Meteors may contain strange and valuable elements. It is the exploration for such things that our author has used as a basis for his aviation story of outer space.
High up, on the top floor of a hundred-story building sat a man at a desk. Before him was an array of dials, a system of switches and intricate electrical appliances. Several hundred glass bulbs of various sizes flashed on and off intermittently in the wall over his desk. Fitting over the top of his head and around his ears was a shining, silver cap with a wire leading from the top to the apparatus before him. He was one of the world?s interplanetary radio operators of the twenty-sixth century, sending and receiving daily messages between Mars and the Earth.
One of the largest glass bulbs suddenly shot into brilliance, and with a fierce crackling, an electric spark closed the gap between two metal cylinders, which paralleled one another about a foot apart. At the same time, the operator leaned forward, and with practiced hand, quickly manipulated several of the dials to various points, after which he threw one of the switches into place. A low droning sound filled the room, and a large cylinder upon which was rolled a continuous sheet of thin aluminum began to slowly revolve. As the brilliant blue-white flare in the glass bulb died away, the droning noise turned to a high keyed whine which broke off abruptly. The cylinder stopped while the multitude of tiny glass bulbs again glowed separately at intervals, as they had been doing just before the message had come in.
The operator shoved a lever at his side, and a small roller cut across the large cylinder, releasing a sheet of the thin aluminum which fell on to the desk before him. Cut through its thin metal texture was the message from Mars in the three universal languages of the Earth. The radio operator now turned his attention to a smooth plate which rested in the shape of a semi-circle about two feet long and half as wide. On the flat side of the thick composition plate, a black screen arose several feet in a vertical plane at a right angle to the plate, so that the screen faced the operator. Placing the aluminum sheet upon the plate, the operator threw another switch, simultaneously pressing a button marked ?Meteorological Bureau." The screen suddenly glowed, throwing an series of orange-hued rays on a slant down upon the plate bearing the narrow sheet of aluminum which grew indistinct, finally fading, until it disappeared from sight. The radio man threw back the switch once more and the screen grew black again. The plate was now as empty and bare as before he had laid the message upon its surface.
In the Meteorological Bureau, two thousand miles away, the officials read the message from the aluminum sheet which had been transmitted by radio. One of them, an elderly man, walked over to the end of the room, the wall of which was bordered into a squared shape by panels. The color of the wall inside the dark paneling was a dull gray. He advanced to a round, metal, inlaid section of the floor. As soon as his feet came in contact with the metal, a picture suddenly flashed upon the surface of the wall, and the sounds of exclamations and loud laughter broke in upon his cars. The elderly scientist was looking into a comfortable room fitted up with lounges and easy chairs. Four young men were the sole occupants, being engaged in a game at one of the tables in the room.
The game ceased as the four came to sudden attention, facing their superior who now spoke.