Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/511

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495
A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE CORRIDORS OF TIME.

set. This they will find a most suitable and agreeable arrangement. They will look back on our short periods of rest and short periods of work with mingled curiosity and pity. Perhaps they will even have exhibitions of eccentric individuals able to sleep for eight hours, work for eight hours, and play for eight hours. They will look on such curiosities in the same way as we look on the man who undertakes to walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours.

I am beyond all things anxious to give you the impression that I am not indulging in any mere romance. No doubt the various figures I have mentioned are but estimates. They may be found to require correction—perhaps large correction; but the general outline of the theory must be true. Should any traces of doubt still linger in the mind of some prejudiced person, let me finally dissipate them. Perhaps some caviler may say: "Where are the proofs of all this action of the tides? How do you know that the tides are sufficiently powerful to produce such changes?" I believe I have shown this abundantly, but some people require a great deal of conviction. I have therefore kept my best argument for the end.

For an overwhelming proof of tidal efficiency I shall summon the heavens themselves to witness, and I shall point to the stupendous task which tides have already accomplished. As the moon has made and is making tides on the earth, so the earth once raised tides on the moon. These tides have ceased for ages; their work is done; but they have raised a monument in the moon to testify to the tidal sufferings which the moon has undergone. To that monument I now confidently appeal. The moon being much smaller than the earth, the tides on the moon produced by the earth must have been many times as great as the tides on our earth produced by the moon. It matters not that the moon now contains no liquid ocean. Nor does it matter whether the moon ever had a liquid ocean. In very ancient days the moon was not the hard, rigid mass which it now appears. Time was when the volcanoes raged on the moon with a fury which nothing on our earth at present can parallel. The moon was then in a soft or a more or less fluid condition, and in this viscous mass the earth produced great tides.

Great tides in truth they were, for the earth is eighty times as heavy as the moon. On the other hand, the moon is only one fourth the diameter of the earth; so that the actual height of the tides on the moon would be still many times as great as the tides on the earth. When the moon was nearer to us, as it was in early ages, those tides were still greater. Think for one moment of what a lunar tidal wave of such magnitude would be capable! This wave is perhaps of molten lava; it would tear over the surface with terrific power, and anything that friction could accomplish that great current would do. That tidal current has done its work; even if the moon were fluid at the present day, it could no longer be distracted by tides.