Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/268

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The fundamental fact in the matter is the dearth of water. If we keep this in mind, we shall see that many of the objections that spontaneously arise answer themselves. The supposed herculean task of constructing such canals disappears at once; for, if the canals be dug for irrigation purposes, it is evident that what we see, and call by ellipsis the canal, is not really the canal at all, but the strip of fertilized land bordering it,—the thread of water in the midst of it, the canal itself, being far too small to be perceptible. In the case of an irrigation canal seen at a distance, it is always the strip of verdure, not the canal, that is visible, as we see in looking from afar upon irrigated country on the Earth.

We may, perhaps, in conclusion, consider for a moment how different in its details existence on Mars must be from existence on the Earth. One point out of many bearing on the subject, the simplest and most certain of all, is the effect of mere size of habitat upon the size of the inhabitant; for geometrical conditions alone are most potent factors in the problem of life. Volume and mass determine the force of gravity upon the surface of a planet, and this is more far-reaching in its effects than might at first be thought. Gravity on the surface of Mars is only a little more than one third what it is on the surface of the Earth. This would