From the examples of technology and machinery that the Martians carried with them from their home world, as well as those items they manufactured during their time on Earth, we must assume that the invaders are at the very least centuries ahead of us technologically; considering the age of their world and their civilisation it is likely that they are even more advanced than that. However, it must be said that the careful investigation into their instruments and machineries, and the underlying principles involved in their operation, has advanced terrestrial science and technology by a degree that would otherwise have taken a great many years to achieve.
Martian Power Sources
Some major points must be mentioned to allow better comprehension of the fundamental mechanisms of Martian technology.
''And of their appliances, perhaps nothing is more wonderful to a man than the curious fact that what is the dominant feature of almost all human devices in mechanism is absent--the WHEEL is absent; among all the things they brought to earth there is no trace or suggestion of their use of wheels. One would have at least expected it in locomotion. And in this connection it is curious to remark that even on this earth Nature has never hit upon the wheel, or has preferred other expedients to its development. And not only did the Martians either not know of (which is incredible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in their apparatus singularly little use is made of the fixed pivot or relatively fixed pivot, with circular motions thereabout confined to one plane. Almost all the joints of the machinery present a complicated system of sliding parts moving over small but beautifully curved friction bearings. And while upon this matter of detail, it is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature of the disks in an elastic sheath; these disks become polarised and drawn closely and powerfully together when traversed by a current of electricity. In this way the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder, was attained.''
The peculiar arrangement of disks that provides much of the motive force in Martian machinery is one of the idiosyncrasies of their engineering design. Composed of small metal disks arranged like a stack of pennies, and of approximately the same dimensions, held in a sheath of synthetic material, and with a thin layer of a substance similar to India-rubber, yet electrically conductive, between each metal disk and the next. The metal disks effectively have no resistance to the passage of electricity, and on application of an electrical current become very strongly magnetised, drawing tightly together.
As well as this pseudo-muscular system, they make large use of pneumatics, utilising a green vapour, dubbed ''viridigen'' by investigators of Martian technology, of which more below. Suffice to say that this vapour has the property of significant expansion upon application of an electric current. This rapid expansion greatly cools the vapour in accordance with Boyles laws of gas behaviour, with the result that, if the viridigen is held in a container insulated from heat, on removing the electrical current, Boyles Law once more takes effect, causing the gas to contract to its normal volume. In this way it is possible to build efficient reciprocating engines without need for the wheels found in comparable terrestrial devices; these engines are not used for the purposes of generating electricity, but rather for the conversion of electrical energy into movement.
This mechanism was used to provide the greater part of the motive force required to move their engines, with the previously described pseudo-muscular system being used in conjunction with pneumatics for more precise control. Apparently they could not completely insulate the pneumatic systems from heat, requiring them to periodically vent excess viridigen from their machines, due to its failure to contract to its original volume.
Further peculiarities of Martian technology have been investigated by terrestrial scientists. It seems that the Martians have a sophisticated method of controlling the flow of electricity, using wafer-thin slices of a crystalline material, believed to be silicone or a similar substance. these crystalline wafers act as the ''brain'' of the more complex machines, and where reactions greatly superior to a living creature are required, for example in the Flying Machine, the Fighting Machines, etc. Great matrices of this wafer are to be found in the machines, connected not by metallic wires, as is the case with earthly electrical devices, but with fine strands of a transparent material, often no thicker than a human hair. It is thought that pulses of light, rather than electricity, are sent down these fibres, and are converted into electrical impulses at the other end, in a similar fashion to the way electrical pulses are sent down telegraph wires.
It is apparent from careful examination of Martian engineering that they have developed a treatment for metal which renders it virtually frictionless, allowing the construction of highly efficient bearings without the need for oil or other lubricants. This treatment takes the form of some sort of coating to the surfaces of the metal that will be in contact with each other. Applying it to one surface reduces friction quite substantially, but application to both surfaces practically eliminates it.
Throughout the Martians time on Earth, one consistent element of their engines and machines has been the presence of green smoke or flame, and flashes of green light. A distinctive property of the cylinders as they fell to Earth was the trail of green vapour they left as they passed through our atmosphere, and as has been mentioned previously, flashes of green light and clouds of green smoke have been associated with their industrial activities. This green gas has been labelled ''viridigen''. As noted before, it has the peculiar property that, when subjected to an electric current, it undergoes expansion. It seems that the individual particles of the vapour become highly charged, repelling each other with great force, and fluorescing at the same time. A subsequent property of this relationship between the pressure of the gas and electrical charge is that when the pressure of the gas is changed, it generates an electrical charge.
This pressure change can be accomplished mechanically, for example by compressing the gas in a piston, or thermally, by heating or cooling the gas whilst holding the volume constant. The nature of the charge depends upon the nature of the pressure change. An increase in pressure generates a negative charge, whilst a decrease in pressure generates a positive charge. It appears that the Martians generally used the former method of electrical generation, heating the gas in a container of fixed volume, which, according to Boyles laws, increases the pressure inside that container and causes the viridigen to generate a negative charge.
One of the more exciting discoveries prompted by investigation of Martian technology is the source of much of the power for their various Machines. These consist of rods or bars of heavy metals contained in a case treated with a similar energy-blocking substance to the gravity shield arrays of the Flying Machine. This is with good reason, as the heavy elements used to power the Martian Machines emit a dangerous amount of Becquerel rays. The Martians were apparently aware of the dangerous nature of their power sources, as the case for the Heavy Element Engine is extremely sturdily constructed, in several cases being the only part of a destroyed fighting machine to remain intact. This is a fortunate thing for the inhabitants of the Earth, for if even one of these engines had been broken open, the area surrounding it would surely have become uninhabitable due to the deadly radiations released.
The mechanism by which these radiations were converted to usable energy is very elegant. A coolant fluid was used to transfer the heat from the Heavy Element Engine to an electrically insulated chamber of viridigen gas. The heating of this gas in a confined space would cause it to release a negative charge, which would be channeled away by means of electrodes in the walls of the chamber. By using a series of these chambers, and allowing them to heat and cool in turn, a steady flow of electricity could be generated.
Study of the Heavy Element Engine has been hampered by the fact that, with few exceptions, when the Martians realised at the end that they were dying they shut down their engines permanently. Apparently built into the engines as a failsafe were a number of meatal rods which were extracted or inserted to control the output of the Engine. The complete insertion of these rods served to shut down the Engine almost completely, and the procedure cannot be easily reversed. Research into the Heavy Element Engine has thus been suspended until a method can be developed to remove the rods while still allowing some control over the output of the Engine - it has been theorised that complete removal of the rods could cause an Engine to produce a catastrophic amount of heat.
"Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and the night after about midnight, and again the night after; and so for ten nights, a flame each night. Why the shots ceased after the tenth no one on earth has attempted to explain. It may be the gases of the firing caused the Martians in- convenience. Dense clouds of smoke or dust, visible through a powerful telescope on earth as little grey, fluctuating patches, spread through the clearness of the planet's atmosphere and obscured its more familiar features."
The colossal engine used to launch the cylinders from the surface of Mars to our own terrestrial sphere is located on the slopes of the largest mountain on Mars. The forging of this great object was detected by terrestrial astronomers during the Martian opposition of 1894, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice and other observers, who all noted a bright, glowing spot on the illuminated face of Mars.
It is believed that, unlike the protagonists of a certain scientific romance, the Martians did not make use of gunpowder or other such crude explosives to launch their projectiles from this mighty cannon--it has been theorised that the relatively thin atmosphere of Mars reduces the efficacy of such combustion-based explosives; rather they utilised the capabilities of their notorious Heat-Ray. Large masses of water were frozen into ice and placed at the base of the gun barrel. The cylinder would then be placed above this mass of ice. A feature of the cylinder which was not immediately apparent to observers on Earth was that it had arrayed on its base a number of Heat-Ray generators, positioned so as to spread their effects over a given area. When the barrel of the gun was correctly aligned with the Earth, the Heat-Ray generators would be activated.
The result would be the near-instant conversion of the ice to a much larger volume of superheated steam, the pressure of which would force the projectile along the length of the barrel, accelerating until it reached a sufficient velocity to overcome the gravitational energy of Mars. Once the projectile was safely away the Heat-Ray generators would detach from the base of the cylinder and be discarded. The invading forces would then have begun their journey towards our world, and the gun barrel would be packed with more blocks of ice in preparation for its next firing twenty-four hours later.
"The Thing itself lay almost entirely buried in sand, amidst the scattered splinters of a fir tree it had shivered to frag- ments in its descent. The uncovered part had the appearance of a huge cylinder, caked over and its outline softened by a thick scaly dun-coloured incrustation. It had a diameter of about thirty yards. He approached the mass, surprised at the size and more so at the shape, since most meteorites are rounded more or less completely. It was, however, still so hot from its flight through the air as to forbid his near approach. A stirring noise within its cylinder he ascribed to the unequal cooling of its surface; for at that time it had not occurred to him that it might be hollow.
"...Then suddenly he noticed with a start that some of the grey clinker, the ashy incrustation that covered the meteorite, was falling off the circular edge of the end. It was dropping off in flakes and raining down upon the sand. A large piece suddenly came off and fell with a sharp noise that brought his heart into his mouth.
"...And then he perceived that, very slowly, the circular top of the cylinder was rotating on its body. It was such a gradual movement that he discovered it only through noticing that a black mark that had been near him five minutes ago was now at the other side of the circumference. Even then he scarcely understood what this indicated, until he heard a muffled grating sound and saw the black mark jerk forward an inch or so. Then the thing came upon him in a flash. The cylinder was artificial--hollow--with an end that screwed out! Something within the cylinder was unscrewing the top!"
The conveyances in which the Martian forces made their fateful voyage to Earth have been subject to great scrutiny in the period following the failed invasion. The first cylinder to land, which fell to Earth on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw and Woking, now resides on public display at the Science Museum in London, along with the Martian Flying Machine and models of the Fighting Machines and Handling Machines.
The cylinder itself measures approximately thirty yards across the base, and tapers towards the nose like a bullet; this was not immediately apparent until it was excavated from the pit which it had formed for itself upon impact, and which the cylinders occupants had fortified against curious humans by piling up great mounds of earth around the perimeter. The cylinder is double-walled; the space between the two hulls being filled with an insulating material. The walls of the cylinder are of considerable thickness, and composed of an unknown alloy which must be unique to Martian technology. Around the circumference are a number of nozzles, from which was expelled viridigen gas to adjust the attitude and course of the cylinder. There is evidence to suggest that the nose of the cylinder was plated with an ablative material which burned off during the cylinders fiery descent through Earths atmosphere, in order to protect the passengers of the cylinder from the intense heat generated by the friction of its passage through the air. Marks on the cylinders surface reminiscent of the marks on bullets caused by the rifling of a gun barrel suggest that for at least part of its journey the cylinder had a spin imparted to it; the centrifugal force resulting from such rotation would generate a passable facsimile of planetary gravity, and prevent the atrophication of the occupants muscles during their long journey to Earth. The rate of spin may even have been gradually increased during flight to acclimatise the travellers to the Earths higher gravity.
''It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are able to slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely proved these details. However it is done, it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead of visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flame at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and melts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently that explodes into steam.''
This was perhaps the most dreadful and destructive weapon employed by the Martians in their subjugation of the inhabitants of Earth. Projected from a camera-like apparatus normally slung beneath the cowl of the dreaded Fighting Machines, the Heat-Ray causes all materials it touches to near instantly heat to incandescence. Spectroscopic analysis of the beam indicates that the apparatus projects light at a single wavelength beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. This was first witnessed by humans shortly after the invaders landed at Horsell Common: preceded by three puffs of green smoke or flame and a deep, resonant humming sound, the Heat-Ray was reflected from a parabolic mirror to strike at the Deputation of astronomers and members of the general public who approached the Pit.
Thus far, terrestrial scientists have had little success in replicating the effects of the Heat-Ray. Experiments at Ealing at South Kensington have resulted in disaster as the attempts to reverse-engineer the Martians' Heat Rays in order to construct a working Heat-Ray of our own have gone horribly awry. Nonetheless Britain remains in the forefront of research into Martian technology, and is the envy of the rest of the world. It should, however, be noted that an American inventor, Mr. Nikola Tesla, has been rumoured to have had a degree of success in creating an apparatus with similar effects to the Heat-Ray, based upon technology of his own devising..
''And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand... Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by me.''
The terrible Fighting Machines are perhaps the most vivid impression that survivors have of the Invasion, the hundred-foot tall Titans striding across the landscape with their strange loping gait, laying waste left and right with their devastating Heat-Rays. These constructions are in themselves a masterpiece of engineering, each part precisely machined and interlocked with its fellows. The Fighting Machines were constructed almost exclusively from an advanced alloy of aluminium (which is incidentally much stronger than aluminium alone), which was left unpainted and glittering in the sunlight.
The main body of the fighting machine, holding the Heavy Element Engine, the Heat-Ray and the cowl in which the Martian operator sat, was supported by three spindly, jointed legs, controlled using the pseudo-muscular system described previously. The Fighting-Machines were equipped with a number of devices fitting for their terrible purpose: a Heat-Ray generator mounted on an articulated arm; a wire-mesh basket behind the hood of the machine, in which captured humans were deposited; a steam-hose, used to lay the clouds of Black Smoke once they had served their purpose. Beneath the main body of machinery dangled six glittering tentacles, operated on the same principle as the pseudo-muscular system described above. The discs were covered by an armoured sheath of interlocking rings of aluminium, protecting the pseudo-muscles from damage. The tentacles could be used to administer an electric shock to the Martians' victims, subduing struggling humans before they were placed in the metal basket.
"...The Martian beside us raised his tube on high and discharged it, gunwise, with a heavy report that made the ground heave. The one towards Staines answered him. There was no flash, no smoke, simply that loaded detonation.
"I was so excited by these heavy minute-guns following one another that I so far forgot my personal safety and my scalded hands as to clamber up into the hedge and stare towards Sunbury. As I did so a second report followed, and a big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow. I expected at least to see smoke or fire, or some such evidence of its work. But all I saw was the deep blue sky above, with one solitary star, and the white mist spreading wide and low beneath."
The Martians made surprisingly little use of any analogue to terrestrial artillery. For the most part they relied upon their Heat-Rays to quash any resistance to their conquest. The only occasion on which they used any sort of ballistic weapon was in the delivery of their dreadful canisters of Black Smoke. This powder was dispensed by means of canisters fired from reusable tubes, wielded by the Martian Fighting Machines.
The Magnetic Acceleration Cannon consisted of a hollow tube containing a great many rings of a similar material to the discs of the pseudomuscular structure, having virtually no electrical resistivity. It is believed that a powerful electrical current was exerted upon each ring in turn, strongly magnetising them and accelerating the canister of Black Smoke, which was ceramic bound with bands of a ferrous substance, towards its target. Each firing tube, once expended, was discarded (presumably to be reloaded at a later time), and another tube taken up. The loud report that characterised the firing of the Black Smoke is believed to be that of the canister accelerating past the speed of sound.
It is possible that the Magnetic Acceleration Cannons could fire a variety of shells, from the Black Smoke canisters deployed against the British military, to explosives or incendiaries. No such shells were discovered among the artifacts left by the Martians, so it must be presumed that they were sufficiently confident in the capabilities of their Black Smoke to silence opposition that they regarded other types of ammunition to be unnecessary.
''Each of the Martians ... had discharged, by means of the gunlike tube he carried, a huge canister over whatever hill, copse, cluster of houses, or other possible cover for guns, chanced to be in front of him. Some fired only one of these, some two--as in the case of the one we had seen; the one at Ripley is said to have discharged no fewer than five at that time. These canisters smashed on striking the ground--they did not explode--and incontinently disengaged an enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pouring upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseous hill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surrounding country. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of its pungent wisps, was death to all that breathes.''
The Black Smoke, used to such terrible effect against the population of London, is more accurately described as an extremely fine dust or powder. It is quite substantially heavier than air, and when released tends to stay in a dense, hill-shaped cloud which slowly flattens and spreads across the ground.
The Smoke is insoluble in water; instead it forms a layer of scum on the surface which sinks slowly to the bottom, making way for more. It appears that the Smoke undergoes some chemical reaction upon contact with moisture which renders it inert, as it is quite possible to drink without harm water which has had the scum strained from it. Similarly, moisture in the air causes the microscopic particles of dust to slowly group together into larger particles, and sink gently to the ground.
Despite a degree of knowledge concerning the behaviour and effects of the Black Smoke, little is known of its chemical composition, and scientists are still not entirely certain of precisely how it has its effect. Spectrum analysis of the black powder points unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element with a brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is possible that it combines with argon to form a compound which acts at once with deadly effect upon some constituent in the blood, causing it to near-instantly coagulate. Its behaviour when exposed to moisture only serves to enhance its lethal properties; as it is inhaled by its victims, it is believed to undergo a reaction with the natural moisture present in the lungs. This causes it to coat the internal surface of the lungs with a smothering layer of powder, preventing the victim from obtaining vital oxygen from the air. The only ways to avoid its effects are to move to a sufficiently elevated position that one is above the level of the cloud, or to filter the air one breathes through a moistened cloth of fine weave.
''The mechanism it certainly was that held my attention first. It was one of those complicated fabrics that have since been called handling-machines, and the study of which has already given such an enormous impetus to terrestrial invention. As it dawned upon me first, it presented a sort of metallic spider with five jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary number of jointed levers, bars, and reaching and clutching tentacles about its body. Most of its arms were retracted, but with three long tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods, plates, and bars which lined the covering and apparently strengthened the walls of the cylinder... Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter. The fighting-machines were co-ordinated and animated to an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this. People who have never seen these structures, and have only the ill-imagined efforts of artists or the imperfect descriptions of such eye-witnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely realise that living quality...
...At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glittering integument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles actuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalent of the crab's cerebral portion. But then I perceived the resemblance of its grey-brown, shiny, leathery integument to that of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the true nature of this dexterous workman dawned upon me.''
After the Fighting Machines, the Handling-Machines seem to have been the most common artifact brought to Earth by the Martians. They were used extensively within the Martians' pits, either assembling other machines, or operating the devices used to refine earth into useful metals, or moving various items around the pit. It seems that the Martians are able to use these machines almost as extensions of their own bodies, having complete control over the actions of their myriad manipulatory appendages.
The machine itself resembles nothing so much as a large, metallic crab, flat and broad across the top of the carapace, with the Martian operator residing in a hood on top of the machine, from where it works a complex series of levers to activate the assortment of devices attached to the machine. The five articulated legs are activated by the sham musculature previously described. The various arms, tentacles, levers and instruments show a very high precision in engineering and control, allowing the Martians to handle even the most delicate items quite safely. Appendages which are not being used are retracted into the main body of the machine, in order to avoid encumbering the operation of the active devices.
''...Down on the left a busy little digging mechanism had come into view, emitting jets of green vapour and working its way round the pit, excavating and embanking in a methodical and discriminating manner. This it was which had caused the regular beating noise, and the rhythmic shocks that had kept our ruinous refuge quivering. It piped and whistled as it worked. So far as I could see, the thing was without a directing Martian at all.''
It is worth noting that the Martians made extensive use of mechanisms whose actions were completely autonomous from direct control. The machines, of which the described Digging Machine is one example, are for the most part substantially smaller than the machines operated by Martian controllers, with few specimens exceeding ten feet in any dimension. These devices too moved about on articulated legs, normally five or more. Human scientists have managed to restore a couple of these devices to a functional state. However, attempts to actually control them have had less luck - one device had to be forcibly deactivated when it started excavating the workshop in which it was being tested.
For the most part the machines only perform a single task, like excavating a pit, or assembling some of the smaller machinery. However, they seem to possess a sort of rudimentary intelligence, unlike terrestrial automata like player pianos or other such devices. The machines do not merely perform the same action over and over again, but are able to vary their behaviour according to the situation - for example, the Assembling Machine is able to determine which components it requires to build the ordered machine, and to go looking for those components, despite the fact that they may be scattered in various parts of the Martians' pit, or concealed beneath a pile of other items. Similarly the Digging Machine is able to determine which sections of the pit to dig, which are unstable and need to be reinforced, and which areas are already in the desired state.
The actions of the machines seem to be controlled by a complex arrangement of crystalline wafers. These wafers have extremely detailed patterns etched into them, generally only visible with the aid of a powerful microscope. These patterns appear to be designed to channel electricity in a way which allows the machines to operate independently of outside direction. The patterns of these wafers, and their properties, are being vigourously investigated. It is believed that further development of this technology will be of immense aid in the future development of automated machines.
'' ...Of a night, all over there, Hampstead way, the sky is alive with their lights. It's like a great city, and in the glare you can just see them moving. By daylight you can't. But nearer--I haven't seen them' (he counted on his fingers) five days. Then I saw a couple across Hammersmith way carrying something big. And the night before last--he stopped and spoke impressivelyit was just a matter of lights, but it was something up in the air. I believe they've built a flying-machine, and are learning to fly.
I stopped, on hands and knees, for we had come to the bushes.
Yes, he said, fly. ''
During their time on Earth, a major project of the Martians seemed to be the construction of a Flying Machine. The great device was found among their other machineries in the great Pit on Primrose Hill. That it was operational is certain, for it played a decisive part in the Battle of the Thames, the English Navys final, desperate bid for victory over the Martians, by raining down canisters of the Black Smoke upon the fleet. There are also reports that it was at least partially functional as little as four days before the invaders succumbed to terrestrial bacteria.
This strange construction, wide and flat and sinuously curved, with a Heat-Ray mounted on top, was seen by the few survivors around London, swooping through the air for brief periods before landing. It was first seen by humans on the Wednesday after the arrival of the invaders. Witnesses in London recall seeing this vast, broad object rushing almost silently across the landscape, adhering to the contours of the terrain, followed shortly after by a roaring crash, like a clap of thunder, that smashed windows and stripped houses of their slates in the monstrous devices wake. During high-speed travel, the Heat-Ray generator was not apparent, presumably having withdrawn into the main structure of the machine.
The engines which allowed the craft to reach such incredible speeds are of great interest to terrestrial engineers. Like much Martian technology, they too make use of the remarkable properties of viridigen gas. Air from the atmosphere is taken in through several vents in the front surface of the craft, where it is used to ''burn'' a fine spray of viridigen fuel in the presence of the catalyst which induces the fuel to release viridigen. The expansion of hot gases from this combustion, composed for the most part of viridigen and the unreactive parts of the air, is used to power the forward movement of the craft. However, immediately before it leaves the engines, a powerful charge is applied to it, causing the viridigen to expand even more and greatly increasing the thrust of the engines. The principles behind these engines are being applied to craft using more terrestrial fuels, such as highly refined kerosene. So far experimentation has provided some compelling results.
The external hull of the craft is constructed from a number of interlocking plates. These plates are not rigidly joined together, rather their attitude in relation to other plates can be adjusted by means of pseudomuscular systems described previously. This allows the Martian pilots to alter the overall shape of their craft to a limited degree, and thus control the flow of air over the hull and the subsequently generated lift with great precision.
An unusual property of the machine was the fact that its weight is substantially less than one might expect considering the size and composition of the thing. It has also been noted that objects held a certain distance above the craft seem lighter than is otherwise the case. This strange effect has been traced to an apparatus within the lower hull of the craft. This mechanism consists of a large number of metal plates, arranged in a manner resembling the adjustable aperture of a camera or telescope. The thin metal plates of which these mechanisms are constructed are coated on their lower sides, in a similar fashion to enamelled tin, with a bluish-grey metal alloy, which seems to have the effect of at least partially blocking the effects of gravity. By adjusting the width of the apertures between these plates and thus the effective area of the blue metal, the Martians could adjust the weight of the craft (and also the strength of the gravity within the craft) to whatever degree they desired, perhaps even making it effectively weightless. Despite the Flying Machine still being heavier than air, the gravity-blocking substance, in combination with the shape of the craft, allows it to take to the air for a time, not only to fly at high speeds, but also to hover over a point.
This substance has yet to yield to analysis in part because, as well as partially blocking gravity, it completely blocks all forms of radiative energy, including light, heat, Marconi and Roentgen Rays, and magnetism, meaning that spectroscopic analysis in ineffective. Examination under powerful microscopes has revealed an intriguing fact that its crystalline patterns are unlike anything seen before, and are extremely complex. Attempts to replicate the properties of this substance have universally met with failure.
It has become apparent that the higher gravity and denser atmosphere of Earth rendered their machine difficult to operate for extended periods of time without certain adjustments. Evidently the Martians underestimated the effect that these environmental differences would have on the operation of their machine. It is thought that the denser atmosphere meant that the engines produced more thrust than expected, and that at high speeds the shape of the craft rendered it unstable and difficult to control. Had this not been the case, then with control of the air the Martians could quite easily have spread across the face of the globe and totally dominated Mankind.
"Unless we dismiss it all as the ingenious fabrication of Mr. Wace, we have to believe one of two things: either that Mr. Cave's crystal was in two worlds at once, and that, while it was carried about in one, it remained stationary in the other, which seems altogether absurd; or else that it had some peculiar relation of sympathy with another and exactly similar crystal in this other world, so that what was seen in the interior of the one in this world, was, under suitable conditions, visible to an observer in the corresponding crystal in the other world; and vice versa. At present, indeed, we do not know of any way in which two crystals could so come en rapport, but nowadays we know enough to understand that the thing is not altogether impossible. This view of the crystals as en rapport was the supposition that occurred to Mr. Wace, and to me at least it seems extremely plausible. . . "
- H G Wells, The Crystal Egg
Several years before the Martian Invasion of Earth, a peculiar possession fell into the hands of Mr. C. Cave, a naturalist and dealer in antiquities who owned a small shop near Seven Dials. This remarkable artifact took the form of an ovoid mass of crystal, brilliantly polished. By accident Mr. Cave discovered that under certain conditions this egg allowed the user to see a distant place and, in turn, anyone at the other end could see him. Further investigation, with the assistance of Mr. Jacoby Wace, then Assistant Demonstrator at St. Catherine's Hospital, Westbourne Street, determined that this strange vista was of the planet Mars, many millions of miles away.
To use the crystal, a thin ray of light, of no greater diameter than a millimeter, was directed upon the egg, which caused the interior of the crystal to glow with a pale, diffuse light. If the crystal was then viewed from an angle of 137 degrees to the incidence of the light ray it was possible to view glimpses of an alien landscape. The success of the procedure varied from person to person - Mr. Wace was never able to see the alien landscape as Cave was, although he did observe the glow, while Mr. Harbinger - whose name will be familiar to the scientific reader in connection with the Pasteur Institute - was quite unable to see any light whatever. The viewing also seemed to depend upon the mental state of the viewer - it seemed clearest when Cave was particularly tired or weak.
Mr. Cave was able to supply descriptions of our sister world's inhabitants, flora and fauna as well as he was able to see. He deduced that he was viewing Mars through a corresponding crystal to the one he possessed, mounted on a tall mast overlooking a Martian valley. It was apparent that there were as many as twenty of these crystals mounted on masts, and thus up to nineteen other crystals present on Earth.
The crystal was lost following Mr. Cave's death, passed on to an antique dealer in Great Portland Street who in turn sold it to a tall dark man in grey. Extensive research has been unable to uncover the identity of this gentleman, nor find any more of the crystals. The mechanism which links these crystals to each other is also unknown and unaccountable by earthly scientists.
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last updated and validated May 6, 1999. SHD