Having actually established the facts in the case we shall, in this chapter, use those facts in an imaginative and constructive way to show the reader what an actual journey into the interior of the earth would be like. We shall not invent any new facts or "make up" any mere tale of fancy, but we shall simply use the facts we have already gathered in a new way, grouping them together in the order in which an actual traveler would observe them.
In the first place, if the writer of this book and a company of readers were setting off on this expedition, we should take with us not only the usual equipment of an Arctic explorer but we should also provide for travel in very warm regions, for we know in advance that we are going to find a very warm and damp climate after we have braved the rigors of the cold weather to be found before we get to what are usually called the polar regions. And we should take more instruments for scientific observations than have usually been taken on polar explorations because we know from the experiences of former explorers how difficult it is to make the ordinary observations
in the northern regions, and how important it is that everything possible be noted and compared with those observations which have already been made. We should not only have the ordinary instruments of navigation but delicate apparatus for making observations. When the auroral light was shining we should use a spectroscope to analyse it, and show that it was really the same as sunlight in its composition. We should have microscopes for examining botanical and biological specimens. And we should certainly have a trained geologist along, for we should wish his expert observations on the geology of the interior.
Thus equipped we should leave some northern port, we may suppose it to be St. Johns, Newfoundland. In a little over a week we have arrived at Godhaven, Greenland. Here we would pick up a number of Eskimo helpers, some sleds and dogs, and other necessities for the voyage. We would then proceed up the coast of Greenland to about 82 or 83 degrees, which could be done without very much trouble. But by the time we have reached that far we will have noticed several surprising things. We will find that whenever there is a wind from the north the weather is much warmer than when the wind is from the south. And we shall notice that ever since we passed the latitude of say 75 degrees the average temperature has not been growing any colder. Furthermore
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Diagram showing the earth as a hollow sphere with its polar openings and central sun. The letters at top and bottom of diagram indicate the various steps of an imaginary journey through the planet's interior. At the point marked "D" we catch our first glimpse of the corona of the central sun; at the point marked "E" we can see the central sun in its entirety.
we shall notice that there is a steady warm current of water coming from the north. From time to time we see birds in the air, and if our trip is being made at all late in the season--and knowing what we do know we shall not be afraid of some delays, for it is a hospitable country to which we are going and not a land of perpetual ice--if, we say, our trip' is being made rather late in the season we shall see many of these birds flying north. Suppose we were to leave our ship at any point along the coast of Greenland and carrying gasoline launches in sections on our sledges were to go overland until we came to the open polar sea which Dr. Hayes discovered. In that case we should have to camp every so often, and we would find plenty of game along our route and comfortable temperatures for sleeping in our tents. If it were during the summer weather, mosquitoes would be quite a nuisance. While our friends at home were picturing us as freezing with cold we would as a matter of fact be sweating with the exertions of moving camp and similar activities. Traveling in this way we could come to the coast of Grant Land or of Peary Land, and then going out on the ice-surface for a little we should come at last to the open polar sea. Then, let us suppose, we were able to set up the gasoline launches which we had brought with us in parts, loaded on the sledges, launch them, with a good supply of fuel on each, and start on the last lap of our journey.
As we proceed the water rapidly becomes warmer, all trace of ice is left behind, the flocks of seabirds thicken, and perhaps we run into an immense shoal of herring going to or from their breeding grounds which are to the north of us. Our first night on the water we shall be surprised to see, after the setting of the sun, a glow in the sky which gradually defines itself as a ring covering the whole visible horizon while long streamers of light wave in fantastic patterns overhead. The Aurora, for such it is, is now no longer only to the north of us, as it would be if we saw it from a lower latitude, but it is directly over our heads and even to the south of us because we are almost on the edge of the aperture, and the reflections from the central sun come from higher strata of the atmosphere which are illuminated for an immense area by the diverging rays of the central sun coming through this immense aperture. As we proceed these auroral displays become ever more bright and steady and symmetrical. And the sun we have been accustomed to seeing in the heavens is each day a little nearer the horizon. At last there comes a time when we cannot make any more observations by it, and one day when we wake up or rather, perhaps are awakened by the members of our crew who have been keeping watch, we find an extraordinary thing has taken place. It is apparently daylight when, perhaps, by the checking up of our time pieces it ought
to be dark. Only it is a peculiar daylight. It is the sort of light which usually precedes a storm, an angry reddish light with a heavy atmosphere. If we were unprepared we would think that some terrible atmospheric disturbance was about to take place. But if we are prepared we know now that we have sailed far enough over the rim of the earth's aperture so that the sun we see is no longer the sun of the outer firmament but the inner sun which never sets. And even if our feelings did not, our instruments do tell us of a great increase in the temperature of the water and the temperature and humidity of the air. We take off some of our outer clothing. Perhaps we find that we are in one of those currents from the north which we met with before we began to sail across the edge of the aperture. If so we may find it a great deal stronger and the water a great deal warmer at this point.
As we proceed two things forcibly strike our attention: one in the "sky" as it still appears to be, and one in the water. The first is that the sun is no longer moving. It is stationary in the sky, for the small distances that we are able to traverse will only cause a very slight apparent motion of the sun, so slight that it would take a great deal more than a day's journey to make it appreciable. The other thing is that the water is fairly alive with organisms of one sort or another. Perhaps we shall see immense shoals of herring. It may be that in pursuit of them are creatures
the like of which we have only seen illustrated in books on geology. When we come to very shallow water we shall certainly see species of shell fish that we have previously only seen in their fossilized condition in our museums.
But we are approaching land and all eyes are strained to see what lies ahead. Perhaps it will turn out to be a low-lying beach, and we make for it and quickly disembark, pull up our boats, take out our tents and prepare to make our first camp. We will naturally want fresh water, and as we are now no longer in a region where it is to be obtained from ice or snow, for it is almost too hot for us here, unaccustomed as we have been by the previous journey north to warm weather. So we look around and perhaps we are lucky enough to find that we have camped near a stream. After due rest and the necessary preparations we prepare to follow its meanderings and explore the new territory.
Very soon we come to vegetation. But it is of a kind that is either quite new to us or at least only reminds us of similar forms that we have seen on the outside of the earth. Immense trunks, of a sort of plant which geologists and botanists call gymnosperms, tower above the stream and stretch as far as the eye can reach on either side of its banks. They
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Showing the earth bisected centrally through the polar openings and at right angles to the equator, giving a clear view of the central sun and the interior continents and oceans. (Reproduced from photograph of working model.) Made by the author, 1912. Patented May 12, 1914, No. 1096102.
remind us of the trees which we call conifers--such as the pine. They are covered with spinelike leaves which cling to both trunk and branches and they have no flowers. The air is warm and steamy, and dragon-flies and mosquitoes are hovering over the water of the stream and over the vegetation. Below these large conifer-like trees are species of fern, somewhat like the ferns we know but more solid and much larger, in many cases the fern clusters rising from the top of a very thick trunk, almost half the length of the larger trees, and really constituting what we would call a fern-tree and not merely a fern. Over the ground are studded great masses of Lycopods or club mosses, and green stretches of smaller mosses cover the ground. As long as the land on which we are traveling is low and near the water surface this is the predominating strain of vegetation. Later when we reach higher ground, we shall find that vegetation more like that of our own tropics has found a home. We shall see some flowers that we can recognize and we shall see some that are new to us. One very common flower will be the original starting place of that red pollen which, as we have seen, is deposited on the ice cliffs of the outer world. Judging from the quantities of that pollen we have seen on the ice cliffs of the exterior of the planet we shall not be surprised when we see that the flower itself is one which grows in immense banks or areas
covering the whole ground, so that the moss or grass between the different plants is invisible. And when a strong breeze blows over these immense areas we shall see how the pollen is carried so far for it is a very light, fine, powdery pollen, and the very air is colored as the wind blows it toward the polar opening. Our clothes are covered with it, if we happen to be in the path of the wind, and for a time it hangs in the air and is even breathed in by us as we inhale the air.
If we dig into the soil of this low-lying land we shall find that it is a spongy and peaty soil, formed of the debris of the vegetable matter which towers above our heads. Owing to the heat and the moisture this vegetable growth is not only rank and luxuriant, but it grows four times as rapidly as the vegetable matter on the earth's outer surface. They do not stop growing as our outer plants do, because there is no setting of the sun, and they do not pause in their growth in the winter because there is no winter. This rapid growth means that they are spongy and weak in their texture. They keep expanding all the time, and so do not consolidate themselves as plants in the outer world do which grow more slowly and build their cells together more compactly. And as these plants grow quickly so do they decay quickly. Each plant soon reaches its limit, and, lying in a damp earth, its roots being spongy rather than firm, it is
soon ready to topple over when a wind storm comes along. It topples and rots and soon is reduced to humus again, and in this humus of rotten leaves and branches, half buried and decaying trunks, other plants spring from the myriad seeds which are scattering around all the time. By and by the weight of these further growths on the soil pushes the old humus down and compresses it more and more, and were we to dig down a little into this soil we should find the same thing that they burn in the cabins in Ireland--peat, that mass of vegetable matter which may be called coal in the making. If we were to dig a little lower still we would undoubtedly find natural gas, for it is a well known geological fact that a layer of peat seven inches deep will give off enough gas during its decomposition, that by the time it is ready to turn into actual coal that layer will no longer be seven but only one inch deep.
We next notice a tree that is thirty feet or so in height but which reminds us of a very small plant we have observed on the outside and called Mare's Tail. We should hardly think of calling this tree anything so undignified for it branches out in a most amazing fashion and its main trunk is thick and sturdy looking, but we find upon close examination that the two are identical in all but size. This tree has the same jointed branches looking like a collection
of immense fishing poles, and each branch is covered with a coat of flinty roughness, due to the silica with which it covers itself in minute spicules. We can pull the branches off very easily because they are jointed together in detachable bits, but we shall probably cut our hands if we do so and very painfully--just as in our childhood days we have often cut our hands on certain rough grasses.
Looking up we see parasitic fern-like plants and some with flowers like orchids drape themselves all over the larger vegetation, and these are a very active cause in its early downfall, as they quickly sap these trees not equipped to offer much resistance to such a process. Further away from the water we should find seed-bearing trees like our own of the tropics, and small plants of every description up to many of our common varieties of temperate climates, but all growing here in a ranker and more luxuriant fashion.
We should be amazed at the abundance of insect life. On the water would be water flies of various kinds and sizes. Newt-like forms would be scrambling from water to land or sunning themselves in the pools. Occasionally under the dense undergrowth we should espy a serpent or serpent-like creature wending its silent way. Probably we would find that these were amphibious creatures.
A longer journey into the land would disclose to us animals which it were well to avoid meeting unless we were well armed. Certainly before long we should see herds of mammoths or at least small groups, perhaps a male and female and a young one--whom both would savagely defend if we gave any cause to suspect us as enemies. Doubtless these creatures would be met with very early in our journey, for they are fond of wandering, are not afraid, even, as we have seen, to venture to the very icebound limit of their confines; in fact their character, and probably the fact that they need certain elements in their diet given by foliage of trees that grow only near the lip, seem to cause them to wish to cover a very wide range of territory, and it is very probable that between their breeding seasons--during which time they would be further inland they venture out into the relatively colder lands of the interior near the lip. In this part of the interior there would, of course be glaciers, owing to the influence of the cold coming from the outerworld, and it is a well known fact that such continuous cold is enough to form glaciers even though the actual temperature be almost as high as the melting point of ice. One scientist tells us how, in Switzerland, he has stood on the surface of a glacier and plucked ripe cherries from off the branches of a cherry tree. We might see these mammoths walking along the surfaces of
glaciers, perhaps lured on by edible pine-needles growing on the high ground. Very often they will fall into crevasses, perhaps concealed from them by snow, and the moment they fall in they will be covered by the snow and snow-water from above and hermetically sealed. That would account for the fresh condition in which they are found after these glaciers have gradually worked their way over the lip and out into the Siberian wastes where the mammoth is found in perfectly eatable condition.
Would we find any people in this strange land? While we cannot speak with certainty here it is well to remember that the Eskimo, as we have shown in another chapter, always point to this part of the earth as their ancestral abode. And it is also note-worthy that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the origin of the Chinese, and that it has been thought by some that the Chinese and Eskimo had a common origin. It is therefore likely that we would meet tribes here with a resemblance to both those races. That there is that common resemblance is shown by Peary's tale of the Eskimo girl he brought to New York with him, who would take no notice of the people around her but was filled with excitement when she met a Chinese in the street, and who wished at once to make friends with him. And here is another point that the reader may think speculative,
but at all events it is suggestive: From where comes the up and outward position of the eye that we associate with the Chinese? May it not be a modification of the ordinary eye position induced by the fact that in the interior the sun is always in the zenith?
Certainly these tribes if we found them would find it easy living in the interior. Besides the huge plants of very early origin which we have described, the seeds of many of our own plants could have been carried to the interior by ocean currents or by birds in their crops, and we should expect to see vines and fruits of all kinds. Perhaps these tribes would have learned to cultivate them. Certainly the more interior parts of the countries we traversed would be wonderful sights from a botanical point of view. The plants which give the red pollen would, alone, probably cover areas of acres and acres in extent, judging from the amount of pollen that drifts as far away as the latitudes in which it has been seen to cover whole cliff sides and glaciers. Over these lands would roam immense herds of deer and other animals, the tribes would certainly be numerous and prosperous owing to the easy living conditions, although we might expect to find them very lazy, being so well provided for.
We should also find here the explanation of the dust which Nansen and other explorers have re-marked about in the Arctic--dust which undoubtedly
had a volcanic source. Here are the volcanoes from which that dust comes, and this is the first time its presence in the Arctic has been explained.
We shall also have a physicist in the party, and he will be very much interested in the interior sun. It never rises and sets, and hence there is no night but one continuous day in the interior, and there are no changes of season. The country lies in a perpetual drowsy summer, the sunlight only being tempered by the dampness of the climate and the cold that enters from each end and makes the interior of the earth have a climate ranging from very cold at the actual polar lips, what might be called Alpine, with glaciers, and quite tropical as we pass the Alpine section and get really into the interior.
It is very probable that our scientists will find that what keeps up the heat of the interior sun, for it is a very small one and would doubtless have cooled much more quickly than the exterior sun, is its supply of radium. In fact it is radium that is thought now to have so much to do with the upkeep of energy of our exterior sun, and so it will not be at all surprising if we find that in the interior many interesting observations are to be made relative to the part that radium plays in solar radiation of heat.
If we have a geologist with the expedition he will be very anxious to excavate as much as possible, for he has always associated iron ore with coal seams, and knows that an abundance of carbonic acid gas in
the air (such as there is in the interior, for it is the gas exhaled by plants) always means that iron will be combined with it as ferrous carbonate and deposited in close connection with coal deposits. In fact we will even predict that if he does find iron ore it will be the kind called "black band ore" which is iron ore closely mixed with carbonaceous matter.
If after this trip of exploration we go back to the shore we shall find myriads of shells cast up once inhabited by various kinds of Brachyopods; clinging to the rocks will be crinoids and perhaps trilobites--creatures which we have never seen alive before, but recognize from geologists' descriptions.
Suppose that after this we penetrate our new world a little more systematically. Before we have been in it long we shall see that ranging from the plants and amphibious animals and shell fish which we have just described there are to be found here representatives of every group of animals and vegetables which we have seen since the beginning of the carboniferous epoch as occupying successive land surfaces on the outside of our globe. Always when great climatic changes took place which of course happened slowly, giving gradual warning--or when geological changes wiped out a species on the exterior--always there was this world of refuge within the globe. Here the climate was equable all through, so that excepting for any volcanic or other changes there was no destructive agency to blot out a whole species. And
so here we shall find not one missing link--for which the man in the street has always asked when he read about organic evolution--but many missing links. Certainly that animal described by the Eskimo and named by them the arcla, may well be a representative of one of the cretaceous animals with a general outline somewhat after that of the kangaroo. These animals were reptiles, however, feeders on vegetable matter and with teeth set in several rows like a tessellated pavement. As birds are well fitted to escape from both geological upheavals and climatic changes by their power of flight we should doubtless find in this refuge some of the very earliest species of birds, such as those with lizard-like beaks in which many teeth were set, birds entirely different from any existing orders on the outside of the globe. If we have an entomologist with the party he will be kept busy collecting insects. There will be the most gorgeous and large butterflies, all sorts of dragon flies, ants of several species, and in fact there will be several thousands of species of insects many of which are not known to exist on the earth today.
Among mammals, besides the mammoth already mentioned, we shall find Carnivores, Insectivores, Herbivores, and Primates, and many representatives of each class. Prominent among them will be an animal like our tapir or ant-eater, but his form will
have more of a resemblance, anatomically, to the horse than it will to the actual tapir with which we are acquainted. We shall find animals which have affinities with the marsupials of Australia but which have the long proboscis of the elephant. Our geologist will tell us that until we saw these animals all that mankind knew about them was based on a few fossil remains which had been discovered in a rich deposit of fossils near the base of the Himalayas and later in a few places in Europe, and named Dinotherium and Sivatherium. Of the first named of those fossil animals the head alone was five feet long, but it does not follow that under the much easier conditions of life in the interior the animal has kept its formidable dimensions. In all evolution, variations are always taking place, and perhaps under the conditions in the interior of the earth a smaller animal had a better chance of life owing to greater ease in getting about. In that case the smaller animal would survive. We should find here, too, the species of animal which once lived in Europe and Ireland but died out largely because it was not adapted anatomically to its environment. This was the Great Irish Elk, and numbers of their skeletons have been taken from Irish peat-bogs. The head and antlers of this animal were so disproportionately developed that it bent over to drink from the bog only at a considerable risk. And the fact that its remains are found in these bogs is pretty good evidence of the main cause of
death among these animals after the countries in which they lived became swampy or boggy. And it is certain that the changed conditions in the interior of the earth will have had effects upon these earlier types of animals which we cannot forecast. But they will be there in their main features and an enormous number of distinct species will have survived--species so different that no inter-breeding will have taken place, and so different too that one will not have entirely killed off another, for, the extent to which one class of animals preys on another is limited.
We must also be prepared to greet early representatives of the cat and dog families. The sabre-toothed tiger goes back as far as the Quaternary epoch on the outside of the globe, and it is quite possible that we shall also meet him on the inside.
It is a remarkable fact that in the mines on the surface of the earth some metals are very common and others are extremely rare, found only in such small fragments and thin veins that they are available for use as standards of value. Both gold and platinum have been used as standard of value metals because their supply is not variable. We know that there will not be much more gold in the world tomorrow than there is today. But it is quite likely that the veins of gold and platinum which are so meagre on our side of the earth's surface may be plentiful on the
inner side. At all events there is rock formation there that will yield us metals as well as swampy land that will yield us coal in the making, and petroleum and gas. And we shall make all haste to explore the rocky parts of the surface--although it is very improbable that any of the rocky land will be exposed, for vegetation is so rank everywhere--and the chances are that we shall find many interesting minerals. In fact when we consider that when our outer earth was hot enough to fuse carbon into the brilliant diamond it is quite likely that at some time not far removed, the inner sun, which at that time would be enormously hot, could fuse the carbon of the interior surface in a like manner. Of course that would be when the earth was just beginning to cool, when probably its whole outer envelope was still hot enough to be plastic--for diamonds are only crystallized at a tremendously high temperature and pressure but it is a safe speculation at any rate. And while that discovery would be of sensational interest because diamonds are so sought after, other discoveries of even greater scientific interest would be made.
Finally, if our expedition were well enough equipped with ships we could sail through the oceans of this interior world, explore its coasts, sail up its rivers, and finally, come out on the outer side. Here,
however, we would need every aid that the Antarctic explorer has to have, for the journey from the Antarctic polar lip to the nearest civilization would be a far more arduous one than is the similar journey in the north. But if we had taken our aeroplanes through the interior with us, success would doubtless crown our flight and we should return to civilization having explored the last part of the earth that is left to explore and having added nearly as much again to the area and resources of the lands on which life may flourish and from which may be dug or taken by cultivation. We should be hailed as the greatest explorers in the history of the world. We should be honored by republics and by kings; by scientists and by magnates of commercial enterprise.
And so we leave this part of our subject, hoping that we have fired the ambition of the reader to see within a very short time this work of exploration undertaken. Our country has the men, the aeroplanes, the enterprise, and the capital. Let our country go ahead with this great work. Or if our country hangs back let private citizens earn the glory that will be theirs if they assume the glorious task of opening up this new and teeming realm. It is the greatest privilege that has ever been offered to an explorer, and we are very sure that there will be many explorers eager to grasp it and certain to succeed when they have grasped it.