Image © 2008, John Bruno Hare, All Rights Reserved
by Charles Fort
In Lo!, Fort develops a theme of teleportation as an agency for many strange phenomena. He reviews the cases of the Marie Celeste, Princess Caraboo, Cagliostro, Ambrose Bierce, Agatha Christie, and Kaspar Hauser as evidence that people can be mysteriously teleported from one point to another. The main side effect of these accidental teleportations seems to be amnesia, in fact it is the sine qua non of the better examples.
Fort continues to tweak scientific pomposity, focusing on astronomers. While astronomy bills itself as an exact science, even today, with digital computers, calculations can go awry, often because of human error and the limits of our mathematical models. A Mars probe was lost because one software component was using English measurements instead of metric. While multi-body systems can now be simulated digitally using iterative methods, eventually chaos creeps in and makes predicting future locations of planets impossible. Fort uses this Achilles heel to advance his own modest cosmological proposal, of a shell of land just a few dozen miles up, with the stars as volcanoes...
Taken at face value, of course, he is dead wrong--even the builders of Stonehenge would have turned up their noses at this concept. However, Fort was vindicated in many large and small ways here. He predicted the space race, and how space travel would someday become commercialized and routine. His sense that the universe has a lot of strange components that early 20th century science had no concept of, was also prescient. Today, we might use parallel universes to explain many of these phenomena. In fact, some mainstream theories of physics demand the existence of such universes. In fact, some of these universes may be separated from ours by the spatial equivalent of millimeters. Somewhere, I think, Mr. Fort is a bit less grumpy...