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首页 » 英文科幻小说 » Robur the Conqueror征服者罗布尔 » Chapter III A VISITOR IS ANNOUNCED
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 The many experiments made during this last quarter of the nineteenth century have given considerable impetus1 to the question of guidable balloons. The cars furnished with propellers2 attached in 1852 to the aerostats of the elongated3 form introduced by Henry Giffard, the machines of Dupuy de Lome in 1872, of the Tissandier brothers in 1883, and of Captain Krebs and Renard in 1884, yielded many important results. But if these machines, moving in a medium heavier than themselves, maneuvering4 under the propulsion of a screw, working at an angle to the direction of the wind, and even against the wind, to return to their point of departure, had been really "guidable," they had only succeeded under very favorable conditions. In large, covered halls their success was perfect. In a calm atmosphere they did very well. In a light wind of five or six yards a second they still moved. But nothing practical had been obtained. Against a miller's wind—nine yards a second—the machines had remained almost stationary5. Against a fresh breeze—eleven yards a second—they would have advanced backwards6. In a storm—twenty-seven to thirty-three yards a second—they would have been blown about like a feather. In a hurricane—sixty yards a second—they would have run the risk of being dashed to pieces. And in one of those cyclones8 which exceed a hundred yards a second not a fragment of them would have been left. It remained, then, even after the striking experiments of Captains Krebs and Renard, that though guidable aerostats had gained a little speed, they could not be kept going in a moderate breeze. Hence the impossibility of making practical use of this mode of aerial locomotion9.
With regards to the means employed to give the aerostat its motion a great deal of progress had been made. For the steam engines of Henry Giffard, and the muscular force of Dupuy de Lome, electric motors had gradually been substituted. The batteries of bichromate of potassium of the Tissandier brothers had given a speed of four yards a second. The dynamo-electric machines of Captain Krebs and Renard had developed a force of twelve horsepower and yielded a speed of six and a half yards per second.
With regard to this motor, engineers and electricians had been approaching more and more to that desideratum which is known as a steam horse in a watch case. Gradually the results of the pile of which Captains Krebs and Renard had kept the secret had been surpassed, and aeronauts had become able to avail themselves of motors whose lightness increased at the same time as their power.
In this there was much to encourage those who believed in the utilization10 of guidable balloons. But yet how many good people there are who refuse to admit the possibility of such a thing! If the aerostat finds support in the air it belongs to the medium in which it moves; under such conditions, how can its mass, which offers so much resistance to the currents of the atmosphere, make its way against the wind?
In this struggle of the inventors after a light and powerful motor, the Americans had most nearly attained12 what they sought. A dynamo-electric apparatus13, in which a new pile was employed the composition of which was still a mystery, had been bought from its inventor, a Boston chemist up to then unknown. Calculations made with the greatest care, diagrams drawn14 with the utmost exactitude, showed that by means of this apparatus driving a screw of given dimensions a displacement15 could be obtained of from twenty to twenty-two yards a second.
Now this was magnificent!
"And it is not dear," said Uncle Prudent16, as he handed to the inventor in return for his formal receipt the last installment17 of the hundred thousand paper dollars he had paid for his invention.
Immediately the Weldon Institute set to work. When there comes along a project of practical utility the money leaps nimbly enough from American pockets. The funds flowed in even without its being necessary to form a syndicate. Three hundred thousand dollars came into the club's account at the first appeal. The work began under the superintendence of the most celebrated18 aeronaut of the United States, Harry19 W. Tinder, immortalized by three of his ascents20 out of a thousand, one in which he rose to a height of twelve thousand yards, higher than Gay Lussac, Coxwell, Sivet, Crocé-Spinelli, Tissandier, Glaisher; another in which he had crossed America from New York to San Francisco, exceeding by many hundred leagues the journeys of Nadar, Godard, and others, to say nothing of that of John Wise, who accomplished21 eleven hundred and fifty miles from St. Louis to Jefferson county; the third, which ended in a frightful22 fall from fifteen hundred feet at the cost of a slight sprain23 in the right thumb, while the less fortunate Pilâtre de Rozier fell only seven hundred feet, and yet killed himself on the spot!
At the time this story begins the Weldon Institute had got their work well in hand. In the Turner yard at Philadelphia there reposed24 an enormous aerostat, whose strength had been tried by highly compressed air. It well merited the name of the monster balloon.
How large was Nadar's Géant? Six thousand cubic meters. How large was John Wise's balloon? Twenty thousand cubic meters. How large was the Giffard balloon at the 1878 Exhibition? Twenty-five thousand cubic meters. Compare these three aerostats with the aerial machine of the Weldon Institute, whose volume amounted to forty thousand cubic meters, and you will understand why Uncle Prudent and his colleagues were so justifiably25 proud of it.
This balloon not being destined26 for the exploration of the higher strata27 of the atmosphere, was not called the Excelsior, a name which is rather too much held in honor among the citizens of America. No! It was called, simply, the "Go-Ahead," and all it had to do was to justify28 its name by going ahead obediently to the wishes of its commander.
The dynamo-electric machine, according to the patent purchased by the Weldon Institute, was nearly ready. In less than six weeks the "Go-Ahead" would start for its first cruise through space.
But, as we have seen, all the mechanical difficulties had not been overcome. Many evenings had been devoted29 to discussing, not the form of its screw nor its dimensions, but whether it ought to be put behind, as the Tissandier brothers had done, or before as Captains Krebs and Renard had done. It is unnecessary to add that the partisans30 of the two systems had almost come to blows. The group of "Beforists" were equaled in number by the group of "Behindists." Uncle Prudent, who ought to have given the casting vote—Uncle Prudent, brought up doubtless in the school of Professor Buridan—could not bring himself to decide.
Hence the impossibility of getting the screw into place. The dispute might last for some time, unless the government interfered31. But in the United States the government meddles32 with private affairs as little as it possibly can. And it is right.
Things were in this state at this meeting on the 13th of June, which threatened to end in a riot—insults exchanged, fisticuffs succeeding the insults, cane7 thrashings succeeding the fisticuffs, revolver shots succeeding the cane thrashings—when at thirty-seven minutes past eight there occurred a diversion.
The porter of the Weldon Institute coolly and calmly, like a policeman amid the storm of the meeting, approached the presidential desk. On it he placed a card. He awaited the orders that Uncle Prudent found it convenient to give.
Uncle Prudent turned on the steam whistle, which did duty for the presidential bell, for even the Kremlin clock would have struck in vain! But the tumult33 slackened not.
Then the president removed his hat. Thanks to this extreme measure a semi-silence was obtained.
"A communication!" said Uncle Prudent, after taking a huge pinch from the snuff-box which never left him.
"Speak up!" answered eighty-nine voices, accidentally in agreement on this one point.
"A stranger, my dear colleagues, asks to be admitted to the meeting."
"Never!" replied every voice.
"He desires to prove to us, it would appear," continued Uncle Prudent, "that to believe in guiding balloons is to believe in the absurdest of Utopias!"
"Let him in! Let him in!"
"What is the name of this singular personage?" asked secretary Phil Evans.
"Robur," replied Uncle Prudent.
"Robur! Robur! Robur!" yelled the assembly. And the welcome accorded so quickly to the curious name was chiefly due to the Weldon Institute hoping to vent11 its exasperation34 on the head of him who bore it!


1 impetus L4uyj     
  • This is the primary impetus behind the economic recovery.这是促使经济复苏的主要动力。
  • Her speech gave an impetus to my ideas.她的讲话激发了我的思绪。
2 propellers 6e53e63713007ce36dac451344bb87d2     
n.螺旋桨,推进器( propeller的名词复数 )
  • The water was thrashing and churning about under the propellers. 水在螺旋桨下面打旋、翻滚。 来自辞典例句
  • The ship's propellers churned the waves to foam. 轮船的推进器将海浪搅出泡沫。 来自辞典例句
3 elongated 6a3aeff7c3bf903f4176b42850937718     
v.延长,加长( elongate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Modigliani's women have strangely elongated faces. 莫迪里阿尼画中的妇女都长着奇长无比的脸。
  • A piece of rubber can be elongated by streching. 一块橡皮可以拉长。 来自《用法词典》
4 maneuvering maneuvering     
v.移动,用策略( maneuver的现在分词 );操纵
  • This Manstein did, with some brilliant maneuvering under the worse winter conditions. 曼施坦因在最恶劣的严冬条件下,出色地施展了灵活机动的战术,终于完成了任务。 来自辞典例句
  • In short, large goals required farsighted policies, not tactical maneuvering. 一句话,大的目标需要有高瞻远瞩的政策,玩弄策略是不行的。 来自辞典例句
5 stationary CuAwc     
  • A stationary object is easy to be aimed at.一个静止不动的物体是容易瞄准的。
  • Wait until the bus is stationary before you get off.你要等公共汽车停稳了再下车。
6 backwards BP9ya     
  • He turned on the light and began to pace backwards and forwards.他打开电灯并开始走来走去。
  • All the girls fell over backwards to get the party ready.姑娘们迫不及待地为聚会做准备。
7 cane RsNzT     
  • This sugar cane is quite a sweet and juicy.这甘蔗既甜又多汁。
  • English schoolmasters used to cane the boys as a punishment.英国小学老师过去常用教鞭打男学生作为惩罚。
8 cyclones 17cc49112c36617738bb1601499ae56d     
n.气旋( cyclone的名词复数 );旋风;飓风;暴风
  • The pricipal objective in designing cyclones is to create a vortex. 设计旋风除尘器的主要目的在于造成涡旋运动。 来自辞典例句
  • Middle-latitude cyclones originate at the popar front. 中纬度地区的气旋发源于极锋。 来自辞典例句
9 locomotion 48vzm     
  • By land,air or sea,birds are masters of locomotion.无论是通过陆地,飞越空中还是穿过海洋,鸟应算是运动能手了。
  • Food sources also elicit oriented locomotion and recognition behavior patterns in most insects.食物源也引诱大多数昆虫定向迁移和识别行为。
10 utilization Of0zMC     
  • Computer has found an increasingly wide utilization in all fields.电子计算机已越来越广泛地在各个领域得到应用。
  • Modern forms of agricultural utilization,have completely refuted this assumption.现代农业利用形式,完全驳倒了这种想象。
11 vent yiPwE     
  • He gave vent to his anger by swearing loudly.他高声咒骂以发泄他的愤怒。
  • When the vent became plugged,the engine would stop.当通风口被堵塞时,发动机就会停转。
12 attained 1f2c1bee274e81555decf78fe9b16b2f     
(通常经过努力)实现( attain的过去式和过去分词 ); 达到; 获得; 达到(某年龄、水平、状况)
  • She has attained the degree of Master of Arts. 她已获得文学硕士学位。
  • Lu Hsun attained a high position in the republic of letters. 鲁迅在文坛上获得崇高的地位。
13 apparatus ivTzx     
  • The school's audio apparatus includes films and records.学校的视听设备包括放映机和录音机。
  • They had a very refined apparatus.他们有一套非常精良的设备。
14 drawn MuXzIi     
  • All the characters in the story are drawn from life.故事中的所有人物都取材于生活。
  • Her gaze was drawn irresistibly to the scene outside.她的目光禁不住被外面的风景所吸引。
15 displacement T98yU     
  • They said that time is the feeling of spatial displacement.他们说时间是空间位移的感觉。
  • The displacement of all my energy into caring for the baby.我所有精力都放在了照顾宝宝上。
16 prudent M0Yzg     
  • A prudent traveller never disparages his own country.聪明的旅行者从不贬低自己的国家。
  • You must school yourself to be modest and prudent.你要学会谦虚谨慎。
17 installment 96TxL     
  • I shall soon pay the last installment of my debt.不久我将偿付我的最后一期债款。
  • He likes to buy things on the installment plan.他喜欢用分期付款法购买货物。
18 celebrated iwLzpz     
  • He was soon one of the most celebrated young painters in England.不久他就成了英格兰最负盛名的年轻画家之一。
  • The celebrated violinist was mobbed by the audience.观众团团围住了这位著名的小提琴演奏家。
19 harry heBxS     
  • Today,people feel more hurried and harried.今天,人们感到更加忙碌和苦恼。
  • Obama harried business by Healthcare Reform plan.奥巴马用医改掠夺了商界。
20 ascents 1d1ddafa9e981f1d3c11c7a35f9bc553     
n.上升( ascent的名词复数 );(身份、地位等的)提高;上坡路;攀登
  • The cart was very heavy, and in addition, there were many ascents. 这辆车实在难拉,而且又很重,还得上许多坡。 来自互联网
  • Balloon ascents overcome this hazard with ease. 升空的气球能轻而易举地克服这一困难。 来自互联网
21 accomplished UzwztZ     
  • Thanks to your help,we accomplished the task ahead of schedule.亏得你们帮忙,我们才提前完成了任务。
  • Removal of excess heat is accomplished by means of a radiator.通过散热器完成多余热量的排出。
22 frightful Ghmxw     
  • How frightful to have a husband who snores!有一个发鼾声的丈夫多讨厌啊!
  • We're having frightful weather these days.这几天天气坏极了。
23 sprain CvGwN     
  • He got a foot sprain in his ankle. 他脚踝受了严重的扭伤。
  • The sprain made my ankle swell up. 我的脚踝扭伤肿了起来。
24 reposed ba178145bbf66ddeebaf9daf618f04cb     
v.将(手臂等)靠在某人(某物)上( repose的过去式和过去分词 )
  • Mr. Cruncher reposed under a patchwork counterpane, like a Harlequin at home. 克朗彻先生盖了一床白衲衣图案的花哨被子,像是呆在家里的丑角。 来自英汉文学 - 双城记
  • An old man reposed on a bench in the park. 一位老人躺在公园的长凳上。 来自辞典例句
25 justifiably ap9zrc     
  • There General Walters would come aboard to greet me, justifiably beaming with pride at his arrangement. 在那儿沃尔特斯将军会登上飞机来接我,理所当然为他们的安排感到洋洋得意。 来自辞典例句
  • The Chinese seemed justifiably proud of their economic achievements. 中国人似乎为他们的经济成就感到自豪,这是无可非议的。 来自互联网
26 destined Dunznz     
  • It was destined that they would marry.他们结婚是缘分。
  • The shipment is destined for America.这批货物将运往美国。
27 strata GUVzv     
  • The older strata gradually disintegrate.较老的岩层渐渐风化。
  • They represent all social strata.他们代表各个社会阶层。
28 justify j3DxR     
  • He tried to justify his absence with lame excuses.他想用站不住脚的借口为自己的缺席辩解。
  • Can you justify your rude behavior to me?你能向我证明你的粗野行为是有道理的吗?
29 devoted xu9zka     
  • He devoted his life to the educational cause of the motherland.他为祖国的教育事业贡献了一生。
  • We devoted a lengthy and full discussion to this topic.我们对这个题目进行了长时间的充分讨论。
30 partisans 7508b06f102269d4b8786dbe34ab4c28     
游击队员( partisan的名词复数 ); 党人; 党羽; 帮伙
  • Every movement has its partisans. 每一运动都有热情的支持者。
  • He was rescued by some Italian partisans. 他被几名意大利游击队员所救。
31 interfered 71b7e795becf1adbddfab2cd6c5f0cff     
v.干预( interfere的过去式和过去分词 );调停;妨碍;干涉
  • Complete absorption in sports interfered with his studies. 专注于运动妨碍了他的学业。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • I am not going to be interfered with. 我不想别人干扰我的事情。 来自《简明英汉词典》
32 meddles a568f8618848e028fb02a2a5c8387249     
v.干涉,干预(他人事务)( meddle的第三人称单数 )
  • Who meddles in all things may shoe the gosling. 闲事样样管,时间白白丢。 来自互联网
33 tumult LKrzm     
  • The tumult in the streets awakened everyone in the house.街上的喧哗吵醒了屋子里的每一个人。
  • His voice disappeared under growing tumult.他的声音消失在越来越响的喧哗声中。
34 exasperation HiyzX     
  • He snorted with exasperation.他愤怒地哼了一声。
  • She rolled her eyes in sheer exasperation.她气急败坏地转动着眼珠。


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