Trivia: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Book Version
  • Executive Meddling / What Could Have Been: Verne originally wrote Nemo as a Polish nobleman, who lost his family to the Russians. Verne's publisher was wary of portraying the Russians (France's ally at the time) in a negative light, and didn't want to lose sales in Russia, so he persuaded Verne to make Nemo's nationality a mystery note . Also an example about Tropes Are Not Bad: Revealing Nemo's Back Story left him only a menace against a single nation, but leaving Nemo's nationality anonymous not only defines him (Nemo means Nobody) but also makes the reader realize that any nation, even the reader's nation, could have committed the alleged crimes against Nemo and his family. Even more, it implies that no ship of any nationality was safe for navigation. The new backstory also approved to many readers, lent Nemo more sympathy and recent adaptations have pretty much embraced the image of Nemo with a turban and an awesome beard.
  • Life Imitates Art: The world's first nuclear-powered submarine, which would become the first submarine to transit the North Pole while submerged, also bore the name Nautilus. While it wasn't the first ship in the U.S. Navy to bear the name, the choice probably wasn't entirely coincidental.
  • Science Marches On:
    • The chapter "Sperm Whales and Baleen Whales" has Nemo use the Nautilus to rescue some Baleen Whales by slaughtering a pod of Sperm Whales, that Nemo calls: "cruel, destructive beasts, and they deserve to be exterminated." A couple of chapters later the Nautilus has its infamous encounter with giant squid: animals that we now know are favourites in the Sperm Whale's diet. They do not eat other species of whale.
    • The North Pole is placed in the Arctic Ocean. The South Pole is placed in Antartica, a sheet of ice thousands of feet thick, and most of it on a solid continent. The Nautilus could have reached the North Polenote , but not the South Pole.
    • The other Wiki notices that Physiognomy (see Beauty Equals Goodness) fell from favor in the 20th century, but is now being revived once more.
    • Electricity being presented as an amazing source of energy, these days it's commonplace.
  • Technology Marches On: Electricity was imbued with almost magical power, and a lot of the technological wonders Verne describes seem downright quaint to modern eyes. Still, credit where credit is due, he did get the fundamentals of how submarines would work in the future essentially right.
    • The Nautilus was supposed to make 50 knots on Bunsen batteries. The only modern submarine which could approach 50 knots needed 30 000 kW for the main engine. To get 30 000 kW from Bunsen cells their combined size would exceed Nautilus entire hull in size by a few orders of magnitude.
    • Also, an in-universe example of Schizo Tech: despite the usual rotating electric motor with brushes being known and used in the 1860s, Nautilus main engine is an oscillating electric motor ( "where large electromagnets actuate a system of levers and gears that transmit the power to the propeller shaft") - less efficient and a royal waste of space.
    • The new technology of double hull seemed to solve most problems in an age when most vessels were still wooden sailing ships, so Verne become enthusiastic about Nautilus double hull able to withstand the pressure "in the deepest ocean trench". No double hulled submarine can go below 1300 meters, specialized deep-diving vehicles are small craft with 5-inch thick shells.
    • Nautilus crew diving suits are an autonomous version of the heavy helmet of Verne's lifetime, yet all these had been used only to very shallow depths. To use them hundreds of yards deep with no decompression stops would only make the divers succumb to decompression sickness. Illustrations, including the original's, however, show them as having air tanks rather than tubes that could break.

Film Version