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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

  Using water to cushion the living space of a spacecraft from the effects of acceleration.  

When the projectile is fired from the Columbiad, that mighty cannon, how will our intrepid explorers survive the shock? Water-springs!

"Ah, it is you!" he cried at last. "I have found it, my friend, I have found it!"


"My plan!"

"What plan?"

"The plan for countering the effect of the shock at the departure of the projectile!"

"Indeed?" said Michel Ardan, looking at the captain out of the corner of his eye.

"Yes! water! simply water, which will act as a spring--

From From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne.
Published by Various in 1867
Additional resources -

Later in the story, we get the details:

The projectile had now to be filled to the depth of three feet with a bed of water, intended to support a water-tight wooden disc, which worked easily within the walls of the projectile. It was upon this kind of raft that the travelers were to take their place. This body of water was divided by horizontal partitions, which the shock of the departure would have to break in succession. Then each sheet of the water, from the lowest to the highest, running off into escape tubes toward the top of the projectile, constituted a kind of spring; and the wooden disc, supplied with extremely powerful plugs, could not strike the lowest plate except after breaking successively the different partitions. Undoubtedly the travelers would still have to encounter a violent recoil after the complete escapement of the water; but the first shock would be almost entirely destroyed by this powerful spring. The upper parts of the walls were lined with a thick padding of leather, fastened upon springs of the best steel, behind which the escape tubes were completely concealed; thus all imaginable precautions had been taken for averting the first shock; and if they did get crushed, they must, as Michel Ardan said, be made of very bad materials.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from From the Earth to the Moon
  More Ideas and Technology by Jules Verne
  Tech news articles related to From the Earth to the Moon
  Tech news articles related to works by Jules Verne

Water-Springs-related news articles:
  - Shock Absorbers For Orion: NASA Turns To Verne

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