
graphic plates.” , 

“We can therefore hope to encounter many small planets 
nearer than, or farther from, the Earth's orbit,” said 

“And so, gentlemen,” Newton concluded, “we shall first 
direct our celestial path towards the Earth’s orbit.” 

The meeting fully approved his suggestion. 


The second conference discussed the forthcoming trip. 

“We are almost free of the Earth’s gravitational attrac- 
tion,” Newton said, “which here is 3,600 times less than 
at the Earth’s surface. We are travelling round the Earth 
at a speed of about one kilometre a second. If we increase 
this velocity to 1.5 kilometres a second we shall recede 
from the Earth for ever.” 
. “At the same time we shall still have the same velocity 
as the Earth rotating round the Sun,” Laplace remarked. 
“We acquired that velocity from the Earth when we were 
still on it and couldn’t have lost it. Thanks to it, we shan’t 
fall on our luminary but will revolve about it like the 
Earth.” - 


“In other words,” said Ivanov, “we need an additional 
velocity of only half a kilometre per second for our rocket 
and greenhouse. That is a mere trifle and still our fuel 
expenditure will be almost negligible.” 

“Then, in order not to meet the Earth moving along the 
same orbit, we shall resume the combustion and then, de- 
pending on the Earth’s direction, shall either spiral away 
from the Sun or approach it along some curve or other, 
which will depend solely on us,” Franklin observed. 

“In this case, too,” said Newton, “the fuel expenditure 
will be very small. But should we travel towards the Sun 
or away from it?” 

“It seems to me,” said Ivanov, “that it would be better 
to travel away from the Sun. The temperature here is high 
enough and we can raise it to 150°C even without the help 
of mirrors. In addition, on our way to Eros, Mars and the 
planetoids we'll encounter lots of little planets with dia- 
meters less than 10 kilometres.” 

The motion was carried and the following photo-tele- 
gram was flashed to Earth: “We are well. We plan to trav- 
el first along the ecliptic and then away from the Sun in 
the hope of finding sufficient material for building colonies 
between the orbits of Earth and Mars. Regards to Galileo, 
Helmholtz and our other comrades in the Himalayan 
Castle. Newton.” They received a reply telegram wishing 
them good luck. 


The very smallest blast was used. The attraction of the 
Moon could be neglected, all the more so as its mass is 
only one-eightieth of the Earth’s mass. Relative gravity set 
in, but it was so small as to be hardly noticeable. The ap- 
parent size of the Earth and Moon, however, decreased 
perceptibly. Ten days later the angular diameter of the 
Earth and the Moon had decreased by one-half, 


“Our present velocity,” said Ivanov, “will carry us 
completely out of the gravitational attraction of the Earth 
and its satellite.” 

The Earth waned rapidly and soon looked more like a 
bright star than a planet. The Earth and the Moon phases 
could no longer be observed without a telescope. The 
phases were identical: if the Earth was in the crescent 
phase, so was the Moon. The blast propelled the rocket in 
the direction of its true motion about the Sun. Gradually 
they left the ecliptic, or the Earth’s path. The Earth became 
no brighter than Venus, with a faint little star, the Moon, 
close to it. 

The only perceptible change in the situation of our 
travellers was the gradual, apparent shrinking of the two 
big moons, i.e., the Earth and the Moon, into stars and 
the slight diminution in the Sun’s diameter. 

The temperature fell correspondingly, though very slow- 
ly and imperceptibly. By increasing the black surface of 
the rocket facing the Sun the temperature was deliberately 
kept at the higher necessary level. This dispelled any doubts 
the travellers might have as to the real possibility of chang- 
ing the temperature in any direction and within extremely 
wide limits. As we know, even near Mars it could be raised 
to +83°C. The greenhouse submissively followed in their 
wake and provided them with everything they needed. 
There was nothing to damp their high spirits. They ate, 
slept and worked with the same serenity as on the Earth. 
Once in a while, they donned their space-suits and sallied 
out of the rocket into the ether. The sky continued to be 
as black as ink. On one side shone the Sun, on the other 
gleamed a multitude of lifeless, multi-coloured stars. The 
patterns of the constellations remained the same. The Milky 
Way continued to divide the celestial sphere into two 
halves, there were many, many stars and much less mist. 
The wandering stars, i.e., the planets were visible as before. 
Large asteroids could be seen without a telescope and 
stood out because of their apparent motion among the 


“fixed” stars. There were no more “moonlit” nights, of 
course. The thrust force propelled the rocket in the same 
direction as the Moon and therefore should have accelerat- 
ed its motion; actually though, the reverse was true and 
the motion was retarded, but the rocket continued to 
recede from the Sun. It was like, the movement of a sleigh 
uphill when the speed decreases even though the horse 
continues to draw it. 


They searched with their telescopes for bolides and 
asteroids or watched the sky for them looking through the 
portholes. They had been travelling for more than nine 
months and the monotony had tired them considerably 
when one day Franklin spotted a vast bulk quite close to 
them and almost motionless. It was obviously a planetoid 
moving in the same direction about the Sun. 

As the rocket was propelled by the blast the planetoid 
soon began to slip back. The motors were turned off, then 
reversed, and they approached the asteroid. The travellers 
crowded round the portholes, their eyes glued to the vast 
bulk. Its visible dimensions grew until it occupied almost 
half the sky. In shape it was very irregular, elongated and 
rugged. Here and there it sparkled in the rays of the Sun. 
Everyone was filled with curiosity. 

Finally they switched on the retro-rockets in order to 
slow down and avoid bumping into the planetoid. They 
came to a standstill and had to switch on the exhaust 
nozzles again and then switch them off. Several tens of 
metres separated them and they were hardly moving in 
relation to the planetoid. 

“Enough!” Newton exclaimed. “Let someone moor the 
rocket to the planetoid.” 

Ivanov, who wanted to be first, was already in his space- 
suit. He immediately departed, trailing after him a light 
chain attached to the rocket. He approached the planetoid 


cautiously, bumping gently against it. There was noth- 
ing to attach the chain to, only solid granite and metals. 
Ivanov decided to use a powerful] magnet as soon as he 
found any pieces of iron. This, however, proved unneces- 
sary: the force of gravity gradually pulled the rocket to 
the planet. To keep it from hitting against the planetoid, 
as even the slightest jar might damage the greenhouse, 
they switched on the exhaust at the very moment of im- 
pact. Rocket and greenhouse bobbed slightly against the 
little world and finally settled down on it and became 
motionless. The whole population of the rocket flew out, 
in their space-suits of course, as there was not the slight- 
est tracé of any atmosphere. 

One could stand or lie or sit on the little planet the 
same as one does on the Earth, but the gravity was so low 
that the slightest careless motion sent a person bouncing 
several scores of feet upwards. 

Laplace found a little stone on the planetoid, tied it toa 
thread and made it swing like a pendulum. But goodness, 
how slowly it moved! It required a deal of patience slowly to 
count its oscillations and calculate the time. Nevertheless 
Laplace carried out the experiment and found that a pendu- 
lum one metre long performed one oscillation in 80 seconds. 

“We can conclude from this,” Franklin said, “that the 
force of gravity of this planetoid, at the point where we 
are now, is 6,000 times less than terrestrial gravity. In 
the first second of free fall a body will here travel just 
under one millimetre. Like all of you, I weigh 1/6,000th 
of my terrestrial weight, or about 13 grams!” 

The horizon was very rugged. It would be difficult to 
find anything like it, even in the most fantastic mountain 
‘ranges on the Earth. The planetoid was a huge rough, 
rugged fragment. Beneath their feet were masses of rock 
impregnated with metallic alloys and pure metals, some 
of them dark like old iron, others shiny like silver or nickel, 
some yellow like brass or calcium, others reddish like cop- 
per or gold. Various features caught the eye, but they were 


compelled to walk very slowly: the slightest impatient or 
hurried movement sent one high up into space, and one 
would experience during the descent the whole gamut of 
emotions, fearing never to return. Those who had little 
portable propelling motors switched them on, though there 
was no actual need, and hastened back to the planetoid. 
Not everyone had them, however, and these would soar up 
for 10 and more minutes, returning often as long as half 
an hour. What frustration for those who longed to explore 
the planetoid! Sometimes they leaped 250 metres away— 
sufficient for anyone to get lost. Those who had never 
before found themselves in such conditions found it difficult 
to become acclimatised. Later they found a fairly simple 
way of moving about at a speed of 4 kilometres an hour. 
For this it was necessary to push off horizontally from 
stones or vertical projections. But too strong a push would 
bring the danger of flying off the planet for good and be- 
coming a lost soul in the boundless spaces of the Solar 
System. When this happened it was necessary to resort to 
the portable motor or to rely on being saved by those who 
had them. 

By this simple method our travellers flew round the 
entire planetoid and found many pure metals and alloys. 
The sparkling areas they had noticed from afar turned out 
to be heaps of gold, silver and nickel. The planet had a 
thousand times more precious metals than the amount pos- 
sessed by all the people on the Earth. 

Owing to the strange shape of the little planet, its gravity 
and its direction varied in different places. 

Everyone was delighted and astonished at the sight of 
the treasures. They displayed this by antics and gestures, 
but the expressions on their faces were almost hidden. 
They could talk only by getting close to each other and 
bringing their helmets together; but their curiosity had 
taken them off in different directions. They took many 
photographs, made collections of minerals and materials, 
collected the necessary data for determining the size and 


mass of the asteroid, and returned, enriched but not over- 
burdened, to the rocket. In truth, it would be hard to be- 
come overburdened, for a mass of 600 tons weighed only 
100 terrestrial kilograms. 


The motors were switched on again and the rocket sped 
away from the Sun, exploring the space between the Earth 
and Mars. The strange planetoid they had just left behind 
rapidly disappeared from sight, though to them it seemed 
as if it was the planetoid that was moving away. The scien- 
tists, however, continued to study it with great interest. 
They analysed and examined the rocks, metals and alloys. 
The gold, silver and platinum were almost pure, with slight 
additions of other metals. They estimated that the mean 
diameter of the planetoid was 900 metres. Small wonder 
that earth-bound astronomers knew nothing about it. It 
was impossible to spot such a tiny mass at that distance. 
Even the satellites of Mars, ten times larger in diameter 
and 100 times greater in area, were only discovered with 
great difficulty. The volume of the planetoid was about 
360 million cubic metres. Its mass could not be determined 
very accurately, but judging by the abundance of heavy 
metals even at the surface, it could not be less than 7,200 
million tons, assuming the mean density of the planet to 
be 10. The planetoid rotated slowly. 

“It contains enough material to build well-appointed 
greenhouse dwellings for the whole of mankind,” Ivanov 

“There would be only about one ton per person,” Newton 
objected. “That is not enough.” 

“If the need arises more heavenly bodies of the kind 
can be found to supplement the supply,’ Laplace observed. 
“We haven't even explored the space up to Mars, and we 
may well encounter thousands of these miniature worlds 
on our way.” 


“Very possibly,” Newton agreed. 

This proved to be the case, and as they spiraled away 
from the Sun they encountered asteroids almost every 
month. Some were larger than the one described, but most 
were smaller. They left most of them unexplored, but when- 
ever they visited one they almost invariably found heavy 
and precious metals. 

“I find this strange,” Nordenskjöld observed. “So little 
gold and platinum is found on the Earth yet here there is 
enough to pave the streets.” 

“Yes, it is surprising,” Newton agreed. “Yet according to 
at least one hypothesis it is easily explained. These compar- 
atively small bulks may well be only parts or fragments 
of large planets. Being fragments, some of them may 
contain only the internal and others the superficial elements 
of a whole planet. The innermost parts of a planet are 
bound to consist of the heavier elements, such as gold, 
platinum, iridium and their alloys. This is just what we 
observe on the discovered planetoids. You will have noticed 
that we found no heavy metals on some of them, which in- 
dicates that they were once part of the outer crust of some 
larger planet.” 

“Such a hypothesis was put forward by Olbers to ex- 
plain the existence of numerous asteroids between the 
orbits of Mars and Jupiter,” Laplace said. “If we can judge 
by our own discoveries, this probably applies also to the 
origin of the celestial bodies between the Earth and Mars.” 

“But what could cause a major planet to break up into 
several minor ones?” one of the listeners asked. 

“There are many possible explanations,” said Ivanov. 
“Chemical processes inside the planet might have produced 
gases the expansion of which blew up the planet like a 
bomb, or there may have been a collision between planets, 
or it may have been due to the steadily increasing centri- 
fugal force resulting from the contraction of a revolving 

“Acting alone this force could at most cause the sepa- 


ration of satellites or rings, but not such a catastrophe as 
these fragments suggest,” Newton said. 

“You are probably right,” said the Russian. “A variety 
of known and unknown causes may have operated,” he 
added after a pause. 

“From your words we may draw some interesting con- 
clusions,” Franklin remarked. “First of all, our Earth may 
well be torn to pieces some day. Secondly, the inner parts 
of our planet should also abound in precious metals.” 

“Neither possibility can be rejected,” several voices com- 

“Well, and if that is so,” said Ivanov, “it would be a good 
idea for the human race to move to other worlds without 
awaiting such a calamity. A suitable place would be these 
ethereal deserts which contain all the materials necessary 
for the safe accommodation here of man.” 


Each circuit round the Sun took more than a year, and 
each year they discovered new worlds. Several times they 
encountered gas rings, very transparent, tenuous and 
hardly noticeable, but several kilometres thick. They ap- 
peared first as a thin misty strip tapering towards the ends. 
When the rocket entered the gas ring they heard a strange 
noise and the temperature definitely increased. The rocket’s 
speed did not differ much from that of the rings, but it 
passed through them in its movement away from the Sun and 
soon left them behind. Many rings remained unobserved, 
like many of the planetoids. They collected some gases from 
one of the rings, condensed them with the aid of pumps 
and analysed them. They contained oxygen, nitrogen, car- 
bon compounds, traces of hydrogen and other gases. 

“This is wonderful,” said Ivanov after the first discovery. 
“It would be a good idea to place the colonies in a ring of 
this kind: there would be gases on hand, and in addition, 
in the event of gas escaping from a rocket, it would remain 


-in the surrounding atmosphere from which it could be 
retrieved. This discovery shows that the expansion of gases 
is not unlimited, as follows from Boyle’s Law, and that 
there is something that restricts it.” 

“This is not a new conclusion,” Laplace observed. ‘‘The 
same has been observed in our own terrestrial atmosphere.” 

“On the Earth the unlimited expansion of gas is restricted 
by the attraction of the Earth and the molecular theory,” 
Franklin began. 

“And here there is the attraction of the gas ring itself, 
and maybe something else,” said Newton. 

“But what?” Franklin exclaimed impatiently. “The at- 
traction of the ring itself is insufficient.” 

“I don’t know,” said Newton. “It may be that gases are 
distributed throughout the Solar System, though in very 
small quantities. Mendeleyev thought so, incidentally.” 


Several years passed and Mars was already not far off. 
The space between the two neighbouring orbits was ex- 
plored so thoroughly that they were in a position to report 
the results of their work to the Earth. But this would have 
required a flat mirror some 100 metres in diameter, the 
building of which would prove to be a difficult undertaking. 
It would be simplest to return to the Earth or to send a 
telegram from the Moon’s orbit or from some spot lying 
even closer. 

Near Mars one revolution of the rocket round the Sun 
took almost two years. The travellers suffered from an 
accumulation of boredom and nostalgia. When the time 
came to return to Earth they would, of course, not follow 
the spiral route. A short route would bring them home in 
four months. Mars was already 10 million kilometres 
distant and looked like a miniature Moon 4 minutes across, 
or 1/7th of the diameter of the Moon as is seen from the 
Earth. With a telescope they could clearly see its “canals” 


and “seas” containing no one knew what, its hills and val- 
leys and the polar “ice” and “snow”. 

“We shan’t go any closer to Mars,” said Newton. “To 
land on the planet would be a dangerous undertaking. We 
are all tired and, what’s more, we have to report our im- 
portant discoveries to the Earth as soon as possible.” 

Some objected, others were delighted at the prospect of 
soon returning home. 

“Mars won’t run away from us,” Ivanov remarked. 
“We'll reach it in the course of a later expedition.” 


They had a great deal of free time. The scientists dis- 
cussed travel plans, but even more they discussed the 
Earth, its inhabitants and terrestrial affairs in general, 
which they now viewed most favourably. We, however, 
would find it more interesting to hear the scientists’ views 
about space travel and conditions of life in other worlds. 
Here is what they had to say on the subject. 

“We landed perfectly safely on the Moon, and find life 
splendid here where we are almost the same distance from 
the Sun as Mars! It is warm as before, the fruits do not 
ripen so fast, but we are adequately supplied. If we were 
to run short of food there is nothing to prevent our build- 
ing two or three additional greenhouses,” a very young 
and enthusiastic member of the expedition declared. 

“There are difficulties,” Newton began, addressing the 
assemblage. “It will take much brainwork and physical 
effort on the Earth to overcome them. Let us see what 
prevents us from landing on planets immediately, apart 
from our own fatigue and a universal desire to return to 
our native planet.” 

The audience fell silent and settled down to listen 

“Let us begin with temperature,’ Newton continued. 
“Imagine a soot-black plate perpendicular to the Sun’s 

21—761 321 

rays. It absorbs almost all the rays falling on it. The 
reverse side should not lose any heat. This can be achieved 
by covering it, for instance, with polished silver. In 
ethereal space a plate of this kind will lose heat in pro- 
portion to the fourth power of its absolute temperature. 
This is the law of Stefan and Wien from which we shall 
proceed in our further arguments. We can check its truth 
from the following considerations. The experimentally de- 
termined constants of this law make it possible for us to 
solve many interesting problems. Here are some of my 
own computations. The temperature of parts of the Sun's 
Surface is about 6500°C. That is the normal tem- 
perature; the absolute scale begins at 273°C below 
zero. According to one hypothesis, absolute zero begins 
with the complete absence of heat in a body. The temper- 
ature of our black plate, at the distance of the Earth, may 
reach +152°C. This is the maximum temperature that 
can be obtained on the Earth, the Moon, and bodies in 
space at the same distance from the Sun as our planet. 
This is also the maximum temperature of the greenhouses 
and rockets of the colonies near the Earth. It is sufficient 
to roast meat. I shall not speak about other methods of. 
increasing this temperature, as, for example, with 
the help of mirrors. Here is the maximum temperature in 
degrees centigrade for the different distances from the 
Sun, taking the distance of the Earth as unity: 

Distance to Sun Temp. °C. Distance to Sun Temp. °G. 
1 +152 Infinity —273 

2 +27 1/2 +322 

3 —27 1/3 +450 

4 —61 1/4 +577 

5 —83 1/9 +1002 

9 —131 1/16 +1427 

16 —167 4/25 +1852 

25 —188 1/36 +2277 

36 —202 0 -+ 6427 


“It will be observed from this table that the upper limit 
for space travel is twice the distance to the Sun, i.e., about 
150 million kilometres from the Earth’s orbit, or 175 mil- 
lion kilometres from Mars’ orbit to Jupiter.” 

“But why can’t flat, cylindrical or spherical mirrors be 
used to raise the temperature in the rocket and green- 
house?” Laplace objected. 

“They can,” Newton answered, “especially here, where 
there is no relative gravity and mirrors can be made very 
thin. But on planets we’d encounter difficulties.” 

“There are other ways of increasing the temperature 
in greenhouses, say by making windows which would 
freely let in the light and highly refractable rays in general 
while retaining dark heat rays with a low refractability.” 

“Precisely, dear Franklin,” Newton said. “The Sun's 
rays will enter the greenhouse, change there into dark 
ones and remain inside, thereby raising the temperature 
much higher than our calculations show. But as yet I have 
no exact data about the degree to which the temperature 
could be raised in this way. For research and information 
in this field we shall have to rely on the Earth, leaving it 
aside for the time being.” 

“Any way,” concluded Ivanov, “with the help of mir- 
rors or other devices, it may prove possible in time to 
travel beyond Mars to Jupiter and maybe even farther.” 

“Ive nothing to say against that,” said Newton. “But 
allow me to draw your attention to the table showing the 
maximum temperatures for the various planets.” 

Planet Distance lo Sun Temp. °C. 
Mercury 0.39 -|-407 
Venus 0.72 4-227 
Earth 1.00 +153 
Mars 1.53 -|- 83 
Jupiter 5.20 — 83 
Saturn 9.54 . —134 
Uranus 19.18 —176 
Neptune 30.05 —195 

2i* 323 

“It will be observed that the maximum temperature on 
the interior planets is excessively high, yet technically 
favourable for a travelling rocket.” 

“Technically?” one of the listeners asked. “But isn’t 
it much too high?” 

“Don’t forget,” Newton said, “that the table gives the 
highest temperature for ideal conditions which are hardly 
attainable in actual practice. For the Earth this is +153°. 
Imagine the same plate set normally to the rays, with the 
reverse side polished as before, but the front side, instead 
of being covered witth soot-black, having a surface capable 
of reflecting and dispersing the light rays falling on it. 
The temperature will be lower, below zero and even as low 
as —273°, i.e., absolute zero, if it reflects all the Sun’s 
rays falling on it and the reverse side is covered with soot- 
black and radiates all the heat into the ether. This con- 
clusion holds good for any plate of the kind. Undoubtedly, 
this is only partially possible, but it does point to the 
feasibility of reaching the nearest planets, Mercury and 
Venus, and even getting still closer to the Sun. If we were 
not fatigued, we could even now safely undertake a 
voyage there. To prevent ourselves from burning we should 
only have to expose the black part of the rocket’s reverse 
surface and close the front, transparent side with bur- 
nished shutters. If we had the inclination, we could even 
freeze in our rocket in the immediate vicinity of the Sun.” 

“Amazing!” his listeners exclaimed. 

“And so,” Ivanov concluded, “theoretically rocket trips 
closer to the Sun or farther away from it are quite fea- 

“Yes,” Newton confirmed, “but this conclusion doesn’t 
apply to landing on a planet. Let us again begin with the 
temperature. Imagine an isolated black sphere in ether, 
i.e., something like a planet. It loses four times more heat 
than our double-surface disk, and the average temperature 
will be 1.4 times less (the 4th root of 4). Thus we obtain 
the following average temperature (centigrade) for the 


different planets: Mercury, -++-200°, Venus +90°, the Earth, 
+27°, Mars, —23°, Jupiter, —138°, Saturn, —174°, Uranus, 
—204°, Neptune, —218°. Actually though the average 
temperature of the Earth is not +27°C but only +14°C or 
+15°C. What is the cause of this? The point is that not 
all of the Sun’s rays are absorbed by the planet; part of 
them is scattered by clouds, waters, snows, sands, hills— 
in short, by every kind of surface. From the inconsistency 
in temperature just pointed out, we find that the Earth 
takes in about 80 per cent of the Sun’s rays, scattering 
and reflecting the other 20 per cent back into outer space. 
If the other planets also threw back one-fifth of the rays, 
their temperatures would be respectively: Mercury, +176°, 
Venus, +72°, Earth, +14°, Mars, —35°, Jupiter, —145°, 
Saturn, —179°, Uranus, —207°, Neptune, —221° centi- 
grade. The average temperature of the asteroids ranges 
from —35° to —145°C. It is difficult to assume, therefore, 
that with an average temperature of —35°C, the canals 
and seas of Mars consisted of liquid water. The average 
temperature there is 49°C lower than on the Earth, a large 
portion of the surface of which is covered with eternal 
ice, snow and frozen soil. Of course, the soil and atmos- 
pheric conditions on Mars are different. But if we assume 
them to be the same, then the average temperature at the 
Martian equator should be 49°C less than at the terrestrial 
equator, i.e., below —25°C. So where can the water come 

“But what about the mirrors?” a young listener queried 
sadly. ‘‘Couldn’t they save us from the bitter cold?” 

“They could, of course,” Newton replied, ‘‘especially if 
there is no atmosphere there. At low temperatures its mo- 
tion produces a cooling effect which it is very difficult to 
overcome. I don’t, however, reject the possibility of suc- 
cessfully overcoming these odds with the aid of special 
devices which are not at present at our disposal. Even on 
Jupiter, where the temperature is —145°C, the cold can 
be successfully combated. But how to overcome the heat 


of the atmospheres of Venus and Mercury, which reaches 
+72°C and +176°C respectively? It’s lower at the poles, 
of course, but the terrific heat generates currents in the 
local oceans and atmospheres and drives them towards 
the poles. In addition, what gases will surround us when 
we land on a strange planet? Space-suits and an adequate 
supply of exygen would protect us from the lethal gases 
of any atmosphere, but where is the guarantee that our 
Space-suits and bodies will not perish in a blaze of Bengal 
lights? I reject nothing,” Newton concluded hopefully, “but 
I only want to say that we shall need to make prepara- 
tions to perform long and painstaking work, if we are to 
hope to triumph over the hostile forces of nature. Other- 
wise they will crush us without even noticing us.” 


It was unanimously decided to steer a course back to 
the Earth. The attraction of Mars increasingly disturbed 
the even curve of the rocket’s path. Since their journey 
would last about four months they had to cling to the 
greenhouse, otherwise their supplies of fruits would be 
insufficient. With it in tow, they found they could not 
decelerate hard by reversing the blast, without damaging 
their source of nourishment. All the same, the decelera- 
tion was dozens of times harder than during their slow 
Spiralling away from the Sun, and it carried our travellers 
sunwards in a steep, contracted spiral. The greenhouse 
was now not behind the rocket, but ahead of it. When they 
began their deceleration they were 65 million kilometres 
away from the Earth’s orbit and moving at a speed of 
about 25 kilometres a second, or 5 kilometres less than 
that of the Earth. Due to the deceleration, the speed 
dropped, but the rocket’s fall towards the Sun tended to 
increase it. When they reached the Earth’s orbit it should 
be 30 kilometres a second, i.e., equal to that of the Earth. 
Then, the closer they approached the Earth the more 


would the attraction of the planet come into play. The 
increasing velocity would again have to be retarded by the 
retro-blast. The travellers’ thoughts were constantly with 
the Earth, consequently their conversation during the 
return trip is of no interest at all to us. 

The older travellers had had time to turn grey, the 
youths had matured. 

Only the most essential observations were made. A 
feeling of apathy set in. They looked after the greenhouse 
and the rocket. Their route was so short that they hardly 
noticed three or four new asteroids. The difference in 
their speeds and that of the rocket was so great that it 
would have been very hard to approach and explore them. 
Their eyes often turned to a star as beautiful as Venus. 
It was the Earth. They thought constantly of it. As they 
drew closer it became brighter and more beautiful. Soon 
it turned into a splendid miniature Moon. Its crescent in- 
creased, grew as large as the Sun, and then larger still. 
They crossed the Moon’s orbit. The Earth became enor- 
mous: four times larger and 16 times brighter than its 
satellite. Their native planet grew larger and larger. It 
began to look very familiar. Soon it occupied 3, 4, then 5 
degrees in the sky. Only a few days’ travelling remained. 
Hearts beat faster, especially those of the younger men. 
What would they find back on the Earth? 

It was decided to flash a telegram by means of a small 
mirror. Ivanov telegraphed the following message: “We 
explorers of outer space are nearing the Earth. We have 
visited and studied as much space as possible between 
the orbits of the Earth and Mars. We found in it hundreds 
of tiny planets 5,000 and less metres in diameter. This is 
only a fraction of what we estimate to exist. We did not 
see Eros. The discovered asteroids provide a rich and in- 
exhaustible source of material for establishing colonies 
beyond the Earth’s orbit. Many planetoids contain heavy 
metals in ores and in the pure state. Some contain 10 per 
cent of gold and platinum. Judging by the composition of 


these celestial bodies, we think they are fragments of 
one or several larger planets. The space us 
receives 2,500 million times more radiant energy than the 
Earth. It is trillions of times larger than the Earth. In sev- 
eral places we encountered gas rings. We have samples 
of rocks, metals and gases. No one has suffered injury and 
we ran short of nothing. Life in outer space is wonderful. 
There is eternal day, eternal warmth, a variety of excel- 
lent fruit, and splendid conditions for the most diversified 
engineering and scientific work. We shall land in the Indian 
Ocean, off the coast of East India. All shipping is 
warned. ... 

“Spare our modesty and relieve us of any welcoming 
fétes! God gave us the talent which we have shared with 
mankind, and that is all. We need nothing. We have had 
everything in abundance, including honours. Rather see 
that you support the geniuses among yourselves: you know 
very few of them but there are more than you imagine. 
Try and discover them. Their hands are tied because of 
their difficult material conditions. Ivanov.” 

The greenhouse had to be dismantled or left to circle 
the Earth in an elliptical orbit. There was not much time 
left, and it was decided to abandon it. The plants in the 
rocket and the various devices for cultivating them were 
also abandoned. The propellants had been largely used up 
and the rocket had become much lighter. 

The deceleration increased. The Earth seemed enormous 
and covered one quarter of the sky. They had long since 
passed the colonies. The water tanks were filled and the 
travellers got into them to avoid suffering from mounting 
relative gravity. In short, they took all the precautions they 
had taken on leaving the Earth. The rocket and its instru- 
ments functioned reliably. They steered with the help of 
levers submerged in the water. 

The rocket entered the atmosphere, the thin protective 
shell grew red-hot, but the speed dropped steadily as the 
rocket approached the surface of the ocean. 



The deceleration increased, the rocket almost came to 
a standstill. A slight splash, and the rocket was riding the 
waves like a destroyer. 

They opened the shutters and portholes and the air of 
their native planet rushed in with a loud hissing sound. 
The travellers felt they were dreaming. A stunned silence 
reigned for a few moments. Then they clambered out of 
their protective baths and put on their clothing. The Earth 
seemed different. They could hardly tell what was greater, 
their joy or their disappointment. First of all, it seemed 
cold and damp. Their hands, feet and bodies seemed to be 
weighed down with lead. For a long time they were unable 
to lift themselves from the floor, they felt giddy and tot- 
tered as if they were drunk, especially the older men. The air 
with its burden of nitrogen seemed suffocating, while their 
voices, due to the denser atmosphere, deafened them. A 
motorboat sailed up and took them in tow to a ship. The 
travellers began to feel better and the breeze refreshed 

Thanks to the warning about their modesty no people 
had assembled to pester the scientists with questions. But 
they did not feel well. Some began sneezing, the following 
day many had colds, and some went down with influenza. 
The sick were in poor spirits and the joy of their return to 
Earth was marred. The Sun seemed dim and cold. The sky 
was misty, the stars at night seemed few and far between 
and, especially near the horizon, they were dim, while the 
firmament seemed flattened at the zenith. Everywhere was 
an unpleasant smell. All the food seemed tasteless, people 
looked clumsy in their clothing, furniture looked repulsive, 
the weight was unbearable, and the mattresses and pillows 
hard. The travellers constantly tripped and stumbled. For- 
getting themselves, they would push off with an idea of 
soaring away only to fall awkwardly to the ground; and 
their swearing was a source of laughter. People could not 


understand the cause of their extraordinary behaviour and 
stared curiously at the strange tourists. They arrived safely 
in Bombay, from where they continued by train and then 
by airship to their Himalayan Castle. 

The inhabitants of the castle, of course, were already 
well informed about their adventures. They were given a 
rousing welcome, but many were surprised to see the trav- 
ellers were bruised and had sticking plasters on their 
faces. They couldn’t refrain from laughing when they dis- 
covered the reason. 

The newcomers found it unusually cold in the hills, but 
the Sun was warmer. Gradually they discarded their great- 
coats, recovered their health and strength, the bruises 
faded from their noses and foreheads and they became 
accustomed to terrestrial life. Helmholtz and Galileo were 
constantly with them. 


The world waited impatiently for the scientists’ report 
on their extraordinarily successful trip. Newton named the 
day when he and his companions would deliver their re- 
ports in the castle. 

On the appointed day learned delegates arrived at the 
castle from all the countries of the world. 

Newton, interrupted frequently by his equally learned 
companions and members of the audience, gave a detailed 
description of their adventures in outer space. He wound 
up with the practical conclusions to be drawn and his 
plans for more travel and research in the future. 

“The space 34,000 kilometres from the Earth where the 
colonies are now being established,” he said, “is inconven- 
ient, since there is not enough materials to provide for 
work. I suggest therefore that new settlements be gradu- 
ally transferred to the space between the orbits of the 
Earth and Mars, which abounds in building materials, I 


have in mind very small planets invisible from the Earth. 
When the number of colonies increases sufficiently they 
will expand their industries and be able to build dwellings 
without help from the Earth. Material is also available 
in space in the form of the small bolides to be found be- 
tween the Earth and the Moon, where the colonies now 
are, but there is so little of it, that it is not worth mention- 
ing. For some time to come the Earth will continue to 
manufacture only propellants and rockets for carrying 
people. The rockets, after serving their purpose, will be 
able to return on fuel manufactured ‘up there’. Our pos- 
terity will find shelter, happiness and moral satisfaction 
in outer space. Can human genius forecast the develop- 
ment of the settlements beyond the Earth’s orbit in a 
thousand or a million years? Who can say how the colonis- 
ers will adjust themselves from the material and social 
point of view, as their numbers increase? Can we foresee 
what they stand to gain, the development of industry and 
science, the evolution of the human race itself? Will the 
Sun grow dimmer in the millions of years to come? What 
will the inhabitants of the sky do then? Will they find a 
way out? Maybe they will take off for other, burning stars? 
What will their journey be like? What planets will they 
encounter and what will they find on them? There are in- 
finite numbers of planets suitable for habitation like the 

“But that is all far away and hypothetical,” one of the 
learned listeners remarked. ‘‘We would prefer to hear 
about what can be done in the immediate future.” 

“When we have rested, digested our vast accumulation 
of impressions and gathered strength,” Laplace replied, 
“we shall dispatch a new expedition.” 

“Then,” Newton added, “we'll head for the region of 
known asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, 
where we should find much of interest. En route we shall 
circle Mars several times, and maybe visit it. It will be a 
simple matter to visit its two small satellites—as easy as 


gaining access to the asteroids, since the gravity at their 
surface is low.” 

“If we do not become overfatigued,” Ivanov said, “we 
may reach Jupiter and Saturn. It will be hardly possible 
to land on those planets, and anyone bold enough to try 
to do so will almost surely meet his death. But we can 
circle them at close range and visit their small satellites 
and the rings of Saturn.” 

“We may first undertake a trip to Venus and Mercury,” 
Newton observed. “It is difficult to foresee how much can 
be done and to what extent we shall be successful.” 

The conference ended on the following day, the guests 
departed, and the castle anchorets resumed their peaceful, 
rational existence. 


The possibility of space travel has been discussed at 
large, both in our country and abroad. 

Suppose it is possible—what will be the good of it? 
What will humanity gain from conquering outer space? 

Some think of manned spaceships travelling from planet 
to planet, of the gradual populating of the planets and of 
deriving advantages from them, as in the case of ordinary 
earthly colonies. 

Actually this process will be quite different. So far we 
cannot even dream of landing on large heavenly bodies, 
for the task presents tremendous difficulties. Even landing 
on a smaller body like our Moon is something that belongs 
to the very remote future. What we can realistically dis- 
cuss is going to some minor bodies and moons, for in- 
stance, asteroids (10 to 400 kilometres in diameter). 

The chief aim and the first achievement will be man’s 
journey into the ether, the use of solar energy and of the 
bodies dispersed in space (asteroids and still smaller par- 

I hear the reader exclaim: “What utter nonsense! Can 
human beings live in the ether without a planet, without 
support for their feet?! Only the larger planets have at- 
mospheres and can accommodate man.” 

But, first of all, landing on major planets is a difficult 
technical problem and only specialists can appreciate 
these difficulties. Secondly, we shall encounter on them 


atmospheres of unknown composition, unknown plants 
and animals, and unknown temperatures that alone will 
be sufficient to destroy us. Of course the time will come 
when the planets, too, will be visited, but so much time 
will have to pass before this happens that there is no 
point in discussing it now. 

Even if we did manage to reach all the planets now, it 
would be of comparatively little use. The value of a plan- 
et depends on the amount of solar energy it receives, and 
all the planets taken together get only ten times as much 
energy as does the Earth. This is an infinitesimal amount 
compared with the total solar energy, which is 2,200 mil- 
lion times that received by the Earth, and 200,000,000 
times the aggregate amount which goes to all the planets 
of the Solar System. And this store of energy will be at 
man’s disposal if he manages to master outer space! 
The achievement of this goal is hardly to be compared 
with the discovery of 2,000,000,000 new planets like the 

When we have obtained a clear idea about life in the 
ether, we shall well understand the meaning of the word 

It would seem that nothing could be more absurd than 
living in a void and without any support. Yet this is not 
only achievable but offers advantages which it is extreme- 
ly difficult to appraise correctly. 

We have first to consider how man breathes there, how 
he builds his dwellings, how he moves about, how he 
breeds plants, how he lives, eats, works, manipulates 
machines, marries, reproduces his kind, what is the state 
of his health, and many other questions. 

Evidently the most impossible, intolerable thing is the 
absence of air or atmosphere. But that is only partly true, 
for the atmosphere is at the same time the source of the 
greatest misfortunes of man; as yet man cannot control 
the atmosphere, its temperature, or any of its other prop- 
erties. Take the temperature, for instance. In the daytime 


life is all but impossible at the equator because of the 
intense heat. At night, it is more tolerable, but the air 
is humid and unhealthy. In northern countries the sum- 
mer is unbearably hot and the winter as unbearably cold. 
What tremendous sacrifices and labours is man involved 
in because of this struggle against air temperature, winds, 
snow-falls, torrential rains, droughts, microbes, and so on! 
Then the atmosphere deprives man of a tremendous part 
of the Sun’s energy, as one part of it is reflected by the 
clouds and the other absorbed by cloudless air. It simply 
robs us! 

At present neither human beings nor plants can do with- 
out gases. Man needs not less than half the oxygen avail- 
able at present (a density of 0.00012, the pressure being 
not less than 100 g/cm?, or 0.1 atmosphere). In addi- 
tion he needs a small amount of water vapour; nitrogen 
and other gases are not necessary, they are even injurious. 

Plants can be satisfied with negligible quantities of car- 
bon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and water vapour, consti- 
tuting their gas nutrition. The aggregate pressure of this 
gas mixture is less than 0.0] atmosphere, i.e., 10 g/cm?. 

This means that if a little carbon dioxide and nitrogen 
is added to the atmosphere needed by man, it becomes 
suitable for plants. 

For the time being we shall deal only with this kind 
of atmosphere, how to prevent it from being dispersed and 
to keep it pure. Actually every living being, every plant 
needs a special kind of atmosphere, temperature and soil, 
but we shall disregard this for a while. 

Ordinarily, a spherico-cylindrical metal vessel capable 
of withstanding inner pressure weighs ten times as much 
as a gas having the elasticity of oxygen contained within 
it. Suppose that 100 cubic metres is space enough for one 
man. One cubic metre of oxygen will weigh about 0.00012 t, 
100 cubic metres—0.012; the container will weigh 0.12 t, 
or 120 kg, i.e., its mass will be twice that of a man. 

To spend 120 kg of glass, steel, nickel and other hard 


metals on constructing a home for a human being is a 
mere trifle. There would be no harm in spending ten times 
-as much. 

How is such a dwelling constructed? It is cylindrical, 
closed at each end with- half-spherical surfaces. The more 
spacious it is within, the thicker will be its walls. To make 
the thickness of the walls a practical proposition, the 
dwelling is built for several thousands or hundreds of per- 
sons. It consists of a spherico-cylindrical surface, which 
shines both within and without. A third of the surface 
turned towards the Sun consists of latticed window panes. 
It can be likened to a curved window-frame. 

What are the best shape and dimensions? A sphere is 
not convenient because it is not particularly easy to ar- 
range for communication between spherical surfaces. Very 
long rounded (cylindrical) surfaces seem to be the best. 
Thus the dwelling will have the appearance of a tube of 
indeterminate length. 

What will be its diameter? The greater the diameter, 
the less sunlight there will be per unit of volume, that is, 
per inhabitant. A large diameter is, therefore, a disadvan- 
tage because sunlight feeds plants, and plants supply food 
for the people. Neither is a small diameter any better as 
it hampers movement, restricts space and does not allow 
thick plating. We may take a diameter of two or three 
metres but it can, of course, be much larger, depending 
on the purpose of the dwelling. Assembly halls, factories 
and other public buildings will be enormous. Their pur- 
pose will determine their size. Just now we are concerned 
with the family—where it will live and what it will eat. 
Our calculations show that the skin of a cylinder with a 
diameter of three metres will be too thin for practical pur- 
poses. But there is nothing to prevent our making it ten 
or a hundred times thicker. Its strength will increase in 
proportion and we will not economise on material. 

In addition to the advantages in regard to light, a thick- 
walled tube has others: the smaller the diameter, the 


greater the number of isolated compartments. This mini- 
mises the risk of loosing all air and perishing in space. 

Suppose the dwelling is three kilometres long and its 
diameter, three metres; it can then be divided into 300 
compartments, each ten metres in length, three in width 
and with a volume of 70 cubic metres. This will make a 
sizable room, large enough for an average family. Its lighted 
area will be 30 square metres—dquite sufficient for the 
garden that will provide the family with food. 

Why is this less risky? Suppose a compartment develops 
an air leak; the manometer will instantly show this; the 
family moves into the neighbouring compartment and the 
damaged one is isolated from the rest. It is then inspected 
inside and outside by people wearing space-suits and the 
leakage is repaired. The family then returns to its home. 
So it is clear that the more compartments there are, the 
less the danger. Special devices may be installed to in- 
dicate automatically the cracks through which air is 

The air in the compartment would become foul but for 
the plants and the soil they grow in. In this miniature 
world, the family compartment, the same cycle which 
purifies the air and the soil takes place as that on the 
Earth. We will give more details when we describe the 
growing of plants. 

Now let us examine the temperature in the dwelling. 
With the construction just described and at a distance 
from the Sun equal to that between the Sun and the Earth 
(i.e., the Earth’s orbit), a suitable temperature is possible 
only when the dwelling rotates and the windows alter- 
nately face the Sun, or are turned away from it, i.e., when 
day and night alternate. Another method is to have part 
of the windows permanently facing the dark side, with 
approximately 0.1 of the total inner area in sunlight 
(0.3 of the projection). . 

The temperature will be wholly controlled by man who 
will be able to change it from —250° to +-200°C, depend- 

22—761 337 

ing on what amount of the Sun’s light is used. He will be 
able to reproduce all climates, not of the Earth alone but 
of every planet in the Universe. 

There is one hitch, however, and it is that, for economy’s 
sake, as much solar energy as possible must be utilised 
through plants or by some other means. Yet if this is 
done the temperature will reach 200°C above zero and 
everything will be burned up. On the other hand, it would 
be a pity to lose light by turning away from it. The reme- 
dy against this is simple: to move to a more remote orbit, 
one between Mars and Jupiter but closer to the former. 
If the orbit is removed twice as far as the Earth is from 
the Sun, the amount of warmth will be just enough for 
man and plants to thrive. It will then not be necessary to 
turn away from the Sun and reject its gifts. 

We can spend some time on the Earth’s orbit but that 
will be extravagant. The sunlit area at twice the distance 
will be four times greater than at the Earth’s orbit; there 
we shall find plenty of material as it will lie beyond Mars, 
in the asteroid belt. (A method that is not extravagant 
would be to utilise the whole of the Sun’s energy without 
moving away from it.) 

Now let us see how the Sun will treat us and what con- 
ditions it will create for us in our dwelling. We still have 
an eternal day or eternal night, or an alternation of the 
two just as we please. For instance, plants may have a 
permanent day while man who, owing to the Earth’s 
rotation is accustomed to sleeping at night, may set up a 
screen and sleep in the dark. Then we shall always have 
excellent weather and any temperature we like. This will 
make clothing and footwear unnecessary. We shall be 
amply supplied with vegetable foods. There will be no 
fear of catching infection as the atmosphere will be free 
from harmful bacteria, or, should the need arise, any 
compartment can be isolated and disinfected by simply 
raising the temperature to 100°C or more. Even at a double 
distance from the Sun it will be possible to raise the 


temperature considerably, but we shall deal with this later. 
Is there any comparison between this and our unfortunate 

There is one very important circumstance, a priceless 
gift of ethereal space, the absence of gravity. Mass is there 
all right, but gravity seems to have disappeared. 

Our dwelling moves in space at a speed of several dozen 
kilometres a second, or several million versts a day, de- 
pending on the distance from the Sun (the nearer we are 
to it, the greater the velocity, and vice versa). But we are 
totally unconscious of this motion, just as we do not notice 
the movement of the Earth. We feel as though we were 
perfectly stationary. 

We experience the gravitational pull from the Sun, the 
planets, the stars and other heavenly bodies. But we do 
not feel it, as we do not feel the Sun’s attraction on the 
Earth where we are conscious only of the Earth’s gravity. 
In our dwelling we are far from the Earth; instead of the 
Earth there is the tiny mass of the tube, so small in fact 
that it has no perceptible force of attraction for us. 

The attraction of the Sun and other heavenly bodies 
makes us fall towards them, and therefore, describe a 
curved line like that described by the Earth. But our 
dwelling and we ourselves are falling in the same way, 
so we do not notice it, just as on the Earth we do not 
notice that we are falling towards the Sun. 

Gravity seems to be absent as motion is evidently ab- 
sent. If we have not produced them ourselves, then there 
is neither gravity nor motion. What are the consequences? 
The bodies do not exert pressure on one another and do 
not fall. A building, even if it is several kilometres high, 
cannot fall to pieces or fall down. So in construction one 
has not to overcome gravity. Parts of a building will exert 
perceptible pressure on one another (owing to reciprocal 
attraction) only if it is on the planet scale of several hun- 
dreds of kilometres high. Where there is insufficient resist- 
ance of the material, the parts press close together and 

22° 339 

become destroyed. But evén a destroyed building cannot 
fall anywhere, just as the Moon does not fall on the Earth 
and the two together do not fall on the Sun. Bodies can 
remain suspended without any support and without touch- 
ing one another. Their direction relative to rest is quite 
arbitrary. For instance, we in our dwelling can hang in 
mid-air (without a rope or other support), our heads turned 
towards the Sun, or away from it, or in any direction we 

There are no weights, there are only masses. We can 
hold any mass in our hands and feel no weight. No matter 
where we put the mass—on our head, on our back or 
under our feet—we do not feel it. 

It is clear then that we can dispense not only with 
clothing and footwear but also with furniture. What need 
have we of chairs, armchairs, beds, mattresses, pillows 
and so on, if there is no need to lean against anything, if 
nothing presses against anyone, if every place is “soft” 
in a way that the finest of feather beds cannot be soft. 

Why pack tender fruits, glassware and other fragile 
objects in straw, sawdust, cotton-wool or rags, if there 
is no reciprocal pressure? Is not all this the great advan- 
tage of life in space! 

There is no above or below. Until one gets accustomed 
to this, what is over one’s head is above and what is under- 
foot is below. So above and below are interchangeable 
at will. Fancy finding yourself without a support and a 
yawning chasm under your feet! Gradually, however, the 
illusion of above and the fear disappears. But in the early 
days a dwelling with walls and a floor and even physical 
contact with them are essential to soothe the nerves. 

Now let us consider motion. We shall not discuss ab- 
solute motion, which actually is non-existent, but of mo- 
tion in relation to the Earth, the Sun or some other body; 
nothing is known of absolute motion. We shall also leave 
aside our planetary movement (our dwelling is racing 
through space like a planet), i.e., its movement in relation 


to the Sun. We do not notice it so for the time being we 
shall not talk about it. We have in mind only the move- 
ment we ourselves produce by means of our muscles, 
machinery, or in some other way. 

We shall consider that the aggregate dwelling of great 
length and breadth, huge in volume, is stationary, just as 
in speaking of man’s movements on the Earth we presume 
the Earth to be in a state of rest. 

Let us imagine that we are in a spacious hall, experi- 
menting with movement. In the centre of the room there 
is a big stone, a table, a chest of drawers or some other 
object the parts of which are not in a state of interaction 
or motion, as with a working machine or an animal; that 
is, we have in mind a single solid inorganic body. 

It will cost us much effort to place the object (a table) 
so that it is immobile. Once this is done, what next? It will 
remain stationary for ever, which is to say, it will not 
rotate or change its place in relation to the walls of the 
dwelling. It will remain for all eternity in the position in 
which we have placed it. 

The same could be done with a human being—he can 
be fixed in one place and asked not to move his limbs. In 
such a case, he will not move closer to or farther from 
the walls. 

Then we give him freedom of action and ask him to 
move his arms and legs, come towards us—and what do 
we find! He will writhe about, move his arms and legs 
but still remain on the spot (if he is in empty space). He 
waves his legs and arms about freely, squirms like a 
squashed worm, moves his head to right and left, tries to 
sit down, to stand up, stretches his limbs in every direc- 
tion, but his centre of gravity seems nailed to the spot. 
He remains where he was and has not advanced by as 
much as a centimetre. 

We ask our friend to spin around as children like to 
do; with the best will in the world he is unable to per- 
form this act. When tired out he is quiet again, his face is 


turned in the same direction as it was when first we put 
him in position. The position of his body has not changed 

If this is the state of affairs, how is one to move 
about, to change one’s position and move in different 
directions? Nothing could be easier. It is possible to move 
about in every direction, both in a gaseous medium and in 
a void. In a geseous medium the palms of the hands are 
used like wings; we would soon learn to push the air with 
them and turn around or move in any desired direction. 
But hands are poor wings, because their surface is too 
small. With the help of light plates, about a metre square, 
it is possible to turn round and move at a great speed. 
The wings can be even smaller—there will be no gravity 
to overcome, for inertia and friction will be the only 
factors to contend with. This will require the minimum 
effort for ordinary speed, that of a pedestrian. 

There are other methods that can be used both in an 
atmosphere and in a void, but which are indispensable in 
a void, for there no other means are available that can be 
of any use. In the air medium of our dwelling the wings 
will be quite sufficient. But we shall continue our experi- 
ments in the big hall, ignoring the resistance of the 
medium which is not great at ordinary primitive speeds of 

We have seen that man could not set himself in mo- 
tion, i.e., impart to himself either translational or 
rotatory motion, or even to turn his body in a different 
direction. All he achieved was a haphazard movement of 
the limbs. In the long run he found himself in his original 

But let us imagine he is wearing clothes. He takes off 
his hat or coat (he can do this) and throws them aside; 
the objects fly away, but he also slowly moves off in the 
opposite direction until he hits against a wall. But for 
this obstacle he would have moved on eternally, smoothly 
and in a straight line. 7 


The greater the mass of the thrown object and the 
greater the force with which it is thrown, the faster the 
man moves from place to place. If two men of an equal 
mass were to repulse each other with equal force, they 
would move apart in opposite directions with equal speed. 
If one man were repulsed from two men or from double 
his own mass he would move at twice the speed of the 
other two. 

The difficult thing here is to avoid rotating: the move- 
ment of the masses repulsed from one another is accom- 
panied by rotation. Their movement, in general, is like 
the movement of a cart wheel, a spinning-top or a planet. 
Theoretically, however, repulsion without rotation, that 
is, pure translational movement, is also possible. 

Let us consider rotation as such. We shall again turn 
to our dressed man. Ask him to take off his hat or boots 
and spin them like a top. The hat or the boot spins round 
but the man, too, begins slowly spinning. He spins round 
like the hat, only in the opposite direction. The greater 
the mass of the object he has spun and the greater the 
speed with which it spins, the faster the man rotates. If 
two men of similar shape and mass were to set one 
another spinning their angular rotatory velocity would be 
the same. But if one were spinning round his vertical axis 
and the other round his horizontal axis, the latter would 
spin more slowly, as the moment round the horizontal 
axis is greater. 

In air, of course, rotation will stop sooner or later 
owing to friction. But in a void it would be eternal and 
uniform, like the movement of the planets. And the two 
men would go on spinning in space like two dolls, and 
all their will-power would be unable to destroy this mo- 
tion or the translational movement. But if they come into 
contact with each other again then the rotatory move- 
ment of both will stop, they will cease to spin. 

Let us imagine a group of people without a support, 
perfectly motionless and not rotating. Their common centre 


of gravity is stable. ‘he moment of circular movement is 
zero for all time. But each one of them can make grimaces 
and strike different attitudes. The movement of their 
muscles is as free as on the Earth. By pushing away from 
one another, any of them can obtain all forms of rotatory 
or translational movement. If one of the group is given 
rotatory and translational movement and he cannot catch 
hold of the group (or is not roped to it) then he will never 
lose either form of movement. He will become a spinning- 
top for all time, and will be separated from his friends 
for ever. He will move eternally, uniformly and in a 
straight line. He will cover thousands, hundreds of thou- 
sands of kilometres and will never stop. The members of 
the group may wander in space at will but their centre of 
gravity will remain in one spot. 

In order to stop the movement translational or circular 
motion (in reverse direction) has to be imparted to some 
other body within reach; if this opposite movement is 
insufficiently strong, the movement of the main body will 
merely slow down; if it is sufficient, the main body will 
stop; and if excessive, its direction will change. 

So it is clear now, how movement in air is started and 
stopped. Inside the dwelling it is possible to push off from 
the walls, from different objects and from the air with 
the help of small wings which, of course, have no weight. 
In a void the task is more difficult and dangerous. Here 
some kind of support, not necessarily connected with the 
dwelling, is essential. A rocket, compressed gas or vapour, 
or any solid or liquid body can be used. 

It is possible to dispense with a movable support and 
the throwing of objects (which leave us never to return), if 
attached to the dwelling by a rope or a cable. We can then 
push ourselves from it in the desired direction and fly 
away until the rope pulls us up short. Then, in order to re- 
turn, we pull ourselves back by the rope to the dwelling. 

Thus, movement in ethereal space, in a medium without 
gravity, can be of three main kinds, Uniform and- even 


without rotation, circular with a stationary centre of grav- 
ity and axis of rotation, and the mixed kind, i.e., a com- 
bination of the rotatory motion and perpetual transla- 
tional movement along a straight line. 

There is circular movement of a more complex type, 
with the addition of vacillation of the axis of rotation. 
This type, however, is unstable, that is, not eternal, and 
tends to be gradually transformed into simple rotation 
round a free axis. 

We have left out of consideration the complex bodies 
whose parts are movable, and also living bodies. Both 
can eject visible and invisible particles. And so, the laws 
of motion already indicated would seem to become 
violated. For every animal regularly excretes various 
substances, such as vapours and gases, and can there- 
fore be likened to a jet device. In our dwelling, a man 
who is at first quite motionless will acquire a little rota- 
tory and translational movement, due to the effect of 
ejected gases and vapours, of the irregular blood circula- 
tion, the heartbeat and the movement of other organs. But 
this will only be so after a considerable period of time. 

Where there is no ejection, then all bodies, no matter 
how complex, whether animate and inanimate, are subject 
to the following three rules: 

A. If the centre of gravity of a complex body is in a 
state of rest, this state of rest cannot be disturbed by 
the body’s internal forces. 

B. If the centre of gravity is in motion, the body’s 
internal forces cannot change either the magnitude or the 
direction of the motion, i.e., the motion will be perpetual, 
uniform and along a Straight line. 

C. There is a third, extremely important law pertaining 
to the rotation of a complex body, the relative positions 
and motion of whose parts constantly change: the rotatory 
moment of inertia of such a body continues invariable for 
all time (concerning moments of every kind, refer to a 
textbook on mechanics). . 


This law is applicable to contracting suns, nebulae 
planets and solar systems. Its application is truly universal. 
For instance, if a group of people hold hands and move 
round in a circle and draw closer together as they 
move, the velocity of their motion will increase as they 
come closer together and the group becomes more 
compact, and vice versa. Given this condition, both 
angular and absolute velocities will increase. 

But what are the sensations of a man rotating in a circle 
or moving without rotation? Let us go back and observe 
him or ourselves inside the dwelling. Being unaccustomed, 
we are not conscious of translational movement and it 
seems to us that not we but the walls around us are in 
motion. Neither are we conscious of our own rotatory 
motion—again it seems that the room is rotating. To us 
it appears as though somebody is revolving it. We Earth 
dwellers go round with the Earth, move forward with it 
and have many other motions in common with the planet. 
And we feel that these are not our own motions but the 
movement of the heavenly bodies surrounding us. What 
we are conscious of are the movements which we our- 
selves produce. Most of the Earth’s motions do not exist 
as far as our senses are concerned. 

But in the ether we produce our own, even the slightest, 
movements. Why then do they seem to lie outside us? 
The reason is the smoothness of this kind of motion, the 
fact that it is imperceptible because there are no jolts, 
vibrations or other effects accompanying the terrestrial 
non-ideal rotation and motion. 

Nevertheless, in time these illusions should disappear 
at any rate in the dwelling. On a boat it seems to us, at 
first, that the river banks are moving; gradually, however, 
we become conscious of the motion of the boat, no matter 
how slow and smooth. It will probably be like this in the 

So far we have been talking about rest and motion in- 
side the dwelling. What about our sensations outside in 


the immense Universe, under the bright and scorching 
rays of the Sun? 

We can see quite a lot through the windows of our 
dwelling. The sky is black. The patterns of the constellations 
are just as we see them from the Earth, only there is less of 
the red tint in the stars and a greater variety of colour. 
They do not twinkle or shimmer, and if the eyesight is 
good, they look like lifeless dots without any rays. The 
Sun is somewhat bluish, the Earth is like a star—like 
Venus—and the Moon is hardly discernible. The pattern 
of the constellations does not depend on our position 
in the Universe but is always the same seen from Jupiter 
or Mercury; but the Sun preserves its visible size only 
along the orbit of the Earth. 

As there is no atmosphere the stars, nebulae, comets, 
planets and their satellites are seen extremely clearly. 
Bodies visible from the Earth only through a telescope 
can be seen here with the naked eye. But things that can 
never be seen from the Earth with a telescope become 

We can leave our dwelling in space-suits with an 
oxygen supply and an apparatus to absorb human excre- 

We have chosen the shady side. The Sun is not visible. 
The picture before us seems very strange. We feel we are 
the centre of a small black sphere spangled with varicol- 
oured dots, stars and nebulous spots. Across the entire 
sphere there stretches the broad hazy band of the Milky 
Way branching off in some places. Whenever we try to 
avoid the Sun we find ourselves in the midst of night. If. 
we move away from the dwelling but do not leave its 
shadow, we can see almost the whole of the celestial 
sphere at once. 

We would be killed by the Sun’s ultra-violet rays, but 
the glass of our space-suits and the dwelling protect us 
from them. On the Earth we are protected by our atmos- 
phere. : 


Out of the shade we can see the Sun. It seems to have 
grown smaller compared with what we see on Earth; it 
has dwindled just as the celestial sphere has, but this is 
a subjective impression for, actually, it is as large as 

It is hard to imagine the feelings of a human being in 
the midst of the Universe, in the centre of this woebegone 
black sphere adorned with bright coloured spots and 
smeared over with a silvery mist. He has nothing under- 
foot, nothing overhead. Perhaps he imagines that any 
minute he will fall to the bottom of this sphere, to where 
his feet are. 

After pushing off from the dwelling he will move along 
a straight line and to all intents and purposes should find 
himself leaving the dwelling never to return. But this is 
not quite so. The Sun’s gravitation will make him revolve 
round it regardless of the direction in which he moves. 
So the line will be not straight, but curved. One degree 
of the circumference (at the distance from the Earth) is 
equal to more than two and a half million kilometres, and 
the man’s path may be regarded as straight for hundreds 
of thousands of kilometres. If the man covers a metre a 
second (walking pace) his path for several years will be 
as straight as an arrow. It will take him 30,000 years to 
complete the orbit but he will pass so far from his dwell- 
ing that he will not notice it. 

But if by that time humanity has spread all over the 
vast celestial sphere and has constructed dwellings and 
other buildings in outer space, the individual who has 
left his own dwelling will not be helpless for he will meet 
people and their buildings all along his path; he will re- 
ceive information and directions and find his way back to 
wherever he wants to return. 

How enormous is this field of the Solar System, this 
sphere which mankind can occupy! At a distance from the 
Sun exceeding twice that of the Earth its surface is 
8,800,000,000 (almost 9,000,000,000) times greater than 


the surface of the largest section of the Earth (its projec- 
tion) or 2,200,000,000 times more than the entire surface 
of the Earth. This sphere receives equally as many times 
more solar energy compared with the Earth. 

The Earth does not receive all of the solar energy sent 
to it, because more than a half is reflected by the clouds, 
part is absorbed by the atmosphere, another part falls on 
oceans, deserts, mountains and snow-fields where it is of 
little use, and slightly more than 10 per cent reaches the 
Earth’s surface. Thus the value of the sphere, of its 
eternal day, of the virginal rays of the Sun, is ten times 
greater and is expressed in the additional amount of solar 
energy of 22,000 millions compared with that of the Earth. 

Even this figure cannot define the spaciousness of this 
sparkling sphere: it is many hundreds of millions of times 
greater than the Earth. The most important thing, how- 
ever, is not its size but the amount of available solar 

Motion and its laws outside the dwellings and inside 
them are the same, but the sensations of human beings are 
quite wonderful. 

One is not conscious of translational movement which 
is ascribed to the surrounding, artificial, man-made bodies. 
It has absolutely no influence on the position of the stars 
and planets. So if no people with their buildings are vis- 
ible, everything seems to be stationary. 

But strictly parallel translational movement is difficult 
to obtain. It would be imperceptible, if it were not ac- 
companied by rotatory motion. If the latter is slight the 
human being does not ascribe it to himself, but believes 
the black celestial firmament is rotating—the axis on which 
our body revolves becomes the axis of the Universe. Thus, 
if we revolve round our vertical axis we shall have one 
pole overhead (with a “polar” star) and the other under- 
foot. All the other stars will describe circles simultaneous- 
ly with the man, so that if the man completes his circle 
in ten minutes the astral sphere will complete its circle 


in the same time. Rapid rotation may cause dizziness, 
illness and even death. It will therefore manifest itself to 
man by its consequences. 

Then the illusion of above and below will be difficult to 
discard. We shall continue to regard what is over our heads 
as being above, although the head may be constantly de- 
scending and ascending if the body is rotating round its 
horizontal axis. It will appear to us that the stars are 
falling and rising all the time. We do not believe in the 
descent of the head; it is, as it were, immobile and what is 
over the head is above. 

The void and absence of support under the feet also 
frightens us. There is the constant fear of falling down 
into the void; it is a perpetual surprise to have no floor 
or ground underfoot. 

We are not concerned here with the beginnings of life 
in the cosmos. It starts on the Earth. The first dwellings, 
tools, machines, plant nurseries, workmen, etc., all come 
from our Earth. We can only here describe the gradual tran- 
sition of the emigrants from our planet to a life in outer 
space independent of the Earth; the development of their 
industry and the population of the celestial sphere. At 
first the colonial population consumes the supplies that are 
brought from the Earth and only step by step do they be- 
come independent, prosperous and spread all over the 

We are supposing that the initial stage is over. We 
now have to describe what life is like there. What prepa- 
rations were made for it on the Earth and how everything 
was brought to the ether do not concern us. 

Perhaps the absence of gravity will prove injurious to 
human health? Gravity makes the blood flow to the legs 
and feet, while if there is no gravity the blood will flow 
to the brain. So a human being with weak blood-vessel 
walls (inclined to apoplexy) risks dying if he is immersed in 
water, or assumes the recumbent position or, especially, if 
he stands on his head. 


In water or when lying down the blood pressure becomes 
almost uniform just as it does in the absence of gravity. 
So the absence of gravity is as harmful, or as beneficial, as 
lying down. The sick and the weak will benefit from it, it 
is even essential for them. A medium where there is no grav- 
ity is little short of paradise for the sick, the doctors and 
people who have no legs: indeed, there are no bedsores, 
one has access to all parts of the body and all movements 
are effortless. A healthy person soon finds lying down in- 
tolerable, but this is chiefly due to the physical inactivity 
of lying down. If he could exercise his muscles while lying 
in bed, the tediousness would disappear. Jt is boring to 
lie on one’s back: there are no new impressions. But in a 
medium without gravity the work of the muscles depends 
entirely on us. 

Gravity enables us to swallow our food and to excrete. 
But these functions of the organism can be performed 
in the horizontal position as well. So gravity is not abso- 
lutely necessary after all. Acrobats can drink and eat even 
Standing on their heads—and there is no deception 
about it. 

The upright position we maintain on the Earth is re- 
sponsible for certain diseases, so too much of it is even 

In the ether dwellings, baskets, shelves, stands, racks, 
etc., to hold plates and dishes, various household objects 
and other things will be unnecessary. But in the absence 
of gravity the slightest effort, even the inevitable move- 
ment of the air, will be sufficient to start them all wan- 
dering about the rooms like animated things, or like specks 
of dust in the air. And this is intolerable and dangerous: 
while breathing a man may get a pea, a nail or a pin in 
the throat which may prove fatal. But all kinds of small 
objects can be kept in light packets, boxes and sacks. For 
bigger objects there will be nets to hold them. The least 
force will suffice to hold them in place. Objects may be 
also kept tied on short strings. 


And what about the soil for the plants? With the slightest 
jolt, friction, movement, air current, especially if it is dry, 
it will be dislodged and carried away into the air in the 
shape of floating specks of clay, grains of sand, lime, etc. 
This, also, cannot be tolerated. On the Earth strong winds 
carry away not only dust, which is always present, but 
largish grains of sand and even small stones, leaves, insects, 
and so on. But where there is no gravity, this will occur 
more frequently and will be much more serious. Of course, 
before it can be breathed in, air must be sieved through 
nettings, fabrics and various liquids. 

All that, however, will not be enough: artificial grav- 
ity will have to be created by some means or other. There 
is no need for it to be as great as on the Earth and so bur- 
den people with the effort of combating it. Gravity equal 
to one-hundredth or one-thousandth of what we have on 
the Earth will be quite enough. Let us deal with the smaller 
figure. What makes it insufficient? The effect of it will 
be to make all large objects fall to the artificially created 
region below, i.e., to the floor, for with gravity there will 
appear a floor, a ceiling and slopes. The falling-down will 
proceed slowly: in a second a body will fall half a centi- 
metre, in 10 seconds—half a metre and in a minute—18 
metres. We see that a minute will be enough to clear the 
largest room of its wandering bodies, both large and 

A weak gravity will be especially important for buildings 
where plants will be grown, in order to keep the soil in 
place. Dust, sand and even larger bodies roaming about 
present no danger to plants, but they are nevertheless 
harmful as they obscure the sunlight. Besides, how can 
plants live if the soil is dispersed into the air? 

In the ethereal medium it is very simple indeed to ob- 
tain constant artificial gravity. However if the gravity is 
considerable, the dwellings and premises for plants should 
be made a little more durable, a little bulkier than in its 


Gravity appears due to the rotation of a body; in emp- 
ty space a body rotates forever. So gravity will be con- 
stant and uniform and will require no effort. The higher 
the velocity of the particles describing a circle and the 
smaller the radius, the greater the centrifugal gravity, and 
vice versa. 

Now imagine a long conical surface, a kind of funnel 
with the base or wide orifice, closed by a transparent 
spherical surface. It is turned towards the Sun and the 
funnel rotates round its longitudinal axis while a layer of 
moist soil is distributed on the cone’s non-transparent 
inner walls, where plants are grown. 

This is how solar energy can be utilised without ex- 
treme rise of temperature even at a distance as long as 
from the Earth to the Sun. The longer the cone and the larger 
its area (with permanent transparent base), the lower the 
temperature within the cone. At the Earth’s distance, this 
area should be about four times that of the glazed surface. 
To get this, the generatrix (a little larger than the longi- 
tudinal axis) should be twice the diameter of the base. 
Closer to the Sun the cone should be longer, and farther 
from it, shorter. Even in close proximity to the Sun the 
temperature of the gases in the cone can be made to suit 
the plants. For instance, at a distance one-tenth of that 
between the Earth and the Sun the cone should be 100 
times longer—its base diameter being 1/200th of the height. 

The trouble with cones is that passages between them 
are more difficult to construct than between the cylindri- 
cal human dwellings we have already described. 

It would be advisable to construct buildings for plants 
separately from human dwellings, because they do not need 
a dense atmosphere and strong walls. This means a saving 
in building materials while a special, somewhat rarefied, 
atmosphere makes for excellent yields. Should some of the 
plants chance to die because of gas escapes, this would 
‘not be very important. True, there is the difficulty about 
getting human excretions to the hothouses, and the prod- 

23—761 853 

ucts of plant life (gases, fruit, etc.) to the human dwell- 

In the cones sun-rays fall on the plants obliquely, so 
their effect is weakened. Inside the cones there is eternal 
day and also eternal spring with a fixed temperature best 
suited to the plant growth. The rotation of the cone which 
gives rise to gravity keeps the moist soil and vegetable 
residue in place. Ripe fruit will fall down to the soil and 
not float about in space inside the cone. 

In human dwellings and in other buildings some sort 
of gravity could also be of use. A gravity equal to one- 
hundredth of the Earth’s will in no way hamper movement 
and different working processes. Let us suppose we have a 
spherical building two kilometres in diameter. The sphere 
rotates slowly with the velocity at the equator of about 
16 m a Second. The sphere completes its revolution in 600 
seconds, or 10 minutes. The greatest gravity at the equator 
amounts to one-hundredth of that of the Earth. A leap from 
the inner circumference to the centre lifts a man 100 m, 
SO gravity is imperceptible and movements are not ham- 

The phenomena of motion in such a sphere are compli- 
cated and we shall not describe them here. 

The types of human dwellings and buildings for plants 
can be infinitely varied and for the time being we shall 
leave this aside, too. 

We shall explain what is very important: the way in 
which a definite temperature, moisture and air composition, 
and good food for the plants and human beins are ob- 
tained in the combined dwelling. 

The slow rotation gives rise to gravity, gets rid of rub- 
bish and ensures order in the dwelling. The glass in the 
windows is thin (quartz or some other material), highly 
transparent, letting through, as far as possible, every kind 
of rays. The rays are tempered down by the glass and the 
thickly growing plants so they cannot harm humans. The 
plants chosen are fruit-bearing, with plenty of foliage, 


dwarfish, without thick stems or any parts which do not 
need suadight. The more they make use of the sunlight, the 
more they produce fruits, turning to the best account solar 
energy and heat. The heat is returned, since the human be- 
ings eat the fruit and release into their dwellings the heat 
assimilated by the plants. When fruit is stored the heat 
is for a time withheld from circulation. 

There should be as many plants as will produce (through 
their leaves, roots and fruit) the quantity of oxygen con- 
sumed by the people living in the dwellings. If consump- 
tion exceeds production the people suffer from lack of 
oxygen while the plants grow better thanks to the surplus 
carbon dioxide; if more oxygen is produced than the people 
need their breathing becomes easier but the plants do not 
receive enough carbon dioxide and grow weaker. With a 
happy choice of plants the equilibrium is maintained auto- 
matically. Another important factor is the number of peo- 
ple in the dwelling: this must be in conformity with the 
number and properties of the plants. 

What about the water which both plants and human 
beings greatly need? The quantity of water will remain con- 
stant, neither increasing nor decreasing. But how will this 
be brought about? Plants, animals and soil transpire water 
all the time inside the closed building and the vapours 
cannot escape from it, so they will be condensed in a re- 
frigerator and accumulated as water. There will be rooms 
on the shady side of the dwelling with various low temper- 
atures. Any room can be turned away from the Sun and 
isolated from the internal heating arrangements (just like 
household cold-storage cellars), and the low temperature 
desired is easily obtained. More or less moist air is passed 
to these rooms and leaves as much vapour there as is re- 
quired, this depends on the speed of circulation and on the 
temperature. Both can be controlled. 

THe water from the refrigerator is used for drinking, 
bathing, watering the plants and moistening the soil. Air, 
too, constantly circulates with the water between the plants 

23" 356 

and the refrigerator, and back. It is passed into the soil 
by special tubes and, having passed through the roots and 
bacteria, is released into the atmosphere purified and fit 
to be inhaled. 

Human excretions are diluted with water and also go to 
the soil where bacteria quickly make them suitable for 
plant consumption. 

In these dwellings no regular supplies of water and food 
for plants and animals will be needed. The established quan- 
tity of gases, water, soil and fertilisers will serve all pur- 
poses and never become exhausted. 

The same thing takes place on the Earth, only on a 
larger scale. But there, the fertilisers are carried into the 
oceans and it takes time for them to be brought back. In 
the space dwellings, however, no sooner are they used up 
or stored in the fruit than the people and animals return 
them and there is no loss at all. The time will come when 
on the Earth, too, it will be found to be advantageous to 
isolate plants with their supply of food and water. It will 
be done first of all in the deserts where there is a dearth 
of food and water. j 

So within the space dwelling the atmosphere is pure, 
the air is as moist as desired, even the composition of the 
atmosphere can be controlled. There is an inexhaustible 
supply of distilled water, oxygen, warmth and food. There 
will be no need for clothing. 

There is no gravity, feet do not swell, branches are 
not bowed down by the weight of the fruit. In the plant 
sap circulates freely, since there is no gravity to overcome. 

Although a little gravity has been created artificially it 
is so insignificant we can ignore it; the human beings liv- 
ing there may be considered as inhabiting gravity-free 

The temperature in the dwelling can be regulated at 
will—so where is the need for clothing? <<... > Of course 
one is at liberty to cover oneself: some people’s bodies 
are unsightly, deformed or old and ugly. If the community 


does not object, anyone may wear any kind of clothing or 

But a suitable temperature can be given at a moment’s 
notice to a chilly aged person, to invalids or premature- 
born babies. The wishes and nature of the inhabitants have, 
of course, to be considered: some people from the tropics, 
the old and infirm, the invalids may want a temperature of 
30°C; others—25°C and some even 20°C. Any temperature 
can be obtained in any building and different temperatures 
can be established in one and the same dwelling. When 
the people go to bed, they want higher temperatures, for 
there are no mattresses, pillows, blankets or pyjamas. When 
many people are assembled in one room with the tempera- 
ture being 30°C, for some it will be too hot, even without 
clothing, for others about right; but if the temperature is 
fixed at 25°C the feebler people will be cold. In this case, 
those who are cold will have to wear some clothing. 

Temperature control and direct sunlight will be used for 
a great variety of purposes: for instance, disinfecting the 
soil, the atmosphere, the walls and other household ar- 
ticles. For this, the plants and people will be evacuated 
and the temperature raised to 100-200°C. All living organ- 
isms will, naturally, be destroyed; that is why agriculture 
there becomes easy, for there will be no pests and only 
pure crops from the desired plants will be grown. 

Plant selection, suitable temperature, atmosphere and 
nutrition will lead to marvellous harvests of excellent fruits. 
This will require no effort as there will be no weeds, pests, 
droughts or excessive rainfall. 

Such chemical processes as fermentation involved in the 
production of alcohol, vinegar and other substances require 
a definite temperature. This is easily provided. The fac- 
tories can produce any temperature not exceeding 200°C, 
in buildings not unlike the dwellings. To get a temperature 
above 200°C, special apparatuses are used, where heating 
is also produced by the Sun alone. 

Water and various fruits, completely free of every kind 


of infection satisfy hunger and slake the thirst. There are 
no chills, no infectious diseases. Bathed in sunlight, the 
human body is gradually freed from noxious bacteria. As 
time goes on, humanity will become liberated more and 
more from all the harmful influences with which mankind 
is born at present. 

Once man has a dwelling with the desired temperature, 
a virginal sun, day and night whenever he chooses, plenty 
of water (a store that remains constant) and food, no need 
of clothing, and can move in any direction without an ef- 
fort, what more can he want? 

First, the human being reproduces his kind, became 
this is an advantage (with a larger population the social 
system is more perfect, there are more geniuses who can 
become leaders). But this means that more dwellings will 
be needed and material from which to build them. Secondly, 
man is constantly studying matter and the Universe, so he 
must have the same appafatuses and instruments that are 
in use on the Earth. Man perfects plants and himself, and 
for this he will always be requiring new apparatuses. But 
to manufacture them a great number of factories and work- 
shops, pursuing the same aims as on the Earth, will be nec- 
essary. Household articles will be different, but that is 
inevitable, and books, too! 

In the beginning the materials will come from the Earth. 
But transporting them from the Earth involves a tremen- 
dous effort; it is much simpler to bring them from the 
Moon or some smaller planets. It would be still easier to 
utilise asteroids with diameters of a few kilometres, and 
even smaller heavenly bodies of which there are countless 
numbers in interplanetary space, particularly between the 
orbits of Mars and Jupiter. 

Minor planets have no atmospheres or liquids, but they 
have any amount of hydrate and constitutional water, 
gases, metalloids and metals of all and every type. The 
only thing to be done is to decompose the minerals that 
are in a dry state. 


For this mechanical forces will be required; where are 
these to come from? The amount of mechanical force in 
the ether is 2,000 million times more than on the Earth. 
It comes from solar radiation and can be utilised either 
through the agency of plants or directly. The Sun will help 
man to obtain wood, charcoal, starch, sugar and an immense 
variety of other substances derived from plants on the 
Earth, all of which are sources of power, like coal, water- 
falls and wind on our planet. Methods of employing the 
energy from these sources in the dwellings where there is 
oxygen will be similar to those used on the Earth. But it is 
inconvenient for the air will soon be polluted. 

So perhaps it will be better directly to use solar heat 
instead of the heat of burning. We cannot do it con- 
veniently on the Earth for various reasons: the bodies 
heated by the Sun are cooled by the air and wind; the Sun 
shines only in the daytime and even then is often hidden 
by the clouds; half of the heat coming from the Sun is ab- 
sorbed by the atmosphere; the intensity of the rays changes 
with the changing angle at which they fall; there is no 
natural refrigerator with a sufficiently low temperature; 
the mirrors collecting heat quickly lose their lustre under 
the effect of air and moisture, then they are heavy, fragile, 
expensive and not big enough, All this makes the use of 
solar thermal units impracticable in the conditions obtain- 
ing on the Earth. 

The situation is quite different in ethereal space free 
from gravity. No mirrors are needed in order to get 200°C 
above zero in one spot and 270°C below, in another, only 
a metre distant. This makes it possible to use highly ef- 
ficient steam engines working on the steams from water, 
ether, alcohol and other liquids. 

Obviously the engines are mentioned here by way of 
example and actually they may be of an entirely different 
type. Here is the description of an elementary steam en- 
gine. We have two vessels of the same size and shape, ther- 
mally isolated from one another. One vessel is turned to- 


wards the Sun and the other is placed behind it, in the 
shade. The front of the first vessel is black, that is, it 
absorbs the sun-rays well. The dark surface and the liquid 
in the vessel become heated by the Sun; the temperature 
does not exceed 200°C. Before passing to the rear vessel— 
the refrigerator—the vapours of the liquids pass through 
an ordinary steam engine or turbine. With the proper choice 
of liquid and type of engine, the efficiency can easily reach 
50 per cent. Such a machine will yield over one hp per 
metre of dark surface facing the Sun. 

When almost all of the liquid has passed from the first 
vessel (boiler) into the second (the refrigerator), the lat- 
ter is turned towards the Sun and the former placed in the 
shade. The roles of the two identical main parts of the 
installation change automatically approximately every hour, 
depending on the capacity of the vessels. These, of course, 
are made up of tubes like a woven fabric; there will be 
no loss of the liquid because the whole system will be se- 
curely sealed against escape of steam. 

We cannot tell as yet, what types of motor will be in 
use; there will probably arise many types and systems 
which cannot be foreseen at present. 

The vessels may be of any size as there will be no grav- 
ity to limit it. So they can generate any amount of power. 

This is what industry will be like. 

A. The elementary components such as gases, liquids, 
metalloids and metals, will be extracted from minerals. 

B. The elements are used to produce the essential, or 
useful, compounds—gases, perfumes, dyes, drugs, food- 
stuffs, acids, alkalis, salts, fertilisers, alloys and the like 
(sometimes both the elements and the necessary compounds 
are found in nature). 

C. The alloys, various building materials and solid sub- 
stances in general are processed and made into tools, 
lathes, machines, utensils, scientific instruments, paper, 
fabrics, clothing, space-suits, dwellings, factories and 
SO on. 


To effect the above (A, B, C), we on the Earth use the 
method of raising or lowering temperatures and pressure, 
electricity, catalysers (substances used in minute doses to 
accelerate chemical processes), and mechanical forces. 

The required tools are already in use on the Earth and 
will be delivered into space. 

At first man, like animals, had no tools, then very simple 
ones were made; with their help man made better ones, 
and so on and on, until he learned to make the modern 
machines that fill us with profound amazement and admira- 
tion. Progress in this sphere will never come to an end, 
and in the ether tool-making will develop along perfectly 
new lines, in keeping with the new conditions. 

We know how high temperatures are obtained on the 
Earth, but in the ether these methods will be needed only 
in exceptional cases. Here a rise in temperature from 273°C 
below zero to the temperature of the Sun can at any mo- 
ment be achieved by exposure to the Sun, a simple and eco- 
nomical procedure. 

For obtaining low temperatures glittering screens will be 
used as protection from the Sun’s rays, and dark surface 
will irradiate heat into space. In this way temperatures 
down to 273°C below zero may be obtained. 

This is what the most economical method of heating will 
be like: a chamber of the desired size and shape is com- 
pletely enclosed within several walls that reflect sun-rays 
well. In this way heat is preserved within the chamber due 
to internal reflection, and the temperature remains at almost 
the same level, no matter how high it may have been orig- 
inally. It is all like a vacuum flask, but more perfected 
thanks to the several walls and the absence of a material 
environment such as air. 

The heat of the Sun enters the chamber through a small 
opening; a parabolic mirror behind the chamber (larger than 
the chamber itself) focuses the sun-rays in a small beam 
the size of the opening. Once inside, the rays radiate and 
heat the space inside the chamber to the temperature of 


the Sun, no matter how small the mirror. But this is in 
ideal conditions with the full preservation of the heat, the 
opening no larger than a dot, and perfect mirrors. In prac- 
tice none of these conditions can be ensured, and so the 
temperature will approach that of the Sun only if the mirror 
is many times larger than the chamber. Then its walls inev- 
itably become heated a little and this impairs their reflect- 
ing power, and prevents the chamber being heated to the 
temperature of the Sun (5000° to 10000°C). 

The Sun is reflected in the focus of the parabolic mir- 
ror; the smaller the mirror, the smaller the opening in 
the chamber, the higher the temperature within. On the 
other hand, the influx of heat is proportionate to the sur- 
face of the mirror. Assume the radius of the mirror as one 
metre. The reflection of the Sun will be in the focal point, 
half a metre away from the mirror. The angle of the solar 
reflection half a metre away will be about half a degree 
(this is the angle of the Sun from the Earth); the true size 
of the Sun’s reflection (in mm) will be equal to the sine 
of half a degree multiplied by 500 mm, that is, about 
4.3 mm. If the radius of curvature of the spherical mirror 
is P metres, the reflection of the Sun will be P times larger. 
So for a mirror of 100-m radius the diameter of the reflec- 
tion will be 430 mm. Thus, the larger the radius of the 
mirror, the greater the reflection, the larger the opening 
in the chamber and the greater both the incoming and 
outgoing heat. We suppose all the mirrors to be similar, 
i.e., being equal to one and the same part of the complete 
spherical surface. Given this, it would seem that the tem- 
perature in the chamber should not depend on the size 
of the mirror. Actually, however, this is not quite the case: 
a larger mirror will give a higher temperature in the cham- 
ber, because the heat goes not only through the opening 
into the chamber but spreads all over its surface. There 
is another advantage of large mirrors: the speed at which 
the objects in the chamber become heated increases with 
the increase in the size of the mirror. In addition they pro- 


duce more heat per time unit and if the heat is consumed 
by chemical processes inside the chamber, the processes 
take place more rapidly. 

To simplify matters, assume that the mirror is round 
like a saucer. The mirror is part of a spherical surface. 
We join the centre of the imagined sphere to the edges of 
the mirror by a radius. The angle obtained cannot be more 
than 180° (a hemisphere). But this angle is almost useless 
as it focuses only a little more rays than does a mirror 
with an angle of 90°, or even 60°. So we shall take an 
angle of 60° for mirrors of all sizes. The width of such 
mirrors will be equal to the radius. Thus if the radius of 
a mirror is 100 m, its width will also be 100 m, and the 
size of the reflection, 430 mm (always 233 times less than 
the width of the mirror). If the chamber is a complete 
sphere the width of the mirror in practice should not be 
less than twice the diameter of the chamber. With a cham- 
ber of 1 m the mirror should be minimum 2 m. A quarter 
of its surface will be in the shadow thrown by the chamber, 
so it can be built in the shape of a ring. The lost quarter of 
the solar energy can be utilised by means of a biconvex lens 
or by a number of special mirrors. These should be placed 
in front of the chamber, nearer the Sun. 

The mirrors may be immense for, even if they have a 
thin surface and are small in mass, they will not break or 
bend under their own weight because there is no gravity. 
To give them the required shape, a slow rotation can be 
imparted to them together with the chamber with which 
they constitute a single unit. 

These units plus pressure and catalyserg are employed 
for any chemical processes requiring a fixed temperature. 
The temperature can easily be controlled by changing the 
size of the mirrors and the system of screens. If a defl- 
nite pressure is required as well, the opening has to be 
securely closed with a transparent shutter. 

These chambers can be used to heat alloys for moulding, 
pressing and forging, to produce the desired shapes, 


Now let us consider mechanical processing of cold, 
slightly heated, solid and semi-solid materials. We have 
described the simple devices, one square metre of the sur- 
face of which gives 1 hp. To obtain this energy mirrors, 
as well as chemical processes, can be used. So there is 
plenty of mechanical power. It can easily be converted into 
electric power if, for some reason, it connot be done by 
solar radiation directly. And it is a matter of common 
knowledge that high-potential electric power can produce 
a temperature above that of the Sun. 

But will machines function without gravity? If founda- 
tions are necessary, these are available in the massive 
multi-chamber dwelling or in special premises. Now let us 
examine the work of a few machines in a gravity-free me- 

Coal and firewood will escape from the furnaces. If the 
furnaces are supplied with gratings, then small particles 
of coal will slip through. In addition, thin gratings will 
melt away or be burned up. The firewood and coal will not 
lie at the bottom of the hearth but will hover inside the 
furnace, filling it from bottom to top. This, however, is 
not so bad. There will be no natural draught, so an arti- 
ficial is required. It is clear that coal, firewood, peat and 
similar fuels are impracticable in a gravity-free environ- 
ment to say nothing of the absence of the necessary amount 
of atmospheric oxygen. But to start with we do not need 
ordinary fuels in space, and should the need ever arise 
for them, we could make use of coal dust, liquid fuel and 
artificial draught. But in general, in gravity-free envi- 
ronment the Sun does the heating and bodies are cooled by 
heat radiation. 

We have seen that sometimes boilers with liquids will 
be used in motors. The liquids will not occupy the lower 
part of the vessel, because there is no below there; they 
will spread chaotically inside the boiler, mixed up with 
the vapours. But then liquid will escape together with the 
vapour, which is not what is wanted. Order can be estab- 


lished in the boiler if it is rotated, or if the liquid is ro- 
tated within a stationary boiler by means of a wheel with 
blades. Both can be easily achieved where there is no grav- 
ity. The liquid will then spread along the boiler’s equa- 
tor and the vapour will occupy the axial area. 

Now let us imagine a factory with wheels rotating, pul- 
leys moving in all directions, shavings flying about, work- 
ers swarming like fish in water. If the whole of the factory 
building is rotating, gravity is formed and the conditions 
will be like those on the Earth except for a slight difference, 
depending on the amount of the artificial gravity. If there 
is no rotatory motion or if it is only slight, the gravity 
will be almost imperceptible. In this case there should be 
special boxes for all kinds of waste material, the air should 
be constantly filtered to free it from dust and particles 
flying about in it. Magnets will attract iron, steel and cast- 
iron shavings and dust. 

But in some industrial processes (for instance, rolling 
and pressing) there are no waste materials, or they are 
harmless, and easily removed. No artificial gravity will 
be required there. Finally, when waste materials constitute 
a danger to the workers, a net or glass can be used for 
head-protection and some kind of pad—to protect the 
mouth. There should also be protective clothing. And even 
here, on the Earth, are we guaranteed against waste prod- 
ucts—shavings and the like? 

The workers and engineers flying among the machines 
and the finished products may get caught up in the wheels, 
levers and in other moving parts of the machinery and re- 
ceive injuries. To prevent this, danger spots will be netted 
off. Then parts of the machinery can be remote-controlled. 
There will be nothing new in this—we have long been fa- 
miliar with it on the Earth. 

The part being processed, no matter how big, does not 
fall down, cave in or press on the workers; where there 
is no gravity it is easy to handle the part and carry it 
about. The workers, too, can work in any and every 


position and place without being afraid they will fall (for 
instance, they can stand upside-down in relation to one 
another). All they need is some kind of support. A worker 
can always have support, if he attaches his feet or body 
to the object he is working on, or to his machine-tool. There 
is no praise high enough for the convenience of working 
in an environment devoid of gravity. 

In performing all kinds of work, on the Earth it is not 
so much gravity as the inertia of massive bodies that 
is used. But in an environment without gravity a hammer 
can be as useful as on the Earth. The force of its blow 
depends not so much on the weight of the hammer as on 
the speed with which it is growing, which in turn depends 
on muscular effort and amplitude of the swing. 

In machines the force of gravity is less utilised than in 
manual operations, and comparatively light presses can 
well supersede heavy hammers. Besides there is nothing 
to prevent man using some force to impart to some mass 
or other (in the ether) the velocity of falling objects on the 
Earth. The important thing is velocity, for it determines 
the force of the blow. It is easier to impart velocity to 
objects in a gravity-free environment than it is on the 
Earth. A blow due to gravity is always in one direction, 
downwards, but a blow due to velocity can be in any direc- 
tion; that, too, is an advantage. 

Thrown objects in a medium without gravity would seem 
to be more dangerous. On the Earth they fall to the ground 
and become harmless while in a gravity-free medium 
they will rush along a straight line until someone is hit. 
But, on the one hand, rapidly moving objects on the planets, 
like cannon-balls, fly through the air for a long time be- 
fore they fall and come to rest, and, on the other hand, the 
objects wandering around in the ether dwellings, when they 
come up against walls, lose their velocity and come to a 
standstill. Such objects are more dangerous outside the 
dwellings, in space. But, firstly, these objects should not 
be let lose unless really necessary, and, secondly, they can 


be guarded against, just as people guard themselves against 
bullets and cannon-balls on the Earth. 

Mechanics in an environment free from gravity differ in 
no way from scientific mechanics; just leave out the gravity. 

The Sun’s gravitational pull at the distance of the Earth 
is not very strong: it is 1,800 times less than the Earth’s 
gravity (the acceleration per second is 0.0055 m, or 5.5 mm), 
The effort lifting a weight to a height of one metre on the 
Earth will lift it here nearly two kilometres. But this does 
not mean that drawing close to, or moving away from the 
Sun at relatively low speeds is limited to kilometres. We 
are dealing with relative motions. A thrown object, in ad- 
dition to the low relative velocity, also has planetary ve- 
locity relative to the Sun. Thanks to this last, and at its 
expense, the thrown object moves away from, or is drawn 
to the Sun over a distance of thousands of kilometres, de- 
spite its low relative velocity. 

In our world environment, human beings and other equal- 
ly small objects are mutually attracted, but this attraction 
is very weak. However, lead or platinum balls at very 
short distances from one another move like heavenly bod- 
ies. Their velocities have to be extremely low, otherwise 
they will scatter in different directions in straight lines. 

This makes possible the practical solution in space ether 
of numerous extremely important problems which have 
not hitherto been solved by mathematicians, One problem 
concerns the paths of the movement of three interacting 

But what is inconvenient here is the slowness of the 
movement and the length of time of the observation. Thus, 
a comparatively small ball rotates round a comparatively 
large one made of the material with the greatest density 
known and at the closest possible distance, for a period of 
2,500 seconds or 42 minutes. The time does not at all de- 
pend on the size of the larger ball: whether it is as large’ 
as the Sun or as small as a grain of small shot, the time 
of rotation is always 42 minutes. 


For a pfactical solution of problems connected with 
forms of motion, the bodies are set at a distance from one 
another and the observation time is as much as several 
days or even months. It is this that makes it inconvenient. 
The absolute dimensions of the bodies may be infinitely 
small. Perhaps denser substances will be discovered or the 
attraction coefficient of small bodies will be found to be 
greater—then observations will take less time. 

In order to obtain higher velocities, objects of great 
sizes have to be used. 

An envinonment that is free from gravity offers the 
best conditions for determining mutual attraction and re- 
pulsion of bodies from different causes. 

The bodies do not fall and have no weight but the laws 
of inertia are particularly easily observed here. The great- 
er the mass of a body, the more difficult it is to impart 
motion to it. The greater the mass and the required veloci- 
ty, the harder and longer has it to be pushed. And, inverse- 
ly, if a moving body is to be stopped, the effort and time 
will be more, the greater its mass and velocity. The im- 
pact of a moving body is greater, the harder it is and the 
greater its mass, and, at the same time, the harder and 
more massive the body against which it strikes. 

Although the oxygen atmosphere in the space dwellings 
will be one-tenth of that in our air, there, too, it will be 
found uneconomical to move quickly for a long time, as 
it involves the expenditure of much work. Outside the 
dwelling, however, in the void it will cost almost no effort: 
it will suffice to spend work once to acquire the desired 
velocity, which will remain constant if the movement is not 
away from the Sun. Even that, as we have seen, will have 
little effect over a distance of thousands of kilometres. 

Travelling in the void will be possible either in space- 
suits provided with breathing apparatus or in individual 
dwellings separated from the rest. The latter is more con- 
venient as there will be more room, no need to wear 
clothes, the plants will travel as well and provide food, 


water, oxygen and other fecessities. Then the travelling 
can be done in large companies. The motion will be unno- 
ticeable—only the dwellings left behind will seem to be 
moving. But conventionally their motion (to overcome the 
Sun’s attraction) will be considered zero. It is as imper- 
ceptible as the motion of a planet to its inhabitants. 

How will dangerous collision between the moving dwell- 
ings, shall we call them carriages or trains, be avoided? 
There will be several main travelling directions and one 
speed for each direction. The trains going in one direction 
will travel along one route so there can be no collisions. 
The routes of the different directions will lie at great dis- 
tances from one another and the heavenly trains travel- 
ling at different velocities cannot collide. 

The laws of levers, liquids and gases will not be compli- 
cated by their weight. 

Gas disperses indefinitely until as a result of expansion 
and cooling it becomes dust consisting of solid particles 
that will not evaporate. 

Liquids take the shape of a sphere or bubble; volatile 
liquids quickly freeze owing to evaporation, and the non- 
volatile keep their spherical shape. The spheres may 
be broken into several smaller ones and vice versa. 
Adhesive liquids will stick to various objects, making 
queer shapes. 

Sounds and other oscillations of all kinds propagate just 
as they do on the Earth, but there are no waves like those 
in the sea—for this there must be gravity. The barometer 
and pendulum clock do not function. Watches, however, 
go well. Spring and lever balances are useless as bodies 
have no weight and neither type is good for determining 
the mass. Mass is determined on a centrifugal machine, or 
on the balances in the state of artificial gravity. Force can 
be measured with a dynamometer or spring balances. 

Magnetic, electrical and other forces operate more sim- 
ply and clearly, because there is no gravity to complicate 

24—761 369 

Man will quickly adapt himself to the absence of grav- 
ity but animals have too little reasoning powers and will 
suffer discomfort. Wingless insects will flounder about 
futilely in the air, but once on a wall, will run about without 
noticing the absence of gravity. Flying insects and birds 
will move about but not quite as they wish. As soon as 
they reach a wall they will cling to it with their claws. 
Neither the birds nor the large animals will be able to 
walk: at the first attempt, they will find they have lost 
contact with the wall and are in a gaseous medium. Cats 
and other similar creatures with movable internal organs 
will be able voluntarily to turn their bodies by at least 

We have seen that mah, too, can turn and move about 
with the aid of a fulcrum, for instance, a hat. He can turn 
even without one; to do so he will have to raise his hand 
and rotate it as if he were turning the handle of a machine. 
The circular movement of a hand, leg or other limb will 
make his body rotate. As soon as the man has ceased 
moving the limb his body will come to a rest, although he 
may find himself facing in the opposite direction. 

We are not speaking of a liquid or gaseous medium in 
which any desired movement can be performed. 

Man must at all costs overcome the Earth’s gravity and 
have, in reserve, the space at least of the Solar System. 

All kinds of danger lie in wait for him on the Earth. We 
do not mean the difficulties we all daily experience: man- 
kind will soon do away with these. We are talking of disas- 
ters that can destroy the whole of mankind or a large 
part of it. 

Take the dry land we now live on—how many times has 
it been flooded over and turned into the bed of an ocean! 
We cannot be sure that such phenomena always occur 
gradually. Earthquakes happen abruptly and destroy whole 
towns leaving under water vast stretches of land. There 
have been many major catastrophes although man has not 
witnessed them (if we leave aside the very doubtful Del- 


uge). True, the greater a disaster the wider the range of 
its action, the less frequently it occurs. But we may yet live 
to see one. 

For instance, a cloud of bolides, or a small planet a few 
dozen kilometres in diameter, could fall on the Earth, with 
such an impact that the solid, liquid or gaseous blast pro- 
duced by it could wipe off the face of the Earth all traces 
of man and his buildings. The rise of temperature accom- 
panying it could alone scorch or Kill all living beings. 

Imagine the same thing has happened to the space 
dwellings: an asteroid ten kilometres in diameter has pierced 
one of them. All it can destroy is 75 square kilometres 
of inhabited area, not 510,000,000 square kilometres as on 
the Earth. Of course, the path of the planet or asteroid is 
easier to follow in the ether, so that the dwellings may be 
temporarily removed from it; moving them about in space 
costs almost no effort. But can we move the Earth to make 
way for some heavenly body!? 

A few words about aerolites. Large ones are as danger- 
ous in the ether as they are on the Earth, but since they 
very seldom fall on our heads, roofs and buildings, and 
no one fears them, so also they strike no fear into anyone in 
space. From small aerolites, we are protected by the 
Earth’s atmosphere in which they either become pulverised 
or burn out. In space, the dwelling itself can be a safe- 
guard. If a tiny fragment of a meteor, a fraction of a mil- 
ligram goes through a human being it will cause no se- 
rious harm. If it hits against a layer of quartz glass or 
steel, such a fragment would most likely get stuck in it. 
At the impact the fragment will melt and eventually evap- 
orate. In the same way an infinitesimal part of the dwell- 
ing’s surface will also melt and evaporate. The impact 
may make a tiny hole in the wall, but the molten fragment 
will fill in the crevice and even gas will be unable to es- 
cape through it. 

In addition it has been proved over and over again. 
that for an aerolite to hit a human being is highly improb- 

24° 37] 

able, and could happen on an average once in several 
thousands of years (supposing there were no atmosphere 
on the Earth). 

The ultimate fate of the Earth—as of all other heaven- 
ly bodies—is an explosion from the accumulation of elastic 
matter inside it. The time will come when mankind will be 
faced with this sort of danger. How will mankind save it- 
self if it has not mastered space within the Solar System? 

And there is yet another danger—the cooling down and 
extinction of the Sun. Then man will have to escape from 
the Solar System, too. It will be much easier to escape 
from ethereal space than from the planetary prison where 
we and all we possess are chained down by gravity. 

We are further compelled to take up the struggle against 
gravity, and for the utilisation of celestial space and all 
its wealth because of the overpopulation of our planet . 

Numerous other terrible dangers await mankind on the 
Earth, all of which suggest that man should look for a way 
into the Cosmos. 

We have said a great deal about the advantages of mi- 
gration into space, but not all can be said or even im- 



We are off to Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun 
(though easily visible in tropical climates, in our country 
we see it very seldom); it is 2.5 times nearer to the Sun 
than the Earth is, and receives seven times more sunshine. 

One or two hundred kilometres from the Moon, I looked 
down and saw, in its place, a golden bowl with circles and 
scars and occupying exactly one half of the sky. The other 
half was black, studded with stars, and adorned by the 
regal Sun. 

As I shot further and further away in the same direc- 
tion, this bowl—the Moon—occupied less and less of the 
sky, dwindling first into a plate, then a saucer, then into 
the ordinary flat Moon we are accustomed to seeing, and, 
finally, into a point, a tiny star (much the same picture as 
would be seen when moving away from the Earth). 

I saw the Moon as this tiny star throughout my entire 
journey, the Earth meanwhile appearing also as a star 13 
times brighter; when farthest away, near Mercury, it shone 
-fainter than Venus. The constellations and Milky Way did 
not change their appearance or position either during the 
journey to Mercury, or throughout the entire planetary sys- 
tem including Neptune; and no wonder, as the entire plan- 
etary system appears as a spot compared with the inter- 
stellar distances; and wherever I went I was always near 

* Excerpt from the manuscript.—Ed. 


the Sun. Of course, in relation to the stars, I seemed al- 
ways to be in one spot, though I travelled thousands of 
millions of kilometres. 

Mercury almost always was aligned with the Earth (i. e., 
on one radius with the Earth and the Sun), in its most fa- 
vourable opposition, and therefore this time I had about 
100 million kilometres to cover. As I approached the plan- 
et, the temperature rose, and the Sun seemed to broaden. 
It was not the temperature of space that rose; since it 
did not become warm, as it had no substance (except for 
its infinitely rarefied cosmic ether, the conductor of light) 
and was absolutely transparent to heat. What did warm up 
was my own body, which from time to time I shielded with 
the aid of a screen. The screen also became warm, and 
warmed me with its dark thermal rays, but however, when 
I was far enough away, the heat was by no means very 
intense. Using the screen to shield myself from the Sun’s 
scorching rays, I had an excellent view of the stars stud- 
ding the gloomy background of black, and among them my 
destination—the shining star Mercury, to which I had 
drawn much nearer. 

Now it was clearly beginning to look like a tiny, horned 
Moon; it became rounded and showed me all its phases 
as I circled around it. The baby Moon became larger and 
larger growing before my eyes in accordance with the 
speed of my journey towards it. It became as large as the 
Moon as seen from the Earth; as large as the Earth when 
observed from the Moon; it changed into a plate, and finally 
into an enormous silver bow] taking up half the sky. Clouds 
and mountains, the planet’s watery and solid areas came in 
sight. At last, I reached Mercury itself. 

This planet, which has the density of iron (the Earth 
has a mean density, which is equivalent to that of fluor- 
Spar, i.e., 5.5) is as many times closer than the Earth, i.e., 
2.5 times. The duration of the day is the same. The Sun 
is seen as a body that is seven times larger and brighter 
and it gives seven times more warmth. Objects weigh half 


of what they weigh on the Earth. A freely falling body 
drops no more than 2.5 metres in the first second. The mean 
temperature is around several hundred degrees centigrade 
(on the basis of Stefan’s Jaw and presuming conditions iden- 
tical with those on the Earth, the temperature was estimat- 
ed to be 176°C). Naturally, all organic bodies transported 
from the Earth to this planet die and disintegrate. But do 
not imagine that this means there is no life there! On the 
contrary, it is teeming with life. The population is a hun- 
dred times denser, more evenly distributed and far better 
educated than on the Earth. What is the explanation? 
What prevents a locomotive from working when the sur- 
rounding temperature is 100°C? What is it that makes it 
impossible to light a fire, that prevents coal from burning 
and many other chemical processes from taking place in 
the same conditions? What, in general, is it that prevents 
the most intricate of machines and even organisms from 
functioning, when they are made of refractory substances 
and liquids that do not boil at this temperature? I do not 
know the substances from which Mercury’s inhabitants are 
made, and even less do I know what compounds are formed 
by these substances; all I do know is that animal tissues 
resist Mercury’s high temperature just as successfully as 
our bodies stand up to a heat of 20°C. The temperature of 
their bodies and especially of large Mercurian animals is, 
obviously, still higher than the surrounding temperature, 
owing to the processes of digestion, breathing, thinking, 
etc., going on inside them. They could easily fry our veal 
or cook soup in the palms of their hands. At the height of 
my curiosity, I several times forgot this and burned myself 
when I touched their soft and tender skin. The same hap- 
pened to the Mercurians when they touched my hands and 
face, only in this case the burns they suffered were due to 
the relatively excessive cold temperature of my body. 
Mercury has no bodies of water; the water, with other 
gases and vapours, forms the atmosphere. It is only in its 
top colder strata that at night, the circumstances being 


favourable, clouds and mists form which resolve them- 
selves into torrents of hot rain which rarely reaches the 
ground. Even if small drops of hot rain reach the ground, 
they are at once transformed into vapour, refreshing Mer- 
curians and soil alike. 

They have a very well-developed industry and civilisa- 
tion but complain that the dense atmosphere prevents their 
locomotives from moving rapidly. They also complain of 
the high gravity, of the impossibility of making contact 
with other worlds, of the overpopulation, due to which the 
people have nowhere to spread to and long since set a limit 
on the reproduction of their kind. . 

Rational beings are dissatisfied with everything! Imagine 
them complaining about gravity! Is this a merit or a fault? 
Sometimes—a merit, if dissatisfaction with the present 
state of affairs takes the form of aspiring towards an ideal, 
to what is finest, without violating love towards one’s 
closest friends. 

So what have the Mercurians to grumble about, when 
gravity on their planet is only half what it is on the Earth. 
I felt fine here (how I tolerated the infernal heat is my own 
business), ran with ease, and leapt three times as high and 
as far! Their trains move ten times faster than trains on 
the Earth. They have none of the confusions or the interna- 
tional strife from which our poor Earth suffers; nor is there 
that gulf between different types of inhabitants, which 
makes one the slave of the other. Incidentally, it is indeed 
crowded on the planet, because of the population and its 
small surface area. Then, there are very few seas of some 
dense liquids that I know nothing about. All the dry ground, 
up to the poles, is inhabited, so that their populated area 
is nearly the size of that on the Earth, the total surface 
area of which is seven times larger. 

They have evolved some eccentric projects which the 
prudent majority have no faith in, though they condescend- 
ingly tolerate them. One such project, for instance, is to 
create rings similar to those of Saturn, by causing masses 


to revolve rapidly round the planet outside its atmosphere— 
and so to extend their territory!! To start off these rings, 
it is necessary for the surface velocity to be ‘as much as 
two kilometres a second; meanwhile, their fastest trains 
(which are streamlined like airships to cut through the 
atmosphere) do maximum 300 metres a second, which is 
by no means fast enough. Incidentally, the designers of 
these projects suggest various methods for reducing friction 
and increasing velocity so as to offset the relative gravi- 
tational attraction. They also propose methods of provid- 
ing comfortable living conditions ... (here two pages are 
missing from the manuscript.—Ed.) 

... and sea routes and use them even more than air 
routes, especially for transporting cheap cargoes. Aircraft 
(which are birdlike and have wings) are also extensively 
employed, but by the wealthy people or the government, 
because for the average Mercurian this means of transpor- 
tation (which happens to be the fastest) is beyond his 
means. The Venusians, true, have not attained Mercury’s 
civilisation, yet none of them walk around with their heads 
in the clouds, inventing the impracticable projects for which 
-the Mercurians have such a weakness. Let me repeat that 
our good neighbour is closer to the Earth even in the 
figurative sense, because were some addle-pated eccentric 
to suggest expanding territory by means of rings circling 
the planet as Saturn’s rings do, he would, without a mo- 
ment’s waste of time, be clapped into a mad-house, of 
course, out of the most humane motives in the world! 

So farewell Venus, likeness of the Earth, magnificent 
adornment of its evening and morning heavens! 


Mars is twice the distance away from the Sun that Venus 
is and is 1.5 times further away than the Earth. The amount 
of warmth received by about 3 acres of soil on Mars is 
only half of what the same area on the Earth gets in simi- 


lar conditions. Naturally, the mean temperature of Mars 
must be much lower than the Earth’s and this is indeed 
so. Its mean temperature is 32°C below zero (the maximum 
being 83°C above). However, do not think that the planet’s 
absolute temperature, from 273°C below (absolute zero) 
is in proportion to the intensity of solar light and heat, 
or to the visible surface of our luminary. Because then, 
presuming the Earth’s absolute temperature to be some 300 
degrees, we would find, roughly, that it should be 2100° or 
1900°C for Mercury, 600° or 300°C for Venus, 130° or 130°C 
below zero for Mars, etc. As we have partly seen, there is 
nothing of the sort. The temperature is far more moderate 
and, for that matter, Mars does not have and cannot have 
such lasting cold. Indeed, even on the Earth in winter the 
Sun shines down with an intensity that is one-fifteenth 
greater, because it is nearer to the Earth at the time. If 
we were to allow the earlier argument, then the average 
temperature of the Earth in winter would rise by some 
18°C. Is this ever observed? Is there ever an average 
increase of even 1°C? 

In times beyond recall when the Sun was still brighter 
and bigger and when Mars itself and its surface were still 
hot, the planet’s waters occupied depressions, as our ter- 
restrial seas do. It was here that they became petrified, 
forming the solid part of the crust, when the times changed 
and the temperature dropped. 

However, in Mars’ equatorial zones the Sun’s rays, that 
were shed upon this ice, melted it a little at the top, making 
it polished and transforming it into vapours. The vapours, 
carried away into the atmosphere in negligible quantities, 
gave rise to the snow clouds, and snow was precipitated 
at night in the polar regions of the planet, to form a spar- 
kling layer; sometimes the planet was simply covered with 
white hoarfrost [as] at the terrestrial poles. It was precip- 
itated on to the ground directly from the atmosphere, 
after coming into contact with the extremely cold regions 
of the planet, 


There are relatively few of these petrified seas and 
tributaries—Martian “canals”. 

Thus from the surface, the planet represents one solid 
mass, if we disregard the slightly damp and extremely 
muddy ice, which gives rise to the miserable little stream- 
lets, immediately freezing and becoming covered with 
white hoarfrost as soon as the Sun sets. At night the entire 
planet is covered with it, but terrestrial astronomers cannot 
see the planet’s night-bound part; meanwhile, on the sunlit 
side, except for the polar areas, it melts soon after sunrise, 
with the result that the ice and dry land cease to look 
like snow and appear as seas or ordinary dry ground. 

The Martians utilise the glaciers and oceans of ice lying 
in horizontal plane as a means of communication. 

The planet is much smaller than the Earth, but a little 
larger than Mercury. Gravity on it is two and a half times 
less than that on the Earth. Objects weigh there two-fifths 
of what they do on the Earth. The days are as long (a 
controversial issue as yet), but the year is twice as long. 
There are two moons to light up the sky at night. They are 
both small and glow faintly and are important only because 
they are near the planet. The closest, Phobos, glows with 
a light that is 8 times fainter than our own Moon. Its visible 
diameter is half (of our Moon). On the other hand, Phobos 
traces its course across the heavens very quickly, faster 
than the Sun, which is why every 12 hours it sets in the 
east and rises in the west. The other satellite moves ordi- 
narily but slowly, so that it rises above the horizon only 
once every five days (approximately). 

The inhabitants, i.e., the Martians, are most charming, 
but they were very cautious when they were with me, 
fearing to get scorched. While Mercurians and Venusians 
used me as a refrigerator, here I was employed as a well- 
stoked fire. They made a great fuss of me; indeed, warmth 
went with me into every home. I am speaking, obviously, 
about winter in moderate climes. In the summer, despite 
the frost, which is seldom with us, “heat” made them gasp, 


and sweat out peculiar and extremely volatile liquids. It 
was during this time of the year, so unfavourable to me, 
that I decided to slip away from them in as delicate a 
manner as I could. 


Beyond Mars lies that belt of asteroids thought to be 
fragments of the big planet, which according to Baudot’s 
law, had once existed between the orbits of Mars and Ju- 
piter. Incidentally there are many reasons why I personally 
think this hypothesis very unlikely. 

So let us bid farewell to Mars and its satellites and 
travel beyond its orbit. At once we encounter beyond it 
a host of minor planetoids, but I shall not speak about 
them for the time being. Rather let us head straight for the 
largest of them, to their queen—Vesta. 

It is 21/, times farther from the Sun, than is the Earth 
and gets 5.5 times Jess sunshine. 

The diameter of the Sun itself seems to be a bit more 
than twice as narrow and its surface 5 times as small as 
when observed from the Earth. It gives out as many times 
less heat and light. 

In spite of the low mean temperature, the inhabitants of 
this asteroid are like the selenites, but are composed of 
materials that do not freeze and are elastic. They do not 
suffer from the cold at all, and sing their way through life, 
not literally, of course, for since there is no atmosphere, 
they can hardly go in for vocal exercises. 

They have no plants or animals except at their scientific 
establishments, where they are treated with every care and 
attention, kept in special conditions and are used for ex- 
periments and research purposes. 

The rational population with their transparent skin that 
lets through light, but does not let matter escape, live to 
a ripe old age, but progeny are seldom born. The young 
generation is brought up in special, completely enclosed 
nurseries, which while thev let in light, do not let in gases 


and liquids. In short, during their early life Vestians de- 
velop and grow in roughly the same way as the inhabitants 
of the Earth or the Moon, the only difference being that 
their environment is purely artificial and that sunlight is a 
very important part of their diet. 

As soon as they reach normal height, and their skin hard- 
ens, while the sudoriferous glands, lungs, and other organs 
unnecessary in a void, become sealed up or atrophied, they 
emerge into freedom with their emerald-green wings, like 
butterflies from the chrysalis. Throughout the whole of 
their subsequent happy life, they change only internally. 
Their thoughts change, gradually become perfected and 
arrive at the truth, while inside their bodies, which are 
outwardly constant in appearance, the eternal plant-and- 
animal cycle takes place, as described earlier (for the 

On Vesta gravity is 30 times less than on the Earth, be- 
cause the planet itself is very small and compared with our 
globe is like a grain of millet (2 mm) compared with an 
apple (60 mm). That is why here gases are stored exclusive- 
ly in sealed containers or in a chemical bond with non- 
volatile liquids and solid substances. The small gravity is 
unable to hold back the headlong movement of the gas 
particles, which are completely dispersed in the boundless 
reaches of space leaving nothing round the planet; mean- 
while on the Moon these particles accumulate in its deep 
crevasses which serve as natural nurseries for growing 

Owing to the small gravitational pull, a pood weighs 
hardly as much as a pound. A human being seems to weigh 
no more than a chicken. The inhabitants carry their green 
wings as though they were eider-down; the relatively large 
surface of the wings provides them with plenty of solar 
energy, though the Sun’s rays are not at all strong. This 
energy makes their movements extremely easy, and their 
thoughts, on the other hand, most profound. Incidentally, 
the ease with which they move is due to the light gravity. 


Do you know that when I found myself here I thought 
there was no gravity at all, I felt so light. And here, the 
expression “floating on air” is justified. If anyone weighed 
me, a husky chap turning the scales at over 70 kilograms, 
they would have found me registering not more than 51/3 
pounds on a spring balance. After Mars, where objects 
weigh 15 times more, this seemed to me really very light! 
I could jump up vertically 40 metres, the height of a pretty 
high belfry which, unfortunately, do not exist there. I could 
take in my stride a ditch 170 metres wide and even more 
if I gave myself a running start. Even without an effort, I 
achieved astounding results. 

Since the inhabitants find it so easy to move about and 
encounter no air resistance when running, they have long 
been thinking seriously of how to extend their possessions, 
by using speed to strike out into space or by forming 
moving rings and the like around the planet. Listening to 
their arguments, I ceased to be amazed any longer at the 
ideas advocated also by the Mercurians. Indeed, if not now, 
then probably in the near future they would achieve their 

Everything hinged on the insignificant gravitational 
attraction. One of our terrestrial cannon-balls, fired from 
the Vesta, would, as it were, break through the “crust” 
of its gravitational pull, and escape from the planet forever 
to become a satellite of the Sun, a newly formed planet. 
If... (several words are omitted here—Ed.) on the Sun 
it would move away from it eternally and always in the 
same direction. 

If Mercurian trains, which run at 300 m/sec were placed 
on Vesta’s smooth equatorial route, then owing to the 
centrifugal force they would not only lose their weight 
entirely or, in other words, would not only cease to press 
down on the rails, but would even fly up into the surround- 
ing space, which the inhabitants of this apparently insignifi- 
cant tiny planet so long to conquer. Such fast trains would 


be all the more possible as the friction is 30 times less, 
while the atmosphere is splendidly ‘conspicuous by its 
absense”; and the gases the inhabitants require for the 
younger generation are obtained not from the atmosphere, 
but from the solid ground; the Vestians decompose chemi- 
cal ores and other oxides and thus, with the Sun’s help, 
get oxygen, nitrogen, etc.; incidentally they store gases 
mostly in a weak-bond combination with other substances; 
these compounds, which are usually solid or liquid, relin- 
quish their gas to anyone who needs it, or for any required 
purpose, as soon as they are slightly agitated (for instance, 
by heat). 

So you see that Vestian trains stand no comparison, as 
far as speed is concerned, with those on Mercury; however, 
the speeds they attain are quite enough to reduce their 
weight appreciably, almost by half. 

How astonished the Mercurians would be if told that 
on Vesta their trains would attain their “lofty” aim of 
exploiting and colonising space going to waste and the 
escaping energy of the Sun’s rays! I think that after hear- 
ing about it, they would redouble their efforts to achieve 
success. Probably even the Martians, who have never even 
dreamed of anything of the sort, would also shake them- 
selves up a bit! 

But the question is: how do the Vestians set their 
mechanisms, trains, for instance, in motion? After all, it 
is not by using their muscles, surely? But, of course, they 
have solar engines, like all rational beings living in gasless 
space. These devices are, approximately, of the following 
design. Imagine a slender air-tight vessel that can change 
its volume much like a concertina or a pair of bellows. 
Even we, on Earth, have made similar cylinders only made 
of metal, with the idea of replacing steam-engine cylinders 
with them. They were air-tight and resembled a Chinese 
lantern, folding up into a thin flat circle; this vessel con- 
tained a quantity of some suitable gas or steam which first 
expanded to move the walls of the container apart, when 


its black half was exposed to the Sun, and then became 
compressed, when placed in the shade behind a screen, 
and it lost more warmth than it received. So, in ordinary 
circumstances the walls of the container would either move 
apart or come together much like a concertina in the hands 
of the performer; this could serve as a source of a fairly 
considerable amount of mechanical work. It would already 
perform work simply by alternately turning first its dark, 
and then its shiny side towards the light by the force of 
inertia (after the initial push). 

I have described the simplest type of the least bulky 
solar motors. There were also other types of motors; in 
these the gas or liquid, which was heated either directly 
by the Sun’s rays or by means of reflectors (i.e., mirrors), 
was forced from one container into another placed in the 
shade, and therefore extremely cold; in this process the 
gas or steam performed work, as it passed through a steam 
engine. These machines are more intricate and bulkier, but 
they are more economical, because from the given sunlit 
area they derived a greater amount of work. There are still 
more intricate systems. None of them ever loses a single 
drop of liquid or gas; it is sometimes lost by pure accident, 
but extremely little. 

Judge for yourself how powerful these motors can be 
from the following: theoretically the work performed by 
the Sun’s rays falling perpendicularly on one square metre 
from a distance equal to that between the Sun and the 
Earth—if all the energy is transferred by machines without 
any loss—will be 2,120 kg m, which is about 1.5 hp per 
square arshin (2.13 m), or the equivalent of 15 husky 
labourers working round the clock. But since the intensity 
of the Sun’s rays at the distance of Vesta from the Sun 
is five times as weak, and since motors can convert not 
more than a third of the radiant energy into mechanical 
work, a square arshin of motor space will be equivalent 
to the work of one husky labourer working continuously 
(0.1 hp, or the work done by a man steadily climbing a 


Staircase at a rate of a quarter of an arshin every two 

Strictly speaking, the Vesta inhabitants expend very 
little muscular energy due to low gravity, which means 
that their muscles are weak. All work is done by the motors 
described, which operate machine-tools, used for a variety 
of purposes and varying in complexity. 

If the inhabitants of Vesta were put on our clumsy Earth, 
they would immediately be crushed to death because of 
gravity, and the same would happen to us if we were put 
on the Sun, where gravity is almost as many times greater 
than that on the Earth as this latter is greater than gravity 
on Vesta. The blood vessels of the slim-legged Vestians 
would burst and then, of course, they would be too weak 
to carry themselves; their wings would become flaccid and 
droop feebly and their bodies would drop to the ground 
and break into pieces; it would be as though an overburden- 
ing load had been heaped on to them. 

But, after the horrible fetters of terrestrial gravity, and 
not having been spoiled by any tenderness from it, I felt 
“on top of my form” here, and astonished my hosts by 
performing wondrous acrobatic stunts. 

If I had been put back in my native land, I would have 
felt terribly disappointed there and would have felt like 
an earth-worm. 

Vesta’s eccentricity is small and so its temperature is 
practically constant all round the year. It has the same 
diurnal period of rotation as the Earth; consequently, the 
velocity of its equatorial points is not so small as to make 
it possible conveniently to follow the Sun and turn evening 
into morning and vice versa, or, in short, to control the 
times of the day and night as one could on the Moon. The 
highest velocity capable apparently of halting the Sun in 
its diurnal course and perpetuating day or night is roughly 
15 m/sec, or 1,333 km in 24 hours. The Vestians can run at 
that speed, but it is a strain they would prefer not to put 
upon themselves. On the other hand, in their trains which 

25—761 385 

travel much faster, miracles are encountered at every step. 
For instance, you may get up in the early morning, board 
a train and be in a great hurry to set off; but alackaday! 
the joyful Sun, which has only just risen, begins to set two 
or three hours later.... Is there anything more fascinating 
than hoping to enjoy the freshness of the morning and 
finding yourself travelling by night!! 

Then it sometimes happens like this if you are travelling 
in the opposite direction: you board a train in the evening, 
hoping to admire the sunset, read a little, perhaps doze off 
in the stillness of the night, and suddenly find that instead 
of setting, the capricious Sun is rising higher and higher 
in the sky; you are in despair, the Sun prevents you from 
sleeping and upsets all your innocent plans. But the Sun 
is inexorable; noon comes followed by the evening; the time 
lost is, as it were, retrieved; the Sun sets; you rub your 
eyes, unable to believe your senses; you grasp your head, 
aching from lack of sleep, and completely disappointed you 
sleep the slumber of the dead. 

But imagine the horror of the traveller who set out west- 
wards one night on a trip round the equator at a speed 
of 54 km/h and saw the sky in petrified immobility. One 
hundred, two hundred, even a thousand hours pass and not 
a star wanes nor does the Sun rise; there is no daybreak, 
nor will there be. Bear in mind that the daybreak we are 
accustomed to, the rosy break of day produced by the 
Earth’s atmosphere, does not exist on Vesta; there is a 
special kind of daybreak, partly the zodiacal light and 
partly the alternating reflection and glow of the elevated 
and sunlit regions of the planet. It is just as ghastly when 
you set off at noon and the stationary Sun beats down 
relentlessly, unceasingly.... One can well go mad.... 

The planet is extremely densely populated. The popula- 
tion is a little less than that of the Earth, inspite of the 
diameter being 30 times smaller and the surface area 900 
times less; consequently the surface area per head of the 
population is 370 sq m. 


As for its volume you can judge this from the fact that 
from the total mass of the Earth 27,000 little spheres the 
size of Vesta could be made! 

Mountains, in general, are smoothed down to provide 
convenient routes of communication; however, their chron- 
icles provide data about mountains 100 kilometres high; 
so it was not possible to say of this planet that, even from 
some distance away, it was reminiscent of a finely polished 
ball or globe. Indeed, these [00-kilometre elevations had 
covered only .a quarter of the planet’s diameter and had 
made it more resemble a rock or a piece of shrapnel than 
a sphere. Calculations show that the relative elevations 
of a planet, the conditions being the same, are proportional 
to the square of the diminution of its diameter. The dia- 
meter of Vesta is 30 times smaller than that of the Earth, 
relatively the biggest mountains on Vesta could be only 
900 times taller; the height of the mountains of the Earth 
is not more than 1/1,200 of its diameter, and consequently 
the height of the mountains on Vesta will be 900/1,200 
or three-quarters of its diameter. 

Incidentally, the elevations on these minor planets may 
be still greater, owing to the diminution with distance of 
their gravity. 


However, let us leave this charming, hospitable planet 
and its highly erudite inhabitants, who dream at some time 
in the future of breaking out of the clutches of the gravity 
of their planet and embarking upon a mighty exodus into 
the infinite reaches of space, outside the miserable surface 
of their planet, and so extend their control over nature; 
let us part with these kind-hearted dreamers and fly 

While roaming absent-mindedly among the asteroids, I 
wondered where all these creatures came from. Their being 
on the Moon was comprehensible. The Moon had once had 

25° 387 

an atmosphere, and the gradual rarefaction of the atmos- 
phere over tens of thousands of years could have adapted 
their bodies so much that they were able to dispense with 
an atmosphere. But what was the origin of the inhabitants 
of Vesta, where, because of its small size, there could ob- 
viously never have been any gases at all, since their parti- 
cles have a velocity of a cannon-ball and like the latter 
Should have overcome the feeble gravitational attraction 
and have dispersed. I wished I had had a serious talk with 
the Vestians about the origin of their ancestors. But I had 
no desire to return, particularly as the distant horizons 
were such an enticement. 

Ceres and Pallas come next in size after Vesta, the larg- 
est of all the planetoids. Their mean distances from the Sun 
differed very little, but their orbits did not lie in one plane, 
they obviously could not intersect, otherwise they would 
certainly collide at any rate several thousand years 
hence. i 

The mean distance between the Sun and these asteroids 
is about three times (2.76 and 2.77) greater than the dis- 
tance between it and the Earth; the Sun seems as many 
times smaller in diameter when observed from them; the 
strength of the Sun’s light, heat and gravity is only one- 
eighth what it is on the Earth. 

Ceres is slightly closer to the Sun than Pallas and is a 
little smaller than Vesta; to be exact it is only 63 kilometres 
smaller across than Vesta, which means that it is smaller 
by one-sixth, or one-seventh; however, because Pallas pos- 
sesses an eccentricity that is incomparably greater, the 
apparent diameter of the Sun fluctuates greatly in its 
annual motion (i.e., during one full revolution around the 
luminary) from 1 to 1.7, while the intensity of the Sun’s 
warmth ranges from 1 to 3. Moreover, this planet was right 
on my route, while Ceres was at the opposite end of the 
orbit, and I would have had to go nearly 1,000 million 
kilometres out of my way to visit it. Pallas and Vesta 
greatly differ in size; Pallas has a diameter of only 255 km, 


about half as long as Vesta, which is why on Pallas objects 
weigh 52 times less than they do on the Earth. 

Because of these considerations I hastened on to Pallas 
but even before I arrived, I saw with the naked eye that 
it was enveloped in an atmosphere that seemed to be of 
a tremendous height. At once I recollected the observations 
of Schröter who had also seen that Ceres and Pallas had 
atmospheres and who had established that they each 
reached to three times the height of the diameter of the 
respective planet. 

As far as Pallas was concerned, this had proved true and 
I began to regret that I was unable to verify the astrono- 
mer’s observation with regard to Ceres. 

The atmosphere was extremely transparent, not at all 
distorting or refracting the rays from the stars that passed 
through it; this seemed odd as, in general, did the existence 
of this “extremely high” atmosphere. 

But a moment later I had drawn so close that I clearly 
realised my mistake. It was not an atmosphere at all, but 
simply a ring, like Saturn’s; only it reached down to the 
very surface of the planet; after flying off at a tangent and 
viewing it from the side, I realised still more clearly that 
I had been mistaken; indeed, the ring appeared as an ellipse, 
even as a thread, which could not be the case with an 
atmosphere; we know that in the course of its revolution 
round the Sun, i.e., in the course of 30 Earth’s years, Sat- 
urn’s ring also twice appears sideways in the form of a 
thread, because twice its plane falls in with the angle of 
vision of the terrestrial astronomer, or, in other words, is 
aligned with the Earth’s orbit. 

I found why Pallas’ ring was transparent as soon as I 
entered it. I saw that it consisted of a vast number of 
bodies circling round the planet. These were the natives of 
Pallas, their homes, engines, factories and various appara- 
tuses, Arranged freely, so as not to rob each other of the 
Sun’s rays, they let through chinks of light, just as lattice- 
work does. From a distance the separate objects were not 


visible; all that could be seen was the transparent totality 
of them producing an illusion of gas or of a rapidly revolv- 
ing wheel. We should note in passing that some of Saturn’s 
rings are also transparent, but so far we do not know why. 

I rapidly flew past the dwellings of the legion of colo- 
nists, without really looking at anything properly, and set 
foot on the terra firma of Pallas itself. 

I felt still lighter than on Vesta; I weighed myself on a 
terrestrial spring balance, and found I was 3 pounds. I 
could have walked barefoot along a flinty path strewn with 
sharp rocks, without harming myself; I could have flung 
myself down on the rock as calmly as on the softest eider- 
down. I jumped twice as high and twice as far as on Vesta, 
providing the relatively puny inhabitants with the some- 
what comical spectacle of a jumping flea, which, inciden- 
tally, amused them very much. They applauded every jump 
I made, which lasted half a minute or more, because I went 
up very high. While off the ground I managed to blow my 
nose, ask the time of day and even meditate for a while. 
Every time I required a “bird’s eye view” of their struc- 
tures, all their variety of buildings, their railways and so on, 
I leaped up and “from the highest point of vision ” obtained 
a general picture of the things I wanted to see, and having 
shot up vertically some 60 metres, I hung suspended there 
for a while only to find myself, after a few seconds, accel- 
erating to the ground again. 

I shall not describe the natives, as they were surpris- 
ingly like the Vestians; the minor differences between them 
now elude me in the way that the differences between 
butterflies of the same species are forgotten. But I should 
mention that their bodies, which had emerald-green wings, 
were as elegant as precious malachite vases, that their 
eyes sparkled like diamonds. Let me repeat that they fed 
on sunshine, like plants, and were as innocent as flowers; 
when I called them Sun-children, they were puzzled and 
said: “The Sun itself is a drop of wisdom.” 

_ I was most curious about their “rings” and life on them, 


outside the planet itself; I wanted to know how they had 
managed to create these artificial rings, and how they had 
hit upon the idea. 

I conversed with them by means of pictures, drawings 
and gestures, which they also employed, but chiefly with 
the aid of the natural pictures, drawn in the differently 
coloured subcutaneous liquids on their transparent chests; 
it was obvious that their brains and thoughts were linked 
by vasomotor (vascular motor) nerves, with the ebb and 
flow of these liquids. This was the universal prime “lan- 
guage”, which I encountered wherever an atmosphere and 
aerial sound waves were absent. This language is the same 
everywhere, because it depicts the real nature of objects 
and phenomena, by composing some likeness of them; the 
speech organs of the natives were very intricate, I could 
not keep abreast of them in the speed and accuracy with 
which they conveyed their ideas; I understood them better 
than they understood me; for, who, indeed, would fail to 
grasp the meaning of the wonderful paintings that flashed 
out on their chests, only to disappear and give way to 
pictures that were still more understandable or that were 
the second part of the story given in the first set. You can 
see something of the sort in the moving, tinted light images 
of the camera-obscura (or photographic apparatus).* 

The chest pictures of the Pallasians flashed past just as 
quickly as their thoughts and ideas; their eyes served them 
as ears. 


Having seen Pallas itself, we turned to what was most 
remarkable about it—its disk, or circle, right in the centre 
of which was the planet itself. 

It was much easier for the inhabitants of Pallas to realise 
the dreams of the Vestians: to colonise surrounding space. 
Indeed, it is not so difficult to combat gravity there; a 

* There was no cinema at the time I wrote this. 


speed of 200 m/sec is enough for a body to escape from 
the planet forever and become a satellite of the Sun, or 
in other words, an independent planet. It is enough for 
a train to work up a speed of 141 m/sec, to shed weight 
and to escape into the surrounding void; such a train, doing 
508 kilometres an hour, moves only 4 times faster than 
the fastest trains on the Earth. This, and even greater speed 
is quite attainable here because objects weigh fifty-two 
times less than they do on the Earth; friction of every kind 
is also as many times less, Hence speed, in the case of an 
identical amount of energy being expended, can be safely 
increased (in relation to the speed of terrestrial trains) 
fourfold. Taking into further consideration the absence of 
drag and the perfection of the railways and machinery of the 
Pallasians, it can be increased five- or even tenfold, but 
that would be superfluous, as a fourfold acceleration is 
quite adequate. 

Only do not imagine that you would see right on the 
planet’s equator a train travelling at 500 kilometres an 
hour and covering the distance round it in only one hour 
and 35 minutes! No, the first train, standing or travelling 
on the actual surface of the planet itself moves at 14 m/sec 
(50 kilometres an hour). It winds round the planet in an 
endless circle moving round it in much the same way as 
a worm round a nut. The second train, which is like the 
first, but which runs on top of it, as if on a moving platform 
with moving rails, has the same speed in relation to the 
first; however in relation to the planet itself it possesses 
a speed that is twice as great, or in other words, it travels 
at about 100 kilometres an hour, or about 28 m/sec. 

The third train moves with the same velocity and in the 
same direction; in relation to the second it travels at 
14 m/sec, while in relation to the planet it possesses a 
speed that is three times as great (150 kilometres an hour). 
In this fashion each train higher up travels at 50 kilometres 
an hour faster than the one beneath it, but the velocity of 
each train in relation to the planet depends on its position; 


for example, a fifth-level train will already travel at 250 
kilometres an hour. The highest or tenth train, moving on 
top of the ninth, which, like all the other trains, is an 
endless circle with platform and rails, already travels at 
141 m/sec; owing to the centrifugal force, objects inside 
weigh nothing and the train itself weighs nothing; it barely 
touches the rails. The next or eleventh circle will hang 
suspended in space without the slightest support and with- 
out any contact with the tenth, even though the speeds 
of the eleventh and all succeeding trains, far from increas- 
ing in relation to the planet itself, even decrease a little; 
the speed of the tenth train, which is 508 kilometres an 
hour, is the peak velocity of the entire multi-tiered ring or 
circle stretching up to a height of 800 km; further up the 
speed of the ring continually diminishes, but extremely 
slowly, consequently the difference in the speed of the two 
neighbouring trains is imperceptible, meaning that they 
move at an almost identical speed; the fringe of the 
“circle”, the top train, travels at only 53 m/sec, which 
means that its speed is a little over one-third of the highest 

After this brief description of the essence of the “multi- 
tiered” trains and the secret of the existence and origin 
of the rings of Pallas, let us climb in to the first train, 
which is done extremely easily; we need only to run beside 
it. After all, 50 km an hour is nothing on a planet where 
objects weigh 52 times less, and air resistance, so percep- 
tible on the Earth at such a speed, is quite absent. Having 
done that, we need only stretch out an arm as we run and 
grasp the bar, and we are on board; the entire manoeuvre 
is identical with the one used when jumping on a moving 
horse-drawn tram. 

Here (on the first train) gravity is less than on the planet, 
though the difference is hardly felt; but it can easily be 
detected by means of the spring balance which you have 
taken along. It can also be spotted by observing the slower 
swing of the pendulum of the clock on the wall; to see 


that you need only compure the time it shows with that 
of your pocket watch, whose mechanism does not depend 
on weight, but merely on the elasticity of the steel spring 
(hair spring). The diminution of gravity, in general, on the 
first train is not noticeable and does not strike the eye 
after all we have experienced in this respect; but it pro- 
gressively increases from train to train. If we take the dimi- 
nution of gravity on the first ring as the unit, on the second 
it will be four times as much, on the third—9 times, on the 
fourth—16 times, on the tenth—l100 times, and on all 
subsequent trains—also 100 times as much. 

From the first train we make our way in the same manner 
as before to the second; let us note, in passing, that we can 
use for the purpose the special devices which transfer you 
imperceptibly, and without effort, to any of the trains; 
however, I shall not tire your imagination describing them; 
most of the natives use them. 

Once transferred to the fastest or tenth train, ‘which 
is not very far away from the surface of the Pallas, some 
22 metres or so, we find that gravity apparently disap- 
pears altogether; the pendulum stops swinging, weights 
no longer pull at the spring balance but register zero; and 
bodies do not fall down. I hung suspended in the middle of 
the carriage like a fish in water or a bird in the air, but, 
naturally, without my making any effort. My notions of 
above and below were confused in my mind and depended 
on the direction I took; above meant what was overhead 
and below meant what was beneath my feet, but as I did not 
fall down, my sensations were quite confused. I had to turn 
with my feet towards the ceiling of the carriage and every- 
thing in it, or rather in my brain, turned “upside down”; 
the floor of the carriage seemed to be the ceiling, and the 
ceiling—the floor, and it was difficult for me to convince 
myself that the carriage had not overturned. I did not feel 
its motion, because it was travelling extremely smoothly 
like a boat in water; but I am unable to explain how they 
achieved this. When I looked out of the window I saw the 


planet itself receding in a direction opposite to my own, 
my movement was imperceptible to me, and every one and 
a half hours the Sun rose and those regions of the planet, 
which I had already seen before, came into sight again. 

The slightest push was enough to send one flying inside 
or outside the carriage in any desired direction; I had 
merely to sneeze, yawn, or cough, for my body, which had 
so far been immobile and had been in contact, without 
pressure, with other objects, to speed forward for quite a 
while along a straight line. Together with this, since a 
rotational motion is, for the most part, added to the recti- 
linear motion, it seems to you that the planet with its train 
and the heavenly firmament with its stars and Sun are 
revolving round you. 

With a gentle push against the wall of the carriage, I 
found myself shooting towards the opposite door but my 
fear made me clutch at the bar-handle on the steps outside; 
I clung on for some time, peering around me and slowly 
becoming calm again. No! The idea of shooting away from 
this ring terrified me. So I tied myself to the bar with a 
long piece of thin rope; then very gently I pushed myself 
away from it and flew a few seconds in a perfectly straight 
line; only the rope kept me from promenading further, and 
God alone knows, where I would have gone. The rope be- 
came taut and jerked me back so that I landed safe and 
sound. at the side of the carriage. I was bounced off it 
again, this time involuntarily like a ball, for it had not 
been my intention to repeat the experiment. I again flew 
the entire length of the rope only this time slowly and 
remained almost completely immobile. 

Beneath me the planet raced by, but I did not fall on 
to it, despite its gravitational pull; there unfolded before 
me glimpses of life on the planet, the various buildings, 
the wonderful palatial dwellings and the wreathing crowds 
of Pallas’ dense population. Many of them boarded the 
trains, changing from one to another; others dropped down 
to the planet. My train and the rings higher up seemed 


stationary, while those lower down seemed to dash along 
with the planet, running faster the closer they were to it; 
but actually, the reverse was the case. 

The upper rings teemed with life and seemed like a 
miracle suspended in space; only some parts touched one 
another, leaving large gaps in between. 

I pulled at the rope and the impetus returned me to 
the carriage; to ascend from it a dozen kilometres or so, 
a jump was enough; in this way having remoted the rope, 
I found myself on the top rings; after flying a fair distance 
and stopping outside one of the rings I took another jump 
and again flew several kilometres without any effort. 

The area of the entire disk is 48 times greater than the 
surface area of the planet in its equatorial cross-section. 
Thus, taking into consideration the fact that the plane is 
not always perpendicular to the Sun’s rays, we find that 
the inhabitants of Pallas were receiving 20 times more 
warmth and light than they had a right to, according to 
the size of their planet. Its diameter was only a seventh of 
the ring’s width; this means that the ring was relatively 
larger than Saturn’s. 

None of the objects released carefully, without a push, 
on the rings above the 10th, ever fall anywhere. But if 
pushed, they fly (in relation to the rings), for a fair time 
in a straight line and smoothly inthe direction of the push. 
It is possible even to shove an object towards the planet, 
but that would be dangerous as it would collide headlong 
with the first object to come its way. Anything may be 
thrown or sent in other directions. It will move upwards, 
downwards, or sideways, indifferently and quite freely, 
though given time it will nevertheless return to the rings. 
From this it is evident that the motion is curvilinear and 
not quite smooth (even in relation to the rings). However, 
over a distance of several kilometres and in the course of 
minutes, even hours, it differs in no way from the motion 
of objects in an environment having no gravity. Along the 
entire 800 kilometres upwards from Pallas, the ring is a 


relatively gravity-free environment, provided we disregard 
the negligible force of attraction it itself has; however even 
this is practically absent in the gaps between therings (the 
attraction of the lower rings is cancelled out by the attrac- 
tion of the upper ones). This relatively gravity-free space 
does not differ in beneficial properties from the absolutely 
gravity-free environment (which actually does not exist). 
You have only to push off horizontally, for instance, along 
the thin line of one of the rings and, with one slight effort, 
you begin to move with the speed of a “mail train” in rela- 
tion to the ring, either at its side or, in the gaps in between; 
you spend your life in motion, cover millions of kilometres, 
and be unable to stop, unless you take the right measures; 
your motion in relation to the planet is, of course, 100 times 
faster and continues forever, in spite of you, owing to the 
revolution of the rings. The inhabitants of the disk hold 
all kinds of conclaves and meetings with the greatest of 
convenience and without the slightest difficulty; they have 
no need at all of such relatively powerful instruments of 
locomotion as our legs. While taking part in their meetings 
and outings and, at the same time, reading or doing some- 
thing else, I hardly noticed the road or my own movements, 
feeling no headaches or aching bones because of the dust 
and jolting, I involuntarily had a mental vision of my own 
planet, the Earth. I thought of the unfortunate traveller 
there, blistering his feet as he walks 20 to 30 kilometres, 
or the rich man in his cabriolet, drenched to the skin by 
the rain, frozen to the marrow, and wistfully dreaming 
of rest and a soft bed; but what is a bed compared to the 
“bed” of free space you always have there—and my heart 
was filled with pity. 

“How did the idea enter your heads of conquering space 
and solar energy by such simple, easy means?’ I once 
asked the inhabitants of Pallas. And they told me the 
following story. 

Long, long ago, in ancient times,.the planet was by no 
means as smooth and spherical as now. On the equator 


itself stood a mountain, which revolved together with the 
planet. We climbed vertically up this mountain, which was 
as much as 800 kilometres high, as easily as you, on the 
Earth, climb an imperceptible slope of half a degree; every 
jump you took would land you 30 metres higher up in half 
a minute; so in one second you would cover one metre 
(the speed of a pedestrian). 

Our feeble legs could not take such leaps, but we climbed 
Straight up, at a speed of 3-4 kilometres an hour; conse- 
quently we could cover the entire distance in 200 hours or 
8 terrestrial days, or, including time for resting, in a fort- 
night. Later, mechanical roads with solar motors were de- 
vised and the trip up the mountain no longer presented any 

Climbing up the mountain one way or another the 
travellers always noticed that they felt lighter the higher 
up they went; they were able to jump more easily and 
further, the higher up they were. At a height of 700 kilo- 
metres, very heavy objects weighed less than a dram and, 
when given the slightest push, soared up like feathers for 
several kilometres, floating for a long while and falling 
very slowly! At a height of 750 km gravity disappeared 
completely. Jumping sideways, or by just not keeping 
close to the mountain, one became separated from it and 
hung suspended at a height of 750 km above the planet, 
with an abyss overhead and underfoot. 

Imagine the situation of a rational being, who has 
accidentally slipped off a mountain and sees it receding to- 
the distance! He wants to return to it, helplessly stretches 
out his arms and sends out plaintive appeals; but all in 
vain: the mountain continues to recede into the distance! 

It is all well and good when there is something to catch 
hold of, or when you accidentally move away from it 
together with a lump of rock, because then, after pushing 
it aside in the direction opposite to your own, you can still 
return at once from the yawning abyss. But when there 
is nothing? However, do not worry, the first explorer who 


ran this terrible risk did not perish. He returned quite safely 
to his kith and kin; he merely had a cheap round-the-world 
trip, true at such a great distance from Pallas, that he saw 
it as a brightly shining giant moon, occupying a tremendous 
part of the heavenly firmament (15°, or 900 times more 
than the Moon, observed from the Earth). 

To what point, however, did he return? He came back 
to the same mountain two terrestrial months later, presum- 
ing he had pushed off gently enough to impart to himself the 
relative velocity of translation of about one metre a second. 

The first traveller, who returned terrified but also greatly 
delighted, was followed by a legion of brave explorers, 
who, with all their goods and chattels, shortly formed a 
whole living ring around the planet. The crowded condi- 
tions on the planet, the shortage of sunlight, i.e., their 
source of food, spurred on the kindly folk, who desired 
to avoid quarrels and troubles over a crust of bread in 
earthly language, or sunlight—in their language. 

They soon noticed that this very tall mountain impeded 
the formation of rings above and below. Enlightenment 
spread, machinery and technology progressed, and, finally, 
they contrived what you see here today; the mountain was 
removed because it produced “perturbation” in the rings, 
because of its gravitational attraction, and obstructed 
freedom of movement and expansion above and below. 

And now we extend the diameter of our ring as required, 
concluded the story-teller. 


From a purely terrestrial standpoint the animal is com- 
posed of 29 elements known to us. Its chief component 
is water; it can stand temperatures not higher than 100°C 
and not lower than 100°-200°C (but then it does not live 
but is preserved alive in a state of anabiosis); most of the 
animals require a definite average temperature, approxi- 
mately 20°C. The animal requires an atmosphere containing 
oxygen and water vapour. The source of the animal’s 
activity, i.e., movements and thinking, comes from other 
organisms, or at least the Sun (zoophytes). The animal 
presumably cannot live without atmospheric pressure and 
gravity. The animal’s body temperature must be above 
freezing point, but must not exceed 37°-40°C. The mature 
animal reaches a definite size. 

Even the highest animal (man) is far from perfect; for 
instance, the life span is short, the brain is small and of 
poor structure, and so on. 

All this is essentially a result of adaptation to the con- 
ditions of life prevailing on the Earth, chiefly to life on the 

* The article offers a broad view of the universal occurrence and 
variety of forms of life in the cosmos. It deals with worlds within 
worlds, the periodicity and complexity of matter and phenomena, 
which have no end; it speaks of infinitely remote epochs where 
there were “ethereal” animals unlike any found on Earth, and dif- 
ficult to imagine, but in their way perfect and almost humanly con- 

scious. —Ed, 

equator, and a sign of incomplete phylogenetic development 
(evolution). On other planets with different conditions of 
life the animal will be built on different lines. Our Earth, 
too, will produce more perfect forms in the course of time. 
Let us examine, in sequence, all the available information 
pertaining to terrestrial organisms. 

Why are the animals made up of 29 elements and why 
do they not contain the remaining 61, for instance, gold, 
platinum and others (these are sometimes found in organ- 
isms but only by chance, in negligible quantities and play- 
ing no role at all)? (And of the 29 elements probably nine 
are unnecessary, too.) 

The first reason is that the animal feeds on plants and 
plants contain just these elements. And why are plants 
made up of these substances? Plants are surrounded by 
the atmosphere, water and water vapour, while their roots 
are in the soil, so it is natural that they should contain 
these substances; hydrogen and oxygen come from the 
water while the soil, dissolved in the water, gives the 
plants chiefly calcium, phosphorus, chlorine, sulphur, 
sodium, potassium, fluorine, magnesium, iron, silicon, man- 
ganese, aluminium and other elements. The atmosphere 
provides oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. Soil and water in 
the soil contain other elements as well, but in infinitesimal 
doses, because these are either rare substances or heavy, 
and hidden deep down in the earth and not easily acces- 
sible to the plants. If other elements predominated in the 
composftion of soil and atmosphere, the composition of 
plants and animals would be different. 

The upper crust of planets lying closer to the suns con- 
tains more of the heavy elements, and organisms on these 
planets should contain heavy elements. Organisms on plan- 
ets that are far removed from the suns should, on the 
contrary, contain the lighter substances, because more of 
these occur there. 

Man has extracted heavy metals from the bowels of the 
earth and made gold, for instance, part of his body (gold 

26—761 40! 

teeth, etc.); generally speaking, the composition of animals 
on Earth may yet undergo a change. 

What inference can be drawn from the above? Given 
suitable conditions, all elements can be used to build up 
living organisms. So we may suppose that on every planet 
different substances predominate in the composition of 
living beings, depending on the elements in the planet’s 
crust, its distance from the Sun, the latter’s properties, 
the temperature on the planet, and other factors. 

The animal consists of solids and liquids. And water 
is not the only liquid. But on the planets that are situated 
far from the Sun—and at low temperatures in general— 
water is a mineral while the prevailing liquid substances 
are of other composition, for instance, liquid carbon dioxide, 
various oils, alcohols, hydrocarbons, carbohydrates, liquid 
gases and so on. These would form the seas and living or- 
ganisms. On the other hand, bodies that are solid on the 
Earth would be in a liquid state on planets nearer the Sun 
and might become parts of the composition of the animals. 

Atmospheres of other planets, too, may have a different 
composition with hydrogen predominating on the cold 
planets, and, on planets nearer the Sun—water vapour or 
other liquids converted into gases because of the great 

The conclusion to be drawn is that on cold and hot 
planets there may be living beings composed of the seas, 
atmospheres and soils peculiar to each of the planets. 

Is it true that for life to develop abundantly the ®nviron- 
ment must have a temperature of roughly 25°C? We have 
seen that neither a high nor a low temperature deprives 
planets of oceans and atmospheres, only their composition 
is different; so animal life should also be possible on the 
planets. The animals will be made up of the liquids and 
gases appropriate to the mean temperature of the given 
planet. Consequently, the greatest variety of temperature 
on the planets are no obstacle to the abundant development 
of life on them. 


We know that even our own organisms adapt themselves 
to a low temperature. True, this applies to either the lowest 
of the animal kingdom or to rational man, capable of 
creating an artificial situation to protect himself from the 
cold, which costs him a tremendous effort. But the northern 
animals have migrated from warm climes, their place of 
origin was the equator and they were not adapted to the 
harsh climate at first. Hundreds of millenia had to pass 
before they grew accustomed to the cold, and then not all 
of them. That is why so far we have not observed any 
luxuriant blossoming of life in winter conditions and in the 
polar climate. Incidentally, the main reason for the scarcity 
of life in cold countries is the absence of the solar energy. 

Why is the body temperature of the higher animals on 
Earth about 37°C? Life originated at the equator, in its seas 
and oceans. (Why? Because of the even warmth and abun- 
dance of the solar energy.) The mean temperature of water 
there fluctuated around 25°C. That was the body tempera- 
ture of the primordial animals, the height of whose exist- 
ence coincided with just this temperature. The animals 
accepted the temperature of their environment, and al- 
though they could stand lower and higher temperatures 
they were at their best only in the mean temperature of 
the environment. 

The body temperature of these first creatures was only 
Slightly higher than that of their environment, since they 
had little vital energy. 

There then developed the warm-blooded animals with 
their tremendous vitality. As a result of this (the warmth, 
the burning up or chemical processes inside the animal) 
their body temperature became much higher than the 
average temperature of the surrounding medium. Thus, the 
body temperatures of animals are always a little higher 
than the mean temperature of the planet. But planets may 
have widely varying temperatures, and so, therefore, can 
animals. Some may be very hot, others ice-cold—from 
man’s point of view. I leave out of the discussion cases 

26° 403 

where the temperature of the medium is a little higher 
than that of the animal; warm-blooded animals are then in 
danger of dying, because, if heated, the brain ceases to 
function. But actually when this happens the skin or the 
lungs give off water, the heat of the body is absorbed and 
the brain remains at its normal temperature. A certain 
constant temperature is another condition essential to life. 
Drastic fluctuations of temperature are fatal to any organ- 
ism. But we know that on the few planets which have one 
side always turned to the Sun the temperature fluctuates 
between 250°C below zero and 150°C above. 

How could there be life on such planets? The fact is 
that whatever difference there may be in the temperatures 
at the surface, this alone does not preclude life, because 
inside the planet the temperature remains constant. So 
animals can burrow down into the ground and hide in 
their holes from the excessive heat and cold. But the lowest 
animals would be quite helpless. The beginnings of life 
in such contrasting temperatures would be difficult. There 
are limits to everything, even to the endurance of living 
things; so perhaps rational beings having the highest de- 
velopment of knowledge and technology, might take pos- 
session of the places that are inconvenient for lower animal 

Must there be a sun for animals to exist? The energy of 
solar radiation is widespread in the Universe: the Ethereal 
Island alone has over a million thousand millions of suns, 
young and old, constantly emitting their rays into space. 
It is clear, therefore, that most animals live by solar 
energy. Yet they may exist by force of some other energy. 
Some of the suns become extinguished and distant planets 
have almost no sun-rays at all, yet life does not immediate- 
ly end on these planets. High temperatures and chemical 
energy are long preserved within the celestial bodies that 
have cooled on the outside. This makes it possible for 
different organisms to continue living for a long time. Only 
there is no particular need to utilise these meagre remnants 


of celestial energy, since there are vast numbers of flaming 
hot suns! Theoretically any form of energy can support 
life; for instance, the energy of planetary motion and 
revolution, gravity, heat, atomic energy, and other kinds. 
But we shall not discuss in what way. 

A very important factor is the kind of brain an animal 
has. Can it grow larger with the animal’s size remaining 
the same, and if so, to what extent? The important thing 
is the structure of the brain, but size is a good quality, 
because the larger the brain, the more capacious the mem- 
ory and the mental powers in general. We can carry heavy 
loads, why then can we not have heavier heads? Mechanics 
shows that our brain can quite safely be twice or three 
times as large as it is. So far, however, there are obstacles 
to this. First, child-birth becomes more difficult and, sec- 
ondly, development of the brain (at the initial stage) leads 
to circumscribed moral standards and man renounces 
personal happiness and leaves no offspring. At the second 
Stage this development leads to pessimism which destroys 
bright hopes, fills the mind with fears and is the cause 
of nervous disturbances and early death. Only at the third 
Stage, with the brain and mind reaching their highest de- 
velopment is a degree of equilibrium established between 
altruism and egoism and man realises that he has a duty 
both to himself and his offspring. 

The first obstacle can be overcome by premature births 
and subsequent development of the foetus in a special 
artificial medium. Man will, as it were, have to return to 
the period of egg-laying (birds, reptiles and the like). The 
second and third obstacles can be removed by precautions 
undertaken during the first and second stages of develop- 
ment and the immediate development of the third, which 
gives rise to optimism, thanks to superior knowledge, pene- 
tration into the depths of nature and great wisdom. 

But the brain may grow in size in proportion to the 
growth of the entire animal. Growth is hampered on the 
Earth by gravity. Mechanics definitely proves that the 


mass of the brain of animals similar in shape is propor- 
tional to the cube of the decrease of gravity to which the 
animals are subjected. Thus on Mars and Mercury where 
gravity is half what it is on the Earth the volume of the 
brain could be eight times larger than that of the ter- 
restrial animals provided, naturally, for an animal with a 
similar external appearance. The creatures would be twice 
as large as on the Earth. On the Moon they would be 16 
times as large and the mass of the brain 216 times greater. 

This conclusion of mechanics does not apply to aquatic 
creatures, for their weight is counteracted by water. Ani- 
mals with large brains could originate in water. But no 
industry is possible in a water medium (no fire can burn 
there), there is insufficient oxygen and solar energy (light), 
so life could not and did not develop there to any extent. 

When man has settled down in the ether, in artificial 
dwellings, i.e., when he has overcome the Earth’s gravita- 
tional pull and escaped from it, he will not, in interplan- 
etary space, encounter any obstacle to the growth of his 
brain if we ignore the complexity of a large brain and 
the organs that supply it with nutriment which, of course, 
are bound to put a limit on the development of the mass 
of the brain. 

But while man is on the Earth (and part of mankind 
will certainly remain on the Earth) his brain can increase 
only two or three times. It will not be beautiful, but one 
can get accustomed to anything. Beauty is a convention- 
al, subjective thing. 

The lungs of mammals are very imperfectly constructed. 
This organ ought to be transformed. Take the example of 
the alimentary canal. In lower forms it has an entrance for 
food but no special exit. What is left after food has been 
digested goes out the way the food came in. Locusts, for 
instance, excrete through the mouth. This slows down the 
digestive process. That is why higher animals have ac- 
quired an anus. They have an advantage over animals 
without it. Primitive blood circulation, again, was in waves 


(to and fro). It is only the higher forms that have a decent 
pump (the heart) and regular blood circulation. 

It is the same with the lungs of the majority of mam- 
mals who inhale air, extract oxygen from it and exhale 
the products of respiration through one and the same ori- 
fice. Because of this the blood is oxidised slowly, the organ 
of respiration has a big volume yet gives little oxygen to 
the animal. Like the alimentary canal, the respiratory 
chamber should have a separate exit; the air should enter 
uninterruptedly through one opening and go out through 
another. That this is possible can be seen from the struc- 
ture of insects and birds which willy-nilly release enor- 
mous energy during flight. Insects, for instance, have re- 
spiratory tubules (tracheae) through which the air flows. 
All they lack is a pneumatic pump, and we can be sure 
that at least some insects possess one. In birds the thoracic 
muscles are pierced with similar tubules, although we 
know little of the mechanism of how the air passes 
through them: whether the streams of air flow in one di- 
rection or whether they fluctuate backwards and forwards 
as in the lungs. One thing is clear—the air current through 
these tubules is brought about by the contraction of the 
thoracic muscles during flight (just when great amounts of 
energy are needed). 

There is no doubt that the evolution of animals even 
on the Earth might have taken a different course and pro- 
duced animals with “through” respiratory organs. And it is 
quite possible that such creatures do exist on the many mil- 
lions of other planets. They may originate on the Earth as 
well, either naturally or artificially, when man begins to 
model his body. Physiologists are well aware of the numer- 
ous defects in the structure of the bodies of even the high- 
est animals. All these defects should be eliminated by 
means of exercise, selection, crossing, operations and so 
on, We have mentioned a few of the shortcomings by way 
of illustration. There is not a single-organ in man that does 
not require to be improved. We might mention in passing 


that in many aquatic creatures oxygen, dissolved in water, 
moves along with it in the same direction. In fish it 
travels form the mouth to the gills. Perhaps that is why 
fish can live on the small amount of oxygen available 
in water. 

ls gravity, and particularly the gravity of the Earth, es- 
sential to man? In similar organisms (or ones that have 
an external likeness but are of different sizes) the greater 
the gravity the more it hampers growth. Consequently, it 
makes for a smaller brain and weaker mental powers. So it 
appears that gravity is harmful. 

That the total removal of gravity in no way precludes 
life is seen from the fact that aquatic creatures, with 
gravity (or weight) counteracted by the counter-pressure 
of the liquid, come to no harm. On the contrary, nowhere 
does the size of organisms reach such dimensions as in the 
ocean. Quite helpless on land, the whale in water frisks 
like a kitten. An animal upside down does not die or suf- 
fer, although gravity operates in the reverse direction. 
Even less does it suffer when lying down, when the pres- 
sure of the blood column is several times less than usual. 
In this same position a man can swallow, digest his food 
and perform other actions. Apart from their therapeutic in- 
fluence, baths often ease the condition of sick people by 
abolishing their weight. Decreased gravity should diminish 
the mass of the organs of locomotion (legs, feet, wings, 
etc.) if it does not increase the size of the organism. This 
is what can be expected to happen on planets with little 

1. The less the radius of gravity of the planet, the larg- 
er the organism on it. 

2. If this is not the case, the organs of locomotion (legs 
and so on) become very weak or thin. 

3. If this is not the case, the animals move in longer 
leaps or at greater speed. 

4. The three cases may be combined, that is, a moder- 
ate increase in size, moderately weakened leg or thorax 


muscles, moderately increased leaps and other movements. 
The three extreme cases may be found in the most varied 

The opposite is observed on big planets with a strong 
gravitation pull. 

But it may be objected: How can gravity be dispensed 
with—the oceans will evaporate, the atmosphere will dis- 
perse and without them life is impossible. 

Let us sort it all out in its proper order. Can water 
and air be dispensed with, and to what extent are they nec- 
essary? Man easily adapts himself to heights, where 
there is half as much air and oxygen as elsewhere. There 
are mountain villages at such heights and the children 
born there thrive on the shortage of oxygen while moun- 
taineers feel the lack of it. Healthy people can, for a time, 
tolerate only a quarter of the usual amount of oxygen. If 
there are ever such things as “through” lungs people will 
be satisfied with still less of this vitalising gas. Fish can 
be said to breathe not air but water saturated with it. The 
water streams in one direction (from the mouth to the 
gill slits), just like the blood and food of the higher ani- 
mals. Water contains 60 times less oxygen than the at- 
mosphere but this does not prevent the fish from keep- 
ing alive. What is more, aquatic creatures can exist per- 
fectly well when there is far less oxygen. It will be said: 
“That’s just what a fish’s life is like!” But pure oxygen 
(without water and atmospheric nitrogen), if there were 
such things as “through” lungs, would rapidly dissolve in 
the blood and give it no less than our land animals get. 

But how can atmospheric pressure be dispensed with? 
Where there is no pressure from the air or some other me- 
dium, the result is bleeding from the nose, throat and other 
organs. This is understandable, for the strength of the 
blood vessels is partly supported by the external pres- 
sure of the atmosphere. Once there is no pressure or only 
a little, the weaker vessels in the, nose and throat are 
burst by the blood. Man and the higher animals are not 


adapted to weak pressure from the environment. If, in- 
deed, in such an environment people are born and survive, 
it is because, in consequence of the ability of organisms 
(as Lamarck observed) to adapt themselves to new con- 
ditions, their blood vessels become stronger and they come 
to no harm in a rarefied environment. 

Organs of locomotion are also articulated by atmospheric 
pressure. Without air this bond is disrupted. But the bones 
will not fall apart even without pressure from the air 
because they are also connected by cartilages and the 
constant tension of the surrounding muscles. That this is 
so is evident from the experience of gymnastic exercises: 
an athlete can hang by the arms or legs, subjected to a 
force of gravity many times exceeding the atmospheric 
pressure on the inconsiderable areas of his connecting 
joints. In spite of this weight the joints do not come apart. 
From this it is evident that muscular tension alone is 
enough to keep the bones articulated. 

In a rarefied medium perspiration from the lungs and 
sweat glands should be intensified. But there are some 
animals (the dog) which have no sweat glands in their 
skin. So there can be organisms which do not lose water 
through perspiration. There are also some plants that do 
not transpire water (some cacti). What is the conclusion? 
That there can be creatures which would in no way suffer 
from the loss of external pressure. True, with lungs inca- 
pable of evaporating water the animals would be unable to 
regulate their body temperature and would perish. But if 
the temperature remains constant this danger will not be 

There are many other indications of the influence of the 
pressure of the environment. For instance, the lungs of 
mammals expand exclusively owing to atmospheric pres- 
sure. We are nevertheless hoping that lungs will also be 
able to adapt themselves to the absence of gravity. And 
indeed, if lungs are of the “through” type, with air flow- 
ing right through them in an uninterrupted stream, they 


may lose their elasticity which will become unnecessary, or 
they may become attached to the thoracic cavity. We can- 
not go into all that here. 

So we see that animals can dispense with gravity and 
exist with a small amount of gases exerting little pressure. 

Another question arises: is gaseous oxygen or any other 
gas-like nutrition necessary at all? No, it is not. Animals 
can take oxygen in, like food, in the form of its unstable 
compounds in solid or liquid form. Chemistry knows of 
numerous compounds of this kind and the chemistry of 
the future will discover many more. Perhaps a new organ 
—a kind of stomach—will be necessary, from which oxygen 
will gradually pass into the blood. An organism will have 
two stomachs and no lungs. It does not lose water and will 
in no way suffer without an atmosphere. Organisms of 
this kind are possible on the Moon and other planets where 
there is no atmosphere or where the atmospheres are 
highly rarefied. 

Organisms that have lungs can exist in atmospheres of 
widely differing composition. Energy does not come from 
oxygen alone: sodium burns in carbon dioxide and chlo- 
rine. Chemistry offers many examples of the kind. And then 
even on the Earth there are creatures living in a carbon- 
dioxide medium and needing no oxygen (anaerobia). The 
millions of thousands of millions of planets of our Ethe- 
real Island alone offer such an immense variety, such un- 
foreseeable possibilities that it is unlikely that the human 
mind today, no matter how brilliant, can encompass them. 

Is even food necessary after all? Perhaps there can be 
creatures who take no food, that consume no gases, water, 
plants, meat and salts! We know that plants can subsist on 
mineral substances alone, but still this is food of a kind. 
And the atmosphere, too, contributes to their nutrition by 
supplying carbon dioxide, sometimes oxygen, sometimes 
nitrogen (mostly through bacteria). 

There are animals that are like plants, capable of sub- 
sisting on inorganic substances; there are the plant-ani- 


mals (zoophytes). Their bodies contain tiny grains (chlo- 
rophyll) through whose agency (together with sunlight) 
they decompose the carbon dioxide of the air into carbon 
and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air while the 
carbon combines with other inorganic substances to form 
sugar, starch, cellulose (carbohydrates), nitrogenous and 
other organic tissues that go to make up the body of the 

All we see from this is that plants and animals can 
subsist with the help of inorganic food alone in the pres- 
ence of sunlight. But all the same atmosphere, water and 
soil also play a part here. Is life possible without the con- 
stant participation of these elements of the Earth, i.e., 
without the participation of the environment? 

Let us imagine a perfectly isolated individual animal. 
Suppose that no gases, liquids or other substances find 
their way into its organism, and no substances can be re- 
moved from it. The animal is permeated with light rays 
alone. When the light rays encounter in its body the 
chlorophyll, the carbon dioxide and other products of the 
decomposition of animal tissues dissolved in the blood, 
they decompose them and combine with them, producing 
oxygen, starch, sugar and various nitrogenous and other 
nutritive substances. 

In this way our animal gets all that is necessary for 
its existence. The food (what is formed in the body by 
the action of sunlight) and oxygen build the animal’s tis- 
sues. The latter are again decomposed into carbon dioxide 
and other products of decomposition (urea, ammonia and 
others). These need not be excreted but can return to the 
blood and remain in the organism. The Sun’s rays again 
act on them as they do on gaseous and liquid fertiliser in 
plants, i.e., transform them into oxygen and nutritive 
substances that compensate the loss from the constantly 
working parts of the body, such as the brain, muscles, 
and so on. This cycle goes on eternally until the animal 
itself is destroyed. 


That such a creature is possible is evident from the 
following. Imagine a transparent sphere of quartz or glass, 
pierced by the rays of the Sun. It contains a little soil, 
water, some gases, plants and animals. In a word, this 
tiny sphere is like our enormous Earth and, like every 
other planet, it contains a certain amount of isolated mat- 
ter and one and the same cycle of matter takes place in 
the Earth and in the tiny sphere. One glass sphere is 
just like a hypothetical being which manages on an un- 
changing amount of matter, and which lives for ever. If 
some animals within the sphere happen to die, new ones 
are born to take their place (the animals feed on plants). 
The sphere can be said to be immortal, just like the 

One may ask, “How can there appear an animal whose 
mass remains constant?” An animal living, thinking, mov- 
ing and, let us assume, not even dying. But how is it born 
and how does it give birth to new animals? It is conceiv- 
able that at the initial stage of its existence it develops 
like terrestrial animals from an ovule developing in a suit- 
able nutritive medium (perhaps with the participation of 
solar energy), growing, breathing, reaching its maximum 
size, fertilising or producing ova, then undergoing trans- 
formations (like the caterpillar in chrysalis and the but- 
terfly), losing sweat glands, lungs, digestive organs, be- 
coming covered with an impenetrable skin, in a word, be- 
coming isolated from the surrounding medium and devel- 
oping into the extraordinary being we have already de- 
scribed. It subsists on sunlight alone, its mass remains con- 
Stant, it continues to think and live like a mortal or an 
immortal being. 

The cradle of such beings, of course, is a planet like the 
Earth, i.e., having an atmosphere and oceans consisting of 
some kind of gases or liquids. But a mature being of this 
kind can live in a void, in the ether, even without grav- 
ity, so long as there is solar energy. Fortunately there 
is no dearth of it as millions upon millions of suns, young 


and old, with and without families of planets, have been 
tirelessly emitting this energy for many trillions of years. 
When some of the suns become feeble or extinguished, new 
ones take their place. Beings similar to those we have 
described cannot fail to make use of this abundant radiat- 
ing energy. They surround all the suns, even those that 
have no planets, and utilise their energy to live and think. 
There must be a purpose for the stars’ energy! 

We have mentioned beings like terrestrial plants and 
animals. We are not going outside the limits of science, 
but our imagination has all the same produced that which 
does not exist on the Earth but which is possible from the 
viewpoint of our narrow (so-called scientific) understand- 
ing of matter. . 

By this we mean 80-90 elements, their transformation, 
protons, electrons and other working hypotheses. We have 
reached several conclusions that living organisms could 
adapt themselves to the many conditions of life to be 
found on millions and millions of planets and beyond them; 
the forms and functions of these beings are naturally much 
more varied than is the case with terrestrial plants and 
animals; the same applies to their degree of perfection, 
but this, in general, is far higher than the highest found 
on the Earth; in comparison human genius is nothing. All 
this is the result of a great variety of conditions and aeons 
of time, of which there could be no shortage whatsoever. 

In thè course of time unity is achieved on every planet, 
all imperfections are eliminated, it attains a perfect so- 
cial order and the greatest power; its supreme council 
elects one who administers the whole planet. This one is 
the most perfect being on it. His qualities gradually spread 
to all the inhabitants but still they cannot all become quite 

But the planet’s population multiplies and the surplus 
can only find room in the space around their sun. This pop- 
ulation is many million times more numerous than that 
left on the planet. It, too, is administered by an elected 


body and its president. The latter is still more perfect than 
the president of the council on an individual planet. 

Then neighbouring groups of suns, galaxies, ethereal 
islands, and: so on also unite. The representatives of these 
social units ascend higher and higher in the scale of per- 
fection. Thus, besides the rank-and-file population of the 
Universe, which is at a fairly high level of perfection, we 
find representatives of planets, solar systems, constella- 
tions, galaxies, ethereal islands, and so on. It is difficult to 
imagine the degree of perfection they have attained. They 
may be likened to deities of different ranks. 

One would think that perhaps there is no purpose in 
the solar system or in several systems being united. Let 
each solar system, for example, live as best it can. What 
does it care about some other solar system? But each sun 
with its planets will not exist for ever. All of them, in 
any case, finally explode, become extinguished or suffer 
various catastrophes. Before disasters happen some suita- 
ble place to live, that is not occupied, has to be found for 
the population. We must know all there is to know about 
other solar systems. The president of each group will con- 
sider what is in the common interest, he will give the nec- 
essary information and direct the movement of the so- 
cieties and give them every assistance in settling in the 
new place. 

Can communication be established between neighbour- 
{ng suns? Since we can obtain some knowledge of them 
even now you can imagine what will happen later on, 
when man has begun to live in the ether where there is 
no atmosphere to hamper the almost unlimited increase in 
the power of telescopes, when we become free from the 
devastating force of gravity, and so on. 

For interstellar distances light does not travel fast 
enough, it needs years and years to cover them. But per- 
haps a new medium will be discovered in the ether, one 
lighter and more elastic than the ether (just as ether is 
Still found in the atmosphere). Perhaps its invisible vacilla- 


tions will reach neighbouring suns in a matter not of years 
but days or even hours. Then it will be easier to discuss 
this problem than it is now. 

All this is terrestrial, within the comprehension of the 
simple scientific human mind. But perhaps there is a high- 
er point of view, less comprehensible to us. That this 
may be so is proved not merely by inspired reasoning but 
by the facts. But for this we must rise above commonplace 
working hypotheses—all these electrons, protons, hydro- 
gen and the like. 

Indeed, what course has the trend of scientific develop- 
ment, i.e., the development of knowledge, taken? At first 
man discovered a countless host of bodies with varied prop- 
erties and took them to be an infinite number of funda- 
mentally different substances. Later, all this variety was 
reduced to 90 elements. Finally the conclusion was arrived 
at that these 90 simple substances were made up of elec- 
trons and protons; the idea of the ether was discarded com- 
pletely. But the majority of physicists still use the ether as 
a working hypothesis; they think of it as an extremely 
rarefied and elastic substance, the particles of which are 
many thousand million times smaller than protons and 
millions of times smaller than electrons.* But what tre- 
mendous leaps are those between the masses of the parti- 
cles! If the mass of a proton is taken as unity, the mass of 
an electron will be expressed by the ratio 1:2,000 and that 
of ether 1 : (16X108). 

This muddle can be cleared up if we discard the narrow 
standpoint of modern working hypotheses. 

Matter as it is at present is the result of the evolution 
of a simpler matter whose elements we do not know. What 
I mean is that at some period of time matter used to be 

* See my Kinetic Theory of Light. 

lighter and more elastic, because it consisted of smaller 
particles than electrons. Perhaps those were particles of 

When was this? Well, time is as infinite as space and 
matter. There is any amount of it. No number can express 
it. All known and imaginary times are zero compared with 
time. So take enough time and we shall come to simpler 

This “simple” matter is the result of still “simpler” mat- 
ter. At some date the latter predominated in the Universe. 
We can go on and on without an end in this way, and 
come to the conclusion that matter can be divided infinitely 
owing to the infiniteness of past time. 

Say what you will, but to consider proton or hydrogen 
to be the basis of the Universe, the true element, the indi- 
visible, is as absurd as to consider a sun or a planet to be 
that element. 

It may be that someone, some giant for whom the whole 
sky is only a small particle of matter, and for whom indi- 
vidual suns are as invisible as atoms are for us, on exam- 
ining the “sky” through his “microscope”, will notice the 
suns and will joyfully exclaim: “At last I have discovered 
the particles of which ‘matter’ consists!” But we know that 
he would be grossly mistaken in taking the suns for indi- 
visible atoms. 

We make the mistake taking an electron, a proton or 
even a particle of ether for an indivisible element. Our 
reason and the history of the sciences tell us that our 
atom is as complex as a planet or a sun. 

What is the use of saying all this? What practical con- 
clusion is to be drawn from it? I want to make it clear 
that the infiniteness of past time opens up before us a 
succession of worlds made up of substances more and 
more rarefied, more and more elastic. (It has been observed 
that with the decrease of the mass of particles their trans- 
lational velocity increases as does their elasticity. Hence, 
in more complex matter elasticity decreases, in less com- 

27—761 417 

plex matter it increases.) I want to make it clear that our 
matter, too, will continue to evolve. Some time in the fu- 
ture worlds will arise consisting of more and more com- 
plex and massive particles. To the future generations of 
conscious beings, these, too, will seem at first to be atoms. 
But in this they will be as mistaken as we are. 

“Well, what of it, what follows?” the reader may ask. 
And we shall answer: The epochs that have become lost in 
the infinity of time produced beings that achieved perfec- 
tion just as beings made up of “our” matter are achieving 
it. Each of the rarefied worlds had its own solid, liquid 
and gaseous substances which served too for the formation 
of thinking beings (consisting of very “subtle” matter). 
There has been an infinite number of such epochs before 
us and there will be an infinite number in the future. Our 
epoch, with conscious beings like those on the Earth, is 
one of this endless chain of epochs. 

Our imagination presents to us an infinite number of 
epochs in the past and in the future, each with its living 
beings. What are these beings like, is there any connection 
between them, how do they manifest themselves, can they 
manifest themselves, do they disappear with the arrival of 
a new epoch? 

We shall give an example. Plants and animals on Earth 
have undergone an evolution. They sprang from a single 
source—very simple protoplasm. One could even say that 
they sprang from inorganic matter which gave rise to 
protoplasm, from which developed a number of very dif- 
ferent beings. Some of them became extinct, but in general 
the development of higher animals did not prevent the 
lower, more ancient, primitive forms from continuing to 
exist without much progress. At the feast of life on Earth 
we see existing simultaneously bacteria, infusoria, worms, 
insects, fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds, mammals and 
man. True, the power of man threatens to destroy beings 
that are inimical to him. Others, on the other hand, are 
necessary for his well-being (bacteria and plants) and still 


others ‘have some kind of intelligence and are useful to 
him, so there is no point in destroying them. 

Similarly the epochs, parts of immense and infinite time, 
preserved not only the denser beings of our epoch but also 
the lightest ones belonging to past epochs. Many of them 
could have become extinct, but not all of them: those more 
perfect and useful could have remained as beings that are 
useful to man. 

Formerly we advocated the repetition of phenomena, or 
the periodic nature of the worlds, that the worlds were 
time and again destroyed and time and again arose. Perio- 
dicity there is, but the periods are not all alike, they seem 
to descend for they yield ever more complex matter. It 
can be compared to an undulating road: we first ascend 
then descend as we go along, never noticing that the road 
slopes downwards all the time and that at the end of each 
period we are on a lower level than before. There is no 
end, of course, to periods (waves), to the descent (the 
increasing complexity and density of matter). 




If a man is 180 cm tall, then when he is half that size 
he will, of course, be 90 cm. Provided geometric propor- 
tions are observed, the bodily surface area will dwindle to 
a quarter, and the total volume to an eighth. The weight 
and mass of the body will diminish to the same extent. Our 
man weighed 64 kg before; now he weighs only 8 kg. The 
volume, weight, and mass of his brain, as well as of all 
his other organs will also be reduced to one-eighth. Mean- 
while the surface area will be only a quarter, and the linear 
measurement, i.e., length, breadth and height, will be one- 
half. Since this should cause the capacity for logical 
thought to weaken, our dwarf is hardly likely to be able 
to comprehend and describe his sensations. We shall have 
to do that for him. Only with a different brain structure 
and a different ratio between its different segments, can 
he retain enough intelligence, despite the reduction in the 
general mass of the brain. 

The total absolute emission of heat will decrease to one 
quarter, fully corresponding to the diminished body area. 
Consequently, the body temperature should seemingly 
remain the same as before. However, since the cold will 
penetrate more deeply into the body, the temperature in 
its central parts should drop. 

The relative volume of food and oxygen consumed and 
of excreta should become doubled. Whereas a normal being 
consumes two kilograms of food in the 24-hour cycle, 


our dwarf will consume half a kilogram, which in relation 
to the mass of his body, will be twice as much. Thus, our 
dwarf will be much more of a glutton. To dine, he will 
need a sausage twice as long and a loaf of bread twice as 
big—that is, of course, relatively speaking. 

He will perform, again relatively speaking, twice as 
much mechanical work. He will be able to climb a mountain 
or a Staircase and run twice as quckly (that is, if only 
friction is taken into consideration, and atmospheric resist- 
ance ignored). In relation to the dimensions of his smaller 
body, the effect will be four times greater. Thus in one 
minute, a normal person climbs a distance equal to his 
height; our dwarf—a distance equal to four times his 

The absolute muscular strength will dwindle to a quarter. 
There will be no point in trying to fight a giant or anyone 
that is tall in general; the dwarf is bound to be vanquished. 
However, the relative muscular power will double. Whereas 
previously he could lift one person, now, as a dwarf, he 
can lift two of his own size with still greater ease. 

The relative resistance to fracture of the bones and 
gristle will double as, too, will the resistance of the tendons 
and the skin. Whereas a normal person easily carries 
himself and another person of his own size on his shoul- 
ders, the dwarf will be able to carry six of his own size, 
himself included, or five, not counting himself. Apparently, 
the dwarf will be able to drag a log relatively twice as long 
and as heavy. He will be able to drag rocks twice as large 
in volume, and pull a cart loaded with twice the weight. 
The absolute height from which our dwarf will be able to 
fall without harming himself will be twice as great; how- 
ever, compared with the size of his body it will be four 
times as much. A normal person can fall without harming 
himself from about his height; but a dwarf can fall down 
safely from a place four times his height. 

The work performed by any muscle in one contraction 
dwindles to one-eighth since the tension will be a quarter, 


and the size of the contraction is half as much. In con- 
Sequence of this, a leap will cover the same absolute 
distance, but in relative terms it will be greater. Indeed, 
a person of normal height crouches by 30 cm when pre- 
paring to jump, and jumps, let us say, as much, raising his 
body in all 60 cm. The dwarf’s muscles should raise him 
to the same height, But since he will lift himself by only 
15 cm upon straightening up, he will still have another 
45 cm to go, and, consequently, in relation to his height 
the jump he makes is 3 times as great. A normal person 
is able to jump on to a chair, but a dwarf will easily be able 
to jump on to a table. If, in performing work, the number 
of muscular contractions a minute remains the same, the 
absolute work performed would decrease to an eighth, 
while the relative work performed would remain constant. 
However, we know that the relative work performed by 
the dwarf is twice as great. Consequently, the number of 
muscular contractions per unit of time should double. In 
other words, the frequency of movement, the number of 
motions made by the limbs, the head, and so on, should 
double. This exactly corresponds to the faster nerve com- 
munications. The dwarf will prove to be not only a strong 
man, an unrivalled jumper and acrobat, but he will also 
be very lively, swift and agile. 

The absolute height reached by stones of proportionate 
sizes, thrown up by hand, will remain the same, but in 
relation to the thrower’s height it will be twice as much, 
Whereas a normal person can throw a stone the size of his 
fist to a height 10 times greater than his own height, the 
dwarf can throw a stone the size of his fist to a height 
20 times greater than his own. Whereas the first will throw 
a stone over his house, the dwarf will throw the same 
stone over a house twice the size—of course, in proportion 
to his own dimensions. 

A blow struck by the fist or a kick, is proportionate to 
the dwarf’s mass; in other words, the force of the blow 
or kick will be 8 times weaker, since the speed at which 


the hand, with or without a weapon, moves remains the 
same. Hence, the relative force of a blow, delivered by 
a fist, hammer, sword, or knife, remains constant, but 
the frequency with which the blows are delivered, is 

The dwarf will find swimming easy, as his energy is 
twice as great, while the absolute velocity of the fall into 
the water will be reduced by practically a third. Further, 
the relative efficiency of the limbs is doubled as their 
relative surface area is also doubled. 

The foregoing makes it clear that it is far easier for 
a dwarf to combat gravity, as he is more energetic and 
lively, and even swifter, in absolute terms. What, then, in the 
struggle for survival, prevented dwarfs from ousting peo- 
ple of normal height? In the first place dwarfs lose because 
of their diminished absolute muscular power; in the strug- 
gle against gravitation they gain, but in the struggle against 
creatures larger than themselves they lose. In addition, the 
smaller volume of the brain means weaker mental ability. 


Suppose now that instead of being 1 m 80 cm tall, our 
man is 3 m 60 cm tall. His volume, mass and weight will 
multiply 8-fold. Instead of 64 kg, our giant will weigh 
512 kg. The absolute power of his muscles and limbs will 
be quadrupled. But in relation to his weight, it will be 
only half as much. Whereas a person of normal height 
is easily able to carry another person of the same height 
on his back, the giant will be unable to carry anything, 
all his muscular energy is used to carry the mass of his 
own body, which is now 8 times greater. He no longer has 
enough strength to work, carry loads or build dwellings. 
In fact, he will hardly be able to drag himself along; the 
slightest pressure will cause him to topple over. 

True, he will possess a much greater brain power. But 
what use is this to him, if he is physically impotent, is 


unable to work and has to spend every ounce of his strength 
to carry the weight of his own body. The state of being 
a giant may be compared to that of an ordinary healthy 
man of good physique, who is overloaded to exhaustion 
and has no hope of ever ridding himself of the load. 

The effort that a giant must make to combat gravity 
will be four times greater in relation to his height, because 
the loads corresponding to his size increase 8-fold, while 
the height to which they must be lifted is doubled. As a 
result the work increases 16-fold. Meanwhile, his absolute 
Strength will be only fourfold. Consequently, the energy 
available to combat gravity is reduced to a quarter. A 
giant of still greater height will even be unable to walk, 
lift or move his limbs, or perform any mechanical work. 
He will retain longest the ability to lift a finger, move his 
tongue and other minor organs. But a still taller giant will 
even fail to do that, as he will no longer prove able to 
overcome their weight. And if he is still taller his blood 
vessels will burst, all his internal organs will be crushed, 
and he will die. 


It is scarcely likely in this case that we shall ever be 
able to reproduce the internal organs of the appropriate 
proportions, but let us presume that it can be done. Now 
we are dealing with a real Lilliputian. He is only 10 mm 
high, his body surface area is 10,000 times smaller, while 
his volume, mass, and weight, are a million times less than 
those of a normal person. He will weigh 0.063 gr, which 
is just a little more than the weight of an ordinary drop 
of water. However, his relative muscular power will be a 
hundred times greater, and he will be able to lift loads a 
hundred times larger in relation to the mass of his body. 
The relative strength of his bones, gristle, skin and other 
supporting elements will also be a hundred times greater. 
He will be able to carry 200 beings like himself without 


fear of breaking a single bone or pulling a single muscle. 
He will carry them with the same ease, with which a 
normal person carries another. 

He will find it 10,000 times easier to combat gravity. 
For one and the same time the Lilliputian will dig 10,000 
dugouts of a size corresponding to his height while the 
normal-sized man will dig only one. The canal he digs in the 
same period of time as the normal-sized man will be 
10,000 times longer (relative to his height, of course). 

Though the relative amount of work performed by 
muscular contraction will remain the same, the apparent 
size of the jump he is able to make will be a hundred times 
greater, in relation to his size, and, furthermore, he will 
be able to lift himself off the ground to a height 200 times 
his own. Without a running start, the Lilliputian will be 
able to jump over a building that appears as a 20-storey 
“skyscraper” to him and to leap across puddles, that seem 
to him as large as lakes. He will be able to throw stones 
just as far and just as high—which in relative terms will 
mean a 100-fold increase. He will swim without any effort 
at all as the relative power of his muscles and the surface 
area of his palms will be a hundred times greater. 

To the Lilliputian the air—in comparison with the mass 
of his own body—will seem to be a hundred times denser. 
The force of the wind will also seem a hundred times 
stronger. However, he will not be helpless even in the face 
of a strong gale, as his muscular power and tenacity will 
be a hundred times greater. 

Our Lilliputian can fall from any height he pleases. 
Atmospheric resistance will prevent him from bruising him- 
Self as his relatively large body surface area will not permit 
a velocity of more than 3 to 4 metres a second. Further- 
more, the resistance his bones and other organs offer to 
destruction is a hundred times greater. Even if our midget 
were much larger he would be able to jump off a cloud 
without hurting himself. 


Holding a small pair of wings in his hands, our Lillipu- 
tian will be able to fly and even carry a relatively heavy 

* * + 

Again the question arises: How was it that in the 
process of evolution man did not become a Lilliputian 
since small dimensions seem to present such great advan- 

Firstly, the absolute strength the organs of larger crea- 
tures possess is nevertheless greater and if ìt comes to 
a fight with midgets, the latter have a bad time of it. 
Secondly, larger creatures possess a greater intelligence 
and this adds to the chances of winning. 

Had the gravitational pull of our planet been different, 
the size of that most perfect of creatures, the human being, 
and for that matter of all other creatures, would have 
changed. For instance, with a sixfold diminution in gravity 
(as is the case on the Moon) man might have been 6 times 
taller, have possessed a mass 216 times greater and a 
muscular power 36 times stronger. His brain would have 
been correspondingly larger. Thanks to his muscular power 
(and vast intelligence) this type of man would have been 
the victor, even though, in the struggle against dead nature, 
dwarfs would have had great physical advantages. Our 
10-m giant would have been (provided all the proportions 
would have been observed) an awkward creature, even 
though able to move about and jump with the same ease 
as a man on the Earth, though six times more slowly, in 
relation to his size, of course. However, his absolute mus- 
cular power and intelligence would enable him to subdue 
all smaller creatures. 

On the other hand, had gravity been 2.5 times greater, 
as is the case on Jupiter, the human race would have been 
2.5 times smaller. For otherwise their own body weight 
would have deprived the people on Jupiter of their capacity 
to work and even to move about by their own muscular 


effort. The human being would have been 72 cm tall, would 
have possessed a brain 16 times smaller in volume and 
weight, and would probably have had a very limited 
intelligence. However, since all other creatures would also 
have been smaller, man would have continued to be master 
of small living nature. 

However, the highest progress in terms of machines, 
inventions and science, would probably have been extreme- 
ly slow. We could not have expected the advances in 
technology that are now witnessed on the Earth and which, 
we hope, will in time reach unimaginable proportions. On 
Mars, Mercury and the other minor planets and satellites, 
we might have expected land animals of gigantic propor- 
tions and vast intelligence, if it had not been prevented by 
other unfavourable conditions, for instance, excessively 
high or low temperatures, an atmosphere unsuited to life, 
a scarcity of water and other elements beneficial for the 
evolution of life, etc. 


By the Island of Ether we mean the whole of the known 
Universe. I shall now give you its dimensions, structure 
and shape. 

Actually it consists entirely of shining suns surrounded 
by spheres with extinguished surfaces that are akin to our 
Earth. These spheres are called planets. The same can be 
said of the Cosmos. It consists of a countless host of 
bodies, large and small, of the most varied dimensions. 
Some of the larger bodies are suns in the period of their 
brilliance. Others, smaller in size and mass, are suns in 
the period of their fading, and are dark. The small bodies 
did not emit light for long; they soon cooled, and most 
[of their existence] was spent in darkness. These are the 
planets, their satellite moons, and a countless host of tiny 
bodies. Finally, we see immense gaseous and extreme- 
ly rarefied nebulae. They are larger than the suns 
but glow faintly. These are suns in the period of genesis. 
Let us note, in general, that the smaller the mass of the 
body, the more often do we find others like it in the 
Universe, i.e., there are more small bodies than large ones. 

Thus in this space there are mostly dust specks and less 
rocks and bolides; then, in order of the number that exists, 
there follow the minor asteroids and moons of the same 
dimensions; medium-size asteroids and their satellites of 
the same dimensions, the large asteroids and moons, the 
minor planets, medium-size planets, large planets, suns, 
and gaseous nebulae. 


A sun which is linked by gravitation with other nearby 
suns and with small, cold, planetary spheres forms the 
totality called the solar system. The Universe is full of 
solar or planetary systems. They are very far apart, as 
being isolated by space. A solar system, in general, 
consists of several suns and a multitude of planets, i.e., 
of dark spheres like the Earth. Every solar system was at 
the outset an irregular, extremely rarefied, gaseous mass. 
Where did it come from? The whole of the known Universe 
is surrounded by a transparent and extremely rarefied 
material medium, called ether. Throughout the whole of it, 
condensation gives rise to the ordinary substance consist- 
ing of known atoms or their different parts. That is why 
the ethereal mass is not quite transparent. It [contains] 
atoms. Gravitation collects the already formed parts of 
matter, or atoms, into clusters, into irregular gaseous 
nebulae. Hence, the first stage of the solar system is the 
ethereal one, while the second stage is that of the irregu- 
lar, scarcely discernible nebula. Condensing more and 
more, it becomes dense and assumes the circular shape of 
a nebula. This is the third stage. Condensation continues, 
luminescence increases, and the temperature rises. We thus 
arrive at a star of the fourth age, a gigantic solitary, red 
sun, with no companions and no planets. The initial nebula 
had a feeble, haphazard, irregular motion, which in the 
giant sun developed into motion of translation and rotation. 
What, in general, was the source of the initial, scarcely 
perceptible, motion? Firstly, there was the influence of 
the mutual attraction of the parts of the gaseous mass and, 
secondly, the gravitational pull of neighbouring masses, 
that is, of similar nebulae and suns. The two combined to 
produce an irregular motion which was resolved, as a 
result, into the two simple motions of rotation and transla- 
tion. Of course, since this motion was never quite regular 
either, this subsequently caused certain anomalies (during 
the birth of the planets). 

The giant star, as yet, revolves very slowly, and produces 


a spherically shaped mass. But as the star condenses (due 
to the formation of more and more complex matter, pos- 
sessing less elasticity the more complex it is), this rotation 
accelerates, the axis of rotation becomes shorter, the 
equatorial line extends, our ball-shaped star becomes more 
and more flattened, turning into a sort of pancake, and the 
entire process culminates in a solar explosion. 

Here two things may take place: 1) The embryonic 
rotation was feeble, in consequence of which, before the 
explosion (or just prior to it), the star should have con- 
siderably condensed or become dense at the middle com- 
pared with the outer parts. In this case a ring of the type 
seen round Saturn separated from the giant sun. 2) In the 
second case, the embryonic rotation of the gaseous mass 
was much greater. Then before it broke up, the star pos- 
sessed an almost homogeneous density as rapid rotation 
prevented it from becoming greatly compressed. In this 
case, due to the centrifugal force, it extended in one 
direction and broke apart like a dividing germ. This brought 
into being two suns of approximately identical volume and 

What took place in the first case, and what happened 
to the shining solar ring? Due to radiation, the mass of 
the central spheroid diminished, causing the ring to move 
further away and finally split off, at first into several 
lengthwise rings set on top of each other and then trans- 
versely, with the formation of relatively small, spherical, 
rarefied, relatively small shining suns. 

This is when child-planets are born. These child-planets 
—of which there may be several dozens or hundreds— 
move farther and farther away from their parent, due to 
the central luminary’s loss of mass and to tidal causes, 
and create a [shining] planetary system. Actually, we now 
have a heap of large and small suns. Subsequently, the 
smaller ones cool, become covered over with a solid crust, 
and completely cease to shine. If they can still be seen, it 
is only because they are illuminated by the sun. After the 


small planets, the other bodies successively cool down, in 
the order of their size. There thus comes into being an 
ordinary planetary system akin to our own. 

However, before they cooled entirely, the planets gave 
birth to satellites or moons, in the very same way as their 
parent, the principal sun, gave birth to them. Now it is 
clear for us why all the planets, their satellites, and the 
sun itself move and rotate in one direction. All these 
motions were imparted to them by the Sun. We can also 
understand now why the planets are so far away from 
the Sun. They drew farther and farther away from it, as 
they are now doing, owing to the Sun’s loss of mass and 
inductive deceleration. 

As the planets separated and moved farther away from 
the luminary, its rotational force grew weaker and weaker. 
It was spent in making the planets move and draw farther 
away. After more or less prolific child-bearing, there always 
comes a time when one can no longer expect further 
“fertility” from the weakened and [aged] sun. The ring 
most likely separates once. Only then does it split length- 
wise and transversely, creating the planets. 

In the second case, the parts of the broken-up Sun, which 
came to have almost equal proportions owing to their loss 
of mass due to radiation and to tidal deceleration, also 
moved farther apart and formed a double star, a double 

In the process of further condensation, each of these 
two suns could have undergone either the first or second 
process described above (according to the conditions), 
giving rise to planetary systems or double suns. 

There thus came into being in the heavens triple and 
multiple suns drawn together by attraction. We mostly 
see double suns (30 per cent), fewer triple suns, and still 
fewer quadruple suns, etc. In practice we may find a 
complex sun consisting of as many as seven shining mem- 
bers, We have examined the two extremes, or rather the 
two typical phenomena. However, between them lie a 


multitude of secondary, intermediary phenomena. Actually, 
we have an almost continuous chain of such phenomena. 
Let us take only a few of its links. Let us imagine several 
gaseous nebulae of identical mass and volume, but pos- 
sessing different embryonic speeds of rotation, from nil 
up to the greatest possible velocity. We thus get the fol- 
lowing stars that actually exist. 

I. A solitary sun with no rotation and no planets. It 
has no children and therefore no grandchildren. As it has 
no rotation, there is nothing to produce centrifugal force 
(which causes the mass to break up). Such a sterile sun is 
a very rare and unlikely case, but we cannot deny that it 
may exist in the infinite extension of the Cosmos. 

2. Feeble rotation and hence extremely powerful central 
compression. The ring failed to separate because the cold, 
small sun was unable to achieve a speed of rotation that 
would overcome the force of attraction. 

3. One not massive ring separates, and subsequently 
moves away to become a planet. 

4, A more massive ring separates, and subsequently 
produces several rings and planets. 

5. More rings and still more massive planets. 

6. A multitude of rings and planets with a consider- 
able mass. 

7. A double sun that after separation has a smaller mass. 
Further compression of each sun may give rise to every- 
thing described above. 

8. A double sun with equal masses. 

9. A triple sun. 

10. A multiple sun. Each of the suns in the last four 
categories may give rise to what has been described above 
in the case of a solitary sun. 

Generally speaking, the aggregate mass of the planets 
is the greater, the higher the category, or the greater the 
embryonic speed of rotation of the gaseous nebula. How- 
ever, what happened further to the solar systems, that is 
to systems with suns and planets? 


Both had matter that was much more complex than 
elementary, ethereal, or less simple matter (electrons, for 
example), Hence, the process of disintegration predomi- 
nated in them. At first it gave rise in the bodies to an even 
radiation, then an uneven radiation, and, finally, explosions. 
The intervals between explosions lengthened while the 
explosions themselves came to be more and more terrific 
in force. We shall now try to explain what caused these 
explosions. While the matter was gaseous and mobile, 
there were no explosions. However, the central pressure, 
the condensation of matter, its cooling, began to obstruct 
the unintermittent emission of electrons, ether, or other 
elementary, and consequently unusually elastic, matter. 
Then it became periodic. That is, the elastic matter ac- 
cumulated in the celestial bodies until it was strong 
enough to overcome such obstacles as friction, thickness, 
hardness, etc. Then an explosion took place. The more 
powerful the resistance offered by the cooling and con- 
densation of the matter, the more time was required to 
overpower it. Therefore, both the force of the explosions 
and their periodicity, in the case of each star, increased as 
the star aged. 

There is a particular class of stars (the cepheids). The 
larger, the brighter they are (true, and not apparent, 
brightness), and the greater their central pressure and 
condensation. The greater, therefore, the resistance to 
explosion, and the greater its periodicity and force. It has 
even been established that the interval between explosions 
is proportional to the absolute brightness. This has enabled 
us to determine the absolute brightness and, consequently, 
the distance of the stars from us. So each ageing star 
begins to explode with ever greater force but less often. 
Thus at first it loses its matter through even radiation and 
later through increasingly powerful explosions. At times 
the cepheids explode with such force that in one second 
they radiate more energy than our Sun radiates during 
many years. Thus, on the one hand, we have nebulae and 

28—761 433 

suns arising everywhere from the ethereal medium, and, 
on the other hand, these same nebulae and suns disintegrat- 
ing and being dissipated into the ether, serving partly to 
supplement the self-generation of nebulae from the ether. 
Neither do the small bodies, the planets, escape the fate 
of an explosion. This disaster should overtake them even 
before it does the suns. Indeed, since their central pressure 
is not great, there is less resistance to prevent the elasticity 
of the disintegrating matter from triumphing over attrac- 
tion. It may well be that our planets too, for instance the 
Earth, exploded more than once. However, the mutual 
attraction of their parts caused them to gather again into 
a single mass. A tiny planet (much smaller than our Moon) 
that existed between Mars and Jupiter, most likely ex- 
ploded at some time or other, and its parts failed to unite 
again, thus bringing into being a swarm of angular-shaped 
asteroids. The fragments were unable to merge again into 
one planet for the following reason. The planet exploded 
not at once into a multitude of fragments but, for example, 
into two halves, these two halves later exploding again, 
and so on. The phenomenon could have been so complicat- 
ed, that considering, furthermore, the attraction of Jupiter 
and the other planets, the asteroids became independent 
baby planets. By virtue of all that has been said, we see 
that death reigns in the Universe just as much as birth. 
The general [picture] remains unchanged. 

The Island of Ether is permanently made up of: 

1) Embryos of matter in every region of the ether. They 
either arise of their own accord from the medium or are 
ejected by celestial bodies. 

2) Irregular gaseous nebulae as a result of attraction. 

3) “Planetary (i.e with a spherical form, like a planet) 
nebulae, the progenitors of suns. 

4) Giant, solitary, red suns. 

5) Yellow suns of a smaller mass and size but of a 
greater density and temperature. 


6) White suns of still smaller dimensions and mass 
but of a still greater density and temperature. 

7) Blue suns of still smaller dimensions and mass but 
with a higher density and temperature. 

8) White suns in which the temperature, mass and 
dimensions are still smaller, but the density increases. 

9) Yellow suns. Their temperature, volume and mass 
are still smaller, but their density continues to increase. 
Explosions are frequent and feeble. 

10) Red dwarf suns. Their volume, mass and temper- 
ature are still smaller and only their density increases. 
Explosions are less frequent, but are of a greater force. 

11) Faint stars. Explosions are still stronger. 

12) Invisible suns that have cooled on the surface like 
planets and that explode periodically until they completely 
disperse into the ether. Incidentally, all suns, except the 
young giants, explode. 

We do not know at which time during this age of the 
star, at which of its periods, suns and planets begin to 
give birth. This incidentally depends on the embryonic 
speed of the progenitor-nebula. Noting merely the suite 
of suns and their progeny, we encounter the following 
planetary systems (that either shine or are dark): 

1) Suns devoid of planets. They can be of all ages 
provided there is no rotation. 

2) Suns with only one planet. 

3) Suns with two planets. 

4) Suns with several planets. 

5) Suns with very many planets. 

6) A sun with a smaller sun (a double sun), each having 
many planets. 

7) A sun with a companion of the same size (with 
another sun). Both have planets. 

8) A triple sun with planets. 

9) A multiple sun with planets (with the exception of 
tiny Vulcan). 

Most frequent are the average conditions, the average 

28* 435 

embryonic speed of rotation and the average number of 
planets. We cannot say for certain that our planetary 
system is an average case, because about 30 per cent of 
all the suns are double suns. Rather it is a system with few 
planets of small size. Indeed, our most massive planet 
Jupiter is a thousand times smaller in mass than its parent 
Sun. What is more, the mass of all the planets of our 
system is some 700 times less than that of the central 
luminary. Probably most solar systems, after their period 
of generation, are richer in planets than ours. They have 
bigger families, especially the double suns. It is only our 
own planetary system (with all its small fry) that we know 
pretty well. 

The diameter of the orbit of our planet Neptune is less 
than 1,000 million kilometres. That is precisely the size of 
our planetary system (not counting tiny Vulcan). The 
distance of the nearest solar systems is nearly 40,000 mil- 
lion kilometres, or, in other words, a little more than 
40,000 times greater than the size of our system. Generally 
speaking, the distance to the neighbouring solar systems 
averages around 400,000 million kilometres, which is 
400,000 times more than the size of our system. This shows 
that the dimensions of the solar systems are very small 
compared with the space which separates them. Between 
them they have terrifyingly vast deserts of ether. 

Roughly from 10 to 500 thousand million solar systems 
have been discovered with the aid of the telescope or 
photography. They comprise the Milky Way. A [somewhat] 
Strange name. It is in the shape of a flat pancake or a curl. 
In its centre the stars are near neighbours, but the closer 
to the edges, the farther apart they become. To determine 
the dimensions of the Milky Way and [other systems], let 
us use another unit of time called the light year. Though 
really a little under 10,000 million km we shall take it to 
be exactly 10,000 million km. This is the distance that 
light travels in the course of a year ([covering] 
300,000 km/sec). In terms of these units our planetary 


system will equal to 10 hours in size, or, in other words, 
it will take light 10 hours to travel the entire diameter 
of Neptune’s annual journey. At a distance of 3,000 of these 
units from the centre of the Milky Way, the number of 
suns already drops to one-tenth, or, in other words, they 
are a little more than twice as distant from one another. 
At a distance of 15,000 light years, there are hardly any 
stars at all. This is where they are farthest apart. The 
Milky Way is therefore taken to be 30,000 light years 
across, This is the diameter of the flat pancake of the 
Milky Way. Its thickness is one-sixth of this, i.e., 5,000 
light years. But that is not all there is to the Milky Way.... 
Beyond the stars of the Milky Way, the void of ether 
contains more groups of suns which are called stellar 
clusters or stellar accumulations. They are, as it were, the 
continuation of the Milky Way pancake and consequently 
belong to it. Though they extend its diameter, they do not 
make it thicker. In these groups the stars are closer 
together than in the centre of the Milky Way. In some 
instances, they are 3,000 times closer together, which 
means that there the sun is 14 times nearer than in the 
centre of our Milky Way. 

The cluster has more stars in the middle than at its 
edges, just as in the case of the Milky Way. The clusters 
are roughly of the same size. They have diameters of 
around 500 light years. But they are situated much farther 
away from the edges of the Milky Way. The latter with its 
sun clusters has a diameter of already as much as 300,000 
light years. The stars and stellar clusters move in various 
directions. Their paths seem to be straight. The cause of 
the motion is, of course, the attraction exerted by the 
totality of stars in the Milky Way. Some people have 
noticed certain regularities in the movement of the suns: 
namely, two or three streams of stars. The velocity of the 
Stars and their clusters is usually between 10 and 
100 km/sec. The stellar clusters on the edges of the Milky 
Way have long been attracted towards it and possess a 


velocity of as much as 100 and more kilometres a second. 
Incidentally, stars, too, move at times with unusual rapid- 
ity, travelling as fast as 500 kilometres a second. 

1 said that most of the stellar clusters are located in 
one direction or in one plane with the curl of the Milky 
Way, thus comprising one group with it. However, other 
nebulous splotches distributed evenly throughout the 
heavens are to be observed. W. Herschel thought these were 
other milky ways, but was later assailed by doubts. For 
a long time afterwards they were believed to be sections 
of our own Milky Way, gaseous nebulae, the embryos of 
suns. But when telescopes and photography improved, 
they were seen to have separate stars and to display solar 
explosions. Their extreme faintness enabled us to con- 
jecture that they were tremendously far away. It was found 
that these spiral splotches lie far beyond the boundaries 
of our Milky Way and the stellar clusters, at a distance of 
millions of light years. No wonder that for so long they 
could not be distinguished from gaseous nebulae. Now the 
conviction is increasingly growing that these splotches, 
which often are shaped like curls and are therefore called 
spiral nebulae, are nothing but remote galaxies similar to 
our own Milky Way. Consequently they also contain thou- 
sands of millions of planetary systems. It is claimed that 
there are millions of other galaxies. They are millions of 
light years apart, while the diameter of the entire group 
of these other galaxies is hundreds of millions of light 
years. In my Kinetic Theory of Light I demonstrated that 
ether spreads to a distance of only several hundreds of 
millions of light years. Then it becomes rarefied beyond 
measure, just as the top strata of our atmosphere do. Be- 
yond the boundaries of the ether lies another kind of mat- 
ter which is incomparably more rarefied. That is why I 
have called the known group of galaxies the Island of Ether. 
Beyond it there probably lie other similar islands, but we 
cannot obtain any information about them, as light is unable 
to propagate through the etherless voids between them. 


Our Island of Ether races along with all its ether, into 
the unknown at an unknown speed of tremendous propor- 
tions. We are unable to ascertain this speed, as we cannot 
see the other islands of ether. 

The velocity of the spiral nebulae, i.e., the other galaxies, 
is of the order of thousands of kilometres a second. But 
this is a relative velocity, i.e., in relation to the ether or 
Island of Ether, which is considered stationary. 

So to sum up: a planetary system is a group of celestial 
bodies consisting of one or several suns and a multitude 
of Earth-like planets. They are located in one plane and 
move and rotate in one direction. The entire svstem races 
along in a straight line, at a speed of between 10 to 100 or 
more kilometres a second. Its dimensions are of the order 
of thousands of millions of kilometres or dozens of light 

The Milky Way consists of thousands of millions of 
gaseous nebulae and suns that are either childless, have 
families. (i.e., planetary systems), or are fading. The ex- 
plosions of the fading suns fill space with a host of comets 
and help to create new gaseous nebulae. 

The comets are, in all likelihood, really sun-spewed 
clots. Most of them fall back on to the sun, but a few, the 
luckiest ones, have a velocity greater than the attraction 
of the suns and are either comets, which have been in 
circulation for a long time, or vagabond, periodless comets 
dashing to and fro between the suns from one luminary 
to another. 

Suns of all ages are separated in the Milky Way by 
vast expanses of space, measured in hundreds of thousands 
of millions of millions of kilometres, or dozens of light 
years across. These voids are hundreds of thousands of 
times larger than the planetary systems. They move in a 
Straight line in all directions and only after millions of 
years do their paths curve. As they thread their path 
through the Milky Way, they waver inside it and may 
escape its sphere of attraction. 


On the outskirts of the Milky Way we have as its con- 
tinuation the stellar clusters. They are what might be called 
miniature galaxies. They are hundreds of light years 
across and thousands of light years apart. There are not 
very many of them. They move rapidly and seem to fall 
towards. their Milky Way. 

The Island of Ether is made up of a limited spherical 
mass of ether and galaxies, including our own, that float 
in, this ether. There are millions of them, that is, spiral 
nebulae. In size they are like our Milky Way. The distance 
to the nearest is millions of light years. Consequently the 
voids between them are dozens of times larger than they 
are. The entire Island of Ether contains many thousands 
of millions of millions of suns of all ages and millions of 
millions of millions of planets. 

However, even the Island of Ether is but a small (even 
infinitely small) part of the unknown Universe. As a drop 
is small compared with an ocean, as an atom is negligible 
compared with the Earth or the Sun, so is the Island of 
Ether imperceptible compared with the unknown Cosmos, 
But even that is not correct, because it is still infinitely 
more majestic. 

Of the limited character of our knowledge, the same can 

be said as is said of the Earth, the Sun, the Milky Way and 
the Island of Ether: it is immeasurably small. 


Experiments have begun with reaction-propelled auto- 
mobiles and planes. Calculations show that these experi- 
ments will not result in an improved automobile or aero- 
plane, because the use of explosives in motoring or aero- 
nautics is uneconomical, considering the speeds explosives 
can attain in the air. However, these experiments have 
another extremely important aspect. The reaction-pro- 
pelled automobile and aeroplane, built according to the 
design indicated in my composition “The Cosmic Rocket”. 
Practical Preparation, will teach us how to pilot rocket 
planes and soar higher and higher. 

At great altitudes we shall need a pressurised cabin 
with oxygen sources and absorbers of human excreta. 
Ascents will gradually go beyond the boundaries of the 
troposphere and, in the process of testing and improving 
the aeroplane, will reach airless space. The return to the 
Earth will be effected by gliding. This will be something 
like rocket shots, like leaps into the air, which may lead 
to flights beyond the atmosphere. 

The absence of atmospheric resistance there and centri- 
fugal force when the velocity is around 7-8 km/sec, will 
impart to the rocket plane a stable altitude outside the 
atmosphere and outside the Earth. The apparatus will 
become an Earth satellite, a tiny moon, and its stability 
will be the same as that of any planet satellite. Ever- 
lasting motion and eternal constancy. 


Were it not for the spoiling of the air inside the rocket, 
and lack of food, there would be nothing to prevent us 
from ending our lives peacefully and happily in ethereal 

The rocket must have portholes to let in the sunlight 
and prolific plants capable of purifying the air inside the 
rocket and of supplying fruits suitable for food and for 
maintaining strength. 

Light pressure will enable the projectile to move away 
from the Earth and enter its orbit, to approach or move 
away from the Sun and, in general, to travel within the 
limits of our solar system. 

Though this is something still remote, we would like 
to describe here the phenomena and the conditions for 
plant and animal life in the ether presuming that arrange- 
ments have been made for a man to exist in special living 
accommodations, in the capacity of a tiny satellite of the 
Earth or the Sun. 

Suppose our rocket is somewhere on the Earth’s orbit, 
but is far away from the Earth itself. Incidentally, it makes 
no difference where it actually is; as long as it moves as 
freely as any celestial body. Then nearly all the phenomena 
will take place just as they do in the vicinity of the Earth 
(outside the atmosphere). Only when the rocket is very 
close, the Earth will tend to act on it by the warmth it 
radiates, and in addition, by periodically casting a shadow 
on the projectile, will produce alternately day and night. 

Let us assume the simplest conditions, when the distance 
between the rocket and the Sun is equal to the distance 
between the Sun and Earth and the distance separating 
the Earth from the rocket. Both conditions are observed 
when the rocket is on the Earth’s orbit, but at a point 
diametrically opposite to the planet. 

We have everlasting day and virginal sunshine. Natu- 
rally, we have no clouds, foggy weather, winds, dampness, 
storms, earthquakes and the like. But closing the shutters 
can always, when we wish, give us the darkest of nights.. 


Before they fall on the human being, the Sun’s rays must 
pass through ordinary window glass, otherwise the living 
creature would be killed by ultra-violet rays. Plants could 
be given light through quartz glass as well. It is possible 
that for some of them this would be beneficial. 

The temperature inside the rocket will depend on its 
design and surface properties, just as the temperature of 
any planet. But we cannot yet regulate the temperature of 
the planet, because the planet itself is so enormous, and 
the people are weak and few in number. However, we can 
easily regulate the temperature inside the projectile; we 
can obtain temperatures ranging from —270°C to +150°C. 
This cannot be done with the structures on the surface of 
the Earth, because they are surrounded by air which some- 
times warms and sometimes cools them. But the rocket is 
surrounded by a void. To get the highest temperature 
inside the projectile, the part of our abode which faces the 
Sun must be made transparent and penetrable to the 
greatest amount of sunshine. In addition, inside the rocket 
the sunshine must fall on a dark surface which absorbs 
rays of light. The shady part of the dwelling must be given 
one or several shining silvery surfaces which retain the 
rays of heat and light inside the rocket and prevent them 
from escaping into celestial space and thus cooling the 

To obtain the lowest temperature, the rocket must be 
turned round so that its shiny surface faces the Sun, while 
its transparent side remains in the shade. Then the Sun’s 
rays will be reflected without warming up the rocket, and its 
warmth will freely escape into space through the shady side. 

The surface of the rocket could be made a sliding one 
and then without the rocket itself having to turn round, 
the desired temperature could be obtained—from —270°C 
to +150°C, 

Can anything of the kind be achieved on the Earth? 
How convenient it would be for life in general, for tech- 
nology, for animals and plants. We could apply various 


degrees of heating for the purpose of disinfection, tech- 
nology, medical treatment and public baths, to warm the 
aged, the infirm and new-born babies, to liquefy, to freeze, 
and to store small volumes of gas, to cause plants to 
germinate better, and so on. Then not only would firewood 
and artificial lighting become unnecessary, but by employ- 
ing special devices, it would be quite possible to have fur- 
naces giving the temperature of the Sun (which at its sur- 
face is between 5000° and 7000°C). But we shall not deal 
with this here. At any rate, such a temperature would re- 
lieve us of all need to use fuel in technical production proc- 

The dwellings and the objects inside and around them 
are attracted for many hundreds of kilometres by one and 
the same force of gravity, which is the resultant force of 
many component forces, including, among others, the gravi- 
tational pulls of the Sun, the Earth, the planets and the 
stars, etc. This resultant alters the velocity of the rocket 
and all objects around it in absolutely the same way as 
does the current of a river, carrying a bundle of wood 
chips. Therefore, if the objects in the rocket were in a 
state of relative rest, this state would not be disturbed, no 
matter how long or how intensively the forces of gravity 
were to act on the rocket and objects in it. 

In short, the rocket with its sections and the objects 
both inside and outside it, is, as it were, rid of gravitational 
attraction. The inhabitant of the rocket, whether inside 
or outside, will weigh nothing. On a planet, for instance, 
all bodies fall down. On the rocket this does not happen. 
On the Earth we have above and below. On the rocket 
this is not so. On the Earth tall, slender objects should 
[rise] upwards and objects [thrown up] fall down again. 
But an object thrown from a rocket will not return to it 
at all. It will fly away altogether (strictly speaking, it will 
remain on the rocket’s circular orbit around the Sun: only 
in the sphere of cosmic velocities will it move away from 
the Sun and may even abandon it altogether). 


All the Earth's bodies (even its gases) are bound to it 
by the force of gravity; they are fettered to it with chains 
of gravitation. However, there is no force binding anything 
to a rocket: anything ejected from it will move away from 
it for ever. Gas disperses. The attraction the rocket itself 
exerts is difficult to detect, it is so small. On the Earth 
walls topple down, old buildings are demolished by gravity 
and even mountains crumble away, a man may stumble into 
a pit and hurt himself. In ethereal space there is none of 
this. All the buildings, no matter how weak the material 
from which they are made, or how absurd and huge they 
are (with dimensions running into hundreds of kilometres), 
will remain intact. 

How advantageous for ethereal structures! An absolute- 
ly unpropped or unsuspended object that is stationary (in 
relation to the rocket, of course) will remain stationary 
for ever. A rotating one will spin for ever. The position of 
a person devoid of all support is a tragic one, because 
without motion of translation, he will not be able to move 
an inch, despite his every effort. Strictly speaking, all that 
remains stationary is the object’s centre of gravity. The 
human being may go into any contortions he pleases, 
Strike any pose, move his limbs, and, of course, talk, 
provided there are gases around him. 

But if there is some support: a wall, a rock, a clock or 
a hat, it is enough just to push oneself away from it, or 
throw something, for one to move steadily and in a straight 
line until halted by some obstacle, a wall, an object, a 
blow, by some force, by the resistance of the air or by 
some other medium. 

In the ether this constancy of motion is also a tremen- 
dous advantage. There it will cost nothing to switch things 
from place to place, even over thousands of kilometres, 
because a velocity once acquired will never vanish without 
cause or unless obstructed. Then horses, motor-cars, 
railways, steamships, airships, airplanes, and even (dear 
me!), legs will be quite unnecessary. Legs will be useful 


only as a source of muscular power. Engines and motors 
will be needed only to perform work, but not to move 
about. Thus they will be required to saw, forge, press, 
roll, crush, and so on. 

In a seeming absence of gravity, a human being may 
take any direction. Above will be where his head is and 
below where his feet are. But with time this illusion will 

Objects do not press on one another. Therefore, there 
will be no need for furniture, for tables, beds and pillows 
(in place of furniture we shall have light nettings and grat- 
ings on which to place things or hold them in position). 
Together with the ability to produce the desired temper- 
ature, this will rid the human being also of the need to 
wear clothes and footwear. What an incomparable relief! 

Absence of gravity cannot harm the human being while 
for plants it is even beneficial. Even on the Earth people 
almost lose their weight when they get into water, and 
this is only harmful to the full-blooded, the infirm and 
the aged, as it increases the flow of blood to the brain. 
The recumbent position also reduces the blood pressure 
(due to weight) almost to nil. To lie recumbent for a period 
of years could not cause death. But when lying recumbent 
on the Earth some amount of pressure is exerted and 
this causes bed-sores. In the ether this does not happen. 
Finally, people can even tolerate being upside down, when 
the blood pressure is directed in the opposite direction. 
It is clear that the absence of gravity can do no more 
harm than bathing or lying down. And young organisms 
born in the ether will quickly adapt themselves to the 
weightless environment. Lying down is irksome because it 
goes hand in hand with idleness, which is not the case 
in the ether. 

The absence of this force does not disturb any human 
functions. One can swallow, drink, eat, and excrete on the 
Earth not only when in bed or in water, but even when 
upside down. This clearly shows us that the same func- 


tions can be performed in the ether. Even if a force o: 
gravity were needed to facilitate these functions, it would 
be easy enough to obtain such a force in the ether by 
causing the rocket to rotate. The centrifugal force thus 
produced differs in no way from gravitation. This is con- 
venient, moreover, because this artificial gravity can be 
regulated at will. Its magnitude will increase with the 
speed of rotation. The latter costs us nothing, as rotation 
in a void never stops, or, in other words, does not call for 
an endless expenditure of energy. 

What is the advantage of terrestrial gravity to plants? 
It merely destroys heavy, old tree trunks, bends branches 
and breaks them (especially when the fruit is abundant) 
and prevents the saps from rising to any considerable 
heights. Plants spend a great deal of substance and solar 
energy to no avail in order to grow their trunks and 
branches, which, were it not for gravity, could be much 
thinner and lighter. 

The sole inconvenience of life in the ether is that of 
maintaining all round the human being a certain amount 
of gas pressure, which is something that terrestrial beings, 
especially the primates, cannot dispense with. Gases con- 
sist of mobile particles and to keep them in place requires 
a solid, firm envelope with no openings. Any rent would 
let the inside gases escape and without them an animal 
would perish. However, in the ether dwellings can be ar- 
ranged so as to have many chambers, each chamber being 
isolated. As soon as the envelope of one of them is dam- 
aged and the gas begins to escape (which a manometer 
would indicate) people will immediately take steps to 
remedy the situation or move temporarily to the neigh- 
bouring undamaged compartment, closing the passage 
tight behind them. 

To perform work in empty space and, in general, to 
emerge into the ether, special gas impervious clothing, like 
diving-suits, having a supply of oxygen and absorbers of 
human excreta would be needed. 


Incidentally, after spending hundreds of years in the 
ether, man would gradually become a little altered himself 
and the void, absence of gas, and direct sunlight would 
not immediately kill him as they do now. The void hazard 
should diminish. Meanwhile, that is for the initial period, 
the human being will have to regard the expanses of ether 
around him either through the windows of his dwelling or 
through the visor of his space-suit. 

On the sunny side he will see the Sun that is bluer than 
it seems to be through the Earth’s atmosphere. On the 
shady side, with his back turned to the luminary, he will 
see a black sky studded with non-twinkling, multicoloured 
Stars. They will be arranged in the same pattern as that 
observed from the Earth, only the latter will appear as a 
small star while the Moon will be a similar tiny spark, but 
emitting a much fainter glow. 

The position of a person in protective clothing, all alone 
out in the ether, and the sensations he will experience, are 
of interest. He will have nothing overhead or underfoot, 
that is no support, no ground, nothing to suspend him. He 
will feel he is the centre of a tiny black sphere spangled 
with a countless host of stars. It will seem that he has 
only to stretch out his hand to touch them. The illusion 
is striking. The Universe will seem totally insignificant. 
The deception of nearness stems from the extreme bril- 
liance and distinctness of the picture of the stars and their 
infinite distances. On the Earth, the atmosphere casts a 
shadow on objects and that is why they seem darker and 
more vague the farther off they are. But as there is no 
atmosphere in space, nothing casts shadows and therefore 
the stars seem to be near, and all at equal distance. 

A few more words about the plan of work that should 
be followed to make a spaceship. 

‘We do not know the details of the experiments with 
reaction-propelled automobiles. At any rate they will teach 
us much. I have already indicated the direction we must 
follow. If this direction has not been taken so far, it is 


merely a concession to the practical side of the work, 
because the road indicated is no easy one. But with time it 
will nevertheless be taken. Now I shall briefly recapitulate. 

The explosive elements must be contained separately 
and pumped into the explosion tube. This guarantees safety 
and rids us of heavy tanks. The tube must be tapered at an 
angle of 30°. This makes it hundreds of times shorter. It 
must be cooled. A reaction-propelled automobile must have 
three types of control surfaces for flying both in the air 
and in the void, while the explosion is taking place. These 
should be elevators, fins and ailerons, placed in the gas jet 
in the exhaust nozzle. Then they can be made thinner, 
lighter and more durable and operate more smoothly. 

At first we must practise operating the rudders of 
direction and altitude. For this purpose the automobile 
has one cross axle with two wheels at its end. We can 
first practise operating the rudder of direction, and then 
both rudders at once. 

Then we shall need an automobile with one wheel and 
we must in addition practise operating the fin-stabilisation 
rudders. These experiments should be conducted on the 
ground, not in the air. 

When we learn to control all three rudders, we can add 
a pair of wings to our automobile like those of the aero- 
plane. However, flights should not and cannot continue 
longer than the time taken to use up the explosive material, 
because without the explosion our automobile rudders will 
either not operate at all, or will be inefficient (as these 
rudders have a very small surface area). 

To take off and control the aircraft after the explosion 
another system of rudders is required, with a greater 
surface area, like that of an aeroplane. With these two 
systems we can gain height and speed until the explosives 
are consumed, and then glide down, which cannot be done 
without the aircraft-type system of rudders. 

These two rudder systems (though they may be combined 
into one) are necessary for flying beyond the atmosphere, 

29—761 449 

as wherever we fly to, even into space, we shall have to 
return to the Earth by gliding, once all the explosives are 
used up. For it is not possible to rely on a permanent store 
of them. 

Only by innumerable dangerous experiments is it pos- 
sible to work out a design of the interplanetary spaceship. 
All the existing projects are merely schematic or fantastic. 
The critics of reaction-propelled automobiles and aeroplanes 
quite rightly regard the reaction method of propulsion as 
unacceptable because it is uneconomical. Vallier merely 
shows us methods of reducing the high cost of this type 
of locomotion. The method of reaction propulsion can be 
really economical when the thrust velocity approaches the 
velocity of the projectiles. That happens only in the case 
of spacecraft. Meanwhile, for Earth and aerial projectiles, 
the methods must be used that I have described in my 
“Atmospheric Resistance and the Express Train”. 



“Even the discovery of the differential 
and integral calculus would have been in- 
conceivable without imagination. Imagina- 
tion is a quality of the greatest value.” 

V. I. Lenin 

The name of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, father of the 
theory of jet propulsion and interplanetary travel, is world 
famous. This great Soviet scientist who made such a 
Signal contribution to cosmonautics, aerodynamics and 
aeronautics, also wrote many remarkable works of science 

In the process of Tsiolkovsky’s investigations his science 
fiction was often, as it were, the initial “trying-out” of 
new ideas. The scientist himself made a remarkable state- 
ment about this sequence of the creative process in his book 
The Exploration of Space by Reaction-Propelled Devices, 
first published in Kaluga in 1926: “First, inevitably, 
the idea, the fantasy, the fairy-tale. Then scientific cal- 
culation. Ultimately, fulfilment crowns the idea.” 

This was the path he followed in working out the prob- 
lems of jet propulsion and interplanetary travel. A real 
pioneer in these absolutely new domains of human en- 
deavour, Tsiolkovsky also sought by his works of science 
fiction to condition the public mind to accepting such ambi- 

29% 451 

tious projects as the practical preparation for man’s break- 
through into cosmic space. In addition, to write his science 
fiction, he had to make the necessary calculations, at least 
in rough, so as to put his preliminary conclusions to the 
test. He then developed his ideas in order finally to crown 
his effort with a completed scientific treatise based on a 
full and scrupulous mathematical analysis. 

Thus Tsiolkovsky’s science fiction on a subject that had 
caught his fancy induced him to tackle and scientifically 
develop new problems. He describes this in “Is This Mere 
Fantasy?”, an article he wrote in 1934-35 when chief scien- 
tific adviser for the SF film Cosmic Journey. 

“There is nothing that engrosses me more,” he wrote 
in the Soviet youth paper Komsomolskaya Pravda, 
on July 23, 1935, “than the problem of overcoming terres- 
trial gravity and of making flights into space.... I am 
already 78 but I still continue to compute and design what 
concerns reaction-propelled machines. The things I have 
thought about, the ideas that have surged through my 
brain! This was no longer fantasy, but exact knowledge 
based on the laws of nature; new discoveries and new 
compositions were in the making. But I was also attracted 
to science fiction. Many times I essayed the task of writing 
about space travel but wound up by becoming involved in 
exact compilations and switching to serious work. Science 
fiction stories on interplanetary travel carry new ideas to 
the masses. All who are occupied with this are doing good 
work; they excite interest, promote the working of the 
brain and bring into being people who sympathise with, 
and will in the future engage in, work on grand projects.” 

This point is confirmed by Tsiolkovsky's science fiction 
works which provide in embryo the ideas underlying the 
discoveries and inventions that were later to immortalise 
his name. Of great interest, consequently, are both his 
finished works of this genre, and his rough fragments and 
outlines, since they mostly date back to when he was work- 
ing out the fundamentals of the new science of astro- 


nautics, the realisation of which by our generation has 
initiated the new space age in man’s history. As the world 
has now seen, the translation into life of the propositions 
that Tsiolkovsky put on such a firm basis, has transformed 
astronomy, one of the oldest of sciences, from a 
purely speculative branch of knowledge into one dealing 
with direct experiment. 

Tsiolkovsky’s science fiction was bound to be a concom- 
itant and at times forerunner of his major theoretical 
treatises and inventions. It is extremely characteristic of 
his creative work, being, in fact, the type of ‘“‘conjecturing”, 
which Lenin so greatly appreciated and which G. M. Krzhi- 
zhanovsky referred to, when he said that he “adored people 
who could conjecture”. Tsiolkovsky was most generous 
with his conjectures, at once imparting them to others, 
and making them part and parcel of his work. 

Graphic illustrations are the still extant pages from 
Tsiolkovsky’s very first notebook of a young man which 
dates back to 1878-79. While in Ryazan, awaiting his ap- 
pointment as schoolmaster, he poured dreamily over this 
notebook, pencil in hand, making fantastic sketches of 
vehicles, and devices, writing the first rough copy of a 
future monograph dealing with “free space”. Tsiolkovsky 
had just turned 22. Later, his fantastic conjectures, accom- 
panied by strictly substantiated mathematical analysis 
based on the laws of physics and celestial mechanics, took 
tangible shape in the world’s first design for a spaceship 
with a jet thrust, becoming the scientist's point of departure 
for further work in this field. 

The ten science-fiction stories in this collection relate 
to different periods of Tsiolkovsky’s work between 1893 
and 1929. This is only a small part of his many publications 
and manuscripts. However, they were significant as being 
the initial stage of the elaboration and preparation for 
publication of the scientist’s basic works on jet propulsion 
and interplanetary travel. Free Space, the first monograph 
on this subject, written in Borovsk in 1883—a work very 


close in character to science fiction—was the first to sug- 
gest jet engines for spaceships.* 

Tsiolkovsky was able to find strikingly brilliant colours 
and words for his science fiction. Nevertheless—and this 
is what is particularly valuable about them—he never 
departed from science proper. His science fiction is imbued 
throughout with the profound conviction that this was 
precisely how man would finally undertake these daring 
projects, even though, as he assumed, at some remote date. 
This unshakable, and attractively expressed conviction 
infects the reader and compels him to stop and reflect on 
Tsiolkovsky’s picture of space conquest. 

How was it that Tsiolkovsky came to write science 

In 1892 an important event took place in Tsiolkovsky’s 
life; he was transferred from the modest post of arithmetics 
and geometry master, which he had held at the elementary 
school of Borovsk, to a similar post in the larger, provin- 
cial town of Kaluga. He found himself better placed than 
he had been in Borovsk. In Kaluga he met people associated 
with literary work, who interested themselves in his 
scientific researches, which he continued parallel with his 
teaching, and also tried to give him every assistance. Their 
help took the form, primarily, of getting printed in Kaluga 
the second part of his Guided Metal Air Balloon, the first 
part of which had been published in Moscow in 1892, and 
a year later of publishing in the Moscow magazine Vokrug 
Sveta (Around the World) his first science-fiction story 
On the Moon, which shortly afterwards came out as a 
separate book.** 

* This monograph which provides the working principle for 
powering a jet-propelled spaceship and gives a general idea of its 
design, was made public for the first time in 1954, in the second 
volume of Tsiolkovsky’s Collected Works, put out in Moscow by the 
U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences Publishing House.—Ed. 

** Tsiolkovsky prepared the manuscript of this book in 1887 when 
residing in Borovsk; there is an inscription to the effect on the 

copy preserved in the archives of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sci- 


In this story, Tsiolkovsky introduces the reader to our 
nearest celestial object, our planet’s satellite, the Moon. 
He does this on the basis of a thorough study of scientific 
sources and in a most fascinating way. He has lent his 
story the entertaining form of a narrative, in which a 
young astronomy enthusiast relates a dream he had while 
in a very deep sleep. The young man dreams that he and 
his physicist friend have been transported to the Moon. 
There they travel, take observations, perform scientific 
experiments and have many adventures. Ultimately, they 
are about to freeze to death during the long, cold lunar 
night..., when, fortunately, the young man awakes and 
decides to put down his dream in writing. 

Tsiolkovsky gives an excellent description, packed with 
valuable information, of what confronts the first men to 
set foot on the Moon. Though the story was first published 
in the last century, it has stood the acid test of time and 
is still avidly read. It arouses particular interest today 
now that Soviet rockets have deposited the state emblem 
of the U.S.S.R. on the Moon and have so successfully 
photographed its hidden side, now that man will soon in 
reality fly to our closest neighbour. 

In 1894 Tsiolkovsky completed another important piece 
of science fiction which he called “Changes in Relative 
Weight”. In the first half he deals with the question of 
how to organise the study in interstellar space of changes 
in relative weight, describes in detail a special space 
structure for the purpose, which he dubs “star cottage” 
and tells us how to conduct experiments from it. However, 
this story has nothing as yet to say about how man will 
be able to strike out into space and build this “star cot- 
tage”. Yet, in his Free Space, written nine years earlier, 
Tsiolkovsky already discussed manned space flight and 
provided the working principles of a jet-propelled space- 
ship. In the second half he imagines what one might chance 
to observe on various planets and asteroids. But not the 
whole of the manuscript was prepared for the press by 


the author. There are a few less successfully written pas- 
sages as, for instance, the conversations between the space 
traveller and the “inhabitants” of the celestial bodies in 
question. Tsiolkovsky polished up only parts of his manu- 
script, mainly his brief descriptions of imaginary voyages 
to Mercury and Mars, and the big asteroids, Ceres and 
Pallas. Tsiolkovsky’s manuscript is being published for the 
first time in this collection. 

In 1895 Tsiolkovsky completed a new science-fiction 
work called Dreams of Earth and Sky and the Effects of 
Universal Gravitation, which in book form was printed 
the same year in Moscow. Here for the first time, although 
cautiously and in a veiled form he discloses his ambitious 
dreams. After describing the majestic panorama of the 
Universe and emphasising the importance in our life of 
the universal law of gravitation, the author, by way of 
illustration, proceeds to tell of the fantastic occurrence, 
when undescribable chaos followed on the disappearance of 
gravity on the Earth. Then he develops the idea of the 
necessity of building an artificial Earth satellite, like the 
Moon, for scientific purposes. This is the first time that he 
uses the term earth satellite and also indicates that “the 
velocity required to give a centrifugal force that will de- 
stroy the Earth's gravitational pull should be not less than 
8 kilometres a second”, and that the altitude of the flight 
“beyond the atmosphere should be some 300 kilometres 
away”, which incidentally was the estimated figure for 
the height of the atmosphere given in scientific literature 
at the time. 

Tsiolkovsky also describes propulsion through space 
using the force of reaction, as well as “solar motors” to 
provide energy in space.* 

Tsiolkovsky continued to develop his basic idea of inter- 

* Solar batteries were employed in Sputnik III which went up 
on May, 1958, to feed its radio equipment and the automatic inter- 
planetary station fired at Venus in February 1961, also had these 

- 456 

planetary travel, supplying more calculations. By 1895 he 
had already worked out the question of interplanetary 
travel in terms of mathematics, but did not publish his 
work at that date. In 1896 he began to write a science- 
fiction story called Outside the Earth, but, as he himself 
noted, the end of the year saw only nine chapters com- 
pleted. In 1903 the magazine Nauchnoye Obozrenie 
(Science Review) at last published the first chapters of a 
large theoretical monograph called The Exploration of Cos- 
mic Space by Reaction-Propelled Apparatus, the fruit of 
several years of work. This was his first scientific treatise 
giving the analytical side and also constructive proposals 
for a rocket with a drop-shaped body, its design and con- 
trol. However, the secret police banned the magazine short- 
ly afterwards, and Tsiolkovsky’s article (only the first in- 
stalments had been published) passed unnoticed, particu- 
larly in view of the fact that he had not read the proofs, 
the various formulae were confused and there were other 
defects which made the meaning exceedingly obscure. The 
next instalment was published only in 1911 in the Vestnik 
Vozdukhoplavania (Herald of Aeronautics), an aircraft ma- 
gazine published in St. Petersburg. At that time, the aircraft 
industry was just beginning in Russia and the first aircraft 
and aeronautics establishments were being set up. Conse- 
quently, the publication of Tsiolkovsky’s article, being re- 
lated to the entirely new science of astronautics that he him- 
self had founded, produced a tremendous impression. He 
attracted a following which rapidly grew in number both 
in Russia and abroad, as also did the group of inventors of 
jet-propelled flying craft. 

Tsiolkovsky, however, continued to experience great 
pecuniary difficulties as no assistance for scientific re- 
search was forthcoming. In 1916 the editors of the popu- 
lar science magazine Priroda i Lyudi (Nature and People) 
suggested that he complete his science fiction work Out- 
side the Earth. However, the magazine ceased publication, 
with only half the story printed, and Tsiolkovsky had his 

30—761 457 

manuscript returned. It was only under the Soviet power, 
that despite the desperate shortage of paper, Tsiolkovsky’s 
friends and the local Natural History Society in Kaluga, 
managed to publish the book in 1920. Though the edition 
was extremely small, only 300 copies, the book achieved 
popularity even outside the Soviet republics. 

In 1923 Prof. H. Obert published in Germany a mono- 
graph called The Rocket in Cosmic Space. After reading 
it Tsiolkovsky commented: 

“Obert has much that is to be found in my Outside the 
Earth, including space-suits, the multi-stage rocket, the 
mooring of people and objects, the black sky, non-twin- 
kling stars, mirrors (in universal space), light signalisation, 
the trans-terrestrial base, from which to launch out still 
farther, the voyage round the Moon, the 300-ton manned 
rocket, as well as the lunar studies and much more.” 

In birthday congratulations to Tsiolkovsky in 1929, Prof. 
Herman Obert quite definitely mentions the Soviet scien- 
tist’s indisputable priority. “You kindled this fire,” he 
wrote. ‘We shall not let it die; we shall try to realise man’s 
greatest dream.” 

Outside the Earth is a glowing piece of science fiction 
brilliantly characterising Tsiolkovsky’s work in this genre. 
The main characters are six scientists of different na- 
tionalities, who have clubbed together to con- 
duct investigations at a castle specially built for the pur- 
pose in the Himalayas. They have at their disposal an army 
of engineers, craftsmen, and highly skilled workers, and 
all the necessary equipment. Tsiolkovsky symbolically 
christens them after world celebrities of the past. Thus the 
name of the Italian is Galileo, the Briton—Newton, the 
German—Helmholtz, the Frenchman—Laplace, the Amer- 
ican—Franklin, and the Russian—Ivanov. This is more 
than a literary device; it reflects profound meaning of the 
story, namely, that man will most productively and expe- 
diently conquer space by working collectively, and not by 
the isolated effort of any one single country. 


In Tsiolkovsky’s team, it is the unassuming Russian 
scientist Ivanov who suggests a project which the others 
are at first inclined to view as utterly fantastic. However, 
they are won over, and enthusiastically embark on Ivanov’s 
project to build a rocket, a jet-propelled spaceship, the 
working principle and design of which were described by 
Tsiolkovsky in 1883 in his monograph Free Space. Here 
he quite definitely calls his spaceship a rocket. Outside the 
Earth has a tone quite different from that of Dreams of 
Earth and Sky, in which he had been extremely cautious, 
making merely vague surmises. Now he boldly talks of his 
aims and how to accomplish them. With a sure hand he 
describes the inspired endeavours of the team of scientists 
and speaks in the greatest detail of the design of the first 
spaceship, the rocket itself, and its development. There 
follows a kaleidoscopic sequence of his dreams as a scien- 
tist. First comes the round-the-Earth flight, with the space 
travellers maintaining contact with their comrades in the 
castle by means of mirror and light: signalisation, a method 
which Tsiolkovsky had already expounded in 1896 in the 
newspaper Kaluzhsky Vestnik (Kaluga Herald). People on 
the Earth learn that man has already gone up into space, 
the first volunteers to migrate to other planets come for- 
ward, and preparations are made for the journey. Mean- 
while the indefatigable Ivanov and one of the engineers 
prepare to fly to the Moon. Finally they do visit the Moon 
and use a special vehicle to travel about there, and they 
discover lunar animals. 

In short, Tsiolkovsky here picturesquely describes his 
concept of man’s future conquest of cosmic space. 

During the years that followed when Tsiolkovsky’s re- 
searches had attracted the attention and support of the 
Soviet public and government, he elaborated these ideas 
in still greater detail in his Aims of Astronautics, published 
in 1929. Also a piece of science fiction, it captures and 
holds the imagination first because of the thoroughness 
with which the author describes the tremendous labour 

30* 459 

man will have to perform in space during the centuries and 
millenia to come. 

The important problems of the “biology of the future”, 
which are inevitably connected with the evolution of living 
creatures in the process of “conquering solar space” are 
discussed in the two Stories in this collection called “Liv- 
ing Beings in Space” and “Biology of Dwarfs and Giants”. 
In the first he interprets from his own point of view the 
ways in which the propagation of life may take place in 
space. This short item in the form of a fantasy reveals 
what Tsiolkovsky thinks about vital processes, and also 
suggests that should the human race be compelled to mi- 
grate to airless space, it will be forced to alter its physical 

The second story, “Biology of Dwarfs and Giants” was 
taken and prepared for the press from a long manuscript 
called Mechanics and Biology (1920-21), which Tsiolkovsky 
did not complete. He began it in 1882, sending the first part 
to the great Russian physiologist I. M. Sechenov for his 
appraisal. Though unfinished, it interested Sechenov and he 
advised Tsiolkovsky to complete it. But only 40 years later 
was Tsiolkovsky able to do so. 

The collection concludes with “Beyond the Earth’s At- 
mosphere” and “Island of Ether”. The first begins with ref- 
erences to experiments carried out in Germany in 1928-29 
with automobiles and sleighs equipped with jet-propelled 
engines, and contains several highly original points about 
jet-propulsion technology. The “Island of Ether”, on the 
subject of astronomy has, on the other hand, a peculiar 
flavour of its own. In Tsiolkovsky’s house (now a museum) 
in Kaluga in the street which has been renamed in his 
honour, there is a glassed-in first-floor verandah, which 
served as a workshop for his inventions. A little door leads 
out of this verandah on to the slightly sloping roof of an 
adjacent shed. Tsiolkovsky and his family affectionately 
dubbed it “the door to outer space”. In the evenings, when 
the weather was fair and the skies cloudless, Tsiolkovsky 


From Tsiolkovsky’s manuscript: “Space Travel Album” (1933). 

Sketch illustrates operation of the spaceship’s shutters regulat- 

ing the temperature. The arrows denote the direction of the 
Sun’s rays. 

7. Average temperature; 8. Higher —200°C; 9. Lower —200°C. 

carried through the door his small amateur telescope 
mounted on a tripod, and out on the roof he observed the 
stars. His wife and neighbouring children who were fre- 
quent visitors, also enjoyed locking through the telescope. 
On these occasions Tsiolkovsky would gather them all 
around him and tell them the attractive, marvellous story 
of the constellations, planets, nebulae and shooting stars. 
“Island of Ether’, which is now published for the first 
time, and gives a wonderful description of our Milky Way, 
is in form and content very much on the lines of the infor- 
mal, moving science talks that Tsiolkovsky gave to his clos- 
est friends and acquaintances. 

The supplement to the collection is Tsiolkovsky’s article 
“To the Inventors of Reaction-Propelled Apparatus”, which 
gives a comprehensive explanation of models of jet-pro- 
pelled flying craft, which anyone can make without having 
to acquire any complicated tools or special materials. 
Drawings are also given. It should be noted that Tsiolkov- 
sky was extremely interested in the handicrafts and model- 
ling of the children at the local technical centre. It was in 
reply to the many questions addressed to him, as to which 
models were to be recommended as being safest to handle 
and how to construct them, that Tsiolkovsky wrote the 
above-mentioned article—which, too, is now published for 
the first time. 

As one who strove tirelessly to advance mankind and 
its culture, and whose motto was “to help mankind for- 
ward at least a little’, Tsiolkovsky was able to fire the 
minds of people by his inspired work. Now that we have 
entered the space age it will definitely be of great interest 
to read his writings. 

After the establishment of Soviet power, Tsiolkovsky 
lived another 17 years, during which his works formed the 
basis of a broad movement to reach the stratosphere and 
investigate cosmic space. The number of his followers grew 
rapidly. When Tsiolkovsky had ceased to engage in further 
practical research, engineers V. P. Glushko and F. A. Tsan- 


From Tsiolkovsky’s manuscript: “Space Travel Album” (1933). 
Explanatory note on the sketch of a dwelling (hothouse) in 

der, two of his closest followers, developed the first designs 
for jet-propelled engines on liquid fuel. The Soviet Union’s 
first liquid fuel rockets were launched, and experiments 
made on the manufacture of jet aircraft. Meanwhile Tsiol- 
kovsky devoted himself entirely to a voluminous treatise 
on jet engines, 

With every new day, the ideas born of Tsiolkovsky’s 
genius threw into bolder relief the majestic panorama of 
manned space conquest of the future. But ill health con- 
stantly interrupted his work. 

On September 14, 1935, the newspaper Pravda published 
a document which made science history. This was Tsiol- 
kovsky’s letter to the Central Committee of the Commu- 
nist Party of the Soviet Union. It read: 

“,.. All my life I have striven by my work to help man- 
kind forward at least a little. 

“,.. I bequeath all my writings on aviation, rocketry and 
interplanetary travel to the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet 
Government as the true leaders of man’s cultural progress. 
I am sure they will successfully consummate this work. 

“I am yours with all my heart and mind, and with. my 
last sincere greetings I remain always 

K. Tsiolkovsky” 

On September 19, 1935, the great Russian scientist, Kon- 
stantin Tsiolkovsky, passed away. 

His pupils and followers, Soviet scientists, engineers, 
technicians and factory workers, have brought to life and 
fully realised the ideas advanced by Konstantin Tsiolkov- 
sky in the field of rocket flight and interplanetary commu- 

Soviet achievements in the discovery and conquest of 
cosmic space, which have ushered in a new era in the his- 
tory of mankind, are universally known today. 

On September 17, 1957, a few days after the U.S.S.R. 
Academy of Sciences and other scientific establishments 


M Te 
7 ope pubaniie i ae 

From Tsiolkovsky'’s “Space Travel Album” (1933). Sketch 
shows how gas rudders operate in a jet-propelled spaceship. 

and public organisations had celebrated the centenary of 
Tsiolkovsky’s birth, a monument to him was unveiled in 
Leningradsky Prospekt in Moscow and the foundation 
stone of another monument was laid in Peace Square in Ka- 
luga. On October 4, in the same year, the Soviet Union 
launched its sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite ever 
produced. The event impressed the whole world. Following 
this, the Soviet Union, and later the United States, sent up 
a series of artificial satellites varying in size and weight. 
Soviet rockets reached the Moon and photographed its re- 
verse side and several rockets were put into orbit round the 
Sun. In 1960, a Soviet spaceship carrying experimental 
animals successfully returned after a journey of several 
„hundred thousand kilometres in space round the Earth. In 
1961, an Earth-Venus automatic interplanetary station was 
launched from the heavy sputnik. 

If one compares the content of Tsiolkovsky’s science 


fiction with the terse TASS account of the Soviet automat- 
ic interplanetary station, one cannot fail to note the famil- 
iar terms, for instance, “gyroscopic transducer”, which 
Tsiolkovsky used in describing the first project of a space- 
ship in his monograph Free Space written in 1883. (See the 
supplement for the diagram.) In his Dreams of Earth and 
Sky, written in 1895, what are now known as solar batte- 
ries are called solar motors. In the diagram for the unfin- 
ished manuscript Space Travel (1934), Tsiolkovsky demon- 
strates temperature control inside the rocket by means of 

Light signalisation is mentioned time and again in Out- 
side the Earth (1920), only it is done not by means of a 
sodium vapour cloud, as in the case of Soviet space rock- 
ets, but with the aid of bright electric searchlights. 

In the present-day designing, building and launching of 
sputniks and space rockets, Soviet scientists and engineers 
have undoubtedly invented immeasurably more than Tsiol- 
kovsky did. Nevertheless, it was the realisation of all the 
“conjectures” of the genius who founded the theory of jet 
propulsion and interplanetary travel, which has brought 
his country the tremendous achievements and unfading 
glory of this age. Lenin was indeed right when he defined 
imagination as a quality of the greatest value. 

(Dated April 28, 1930) 

Both adults and children send me hundreds of projects 
for reaction-propelled means of locomotion. To all of them 
I can give the following reply. 

The essence of a direct-flow engine is that one matter 
is ejected rightwards, while the projectile moves leftwards 
by virtue of the recoil. In order to get the smallest possi- 
ble store of explosives that will not overburden the vehicle, 
the ejection velocity should be of the greatest possible or- 
der, since this velocity imparts the same speed to the ve- 
hicle. Explosives or fuels, by combining with the reserve 
oxygen compound, produce jet velocity from 1,000 to 5,000 
metres a second. These are what should be used. 

When the explosion occurs, part of its energy is impart- 
ed to the apparatus, while the other part of its energy 
is expended in the gas jet. To achieve a decent ratio in the 
use of chemical energy, the projectile’s velocity should not 
differ greatly from that of the jet of gases. Let us suppose 
that the velocity of the gas jet is 2,000 m/sec. Then, to 
achieve high efficiency in the use of the explosives or ex- 
plosion-producing elements, the vehicle must. have a ve- 
locity of close on 2 km/sec. Probably one kilometre would 
be enough. 

But are such velocities possible on our roads and in the 

In the case of a velocity of 1,000 m/sec the resist- 
ance of the onrushing air stream should be more than 


100 tons per square metre. Actual conditions are still 

Indeed, with a speed greater than that of sound, the air 
in front of a plane condenses and becomes an insuperable 
obstacle (a stone wall, as it were). In addition, this speed 
would break every wheel to smithereens and make the 
roads impossible. At a low speed the unevenness of roads 
can be tolerated, but at a high speed it becomes unbearable. 

If resistance in the air is insuperable, it is still more so 
in water. Consequently even speed-boats are no use. 

What is to be done, then? Are reaction-propelled, direct- 
flow engines to be put to no purpose at all? 

We do not say this. We can get out of the difficulty by 
giving the vehicle the streamlined, elongated shape of a 
bird or fish, and by travelling through the air, instead of 
along solid earth or across water. 

We thus, willy-nilly hit upon the idea of a fast reaction- 
propelled aeroplane. But even this, however, beautiful in 
its shape, cannot work up a velocity of several kilometres 
a second in the lower, dense strata of the atmosphere. We 
must fly our aeroplane in the rarefied strata of the atmos- 
phere, to the stratosphere. 

Our reaction-propelled aeroplane or rocket plane thus 
becomes a rocket-propelled stratoplane. This is a compli- 
cated task that is too difficult for the knowledge, powers 
and erudition of children. A reaction-propulsion research 
institute takes care of all that. Let us leave this work and 
the likely achievements to the institute. . 

What can we children do? We can make some highly in- 
teresting toys. Unfortunately, they have all been made be- 
fore and even patented as inventions of supposedly serious 
import. We can only reproduce them. However, they will 
be instructive for grown-ups and children alike. 

Here is a list of them: , ’ 

1. A gun-boat. The gun, either of the spring, gas, or gun- 
powder type, ejects a cannon-ball, and the boat shoots in 
the opposite direction. 


2. A boat with a horizontal fountain. A water-filled cyl- 
inder is mounted on the stern of a small vessel. Water 
flows from it, through the lower aperture, into the pool 
below. The recoil compels the boat to move (until the cyl- 
inder runs dry). 

3. A steamer. A small tin boiler, heated by methylated 
spirit, is installed on a toy boat. The water boils, turns into 
steam which escapes through a very narrow aperture in 
the stern propelling the steamer. The effect will be much 
greater if the steam is ejected under the water through a 
tube. But this will no longer be a pure type of reaction- 
propelled machine. 

4. A similar reaction-propelled automobile. Here, to 
achieve greater success, we need a small ordinary rocket 
instead of the boiler. In ordinary conditions, the force pro- 
duced by the steam will be found to be insufficient to pro- 
pel the vehicle. 

5. A gas boat. Instead of the heated water-filled boiler 
we can use an inflated rubber bladder. The air escaping 
from its aperture will compel the boat to move. A football 
bladder can be used. 

6. The flying inflated balloon that everyone knows. 

7. An ordinary rocket equipped with a chamber and 
manned by toy travellers, for the sake of effect. 

8. A propellerless plane with a rocket. A long light tail 
(calico will do very well), should be fitted to its rear to 
keep it steady in the air. 

Besides providing amusement, these toys may also serve 
as a stepping-stone to the building of reaction-propelled 


I was asked some 10 years ago to have my story Outside 
the Earth adapted for the screen. But since this proved 
such a complicated affair, the enterprise was laid aside. 


Only now has the Mosfilm studios, in the talented person 
of V. N. Zhuravlyov, firmly decided to produce the film 
Cosmic Journey. 

I was 17 when I first dreamed of the possibility of travel- 
ling beyond our own planet. In 1895 I wrote my Dreams of 
Earth and Sky. It was published by the nephew of the fa- 
mous Goncharov and was then twice reprinted by the State 
Publishing House under the title of Gravity has Vanished. 
In the first years after the Revolution, I took up the sub- 
ject seriously. The fantastic story called Outside the Earth 
(1918) reflected this work. 

The mathematically elaborated theory of a reaction-pro- 
pelled vehicle appeared already in 1903, at first in Filip- 
pov’s philosophical journal Nauchnoye Obozrenie (Science 
Review) with small circulation, and several years later in 
the Vestnik Vozdukhoplavania (Herald of Aeronautics) 
(1911-13). Then several publications appeared in separate 
editions and in magazines. From 1913 onwards my works 
gained recognition also abroad. 

There is nothing that engrosses me more than the prob- 
lem of overcoming terrestrial gravity and of making flights 
into space. I seem to devote half my time and energy to 
this problem. I am already 78, yet I still continue to com- 
pute and design reaction-propelled machines. The things 
I have thought about and the ideas that have surged 
through my brain! This was no longer fantasy, but exact 
knowledge based on the laws of nature; new discoveries 
and new compositions were in the making. But I was also 
attracted to science fiction. Many times I essayed the task 
of writing about space travel, but wound up with a strong- 
er fancy for exact considerations and switched to serious 

Science-fiction stories on interplanetary trips carry new 
ideas to the masses. All who work on these lines, work 
well, arousing interest, promoting the working of the brain, 
and training up people who are attracted by the idea of 
grand projects, and who will work in this field in the future. 


What can be grander than to master the full energy of 
the Sun, which is 2,000 million times greater than the ener- 
gy the Earth gets from the Sun! What can be more splen- 
did than to find an outlet from the tight little corner of our 
planet, to be in close communication with outer space and 
to give people a way out of the cramped position on the 
Earth and a chance to throw off the shackles of gravity! 

Cinema has a wider appeal than books. They are more 
graphic and closer to nature than a mere description. This 
is the supreme artistic level, especially now that the cinema 
is coupled with the sound-track. I think it very heroic of 
the Mosfilm studios and Comrade Zhuravlyov to have un- 
dertaken to produce the film Cosmic Journey. I must say 
I am extremely pleased with this work. 

What is my own view of journeys into space? Do I be- 
lieve in them? Will man ever be able to accomplish them? 

The more I worked, the more were the difficulties and 
obstacles of all kinds that I encountered. Until recently, I 
supposed that hundreds of years would be necessary to ef- 
fect flights at astronomical velocity (8-17 km/sec). This 
was confirmed by the poor results achieved both here and 
abroad. But the uninterrupted work carried out in recent 
times has shaken my pessimistic views: methods have 
been found which will produce amazing results in a few 
dozen years from now. 

I hope that the attention our Soviet Government pays to 
industrial development in the U.S.S.R. and to every kind 
of scientific research will justify and bear out these, my 

own, expectations. 
(Komsomolskaya Pravda, 
July 23, 1935) 


In 1878-79, while living in Ryazan, Tsiolkovsky worked 
on the problems of interplanetary travel. Preserved in his 
archives at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences is a small 


18-page exercise-book (relating to that period). It was in 
connection with this work that he experimented at that 
time, using home-made contraptions, chiefly a rotary ma- 

Tsiolkovsky used experimental mice, chicks and insects 
to ascertain the effect that acceleration of gravity has on 
living organisms. In this schoolboy exercise-book, the fu- 
ture scientist jotted down his considerations regarding the 
advisability of carrying out other experiments and research, 
at the same time making sketches and diagrams of new ap- 
paratus for the purpose. 

The notes in this exercise-book were the rough drafts 
of Free Space, the monograph he wrote while living in Bo- 
rovsk, where from 1880 he was arithmetics and geometry 
master at the local school.* 

The few pages from the exercise-book published in this 
collection reflect’ some of Tsiolkovsky’s ideas, which he 
later developed in his books in a strictly scientific and most 
fascinating form. 

Editorial Board 

* The monograph was first published by the U.S.S.R. Academy 
of Sciences Publishing House in 1954 in the second volume of Tsiol- 
‘kovsky's Collected Works.—Ed. 

To p. 466 

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Facsimile of a page from the manuscript of Tsiolkovsky’s 

Free Space (1883), Sketch of cross-section of jet-propelled 

spaceship. Right: Cannon firing spherical projectiles and pro- 

pelling the vehicle through space with its recoil (reaction). 

Centre: Gyroscopes, the revolving of which can change the 

position (orientation) of the spaceship in space. The sketch is 
dated March 9, 1883 (Old Style) 

For Supplement T. 

Tsiolkovsky’s sketch for “To Inventors of Jet-Propelled 

For Supplement I! 

Projected or falling projectile has no weight. In a carriage that 
is just starting to move or is about to stop, a horizontal gravity 
is produced, which added to the terrestrial gravity, results in 
an inclined relative gravity. The same takes place in the 
cannon-ball ejected by horizontally-mounted gun 

For Supplement II 

Two persons standing in a room at right angles to each other 

For Supplement II 

Liquid assumes the form of rotation (of the body) 

ped gun, 

For Supplerfient II 

ball of a bow- 




a os} 

For Supplement IHI 

In gravity-free space curvilinear motion produces relative 
gravity proportional to the arc curvature and the square of 

the carriage’s velocity 


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