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|Round the Moon||Jules Verne|
QUESTION AND ANSWER
|Page 4 of 5||
"But," continued Nicholl, "Before becoming the earth's satellite, could not the moon, when in her perihelion, pass so near the sun as by evaporation to get rid of all those gaseous substances?"
"It is possible, friend Nicholl, but not probable."
"Because-- Faith I do not know."
"Ah!" exclaimed Michel, "what hundred of volumes we might make of all that we do not know!"
"Ah! indeed. What time is it?" asked Barbicane.
"Three o'clock," answered Nicholl.
"How time goes," said Michel, "in the conversation of scientific men such as we are! Certainly, I feel I know too much! I feel that I am becoming a well!"
Saying which, Michel hoisted himself to the roof of the projectile, "to observe the moon better," he pretended. During this time his companions were watching through the lower glass. Nothing new to note!
When Michel Ardan came down, he went to the side scuttle; and suddenly they heard an exclamation of surprise!
"What is it?" asked Barbicane.
The president approached the window, and saw a sort of flattened sack floating some yards from the projectile. This object seemed as motionless as the projectile, and was consequently animated with the same ascending movement.
"What is that machine?" continued Michel Ardan. "Is it one of the bodies which our projectile keeps within its attraction, and which will accompany it to the moon?"
"What astonishes me," said Nicholl, "is that the specific weight of the body, which is certainly less than that of the projectile, allows it to keep so perfectly on a level with it."
"Nicholl," replied Barbicane, after a moment's reflection, "I do not know what the object it, but I do know why it maintains our level."
"Because we are floating in space, my dear captain, and in space bodies fall or move (which is the same thing) with equal speed whatever be their weight or form; it is the air, which by its resistance creates these differences in weight. When you create a vacuum in a tube, the objects you send through it, grains of dust or grains of lead, fall with the same rapidity. Here in space is the same cause and the same effect."
"Just so," said Nicholl, "and everything we throw out of the projectile will accompany it until it reaches the moon."
"Ah! fools that we are!" exclaimed Michel.
"Why that expletive?" asked Barbicane.
"Because we might have filled the projectile with useful objects, books, instruments, tools, etc. We could have thrown them all out, and all would have followed in our train. But happy thought! Why cannot we walk outside like the meteor? Why cannot we launch into space through the scuttle? What enjoyment it would be to feel oneself thus suspended in ether, more favored than the birds who must use their wings to keep themselves up!"
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