“20000 Leagues Under the Sea” Part1 Ch08

Question 1: Professor Aronnax and his companions Conseil and Ned Land contemplated the mysterious language used by their captors. Are there languages that exist today that are known to only a few? Are there languages that are endangered or that are going extinct as its speakers die out and no one is left to carry on their lingual traditions? What languages do we know of but no longer know about, i.e. what languages do we know of that are now extinct, never to be spoken again by mortals?

Answer: see the following website on nearly extinct languages:


Question 2: Was the confusion of languages by God in the biblical account of the Tower of Babel
both a curse and a blessing? How does the following quote from chapter 8 frame clarify this question?

“There is the disadvantage of not knowing all languages,” said Conseil, “or the disadvantage of not having one universal language.”

Question 3: When Professor Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned Land are taken aboard the Nautilus by force, the Professor remarked: “Whom had we to deal with?  No doubt some new sort of pirates, who explored the sea in their own way.”  Does the crew of the Nautilus prove to be modern pirates?  Even if they proved to be pirates technically speaking, were they hospitable?  Were they the kind of pirates you wouldn’t mind running into unless you were their sworn enemies, the targets of their vengeance?

Question 4: What is phormium (used as matting to deaden the sound of footsteps in the prison cell of the Nautilus)?

Question 5: Captain Nemo’s eyes were supposedly further apart than most persons.  Are most people’s eyes the same distance apart?  How does the distance between your eyes compare with your other facial dimensions?

Answer 5: Measuring my own face produced the following dimensions:

35 mm between the lower corners of the eyes,

95 mm between the outer lower corners of the eyes

135 mm between the tops of the ears where they meet the head

250 mm from the chin to the top of the head

55 mm from the chin to the slit of the mouth

120 mm from the chin to the lower corners of the eyes

130 mm from the lower corners of the eyes to the top of the head

Question 6: “…his eyes, rather far from each other, and which could take in nearly a quarter of the horizon at once.”

What is the visual angle of most persons?  How does peripheral vision differ from direct vision?  Why is it often easier to see faint stars with peripheral vision where direct vision fails to see them?

Answer 6: According to Michael Tidwell’s masters thesis “A Virtual Retinal Display For Augmenting Ambient Visual Environments”, the visual angle of humans is about 140 degrees:

see http://www.hitl.washington.edu/publications/tidwell/ch2.html


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