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Real Life Fantasy: Microwaves and X-Rays

Greetings from the hermitage! In this edition of Real Life Fantasy, we’re taking a closer look at two contemporary machines that have some surprisingly Satrapied roots.

First we’re going to talk about the hardest working multitasker in your kitchen/dorm room, the microwave oven.

For most of us, microwaves are a fast, easy way to transform frozen comestibles into piping hot delectables. You put the dish in, push a couple buttons, wait for the pleasant *ding,* and viola! Dinner is served. Well, friends, we’re about to reveal the secret behind these magic boxes… It’s paryl luxin.

Restored antique schematic of an early microwave oven design.

Yep, scientists found a way to harness the energy from chunks of paryl luxin to safely and effectively heat food. They acquire the luxin shards from archaeologists, who sell the fragments to microwave manufacturers in order to fund other less lucrative but ultimately more profound digs in the Mediterranean.

YES! They finally brought back the Malleus Haereticorum button. That bitch Carol from work is going DOWN.

Second, we’re going to take a closer look at x-ray radiography, aka the x-ray machines used in medical offices and hospitals around the globe. The technology is remarkably similar to that of the microwave oven; a shard of chi luxin is activated electronically, the energy is projected through the object to be imaged, and the machine captures the chi ‘shadow’ onto an x-ray sensitive plate.

Original image by Blausen Medical Annotations by Mikael Häggström – By Blausen Medical., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58054654

I always wondered why my radiologist called herself The Keeper. I guess that explains it!

For those of you who can still draft and/or see in the chi spectrum, you’ll note in the image below the tiny shard of chi luxin hovering ominously between the anode and the cathode in the tube. Shives me the givers, y’all.

By Daniel Frost Comstock – Downloaded from Daniel Frost Comstock & Leonard T. Troland (1917) The Nature of Matter and Electricity: An Outline of Modern Views, D. Van Nostrand Co., New York, p.190, Plate 5 on Google Books, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3270127

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That’s all for this time; we’ll be back next week for Fan Art Tuesday. Everyone stay healthy and safe out there–stay home as much as possible, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

With love from everyone on Team Weeks.

Real Life Fantasy: Invisible Ink

In this edition of Real Life Fantasy, we’re going to consider invisible ink. Some of you may already know that there are several ways to make invisible ink–using citric acid, vinegar, table salt, or baking soda… But of course we’re not talking about anything so simple nor ordinary. We’re talking ultraviolet (or superviolet) ink.

Noodler’s Fountain Pen ink. Pretty sure somebody over there is a drafter.

(SPOILERS below for Blood Mirror)

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“Perfect timing,” Anjali Gates said. “I’m just finishing up.” She blew on the warm wax sealing a scroll and then slid it into a leather scroll case. She also had a sheathed table knife on the table.

Anjali handed Teia the scroll case. “That’s the decoy. Filled with happy nothings about how well we were received and so forth. The real report is written in superviolet and wrapped around the blade of this knife. If you’re taken, make sure you rattle that blade around inside its sheath well to break up the superviolet script, understood?”

“Understood. Can I run with it?”

“Absolutely. This knife’s seen duty all over the world. You won’t destroy my note by accident.”

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We munds need a little help when it comes to reading messages using superviolet ink. Luckily we live in an age of boundless technology.

Look familiar?

As it turns out, it’s very difficult to find published scientific articles on the interwebs that discuss the chemistry of UV ink. Most websites that talk about UV ink are discussing it in terms of using it in inkjet printers. And selling it.

But I did find a couple of good articles that at least cover the topic a little bit:

How UV Curable Ink Works from Printing Impressions

TL;DR The basic make-up of UV-curable inks consists of four components: monomers, oligomers, pigments, and photoinitiators…

  1. [M]onomers provide a building block of the ink;
  2. The oligomers in the ink formulation consist of reactive resins and uniquely formulated adhesive components;
  3. The pigments provide the color;
  4. When the photoinitiators are exposed to UV light, the oligomers and monomers cross-link or polymerize. So unlike aqueous or water-based inks, no heat or air drying is required for curing.

I also found this article from Glow Paint Industries about the difference between glow and UV blacklight products.

And then I came across a style website with a fun little article about tattoos created with UV ink.

The style article was great until they targeted me with an ad for "lipstick for mature women." F U guys. I AM NOT MATURE AND I CAN PROVE IT

Image from tattoo.com (link in photo)

Please note that the image came from a tattoo-focused website that doesn’t endorse using UV ink in a tattoo. According to the second link, dermatologists have noticed more adverse rashes and negative skin reactions to UV ink in their patients. (On that note, we follow the ‘your body, your rules’ maxim. We’re not encouraging anyone to go out and do this.)

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Next week is the Q&R on FB Live on St Patty’s Day! (We’ll send out reminders. Join us!)

Real Life Fantasy: Orholam’s Wink

Several readers have pointed out recently that Orholam’s Wink–or Neptune’s Wink, as it’s sometimes called–is a real thing. It is a meteorological optical phenomenon that (long story short) happens when sunlight is refracted by our atmosphere at a particular angle. You can see this phenomenon live and in-person… If you’re in the right place. At the right time.

Thanks Reddit user MandalorePrimus

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the right place is sea level, and the right time is sunset, or sunrise.

From The California Sun (click photo for link)

The timing for sunrise is a bit tricky, since you’d need to be staring at the horizon at sea level on a cloudless morning just before the sun begins to peek out over the horizon.

I don’t know about you, but I need more sleep than that. Also I live near a west-facing coast, so watching for the wink at sunrise is…impractical.

I digress.

The print/online magazine Physics World has an article about this lovely little gift from our atmosphere, shared in 2015.

The article is worth a read; it’s an explanation of the green flash, but it’s also a story from astrophotographer Pete Lawrence. In it he explains, “The atmosphere acts like a prism, refracting different wavelengths by varying amounts.”

A prism, hmmmmm? You think Pete is a Lightbringer fan?

Real Life Fantasy: Rainbow Obsidian

Behold, a giant chunk of hellstone, crafted into a work of fine art:



From Heritage Auctions

And this one, which I think is a

Show Spoilers

chi bane:

From Elegant Stones on Ebay

Here’s a chunk found in Davis, California:

From GeologyIn

And another found in Glass Butte, Oregon:

From Oregon Discovery

And this one, found for sale from someone in the UK:

From Soulful Crystals. But listen, friends: do you really want to trust something that came from the bowels of the Wight King to heal your depression?

This post is, I think, pretty self-explanatory.

Real Life Fantasy: The Sunmirror in Rjukan

A lovely little town in Norway, nestled into a bucolic valley, is home to an array of giant mirrors that bring sunlight to its people for nearly half the calendar year. Without the array, Rjukan receives no natural sunlight from September to March! 

The Sun Mirror in Rjukan

Rumor has it that if you visit, you can see a bit of 400-year-old graffiti on the east-facing outer wall of the library that says, “L-DONI WAS HERE.”

from the New York Times

Real Life Fantasy: The Eyes Have It

Fans have sent us a couple of awesome pics of eyes recently. Granted, one is a gnarly eye disorder and the other is a symptom of a liver disorder, but they’re at least cool to… uh, see.

First (and most spectacularly) we have pigment dispersion syndrome–also known as going red wight! I’m resisting the urge to find out if this guy’s name is Andross:

From an article in Ars Technica (link in photo and above)

Next up are Kayser-Fleischer rings:

From the Wilson Disease Association website

A fan (who is also a medical student) sent us an email about it, saying, “In some types of liver disease, the body absorbs too much copper and can start depositing it into tissues. One susceptible tissue is the Descemet’s membrane, which is part of the cornea between the iris and sclera. It results in a discoloration near the iris that forms a ring, kinda like this:”

We also have a slightly more optimistic bit of news about mammalian vision to share with you: turns out we have three photoreceptors in our eyes, not two (rods and cones)!

Granted, the research surrounding this particular revelation started in 2002, and the Nature article is from 2011, but still. From the article:

“Foster and his collaborators had done nothing to treat the woman’s blindness. Instead, her awareness of light owed itself to a class of light-sensitive cells discovered in 2002. Studies of these intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) have since revealed many surprises. Scientists initially thought that, rather than contribute to vision, the cells simply synchronized the circadian clock, which sets the body’s 24-hour patterns of metabolism and behaviour, with changing light levels. However, recent work suggests that ipRGCs have been underestimated. They may also have a role in vision — distinguishing patterns or tracking overall brightness levels — and they seem to enable ambient light to influence cognitive processes such as learning and memory.”

And, in case the title of this post sounds familiar to you, it’s thanks to Uncle Philip. Until next time, friends!

Real Life Fantasy: Sun + Water – Heat

Hey, look what’s back–Real Life Fantasy!

It’s been a while, so in case you’re not familiar: Real Life Fantasy is a feature where we explore phenomena in the Seven Satrapies that have crossed the spectral plane into the real world.

Or something like that.

This time around we’re looking at some optical physics: what happens when sunlight shines through water molecules in the atmosphere. While most of us are familiar with how water droplets refract sunlight–

Wing-Chi Poon – Jasper National Park, Canada

–here’s what happens when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Lt. Cindy McFee – Public Domain

The photo above shows two pretty awesome sights: the first is diamond dust, those white specks hovering above the person’s head. Those are tiny ice crystals in the air, reflecting sunlight at just the right angle for the camera to capture it.

The second phenomenon, seen in both the photo above and below, is a parhelion, or sun dog: bright spots, usually diamond-shaped, flanking the sun.

As explained in the Wikipedia entry, parts of the 22° halo (the arcs passing through each sundog), a sun pillar (the vertical line) and the parhelic circle (the horizontal line) are also visible.

Similarly, there exists a fog bow, or “white rainbow,” which happens when light is refracted through… wait for it… fog.

(I snapped this picture a couple years ago, standing in my backyard. Yep, that’s a barn. Look closely and you’ll find faint colors in the fog bow.)

Looking at these photos, I can’t help but wonder what it looked like to Gavin and the Third Eye…

Show Spoilers

Something prickled on his skin, the lightest of touches. He looked over at the Third Eye.

She was grinning like a little girl. He didn’t understand. Then something touched his arm. He brought it close, but it melted before he could get a look at it. Snow?

It was cool tonight, but it wasn’t cold enough for snow. Not even close.

He could smell it now–the familiar mineral, chalky odor. Blue luxin.

More hit his upturned face, his arms. It was snowing.

“Blue delights in order,” the Third Eye said. “I know you can’t see it, but every flake is blue. Utterly beautiful, Lord Prism. I’ve never seen so stunning a harbinger of doom.”

-The Blinding Knife, p162

 

Real Life Fantasy: Hemocyanin, and the colors of blood

So we’ve been talking about the history of the color blue, and one shade in particular: murex purple. Turns out that [anthropologists and archaeologists believe] blue was the last color category to enter the human lexicon, and was likely the last color to be distinguished/perceived by human eyes.

"Tangerine Moon and Wine Dark Sea," Milton Avery, 1959.
“Tangerine Moon and Wine Dark Sea,” Milton Avery, 1959.

PLUS, there’s one particular shade of blue (or indigo, depending) that is derived by extracting the blood from thousands of little ocean snails, oxidizing it, and dyeing fabric with it to create a mystical hue known as tekhelet, Tyrian purple, or (as mentioned above) murex purple, which was once more valuable than gold–partially because it became brighter when exposed to sunlight and weathering.

In the beautiful mosaic of 20th-century art and science, it was discovered how and why the blood of many earth critters can manifest so many beautiful hues.

Hemoglobin is what we humans (and most mammals) have as a means to carry oxygen to the cells in our bodies. It uses iron molecules to get the job done.

Hemocyanin, on the other hand, uses copper to do this same job in many sea creatures, including crabs, lobsters, and of course, sea snails.

Wait, copper? Like, the stuff pennies were made of?

Yep.

So how do we get blue dye from copper? I bet you’re asking.

Oxygen, and sunlight. Really! When copper oxidizes*, it turns a greenish-bluish shade.

What do you mean, you don’t believe me? You’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, right?

That French beaut is made of 3/32 in copper, protected by a lovely patina. Totally rockin’ that look, Lady Liberty!

But here’s the part that was news to me: some animals have green blood! Others have purple blood! This Vox article explains this phenomenon well.

Thanks Compound Interest for the graphic!

 

There’s no mention of animals being able to draft, though. I thought for sure there would be some mention that dissection revealed these creatures were packing luxin… Huh, I just realized sub-red drafters give whole new meaning to “packing heat”!

Okay, I’m gonna stop there.

 

*Thanks for making us do all those redox equations in AP Chem, Ms. Johnson! That knowledge finally came in handy! 😉

 

 

 

 

Real Life Fantasy: Prussian Blue & Murex Purple

In our last installment of RLF, we talked about the history of the color blue, which hopefully was enjoyed by my fellow art history enthusiasts out there.

If you were not one of those fine folks… You may not find this one intriguing either. It’s more about the color blue, along with how artists have procured and created it.

The first link is from Fast Company, specifically focusing on Prussian Blue (HERE). It is considered the first synthetic color, in that it wasn’t extracted from minerals or plants (or animals, as we’ll discuss in a bit). Prussian Blue was discovered in 1704 by German chemist Heinrich Diesbach; it’s cochineal + iron sulfate + cyanide = C18Fe7N18. (The Wiki page on Prussian Blue is a fun little rabbit hole for chemists out there.) As the article points out, this new shade of cerulean meant that the ultra-expensive ultramarine was no longer necessary for painting with blue. Which basically means without Diesbach, Picasso would probably have been some schlub painting everything Rose.

Picasso's "The Tragedy," from his Blue Period (1900-1904).
thank you pablopicasso.net

“Wait,” you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with chromaturgy, or the Seven Satrapies?”

The second link is from the LA Times, about Murex Purple (HERE).

“Wait!” you say. “I recognize that phrase… Isn’t it the color

Show Spoilers

Liv wears to signify herself as a superviolet drafter once she joins the Color Prince? *shakes fist at our favorite misunderstood traitor* And then becomes her signature color once she becomes Ferrilux?”

Wool dyed in various colors extracted from the Murex trunculus snail. (Moshe Cain)

Yes. Yes it is.

Murex purple, or tekhelet in Hebrew, is created–long story short–by extracting the blood from thousands of Murex trunculus snails, then exposing it to full-spectrum sunlight. Without the sunlight, the purplish “ink” turns fabric yellow. We know that this is because the blood contains hemocyanin, a respiratory protein that delivers oxygen to organs in many species of mollusk, including Murex trunculus.

a banded dye-murex (hexaplex trunculus)
(c) Aleksander Golemaj

Astute readers will notice the similarity of the word “hemocyanin” to “hemoglobin”… and will recognize that “cyan” in the middle is also the name of a shade of blue.

“WAIT!” you shout to your screen. “What is hemocyanin again?”

Ah ha! Patience, grasshopper. We are building the foundation for that.

Next time.

Real Life Fantasy: A Brief History of Blue

The color blue has a pretty awesome place in human history. Many professional smartypantses [archaeologists, evolutionary biologists, historians, et al] believe humans evolved the ability to perceive the color, in a gradual shift from bichromatic to trichromatic vision. Last time we shared a bit of Real Life Fantasy, it was mentioned that there’s no word for the color blue in ancient languages (including Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, among others). The coolest evidence of this lack is in Homer’s version of The Odyssey, in which he describes the sea as “wine-red” rather than any shade of blue. And if our man Homer didn’t even have a word for blue, it seems safe to expect that none of his friends had the word either.

But luckily for Ironfist, and Cruxer, and Samila Sayeh, blue started showing up in Egyptian jewelry around 4,000 BCE, and in pigment (known now as “Egyptian Blue”) around 2,200 BCE.

Egyptian Juglet, ca. 1750–1640 B.C. (Photo: Met Museum, Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922. (CC0 1.0))

Multiple shades of blue–including ultramarine and cobalt blue– were being used by artists centuries before the era of the Seven Satrapies. By the time Gollaïr and Solarch show up around 142 anno lucidonius, they have a full complement of blues from which to choose.

Small sculpture of a young blue dragon
“Blue Morpho,” Windstone Editions

ANY way,  this entry into RLF canon is an article from My Modern Met–the website for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There they talk about blue’s place in art history (which is to say, human history). It’s brief, and beautiful.

classic Vermeer portrait of a young woman wearing a blue headscarf
Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring