Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/45

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43
MY DISCOVERY.

week or two. To this I fully agreed, especially as another spring was already here, and I might make one or two preliminary experiments on a small scale.


CHAPTER VIII.


My Discovery.

I HAVE not previously mentioned in these diaries the fact that electricity is supplied free to everyone who uses it on our planet. There is no attempt to measure the consumption and no stint placed on its use. For the supply is inexhaustible, and even the use does not diminish force; it merely makes it serve our purpose in passing. When we release the electricity it just runs back into the down current, and may be in our hands again in a few seconds later.

There was, therefore, no difficulty in getting a wire laid into a carefully prepared garden plot. In this I had planted a few common vegetables. I passed the current through a regulator and then laid coils all over the plot just beneath the soil. My object was to raise the temperature of the soil a little higher than that of the surrounding air, and to keep it night and day in the same condition.

I had another plot of the same size planted in a similar manner, and fertilised with the same ingredients. In ninety days the plants had attained the ordinary maturity, but I allowed them to remain thirty days more and they reached quite double size. The crop sown in the same way, and grown, in the ordinary way, was as far advanced in one hundred and eighty days as the other in ninety. On analysing the soil from the two plots I found that the quicker growing and bulkier plants had taken little, if any, more out of the soil than the ordinary plants had absorbed, I therefore came to the conclusion that the gentle stimulus of a little warmth in the soil had caused a more rapid absorption of water and atmospheric constituents.

We, father and I, sent an account of our discovery to the Minister of Agriculture in the Planetary Executive. He advised further and more extended experiments. He said we must find out if the extra crop paid the extra cost in labor and material involved by the laying of wires and attention; that we must have the bulkier productions analysed to see if their nourishing qualities were increased in proportion to their increased bulk, for there would be no gain in causing a plant to swell by the absorption of fluid.

We made the experiments as advised, and found that the invention could be advantageously utilised if the wires were laid in tubes at a depth of from twelve to fourteen inches, and made a permanent fixture, that the best results ware produced by turning on the electricity at nightfall, that pound