Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Living in a denser atmosphere
bouncy lala
This relates to my last question, which was here.

I believe I have settled on a planet for my human-like aliens to come from - Tau Ceti f. This choice brings up a whole new set of questions based on this information:

Assuming that Tau Ceti f is a terrestrial planet, it would likely be at least 2.3 times larger in size than the Earth. Assuming an Earth-like atmosphere, the surface temperature would be approximately −40°C (233 K). With a denser atmosphere able to produce a stronger greenhouse effect it could have a much higher temperature, between 0 °C and 50 °C, enough for complex life to exist.

Let's say I wanted the planet to have this "denser" atmosphere so my characters wouldn't be living in below zero temperatures. How much denser would it have to be? What would the sky look like? What effect would it have on people who lived there? What would the weather be like? If a person from Earth came to this planet, what effect would it have on them? If a person was used to living in this denser atmosphere and they went to Earth, what effect would the change have on them? What would it feel like?

I Googled "living in a denser atmosphere" and got a variety of answers. One site said living creatures would feel no effects even in a very dense atmosphere because we would evolve to adapt, another said everything would grow bigger, another said there would be no land just water... the only thing they all agreed on was that people would be able to strap on wings and fly in a denser atmosphere. I really don't know what other search terms will yield me answers to my questions.

Registering a birth if the father died before the child was born
Setting: Tokyo, Japan. Early 2000's.

Searched terms: registering a birth in Tokyo/Japan death father/dad/parent married, registering a birth in Tokyo/Japan death father/dad/parent, registering a birth in Tokyo/Japan.

I have a female character, A, on her mid-thirties that has been married to character B, a male of the same age, for about 4 years. Character A and B are expecting a baby when character B suddenly dies from a brain aneurysm less than two months before the due date. Take note on the fact that B is pretty healthy for his age which makes the situation more unexpected.

So, months after, A has to register her baby C's birth. My questions are: Can A add the name of C's father on the birth certificate? If she can, what proof does she need to show that the baby is his (if any)? What would be considered acknowledge for part of the father (B isn't exactly shy about expressing his excitement about his yet-to-be-born offspring)?Also, would the child be considered an out of wedlock birth or not?

Thanks you for your help!

1950s Pnuemonia treatment
I'd like to know how pneumonia was treated in the 1950s. I'm writing a story that takes place in West Germany in the 1950s(don't know exactly what year yet). My story features a character who had pneumonia before he fled East Germany to come to West Germany. He received treatment in East Germany, but wasn't deemed well enough to travel when he left. I'd like to know if it was possible during the time period to travel when not fully recovered and not have dangerous complications as a result. I googled "pneumonia treatment in the 1950s" and "treating pneumonia without antibiotics" but didn't find the details I was looking for. If anyone has information regarding the treatments they had back then and their effectiveness, please share this information. It would be very helpful.

[ANON POST] Aconite Poisoning and Treatment in 1500s Italy
I’m writing an Assassin’s Creed fanfiction set in Italy in the early 1500s, and I’ve got a bit of a poisoning problem. There is a section of the story in which an assassin attacks his target with the poison blade, so aconite is injected into the victim. The problem I have is that seconds after he’s successfully injected his target, he realises he’s made a mistake and the target has to survive, no matter what. The assassin is able to get the target to a doctor within a flexible timeframe, although I do have to allow for the public aftermath of a botched assassination attempt.

All the sources I’ve found are consistent on the symptoms aconite poisoning causes, but the only recommendations for treatment I can find apply to the modern day. I can’t find anything about how it would have been treated in the 1500s or if it could be treated at all. Equally, the only cases of aconite poisoning I can find describe situations where the poison was ingested.

As far as I can tell, cardiovascular irregularities will almost certainly occur, and the victim's heart will stop in this fanfiction. From there, I have a distinctly non-medical progression in mind but up until that point, I'll need to be as true to the historical context as possible.

Essentially, what I need to know is:

• Are there any differences in symptoms or how quickly aconite can kill if it is injected rather than ingested? Incidentally, can aconite even be injected? I'm a little wary of taking the details of the AC universe at face value.

• The assassin will tell the doctor exactly what happened and the name of the poison. Based on that, what action would the doctor take? What impact, if any, would it have on the victim's condition and chances of survival?

These are some of the articles / sources I've read: (I haven't listed all of them, but these ones cover most of the information I've collected - hope that's ok) Cut for lengthCollapse )

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

What if we breathed nitrogen?
bouncy lala
I'm currently working on making some changes to an original race of aliens that are very humanoid, as well as the mixed race children they had with Earthlings. For some variety, I was hoping to make it that these aliens breathed something other than oxygen, but I'm having a great deal of trouble figuring out what sort of changes that might make to them physically/if it would really be possible. I've read enough to know that hydrogen would be a bad choice, which is disappointing since it could be distilled from water. They'd probably blow themselves up before they could get it into their lungs. XD So, I thought maybe nitrogen. What would it be like if humanoid creatures breathed nitrogen? The alien body processes do not need to be 100% human-like, but I'd rather not have major changes to their physical appearance. Is it at all possible than an inert gas be used for respiration?

Also, would it be possible that the mixed race children be able to breathe both oxygen and nitrogen? Like, their bodies would start off with oxygen and if the oxygen was cut off somehow, they would automatically switch to breathing nitrogen? Or would this result in some sort of explosive reaction I'm not aware of? (Science was never my strong subject.)

Used searches like, "What if we breathed nitrogen?" which came up with links describing how we would die if all we had in the air around us was nitrogen since we breathe oxygen. Not at all helpful, in other words.

Medical conditions that require long hospital stays
Stand back - It's SCIENCE!

I swear my google fu has never failed me so bad before ...

My story is set today in Germany.
The question is simple enough: I'm working on an idea where two characters (teenagers) meet in an hospital as patients. So far so good.
All I need are plausible medical conditions that require long hospital stays BUT don't render someone completely immobile/barely conscious (like a coma wouldn't work for obvious reasons).

Of course I googled "long term illness", "long hospital stay", "chronic illness", "what reasons for long hospital stay?" etc etc but all I got were a dozen hospital websites that didn't really explain wo me what I wanted to know. ;)

My first thought was cancer, so I researched cancer and treatment. But the more I found out the more it seems that people don't stay that long in a hospital aside from the surgeries or during the final stages. I totally thought chemotherapy would have to be stationary but obviously that's not the case?

Anything neurological (craniocerebral injuries, cerebral haemorrhaging etc.)  would almost always affect their cognition/consciousness which I don't want, so that's out of the question.

The only thing I found out so far are people waiting for a heart or lung transplants and have to be monitored 24/7 or people with kidney failure who need renal dialysis? Except again I'm not really sure because I already found cases of patients who lived at home and only went for a few hours per day (or per week) to the hospital for dialysis. Does anybody know in which cases hospitalization is required?  

So in a nutshell: Are there any plausibel medical conditions, injuries, chronic illnesses or anything that would require long stays at the hospital and a lot of treatement? I'd be really grateful for any kind of help!

Transit of Venus, 1761
A few questions; all help would be much appreciated! Spherical trigonometry is, alas, beyond me.

The location is a fictitious island at 30ºS, 19ºW.

I believe that with clear skies the transit would already have been visible at sunrise; would this have given any odd effects, for instance caused by the extra thickness of the atmosphere at the angle they're viewing at?

What time would the transit have ended?

What equipment would they have used to project the images onto a screen?

Calculations: what would the parallax calculations look like – and also calculations for establishing longitude, eg lunars, Jovian moons (if relevant; I am on a learning curve so steep it's more of a cliff.)

Andrea Wulf, Chasing Venus
Royal Society:
Museum of the History of Science:

I've found plenty of pages on the 1761 transit, and more recent ones, including the one I saw in 2012 – but honestly it would be lovely to have one definitive place to go.

U.S. Marine Corps - slang and nomenclature
So, I have a (former) Marine Corps pilot, and I wanted to make sure she uses the right slang, even though she's a very minor character.

My first problem is the word I put in brackets - I've found the "once a marine, always a marine" saying in different places, so it would be correct for another character to refer to her as a marine, using the present tense, not an 'ex-marine', right? Or would I be overdoing it?

Secondly, what would she be using as slang for the plane she's piloting? I want her to say something like "who’s going to try to get the drop on me, in my own . . ." - what? I found 'helo' for helicopter, but she flies fixed-wing aircraft. Also, I wanted something to show a sense of possessiveness - it may just be the company jet, but while she's flying it, it's kind of hers.

Also, would a Marine use a phrase like "get the drop on me"?

Finally, I've looked for battle cries, and found 'get some' and 'Oorah' - is that real or just movies and tv (online sources sometimes contradict each other)?

My search terms were "US marine slang", "US marine slang plane".

ETA: Thanks for all your help, I've got enough to work with here!

RESOURCE: British Clothing, Hairstyles, and Accessories 1901-1953
A very detailed website based on photo research. Need to know about the details of your WWI military character's uniform buttons? What did the last big ladies' hats look like, right before close-fitting headgear came into style? Your fashionable 20s character has bobbed her hair, but does she have a classic Orchid Bob or an extreme Eton Crop? What did children growing up under wartime clothes rationing have to wear? It's all in here and more, along with an "annex" describing historical photographic techniques.

Spanish capitalization of titles used as honorifics
just jack
The story is set around 150 years in the future, and portions of it take place in Sonora in Mexico. The main character is a child, and later a teenager. He speaks both Spanish and English. He has a habit of referring to people who have power or resources he does not by titles that are almost nicknames, and my research is coming up 50-50 on whether those titles get capitalized. Maybe either way is okay and I get to choose, I don't know. I'd be happier if somebody who speaks Spanish a whole lot better than I do has a firm answer.

For example, Ana is Señora Ana most of the time, because the narration is in English. If she's part of a whole sentence in dialogue in Spanish, she is la señora Ana. What's kicking my butt is the point of view character's habit of thinking of her as la Señora. Is Señora capitalized or no?

Likewise, Captain Muir Is Capitán When addressed directly, but should the point of view character think of him as El Capitán, el Capitán, or el capitán?

Thanks in advance if you can help.

ETA: I don't need help with the English--it was provided only as an example. If you've already commented on it, I apologize for taking up your time.

Medical disqualification from combat pilot status
When: early 1990s

Where: real world

Terms searched: "pilot status" + "medical disqualification"


I have a USAF pilot, flying F-15s starting in roughly 1980.

I need to find a medical condition, something not detectable through a routine (pilot-grade) physical, which will disqualify them from flying combat but _not_ from civilian or non-combat military flying.

Any former pilots or aviation medical folks have a suggestion?

Several 1970s-80s-era USAF Questions [Still need some help]
Hi all,

Edit: Answered everything but the German wife aspect of things, still really need help there and am grateful for any help I can receive, thanks!

You may remember me from a few years back while I was starting work on a few MCs, one of whom has a German mother. Well, now I'm working on how this MC's mother and father met/married in more specifics, and I was thinking aforementioned MC's father was in the air force when they met. While trying to think of how to construct his background, I ran into some potentially useful information for people facing some of these questions in the current day, but I'm not sure how valid they would be when I'm applying it to the 1970s-80s, and I need some help constructing a believable background for this scenario. Please excuse any ignorance you may find here since I'm not too good with military specifics and have no one I can ask in regards to some of these.

So since this is long, background and search terms are under the cut.Collapse )

Thanks for any help and leads anyone can provide!

Louisiana Creole Translations
I feel like this might be too off-the-wall to get many answers, but I'm building a modern fantasy world with a friend that's set on the bayou and while we're using preternatural creatures that are already established, we want to come up with names for the sub-species that sound local.

I used google and found this site which has helped me some - but it doesn't seem to be a very extensive dictionary, and I couldn't find much in the way of other resources.

I'm sorry in advance if this is a lot. And I know that some of these words definitely won't have a direct translation but any suggestions that have a similar feeling would be much appreciated!

Here's a list:
Banshee. (I was thinking something like death singer?)
Goblin. (In our lore, they're prankster fairies.)
Leprechaun. (Basically fairy frat boys who love money and grant wishes.)
Pixie. (Essentially fairy godmothers.)
Vasily. (Fairy cowboys?)
Selkie. (They turn into alligators in our lore, since the bayou isn't very conducive to seals.)
Will O' Wisp.
Pride. Lafyèrté?
Envy. Enviyé?
Write. Ékri?
Speak. Parlé?
Air. Lèr?
Earth. Latè?
Water. Diló?
Fire. Difé?

Can rabies be transmitted reliably by food or drink
This is for my Nazi-killing time traveler from last time. So, time period nowish and late 1920s/early 1930s (1930 might be my sweet spot), location pretty much anywhere now, or in Germany in the '30s. Search term "can rabies be transmitted by food"

I was thinking she might diffuse suspicion by using a couple of different methods of killing her targets. Get some of the drinkers with some methanol "vodka", hit Hitler and several other key people with botulinum toxin, and give the b-listers rabies, possibly releasing a non-rabid but aggressive animal into the party as a cover story. (other suggestions are still welcome)

I was thinking that rabies likely would not be detectable as murder at that time. We can likely collect concentrated live rabies viruses in a way they probably couldn't have in the '30s, so I don't know if it would have *occurred* to anyone that someone could murder someone else by spiking their food or beverage with rabies.

But what I can't find is how reliably rabies can be *transmitted* that way. Everything I'm finding does seem to say that getting still-wet saliva in your mouth from a rabid animal counts as exposure to rabies, but I'm really not sure how likely one is to actually be infected by it. Anyone else know?

Summons vs Arrest for Someone in the Hospital
Setting: Modern day Massachusetts

Issue: I have a character who, in the course of defending herself, goes far above and beyond reasonable force and brutally, deliberately, kills her attacker. But she's also injured - multiple, non fatal stab wounds - and undergoes surgery.

At first it's not clear that she used excessive, deliberate force - that comes out during a police interview. The dead man's family is politically connected and pushing for a conviction. Family would like murder charges, probably to be plead down to manslaughter.

How would this realistically play out? What would the timeline look like?

My character is in the hospital, has very strong ties to the community and is not a flight risk (and is physically incapable of fleeing at this point). Would an arrest warrant be served in the hospital? Would she be taken into custody despite just being out of surgery? Could she receive a summons to appear for arraignment? How long would that take? Would a summons be delivered in person or by mail?

Research has included investigation of state laws regarding self defense and murder charges, looking into arrest vs summons and timelines of legal proceedings. I'm just having trouble finding information pertaining to a person who is in the hospital and physically incapacitated.

I know I can claim work of fiction and twist things to suit my needs, but I would like to keep it as close to reality as possible.


Working for a 1930s Newspaper/Magazine
Could anyone point me towards a book, or site, or something, which would give me some idea of the workplace routine for reporters and press photographers in the 1930s? I would like to know as much of the slang and worklore as possible. It would be nice if a character could laugh at an inaccuracy in the film The Front Page.

I'd mildly prefer info about British newspapers and magazines; but would be grateful for US or European as well, if in English.

searched: this comm under journalism and 1930s tags. Wiki: History of journalism; history of newspapers and magazines; history of British newspapers; Times, photojournalism. Googled various combinations of reporters, journalists, 1930s, photojournalism, newspapers, newspaper office, depression, press, routine.(Those last three definitely didn't help.)

read Sanderson's Snow Hill. Also Wodehouse's 1915 Psmith, Journalist.

Could a person safely wear a dress that was around for an atomic blast?
Beware of People
Searches: "would clothing be safe after atomic blast?" This brings up a lot of pages about what to do about the clothing a person is currently wearing during the blast (the answer is to change out of them before entering the shelter and get the dust off in a ventilated area, mostly) but not about clothing inside the home.

In my story, my 1940s-era main character is due to be married before an atomic bomb hits. Her home is still standing after the blast. Her wedding dress was kept in her second story bedroom.

18 years later, she gives her unused dress to another woman who needs one for her wedding.

However, I'm not sure if the dress would be safe to wear. I assume that it is because the house was still standing and the walls of the home would prevent the dress from fallout. However, the sites seem to think that the shelter one would need to protect against a blast needs to be air-tight, which this house would not be.

If the dress would NOT be safe to wear, how could my main character logically store the dress prior to the blast that would make it safe to wear 18 years later? It can't be locked up somewhere because another character needs to see the dress prior to the blast and remark on it.

Search Warrants Victorian London
I know that in modern America, the police need a search warrant to search your house or even your car. (I believe they can search your person without paperwork, if they can cite probable cause. Clearly it is not possible to rake in a judge and get a warrant if the criminal is fleeing on foot.)

My novel is set in London in 1861. Could the police search a man's hotel room, if they thought he might be a jewel thief? What about his person -- could they go through his pockets? This guy is a baronet, though a shady one, so he has some status.

Googling on 'search warrants' turns up tons of hits, none of them of the least bit use! I am reduced to reading Sherlock Holmes short stories, but Holmes was notoriously loosy-goosey about legalities.

Effects of living, but not officially working, in a brothel on a young girl?
Kagome, Inuyasha, inukag

Hi, Little-Details!

My story is set in late 1300s (pre-Sengoku era) Japan, in medieval Kyoto. It's a historical fantasy work. My main character, O-Chie, is a prostitute, sold to the brothel at age 8 and working in that capacity since age 13. The girl these questions pertain to is her trainee, Hatsu. O-Chie is 18 when Hatsu is given to her; Hatsu is 7. O-Chie doesn't have a choice in the matter, and resents the girl's care and instruction being forced on her. Despite having once been in the exact same situation herself, her mentor treats her badly. She is emotionally neglectful much of the time, and physical punishment for infractions (or pretty much anything else) is standard within the environment. I'm not making any excuses for any of O-Chie's behavior towards the girl. It's detestable and outright abusive. It does improve with time.

Over the course of the next year, Hatsu is exposed to everything one would probably expect to find in a medieval brothel:

  • Sex, obviously

  • Violent customers

  • Maltreatment and extortion

  • Murder

  • Suicide

  • Addiction (primarily to alcohol)

  • Rampant infighting and occasional actual fighting between the prostitutes

Now, with that said, my question boils down to this: What effects could all of this be expected to have on Hatsu, both in the short-term and the long-term? Primarily, I'm concerned with psychological and emotional effects, but anything else is welcome.

I have a number of books on prostitution, but none of them discuss the psychological or emotional impacts in any detail. I know about the long-term effects of sexual abuse on children, and I also know that this scenario does constitute sexual abuse, just not in the usual sense.

Terms searched include: "long-term effects of exposure to sexual abuse" and "psychological effects of a brothel environment". This is a difficult thing to find the proper terms for when searching.

Thank you for any help you can provide with this somewhat...strange question.

Need information about the school system in Florida.
Okay, first of all, what classes would a high school junior be taking? I've looked at the official site for the school district of the character, as well as every Wikipedia entry remotely related to the school district (Hillsborough County; the story is set in Tampa)- and I've tried Google, though I wasn't sure what search terms to use- and I can't find anything about the classes that are required for credit. The story takes place in fall of 2013, so it's fairly recent. My main character is sixteen years old, not in any special ed or advanced placement classes, in public school, and would probably be taking some art electives, if available, as she is very interested in art. Her best friend is in almost all of her classes, except for the art classes, and he would probably be taking some sort of technology-related elective.
Secondly, would she be able to eat lunch at the football field, or would she be required to stay in the cafeteria? Or does this vary from school to school? I've kind of planned on her eating at the football field routinely because she doesn't like the noise and crowd of the cafeteria, but I don't know whether there are rules against that, as I am not from anywhere near Florida.
Third, are there laws in place that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation? The character's younger (5th grade) brother is gay, and his teacher gives him detention for talking about a boy he has a crush on, and I want to know whether she could get in legal trouble for this.
Thank you in advance.


Log in