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Voyage Of The Balloon Zenith

Voyage Of The Balloon Zenith image
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[The followiiifi accomit of üie mout remarkable balloon voyao ever attempted in triuiHlated from 1m Kalnre. of whicli jonrual M. Tissandier, the writer of the articJo, is chief editor.] On Thursday, the lfith of April, 1875, at thirty-five miuutes past 11 o'clock iu tho moniing, the Zeiiitli rose from tho om-til at the gas works of Villetto. OroceSpinelli, Sivel and myself had taken our places in the boat. Three bags filled with a mixture of air and oxygen, in the proportion of 70 to 100, werê attaohed to the circle, and from the lowor side of cach of them a tube of caoutcbonc passed through a bottle fillod with aromatic liqtiid. ïhis apparatus was dosigned to f urnish in the, high regions of the atmosphere the oxygen necessary to the maintenanco of lifo. An aspirator lilled with the essence of petroleum, which a low teniperatnre does not solidify, was suspended outsido the boat ; it was designed to be arranged vertioally at an altitude of 3,000 meters for the parpóse of passing air iuto potassium tubes designed to test tho quantity of carbonic acid present in the atmosphere. Sivel had attached within reach sómo bags of ballast which could be empiród by cutting tho littlo cord wliich confined thom. Ho had fixcd under the boat a thick straw mattress to moderato tho shock on descending. Croco-Spiuelli carried Jiis fine spoctroscope, so frequently usod in tho preooding voyage of the Zenith. On the ropes of tlie boat wcro suspended two aneroid barometers, verifled the samo morning ander tho pneumatic macliino, andgiviiig, thefirst, the prossures corresponding to altitudes of 0 to 4,000 meters, tho second thoso from 4,000 to 9,000 meters. Near tímsm in.struincntK luing a thermometer of reddenod alcohol giving tho measure of tho temperatures down to thirty degress bclow zero ; a thermometer minimum and maximum, which, fixeu by an endless cord to the valve in tho vertical axis of the ballooji, could riso and fall iu tho mass of gas. Abovo in a sealod brx wcro inclosed lUo eight tubes, barometrio witnessos, well packed in sawdnst, and designed to furnish on thé return to earth Uio jn-ocise ini'ormation of tho maximum of height attaiued by the voyagers. The instrument to test tho point of M. A. Penaud, somo maps, som e com passes, Bomepriiited questaona to be thrown frm tlio btt, somo dividers, etc, comploted tho'scit-ntific material of the expedition. Tho balloon starts ; it rises in the midst of a wave of light, omblem of joy, of hopo ! ïiiroe hours after the departure Sivel and Croce-Spinelli were found lifoless in the boat ! At abont 8,000 meters of altitude asphyxia has struck with daath these disciples of scienco and truth 1 It f al Is to the lot of thoir companion niiraeulously escaped from death, to simt out for a moment grief from his heart, to drive away sad memories and gloomy sions, in ordor to relate the facts gatherod during the exploration, and to toll what be knowa of the deatli of his unfortunate and honored friends. From the fïrst moments of the ascensión, beciuning with a velocifcy of al out two meters per second and slibtly diminishing for a dktanee of 3,500 meters, and then increaeing imder fcha constant 'all of ballast and the action of a blazing sun to a heighfc of 5,000 meteis, Sivel ;ook the prudent care of letting down ;ho anchor and getting every Iliing ready !or approaching tho earth. Hardly werc we 300 meters above the grouiul when he said with pleasure, "We havo started, my friends ! I ara wel] satipfied I" And a littlo later, looking at the balloon as ït swelled to a round form above tho boat, " Look at ttíe ' Zenith !' How spleudidly it filis ! Is it not beautiful i" Croce-Spinelli said to me, " Come, ïissandier, courage ! To the aspirator, to the earbonic acid !"and I poned seventy liters of air into the potasainm tubes at the height of from -1,000 to 6,000 meters. But these tabes which I eonld not at the lust moment press into their wadded box would have broken inte a thoiisand fragment on the descent. These misfortunes will be useful liereafter. At tho altitude of 3,300 meters tho gas escaped freely from the large opening auuve uur neaus. At 4,000 meters tho sim is glowing, the sky is resplendent, nnmerous cirmsclouds stretch along the regemUing an O2al vapor which forros an immense cirelo around the boat of the balloon. At 4,300 nieters wo begin breathe oxygen, not bfeoause we feelyet tho need of lmving reoootse to the gaseous mixture, but imply to satisfy ourselviH that our apparatufl, go w(li arranged by M. Limousiu after the modela inclicated by M. P. Bert, ík propcrly oerforming its work. At an attitude of 7,000 meters, 1 h. j 20 m. ia the afternoon, 1 breathed the ! mixture of air and coygen, and feit sclf arouaed to renewed life by itsnc.tion; [ at 7,000 meters 1 W)te on the margin of coy note boob 11i' following word : " I (ixygen. Ewoellent eifect." At thiH lu'iglit Sivcl, win waj) i man of unusual physieal power and of a sanguino teraperpx eyoa il short intervals, to OW drowsy, and to beoome a little palé. But that brave soijj dal not long snocumb ta the cncroachmentaof.weakness. He straight eaed himself ug ffith an expresskm of detennination ; hc made me empty tho liqnid contaiucd in my aspirator af ter my experiment, and threw the ballast tyyexbourd in order to reooh regious move elevated. Bivel last year had been at a height of 7,300 motera witb Orooer Spinelli. Ho wisheU tliis ycar to reach 8,000 meters, and when Sivel wished vast, obstados liad to interveno betwoén him and kis designs. Croce-Spinelli kopt hia oyes fastened for a long time on bis spectroscope. Ho was radiaat with pleasure and oried out, " There is completo atsence of the linea of the vapor of -water." Then, after baving made these words uuderstood, he continuod bis obr.ervalions with so mnch oamestness that he begged me to place on my notc-book tho resnlt of the reoding of the thermometer and the barometer. During the couvse of this rapid asoenRion it was vcry difliciilt tor us to give that attontion to onr pbysiological condition whieh was noeessary. Wereserved onr resources in this respect for tho moment wben we shouldpluuge into tho air of Ue bigher regions, without a suspieion of the i'atal denouement that paralyzed onr efïbrts. Still it was possiblo to obtain the following resulta, wbich were registered in onr note-books : 12 li. 8 m., 4,G02 meters, Tissandior, 110 pulsatious to the minute ; 12 h. 55 ni., 5,210 meters, Croco, temperatura of moutli 37.5 ileg. ; 1 li. 3m., 5.300 moters, Crocc, 120 pulsaüon to tlie minute ; 1 h. 5 m., 5,300 meters, Tissamlier, number of inspirations, detenuiued liy Corco, '2(! ; 1 h. 5 in., 5,300 meters, Sivel, 155 piÜBution to the minute ; 1 h. 5 m., 5,300 meters, Sivel, teniperaturc of the mouth 37. 'J deg. The following is a mean of tho , ations collected daring severa! cousecntive daya previous to tlie ascensión : n il ?i JLJill Crose-Sliinolli 75 to 85 24 37. 3o Bjvel .. 76 to 8(1 imk'wu 87.6" Ileaapdier 70 to 80 Ifl to 23 37.4 During the progress of tho ascensión j to the heigbt of 7,000 meters trie observations were regularly made. j ïbey indícate a progressivo diminution of temperatureupto 3,200 meters ; and increase from 3,200 to 3,700, and finally a gradual diminution from 4,000 to 7,000 and aoove. We give the tablo of tbc readings : timk. & S1 2 e lL JJ_ I llh.aom nea8 n !' '.'.'.'.'.'..'.'.'.'.'.'■'.. 792 8 Uh-ui" ;;:;:: S ? ■i "','.'.'.'. 8J00 1 ii ' SSOO 1.5 121i-::::: ::- gS l H 4,:R7 0 il , 4,602 ü m.:.;.::: : : s_o ,i r,210 - 5 ii "' B,:ioo - 6 1U 8 ra.'.".".'."".. r'ililK1 - B 8,K0(l - 5 . (-,,700 - 8 lh---:i:::: :::::::: ?:SS =lï i 8,01111 ond'd. For the ñrst timo we determiuod in an j exact manner tho interior temperaturo of the bftlloon, and the resalta obtained seem to bo of gr(at interest. Bivel had perfectly organized tbo oord designed j for raising a self-recording thermometer ■ into tho balloon, and Croco-Spinelli made tho experiment in two different waya by the aid of an apparatus I had procured. The thermometer wit-h Ijent tube, oontuiiK'd alcohol and mercifry wbich rose j in ono of the branches of the tube, moving an iron index ; the index wasbrought to the anrface of the liquid by the aid of i loadstone. The thermometer indioated üiat tbe temperaturo of the gas of tho balloon was 19 deg. at the center, '22 deg. I near tbe valvc ; while we were üoating at the attitude of 4,(!00 to 5,000 meters tbe, temperature of the surrounding air was 0 deg. ■ At 5,300 meters the interior temperature of the balloon at tho center attained 23 deg., wbilo tbe, exterior air was 5 deg. j below zero. Finally tho thermometer remained in tbe balloou at tho moment of our prostration. We found it intact ( after the descent ; it indicated a temperature of 23 deg. These new facts explain by this great difterence of ternj)'niture of 'the gas of the balloon and of tbe j air in "ffbich it is immersed, the rapid ascent of the aerial ship into high regions and its precipitous descent to lower levéis. I come now to the fatal moment when we were seized by the terrible influence oï atmoBpheric depreasion. At 7,000 meters we are all uprigbt in the boat. Sivel, for a moment languid, revived ; Orooe-Spinelli remained immovable in front ot mo. "Sec," said bc, "how beantiful tbose clouds are!" It was beantifiil indeed, tbat sublimo spectacle presented to our eyes. Cirrns-elouds of varióos fol-ms - somo elongated, otbers ligbtly mammiluted - formed arotuid us a eircle of silver whiteness. On leaning over the side of the boat on e huw as if down at the bottom of a well, of which the clouds and tho vapor below formed the wall, the surt'aee of the earth, whieb. appeared in the abyss of the atmosphere. The sky, far from being black and deep, was of a olear and limpid blue ; the ardent sun bnmed our faces, notwithstanding the cold beganto make its influence feit, and we had dreády placed our shawls over our shoulders. Numbness had seized mo ; my hands wore eold, frozen. I wished to put on my gloves ; but, without being oonscious of it, the action of taking them from my pocket required on my part an effort that I was nnable to perform. At tin elevation ot Y.uuu meterei wrote, howevor, alinost mcohanially in i my uote-book. I copy ho following linos, wliich were writton without any positivo rumembriuico on my part ('f tho iet. They wero traced in a manner hardly legible, by a hand that was trembling with oold : "My hands aro f rozen. I am welL We aro going weD. Fog on the horizon, witb small round cirriis-clouds: We aregi iing up. Orooe is breathing. We respire oxygen. Sivol closes his eyes. I empty aspirator. 1 h. 25 m., temperaturo- 11 dog. Sivel throws out baUast, Hivol throwsoutballflst" (tbc last worda lnmlly reftdftblu). Hivel, in faot, vrho 'inod somc moments pensive and motionlees, closing at times Iiík eyes, roraüled without doubt, lii;; wíkIi to pass tli! limit in which the ZeuitU was ncw floating, He raised np; liin enoi"getie i'cinn : ; 1 1 l i ■ 1 1 ! ! i ■, ! t i ■ 1 1 uji witli au m: usual maguilicenoe ; ho turnad toward ml, " V7lial is the ri f HUI-O?" "Wc liave miH-li ballast; must it be thrown out?" I replied, "Do 88 you pleqpe." He turnea to Croco and pur the sume questiou. Croeo Iowera t ! i - -i henil in token of very euergetic aflinnation. There woro in the boat it least livo bags of ballast. XhorB wan alniost as much suspended on tho outside by ropes. These, ive should add, were nd longer full; Sivel had ceitainly entimalrd tlieir weight j faut it is iiupossible lor us to be precise in öiis particidaiv Sivel seiz'ed his kmfö and cut sttoóeösively tkrea ropos; the threo bag.s ire einptied and wo go rapidly tip. The lust clear recollectión wMch romains of the asen sion goos back to n moment a litfJe anterior. Croce-Spiuolli wa seated holding in bis hand the tlngon of oxygon gas; his head was slightly inclined and he seomed opprcsfied. Í had still power to strike with my finger the aneroid barometer to facilítate the movemont of tho ncedle. Sivel raised his hand toward the sky as if to show with his finger the upper regions of the atmospherc. Tho illustration representa the bosition at this time as accurately is posaible. Bnt I had not ceased to preserve absolute immobility without doubting that I had aiready perhapa lost the power of motion. At about 7,500 meters of elevation the conditfon of depreRsiou in wjiicli one is found is extraordinary. The body and niind becomo feeblc by degrees, gradual ly, insensibly, without any conscionsness of Iosr of power. Th -re is no suffering whatever. On the contrary there is an inward pleasure, lilte the eil'ect of a radiant light coming suidenly upon you. We beeomo indifferent; wo think no more of the perilous situation or of danger; we go up and aro happy in doing so. The dizzinesg of high regions is not a vain word; buf, so far as I can judge by my own experience, this dizzincss appenrs at me last moment; it immediately precedes prostration - sudden, unexpeoted, irresistible. When Sivel had cut the three bags of ballast at tho altitude of iibout 7,460 meters - that is, under a pressure of 300 (this is the last ligurc written at the tirae in my note-book) - I think I reoollcct that he seated himself on the bottom of tho boat and soon took the position before taken by Croce-Spinelli. As for myself I was supported in the corner of tho boat, where I kopt my position, thauks to this protection. Í was not slow in bccoming so feeblo that I could not turn to look at my companions. Soon I wish to seizo the oxygen tube, but it is impossible to lift my arms. My mimi, notwitlistanding, is still vciy lucid. I look constant1 ly at the barometer. I have my oyes íixed on tho Beedle, which cornos soon to the figure denoting a pressure of 290, then 28(), which it passes. I desire to shout, " We are 8,000 meters high .'" but my tongue is lilte ono pftralyzed. Suddenly I closi my eyes and fall lifeloss, losing absolutely all memory. This was about, 1 h. 30 m. At eight mi)mtes past 2 I wake up a moment. The bulloon was rapidly scending. I was ablo to cut a bag of i ballast to top the velocity and to write j on my note-book the following linoe : " Wo aro descending ; temperatura, 8 dog. I throw out balLiKt. We dijeend. I Sivel and Croce still in a swoon at tho j bottom of the car. Wo descend very ra])idly." Ilardly have I written these linea whoq a kind of' trombling soizes me and 1 bocome enfeebled a seoond time. The wind was violent and donoted i rapid desoent. Some momento after I foei myself shaken liy the arm, and reoognize Croce, who has recovered. "TIum'.v out some ballast," said he ; " we aro going down." Jíut I could iiardly open my eyeB„ and did not asoertain il' Sivel were awake. I recull tliat Croco detnchcul the uspirator, which he threw overboaid, and that he thrtv out ballast, some blankete, etc. All tlds is a remeoibranee extr tnely confused, wliich quickly dien out ; for I fall again into a condition more completely uiiconseious than before, and it Hcems to me that I outer upon an eterna] sleep. What passed ? It is certain that th balloon, impermeable as it was, di:;cliarged its -ballast and again went into the upper regions of the atmosphere. At about hal past 3 I open my eyes ; I fcel stunnod, weighed down, but my mind is recovered. The balloon is descending with a frightfid velocity. Tho car is tirmly bakinced, and describes great oseillations. I drag myself along on my knees and pull Sivel by tho arm as we 11 as Croce. "Sivel!" "Croce!" i sliouted, "wake up !" My two cpoipanions were erouehed in the Oar, their heads coiicealed vfflfler their oioaks. I summon my powors and try to muse them. Sivel had a dark appearanoe, his oyes were dull, his moulh g;ipijig anti full of blood. Croce had his eyos half closed and a bloody mouth. To relate in detail what then passed is impossible. I feit a frightful wind pom ing upward írom tíie earthj 'e were yet at a height of 6,000 meters. There was in the car two bags of ballast that I throw out. Soon the eartli approaehes. I wish to seize my knife to cut the rope of the anehor ; impossible, to lind ifc. I was like oue mail, and kept calling out, "Sivel! Sivel!" By good fortune 1 was tibie to place my hand on a kuife and to detaoh the anchor at tho right moment. The contact with the earth was extremely violent. The balloon seem to Halten, and I believe would have rematned stationary but for the violcnee of tin; wind before which it dragged. The anehor did not. bite, and the car güled along the surfacs of the lields ; llie liodirs of my unhappy friends were jolted hjther and f l ■ i t ! k r, and I thought that at any moment they would fall from the boat. llo'-vi jrer, I was able to seizo thoooaj oï the valve, and tho balloon was quiekly emptied Mid i lodged against a tree. Ou putting fpot to he earth l was taken with a violent lever ;md ;ud; in a swoon. i believeu inyelí about to join my compmiions in the oUkt WorW. Notwitlistiuuliug, 1 recovcjed gx&dually. 1 looked about lor hij unbappy oom puuions, "wlio wero Ornfidy cold and Bhriveled. Chadtheir bodiea teken to the shelter oí :i oeighboring bam. The descent c;f' the Zenith took place in t'ic plaina that bordei1 Ciion, two i 1 rmdred hm] ftity kilometers Erom 1'ui-íh as the bird flies. Aocordifig to ! ] the questious throwu irom llio oar and Bent to sittiag of the Society of Aerial Navigatíon by p;uües who had pioked üiem irp, I am assared that tlio Zenith did not deviate from its route; thatitlic wiuct blcw iu u i straight Une; an3 that the difecnon was constant, even to the eleyation of 8,006 ini'icvs. Jis velocity was certainly greater in the nppor ijr;;ions oí the aü I at tho siurfaco of the oarth. The papefrs WT(MKri!]i-(í not Icss Ütki thiltj ïi'.iuonding from a liciglit oi 7,000 rg lo Hja eartbi A paper Hmnm down by me at half-past 5 o'cli)ck, at the moment of' my seoond waking, and Boiled with blood by a slight ent that I mode DB my hand before my ftwt prostration, was fouud still (lyiug in the air Miiïty-iive minutos alter toe balloon mem t the earth. After having givcn the history of the Keent of tlio Zenith I come to the two important pointe whieh have ho thoróugtüy taken Üie atténtion of the sbieotifie world and the public. Wh:it is the niaxmmm heiötit attained by the Zettith? What is tlio cause of the death of Croce-Spinelli and of Bivol? The ftfst ([iiestion is answenxl to-day by the opening oi' he tubes, bnrometric witncsseB, invented by M. Janssen, and already cmployed by Sivel and CrocoSpinoili iluring their ascensión to 7,:!00 meters, Mareh '22, 1874. The exammation of the tubes goes to establish the fact tliat tlui feebl(Ht pressure was from 2G4 to 2G2 iiiilümcterti, wliicli carrics the maximum elevation from 8,540 to 8,001 meters. It poems to me not to be docbted tbat the death of these unfortunate men is the consequenee of atmospheric depression. It is ])ossib]e to support during a time of short duration the action of this depresaion; it is diflieult to sustaiu the cciiitiniioiis efifoct dnring almost two consecutivo hours. Uur sojourn in the upi( r ;.;ions was in faot mueh lojiger tluin llialiiJ' a!iv precedinj; aaeansioil toagreat In ;;lit. J wiU adil that the air, benig ji.u ticularly dry, had perhaps a fatal effect. It will now be asked what is the cause of iuy safety. I owe my life probably to my peculiar tomperamont, OHsentiaily Jymphatie, i)erhais to my complete prostiation and the consequent total arrest of the respira'ory fimctions. I was liuiiiiry at the moment of departure, and lliought at fírst that tliis circumsiance was peculiar to me; but I have since li;ul [iroof that if Sivel had eaten, Croco liad, üke niyself, almost no fo(jd at all in lus .stomaeh.


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