April 26, 1897, Edinburgh
It is with the utmost urgency that I write to you, my fellows of the Royal Society of Scotland, to alert you to the danger posed by Mr A Salmond and his proposal to build a steam driven contraption with the intention of burrowing to the centre of the Earth.
This Mr Salmond is a coarse fellow of questionable qualifications. He achieved his undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews which is hardly an institution frequented by gentlemen of good standing. His research associates are an ill-disciplined band of amateurs who would be as out of place in a laboratory as they would within the walls of a reputable club or salon.
But it is not the quality and integrity of Mr Salmond and his compatriots that concerns me the most. No, my esteemed fellows, it is the very detail of this ill-considered scheme to send human beings, under the power of steam, to the very centre of the Earth.
Has Mr Salmond acquainted himself with the geological and thermal conditions which would pertain upon the commencement of such an expedition? I would venture, sirs, that he has not.
Has he, in his mathematical formulations, allowed for the discombobulating effects of excessive pressure on the human physiology? I would speculate that such thoughts are a stranger to his considerations. While this may appear obvious to gentlemen of academic standing, one final question remains pertinent: Where does Mr Salmond intend to put all the steam?
Sirs, I have inspected Mr Salmond’s contraption. From its nuts and bolts and its widgets and gadgets, to its very valves and rivets. I have never seen an assembly of parts so contrary to the accepted regulations of modern engineering. It will be to my eternal astonishment if this irresponsible collection of flaps and hinges gets beyond the workshop never mind to very the centre of the Earth.
Therefore I urge you, the most qualified and respected subjects of Her Majesty’s Realm of Scotland, to condemn this Mr Salmond and to instruct your research assistants, your servants and their dependents to offer no encouragement to this unmitigated folly.
Professor Sir William Ferguson (FARPS)