Was Jules Verne A Prophet?
By Jan Lamprecht <>
There is a very strange dimension to works of science fiction which has never been properly explored.
What are we to make of instances where someone writes a work of obvious fiction only to discover that some of the fictional facts therein are later proven to be true?
For example, in 1898 Morgan Robertson published a novel called "The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility." It described how a transatlantic luxury liner called the "Titan" sank on its maiden voyage even though it was reputed to be "unsinkable." In the novel the Titan struck an iceberg and sank with a great loss of life. Doesn't that story sound familiar?
The similarities between the fictional Titan of 1898 and the Titanic of 1912 are stunning as the table below shows:-
		              Titan		 Titanic
Month of wreck		  April		 April
Passengers & crew	  3,000		 2,207
Lifeboats		     24		    20
Tonnage	           75,000	    66,000
Length			     800 ft	    882.5 ft
Propellers		     3		    3
Speed at impact	  25 knots	 23 knots
How do we explain this? Perhaps some authors do good research, and make excellent educated guesses while also having a bit of luck to boot? Another possibility may be that some authors, while searching for inspiration, are either consciously or even unconsciously, able to tap into psychic realms and to write about things which will happen in the future.
A more subtle question is whether these authors know that they are psychic, but in order to save themselves from being denigrated by others, they hide their psychic abilities in works of "obvious fiction" while privately knowing that there is more realism in their books than anyone (at the time) would care to believe.
Consider for example the case of Gulliver's Travels which is clearly a work of complete fiction about the existence of tiny people as well as giants. The places mentioned in Gulliver's travels do not exist - or do they?
Mars has two small moons orbiting it. They were officially discovered in August 1877 by the U.S. Naval observatory.
In Gulliver's Travels, which was published in 1726, in Chapter III, we find this strange paragraph: "They have likewise discovered two lesser stars or satellites, which revolve about Mars; whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary planet exactly three of its diameters and the outermost, five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half."
Jonathan Swift wrote the above 150 years before the Martian moons were discovered, The actual facts regarding the Martian moons are as follows: a) The innermost one, Phobos is at 5,800 miles from Mars as opposed to 12,300 miles (3 diameters) as Swift said. b) The outermost one, Deimos, is at 14,600 miles from Mars as opposed to 20,500 miles (5 diameters). c) Phobos orbits around Mars in 7.2 hours compared to the 10 hours which Swift wrote of. d) Deimos orbits around Mars in 33.6 hours compared to his prediction of 21.5 hours.
Nevertheless, Swift's statements are quite remarkable if you will consider that these were made 150 years before astronomers confirmed the existence of these two satellites. The problem with the Martian moons is that they are extremely small, and that is why they were hidden from astronomers for so long. The telescopes in Swift's day were just too primitive to be able to spot these little Martian moons - so how did Swift know they existed?
Firstly, there is no known way of inferring beforehand how many satellites a planet should have. So the mere guess that Mars had two is of itself quite amazing since the number of moons a planet may have will vary from none to a dozen or more.
Secondly, the various measurements given above are not all that far out. There is no rule which science knows of to predict the distance of satellites from a planet by theory alone. The orbital times given are nothing short of staggering. Phobos orbits in 7.2 hours compared with the 10 hours which Swift wrote of. The time for Deimos's orbit is also not that bad. If you will consider the distances, then note that he predicted that the innermost one would be at a distance of 12,300 miles - which is very close to the distance of Deimos (the outermost), which orbits at 14,600 miles! His biggest error therefore lies in his prediction of the distance of Phobos.
Nevertheless, this is completely amazing and has been the subject of quite a bit of scientific scrutiny in years past. Nobody can adequately explain the accuracy of Swift's statements. Some have suggested that maybe Swift was psychic.
It has been noted that the book "Empire of China", in 1737 mentioned that Mars had satellites. The information for this book came from a Jesuit missionary who had lived in China. But whether Swift ever had access to this book or information for it is somewhat doubtful. But even if he did, there is another problem. The Chinese didn't have astronomical telescopes at that time or even before then, so how did they know that Mars had two moons? Chinese astronomy consisted completely of naked-eye observations.
Not all knowledge or speculation was accurate either. For example, in 1744, a booklet was published by E. C. Kindermanns stating that Mars had a single satellite with a diameter of 1,600 miles. This figure is completely wrong since Phobos and Deimos are no more than 20 miles in diameter. So we must still wonder at how Swift managed to get his information so close to the real facts.
One possibility is that Swift obtained some educated guesses from an astute astronomer and then applied some knowledge of gravity and of Keplers laws of planetary motion to arrive at his conclusions. This is still highly unlikely because of the extremely small size of the Martian moons and the backwardness of the telescopes of the day.
Voltaire, another satirist, mentioned in Chapter 3 of his "Micromegas" in 1752, that Mars had two moons. What makes Voltaire's statement even more interesting is that in his book he claimed that the fictional SPACE TRAVELLERS in his book had seen this! Was he just copying from Swift or was this another lucky guess?
There are more questions than answers in this area.
Probably the greatest science fiction writer of the past was Jules Verne. He wrote about people travelling to the Moon. He wrote "20,000 leagues under the sea" which was all about submarines and undersea cities. But his most famous book was "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" which was all about the Hollow Earth. Not many people realise that this book was actually based on the ideas of the Scottish physicist Sir John Leslie who believed the Earth was hollow.
Some years ago, Dennis Crenshaw, author of "The Hollow Earth Insider" wrote a most interesting piece about Jules Verne possibly being a prophet of some kind. Apparently an unpublished manuscript written by Verne had been discovered in France. This manuscript was all about the future of France. It described many things about the France of the future which was different to the France of Verne's day. It mentioned there being lots of foreigners in France, and it generally described France in rather dismal terms. Apparently it was this negative view of the future which caused them not to publish this manuscript. And yet, the France of today is very much like the France which Verne described.
If one looks at everything Verne wrote then we notice that all of it has come true, except for "Journey to the Centre of the Earth."
For example, submarines are commonplace. Although we don't have undersea cities yet, they will probably still come. The science to build them is already there. The only reason this has not yet been done is because there is no pressing need for them yet. But this could still happen.
More prophetic was his writing of a journey to the Moon. It has been noted that there are a great number of similarities between the Moon trip he described and that which was actually took place in 1969. He even got the speeds and times relatively close to the actual times taken. Quite a bit has been written about the similarities between his science fiction and the actual events.
This brings us to "Journey to the Centre of the Earth." This is, to my knowledge, the only work by Jules Verne which has never come true. Yet, quite a lot of what Verne wrote might actually be true. For example, in Chapter 14 of Hollow Planets, I mentioned Lake monsters, such as the Loch Ness monster. I pointed out that real scientists, like Prof Roy Mackal, had actually been within a few feet of this creature. Various evidence exists to show that this creature is a plesiosaur - a remnant of the dinosaur age. But why are these creatures never caught? I went on to suggest that a herd of such creatures may exist in subteranean caverns and lakes and that they have several underground feeding places. From time to time one or more of these creatures may wander out into Loch Ness for a time before returning to their normal habitat.
This idea is very consistent with the facts. At times, one, two or more of these creatures have been seen on sonar in Loch Ness. At other times the entire Loch has been scoured and not a single animal could be found. The secret would be to find the underwater passageway through which they enter and exit.
I found various evidence to suggest that Verne's ideas of underground lakes and perhaps even oceans is quite possible. So we may already have the beginnings of the evidence which will show that Verne's writings are more prophetic than we may at first appreciate.
It makes me wonder whether, in the next century or so we might see him being proven correct once more. If so, it would be completely uncanny. I can't help wondering if Verne was psychic, but perhaps, to prevent himself from being ridiculed, maybe he wrote everything as science fiction. It would indeed have been a wise course of action.

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