第9章 不思議な機械に満ちた研究所

第9章 不思議な機械に満ちた研究所


Never had I seen anything like this room, packed with the most amazing array of instruments imaginable.


Here were rows upon rows of graphs and control panels.


It seemed to me that every one of these strange instruments I was viewing for the first time was equipped with its own large control console.


Six were already in action, and the six men who had accompanied us from the lounge immediately took their places at six more.


There still remained a number untended.


I noticed on the left shoulders of four of the men an insignia of some sort.


The woman pilot who stood closest to me said, "All operators of these instruments are what you would call advanced scientists.


The shoulder insignia of the four men indicates that they are Saturnians."


As had been the case in every other instance, the graphs here showed colored lights with many types of lines and figures, minus any of the dials or gauges so familiar on Earth.


In spite of the number of graphs I had now seen, they were still mysteries to me.


"This is where we test the densities of the atmosphere around the Earth," the woman pilot continued, "or of any planet or body which we approach.


We study carefully the combinations of the elements of the atmosphere surrounding each body, as well as the elemental combinations of outer space.


Although these are in a constant state of change, there is a pattern of behavior according to universal laws.


This causes certain combinations to remain for longer periods of time than others.


In observing the activities of space, we are able, among other things, to detect the formation of any new body in outer space and determine its speed of growth."


This was amazing to me, and I would gladly have remained in this room watching and trying to fathom the workings of these instruments -- some of which closely resembled our larger TV sets -- which I hoped might give me some understanding of what the changing patterns were revealing.


But the pilot said, "Now we will go on to something else about which you have been wondering."


She led me across the large laboratory room, Firkon, Zuhl and the women following.


Here we began to ascend a sloping ramp that extended the full width of the ship.


We continued on up still another ramp which led into a large room.


It seemed that wonders would never cease.


Each new step brought fresh marvels until I began to fear that I could not retain half of them in my memory.


But my friends assured me that when the time came to write, they would help me to recall an accurate picture of the night's events in every detail.


I doubt if many men have spent a night so full of surprises, beauty and vastly instructive sights, sounds and conversation.


Now, to my great excitement, I saw here twelve small disks lined up in two rows on opposite sides of the ship.


I guessed immediately that these were the registering disks or small, remotely controlled devices sent out by the mother ships for close observation.


They were about three feet in diameter, of shiny, smooth material, and shaped rather like two shallow plates, or hub-caps, turned upside down and joined at the rims so that the central part was a few inches thick.


I learned, however, that such disks varied in size from about ten inches to twelve feet in diameter, depending on the amount of equipment carried.


As I have stated elsewhere, they contained highly sensitive apparatus which not only guided each little Saucer perfectly in its desired path of flight, but also transmitted back to the mother ship full information on every kind of vibration taking place in the area under observation.


Vibrations cover a large field of waves pertaining to sound, radio, light -- and even thought waves; all of these could be monitored back to the parent craft for recording and analysis.


Technically, perhaps, these small disks were the finest feat of interplanetary engineering I had yet seen.


For in addition to the functions I have listed, they could also be disintegrated if out of control and in danger of falling to Earth, either rapidly by a kind of explosion or, if life or property on the ground were in danger, by a gradual disintegration process.


These little aerial wonders were lined up on a wide table on each side of the room, resting in a kind of groove.


In the ship's wall directly behind each disk was an opening like a port or trap door large enough for them to pass through.


However, at the time we entered, all were closed.


Forcing my gaze away from them for a moment, I took time out to look around.


I noticed that the rails and railbed of the Scout exit tunnel came down through the ceiling at the far end of this chamber, continuing downward through the floor.


Turning back to the disks, I observed a long control panel built into the front part of the tables that held them.


When we came into the room, no seats had been visible, but as the six women took their places before the control panels small stool-like seats rose silently from the floor, possibly due to pressure on a foot pedal.


These control panels differed slightly from others I had seen, and I cannot be certain whether small buttons were recessed into the panels, or whether they were operated by means of keys like an organ.


Once seated, the women worked very quickly, their nimble fingers darting above the instruments as they fed instructions and flight data to the waiting disks.


I remember noting the resemblance to six women playing in pantomime, a silent concerto.


It was fascinating to see how, when a disk had received full "instructions," one of the trap doors would open and the disk would slide smoothly into the orifice, passing through airlocks before hurtling away into outer space on its mission.


Zulu had remained with Firkon and me, and when I asked where the disks had gone, it was he who said, "Let us return to the laboratory where we can follow their flight on the instrument panels."


On our way back, he mentioned that the mother ship was now under way, but did not reveal our destination.


I had been aware of no movement whatsoever, nor had I heard any additional sound.


Back in the laboratory, all the men were still operating the instruments in front of them.


I noticed on one of the screens varying lines shaping, disappearing and reappearing in new formations.


The lines would then be replaced by round dots and long dashes, which would quickly form into various geometrical figures.


At the same time, other screens were showing different colors of changing intensities, some in flashes and others in waves.


Figures would form on them from time to time.


These, too, changed rapidly in size and shape.


Everything was a vast mystery to me.


"The men are registering with their instruments what is taking place on the screens," the Saturnian pilot explained, "all of which will later be made into educational records."


Curiosity prompted me to ask what had become of the two disks which we had watched leave the ship.


The pilot explained, "The disks are now hovering above a certain inhabited spot on Earth and registering the sounds emanating from that spot.


This is what you are seeing on the screen as shown by the lines, dots and dashes.


The other machines are assembling this information and interpreting it by producing pictures of the meanings of the signals, together with the original sounds."


It must have been obvious that I understood none of it too well for Zuhl further explained, "Everything in the Universe has its own particular pattern.


For example, if someone speaks the word 'house,' the mental image of a dwelling of one kind or another is in his mind.


Many things, including human emotions, are registered in the same way.


By the use of these machines, we know even what your people are thinking, and whether or not they are hostile toward us.


For if there are harsh, frightening words, or even thoughts, these will picture themselves in that manner and our recorders will pick them up accurately.


In the same way, we know who amongst you will prove friendly and receptive.


Everything in the endre Universe moves by 'vibration,' as you have called it on Earth -- or, more recently, 'frequencies.'


It is by these frequencies or vibrations that we learn the languages of other worlds.


During his explanation, I watched the screens and the ever-changing patterns.


I thought it all looked comparatively simple, and wondered why our scientists on Earth had not stumbled upon this same procedure long ago.


As I fathered this thought, without expressing it in words, my companion answered, "They have, to some extent.


"This is not very different from your tape and other kinds of recordings.


The principle is the same, only we have carried it further.


Instead of stopping with the gathering together of the many frequencies for sound reproduction alone, we are now able to translate them into picture form as well.


You do this in a small way in the entertainment which you call TV.


But in this, too, you are still bound by your limited knowledge."


During the time that he was explaining this to me, he had been intently watching the many screens.


As he finished his explanations, he suggested that we go to the disk room to watch the return of these little messengers.


We had no more than reached the other room when the same two trap doors, looking much like large portholes in the wall of the ship, opened to receive each returning small disk.


They settled into place as though quietly set down by some unseen hand.


今起こっているこの新たな驚異的光景に反応を示す余裕はない。ズールが静かに言ったからだ。「見つづけなさい! 室の両側にある別な円盤が発射されますよ──今度は目的がちがいます。
I was given no time in which to react to the latest wonders now taking place, for Zuhl said quietly, "Keep watching! Another disk on each side is being sent out -- this time for a different purpose.


We arc still in your atmosphere and when these have left, we shall return to the laboratory, where you will he shown how they operate."


As I watched, the trap doors adjoining the first two disks quickly closed behind them.


Farther down the line two other doors opened, one on each side of the room.


All the while, the women continued playing a nimble, silent scherzo above the instrument panels.


As the second pair of disks left the ship, we three returned to the large laboratory room.


For the first time, I now noticed two other screens in operation.


These were divided into sections.


Zuhl explained, "These are showing the many atmospheric conditions."


In one section I could watch the movement of air, while its speed and consistency were being registered by other instruments as the signals moved across the face of this screen.


The electric charge or magnetic force of the atmosphere seemed to be moving in an opposite direction, and could be seen on another section of this screen, while its composition (a light or heavy load, as I understood) was measured and registered.


On still a third section, many of the gases of which the atmosphere is composed were separated, and here I could see rapid changes of combinations constantly taking place.


The different intensities of atmospheric pressure and many other conditions of which our scientists are totally unaware were remarkably interesting to watch.


While this was being reproduced on the screens it was simultaneously registered by other instruments for permanent records and future study by the inhabitants of other worlds.


After what seemed only a few minutes the disks were attracted back into the carrier, and I was told that they contained within them samples of our atmosphere.


These would be extracted and studied later.


It was by means of disks like these, Zulu told me, "that we first became alerted to the abnormal condition building up on the fringe of your atmosphere -- a condition constantly increasing with every atomic or hydrogen bomb that is exploded on Earth.


And since these instruments are in operation at all times, they tell us what we can expect as we move through space."


As we stood talking in the laboratory, my attention was drawn to a particular screen by the pilot.


You see there, he said, "visual images of the dust which you call 'space debris.'


These are now being flashed back by two of the disks.


It was fascinating to watch the behavior of these tiny particles of matter on the screen.


There was a constant swirling activity.


Sometimes the fine matter would seem to condense into the semblance of a solid body, only to disappear and revert to practical invisibility.


Occasionally, these formations became so rarefied and fine that they seemed almost to have been transmuted into pure gases.


In a way, it reminded me of little white clouds suddenly forming in a clear sky, perhaps to grow larger, then as quickly to disappear into nothingness.


This, at least, is the best analogy I can draw in describing the activity I witnessed on these screens.


Yet, with each formation of particle bodies, certain quantities of energy seemed actually to take visible, solid form, then immediately again be dissipated by what seemed an explosion or sudden disintegration, plainly visible on the screens.


Other instruments recorded intensity and composition.


Sometimes these accretions formed with great intensity and the ensuing "explosion" was equally violent.


At other times they were very mild and barely detectable.


But the cycle was ceaseless; whirling energy, solidification, disintegration; a perpetual motion of energy and fine matter ever seeking to combine or react with other particles in space.


I use the term "energy" because I can think of no other word for what I was observing.


It seemed to contain great power, and I noticed that when gathering into a sheetlike formation or cloudlike body, it appeared to disturb everything near it in space.


I believe that I actually witnessed the very force that pervades all space, from which planets, suns and galaxies are formed; the same force that is the supporter and sustainer of all activity and life throughout the Universe.


As this realization began to dawn upon me, I seemed unable to do more than half accept the tremendous implications.


Zuhl, sensing my inner bewilderment, smiled affirmatively and said, "Yes.


And this is the same power that propels our ships through space."


For a little while longer I watched the screens, full of wonder at what I was beholding.


Then my companion drew my attention back to the disks.


"These small Saucers are often seen moving through space, and sometimes low over Earth.


At night they are luminous.


They fly over Earth registering the various waves that emanate from the body of the planet -- waves which, like everything else, are in constant motion, with continual changes in wave length and intensity.


Whenever possible these complex and highly sensitive little machines are returned to their parent craft, but sometimes, for one reason or another, the connection is broken and they go out of control or crash to the ground.


In such cases emergency procedure is immediately brought into action.


On each side of the mother ship, just below the disk-launching ports, is a magnetic ray projector.


When a disk goes out of control, a ray is projected to disintegrate it.


This accounts for some of the mysterious explosions that take place in your skies which cannot be accounted for by artillery, jet planes or electrical storms.


On the other hand, if a disk goes out of control near the surface of the planet where an explosion might cause damage, it is allowed to descend to the ground where a milder charge is sent into it.


Instead of an explosion, this causes the metal to disintegrate in slow stages.


First it softens, then turns into a kind of jelly, then a liquid, and finally it enters a free state as gases, leaving not a wrack behind.


This latter process is without danger to anyone or anything should the disk be touched while in process of disintegration.


The only harm could come if, by chance, someone should see it fall and touch it at the moment the ray is applied."


When the Saturnian described the magnetic ray, I thought what a wonderful protective device it would be against anyone or anything attempting to attack their ships.


Receiving my thought, he replied, "Yes, it is entirely possible to use these machines against people, or any form whatever, including planets.


But we have never done so, nor will we ever use them in that manner, for if we did, we would be no better than your people of Earth.


Our protection, as has many times been demonstrated when pursued by your Earth planes, is our ability to escape faster than your eyes can perceive.


Moreover, we can increase the frequency of the activated area of a ship to the point of producing invisibility.


Except for our own precaution, your planes could fly blindly into our ship without seeing it.


If we permitted you to come as close as that, when you hit, you would find our craft as solid as though functioning in a lower frequency.


The impact would destroy you, yet do us no harm whatsoever.


From what I have been told, I said, "I gather that occasionally something can go wrong with even your wonderful craft."


"Yes," he replied.


"In such cases, if in outer space, we can abandon the ship if it is not salvagable.


When this is necessary, the ship is disintegrated and returns to the original elements of space.


Every large carrier is equipped with small emergency craft stocked with sufficient supplies and all necessary instruments with which to communicate to other ships in space, or even with a planet.


However, if such an accident should take place near some planet, then we would crash just as your own planes do."


Instantly I asked him, "Then everybody on board is killed?"


"Yes," he replied, "but because of our understanding, death in your sense does not appall us.


Each of us recognizes himself as the intelligence and not the body.


Thus, through rebirth, we receive a new body.


Also, because of our understanding, we can never deliberately destroy another body through which intelligence is expressing.


However, if we should cause death unintentionally, through an accident, then we are not held responsible, for it was not of our own desire."


The instruments continued working as we stood talking.


While I watched the screens flashing, I wondered if there were still more and different machines or instruments which I had not yet seen.


Replying to this unspoken thought, Zull answered, "Yes, there are many more in another large room between the disk room and the pilot's compartment which are in operation only while we are flying interplanetary."


During this visit to the laboratory and disk room, I had been totally unaware of the passing of time.


I did not know whether we were standing still in Earth's atmosphere or moving rapidly through space since, although I had been watching the screens, I was unable to read them as the others were doing.


But now the Saturnian pilot said, "We are not too far from your Moon."


To which remark I thrilled in excitement and wondered if we were going to land there.


"No," he said, "not this time.


But we want you to see for yourself what you have been surmising about your Moon.


The Moon has air, as you can see by our instruments, now that we are close enough to register it.


Air is not naturally an obstruction to the viewing of another body, as we have sometimes heard it said on your Earth.


And while, from your planet, you do not see dense clouds moving above the Moon, your scientists have on occasion observed what they call 'mild movement of air,' especially in pockets of these valleys which you call 'craters.'


In reality, what they see are shadows of clouds moving.


The side of the Moon that you see from Earth has not much chance to show you its actual clouds, which are rarely heavy.


While just beyond the rim of the Moon, over that section which might be called a temperate zone, you will notice by our instruments that there are heavier clouds forming, moving and disappearing, very much as they do above the Earth.


The side of the Moon which you can see from your planet is quite comparable to your desert areas on Earth.


It is hot, as your scientists correctly claim, but its temperature is not so extreme as they think.


And while the side which you do not see is colder, neither is it as cold as they believe.


it is strange how people of Earth accept statements from those they look up to as men of learning without questioning the limitations of that knowledge.


There is a beautiful strip or section around the center of the Moon in which vegetation, trees and animals thrive, and in which people live in comfort.


Even you of Earth could live on that part of the Moon, for the human body is the most adaptable machine in the Universe.


Many times you Earthlings have accomplished what has been termed the 'impossible.'


Nothing in the imagination of man is actually impossible of achievement.


But to return to the Moon, any body in space, whether hot or cold, must have a kind of atmosphere, as you have named it, or gases that will permit this action to take place.


それにもかかわらず地球の科学者は月には空気がないと主張する一方、その天体に暑熱や寒冷があることを認めています! 月は地球や私たちの惑星ほど多量の空気を持ちません。これらよりもはるかに小さいからです。
Yet your scientists, while maintaining the absence of air around the Moon, do admit that there are both heat and cold on that body! The Moon does not have as much atmosphere as your Earth has, nor as our planet, because it is a far smaller body than either.


Nonetheless, an atmosphere is present."


"Perhaps I can illustrate my point a little more clearly," the Saturnian continued.


"You have on Earth a small island out in an ocean.


As far as the eye can see there is no other land, yet men can live on this island as well as they did on the larger bodies which you call 'continents.


' Bodies in space are like islands.


Some are large and some are small, but all are surrounded and supported by one and the same power that gives them life.


Many of your scientists have expressed the idea that the Moon is a dead body.


If this were true and the Moon were dead, according to your meaning of that word, it long ago would have vanished from space through disintegration.


ちがいます! それはまったく生きた天体で、人間を含む生命を支えているのです。
No! It is very much alive and supports a life which includes people.


We ourselves have a large laboratory just beyond the rim of the Moon, out of sight of Earth, in the temperate and cooler section of that body.


I asked him if the ship would go close enough so that I could see the surface of our satellite with my own physical eyes.


He smiled and said, "That will not be necessary.


Come and look -- with this instrument we can bring the Moon up to within a short distance of where we are, so that you will be able to see it as clearly as if you were walking on it."


I asked him how far we now were from the Moon, and was told, "About forty thousand miles.


I hoped very much that we might circle the Moon, so that I could see for myself what was on the other side in that temperate zone he had mentioned.


At the same time I realized that there might be things there which they did not care to have me see.


And to this thought came a quick confirmation from the Saturnian pilot.


"We must test you with the information already given you before we reveal some things.


We realize, perhaps better than you, the weaknesses of men, even of those who have a great desire to do right.


We must be careful not to add to Earthly destruction.


As the instrument for viewing the Moon at close range was adjusted, I was amazed to see bow completely wrong we are in our ideas about this, our nearest neighbor.


Many of the craters are actually large valleys, surrounded with rugged mountains, created by some past terrffic upheaval within the body of the Moon.


I could see definite indications that, on the side which we see from Earth, at one time there must have been plenty of water.


Zulu said, "There is still plenty on the other side, as well as much hidden deep within the mountains on this side."


He then pointed out to me, up on the flanks of the mountains surrounding the craters, definite traces of ancient water lines.


True, some of the craters had been formed by meteorites hitting the Moon's surface, but in every such case, these craters showed definite funnel bottoms.


And as I studied the magnified surface of the Moon upon the screen before us, I noticed deep ruts through the ground and in some of the imbedded rock, which could have been made in no other way than by a heavy run-off of water m times past.


In some of these places there was still a very small growth of vegetation perceptible.


Part of the surface looked fine and powdery, while other portions appeared to consist of larger particles similar to coarse sand or fine gravel.


As I watched, a small animal ran across the area I was observing.


I could see that it was four-legged and furry, but its speed prevented me from identifying it.


Little of what I was seeing was strange to me, because for years I had been thinking and talking about it in much this way.


The Saturnian appeared aware of this, for he stated that it was partly for this reason they had decided to give me this close view now.


He promised that, at some later date, they would show me the other side of our Moon.


This, too, he added, "will not be too different from the way you have imagined it."


As the promise was made to me, the screen showing the Moon went blank, although the other screens continued to operate.


Zuhl led me again toward the disk room, but before we reached it the ladies came out to meet us.


The six men who had come down in the elevator with us rose from their seats as the Saturnian pilot suggested that we return to the lounge.

[日本語訳] 久保田八郎 訳(中央アート出版社「第2惑星からの地球訪問者」より)

宇宙船の内部 宇宙哲学 テレパシー 生命の科学