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Real Life Promo Roundup

Let’s start with the fun part: A Real Life Fantasy Condor.

The photo is from an article in New Scientist magazine. Stealth glider made out of special polymer self-destructs in sunlight. I’ve never considered whether luxin was a polymer before now. A 30-second Google search confirms in my mind that it couldn’t be anything but.

“Then the luxin hardened in its shape, which was as much like a condor’s wings as Gavin had been able to manage. The wings caught the air, and Karris and Gavin shot into the sky.

The first time Gavin had attempted it, he’d tried to hold one wing in each hand. He’d learned then why birds have hollow bones and weigh almost nothing. The lift had nearly torn his arms off. He’d gone home wet, bruised, and angry, with most of the muscles in his arms and chest torn. By making the condor all one piece instead, he’d taken away the need for muscle at all. The whole thing flew on the strength and flexibility of the luxin, speed, and wind.

Of course, it didn’t really fly. It glided. He’d tried to use the reeds, but it hadn’t worked so far. For the time being, the condor had a limited range.

Karris wasn’t complaining. She was wide-eyed. “Gavin! Orholam, Gavin, we’re flying!” She laughed, carefree.”

The Black Prism p.70, Brent Weeks, 2010

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Next order of business:

The Brent Weeks Shopify Store is (Still) Open! Buy an exclusive t-shirt or signed copy of THE BLACK PRISM from the man himself.

Also:

Fans in the UK can buy the WAY OF SHADOWS ebook for 99p. This deal doesn’t last forever, so snag it while you can!

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And last but certainly not least, Brent will stream his November Q&R video live next Tuesday, 17 November, at 2pm PST. Make sure to register for the event on Crowdcast!

Real Life Fantasy: Sub-red Vision

This edition of Real Life Fantasy is a rare reversal: real life scientists catching up to Brent’s Seven Satrapies (rather than finding evidence of chromaturgy IRL).

Those of you who have read The Black Prism are familiar with Sub-red vision, which is akin to being able to see heat.

“Gavin ignored him. “The special cases that I started all this to tell you about are sub-red and superviolet. If you can see heat, Kip, there’s a good chance you can draft it.”

“You mean I can start a fire like whoosh?!” Kip made a grand sweeping gesture.

“Only if you say ‘whoosh!’ when you do it.” Gavin laughed.”

The Black Prism, p. 146

Well, it turns out scientists are working to give humans the ability to “see heat” with the naked eye.

Nanoparticles Could Grant Humans Permanent Night Vision

The linked article from UPI explains work done by researchers at U Mass Medical School in which they have successfully given mice near-infrared vision. The research team injected nanoparticles made from rare-earth metals behind the retinas of mice. Those mice had been trained to swim toward visibly-lit triangles; once they received the nanoparticle injections, they started swimming toward triangles lit by only near-infrared light.

In case you’re wondering–I certainly was–our eyes see light wavelengths of 400-700 nanometers. Near-infrared is defined as light wavelengths between 750 nanometers and 1.4 micrometers.

Here’s a video shared in the UPI article that features lead researcher on the project, Dr. Gang Han, talking about the technology he and his team developed.

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next time.

Real Life Fantasy: Vapor, Nature’s Lightsplitter

Welcome back to Real Life Fantasy! Today we’re sharing a simple one–nature refracting full-spectrum light in the air.

A supernumary rainbow captured by Larry Andreasen in Oregon

Many of you will recognize this as a fancy way of saying “RAINBOWS,” but it’s a little more than that.

As such, we have fog machine vapor wafting through a RGB laser:

Shared on YouTube by Marek Treecki

And, of course, circumhorizon arcs, aka “fire rainbows.”

Original photo taken by Luis Argerich

Which begs the question, “why?” This is neither made with fire, nor is it an elliptical “rainbow.” Language is weird. But never mind that, here’s more vapor magic:

from Amusing Planet
from Daily Mail UK, 2006

I snagged this word bite from Christopher Schmitt on flickr: “To see this rainbow, the ‘clouds must be at least 20,000ft high and the ice crystals within them align horizontally instead of their usual vertical position. The sun also needs to be at least 58 degrees above the horizon. Then, the magic can begin.'”

from the UCSB Geography Dept

Nature is the best, y’all! Especially when it’s not, you know, on fire. All our best to the firefighters along the west coast who are still working tirelessly to contain the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Real Life Fantasy: Atasifusta IRL

WHOA.

A grove of Draceana cinnabari in Socotra, off the Yemeni coast.

That sums up what I have to say about these astonishing and beautiful trees. There are several different types of trees that produce a blood-red resin or sap, known colloquially as dragon’s blood–but it’ll look to Weeks fans like red luxin from the Atasifusta.

For those of you needing a refresher on the mythical tree from the Seven Satrapies, here’s a snippet from The Black Prism:

“…Each pillar was a full five paces thick— atasifusta, the widest trees in the world— and none narrowed perceptibly before reaching the ceiling. The wood was said to have been the gift of an Atashian king, five hundred years before. Even then it had been precious. Now they were extinct, the last grove cut down during the Prisms’ War.

Draceana draco in the Canary Islands

“…What made the atasifusta unique was that its sap had properties like concentrated red luxin. The trees took a hundred years to reach full size— these giants had been several hundreds of years old when they’d been cut. But after they reached maturity, holes could be drilled in the trunk, and if the tree was large enough, the sap would drain slowly enough to feed flames. These eight giants each bore a hundred twenty-seven holes, the number apparently significant once, but that significance lost. On first look, it appeared that the trees were aflame, but the flame was constant and never consumed the wood, which was ghostly ivory white aside from the blackened soot smudges above each flame hole. Gavin knew that the flames couldn’t be truly eternal, but after allegedly burning day and night for five hundred years, these atasifustas’ flames gave little indication of going out anytime soon. Perhaps the flames nearer the top were a little duller than those lower as the sap settled in the wood, but Gavin wouldn’t have bet on it.

“When the wood wasn’t mature, it made incredible firewood. A bundle that a man could carry in his arms would warm a small hut all winter. No wonder it was extinct.”

So we have, in summary, three primary species of dragon’s blood/Atasifusta trees that exist today.

There’s the Dracaena draco tree, native to the Canary Islands:

The Dracaena cinnabari tree, native to Socotra (an archipelago between Yemen and Somalia):

From an article in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/11/the-galapagos-of-the-indian-ocean/100634/

This variety, native to Socotra, has a fascinating past, and an uncertain future. Just like Brent’s Atasifusta, these stunning trees are being threatened by human intervention. National Geographic (objectively the best periodical ever) has published a compelling article about the island, and the trees.

And finally we have the Croton lechleri, or sangre de drago, found primarily in Ecuador and Peru:

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It’s worth noting that sap from these trees has been used IRL for a long time as traditional medicine, as incense, and as a pigment; it is also sold by contemporary online retailers as ‘natural medicine.’ I found several images of trees that have endured scarring from humans collecting the resin.

It’s tough to say (at least for me) whether this is bad for the trees and/or harmful to their ecosystems at large. I mean, it looks pretty bad, right? But I also wrote this post while eating pancakes and maple syrup. So there’s that. We’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about these gorgeous plants!

Thanks for reading, everyone. Stay home and stay safe.

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!