Jules Verne: Scientist or Author?

So, I just noticed an interesting science project. The general idea is below, and more can be found at the BBC – Magnetic Mysteries of Earth’s core.

To understand what form it might take under the extreme conditions at the centre of the Earth, Professor Kei Hirose set himself a seemingly impossible challenge: recreate the conditions of the core in his lab at the SPring-8 synchrotron near Osaka, Japan. After 10 years of trying, he has finally succeeded.

He has created an incredibly powerful vice using the tips of two diamonds. Between them he has pressurised a sample of iron-nickel to three million times atmospheric pressure and heated the sample to about 4,500C.

Under these extraordinary conditions, the crystal structure of iron-nickel alloy changed and the crystals rapidly grew in size. “We may have very big crystals at the centre of the Earth, maybe up to 10km,” says Hirose.

These crystals would all align “like a forest”, says Hirose, pointing at the poles.

Also mentioned in the article, is my favourite author: Jules Verne. Why, is because in one of his novels, _The Journey to the Centre of the Earth_, he describes the centre of the Earth as having growing crystals (among other things).

I said for years that Jules Verne was way ahead of his time. It seems far more so, now, as the article I mentioned (above) shows. I’ve read several of his books (I’m sad to admit I never got around to all of them) and I want to highlight upon some things that I remember from reading the books, years back. It’s not just seismology though. It’s other types of science, too. Also travelling methods come to mind. He was ahead of his time in quite a lot of different things, and as more time goes on on Earth, the more it shows. And when he wrote about these things, he described them very similar to how it ended up being. I find that fascinating. It says a lot about many of the positive features of the brain and the imagination.

For example, as I recall, in _20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_, Captain Nemo had something very much like electricity in his submarine. Firstly, the novel was original written in 1870, and what? Submarines? They weren’t invented at that time, and they certainly were not in wide use until the next century during World War I. Yet, then there’s another interesting thing: light in the submarine powered by his form of electricity, which also wasn’t in existence. The light bulb was introduced and demonstrated in 1879 – roughly 9 years after 20,000 Leagues. Sure, it was an old idea, but as I recall it, the similarities in both systems – they were shockingly close. It’s been years since I read it, but this is only one such book and similar idea to our life these days.

And although I cannot remember other examples in detail, I do recall many things sounding very much like life in the 20th century (when I read his works). And now, it seems like he may have been partially correct in his book _Journey to the Centre of the Earth_.

What’s also very interesting, is that one of the Linux distributions I am familiar with and use on a daily basis (Fedora Core) – the next version is in honour of Jules Verne. I was excited to hear that but now more so.

In short, Jules Verne was a fascinating person, a very imaginative writer, and to those who like to read and have not read his books, I highly recommend them. If you’re curious, my favourite of his is somewhat of a sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It’s a fascinating book full of adventure, science, survival as well as (not surprisingly) mysteries. The name? The Mysterious Island. I did also like 20,000 Leagues a lot (and had to read it when I realized the link to it and The Mysterious Island). I enjoyed the others I read, too but those are my two favourites.

As for how I was introduced to him, I have to thank my father. Although we’re not close, one thing I loved doing with him, is we each (on our own time) read books he suggested (that he read when he was younger), and then we talked about the books. That’s one of the few very fond memories of my father, but I’m happy to have that, for I may not know of Jules Verne or certainly not have enjoyed his books. We also enjoyed something together. I also, as I recall it, heard of a place I’d like to go to visit at some point, here in California. I think it was during discussing something with my father about The Mysterious Island, that this lake came up: Mono Lake. It could have been a different book, or it could have been both. It’s been too long since it happened. Regardless, it sounded really interesting, and I hope to go some day.

Thanks also go to the BBC for yet another inspiring and fascinating article that brings light to something interesting in the world, new or old or in this case, a bit of both.