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Zetetic Astronomy, by 'Parallax' (pseud. Samuel Birley Rowbotham), [1881], at

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The following sketch, fig. 34, represents a contracted section of the London and North-Western Railway, from London to

FIG. 34.
FIG. 34.

[paragraph continues] Liverpool, through Birmingham. The line A, B, is the surface, with its various inclines and altitudes, and C, D, is the datum line from which all the elevations are measured; H, is the station at Birmingham, the elevation of which is 240 feet above the datum line C, D, which line is a continuation of the level of the River Thames at D, to the level of the River Mersey, at C. The direct length of this line is 180 miles; and it is a right or absolutely straight line, in a vertical sense, from London to Liverpool. Therefore, the station at Birmingham is 240 feet above the level of the Thames, continued as a right line throughout the whole length of the railway. But if the earth is a globe, the datum line will be the chord of the arc D, D, D, fig. 35, and the summit of the arc at D, will be 5400 feet above

FIG. 35
FIG. 35

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the chord at C; added to the altitude of the station H, 240 feet, the Birmingham station, H, would be, if the earth is a globe, 5640 feet above the horizontal datum D, D, or vertically above the Trinity high water mark, at London Bridge. It is found, practically, and in fact, not to be more than 240 feet; hence the theory of rotundity must be a fallacy. Sections of all other railways will give similar proofs that the earth is in. reality a plane.

The tunnel just completed under Mont Fréjus, affords a very striking illustration of the truth. that the earth is a plane, and not globular. The elevation above the sea-level of the entrance at Fourneaux, on the French side of the Alps, is 3946 feet, and of the entrance on the Italian side, 4381 feet. The length of the tunnel is 40,000 feet, or nearly eight English statute miles. The gradient or rise, from the entrance on the French side to the summit of the tunnel, is 445 feet; and on the opposite side, 10 feet. It will be seen from the following account, given by M. Kossuth, 1 that the geodetic operations were carried on in connection with a right line, as the axis of the tunnel, and therefore with a horizontal datum which is quite incompatible with the doctrine of rotundity. That the earth is a plane is involved in all the details of the survey, as the following quotation will show:--

"The observatories placed at the two entrances to the tunnel were used for the necessary observations, and each observatory contained an instrument constructed for the purpose. This instrument was placed on a pedestal of masonry, the top of which was covered with a horizontal slab of marble, having

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engraved upon its surface two intersecting lines, marking a point which was exactly in the vertical plane containing the axis of the tunnel. The instrument was formed of two supports fixed on a tripod, having a delicate screw adjustment. The telescope was similar to that of a theodolite provided with cross-webs, and strongly illuminated by the light from a lantern, concentrated by a lens and projected upon the cross-webs. In using this instrument in checking the axis of the gallery at the northern entrance, for example; after having proved precisely that the vertical plane, corresponding with the point of intersection of the lines upon the slab, also passed through the centre of the instrument, a visual line was then conveyed to the station at Lochalle (on the mountain), and on the instrument being lowered, the required number of points could be fixed in the axis of the tunnel. In executing such an operation, it was necessary that the tunnel should be free from smoke or vapour. The point of collimation was a plummet, suspended from the roof of the tunnel by means of an iron rectangular frame, in one side of which a number of notches were cut, and the plummet shifted from notch to notch, in accordance with the signals of the operator at the observatory. These signals were given to the man whose business it was to adjust the plummet, by means of a telegraph or a horn. The former was found invaluable throughout all these operations.

"At the Bardonnecchia (Italian) entrance, the instrument employed in setting out the axis of the tunnel was similar to the one already described, with the exception that it was mounted on a little carriage, resting on vertical columns that were erected at distances 500 metres apart in the axis of the tunnel. By the help of the carriage, the theodolite was first placed on the centre line approximately. It was then brought exactly into line by a fine adjustment screw, which moved the

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eye-piece without shifting the carriage. In order to understand more clearly the method of operating the instrument, the mode of proceeding may be described. In setting out a prolongation of the centre line of the tunnel, the instrument was placed upon the last column but one; a light was stationed upon the last column, and exactly in its centre; and 500 metres ahead a trestle frame was placed across the tunnel. Upon the horizontal bar of this trestle several notches were cut, against which a light was placed, and fixed with proper adjusting screws. The observer standing at the instrument, caused the light to move upon the trestle frame, until it was brought into an exact line with the instrument and the first line; and then the centre of the light was projected with a plummet. In this way the exact centre was found. By a repetition of similar operations the vertical plane containing the axis of the tunnel was laid out by a series of plummet lines. During the intervals that elapsed between consecutive operations with the instrument, the plummets were found to be sufficient for maintaining the direction in making the excavation. To maintain the proper gradients in the tunnel, it was necessary, at intervals, to establish fixed levels, deducing them by direct levelling from standard bench marks, placed at short distances from the entrance. The fixed level marks, in the inside of the tunnel, are made upon stone pillars, placed at intervals of 25 metres, and to these were referred the various points in setting out the gradients."

The theodolite "was placed on a pedestal of masonry, the top of which was covered with a horizontal slab of marble, having engraved upon its surface two intersecting lines, marking a point which was exactly in the vertical plane containing the axis of the tunnel." This slab was the starting point--the datum which determined the

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gradients. Its horizontal surface, prolonged through the mountain, passed 445 feet below the summit of the tunnel, and 435 feet below the entrance on the Italian side. This entrance was 4381 feet above the sea, and 435 feet above the horizontal marble slab on the French side. But, if the earth is a globe, the datum line from this horizontal slab would be a tangent, from which the sea-level would curvate downwards to the extent of 42 feet; and the summit of the tunnel, instead of being 10 feet above the Italian entrance, would, of necessity, be 52 feet above it. It is not so, and therefore the datum line is not a tangent, but runs parallel to the sea; the sea-level not convex, and the earth not a globe. This will be rendered plain by the following diagram, fig. 36.

FIG. 36.
Click to enlarge

FIG. 36.

Let A represent the summit of the tunnel, and A, T, the axis or centre determined by the theodolite T; S, the marble

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slab; and D, S, the datum line, running parallel with the sea-level H, H. B, the Italian entrance, at an elevation of 435 feet above D, S, and 4381 feet above the surface of the sea, H, H; A, the summit of the tunnel, 445 feet above the French entrance at T, the same above the datum line D, S; and 4391 feet above the sea-line, H, H. If the earth is a globe, the line, D, S, would be a tangent to the sea at H, S, from which point the sea surface would curvate 52 feet downwards, as shown in diagram, fig. 37. Hence, the elevation of the tunnel at B,

FIG. 37.
Click to enlarge

FIG. 37.

would be 52 feet higher above the sea at H, than it is known to be; because taking D, S, as a tangent, and the length of the tunnel being 8 miles--82 miles x 8 inches = 52 feet.

Thus, in a length of 8 statute miles of the most skilful engineering operations, carried on by the most accomplished

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scientific men, there is a difference between theory and practice of 52 feet! Rather than such a reproach should attach to some of the most eminent practical engineers of the day--those especially who have, with such consummate skill and perseverance, completed one of the most gigantic undertakings of modern times--let the false idea of rotundity in the earth be entirely discarded, and the simple truth acknowledged, that the earth is a plane. It is adopted in practice, why should it be denied in the abstract? Why should the education given in our schools and universities include a forced recognition of a theory which, when practically applied, must ever be ignored and contradicted?

The completion of the great ship canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez, on the Red Sea, furnishes another instance of entire discrepancy between the theory of the earth's rotundity and the results of practical engineering. The canal is 100 English statute miles in length, and is entirely without locks; so that the water within it is really a continuation of the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. "The average level of the Mediterranean is 6 inches above the Red Sea; but the flood tides in the Red Sea rise 4 feet above the highest, and its ebbs fall nearly 3 feet below the lowest in the Mediterranean." The datum line is 26 feet below the level of the Mediterranean, and is continued horizontally from one sea to the other; and throughout the whole length of the work, the surface of the water runs parallel with this datum, as shown in the following section, fig. 38, published by the authorities. A, A, A, A, is the

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FIG. 38.
FIG. 38.

surface of the canal, passing through several lakes, from one sea to the other; D, D, the bed of the canal, or horizontal datum line to which the various elevations of land, &c., are referred, but parallel to which stands the surface of the water throughout the entire length of the canal; thus proving that the half-tide level of the Red Sea, the 100 miles of water in the canal, and the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, are a continuation of one and the same horizontal line. If the earth is globular, the water in the centre of the canal, being 50 miles from each end, would be the summit of an arc of a circle, and would stand at more than 1600 feet above the Mediterranean and Red Seas (502 x 8 inches = 1666 feet 8 inches), as shown in diagram, fig. 39. A, the Mediterranean Sea; B, the Red

FIG. 39.
FIG. 39.

[paragraph continues] Sea; and A, C, B, the arc of water connecting them; D, D, the horizontal datum, which, if the earth is globular, would really be the chord of the arc, A, C, B.

The bed of the Atlantic Ocean, from Valencia (western coast of Ireland) to Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, as surveyed for the laying of the cable, is another illustration or

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proof that the surface of the great waters of the earth is horizontal, and not convex, as will be seen by the following diagram, contracted from the section, published October 8,

FIG. 40.
FIG. 40.

[paragraph continues] 1869, by the Admiralty. C, D, is the horizontal datum line, and A, B, the surface of the water, for a distance of 1665 nautical, or 1942 statute miles. At about one-third the distance from A, Newfoundland, the greatest depth is found--2424 fathoms; the next deepest part is 2400 fathoms; at about two-thirds the distance from A, towards B, Ireland, while in the centre, the depth is less than 1600 fathoms; whereas, if the water of the Atlantic is convex, the centre would stand 628,560 feet, or nearly 120 miles, higher than the two stations, Trinity Bay and Valencia; and the greatest depth would be in the centre of the Atlantic Ocean, where it would be 106,310 fathoms, instead of 1550 fathoms, which it is proved to be by actual soundings. Fig. 41 shows the arc of water which would exist,

FIG. 41.
FIG. 41.

in relation to the horizontal datum line, between Ireland and Newfoundland, if the earth is a globe. Again, if the

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water in the Atlantic Ocean is convex--a part of a great sphere of 25,000 miles circumference--the horizontal datum line would be a chord to the great arc of water above it; and the distance across the bed of the Atlantic would therefore be considerably less than the distance over the surface. The length of the cable which was laid in 1866, notwithstanding the known irregularities of the bed of the Ocean, would be less than the distance sailed by the paying-out vessel, the "Great Eastern;" whereas, according to the published report, the distance run by the steamer was 1665 miles, while the length of cable payed out was 1852 miles.

It is important to bear in mind that all the foregoing remarks and calculations are made in connection with the fact that the datum line, to which all elevations and depressions are referred, is horizontal, and not an arc of a circle. For many years past, all the great surveys have been made on this principle; but that no doubt may exist in the mind of the reader, the following extract is given from the Standing Orders of the Houses of Lords and Commons on Railway Operations, for the Session of 1862: 1--

"The section shall be drawn to the same horizontal scale as the plan, and to a vertical scale of not less than one inch to every one hundred feet; and shall show the surface of the ground marked on the plan, the intended level of the proposed work, the height of every embankment, and the depth of every cutting, and a datum horizontal line, which shall be the same throughout the whole length of the work; or any branch thereof

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respectively; and shall be referred to some fixed point . . . . near either of the termini. (See line D, D; fig. 2.)"

On the page opposite that of the above Standing Order, a section is given to illustrate the meaning of the words of the order--special reference being made to the line D, D, as showing what is intended by the words "datum horizontal line." The drawing of the section there given, and which is insisted upon by Government, is precisely the same as the sections recently published of all the great railways, of the Suez Canal, of the bed of the Atlantic Ocean, taken for the purposes of laying the Electric Cable, and of many other works connected with railways deep-sea ordnance, and other surveying operations. In all these extensive surveys the doctrine of rotundity is, of necessity, entirely ignored; and the principle that the earth is a plane is practically adopted, and found to be the only one consistent with the results, and agreeing with the plans of the great surveyors and engineers of the day.


48:1 Daily News, September 18, 1871.

56:1 Publishers, Vacher & Sons, 29, Parliament Street, Westminster.

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