Monday, October 31, 2011

The way it is done...neutrino experiment


"European Physicists Will Race Neutrinos Again, Trying to Reproduce Faster-Than-Light Results"

by

Rebecca Boyle

October 31st, 2011

POPSCI

The physicists who claimed to see neutrinos moving faster than light are moving quickly to replicate their experiment, hoping to substantiate their results before submitting them for publication. Since announcing their bizarre, seemingly impossible findings last month, physicists around the world have offered a few possible explanations. But perhaps the best test will be a retest.

The OPERA experiment sends a beam of neutrinos from CERN in Geneva, through the mountains to Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory. The point is to look for flip-flops in neutrino flavor, which requires precisely measuring and averaging the chargeless particles’ arrival and departure times. It was in this routine timing that a team led by Antonio Ereditato found particles apparently moving faster than light. They were arriving at Gran Sasso about 60 nanoseconds earlier than the time it would take light to travel the same distance.

This violates the known laws of physics, but the OPERA collaborators saw it happen so frequently that it couldn’t be a fluke; they released their findings to the greater scientific community, hoping for some insight. Several other physicists have since proposed new theoretical explanations, including the possibility that the clocks on the GPS satellites used for the precise arrival-departure timing do not themselves account for relativistic motion. Other researchers have said the OPERA team must be committing some unknown and repeated systematic error. This is part of the team’s motivation for rechecking their findings, according to BBC News. CERN research leader Sergio Bertolucci said the team is sending a different time pattern, which will allow OPERA to repeat the measurement with different data. This could remove some of the possible systematic errors, he said.

Bertolucci said the experimenters would not “fool around,” given the physics-shattering implications of the results.

The new measurements will fire protons in super-short bursts (one or two nanoseconds), then wait about 500 nanoseconds before firing another burst. The short burst will allow for precise measurements and efficient neutrino monitoring, Bertolucci told BBC. Originally, the protons were fired in a long beam lasting a comparatively long 10 microseconds. This new beam run will end in November, when CERN has to switch the type of particles it is accelerating. Then the team will re-check its calculations and submit their findings for publication, BBC says.

“They actually planned to make the results public in 2015, but they traveled faster than light and came out last month,” says Associate Editor Paul.

Chinese women in space...married, of course


What a strange statement...

"We believe married women would be more physically and psychologically mature," Zhang said.

"China to Send First (Married) Female Astronauts to Space in 2012"

by

Sara Yin

October 31st, 2011

PCmag

China may be launching its first women into space next year, according to government mouthpiece, Xinhua.

The two unnamed women are around 30 years old, fighter pilots from the People's Liberation Army, and perhaps most importantly, they are married—but not to each other. In an interview last year with Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country's manned space program, the only difference in requirements set for Chinese male and female candidates was that the women be married.

"We believe married women would be more physically and psychologically mature," Zhang said.

The female astronauts, or "taikonauts" as local English journalists call them because "tai ko" means "space" in Chinese, might join seven men for a space docking mission at Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace," a space lab module being used to test docking abilities to support a larger space station complex.

"We must assess both male and female astronauts to verify if human beings can live in space as there are huge differences between men and women in spite of their common generalities," Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China, told Xinhua.

In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell said that the "personal hygiene aspects of being a woman" were especially challenging. "Suits weren't designed with us in mind," she said. "When you have to go to the bathroom, the whole flight suit has to come off. That's not cool. Also, the toilet on board the ISS was designed by the Russians and as they have very few women in their corps, it was created with men in mind. We're called upon to have a lot of fortitude in these cases. You have to make it work somehow."

NASA launched its first woman in space, Sally Ride, in 1983, on the Challenger. However Russia launched the world's first woman in space in 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, who piloted the Vostok 6.

Final Halloween treats for 2011

Trailers...

Attack of the Giant Leeches

1959

video

Attack of the Giant Leeches [Wikipedia]

Creature from the Black Lagoon

1954

video

Creature from the Black Lagoon [Wikipedia]

Doctor X

1932

video

Doctor X [Wikipedia]

Dr. Cyclops

1940


video

Dr. Cyclops [Wikipedia]

Forbidden Planet

1956

video

Forbidden Planet [Wikipedia]

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

1956

video

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Wikipedia]

Tarantula

1955

video

Tarantula [Wikipedia]

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

1953

video

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms [Wikipedia]

The Black Scorpion

1957

video

The Black Scorpion [Wikipedia]

The Blob

1958

video

The Blob [Wikipedia]


The Crawling Eye

1956

video

The Crawling Eye [Wikipedia]

The Haunting

1963

video

The Haunting [Wikipedia]

The Invisible Boy

1957

video

The Invisible Boy [Wikipedia]

The Land Unknown

1957

video

The Land Unknown [Wikipedia]

The Leech Woman

1960

video

The Leech Woman [Wikipedia]

The Mole People

1956

video

The Mole People [Wikipedia]

The Mummy's Tomb

1942

video

The Mummy's Tomb [Wikipedia]

The Time Machine

1960

video

The Time Machine [Wikipedia]

The Vampire Happening

1971

video

The Vampire Happening [Wikipedia]

BONUS...A FEATURETTE

The Prince of Terror

1972

video


Quantum computer to USC


Once all of unit's bugs are fixed, this will be a revolution in computing

"USC receives first quantum computer"

by

Rachel Bracker

October 30th, 2011

Daily Trojan

USC on Friday became the first academic institution to house an operational quantum computer system.

The D-Wave One Adiabatic Quantum Computer, the first commercially available quantum computer, will be housed at the USC Viterbi Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey.

Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis Yortsos said the research conducted on the machine will be historic.

“This is merely the first step in a much larger world,” Yortsos said.

Yortsos said the system will break new ground, much like the first commercially available computer in the United States, the Universal Automatic Computer (Univac).

“The D-Wave One Adiabatic Quantum Computer represents not merely the latest ancestor of Univac, but the next big leap — the advent of scalable quantum computing,” Yortsos said. “Truly, D-Wave Systems has created something revolutionary: a 128 qubit quantum chip that augurs the possibility of solving some of the world’s most complex optimization and machine learning problems.”

The $10-million computer was purchased by Lockheed Martin Corporation, a security and information technology company that is the largest provider of IT services, systems integration and training to the U.S. government. USC will work with Lockheed Martin to conduct research on the computer.

Lockheed Martin said in a press release that it hopes to harness the technology to solve relevant problems that are hard to address through established methods in a “cost-effective amount of time.”

Quantum computing has the potential to drastically increase the speed of computer functions. The D-Wave computer’s qubits are able to encode ones and zeros at the same time and place on the chip, whereas traditional computers can only hold one of the digits in a place at one time. Having two bits exist in the same place at the same time, a property called superposition, is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics.

The concept of superposition is often illustrated by a thought experiment Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed in 1935. In the experiment, a cat would be placed in a box that is completely unobservable from the outside, where the cat would eventually be poisoned. Because Schrödinger’s cat is alive when placed in the box but will be dead at some point when it is in the box, an observer can only assume the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Superposition in the D-Wave computer is advanced through temperature manipulation.

The D-Wave system hardware is kept at 20 microKelvin, which is near absolute zero — the coldest possible temperature in the universe. This allows metals to become superconductors by removing their electrical resistance. The system is adiabatic, meaning there is no net heat loss or gain.

Yortsos said the computer will provide a new paradigm in the quest for faster and more secure computing, as the field is in its infancy.

“It wasn’t that long ago that quantum computing was the province of intellectual wonks and theorists,” Yortsos said.

Yortsos said the system would keep USC at the forefront of technological innovations.

“From its pioneering role in the protocols of the Internet, the Domain Naming System — .com, .net, .edu — grid computing, high-performance computing, e-science and artificial intelligence, ISI has been the agent of innovation for many of the greatest breakthroughs of the past four decades,” Yortsos said. “Next year, 2012, ISI will celebrate its 40th anniversary. I am very confident that … this agent has its best innovating still to come."

Happy HALLOWEEN...2011


Untitled photo by good friend Patrick Nichols.

Incantation

by

George Parsons Lathrop

When the leaves, by thousands thinned,
A thousand times have whirled in the wind,
And the moon, with hollow cheek,
Staring from her hollow height,
Consolation seems to seek
From the dim, reechoing night;
And the fog-streaks dead and white
Lie like ghosts of lost delight
O'er highest earth and lowest sky;
Then, Autumn, work thy witchery!
Strew the ground with poppy-seeds,
And let my bed be hung with weeds,
Growing gaunt and rank and tall,
Drooping o'er me like a pall.
Send thy stealthy, white-eyed mist
Across my brow to turn and twist
Fold on fold, and leave me blind
To all save visions in the mind.
Then, in the depth of rain-fed streams
I shall slumber, and in dreams
Slide through some long glen that burns
With a crust of blood-red ferns
And brown-withered wings of brake
Like a burning lava-lake;—
So, urged to fearful, faster flow
By the awful gasp, "Hahk! hahk!" of the crow,
Shall pass by many a haunted rood
Of the nutty, odorous wood;
Or, where the hemlocks lean and loom,
Shall fill my heart with bitter gloom;
Till, lured by light, reflected cloud,
I burst aloft my watery shroud,
And upward through the ether sail
Far above the shrill wind's wail;—
But, falling thence, my soul involve
With the dust dead flowers dissolve;
And, gliding out at last to sea,
Lulled to a long tranquillity,
The perfect poise of seasons keep
With the tides that rest at neap.
So must be fulfilled the rite
That giveth me the dead year's might;
And at dawn I shall arise
A spirit, though with human eyes,
A human form and human face;
And where'er I go or stay,
There the summer's perished grace
Shall be with me, night and day.

George Parsons Lathrop [Wikipedia]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandy Wood...“StarDate" via University of Texas McDonald Observatory




"Day After Day, Her Voice Takes Listeners to the Stars"

by

Sonia Smith

October 29th, 2011

The New York Times

On a clear, cool night in the early 1960s, a father drove his young, pajama-clad daughter to one of the T-head piers on Corpus Christi Bay to marvel at an object in the sky.

The girl who peered up at the sky was Sandy Wood, and this year marked her 20th anniversary as the voice of the nationally syndicated radio program “StarDate.” Speaking in her distinctive warm and soothing tone over synthesized tinkling chimes, Ms. Wood provides a daily two-minute peek into the world of astronomy, expounding on topics as varied as newly discovered quasars and the best place to watch a meteor shower.

The show, which is heard every day by some 2.2 million listeners on more than 300 radio stations around the country, has inspired an untold number to go out to their backyards to gaze at the stars.

Some of that owes to Ms. Wood’s almost otherworldly voice. Over the years she has received many letters, a number from men who try to envision what she looks like. “Invariably they imagine me as some voluptuous brunette, very, very tall with long hair and long fingernails,” said Ms. Wood, 63. In reality, she is just shy of five feet tall. “I’m not a babe; I’m a grandma,” she added.

People also often assume from Ms. Wood’s authoritative delivery that she is an astronomer, she said. But she is not — although she describes herself as a “science addict” — and the bulk of the scripts are written by Damond Benningfield, a science journalist who has been the show’s producer since 1991. To gather material, Mr. Benningfield reads research journals, goes to conferences and interviews prominent astronomers. He tries to cover all aspects of astronomy, from the Big Bang to magnetars to how various cultures have viewed the stars through the ages.

“One of the things I love about astronomy is that there’s always something new,” Mr. Benningfield said. “With the improvements in technology in just the time I’ve been doing ‘StarDate,’ there are more big telescopes, there are more space telescopes and what people are discovering just seems to increase exponentially.”

In 1976, Deborah Byrd, a science journalist, founded the astronomy hot line that would become “StarDate.” The hot line attracted the notice of a producer at KLBJ-FM in Austin, who turned it into a radio show that was broadcast for a year under the name “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?” — a reference to the song co-written by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Starship.

“StarDate” made its nationwide debut in 1978, after Ms. Byrd secured a grant from the National Science Foundation. (Ms. Byrd left “StarDate” in 1991 and founded “EarthSky,” another successful science radio program.) Today, the show is produced by the McDonald Observatory, part of the University of Texas at Austin.

“StarDate” is “a charming little program that people appreciate,” said Sandra Preston, the assistant director for education and outreach at the observatory, who has been with the show since its beginning. Joel Block narrated the program for its first 13 years, and Ms. Preston and Mr. Benningfield selected Ms. Wood as his successor. “Her voice was very friendly and very clear,” Ms. Preston said.

Ms. Wood made her debut on Sept. 16, 1991, with a show about the Moon’s apparent proximity to Uranus and Neptune. “Tomorrow, you’ll also need a telescope to see Uranus. It will appear so close to the Moon that it will become lost in the Moon’s glare,” she said.

More than 7,300 shows later, Ms. Wood has no plans to stop. “I hope to do it until my voice completely fades out or I get too senile to read,” she said.

Ms. Wood, who was born in San Antonio and grew up in Corpus Christi, has no professional voice training. She started in radio in 1968 while studying drama at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, where her future husband had a summer job at a local AM station. The station manager, looking for a female voice, asked her to record a spot for a local department store. Impressed, he invited Ms. Wood to become a D.J.

“It was something very novel, because women were not on the air at that point pretty much at all,” Ms. Wood said. “I was one of the first female disc jockeys in the Southwest.”

In the ’70s she moved around South Texas with her husband, setting up FM stations in towns from Alice to Brownsville to Del Rio. He handled the business side while she wrote copy and recorded announcements.

Ms. Wood now lives in San Antonio and commutes to Austin twice a month to record “StarDate.” She is also the announcer for the local public television station and does one or two commercials a month.

Ms. Wood said she has a natural awe for astronomy. “I think that sometimes comes through in my delivery,” she said.

Being the voice of “StarDate” is “a great way to be anonymously, partially famous,” Ms. Wood said. Several times a year, after hearing her name, people will recognize her as the program’s narrator — but only once has a person picked her out by her voice alone.

“Of all places, I was in Las Vegas,” she said. “I was in a dress shop buying something, and someone said, ‘Gosh, your voice is familiar.’ We talked a lot, and as the conversation went on, she said, ‘Are you the woman on the radio who talks about the stars?’ ”

Radio's Guide to the Universe

StarDate

Write for them...might make a few bucks...

RADIO PROGRAM WRITER'S GUIDELINES

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"tychê"...Lisa I. Hau's take


I will have to reread several times for many years I held a different understanding of "tychê"...for me meaning a realization of personal status and accepting same.

Encyclopedia of World Biography on Polybios...

The Greek historian Polybios (ca. 203-120 BC) is considered by some the greatest ancient historian after Thucydides. His view of Roman history presumed to provide the reader with historical means for individual self-improvement.

Polybios was born in Megalopolis in Arcadia, the son of Lycortas, general and statesman of the Achaean League. Through his father Polybios became involved early in the Achaean League, which he served both as ambassador to Egypt and as cavalry commander. Polybios tried to maintain the independence of the League, although in 169 B.C. he was dispatched to aid the Romans (who declined his help) in their combat against Perseus of Macedon.

Suspected by the Romans of halfhearted support of the Roman cause, Polybios, along with a thousand others, was shipped to Rome as a hostage in 166 B.C. and remained there until he obtained permission to return to his native land in 150 B.C. While in Rome, he was admitted to the most important circle of Aemilius Paulus (who had defeated Perseus of Macedonia in 168 B.C.), who appointed him tutor of his sons Fabius and Scipio the Younger. Polybios became the very close friend of Scipio, whom he accompanied to Africa in 147-146 B.C. and elsewhere upon his return from Greece.

Polybios was present at the capitulation of Carthage in 146 B.C.; and when Corinth was destroyed by the Romans in the same year, the Achaean League crushed, and Greece turned into a Roman province, it was Polybios who was entrusted with the task of reorganizing the Greeks. Apparently he did so to the satisfaction of Greeks and Romans alike, because he was honored by both. His later years were devoted to writing his Histories. It is reported that he died as the result of a fall from his horse while in his early 80s.

His Work

Polybios was an eyewitness to the great historical events of his day, including the war against Antiochus III of Syria (192-189 B.C.), the Third Macedonian War (171-168 B.C.), the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.), and the defeat of Carthage and the conquest of Greece in 146 B.C. Polybios originally intended to write a universal history, with special emphasis on Rome's conquest of the then known world, which would conclude at 168 B.C. However, the sack of Corinth and destruction of Carthage were necessary additions.

Of Polybios's 40-book work only the first 5 books have survived. Because of the great mass of information which he covers (from 220 to 145 B.C.), Polybios is very generous with his explanatory notes. His first two books are large preludes to the main history, which does not begin until the third book. Polybios was influenced greatly by Thucydides and believed that a knowledge of history is an absolutely necessary guide to present action. His pragmatic view emphasizes the didactic element in history. For Polybios--no antiquarian--history was practical knowledge needed in present experience. Three essentials for the historian, according to Polybios, are geographical knowledge; a knowledge of practical politics, including the art of war; and the ability to collect, classify, and synthesize written sources.

Polybios lacked the artistic qualities of Herodotus or Thucydides, but he insisted on travel to the spots where history was made, closely examined written and oral evidence, invoked his own military experience and that of others, and utilized firsthand knowledge.

It was Polybios, a Greek, who illuminated the rise of the Roman Empire. He does not merely recount; he analyzes in terms of causal relations. In Polybios Greek and Roman historiography merge because the whole Mediterranean world was merging with Rome.

Abstract:

In this paper I shall begin by discussing the first of these two problems and offer a solution based on narrative rather than philosophical considerations. I shall then discuss the second problem and try to get to grips with what tychê meant for Polybios, again looking to narrative rather than philosophical theories. Finally I shall draw some conclusions about Polybios’ historiographical project and the impact of his Histories on the ancient and modern reader.

"TYCHÊ IN POLYBIOS: NARRATIVE ANSWERS TO A PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION" by Lisa I. Hau

Polybius [Wikipedia]

The Histories [Wikipedia]

Polybius: the histories, Volume 1; Volume 7

Fallen Redwood...now what?

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FORESTS


I wonder if it made a sound when it hit the ground? :)

"Giant sequoia falls, raising questions about what to do next"

The Forest Service must decide what to do with the ancient tree, which is blocking a path. Build over it? Dig under? Or do nothing at all?

by

Bettina Boxall

October 29th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Along the Sierra Nevada's famed Trail of 100 Giants, the mammoth sequoia had stood sentry since King Arthur's knights gathered at the Round Table.

It witnessed the arrival of the first European settlers and the flurry of miners in search of gold. The onset of the Medieval Warm Period and the passing of the Little Ice Age. It stood, unperturbed, through the Great War and the one that followed.

Then a month ago, as a handful of amazed tourists looked on, it toppled — crushing a bridge over a small stream and blocking the path.

Now, the U.S. Forest Service must decide what to do.

Slice a big hole in the 300-foot-long roadblock? Go around it? Over it? Under it?

When you're dealing with a 1,500-year-old sequoia in a national monument, the questions aren't just logistical. They're environmental, emotive and potentially legal.

Officials closed the popular tourist trail, cleared the debris and solicited ideas from the public on how to deal with the fallen giant — actually two trees fused at the base.

Among the 30 or so suggestions: Reroute the trail. Tunnel under the trunks. Carve steps and build a bridge over them. Sell what would be one heck of a lot of firewood.

"This has not happened in the Sequoia National Forest before," said public affairs officer Denise Alonzo, explaining the indecision.

The now-prone twins — two-thirds the height of Los Angeles City Hall — were among the bigger specimens in Long Meadow Grove, part of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. About 17 feet in diameter at their common base, the trees are middle-aged for giant sequoias, which can live 4,000 years and have the greatest mass of any living organism on Earth.

The Forest Service isn't sure why the trees hit the dirt Sept. 30, because they appeared to be healthy.

A German tourist, one of only a few people on the 1.3-mile loop trail at the time, recorded the crash on video.

"It can't be possible," Gerrit Panzner told the Visalia Times about what went through his mind when he realized the sequoias were falling.

"I wasn't afraid," said his wife, Sigrun Rakus. Her only thought was to get out of the way.

The trees may have toppled because the wet winter left the ground too soggy to hold the roots, which are relatively shallow.

"Sequoias do fall. That's how big sequoias die," said Nathan Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey. "It's never anything that I consider with alarm."

After a wet winter in 1969, he said, one of the giants fell in a picnic area of nearby Sequoia National Park and killed a woman. Over the years, there have been a couple that thudded onto trails in the park. Officials cut openings in the downed trees to allow visitors to pass through, as well as to give tourists an appreciation for their immense size.

When the Trail of 100 Giants was built several decades ago, it actually was routed around a long-fallen sequoia.

Since the Forest Service reopened the path a week ago, visitors have been climbing on the hulking trunks and treading where only birds and animals have been for more than a millennium.

"We got up there and everybody was just in awe of what was in front of them," Alonzo said. "And until the snow falls, it's open for anybody to go up and visit."

In considering its options, the Forest Service wants to keep the paved path accessible to the disabled and make sure nothing is done to damage the root systems of surrounding trees, Alonzo said.

Ara Marderosian, executive director of the environmental group Sequoia ForestKeeper, knows exactly what the Forest Service should do.

Nothing.

"I thought it was a great classroom for what nature does," said Marderosian, who submitted a three-page letter to the agency after visiting the grove. "It's quite a beautiful sight to see on the ground the way it is."


Redwoods

H. G. Well's "The Crystal Egg" adapted for "Tales of Tomorrow"


Plot [IMDb]...

A crystal egg reveals live tableaux of the planet Mars. A 19th Century scientist is obsessed with investigating the crystal, but the antique shop owner who came across the seemingly worthless glass hopes to sell it ASAP to a tall, insistent stranger, for whom no price is too dear. The delay while the scientist experiments on the egg makes the buyer even more desperate.

A reviewer wrote...

"Cambridge physics professor Thomas Mitchell (as Frederick Vaneck) is asked to examine a crystal for some London antique shopkeepers. The large egg-shaped object seems like nothing, at first sight. But later, Mr. Mitchell is entranced by the mysterious crystal, eventually seeing something he believes is the landscape of Mars. Eventually, Mitchell begins to see Martian life, neglects younger girlfriend Sally Gracie (as Georgette), and has trouble returning the egg to owner Edgar Stehli (as Charles Cave). After Mr. Stehli is killed and "The Crystal Egg" disappears, nobody will heed Mitchell's warning. It's sufficiently spooky, for the time."

The Crystal Egg

Tales of Tomorrow

1952

Staring Thomas Mitchell

video

The Crystal Egg


by

H. G. Wells

1897

There was, until a year ago, a little and very grimy-looking shop near Seven Dials over which, in weather-worn yellow lettering, the name of "C. Cave, Naturalist and Dealer in Antiquities," was inscribed. The contents of its window were curiously variegated. They comprised some elephant tusks and an imperfect set of chessmen, beads and weapons, a box of eyes, two skulls of tigers and one human, several moth-eaten stuffed monkeys (one holding a lamp), an old-fashioned cabinet, a flyblown ostrich egg or so, some fishing-tackle, and an extraordinarily dirty, empty glass fish tank. There was also, at the moment the story begins, a mass of crystal, worked into the shape of an egg and brilliantly polished. And at that two people, who stood outside the window, were looking, one of them a tall, thin clergyman, the other a black-bearded young man of dusky complexion and unobtrusive costume. The dusky young man spoke with eager gestulation, and seemed anxious for his companion to purchase the article.

While they were there, Mr. Cave came into his shop, his beard still wagging with the bread and butter of his tea. When he saw these men and the object of their regard, his countenance fell. He glanced guiltily over his shoulder, and softly shut the door. He was a little old man, with pale face and peculiar watery blue eyes; his hair was a dirty grey, and he wore a shabby blue frock-coat, an ancient silk hat, and carpet slippers very much down at heel. He remained watching the two men as they talked. The clergyman went deep into his trouser pocket, examined a handful of money, and showed his teeth in an agreeable smile. Mr. Cave seemed still more depressed when they came into the shop.

The clergyman, without any ceremony, asked the price of the crystal egg. Mr. Cave glanced nervously towards the door leading into the parlour, and said five pounds. The clergyman protested that the price was high, to his companion as well as to Mr. Cave -- it was, indeed, very much more than Mr. Cave had intended to ask, when he had stocked the article -- and an attempt at bargaining ensued. Mr. Cave stepped to the shop-door, and held it open. "Five pounds is my price," he said, as though he wished to save himself the trouble of unprofitable discussion. As he did so, the upper portion of a woman's face appeared above the blind in the glass upper panel of the door leading into the parlour, and stared curiously at the two customers. "Five pounds is my price," said Mr. Cave, with a quiver in his voice.

The swarthy young man had so far remained a spectator, watching Cave keenly. Now he spoke. "Give him five pounds," he said. The clergyman glanced at him to see if he were in earnest, and, when he looked at Mr. Cave again, he saw that the latter's face was white. "It's a lot of money," said the clergyman, and, diving into his pocket, began counting his resources. He had little more than thirty shillings, and he appealed to his companion, with whom he seemed to be on terms of considerable intimacy. This gave Mr. Cave an opportunity of collecting his thoughts, and he began to explain in an agitated manner that the crystal was not, as a matter of fact, entirely free for sale. His two customers were naturally surprised at this, and inquired why he had not thought of that before he began to bargain. Mr. Cave became confused, but he stuck to his story, that the crystal was not in the market that afternoon, that a probable purchaser of it had already appeared. The two, treating this as an attempt to raise the price still further, made as if they would leave the shop. But at this point the parlour door opened, and the owner of the dark fringe and the little eyes appeared.

She was a coarse-featured, corpulent woman, younger and very much larger than Mr. Cave; she walked heavily, and her face was flushed. "That crystal is for sale, she said. "And five pounds is a good enough price for it. I can't think what you're about, Cave, not to take the gentleman's offer!"

Mr. Cave, greatly perturbed by the irruption, looked angrily at her over the rims of his spectacles, and, without excessive assurance, asserted his right to manage his business in his own way. An altercation began. The two customers watched the scene with interest and some amusement, occasionally assisting Mrs. Cave with suggestions. Mr. Cave, hard driven, persisted in a confused and impossible story of an enquiry for the crystal that morning, and his agitation became painful. But he stuck to his point with extraordinary persistence.

It was the young Oriental who ended this curious controversy. He proposed that they should call again in the course of two days -- so as to give the alleged enquirer a fair chance. "And then we must insist," said the clergyman. "Five pounds." Mrs. Cave took it on herself to apologise for her husband, explaining that he was sometimes "a little odd," and as the two customers left, the couple prepared for a free discussion of the incident in all its bearings.

Mrs. Cave talked to her husband with singular directness. The poor little man, quivering with emotion, muddled himself between his stories, maintaining on the one hand that he had another customer in view, and on the other asserting that the crystal was honestly worth ten guineas. "Why did you ask five pounds?" said his wife. "Do let me manage my business my own way!" said Mr. Cave.

Mr. Cave had living with him a step-daughter and a step-son, and at supper that night the transaction was re-discussed. None of them had a high opinion of Mr. Cave's business methods, and this action seemed a culminating folly.

"It's my opinion he's refused that crystal before," said the step-son, a loose-limbed lout of eighteen.

"But Five Pounds!" said the step-daughter, an argumentative young woman of six-and-twenty.

Mr. Cave's answers were wretched; he could only mumble weak assertions that he knew his own business best. They drove him from his half-eaten supper into the shop, to close it for the night, his ears aflame and tears of vexation behind his spectacles. "Why had he left the crystal in the window so long? The folly of it!" That was the trouble closest in his mind. For a time he could see no way of evading sale.

After supper his step-daughter and step-son smartened themselves up and went out and his wife retired upstairs to reflect upon the business aspects of the crystal, over a little sugar and lemon and so forth in hot water. Mr. Cave went into the shop, and stayed there until late, ostensibly to make ornamental rockeries for gold-fish cases but really for a private purpose that will be better explained later. The next day Mrs. Cave found that the crystal had been removed from the window, and was lying behind some second-hand books on angling. She replaced it in a conspicuous position. But she did not argue further about it, as a nervous headache disinclined her from debate. Mr. Cave was always disinclined. The day passed disagreeably. Mr. Cave was, if anything, more absent-minded than usual, and uncommonly irritable withal. In the afternoon, when his wife was taking her customary sleep, he removed the crystal from the window again.

The next day Mr. Cave had to deliver a consignment of dog-fish at one of the hospital schools, where they were needed for dissection. In his absence Mrs. Cave's mind reverted to the topic of the crystal, and the methods of expenditure suitable to a windfall of five pounds. She had already devised some very agreeable expedients, among others a dress of green silk for herself and a trip to Richmond, when a jangling of the front door bell summoned her into the shop. The customer was an examination coach who came to complain of the non-delivery of certain frogs asked for the previous day. Mrs. Cave did not approve of this particular branch of Mr. Cave's business, and the gentleman, who had called in a somewhat aggressive mood, retired after a brief exchange of words -- entirely civil so far as he was concerned. Mrs. Cave's eye then naturally turned to the window; for the sight of the crystal was an assurance of the five pounds and of her dreams. What was her surprise to find it gone!

She went to the place behind the locker on the counter, where she had discovered it the day before. It was not there; and she immediately began an eager search about the shop.

When Mr. Cave returned from his business with the dog-fish, about a quarter to two in the afternoon, he found the shop in some confusion, and his wife, extremely exasperated and on her knees behind the counter, routing among his taxidermic material. Her face came up hot and angry over the counter, as the jangling bell announced his return, and she forthwith accused him of "hiding it."

"Hid what?" asked Mr. Cave.

"The crystal!"

At that Mr. Cave, apparently much surprised, rushed to the window. "Isn't it here?" he said. "Great Heavens! what has become of it?"

Just then, Mr. Cave's step-son re-entered the shop from the inner room -- he had come home a minute or so before Mr. Cave -- and he was blaspheming freely. He was apprenticed to a second-hand furniture dealer down the road, but he had his meals at home, and he was naturally annoyed to find no dinner ready.

But, when he heard of the loss of the crystal, he forgot his meal, and his anger was diverted from his mother to his step-father. Their first idea, of course, was that he had hidden it. But Mr. Cave stoutly denied all knowledge of its fate -- freely offering his bedabbled affidavit in the matter -- and at last was worked up to the point of accusing, first, his wife and then his step-son of having taken it with a view to a private sale. So began an exceedingly acrimonious and emotional discussion, which ended for Mrs. Cave in a peculiar nervous condition midway between hysterics and amuck, and caused the step-son to be half-an-hour late at the furniture establishment in the afternoon.

Mr. Cave took refuge from his wife's emotions in the shop.

In the evening the matter was resumed, with less passion and in a judicial spirit, under the presidency of the step-daughter. The supper passed unhappily and culminated in a painful scene. Mr. Cave gave way at last to extreme exasperation, and went out banging the front door violently. The rest of the family, having discussed him with the freedom his absence warranted, hunted the house from garret to cellar, hoping to light upon the crystal.

The next day the two customers called again. They were received by Mrs. Cave almost in tears. It transpired that no one could imagine all that she had stood from Cave at various times in her married pilgrimage. . . . She also gave a garbled account of the disappearance. The clergyman and the Oriental laughed silently at one another, and said it was very extraordinary. As Mrs. Cave seemed disposed to give them the complete history of her life they made to leave the shop. Thereupon Mrs. Cave, still clinging to hope, asked for the clergyman's address, so that, if she could get anything out of Cave, she might communicate it. The address was duly given, but apparently was afterwards mislaid. Mrs. Cave can remember nothing about it.

In the evening of that day, the Caves seem to have exhausted their emotions, and Mr. Cave, who had been out in the afternoon, supped in a gloomy isolation that contrasted pleasantly with the impassioned controversy of the previous days. For some time matters were very badly strained in the Cave household, but neither crystal nor customer reappeared.

Now, without mincing the matter, we must admit that Mr. Cave was a liar. He knew perfectly well where the crystal was. It was in the rooms of Mr. Jacoby Wace, Assistant Demonstrator at St. Catherine's Hospital, Westbourne Street. It stood on the sideboard partially covered by a black velvet cloth, and beside a decanter of American whisky. It is from Mr. Wace, indeed, that the particulars upon which this narrative is based were derived. Cave had taken off the thing to the hospital hidden in the dog-fish sack, and there had pressed the young investigator to keep it for him. Mr. Wace was a little dubious at first. His relationship to Cave was peculiar. He had a taste for singular characters, and he had more than once invited the old man to smoke and drink in his rooms, and to unfold his rather amusing views of life in general and of his wife in particular. Mr. Wace had encountered Mrs. Cave, too, on occasions when Mr. Cave was not at home to attend to him. He knew the constant interference to which Cave was subjected, and having weighed the story judicially, he decided to give the crystal a refuge. Mr. Cave promised to explain the reasons for his remarkable affection for the crystal more fully on a later occasion, but he spoke distinctly of seeing visions therein. He called on Mr. Wace the same evening.

He told a complicated story. The crystal he said had come into his possession with other oddments at the forced sale of another curiosity dealer's effects, and not knowing what its value might be, he had ticketed it at ten shillings. It had hung upon his hands at that price for some months, and he was thinking of "reducing the figure," when he made a singular discovery.

At that time his health was very bad -- and it must be borne in mind that, throughout all this experience, his physical condition was one of ebb -- and he was in considerable distress by reason of the negligence, the positive ill-treatment even, he received from his wife and step-children. His wife was vain, extravagant, unfeeling and had a growing taste for private drinking; his step-daughter was mean and over-reaching; and his step-son had conceived a violent dislike for him, and lost no chance of showing it. The requirements of his business pressed heavily upon him, and Mr. Wace does not think that he was altogether free from occasional intemperance. He had begun life in a comfortable position, he was a man of fair education, and he suffered, for weeks at a stretch, from melancholia and insomnia. Afraid to disturb his family, he would slip quietly from his wife's side, when his thoughts became intolerable, and wander about the house. And about three o'clock one morning, late in August, chance directed him into the shop.

The dirty little place was impenetrably black except in one spot, where he perceived an unusual glow of light. Approaching this, he discovered it to be the crystal egg, which was standing on the corner of the counter towards the window. A thin ray smote through a crack in the shutters, impinged upon the object, and seemed as it were to fill its entire interior.

It occurred to Mr. Cave that this was not in accordance with the laws of optics as he had known them in his younger days. He could understand the rays being refracted by the crystal and coming to a focus in its interior, but this diffusion jarred with his physical conceptions. He approached the crystal nearly, peering into it and round it, with a transient revival of the scientific curiosity that in his youth had determined his choice of a calling. He was surprised to find the light not steady, but writhing within the substance of the egg, as though that object was a hollow sphere of some luminous vapour. In moving about to get different points of view, he suddenly found that he had come between it and the ray, and that the crystal none the less remained luminous. Greatly astonished, he lifted it out of the light ray and carried it to the darkest part of the shop. It remained bright for some four or five minutes, when it slowly faded and went out. He placed it in the thin streak of daylight, and its luminousness was almost immediately restored.

So far, at least, Mr. Wace was able to verify the remarkable story of Mr. Cave. He has himself repeatedly held this crystal in a ray of light (which had to be of a less diameter than one millimetre). And in a perfect darkness, such as could be produced by velvet wrapping, the crystal did undoubtedly appear very faintly phosphorescent. It would seem, however, that the luminousness was of some exceptional sort, and not equally visible to all eyes; for 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. And Mr. Wace's own capacity for its appreciation was out of comparison inferior to that of Mr. Cave's. Even with Mr. Cave the power varied very considerably: his vision was most vivid during states of extreme weakness and fatigue.

Now, from the outset this light in the crystal exercised a curious fascination upon Mr. Cave. And it says more for his loneliness of soul than a volume of pathetic writing could do, that he told no human being of his curious observations. He seems to have been living in such an atmosphere of petty spite that to admit the existence of a pleasure would have been to risk the loss of it. He found that as the dawn advanced, and the amount of diffused light increased, the crystal became to all appearance non-luminous. And for some time he was unable to see anything in it, except at night-time, in dark corners of the shop.

But the use of an old velvet cloth, which he used as a background for a collection of minerals, occurred to him, and by doubling this, and putting it over his head and hands, he was able to get a sight of the luminous movement within the crystal even in the day-time. He was very cautious lest he should be thus discovered by his wife, and he practised this occupation only in the afternoons, while she was asleep upstairs, and then circumspectly in a hollow under the counter. And one day, turning the crystal about in his hands, he saw something. It came and went like a flash, but it gave him the impression that the object had for a moment opened to him the view of a wide and spacious and strange country; and, turning it about, he did, just as the light faded, see the same vision again.

Now, it would be tedious and unnecessary to state all the phases of Mr. Cave's discovery from this point. Suffice that the effect was this: the crystal, being peered into at an angle of about 137 degrees from the direction of the illuminating ray, gave a clear and consistent picture of a wide and peculiar country-side. It was not dream-like at all: it produced a definite impression of reality, and the better the light the more real and solid it seemed. It was a moving picture: that is to say, certain objects moved in it, but slowly in an orderly manner like real things, and, according as the direction of the lighting and vision changed, the picture changed also. It must, indeed, have been like looking through an oval glass at a view, and turning the glass about to get at different aspects.

Mr. Cave's statements, Mr. Wace assures me, were extremely circumstantial, and entirely free from any of that emotional quality that taints hallucinatory impressions. But it must be remembered that all the efforts of Mr. Wace to see any similar clarity in the faint opalescence of the crystal were wholly unsuccessful, try as he would. The difference in intensity of the impressions received by the two men was very great, and it is quite conceivable that what was a view to Mr. Cave was a mere blurred nebulosity to Mr. Wace.

The view, as Mr. Cave described it, was invariably of an extensive plain, and he seemed always to be looking at it from a considerable height, as if from a tower or a mast. To the east and to the west the plain was bounded at a remote distance by vast reddish cliffs, which reminded him of those he had seen in some picture; but what the picture was Mr. Wace was unable to ascertain. These cliffs passed north and south -- he could tell the points of the compass by the stars that were visible of a night -- receding in an almost illimitable perspective and fading into the mists of the distance before they met. He was nearer the eastern set of cliffs, on the occasion of his first vision the sun was rising over them, and black against the sunlight and pale against their shadow appeared a multitude of soaring forms that Mr. Cave regarded as birds. A vast range of buildings spread below him; he seemed to be looking down upon them; and, as they approached the blurred and refracted edge of the picture, they became indistinct. There were also trees curious in shape, and in colouring, a deep mossy green and an exquisite grey, beside a wide and shining canal. And something great and brilliantly coloured flew across the picture. But the first time Mr. Cave saw these pictures he saw only in flashes, his hands shook, his head moved, the vision came and went, and grew foggy and indistinct. And at first he had the greatest difficulty in finding the picture again once the direction of it was lost.

His next clear vision, which came about a week after the first, the interval having yielded nothing but tantalising glimpses and some useful experience, showed him the view down the length of the valley. The view was different, but he had a curious persuasion, which his subsequent observations abundantly confirmed, that he was regarding this strange world from exactly the same spot, although he was looking in a different direction. The long facade of the great building, whose roof he had looked down upon before, was now receding in perspective. He recognised the roof. In the front of the facade was a terrace of massive proportions and extraordinary length, and down the middle of the terrace, at certain intervals, stood huge but very graceful masts, bearing small shiny objects which reflected the setting sun. The import of these small objects did not occur to Mr. Cave until some time after, as he was describing the scene to Mr. Wace. The terrace overhung a thicket of the most luxuriant and graceful vegetation, and beyond this was a wide grassy lawn on which certain broad creatures, in form like beetles but enormously larger, reposed. Beyond this again was a richly decorated causeway of pinkish stone; and beyond that, and lined with dense red weeds, and passing up the valley exactly parallel with the distant cliffs, was a broad and mirror-like expanse of water. The air seemed full of squadrons of great birds, manoeuvring in stately curves; and across the river was a multitude of splendid buildings, richly coloured and glittering with metallic tracery and facets, among a forest of moss-like and lichenous trees. And suddenly something flapped repeatedly across the vision, like the fluttering of a jewelled fan or the beating of a wing, and a face, or rather the upper part of a face with very large eyes, came as it were close to his own and as if on the other side of the crystal. Mr. Cave was so startled and so impressed by the absolute reality of these eyes, that he drew his head back from the crystal to look behind it. He had become so absorbed in watching that he was quite surprised to find himself in the cool darkness of his little shop, with its familiar odour of methyl, mustiness, and decay. And, as he blinked about him, the glowing crystal faded, and went out.

Such were the first general impressions of Mr. Cave. The story is curiously direct and circumstantial. From the outset, when the valley first flashed momentarily on his senses, his imagination was strangely affected, and, as he began to appreciate the details of the scene he saw, his wonder rose to the point of a passion. He went about his business listless and distraught, thinking only of the time when he should be able to return to his watching. And then a few weeks after his first sight of the valley came the two customers, the stress and excitement of their offer, and the narrow escape of the crystal from sale, as I have already told.

Now, while the thing was Mr. Cave's secret, it remained a mere wonder, a thing to creep to covertly and peep at, as a child might peep upon a forbidden garden. But Mr. Wace has, for a young scientific investigator, a particularly lucid and consecutive habit of mind. Directly the crystal and its story came to him, and he had satisfied himself, by seeing the phosphorescence with his own eyes, that there really was a certain evidence for Mr. Cave's statements, he proceeded to develop the matter systematically. Mr. Cave was only too eager to come and feast his eyes on this wonderland he saw, and he came every night from half-past eight until half-past ten, and sometimes, in Mr. Wace's absence, during the day. On Sunday afternoons, also, he came. From the outset Mr. Wace made copious notes, and it was due to his scientific method that the relation between the direction from which the initiating ray entered the crystal and the orientation of the picture were proved. And, by covering the crystal in a box perforated only with a small aperture to admit the exciting ray, and by substituting black holland for his buff blinds, he greatly improved the conditions of the observations; so that in a little while they were able to survey the valley in any direction they desired.

So having cleared the way, we may give a brief account of this visionary world within the crystal. The things were in all cases seen by Mr. Cave, and the method of working was invariably for him to watch the crystal and report what he saw, while Mr. Wace (who as a science student had learnt the trick of writing in the dark) wrote a brief note of his report. When the crystal faded, it was put into its box in the proper position and the electric light turned on. Mr. Wace asked questions, and suggested observations to clear up difficult points. Nothing, indeed, could have been less visionary and more matter-of-fact.

The attention of Mr. Cave had been speedily directed to the bird-like creatures he had seen so abundantly present in each of his earlier visions. His first impression was soon corrected, and he considered for a time that they might represent a diurnal species of bat. Then he thought, grotesquely enough, that they might be cherubs. Their heads were round, and curiously human, and it was the eyes of one of them that had so startled him on his second observation. They had broad, silvery wings, not feathered, but glistening almost as brilliantly as new-killed fish and with the same subtle play of colour, and these wings were not built on the plan of a bird-wing or bat, Mr. Wace learned, but supported by curved ribs radiating from the body. (A sort of butterfly wing with curved ribs seems best to express their appearance.) The body was small, but fitted with two bunches of prehensile organs, like long tentacles, immediately under the mouth. Incredible as it appeared to Mr. Wace, the persuasion at last became irresistible, that it was these creatures which owned the great quasi-human buildings and the magnificent garden that made the broad valley so splendid. And Mr. Cave perceived that the buildings, with other peculiarities, had no doors, but that the great circular windows, which opened freely, gave the creatures egress and entrance. They would alight upon their tentacles, fold their wings to a smallness almost rod-like, and hop into the interior. But among them was a multitude of smaller-winged creatures, like great dragon-flies and moths and flying beetles, and across the greensward brilliantly-coloured gigantic ground-beetles crawled lazily to and fro. Moreover, on the causeways and terraces, large-headed creatures similar to the greater winged flies, but wingless, were visible, hopping busily upon their hand-like tangle of tentacles.

Allusion has already been made to the glittering objects upon masts that stood upon the terrace of the nearer building. It dawned upon Mr. Cave, after regarding one of these masts very fixedly on one particularly vivid day, that the glittering object there was a crystal exactly like that into which he peered. And a still more careful scrutiny convinced him that each one in a vista of nearly twenty carried a similar object.

Occasionally one of the large flying creatures would flutter up to one, and, folding its wings and coiling a number of its tentacles about the mast, would regard the crystal fixedly for a space, -- sometimes for as long as fifteen minutes. And a series of observations, made at the suggestion of Mr. Wace, convinced both watchers that, so far as this visionary world was concerned, the crystal into which they peered actually stood at the summit of the end-most mast on the terrace, and that on one occasion at least one of these inhabitants of this other world had looked into Mr. Cave's face while he was making these observations.

So much for the essential facts of this very singular story. 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. . . .

And where was this other world? On this, also, the alert intelligence of Mr. Wace speedily threw light. After sunset, the sky darkened rapidly -- there was a very brief twilight interval indeed -- and the stars shone out. They were recognisably the same as those we see, arranged in the same constellations. Mr. Cave recognised the Bear, the Pleiades, Aldebaran, and Sirius: so that the other world must be somewhere in the solar system, and, at the utmost, only a few hundreds of millions of miles from our own. Following up this clue, Mr. Wace learned that the midnight sky was a darker blue even than our midwinter sky, and that the sun seemed a little smaller. And there were two small moons! "like our moon but smaller, and quite differently marked" one of which moved so rapidly that its motion was clearly visible as one regarded it. These moons were never high in the sky, but vanished as they rose: that is, every time they revolved they were eclipsed because they were so near their primary planet. And all this answers quite completely, although. Mr. Cave did not know it, to what must be the condition of things on Mars.

Indeed, it seems an exceedingly plausible conclusion that peering into this crystal Mr. Cave did actually see the planet Mars and its inhabitants. And, if that be the case, then the evening star that shone so brilliantly in the sky of that distant vision, was neither more nor less than our own familiar earth.

For a time the Martians -- if they were Martians -- do not seem to have known of Mr. Cave's inspection. Once or twice one would come to peer, and go away very shortly to some other mast, as though the vision was unsatisfactory. During this time Mr. Cave was able to watch the proceedings of these winged people without being disturbed by their attentions, and, although his report is necessarily vague and fragmentary, it is nevertheless very suggestive. Imagine the impression of humanity a Martian observer would get who, after a difficult process of preparation and with considerable fatigue to the eyes, was able to peer at London from the steeple of St. Martin's Church for stretches, at longest, of four minutes at a time. Mr. Cave was unable to ascertain if the winged Martians were the same as the Martians who hopped about the causeways and terraces, and if the latter could put on wings at will. He several times saw certain clumsy bipeds, dimly suggestive of apes, white and partially translucent, feeding among certain of the lichenous trees, and once some of these fled before one of the hopping, round-headed Martians. The latter caught one in its tentacles, and then the picture faded suddenly and left Mr. Cave most tantalisingly in the dark. On another occasion a vast thing, that Mr. Cave thought at first was some gigantic insect, appeared advancing along the causeway beside the canal with extraordinary rapidity. As this drew nearer Mr. Cave perceived that it was a mechanism of shining metals and of extraordinary complexity. And then, when he looked again, it had passed out of sight.

After a time Mr. Wace aspired to attract the attention of the Martians, and the next time that the strange eyes of one of them appeared close to the crystal Mr. Cave cried out and sprang away, and they immediately turned on the light and began to gesticulate in a manner suggestive of signalling. But when at last Mr. Cave examined the crystal again the Martian had departed.

Thus far these observations had progressed in early November, and then Mr. Cave, feeling that the suspicions of his family about the crystal were allayed, began to take it to and fro with him in order that, as occasion arose in the daytime or night, he might comfort himself with what was fast becoming the most real thing in his existence.

In December Mr. Wace's work in connection with a forthcoming examination became heavy, the sittings were reluctantly suspended for a week, and for ten or eleven days -- he is not quite sure which -- he saw nothing of Cave. He then grew anxious to resume these investigations, and, the stress of his seasonal labours being abated, he went down to Seven Dials. At the corner he noticed a shutter before a bird fancier's window, and then another at a cobbler's. Mr. Cave's shop was closed.

He rapped and the door was opened by the step-son in black. He at once called Mrs. Cave, who was, Mr. Wace could not but observe, in cheap but ample widow's weeds of the most imposing pattern. Without any very great surprise Mr. Wace learnt that Cave was dead and already buried. She was in tears, and her voice was a little thick. She had just returned from Highgate. Her mind seemed occupied with her own prospects and the honourable details of the obsequies, but Mr. Wace was at last able to learn the particulars of Cave's death. He had been found dead in his shop in the early morning, the day after his last visit to Mr. Wace, and the crystal had been clasped in his stone-cold hands. His face was smiling, said Mrs. Cave, and the velvet cloth from the minerals lay on the floor at his feet. He must have been dead five or six hours when he was found.

This came as a great shock to Wace, and he began to reproach ho,self bitterly for having neglected the plain symptoms of the old man's ill-health. But his chief thought was of the crystal. He approached that topic in a gingerly manner, because he knew Mrs. Cave's peculiarities. He was dumbfoundered to learn that it was sold.

Mrs. Cave's first impulse, directly Cave's body had been taken upstairs, had been to write to the mad clergyman who had offered five pounds for the crystal, informing him of its recovery; but after a violent hunt in which her daughter joined her, they were convinced
of the loss of his address. As they were without the means required to mourn and bury Cave in the elaborate style the dignity of an old Seven Dials inhabitant demands, they had appealed to a friendly fellow-tradesman in Great Portland Street. He had very kindly taken over a portion of the stock at a valuation. The valuation was his own and the crystal egg was included in one of the lots. Mr. Wace, after a few suitable consolatory observations, a little offhandedly proffered perhaps, hurried at once to Great Portland Street. But there he learned that the crystal egg had already been sold to a tall, dark man in grey. And there the material facts in this curious, and to me at least very suggestive, story come abruptly to an end. The Great Portland Street dealer did not know who the tall dark man in grey was, nor had he observed him with sufficient attention to describe him minutely. He did not even know which way this person had gone after leaving the shop. For a time Mr. Wace remained in the shop, trying the dealer's patience with hopeless questions, venting his own exasperation. And at last, realising abruptly that the whole thing had passed out of his hands, had vanished like a vision of the night, he returned to his own rooms, a little astonished to find the notes he had made still tangible and visible upon his untidy table.

His annoyance and disappointment were naturally very great. He made a second call (equally ineffectual) upon the Great Portland Street dealer, and he resorted to advertisements in such periodicals as were likely to come into the hands of a bric-a-brac collector. He also wrote letters to The Daily Chronicle and Nature, but both those periodicals, suspecting a hoax, asked him to reconsider his action before they printed, and he was advised that such a strange story, unfortunately so bare of supporting evidence, might imperil his reputation as an investigator. Moreover, the calls of his proper work were urgent. So that after a month or so, save for an occasional reminder to certain dealers, he had reluctantly to abandon the quest for the crystal egg, and from that day to this it remains undiscovered. Occasionally, however, he tells me, and I can quite believe him, he has bursts of zeal, in which he abandons his more urgent occupation and resumes the search.

Whether or not it will remain lost for ever, with the material and origin of it, are things equally speculative at the present time. If the present purchaser is a collector, one would have expected the enquiries of Mr. Wace to have readied him through the dealers. He has been able to discover Mr. Cave's clergyman and "Oriental" -- no other than the Rev. James Parker and the young Prince of Bosso-Kuni in Java. I am obliged to them for certain particulars. The object of the Prince was simply curiosity -- and extravagance. He was so eager to buy, because Cave was so oddly reluctant to sell. It is just as possible that the buyer in the second instance was simply a casual purchaser and not a collector at all, and the crystal egg, for all I know, may at the present moment be within a mile of me, decorating a drawing-room or serving as a paper-weight -- its remarkable functions all unknown. Indeed, it is partly with the idea of such a possibility that I have thrown this narrative into a form that will give it a chance of being read by the ordinary consumer of fiction.

My own ideas in the matter are practically identical with those of Mr. Wace. I believe the crystal on the mast in Mars and the crystal egg of Mr. Cave's to be in some physical, but at present quite inexplicable, way en rapport, and we both believe further that the terrestrial crystal must have been -- possibly at some remote date -- sent hither from that planet, in order to give the Martians a near view of our affairs. Possibly the fellows to the crystals in the other masts are also on our globe. No theory of hallucination suffices for the facts.