Blog Archives

The Anatomical Vampire

This week we are joined by virologist Dr Roland Lambert from the School of Industrial Chemistry in our very own Paris. The young doctor provides an intriguing dissertation of a popular urban myth – but is there more to the Vampire than legend?

-Henri de Parville, ed.

vamp3

The year 1905 has witnessed an almost unprecedented tally of disease fatalities. Influenza, pneumonia, cholera and tuberculosis remain the blight of damp suburbs and dense housing everywhere from Africa to America, accounting for 34% of all deaths. Our own beloved Paris has lost 21 700 of her citizens this year alone to infectious disease. By December’s end that number will be over 29 200.

But even as we strive for cleaner drinking water, improvements in treatment, and limitation of disease spread, there rises a new enemy, one not seen on these streets in centuries. One which stalks in daylight and kills in darkness. A silent, violent killer. One whose human form disguises the appetite of a monster.

I speak, of course, of the Vampire.

Through use of a field agent, the indispensable M. Hannibal du Noir, and my own research in the laboratory of infectious disease, I have spent this past year compiling all known facts on the creature known as Vampire. You will notice I say facts. All too often the vehicles of urban legend scuttle fact and throw fate to the wind. My model is built from the ground up: only that which can be reliably observed has been included.

What, then, is known? To begin with, Vampires are real. They are among us. They are hunting us.

They operate in packs, most likely family groups. Two such family groups have been observed in France. The first from the south, consisting of a dozen or so members who bear a strong familial resemblance in their dark hair, dusky skin and thin faces. The second flow between the borders of France and Germany on the Rhine. This intelligent band have disguised themselves among soldiers and citizens both, and so prove nearly impossible to describe. However, conservative estimates put their numbers at thirty.

A dozen, thirty – perhaps forty two Vampires in France. It is of no apparent concern for a population of 38 million. Thus my second point: their appetite.

Vampires are obligate haemovores. They must feed on blood, and have not been observed to supplement their diet with any other form of protein. Blood, as Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed can affirm, contains very little nutritious content. To sustain itself, the individual Vampire must drink upwards of 20 litres per sitting. He will do this four or five times in a week.

Pause to consider that number. 100 litres of blood to sustain a single vampire for a single week. That would empty the veins of twenty adult humans! Suddenly even conservative estimates show that 840 French men, women and children (and they are often women and children, as the Vampire is a coward) per week must lose their lives. Within a year with these fiends will strip 43, 680 French souls from their bodies. And as we are unprepared, in denial of their very existence, nothing is being done. Should these creatures reach our city, next year our death toll will reach 120 000.

I urge you, reader, to subscribe yourself to La Nature. M. de Parville has been gracious enough to offer me space in his journal to detail to you these creatures and their behaviours. It is my hope they will educate you on the means of their detection and in the protection yourself, and your loved ones.

If survival is your inclination, I will join you in a fortnight.

Dr. Roland Lambert, Head of Research, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, School of Industrial Chemistry of the City of Paris.

Dr. Roland Lambert is acting Assistant Head of Research in the  laboratory of infectious diseases for the School of Industrial Chemistry of the City of Paris.

***Though he doesn’t know it yet, Roland is about to star in my upcoming novella, My Father’s Death, out October 31st. Until then he’ll be here. How exciting~ ***

Advertisements

Extreme Science: Pacific Rim – Imperial Edition

PRimperial

As soon as I saw a jaeger, I said to the guy sitting next to me in the movies, “I wonder how much that thing weighs?” However, it wasn’t until the book landed in my clammy nerd hands that I finally had a means of finding out.

BEWARE: MATHS AHEAD

pr0

*You might get some funny numbers by replicating these figures. End totals reflect the original metric rather than my rounded up feet and pounds.

Preliminary stuff:

According to the book, Gipsy Danger is 265 feet tall. Taking this measurement, we can gauge GD’s width at about 98ft and breadth at 49ft.

265 x 98 x 49 = 1 287 220ft3, or Gipsy Danger’s volume. However, because there are places GD is less broad and less tall, I cut the volume in half.

1 287 220 / 2 = 265 225m3

We also need to know the surface area of GD’s feet. Assuming her feet are flat, we get:

98 x 49 = 4844ft2

or 2422ft2 per foot.

Easy, right?

Gipsy Danger’s volume: 265 225ft3

Gipsy Danger’s bottom-of-foot surface area: 4844ft2

Let’s get down to business.

SHE FLOATS LIKE A FEATHER

screenshot_6_17_13_9_32_pm1

If you’re anything like me, this scene is one of the most iconic in the entire movie. Gipsy Danger flies over a stormy ocean carried by eight powerful helicopters. Majestic – but feasible?

We’re obviously not dealing with lightweight machinery here. My estimates for GD’s weight were between 1200 and 6000 tons, and perhaps up to 12 000. Pacific Rim is set in the current day and therefore doesn’t have technology that is not yet at our fingertips. Meaning – can eight modern day helicopters carry a load of 12 000 tons?

Short answer: no.

The Mi-26 is the world’s strongest helicopter, able to carry a load of up to 22 tons.

So 8 x 22 = 176

If the helicopters are to be believed, Gipsy Danger weighs 176 tons.

But wait a minute. A cubic foot of seawater weights 64lbs. Cast iron weighs 425lbs/ft3. Gipsy Danger’s hull is made of iron, so she should be at least 125lbs/ft3, even with extra leg room.

If we take Gipsy Danger’s weight – 176 tons – and convert it to pounds– 352 000lbs, then divide it by her volume, we can find her weight per cubic foot.

352 000 / 265 225 =0.5lbs/ft3

0.5lbs/ft3

This means Gipsy Danger has a density about that of a heavy gas.

Oxygen weighs 0.09lbs/ft3: Gipsy Danger is only six times as heavy as air. Is she made of tinfoil? No. Aluminium is 162lbs/ft3, 300x as dense as GD.

GD is in fact so light that if we take the surface area of her feet – 4844ft2 – and dump her into the ocean, she would only displace the top 2’4″ of water. If she fell onto her back or front, which she would the moment a kaiju breathed on her delicate, feather-light body, her enlarged surface area would mean she displaced merely the top 3 inches of water. In fact, there isn’t much difference at all between GD and a layer of oil on the surface, except that oil is 100x heavier.

I know what you’re thinking: Gipsy Danger clearly weighs more than compressed carbon dioxide. You remember that scene at the start of the movie where GD is wading up to her head in freezing ocean water. She couldn’t do that if she had the mass of an 265 foot tall rubber duckie. Something must be wrong. The helicopters must be wrong.

AND STING LIKE A BEE WITH THE FORCE OF A DECENT SIZED ASTEROID

Quack

Quack

According to both book and movie, Gipsy Danger is able to fully submerge in the water. She can also swim.

But if GD can submerge, then she must be able to displace a volume of water equal to her total volume. Because she’s 265ft tall, that means we also have to take increasing pressure at depth into account.

Seawater at the sea level weighs 64lbs/ft3. Seawater at a depth of 265 feet weighs over 562lbs/ft3. This is because of the downwards force exerted by the water above. For every 33′ of depth, the weight of water effectively doubles. This means that Gipsy Danger isn’t just displacing 265 x 562lbs of water for every square foot of her downwards force (which we calculate as the area of the bottom of her feet.) It means that’s she’s displacing surface pressure seawater equivalent to something 369 x times her height. Wow! That’s like you stepping into the bath and displacing 25 tons of water!

So just how much does Gipsy Danger have to weigh in order to punch her way through the sea?

Let’s take our volume, 265 225ft3.

And then a shortcut for our equivalent seawater measurement: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 = 36

36 x 33 (for each 33 feet of depth) = 1188

1188 + 9 (for that last 3’4″) = 1197ft depth equivalent

Surface area of GD’s feet = 4844ft2

4844 x 1197 = 5 798 268 equivalent cubic feet of seawater displaced

5 798 268 / 2 (so volume reflects GD’s irregular shape) = 2 899 134ft3

2 899 134 x 0.032 (weight of seawater ft3) = 93 807 tons

There you have it. For Gipsy Danger to walk up to her antenna in ocean, she must have a mass of at least 93 807 tons.

Which means those hearty choppers were carrying 11 725 tons apiece! That is a truly magnificent demonstration of lift. One must wonder that when those helicopters let Gipsy Danger drop into the ocean, they don’t shoot off into the air so fast they escaped the Earth’s atmosphere.

AND NOW IT GETS CRAZY

Oh dear God. More math.

Oh dear God. She’s speaking in equations.

The really fun thing about a giant robot that weighs 93 thousand tons, is that all it needs to do to kill you is to fall on you. But Gipsy Danger is a fighting robot, and she doesn’t lie idly by. If she were to karate chop you at the baseball-pitching speed of 100mph, then her strike would hit at about 12000psi. That’s four times the pressure of a high-powered bullet, exerted across the entire side surface of a hand the size of a banquet table.

In fact, a 770lbs banquet table would have to be travelling at 820 000 feet per second to hit you that hard.

If you consider that a) Gipsy Danger has much longer arms than a human, and b) longer arms means a greater radius and so greater pitching speed, you see that there is virtually no weapon Gipsy Danger could be carrying that would be deadlier than her backhand.

So, can any living creature possibly stand up to a karate chop that would render concrete into a fine mist? Or are tough kaiju more like total kai-woo?

If you’d like to know, shout about it in the comments. I’m also more than happy to have any corrections, considerations, and hilarious bits of information about your everyday. It’s lonely here in the Pacific Rim Nerdpit, and I could use the company.

Until then,

Spend your tokens wisely.

Extreme Science: Pacific Rim

Final_Four_Jaegers

As soon as I saw a jaeger, I said to the guy sitting next to me in the movies, “I wonder how much that thing weighs?” However, it wasn’t until the book landed in my clammy nerd hands that I finally had a means of finding out.

BEWARE: MATHS AHEAD

pr0

Metric WHAT? Find the Imperial Edition here!

Preliminary stuff:

According to the book, Gipsy Danger is 81 metres tall. Taking this measurement, we can gauge GD’s width at about 30m and breadth at 15m.

81 x 30 x 15 = 36 450m3, or Gipsy Danger’s volume. However, because there are places GD is less broad and less tall, I cut the volume in half.

36450 / 2 = 18 225m3

We also need to know the surface area of GD’s feet. Assuming her feet are flat, we get:

30 x 15 = 450m2

or 225m2 per foot.

Easy, right?

Gipsy Danger’s volume: 18 225m3

Gipsy Danger’s bottom-of-foot surface area: 450m2

Let’s get down to business.

SHE FLOATS LIKE A FEATHER

screenshot_6_17_13_9_32_pm1

If you’re anything like me, this scene is one of the most iconic in the entire movie. Gipsy Danger flies over a stormy ocean carried by eight powerful helicopters. Majestic – but feasible?

We’re obviously not dealing with lightweight machinery here. My estimates for GD’s weight were between 1000 and 5000 tons, and perhaps up to 10 000. Pacific Rim is set in the current day and therefore doesn’t have technology that is not yet at our fingertips. Meaning – can eight modern day helicopters carry a load of 10 000 tons?

Short answer: no.

The Mi-26 is the world’s strongest helicopter, able to carry a load of up to 20 metric tons.

So 8 x 20 = 160

If the helicopters are to be believed, Gipsy Danger weighs 160 tons.

But wait a minute. A cubic metre of seawater weights 1025kg. Cast iron weighs 6800kg/m3. Gipsy Danger’s hull is made of iron, so she should be at least 2000kg/m3, even with extra leg room.

If we take Gipsy Danger’s weight – 160 tons – and convert it to kilograms – 160 000kg, then divide it by her volume, we can find her weight per cubic metre.

160 000 / 18 225 = 8.78kg/m3

8.78kg/m3

This means Gipsy Danger has a density about that of a heavy gas.

Oxygen weighs 1.43kg/m3: Gipsy Danger is only six times as heavy as air. Is she made of tinfoil? No. Aluminium is 2600kg/m3, 300x as dense as GD.

GD is in fact so light that if we take the surface area of her feet – 450m2 – and dump her into the ocean, she would only displace the top 71cm of water. If she fell onto her back or front, which she would the moment a kaiju breathed on her delicate, feather-light body, her enlarged surface area would mean she displaced merely the top 8cm of water. In fact, there isn’t much difference at all between GD and a layer of oil on the surface, except that oil is 100x heavier.

I know what you’re thinking: Gipsy Danger clearly weighs more than compressed carbon dioxide. You remember that scene at the start of the movie where GD is wading up to her head in freezing ocean water. She couldn’t do that if she had the mass of an 81 metre tall rubber duckie. Something must be wrong. The helicopters must be wrong.

AND STING LIKE A BEE WITH THE FORCE OF A DECENT SIZED ASTEROID

Quack

Quack

According to both book and movie, Gipsy Danger is able to fully submerge in the water. She can also swim.

But if GD can submerge, then she must be able to displace a volume of water equal to her total volume. Because she’s 81m tall, that means we also have to take increasing pressure at depth into account.

Seawater at the sea level weighs 1025kg/m3. Seawater at a depth of 81 metres weighs over 9000kg/m3. This is because of the downwards force exerted by the water above. For every 10m of depth, the weight of water effectively doubles. This means that Gipsy Danger isn’t just displacing 81 x 1025kg of water for every square metre of her downwards force (which we calculate as the area of the bottom of her feet.) It means that’s she’s displacing surface pressure seawater equivalent to something 369 x times her height. Wow! That’s like you stepping into the bath and displacing 23 tons of water!

So just how much does Gipsy Danger have to weigh in order to punch her way through the sea?

Let’s take our volume, 18 225m3.

And then a shortcut for our equivalent seawater measurement: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 = 36

36 x 10 (for each 10 metres of depth) = 360

360 + 9 (for that last 1m) = 369m depth equivalent

Surface area of GD’s feet = 450m2

450 x 369 = 166050 equivalent cubic metres of seawater displaced

166050 / 2 (so volume reflects GD’s irregular shape) = 83 025m3

83 025 x 1.025 (weight of seawater m3) = 85 101 metric tons

There you have it. For Gipsy Danger to walk up to her antenna in ocean, she must have a mass of at least 85 101 tons.

Which means those hearty choppers were carrying 10 637 tons apiece! That is a truly magnificent demonstration of lift. One must wonder that when those helicopters let Gipsy Danger drop into the ocean, they don’t shoot off into the air so fast they escaped the Earth’s atmosphere.

AND NOW IT GETS CRAZY

Oh dear God. More math.

Oh dear God. She’s speaking in equations.

The really fun thing about a giant robot that weighs 85 thousand tons, is that all it needs to do to kill you is to fall on you. But Gipsy Danger is a fighting robot, and she doesn’t lie idly by. If she were to karate chop you at the baseball-pitching speed of 160kph (100mph), then her strike would hit at about 12000psi. That’s four times the pressure of a high-powered bullet from a hand the size of a banquet table.

In fact, a 350kg banquet table would have to be travelling at 250 000 metres per second to hit you that hard.

If you consider that a) Gipsy Danger has much longer arms than a human, and b) longer arms means a greater radius and so greater pitching speed, you see that there is virtually no weapon Gipsy Danger could be carrying that would be deadlier than her backhand.

So, can any living creature possibly stand up to a karate chop that would render concrete into a fine mist? Or are tough kaiju more like total kai-woo?

If you’d like to know, shout about it in the comments. I’m also more than happy to have any corrections, considerations, and hilarious bits of information about your everyday. It’s lonely here in the Pacific Rim Nerdpit, and I could use the company.

Until then,

Spend your tokens wisely.

On Air: The Last Night In Pripyat

We’re on air!

My short story, The Last Night In Pripyat, is airing in full tonight on Sounds of the Mountains FM. You can hear it right here.

Go now! It’s almost on! And if you miss the start you might still get the end!

Anneque

The Last Night in Pripyat – Audio Preview

Hello everybody. What have I been doing lately? Amongst coding and running a writers’ group, I’ve also been delving into some serious research on the Chernobyl disaster. In fact I did so much research that I ended up writing a short story about Chernobyl, and will probably write a novel.

The following, for your ears only, is an excerpt from the short story. Blow me down! The story is actually going to air on local radio and will also be streamed online next week. I’m working hard on getting this story to you, so please enjoy the excerpt, and let me know what you think.

tlnip

Book Review: Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas

Legend of the Boy by Toi Thomas

Novella, superhero fiction

51Q6txcHSzL._AA160_

A boy wakes up in restraints, no idea who he is or how he got there. It soon becomes clear that the boy is an alien, whose fall to Earth destroyed a city and threw humanity into panic. The CIA has hold of the boy, and they want him to use his alien powers to save the Earth from a cluster of a thousand comets headed directly for us. But the heart of the story is not whether the CIA can talk the boy into helping us; it’s whether we really want the kind of help he’s got to give.
It’s a neat little story, broken into four parts. It’ll take you under an hour to get through. What I found most admirable about the story was Toi’s ambition. From the boy’s beginning strapped to a chair being grilled by mysterious forces, I expected Toi to throw in a handful of tropes – a friendly CIA agent, a bit of bonding, a slow development of power, catastrophe averted and celebrations all round. To my delight (and aghast), this really wasn’t the case. The boy does save Earth, but at an enormous cost, both to Earth and seemingly to the boy’s love for humanity. By the book’s end we really would have been better to take our chances with the comets. The boy has all kinds of crazy super powers – turning himself into light, pushing away the moon, exploding things with the force of his mind. He’s not the kind of guy you want to annoy. But, unfortunately, he’s also not a difficult guy to annoy. I really liked this corruption by power of a character who starts out so sweet and eager to please. Toi handled it deftly and it really makes for quite a striking story. I can’t say much more than that without massive spoilers.
The book does have its issues. Mainly these are superficial – a handful of typos I’m surprised weren’t caught, a few odd word choices, some heavy-handedness with adjectives. All in all however the prose is solid, if not exceptional, and Toi shows great promise as a writer.
Also, and I’m not going to fault the book for this – I would if it weren’t self-published – but there is also this deceptive bit of weirdness with internal hyperlinks. After each of the story’s four parts, we’re given the option to return to the Table of Contents. I’m not actually sure the book HAS a table of contents, but even if it does, the option to go back to the TOC at the end of each part tricks you into thinking that the end of the part is the end of the story. Which, imagine my confusion when 20% of the way in I reached the end of part 1. If you are reading the book, just beware of this, and keep reading all the way to the end.
There you have it. Legend of the Boy. I had no idea what to expect going into it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Earnest, ambitious and fresh, Toi is shaping up to be one to keep your eye on. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

35stars

You can find it on GoodReads here.

Amazon here.

And the remarkable Toi Thomas herself right here.

Also! I’m still floundering away in a sea of magic school fiction. There must be a plethora of it written by independent authors, but I just can’t find it. Anything that is kind of Harry Potter but not, will do. If you know any independents who have magic school stories available, or if you are one such independent, please drop me a line. Independent, represent! Whoo whoo whoo! Or something like that.

The Scientific Vampire

This weekend I published a new short story through Kindle Publishing. It’s available today! :3

thevampscoverJP

It’s called the Vampires of Bifurquer Veine Marais (the Vampires of Branched Vein Swamp) and it’s a scientific take on vampires. For example, what could we expect from human-sized obligate blood-drinkers? Is there any veracity to the garlic and holy water myths? Would vampires really be super fast and super strong? And of course, the big question on everybody’s lips: would they really sparkle?

This first book doesn’t answer all the questions (it definitely tackles the sparkling one), but in subsequent stories we’ll address as much as possible. Who’s we? Why me, and the inscrutable Hannibal du Noir, protagonist, of course!  It’s wonderful to finally have du Noir boxing vampires on the page instead of brawling in my head. Life is also being given to Monsieur Roland Lambert, a chemist and mystic scholar. Together they’ll hunt monsters in the name of science! Get your chemistry bone on!

If you really really want to, you can find the story here. I would be stupidly happy if you did.

But a story published! I’m stupidly happy anyway. It’s time to dance the weekend away.

Jex Collyer’s ZERO

How amazing does this look?

20140617051506-ZEROTest001

Many congrats to Jex, who has been working hard both with and without the help of Dagda Publishing to produce her debut novel. But don’t just admire it: help Jex fundraise for her marketing campaign, and get sweet grabs for your trouble.

You can find the campaign here

I just love that cover. I’m going to stare at it a while longer and try to suss out essential details of the plot. Maybe if I look hard enough, I can make out the last page?

Video Book Review: Bus Stop on a Strange Loop

Happy weekend!

To celebrate the end of another week (oh my goodness, where did it go? Oh right. Oblivion.) here’s a video review of Shaune Lafferty Webb’s Bus Stop on a Strange Loop.

busthing

I dunno. I wish I had daily internet access. Doing this blog shenaniganising without regular internet is a Sisyphean task. It’s easy enough to write articles and make videos without the net, but keeping up with everyone is just impossible. So I’m not sure about continuing with certain things. It seems the internet time I have would be better spent keeping up with what y’all are doing, and writing and researching and finding new places to submit work to.

Maybe it’s the weather. I’m a wad of dunno this week. Gonna go read some more of Johannes Cabal the Detective and have a bit of port and think about it.

Well.

Well, hell. After a solid 40 hours work, I’ve just finished this week’s review video. And while it looks okay, it really needs a lot of work to make it be as good as it can be.

Is anyone going to complain if I make three videos a fortnight instead of four? A reading once a week and another video every two weeks? Probably not. If you want to complain, please feel free to do so here. Otherwise, that’s what I’m going to do: take two weeks to work on the review videos. Because it’s a hellova a lot of work and I want to do them justice in the editing.

In light of that, this week’s video will be out next Friday. But there will still be a reading video out on Monday. If you don’t follow this blog regularly, you are probably lost. Shush, child, and have this teaser of two Lego men riding a time machine past Magarat Thatcher:

timethatcher

If I told you it’s relevance to the review, I’d have to kill you. So be glad that you’re totally confused right now. It’s all that stands between you and a swift death from above, hiya!