“20000 Leagues Under the Sea” Part1 Ch01

Chapter 1:

Question 1: The ship Scotia that barely survived an encounter with the mysterious thing had iron plate one and three eighth inches thick.  How thick are modern ships hulls? How about a modern nuclear submarine?

Question 2: How often do sonar operators encounter echoes of unknown objects, e.g. such as a new type of submarine?

Question 3: How high do whales blow water from their blow holes? (The Nautilus shot two columns of water 150 ft high).

According to the website http://www.whaleroute.com/facts/index.htm,

A ‘blow’ or ‘spout’ is the cloud of water droplets produced above a whale’s head when it blows out. The tallest blow belongs to the blue whale where blows of up to 12m (39ft 5in) have been reported.  

According to pg 298 in the illustrated glossary of “The Whale” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Philippe Diolé, Copyright 1972, translated from the French by J.F. Bernard, published in 1987 by Arrowood Press, New York, NY:

The whale’s breath is the classic means man has of discovering a whale’s location.  When a cetacean rises to the surface to breathe, it gives off, through its one or two blowholes, a spout which is visible from a distance.  It is, in fact, a whitish spray which acts as a marker for whaling ships.  This spray cannot be attributed solely to the condensation of water vapor in cold air, for it is visible in tropical waters and climates.

As there is no passageway between its mouth and its blowhole, a cetacean cannot blow water out while exhaling.

Paul Portier, a French biologist, has offered the following hypothesis: the expansion in the open air of air which has been compressed in the thorax of a whale causes the condensation of the water vapor when the whale exhales.

F.C. Fraser and P.E. Purves have noted the presence, in the whale’s lungs, of very small drops of oil and of mucus, which may explain the visibility of its spout.  This oil in the whale’s respiratory tract may also have a part in the absorption of nitrogen.

Each species of whale has a particular kind of spout.  That of the blue whale and of the common rorqual is a single geyser that rises from 18 to 30 feet.  The right whale’s spout is double.  That of the sperm whale is single, and emerges from the blowhole to the left of the whale and at a 45 degree angle.

Question 4: The classic book “Moby Dick” is mentioned.  How long had that book been out when “20000 Leagues Under the Sea” was first published?

“Moby Dick” was written by Herman Melville and first published in 1851.  “20000 Leagues Under the Sea” was first published in 1870. So “Moby Dick” had been around about 19 years when “20000 Leagues Under the Sea” first came out.


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