Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/251

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187
SPOTS IN THE LIGHT REGIONS

detail to one conclusion is to be noticed the strangely economic character of both the canals and the oases in the matter of form. That the lines should follow arcs of great circles, whatever their direction, is as unnatural from a natural standpoint as it would be natural from an artificial one; for the arc of a great circle is the shortest distance from one point upon the surface of a sphere to another. It would, therefore, if topographically possible, be the course to take to conduct water, with the least expenditure of time or trouble, from the one to the other.

The circular shape of the oases is as directly economic as is the straightness of the canals; for the circle is the figure which incloses the maximum area for the minimum average distance from its centre to any point situated within it. In consequence, if a certain amount of country were to be irrigated, intelligence would suggest the circular form in preference to all others, in order thus to cover the greatest space with the least labor.

Following is the list of the oases so far discovered:—

Acherusia Palus
Aganippe Fons
Alcyonia
Ammonium
Aponi Fons
Aquae Apollinares
Aquae Calidae
Arachoti Fons
Arduenna
Arethusa Fons