"So be it," said Michel; "but, once more; how could they
calculate the initiatory speed?"
"Nothing can be easier," replied Barbicane.
"And you knew how to make that calculation?" asked Michel Ardan.
"Perfectly. Nicholl and I would have made it, if the
observatory had not saved us the trouble."
"Very well, old Barbicane," replied Michel; "they might have cut
off my head, beginning at my feet, before they could have made
me solve that problem."
"Because you do not know algebra," answered Barbicane quietly.
"Ah, there you are, you eaters of x^1; you think you have said
all when you have said `Algebra.'"
"Michel," said Barbicane, "can you use a forge without a hammer,
or a plow without a plowshare?"
"Hardly."
"Well, algebra is a tool, like the plow or the hammer, and a
good tool to those who know how to use it."
"Seriously?"
"Quite seriously."
"And can you use that tool in my presence?"
"If it will interest you."
"And show me how they calculated the initiatory speed of our car?"
"Yes, my worthy friend; taking into consideration all the
elements of the problem, the distance from the center of the
earth to the center of the moon, of the radius of the earth, of
its bulk, and of the bulk of the moon, I can tell exactly what
ought to be the initiatory speed of the projectile, and that by
a simple formula."
"Let us see."
