a Modern Columbus...

Chapter Three 


Returning to the 1927-28 quest of the pilgrim to whom the chapter title refers (and as press accounts of that time described him), we can review his lonely pilgrimage from the cardinal's Brighton mansion. Along a lonely homeward course and in the disturbed vigil of ensuing months and years, he was taunted by the cardinal's parting words: "If it is so, the world will know it." Silently, but no less firmly, he answered their thudding echo: "Yes, my cardinal; it is so. And, by God, the world will know of it through my telling. For I will tell, though Earth and Hell oppose me." 

He could not then foresee that the combined forces of life would weave the pattern of his movements so that he must tell even though it beggar him of all worldly values and leave him outcast in the eves of men. He was not to be consulted by the force that relentlessly drove him forward. 

And if he tried to escape the burden of responsibility, as try he did at times, he was mercilessly scourged by the mean expressions of "man's inhumanity to man" in fitting compensation for his periodic forlorn attempts to abandon his endowment. 

There were none in whom a dreamer so endowed could confide. Alone, he was compelled to chart the forsaken pilgrimage leading to his avowed goal of universal dissemination of his work and its ultimate confirmation. Where would he go? To whom could he and would he divulge the devastating secrets culled from the hidden depths beyond accepted standards of perception? 

In any really determined quest for light, a beacon, be it ever so feeble, throws its ray to guide the seeker's course. Hence, there was brought to that early pilgrim the name of one who, though serving the interests of the traditional and the entrenched, was by no means lacking In perception. To him. In the District of Columbia, the quest was conducted. 

Arriving at the.national capital, the pilgrim hastened to the offices of Science Service, where he met with one of the few open-minded men of science. With such open-mindedness he was able to perceive beyond the established pattern of cosmological values. Dr. Edwin E. Slosson, then the fearless Director of the Science Service, patiently listened to a dramatic recital without parallel which described how one might journey straight ahead from the supposed Earth "ends" to arrive at celestial land areas, how movement up is always relative, and apparent "up" points of the Universe would be attained by moving straight ahead in a manner comparable to the western sailing of Christopher Columbus to go to the East. Dr. Slosson was not an astronomer, nor was he afraid of space phantoms. However, though he fully grasped the import of sensational disclosures, he was obliged to counsel, "Giannini, you will not find ten open-minded men of science throughout this entire country.'' 

Despite such sincere counsel, ten men of tolerance were thereafter ardently sought. It mattered little to the pilgrim whether they bore the Label of "scientist" or something else.

If they existed and could assist in the cause, they should be found. Zeal born of relentless obsession would tolerate no cessation of the quest, which was expected to develop the means for adequate disclosure and ultimate confirmation of perception's extraordinary findings. He realized at an early date in the pilgrimage that expensive stratosphere ascent and elaborately equipped expeditions beyond the North Pole and the South Pole would be required for essential confirmation of his disclosures. And with such realization he was painfully aware that he was a dismal pauper, according to this world's standard of values. He had no way of knowing then that his utmost wish would be gratified through the physical initiative of others who would see to it that confirmation would be developed. The required stratosphere ascent and expeditions would be made. 

Though he would have willingly risked his life in a pioneering stratosphere ascension to procure proof and in a dangerous journey to land he knew continued beyond the North Pole and the South Pole, his earnest appeals for adequate financing of such projects fell upon deaf ears. 

Never relinquishing the idea of immediate physical confirmation of his disclosures and the manner of its attainment, he Journeyed to California, where, at the California Institute of Technology, he met that institution's president, Dr. Robert Andrews Millikan. He believed that Dr. Millikan, who had then recently accomplished isolation of an electron and was acclaimed the world's outstanding physicist, would be endowed with the open-mindedness necessary for a program developing confirmation of the extraordinary disclosures. 

The famous physicist graciously afforded the hearing that presented pertinent features of the original treatise, Physical Continuum, also known as The Giannini Concept There was no doubt concerning Dr. Millikan's interest. Yet his counsel and only contribution to the cause was expressed in the following: "Giannini, it is your work, and only you can give it, Since words cannot confirm you, words cannot deny you. My best wishes for your success." His words, in that remote summer of 1928, were certainly friendly and well-intended; but to the lonely and unaided pilgrim they held a dismal echo of the preceding summer's dictum from the cardinal's mansion: If It is so, the world will know of it." If it is so, the world will know of it." "Giannini, you will not find ten open-minded men of science in this entire country." "Giannini, it is your work, and only you can give it". In his youthful enthusiasm, he became scornful of the lack of constructive initiative from arbiters of the established order of things scientific. 

Throughout the weary pilgrimage of years, a thousand and one clutching tentacles of despair sought throttling hold upon his spirit Alone, with the soothing balm of Arizona's silent arm spiritual desert nights, where be had temporary sanctuary, on often whispered a devout prayer of attunement to that Inscrutable Force which guided a dreamer's destiny: 

"Padre mio! Padre mio! Show me the way!"..

Then it would seem that the myriad beacons of the desert sky would direct his course back to California, to that fabulous land of the setting Sun where there seemed to remain some remnant of the pioneering spirit in keeping with broader horizons. There, where miracles of nature's vast performance tax credulity, it was believed there might be less of that finely developed cynicism infesting eastern metropolises, "whose lights had fled, whose garlands dead", and where dreams had been long verboten. It was hoped there might be found the sordid but necessary means for dream's fulfillment through the cooperation of the master financier, Amadeo Peter Giannini, who had then recently endowed the Giannini Agricultural Foundation at the University of California with two and a half million dollars. 

Whatever his hopes may have been. It was enough that the land of the Golden Gate had beckoned. The pilgrim proceeded to San Francisco. Then in a rapid series of events during the remainder of 1928, his work was expounded before faculty members of the University of California at Berkeley, at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara's bountiful valley of orchards, at the San Jose State Teachers' College, at the United States Naval Observatory on Mare Island, and at the Archbishop of San Francisco's headquarters, where His Excellency Archbishop Edward Hanna presided. Little time was lost in an itinerary that subsequently took him to Los Angeles, where his treatise Physical Continuum harshly invaded the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. It was later heard by prominent representatives of the Hearst organization, who were then preparing for the historical Hearst-Wilkins Antarctic Expedition of 1928. His unquenchable ardor was manifested in every quarter where his cause might be advanced. He was heard in restricted academic circles as well as in weekly lectures from Los Angeles radio station KFI. He was invited to accompany Captain Sir George Hubert Wilkins and Alan Lockheed, President of the Lockheed Corporation, to a select meeting at the Breakfast Club in Burbank, where his cause was heard. Wherever it was considered that the work's interest might be served, he was to be found. 

It is understandable that a press dispatch of that time described him as "the modern Columbus who seeks a Queen Isabella somewhere in America.'' Though a queen might have possessed the means to equip a fitting expedition for land discover beyond the Poles or to provide funds for the required stratosphere ascents, no queen, duchess, or baroness ventured forth to ease a modern dreamer's burden. It appeared that modern queens and lesser members of nobility were too sophisticated to be intrigued by a dreamer's announcement of new worlds to conquer. 

However, the dreamer and the dream did not perish for want of queens, duchesses, or other noblewomen. It was evident that a more alert nobility was to be found In San Francisco, for it was there that a ranking member of the Church nobility, in the person of Archbishop Edward Hanna, made possible a hearing of the pilgrim's work by the faculty of the University of Santa Clara. The famed Jesuit, the Rev. Jerome S. Riccard, S.J., who was popularly known as "the padre of the rains" as a result of his accurate weather predictions, was perhaps the most-interested member of the faculty audience. His interest would rightfully surpass that of the pure academician, because he was an atomic physicist and seismologist When the hearing was over, Professor Riccard exclaimed with undisguised enthusiasm, "Giannini, if you succeed in proving your concept of Physical Continuum it will represent the most realistic physical continuity of the Universe within the history of man. (An account of that Santa Clara hearing appeared in the San Francisco Examiner "March of Events" feature during July or August, 1928).

Professor Riccard's teachings held that there existed a constant play of energy between all assumed "bodies" and particles of the created Universe whole. However, his dignified membership in the order of theorists adhering to the supposition of 1543 did not deny him discernment that the four-hundred-year-old theory failed to provide an answer to the Universe riddle. 

The San Francisco Call of that time featured an exclusive interview with the pilgrim whose extraordinary disclosures had been made at Santa Clara University. The press presentation contained the pilgrim's photograph with that of the Australian explorer, Captain Sir George Hubert Wilkins. There was also a likeness of the ancient astronomer Copernicus, reproduced from an old woodcut The feature dealt with Sir Hubert's then forthcoming Antarctic expedition, to discover unknown land beyond the South Pole point Yet even that timely and most sensational presentation failed to bring forth a queen or a duchess, or even a lowly baroness, to lend oil for a dreamer's turbulent and engulfing waters of workaday application to his dream's dissemination. As there was a notable dearth of queens and their noble retinue, kings of finance and members of their noble American order were also in absentia. No subsidy was to be had from the famous banking house of Giannini, though Its master, Amadeo Peter Giannini, had been given personal knowledge of the dream's import. However, it must in fairness be acknowledged that his friendly reception, and his expressed willingness to co-operate in other than a financial way, held a measure of aid which.was perhaps greater than any financial disbursement for the cause. Nor was there any assistance from the vast storehouse of private funds for the express purpose of advancing science in all its branches, regardless of scope. The overlords of that storehouse expressed the utmost skepticism concerning the land which a dreamer knew existed. 

One of the few co-operative courtesies of the time was extended by the United States Navy, through its senior professor of mathematics who was also Director of the U.S. Naval Observatory on Mare Island, California. He graciously permitted observations to be made with naval equipment. Though more substantial and direct aid was then withheld by the Naval Research Bureau, there was an extravagance of indirect aid which was never anticipated. This volume attempts to describe the sensational accomplishment of record, since 1928, by the Navy's technical and explorative divisions and the Naval Research Bureau. 

Though the interests mentioned here were perhaps rightfully reticent of openly assisting, in view of seemingly fantastic aspects of the Physical Continuum before confirmation, it was also rightful for their attitude to be resented by one who as yet had no awareness of the magnitude of his disclosures. To him, they were of utmost simplicity. Therefore, it may be that in the sublime unfathomable order of things his particular dreamer was, even against his wish, safeguarded from the dangers attending his desired stratosphere ascent and hoped-for flights beyond the Poles. Had he then possessed knowledge of coming events, he might not have considered it so imperative that he personally perform what he considered necessary for confirmation of his revolutionary disclosures. He lacked such knowledge, and the factor of personal safety never entered his calculations. 

He sought all possible understanding of balloon construction and operation, and he solicited the cost of balloon material for the stratosphere ascent he was positive would develop proof for his unorthodox claims. He determined the cost of stratospheric balloon equipment from the Thompson Balloon Company of Aurora, Illinois. He received the promise of Captain Ashley C. McKinley, U.S.N. (Retired), to pilot the ascent. Captain McKinley was then an aerial photographer who had been an expert naval balloonist. 

Then his earnest petition for necessary funds to procure equipment was denied by no fewer than four prominent millionaires to whom he had personally appealed and who had previously expressed intention to cooperate. Thus until 1935 he persisted in forlorn endeavor to have his own stratosphere ascent financed. At the Transamerica Corporation, in New York City, he again met with the famous A. P. Giannini, whose problems of that time left him unreceptive to the stratosphere project. 

His devotion to the cause actuated a journey to the Chicago World's Fair, where he consulted with Dr. Frank Moulton, Director of the Science Division, for a' stratosphere ascension to be launched from Soldiers Field. However, it developed that Commander Settle, U.S.N.. had already been assured of Chicago Daily News support for his stratosphere ascension. Therefore the pilgrim, denied his own ascent and fully convinced that Commander Settle would not achieve sufficient altitude for photographic proof, took advantage of every opportunity to influence others who were favored by organization financing and who might be able to procure requisite confirmation. It was with such in prospect that he arranged an invitation to inspect the Army Air Corps stratosphere ascension equipment at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. And it was there that he directed Captain Albert W. Stevens, U.S.A., to achieve a fourteen-mile altitude if it was physically possible. He then knew that such altitude would be required for photographic confirmation of terrestrial sky light and the illusory globular and isolated appearance of any sky area photographed. 

In the case of polar expeditions to confirm his disclosure of then unknown land existent and extending beyond both Pole points, it was considered imperative that some known explorer of polar areas be convinced of the reality of Physical Continuity. To that end he determined to present the subject to Captain Sir George Hubert Wilkins. who at that time (September. 1928) was about to embark upon the Antarctic expedition sponsored by the Hearst newspaper interests. 


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