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|Round the Moon||Jules Verne|
QUESTION AND ANSWER
|Page 2 of 5||
"Yes, I understand," replied Michel, "perfectly. For example, when I have run a long time, when I am swimming, when I am perspiring in large drops, why am I obliged to stop? Simply because my motion is changed into heat."
Barbicane could not help smiling at Michel's reply; then, returning to his theory, said:
"Thus, in case of a shock, it would have been with our projectile as with a ball which falls in a burning state after having struck the metal plate; it is its motion which is turned into heat. Consequently I affirm that, if our projectile had struck the meteor, its speed thus suddenly checked would have raised a heat great enough to turn it into vapor instantaneously."
"Then," asked Nicholl, "what would happen if the earth's motion were to stop suddenly?"
"Her temperature would be raised to such a pitch," said Barbicane, "that she would be at once reduced to vapor."
"Well," said Michel, "that is a way of ending the earth which will greatly simplify things."
"And if the earth fell upon the sun?" asked Nicholl.
"According to calculation," replied Barbicane, "the fall would develop a heat equal to that produced by 16,000 globes of coal, each equal in bulk to our terrestrial globe."
"Good additional heat for the sun," replied Michel Ardan, "of which the inhabitants of Uranus or Neptune would doubtless not complain; they must be perished with cold on their planets."
"Thus, my friends," said Barbicane, "all motion suddenly stopped produces heat. And this theory allows us to infer that the heat of the solar disc is fed by a hail of meteors falling incessantly on its surface. They have even calculated----"
"Oh, dear!" murmured Michel, "the figures are coming."
"They have even calculated," continued the imperturbable Barbicane, "that the shock of each meteor on the sun ought to produce a heat equal to that of 4,000 masses of coal of an equal bulk."
"And what is the solar heat?" asked Michel.
"It is equal to that produced by the combustion of a stratum of coal surrounding the sun to a depth of forty-seven miles."
"And that heat----"
"Would be able to boil two billions nine hundred millions of cubic myriameters  of water." "And it does not roast us!" exclaimed Michel.
"No," replied Barbicane, "because the terrestrial atmosphere absorbs four-tenths of the solar heat; besides, the quantity of heat intercepted by the earth is but a billionth part of the entire radiation."
"I see that all is for the best," said Michel, "and that this atmosphere is a useful invention; for it not only allows us to breathe, but it prevents us from roasting."
"Yes!" said Nicholl, "unfortunately, it will not be the same in the moon."
"Bah!" said Michel, always hopeful. "If there are inhabitants, they must breathe. If there are no longer any, they must have left enough oxygen for three people, if only at the bottom of ravines, where its own weight will cause it to accumulate, and we will not climb the mountains; that is all." And Michel, rising, went to look at the lunar disc, which shone with intolerable brilliancy.
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