“20000 Leagues Under the Sea” Part1 Ch04

Question 1:What was a Knight of Rhodes and who was Dieudonné de Gozon?

see What is better than slaying a dragon? (story of Dieudonné de Gozon) at:


Question 2: Captain Farragut promised $2000 to the first person to sight the monster.  How much would that be worth in dollars today? (1867 dollar compared to 2008 dollar)

Question 3: The frigate Abraham Lincoln was armed with harpoons as well as a breech-loading gun that could throw a conical projectile of nine pounds to a mean distance of ten miles.  Is this a practical range for an artillery piece?  What examples of more modern artillery establish this? What was the range of a typical WWII battleship gun (e.g. the German Bismarck) and how heavy of a projectile could they throw?

Answer: In “barrage the guns in action” by Ian V. Hogg, Copyright 1970 (Ballentine’s Illustrated History of WWII, weapons book, No 18 ) there are descriptions of various artillery pieces.  Here are a few:

“The British 2-pounder began as an infantry anti-tank gun and was handed to the Royal Artillery for the same job.  After the 1940 campaigns it was insufficiently powerful to deal with the newer German tanks, but it served to good effect in the Far East until the end of the war.  Firing a 2.5 lb shot at 2800 feet per second, and with a range of 8000 yards, it was equally formidable against the Japanese tanks or Japanese bunks.”  Note: 8000 yards is equivalent to 4.545 miles.

“A partner piece to the 155mm ‘Long Tom’, the 8 in Howitzer formed the mainstay of Allied heavy artillery and has remained in service ever since.  Weighing 14 tons in the firing position, it is transported by attaching a two-wheeled limber to the folded trail legs.  Shell weight 200 lbs, maximum range 18,500 yards.” Note: 18,500 yards is equivalent to 10.511 miles.

Question 4: Professor Aronnax speaks about underwater pressures on the human body with Ned Land.  He tells Ned that the human body on average has about 6500 square inches of surface area.  Is this a reasonable estimate based on our current knowledge?

Answer: Average human body surface area for adults is around 1.7 square meters (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_surface_area).  6500 square inches is equivalent to 4.19354 square meters so Professor Aronnax’s estimate is rather high.

Question 5: Why was the Abraham Lincoln comparable to the Argus?  What ship was the Argus?

Question 6: The “men” (Professor Aronnax and Ned Land) in “20000 Leagues Under the Sea” are all 40 plus years old while the “boys” (Conseil) are younger.  How old was Jules Verne when he wrote “20000 Leagues Under the Sea”?

Question 7: Is or was Rabelais a real language spoken in Canada?

Answer 7: Francois Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer who contributed much to the study and development of French.  So talking of Rabelais as a language may have been Jules Verne’s way of comparing the linguistic contributions that Rabelais made to French to the contributions that Shakespeare made to English.  Perhaps he was saying that the dialects of some parts of Canada still sounded more Renaissance than modern.

Question 8: According to what this chapter tells us about Ned Land, why might it be ironic if Ned Land were the first on board the Abraham Lincoln to sight the Nautilus in a later chapter?

Answer 8: He was the only one on board who didn’t believe in marine monster.

Question 9: What is significant about the Tropic of Capricorn?

Answer 9: The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead.  The sun is directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn only once a year during the winter solstice around December 22nd. 

Question 10: How much more dense is sea water compared to fresh water?  How much more dense is steel than fresh water?

Answer 10: According to the Physics Factbook website at http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2002/EdwardLaValley.shtml :

Although the density of seawater varies at different points in the ocean, a good estimate of its density at the ocean’s surface is 1025 kilogram per cubic meter. Its specific gravity is therefore 1.025. 

Question 11: “You would be flattened as if you had been drawn from the plates of a hydraulic machine!”

What hydraulic machines existed when Jules Verne wrote “20000 Leagues Under the Sea”?  Had the Industrial Revolution already occurred?


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