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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The First Men in the Moon - A Review

I recently finished reading H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon.

I found this book to be very similar in many ways to The Time Machine.

Wells' insight into many of the scientific principles being explored of the day is, without question, extensive. The postulation that Wells uses in this work to pontificate on topics that he is seeing the most rudimentary study of in his age.

One of the things that fascinated me the most about his conjecture is the level of awareness that mankind had in Wells' time about the density problem of the moon. Their "obvious" answer to the problem was that the Moon must be of similar material to the Earth but filled with caverns to make it less dense. I find this a reasonable assumption that was made, given their lack of any additional information on the topic.

Another interesting item that Wells extrapolates on is something we know to be very much different from the assumptions his era was making. The creation of "Cavorite" in the book is based on the base assumptions that light and heat and electro-magnetic energy are actually different and that those differences are similar to each other in the same way that they are all different from gravity.
What we know now is that gravity is a force unto itself, and a force we do not yet understand the mechanism of while all of the other forces discussed are actually variations of the same force.

Aside from the core mis-assumption of the varying forces and the vast incorrect conjectures about the atmosphere on the moon I found only one major flaw in the overall story. We know, with absolute certainty, that one plant may not be seen from space but that an entire field of them will be visible as a color tint. The rapid growth of the lunar plant life that Wells describes would have generated a visible color stain on the surface of the Moon that would have been visible to the naked eye.

Another side note is that the main characters reference Jules Vernes' piece about lunar exploration in what might be one of the earliest examples of a pop-culture character referencing the titular work of a competing work of the same genre and rough storyline.

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