Tag Archives: Research

Not birds…bats!

Just found this amazing illustration of bat musculature:

https://www.anatomynote.com/animal-anatomy/mammals/bat/bat-muscle-anatomy/

Unlike bats though, Vokh and iVokh have an extra pair of arms whose sole function is to extend the surface area of the wing and, coincidentally, allow the legs to be longer. Of course that second pair of arms [hidden inside the wings], will require a shoulder joint that simply does not exist in our world. -sigh-

cheers
Meeks


Research, research, research…

https://youtu.be/UzrZ_s3_jRQ

That incredible musculature belongs to a gymnast by the name of Yuri van Gelder. His nickname is ‘Lord of the Rings’ because of this:

Not the best picture, but it shows van Gelder doing the ‘Iron Cross’ on the rings. If you watch the video these still images came from, you’ll see that the rings just hang there so the resistance they provide is minimal. And that means that holding that pose, or any of the poses in that family, is down to pure will, training and strength.

To me, the most interesting thing was that the pectoral muscles are not that big. Not like this guy:

I admit the guy in that pic has a better body than most extreme body builders, but what I needed to see were muscles that actually work hard. That’s why I gave up on the body builder pics and went looking for gymnasts.

Oh, you want to know why I’m perving on, I mean researching, muscles? For the Vokh, of course. They’re flyers so the muscles across their chests have to be insanely strong, but I didn’t want them to look like birds:

So now, I have to create flight muscles that are kind of in-between the muscles of a gymnast and those of a bird. I love research. ๐Ÿ˜€

cheers
Meeks


Yes! Natural ‘soap’ from the Yucca plant

Huge thanks to Carol from Carol Cooks 2 for her wonderful post on all things ‘soap’. One of the fascinating titbits in her post was this video about soap in the desert:

Why am I so chuffed to discover the Yucca root soap?

Because in Vokhtah [book 2], I mention something called ‘soapweed’. It’s a root that’s used for washing when water and sand are not enough. Discovering that there really is such a root is fantastic. -dance-

And as an added extra, the yucca grows in a dry, arid environment, which is almost exactly like Vokhtah. Simply could not get better. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers,
Meeks


mRNA vaccines and Myopericarditis

Some time ago, I posted about the need to aspirate the needle before injecting with AstraZeneca vaccine. When I finally had my first jab of AZ, I asked the nurse to aspirate the needle, and that simple change helped my nerves a lot.

Now, there’s proof that not aspirating the needle before injecting mRNA vaccines can cause myopericarditis, which is a rare but known side-effect of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

Rather than trying to explain the research myself, please watch this video in which Dr John Campbell explains the terms, the research and the results:

I know a lot of you have already had both doses of whichever vaccine was available. But…it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to need booster shots fairly soon. That means you will once again be at the whim of fate.

The number of people unfortunate enough to develop myopericarditis is small, but it is real so, when it’s your turn for a booster…go to your GP and ASK for the needle to be aspirated. For your health and peace of mind.

cheers,
Meeks


When a fudge comes back to haunt you, or how to rappelle using the Dulfersitz

Not so long ago, I complained about the timeline in Vokhtah being out by three days. After a LOT of time and effort, which included combing through book 1 to see exactly what I happened when, I discovered that the timeline was actually out by 17 days. -pulls hair and screams-

The problem with the timeline goes all the way back to the very start of the book in which I guestimated that the journey to and from Deepwater gather would take about 50 days. As guestimates go, that fudge would not have been catastrophic had I gone back at the end of the book and worked out exact times spent. But I didn’t. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I solved my timeline problem, but it’s left me very wary of any and all fudges, so when I went back to book 2 and came across a scene that involved a bad iVokh rappelling down into a ravine to chase a good iVokh, my fudge-alarm went off straight away.

Why? Because everything I know about mountaineering comes from a couple of old Hollywood movies. I think one of them starred Sylvestre Stallone:

Clearly, I could not allow the fudge to stand, so I’ve spent most of today doing research on mountaineering. To my utter surprise, the scene I wrote is actually possible using a method invented way back at the start of the 20th century by a climber called Hans Dulfer.

To use the Dulfersitz, [I think that translates as Dulfer-sit] you secure one end of the rope at the top of the cliff or wherever you happen to be, wrap it around your body a certain way, and then ‘walk down’ the near vertical face of the cliff suspended only by the friction of the rope against your body:

You can see exactly how to do the wrapping in the short video from which the still shot was taken: https://youtu.be/CLQ0IltdYd0 While revolutionary for its time, the Dulfersitz was not exactly painfree:

‘For quite a long time the Dรผlfersitz was the most common way of abseiling and itโ€™s still remembered today, mainly with nostalgic memories of those gorgeous burns on the right side of your neck and shoulder along with some far less pleasant ones right next to your genitalia.’

http://stara.emontana.cz/dulfersitz-emergency-rappel/

As I don’t particularly care if the bad iVokh gets highly painful rope burn, I’m more than happy to use the Dulfersitz method. One fudge down, yay! ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


“You are NOT a visual learner”

The take home message from this video is that there is no…noNO research that backs up the claims made for ‘learning styles’. Most people learn best when they are provided with a kind of multi-media presentation – visual, auditory, and reading. And, of course, in some subjects, kinetic [doing] is vital.

I’ve long been critical of education theories in general because they’re airy fairy at best and actually harmful at worst. Pigeon holing students as this type of learner or that, denies them the full range of information which might make something ‘click’.

As teachers, we are performers whose task it is to engage the audience. And students are that audience. Yes, it’s exhausting, but without that engagement there will be no learning.

I qualified as a secondary school teacher back in the 70’s so I have no idea what teacher training is like now, but if I had my way, I’d recruit teachers from amongst the acting community. From that base, I’d then teach them the other skills teachers need. And I’d recognize their unique skills and dedication by paying them what they’re worth. Only then will the best and brightest teach the movers and shakers of the future.

Not-so-humble
Meeks


WHY AstraZeneca vaccine can have fatal side-effects

My thanks to Mel for sending me the link to this video by Dr John Campbell. In it, Dr John explains new research that shows how and why AstraZeneca, and other adenovirus vaccines, can cause blood clotting in unlucky people. And it starts with how the vaccine is injected.

What should happen, according to Dr John, is that after the needle is pushed into your arm – but before the vaccine is injected! – the plunger is pulled back a little. The term for this is ‘aspirated’. If the needle has accidentally hit a blood vessel, a tiny bit of blood will be pulled back into the syringe.

If that happens, you pull the needle out and try a different spot!

Why? Because the research shows that if AZ is injected directly into the blood, it can trigger an immunological response that ends up with blood clots and low platelet count that kills people.

‘Hence, safe intramuscular injection, with aspiration prior to injection, could be a potential preventive measure when administering adenovirus-based vaccines.’

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.29.450356v1.abstract?%3Fcollection

And here is the whole video. The demonstration about how aspiration works starts at minute 9:43. If you keep watching you’ll see diagrams showing the deltoid muscle and the location of blood vessels. Most injections miss those blood vessels entirely, but they are there, and if you don’t aspirate you’ll never know if you’ve hit one.

This is the missing link that explains why some unlucky people end up dead.

It’s not an act of god, or one of those inexplicable bolts of lightning from a clear sky. People are dying because it’s faster and easier not to aspirate before injecting.

Getting the AZ vaccine seemed like Russian Roulette to me all along. Now I know I was right: the side-effects are preventable. All you have to do is take that one bullet out of the chamber…

I’m going to keep this post up for a while so it gets as much exposure as possible. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, please tell your friends. If enough of us make a noise, the authorities may eventually take notice. And people will stop dying.

Meeks


Hydrogel for damaged joints

“Once it’s been injured, the protective cartilage in our knees and other joints heals very slowly โ€“ if at all. A new injectable gel, however, could both reinforce the tissue after it’s been damaged, and encourage new cartilage to grow over top of it.”

If you’re like me, and starting to find that your joints are not as young as the rest of you, the following article in New Atlas should be of interest: https://newatlas.com/medical/hyaluronic-acid-hydrogel-reinforce-regrow-cartilage/

If you’re young and have no idea what cartilage is, or how a joint works, or why it can cause pain, here’s a simple picture:

Image courtesy Wise Geek https://images.wisegeek.com/frontal-view-of-joint-with-cartilage.jpg labels by me

As you can see, the bone ends that meet in our joints, don’t actually meet. They’re held in place by ligaments [the blue bit] that act a bit like rubber bands. And to make sure the two bones don’t grind against each other, each end is capped by cartilage. Cartilage is a tough but flexible material that acts like the tyre on the wheel of a car – it stops you from driving on the metal rims.

And just like tyres, the cartilage protecting the ends of your bones wears down over time. How much time depends on how much wear and tear it is subjected to. The knee cartilage of runners tends to wear down faster than that of couch potatoes because it’s used more. Unlike tyres, however, joint cartilage can’t be replaced when the ‘treads go bald’, which is why this research is so important.

My tread isn’t bald yet, but it’s getting there, so I can hardly wait for the hydrogel to be commercialised. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great weekend everyone,

cheers
Meeks


How to make a primitive torch

One of the things that distinguishes the iVokh Traders from the normal iVokh is that Traders aren’t afraid of fire. In fact, they light their underground cave system with burning torches. This means the colour of the light is different – yellow flame vs blue glowworm – and the smell is distinctive.

That all came from my imagination, but now I’m writing scenes that require a more factual approach, so how did primitive peoples make torches?

I was extremely lucky to find this fabulous article online: http://www.junglecraft.com.my/index.php/how-to-make-a-burning-torch/ Not only did it explain which, easy-to-find materials were used, it also included a video showing exactly how the torches were made:

The whole video is fascinating, but the highlight for me was around the 6 minute mark.

So, what are these primitive materials, and would the iVokh have access to them?

The main ingredient in primitive torches [in the Malaysia jungle] is rosin. If any of you have played the violin, you’ll know that rosin is vital for the bow [thanks Dad]:

Rosin is a solid form of resin, the sticky substance that comes from trees that is not unlike sap….Violin rosin is made by heating fresh liquid resin, until it becomes solid. It smells a bit like pine and has a glassy, orange look.

Quote taken from: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/instruments/violin/what-is-rosin-why-violinists-need-it/

I underlined the bit about the smell of ‘pine’ because that too is a distinctive feature of the Traders’ caves.

But wait…there’s more. I did ballet as a kid and I remember putting rosin on the soles of my ballet shoes – for grip . In fact, as I went from link to link, I discovered that rosin has a million and one uses, even today. Not so primitive after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, rosin is only one of the ingredients used to make primitive torches; ‘punky wood’ [dried rotten wood] is the other. Crumbled together in a 50/50 ratio, this mixture will burn quite happily for a couple of hours.

In the Junglecraft video, the presenter used bamboo as the locally sourced ‘container’ for the torch, but I’m pretty sure most of the inhabitable parts of Vokhtah are savanah rather than jungle, so I think the iVokh would have used animal horns instead. I haven’t actually created a horned creature per se, but I’m sure there must be a few somewhere in Vokhtah. Maybe down south where where only the Traders have been… ๐Ÿ˜‰

So there you have it, my latest bit of research. I had fun, and I hope you did too.

Before I finish though, I have a small rant to get off my chest: I HATE the new preview function in WordPress. With the old Preview function, I could preview my post in a new tab and can jump back and forth between the two tabs, fixing typos as I find them.

With the new Preview function, I get a floating [sic] pane that can’t be moved. As the ‘edit post’ screen is underneath the preview pane, I have to close the pane each time I find a typo. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit…

Grrrr! Do none of the ‘Happiness Engineers’ ever test run their ‘improvements’? Or do none of the testers bother to fix bloody typos? Ahem… Okay, end rant.

cheers
Meeks


Strange science

We’ve known for some time that certain animals can navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, but how they did it was a mystery.

Well, a little bit of that mystery may now be solved via a rather interesting experiment conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo.

You can find a detailed description of the experiment here but basically what it showed was that waving a magnet over a bunch of cells every 4 seconds caused the fluorescence [light emitting] of those cells to dim, proof positive that it was the magnet – ie magnetism – causing the effect. The scientists think this dimming was caused by the ‘radical pair mechanism’ at work in the cells:

“Essentially, if certain molecules are excited by light, electrons can jump between them to their neighbors. That can create pairs of molecules with a single electron each, known as a radical pair. If the electrons in those molecules have matching spin states, they will undergo chemical reactions slowly, and if theyโ€™re opposites the reactions occur faster.” [Emphasis is mine]

https://newatlas.com/biology/live-cells-respond-magnetic-fields/

So why does this rather obscure discovery excite me so much? Because of that old quote from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quickquotes/quickquotehamletdreamt.html

Change the word ‘philosophy’ to ‘science’, and Shakespeare could have been describing how new discoveries are always expanding the boundaries of what we know about the real world.

For a science fiction writer like myself, this is manna from heaven because in one hundred years time, some bright spark may discover that telepathy is not so much supernatural as supranatural! [Don’t hit me! I’m using supranatural as a description of something that doesn’t fit into the physics of the normal world…like quantum mechanics. As I’m no physicist, however, I’ll submit to those who know better.]

Okay, I’ll stop there before I get too carried away, but you can see why I find these kinds of discoveries so exciting.

Take care and stay well,
-hugs-
Meeks


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