February 4th, 2007

Saiyaloid Raditz
  • kahteh

Facial branding on a child- legibility over time?

Location: Fantasy country similar to Spain, but this isn't that important.

Time: Approximately early 19th century, but this isn't hugely important either.

Search terms used: 'scarification' and 'branding' on both Wikipedia and the BMEzine wiki (also looked at connected articles such as 'human branding'), and variations on 'scar + child growth' and 'burn scar + child growth' on Google. I also looked through BME's scarification gallery, and found this on BME's QOD section, which fits my question but doesn't really give me an answer...

The question: I have a character who, at the age of 9 or 10, was branded on the forehead. (I haven't yet decided whether he will be branded with an entire word or just an initial- that will probably depend on what answers I get. Regardless, the letter(s) are initially about an inch high.)

Fast-forward to nine years later, when he shows the brand to another character.

From what I can tell, scars often stretch as the person grows, but I can't seem to find anything more concrete than that. How visible and legible would his brand be likely to be by now?

ETA: I've had a quick think about his complexion, and I've realised I actually need to ask two questions: how legible would it be at first (when he's ridiculously pale), and how legible would it be if/when he gets somewhat tanned later? (I'm guessing it would be easier to see on tanned skin, but I'd like to be sure!)

ETA #2: It looks like I've been making this complicated for everyone, so here's my attempt at a better explanation: this character has naturally olive skin, but as he hardly ever goes outside during daylight (for rather tl;dr reasons that aren't really relevant, although I'll explain if people ask!), he has become very pale. I've been assuming that given enough exposure to sunlight, he'd eventually go back to his natural olive complexion... (But I may be wrong, so please feel free to correct me!)

ETA #3: I think I'm sorted now. Thanks a lot, folks!
sherlock: believe

Low security psychiatric facilities

Okay, I've been Googling and Wiki-ing until my eyes started to bleed, and still no joy. Help a girl out?

I'm told that in the U.S. there are halfway houses for people with long term psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia. They're used while meds are getting stabilised and for life skills education - a last step before social reintegration after being in crisis care or a longer term psych facility.

Thing is, I'm looking for a place that would cater to BOTH reintegrating chronic patients and people with less severe and/or acute conditions. So people with mood disorders, probably a few self-admits etc. Specifically, a guy with situational depression judged to be a possible danger to himself, checking in voluntarily as an alternative to involuntary commital in a more secure short-term care facility.

Most of the halfway places I've seen cater to drug addicts and sex offenders, which I'm not looking for at all.

So, would a place like this exist? I mean, even if I had to make a place up, would it be allowed according to Texas law?
penelope - swinging

British Military, 1880s

Hello you wonderful people,

I have a pretty detailed question that I can't seem to find the information I need in order to answer it. I'm wondering...

1. What position would the second son of a British viscount enter when joining the British military in 1879. I'm looking at the period from 1879 to 1887, only. The young man at the time of entering the military would be approximately 22 yrs old.
2. Would he go army, or navy? I know that in general, the British public was indifferent to the navy in the 1870s, but you can rise up the ranks faster in the navy.
3. What would he have to do in order to gain the prestige of a lieutenant (navy) or a captain/colonel (army)? I know that in the 1880s, there were a series of wars in Afhganistan, with the Zulu and Boers in South Africa....
4. How long would he have to do what he did to gain that prestige so that by 1887, he is effectively retired because of some sort of injury?
5. What is a believable injury that would retire him from duty? If his leg is shot, would that pull him from active duty?

I know these are really specific questions, but if you can give me any clue about any book that I should read, or a website I can look at...the British army website wasn't too helpful and Wikipedia/Google aren't showing too much. I think my questions might be a little too specific. But if you've read any books on the topic, please let me know!

Thanks so much!

Brighton Beach is to Russians as...

In Brighton Beach, you can find many Russians living here, operating shops and selling baked goods and so on.
Where do most of the Russians live in the city? (Since it's rare to find housing in 'little odessa'..)
What about the rest of New York?
Where's most of the Italians live? Spanish? German? Dutch? Japanese etc. etc.

My story is dealing with a girl living in New York who visits these different areas, by the way. :)

Where are some other predominately Russian areas in the USA?

second breakfast


What is the name of the chemical that reptiles produce in thier bodies that is analogous to adrenaline in humans, but that builds up and can become dangerous to the reptile when under great stress?
I've been looking for this all night and I'm not finding much. The only answer I've found is epinephrine, which is just another name for adrenaline I think, which doesn't sound right to me. I thought it began with an "A", the chemical I'm looking for. I can remember steve irwin talking about it more than once, and maybe Jeff Corwin too. (used to watch both of them all the time) If someone can either tell me the name of the chemical I'm looking for, or just confirm that it is in fact epinephrine and I'm just a looney for thinking it was something else, I'd be ever so grateful.

Giving Medieval People the Time of Day

Here is a weird question. Our novel takes place in something like 11th-12th century England. I have understood that time is not something that was importance to most folks (save monks) until it edged closer to the Industrial revolution. And I know there were water clocks, sundials, and other cumbersome devices that the vast majority of people had no access to. Yet when I read other novels set in a similar period, it seems the characters have an uncanny ability to divine the time to the nearest half hour.
Is this a mistake of the authors?
Or were people really so good at reading the sun?
Or did more people than I suspect have water clocks so they could find it was a-cup-past-a-jug in the morning?
How aware were Medieval people about the actual time of day and how did they know it?

How much weight can a horse and a mule carry?

I sort of answered this one by Googling. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be: Well, it depends.

So here's my set-up. Four characters need to get out of Dodge—essentially, they need to travel the equivalent of 35-40 minutes by car, along roads that are paved but unused for several generations and probably not in the greatest condition. They've got a horse, which is fairly healthy, and a mule, which is undernourished and old.

The characters themselves aren't carrying much, if anything, on them. I've got one very big guy, one slighter guy, a verging-on-skeletal young woman, and a scrawny teenage girl. Can I believably get all four of them riding out of there, how far can they realistically get without killing the animals, and who should be riding what?

Chimerical cells and mutation in an engineered environment.

This is my first inquiry.

I'll start by saying that the web searches I do in the sciences tend to turn up results that either aren't suitable for a layman or do not deal with my subject directly.

I am developing my setting for a science fiction novel. This will be the first off-world colony, engineered on a planet with oceans, suitable soil, and an earth-like atmosphere. It would be done in two stages. In the first stage the planet would be struck with a gaia bomb ala Search for Spock to create basic vegetation (and the lower life needed to compliment it) to cover the land and line the oceans. In the second stage, the colonists themselves would bring earthly crops, trees, and animals, as well as ova of engineered animals. I know that as the ecology takes shape the engineered plants and animals would mutate and revolt against the obstacles to their prosperity, until later a more natural equilibrium is met. I would like some fairly radical monstrosities to be produced in this process.

What I need is information on mutation, chimerical cells, and anything else applicable which I might not know to ask about. To the biologists in the audience, how do you envision a punctuated equilibrium of this magnitude to unfold, and what would the pacing be?

EDIT: To clarify, the oxygen will be derived from the oceans and the plant life which comes about in stage one. I do not intent for there to be any indiginous life, though I haven't ruled out the possibility. The soil will likewise be in a primitive virgin state but sufficient to stammer out wild plant life and crops.

I suppose I'm looking for information on what mutagenic tendancies can be programmed in to the engineered life in order to hasten the environmental eqilibrium. While fantastic, I'm trying to eliminate as much bull from the process as possible.