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Oxygen and Aromasia

by Claës Lundin

translated by Bertil Falk

Table of Contents
Part 1, Part 2
Part 4, Part 5
appear in this issue.
Chapter 12: New Joint Stock Companies

Part 3: Tunneling

“You have, of course, been visiting the Gardens of Okeanos?” the bank director said to one of the leading engine-men of the departments of the Scandinavian central government. Those leading engine-men corresponded to the permanent under-secretaries of state in the past.

“Yes, of course, I’ve been to the gardens of Oekanos,” replied the man who was being consulted. “I’ve also been visiting the Psycheon and permitted myself to be transported in imagination by the emotions caused by the brain-organ, an excellent invention.”

“Oh yes, it’s still developing, but it will probably be surpassed soon by some other new invention,” Giro said.

“What’s much more excellent, much more practical is the new tunnel to be bought from these gardens.”

“A tunnel?”

“Yes, to begin with a tunnel under the sea to Scotland. As you know, the building of tunnels has made fine progress in recent. They no longer go about it in the same silly way as in the past, when they built a tunnel through Mount Saint Gotthard, or when they tried to unite Great Britain and France by a tunnel under the English Channel. Now that we’ve succeeded in liquefying oxygen, we can permeate down to formerly inaccessible depths inside the Earth, even under the solid crust and into the floating part of the bowels of the earth.”

“But how is it possible to stand the heat down there?” one of the guests objected.

“The heat is neutralized,” the host informed, “by liquid oxygen that is fed down into the tunnel. By its rapid evaporation, the oxygen absorbs enough heat that it’s possible to stay down there without inconvenience. It has the added advantage that oxygen, when it’s turned back into a gas, by itself offers the best means of changing weather.

“And even more advantageous to the work on the tunnel is that when the liquid oxygen is piped down into the molten mass inside the earth, it congeals matter at a touch. It’s possible to squirt a pipe through the bowels of the earth. In that way, the tunnel is building itself.”

“Brilliant!” the guests exclaimed.

“More than brilliant,” a couple of engineers exclaimed. They were hoping to be employed at the new enterprise.

“Around the stream of oxygen,” the host continued, “a stiff, extraordinarily hard crust is formed. As injection proceeds, it becomes thick enough to endure the immense pressure from the Earth’s crust.”

“That’s quite obvious,” the guests agreed.

“More than obvious,” the engineers assured.

“As I was saying,” the host continued, “we begin by making a tunnel to Scotland. But later on we’ll undertake a much bigger work: we will construct a way from Europe to America under the sea , even under North America to the California coast. It will be a straight-line tunnel that would equal about 1,300 geographical miles in a geodesic line, but inside the earth it will be only the chord of the segment and extend only about 1,100 or 1,200 miles, a savings of a couple of hundred miles.

“If we think the two radii from the extreme points of the tunnel drawn towards the centre of the earth, it would comprise an angle of about 88 degrees. And thus the gradient of the line of the tunnel towards Europe as well as the American west coast would be 44 degrees inclination, meaning that the tunnel from Europe will penetrate the earth at a gradient of 44 degrees and then reach up to America at a 44-degree climb.”

“But you said only a moment ago that the tunnel would be totally straight line,” one of the guests objected.

“And it will be,” the host replied. “Gradient and climb apply only to approaching and leaving with regard to the centre of the Earth, a point that of course not will be reached. But the inclination and climb are imaginary and nevertheless perfectly sufficient to drive the carriages.

“No other power than the force of gravity is needed for that. And that is an immeasurable advantage! To begin with, the carriages rush onwards or downwards, if you wish, by their own weight. And the longer they travel, the faster they go, until they reach the focal point of the tunnel, which is the point that is closest to the centre of the Earth about 240 miles under the surface. The carriages’ speed will carry them up the rest of the way, though at at an increasngly slower pace as they approach their destination.”

“But the resisting power of the air!” an objection was heard. “How will that be overcome?”

“Simply,” the reply sounded, “by making the tunnel closed and evacuating the air with a couple of suitable ventilators.”

“And the passengers! How will they be able to breathe?”

“They will of course all be supplied with enough oxygen. It can be sold along with the tickets.”

All further objections were unnecessary. The matter was settled, clear as day. The company for the tunnel between Marstrand and the Scottish coast was immediately formed and the bank director was urged to start up the enterprise as fast as possible, so that the tunnel to California could also begin soon.

Then they drank a few glasses of seawater and went into a pleasant mood.

* * *

Proceed to Chapter 12, part 4...

Story by Claës Lundin
Translation copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk

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