December 31st, 2006

PA Blue

Infrared Vision in Humans

Say you have a sixteen-year-old human boy who is born with infrared vision. Allowing for severe mutation or Brilliant Mad Scientist of Doom (plus maybe a little fudging), is this even possible? How exactly would this work with his normal, human physiology? What would he look like?

Assuming the boy can only see in infrared, I'm having trouble figuring out what certain things would look like to him. Would visible light vision have crossed over with infrared if he hadn't lost it? Could he read a book? Read at all? Admire a painting? What would a blistering hot day be to him? What would a frosty one? What would a view out of the window look like if the glass is warm or cold? What will people think of a boy who can't 'see' colors or letters, but can see people and objects? Could I get away with a kid who can't see visible light and not have any of his parents or teachers know exactly what's wrong with him? His family's pretty much broke, and they live in a very poor, rural area.

Now, on to what I do know, just in case any of it is wrong and I need correcting. Snakes and lizards see with little pits in their heads. Electronics screens will be warm squares of nothing. A chalkboard or whiteboard will be a similar mystery. If someone is running a fever, he'll be able to tell, and he can see if an injury is infected because it's a bit hotter than usual. Facial features will be distinct enough in his vision to tell them apart. (I'm really iffy on that one.) If he's looking at a white sign with large black letters on it that have been in the sun a while, he can see the letters. Correct my inaccuracies where you find them; I love being wrong.

I am so ignorant, and you are all so smart and helpful. Thank you so much for your assistance!
Toulouse cross

Storytelling therapy

This is a back-to-front sort of query, so I hope it’s on-topic for here: 

A decade or so ago I wrote a fantasy story set in a society that had a class or caste or guild of storytellers whose job was to tell stories not to entertain or to instruct, but specifically to cure people of grief or madness. In this society, if you felt yourself cracking up, or just couldn’t stand the awfulness of it all, you’d go to the storyteller (or your concerned relatives would call him/her in), as straightforwardly as you’d consult a doctor or a midwife. S/he would take a look at you and tell a story, which might take anything between 10 minutes and several days to tell, and which might not necessarily have any detectable bearing on whatever was wrong with you. After which - not necessarily straight away but within a week or so – you would feel better and more able to deal with your life. 

What’s bugging me is that I now simply can’t remember if I dreamed up this idea myself, or if I got it from reading about a culture that does or did this in real life. (Of course, it’s perfectly possible that I dreamed up the idea, but that unbeknownst to me such a culture really exists). So, does anybody know such a culture?

And I suppose a third possibility is that I was unconsciously plagiarising some other writer’s idea - so if anybody remembers this theme being used in literature anywhere, please post! 

(Edited 1 Jan to say: sorry about the tags, everyone - I wrote the text in Word and pasted it in; I had no idea that would bring a load of invisible junk formatting with it - I'm not very experienced with LJ - and on my screen it looked perfectly normal. I hope that's better now?)

The U.S. Penny

So i know the penny, since 1982, is actually,97.6% zinc and 2.4% copper, that much i got from Wiki, and i've heard that if you put a penny in extremely concentrated hydrochloric acid, the inside becomes hollow, because of something the HCL does to the zinc. chemistry, not my strong point.

I don't want to put this into something i'm working on if i don't understand it. I don't need real specific details, but a basic overview of what is happening would be good. My character is into counterfeiting, and he's going to start reminising, as he's gotten himself into trouble, about how when he was young and messing around with pennies it was all so much simpler, and i want to sound as if i sort of know what i'm talking about. thanks so much for any help.
  • rokeon

Snakebite to the throat

What's the absolute worst-case scenario for a snakebite? I'm talking about a direct hit to the carotid from something like an inland taipan or even a sea snake, no antivenin or medical care available. The shortest time to death that I've found was 1 hour for a serious bite from a black mamba, but I think that assumed a bite to a limb or the torso.

The venom comes from a fictional species of snake that has been purposely bred for lethality, so it's about as toxic as possible. Roughly how long after the bite would an adult male start feeling symptoms? Be incapacitated? Be dead?
music, serious face

Shanghainese names?

I'm looking for a name for a seventeen-year-old Wu-speaking boy (from Shanghai). Ideally, I'm looking for a name that doesn't sound trendy or old-fashioned; something normal will do.

Bonus points if the name has some sort of reading incorporating good luck, because the boy is cursed and I'm a sucker for irony.

Can someone help me out?

I'm not dead set on him being from Shanghai (I just like variety), so if no one can help me with Shanghainese I might go for something with more speakers around like Mandarin or Cantonese.

If you can, I'd also really appreciate the characters for the name or (preferably) the name in some sort of standard romanization, so I can make sure the romanization throughout the story is consistent.