**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Wireless Detector
by [?]

Remembering Jules Verne’s enticing picture of life on the palatial Nautilus, I may as well admit that I was not prepared for a real submarine. My first impression, as I entered the hold, was that of discomfort and suffocation. I felt, too, that I was too close to too much whirring machinery. I gazed about curiously. On all sides were electrical devices and machines to operate the craft and the torpedoes. I thought, also, that the water outside was uncomfortably close; one could almost feel it. The Z99 was low roofed, damp, with an intricate system of rods, controls, engines, tanks, stop-cocks, compasses, gauges–more things than it seemed the human mind, to say nothing of wireless, could possibly attend to at once.

“The policy of secrecy which governments keep in regard to submarines,” remarked the captain, running his eye over everything at once, it seemed, “has led them to be looked upon as something mysterious. But whatever you may think of telautomatics, there is really no mystery about an ordinary submarine.”

I did not agree with our “Captain Nemo,” as, the examination completed, he threw in a switch. The motor started. The Z99 hummed and trembled. The fumes of gasoline were almost suffocating at first, in spite of the prompt ventilation to clear them off. There was no escape from the smell. I had heard of “gasoline heart,” but the odour only made me sick and dizzy. Like most novices, I suppose, I was suffering excruciating torture. Not so, Kennedy. He got used to it in no time; indeed, seemed to enjoy the very discomfort.

I felt that there was only one thing necessary to add to it, and that was the odour of cooking. Cooking, by the way, on a submarine is uncertain and disagreeable. There was a little electric heater, I found, which might possibly have heated enough water for one cup of coffee at a time.

In fact, space was economised to the utmost. Only the necessaries of life were there. Every inch that could be spared was given over to machinery. It was everywhere, compact, efficient–everything for running the boat under water, guiding it above and below, controlling its submersion, compressing air, firing torpedoes, and a thousand other things. It was wonderful as it was. But when one reflected that all could be done automatically, or rather telautomatically, it was simply astounding.

“You see,” observed Captain Shirley, “when she is working automatically neither the periscope nor the wireless-mast shows. The wireless impulses are carried down to her from an inconspicuous float which trails along the surface and carries a short aerial with a wire running down, like a mast, forming practically invisible antennae.”

As he was talking the boat was being “trimmed” by admitting water as ballast into the proper tanks.

“The Z99,” he went on, “is a submersible, not a diving, submarine. That is to say, the rudder guides it and changes the angle of the boat. But the hydroplanes pull it up and down, two pairs of them set fore and aft of the centre of gravity. They lift or lower the boat bodily on an even keel, not by plunging and diving. I will now set the hydroplanes at ten degrees down and the horizontal rudder two degrees up, and the boat will submerge to a depth of thirty feet and run constant at that depth.”

He had shut off the gasoline motor and started the storage-battery electric motor, which was used when running submerged. The great motors gave out a strange, humming sound. The crew conversed in low, constrained tones. There was a slightly perceptible jar, and the boat seemed to quiver just a bit from stem to stern. In front of Shirley was a gauge which showed the depth of submergence and a spirit-level which showed any inclination.

“Submerged,” he remarked, “is like running on the surface under dense-fog conditions.”