atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#719: So much for SetoHan. *kusu~n*


Seto no Hanayome is one of the best series I've seen in a long time. I really liked it. The ending was handled very well, in that it was satisfying on many levels, yet left the story wide open for sequels. In other words, there is a feeling that many issues have been resolved (such as San's father wanting Nagasumi dead) yet nothing is explicitly said about these issues being resolved. (In fact, Mikawa is still courting San even though she and Nagasumi have all but tied the proverbial knot at the end of the climactic scene.)

It's really worth the effort of going to AnimeSuki and grabbing the torrents, if you don't mind the P2P "back door" thingy. (SetoHan @ AnimeSuki.) The only thing is, the last four eps are only available from YourMom Subs, and they're not really all that good with grammar.

Knowing that SetoHan was ending, I started with Amanaideyo! Katsu and Kaze no Stigma today.

Amanaideyo! Katsu picks up where the first series left off. Everyone's there, and there are a couple of new characters. Fan service for the first episode is pretty cool, and there is the promise of a lot more. Heh.

Kaze no Stigma (KnS) promises to be worthwhile, too. The artwork is stellar. The main character, Ayano, has an amazing range of facial expressions and they change a lot. The rest of the artwork is just as good. If the first episode of this series is any guide to its overall quality, they put a lot of effort into it.

Storywise it feels a little rushed, but I had enough information that I understood what was happening even if I'm not totally "up" on who is who, yet. (Certainly it wasn't like Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny where I didn't know who was who, what, or why even after watching seven episodes.) I have a feeling that "all will be explained" as things progress, though, so it's fine.

Then I watched Pretty Cure ep 27, which is the first ep of the 2nd season. In 26, the Dark King was vanquished and the Garden of Light was restored and all was well. Big tearful scene as the girls leave Mepple and Mipple in the GoL...

...but then Mep. and Mip. come back to Earth (the "Garden of Rainbows"). As it turns out in ep 27, then, when the Dark King died, he sent dark seeds to the Garden of Rainbows, and some of those seeds have started to sprout--and if they are allowed to go on, eventually the Dark King will pull a Sauron and come back from the hereafter. So Pretty Cure's new mission is to take out the seedlings. In ep 27 they defeated the first seedling, but he's still alive and kicking, of course, and there's more than one of them out there, so I expect things will be entertaining.

They also have a new mascot, in addition to Mepple and Mipple: Porun, the Prince of Light, who is younger and more annoying than the other two. No idea yet what his function is, but presumably they'll get around to explaining that sooner or later.

* * *

It's the first time in a three days that I've watched any anime. I guess I was trying to make SetoHan last just a bit longer, but sadly there's not a lot I can do about that. It's all over!

So here I sit, listening to XM radio's "Classical Christmas" channel because there's nothing else I really want to watch right now, but I might decide to watch something and I don't want to turn off the TV just yet.

* * *

Interesting fact I read somewhere, but don't recall where: insects are size-limited by the oxygen content of the atmosphere. The Earth's atmosphere was, at one time, something like 40% oxygen, and bugs were a lot bigger back then. I wonder if insects would even have evolved if the oxygen content of the atmosphere hadn't been that high?

Anyway, since oxygen now comprises about 18% of the atmosphere, we don't have to worry about bugs the size of canned hams wandering around. Bugs lack lungs; they "breathe"--if you can call it that--through tubes which allow air to circulate through their bodies; oxygen is absorbed from the air and carbon dioxide is released this way.

But damn, they can get big, even so: recall that, in the Philippines, I saw a cockroach the size of a freaking mouse and it could fly. (I have never seen a cockroach fly, not ever, damn it. Never. WTF.)

I suppose it's a good thing bugs don't breathe, because I couldn't handle bugs if they were the size of german shepards. That would just be wrong.

...and one reason it'd be frickin' wrong is how thick the exoskeleton would have to be. Chitin is strong stuff and a quarter-inch plate would be virtually impenetrable. Could you imagine trying to fight off a raccoon-sized bug? You could probably hit the thing with a baseball bat and it'd keep coming. The only way to hurt it would be to shoot the damned thing, or hit it at a joint with a freaking pole arm (glaive guisarme, anyone?).

Blech, my "SF writer's brain" is taking the idea and running with it. Okay, so it's not an insect anymore; it's still an invertebrate but it's warm-blooded, breathes, and is carnivorous, and it's the size of a small dog. Its exoskeleton makes it hard to kill. Its got a nervous system that you'd expect from a mammal, except that there's no spinal cord: the brain's kept in the middle in a cartilaginous capsule, with a "comb" not far from the brain which is a radiative structure to keep the brain's temperature from exceeding its stable limit. (The "comb" might be a vulnerable spot--crush the comb and you cause hemorrhaging, which might kill the thing--and it might not. It would not have to be large, though.) The brain would have to be near the sense organs but not as exposed as it is for us, and even if it was just under the chitin it would be safe as houses. Suspend it from other internal tissues in a "capsule" and concussion becomes a lot less likely, too.

I might have to work on this a bit more; now I'm starting to get interested.

...but an atmosphere of 40% oxygen is probably necessary to get life out of the oceans and onto land. I don't doubt it, in fact; without a lot of oxygen in the atmosphere, it probably wouldn't have been possible for life to make that change.

And, of course, that proportion changed over the eons, lowering to the present-day figure of 18%, giving land-based life plenty of time to adapt to the reduction in atmospheric oxygen by evolving ever-better and -bigger lungs.

What gets me is that plants have managed to evolve quite nicely, too, so that they now survive handily in an atmosphere of only 0.78% carbon dioxide. Back in the Carboniferous era it was a lot higher than that.

* * *

I'm too much of a scatterbrain to do this kind of thing with any regularity--think about what effect this and that might have on evolution--and I should, since I write SF...but I don't think much about aliens. I'm the kind of guy who writes stories about humans; when I have aliens in my stories, they're just strangely-shaped people, similar to the Star Trek phenomenon of aliens being "humans with funny noses". (And/or foreheads. Take a look at the "alien races" on Star Trek: The Next Generation and tell me I'm wrong.)

But the above discussion about "bugs with lungs" is useful for an ant-like race I've written a little bit about in one of my novels.

The most fascinating conversation I ever took part in happened at the "Dead Dog" party of a science fiction convention I attended. It started with the energy economics of Star Trek and rambled over things like cetacean linquistic theory, the energy economics of eating meat and how that influenced human evolution, physics, chemistry, biology--I was talking with people who were as smart as (or smarter than) me, and as widely-read in the sciences as I was, and it was marvelous. There was no argumentation; it was all, "This is true." "Really? How does that work?" "ABC etcetera." "Yeah? Oh, that reminds me of this other thing--and it's really cool." "Oh, that is cool!" ...and so on.

I think if I hung around with people like them a lot more I would probably have a lot more material to work with. Sadly, none of the friends I've had since 1997 have had college educations. ("Some college", perhaps, but not degrees.)

Well, maybe one or two people. But the vast majority of people I associate with? No. And they aren't stupid people; they just haven't been to college. Many of them know how to do interesting and useful things, and are quite intelligent, but it's hard to have an interesting and engaging conversation about physics with someone when you spend 3/4 of the time explaining the physics to the other person so he understands what's so interesting about what you're discussing.

And I'm not blaming anyone for this, nor am I calling anyone "stupid". It's not that. I understand that my physics geekery makes me the oddball. What I'm expressing here is my frustration at not knowing anyone else who understands what I'm saying without a 25-minute explanation of the concept. I can just say, for example, "This bomb generates a quark-gluon plasma!" and the other person will say, "Damn, that'd be a big bang!" because he already understands the conditions under which a quark-gluon plasma can exist. (A few milliseconds after the Big Bang, the universe was a quark-gluon plasma, because things were still too hot for elementary particles such as protons, neutrons, and electrons to condense.)

And I'm not a super-genius, either. I'm just a guy of ordinary (or maybe a bit above average) intelligence who's a physics geek.

But science isn't taught in schools these days, and when it is, it's watered-down mishmash that's more likely to concentrate on "man-made carbon dioxide is causing global warming" than "a transparent material's index of refraction determines how far a given shape can bend a beam of light". I'm not kidding; in high school I took "College Prep Physics" (these days they'd call it "Advanced Placement Physics") and I could have taught the class, it was so watered-down.

Physics is simple, anyway, particularly classical mechanics. The way it's taught--at least in high school--is pretty broken.

So I'm not very likely to find people out there who know science, who like intellectual discussions, who have a lot of curiosity, who are very widely read, and who can understand and accept differing ideas without getting angry and upset that everyone doesn't agree with them. You can usually get one or two of those, but not all of them at once. That one time, that was something special.

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