Fan Theory Fridays #2: R+L=J

SPOILER ALERT: Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 16.56.33

If you haven’t spent the last four years living under a rock, chances are you are a fan of Game of Thrones and currently outraged by the seeming death of Jon Snow in the season finale. After five seasons and dozens of death, no one gets surprised when one of the main cast dies on GoT, but Jon Snow’s death broke the internet. The reason is not just because he was a fans’ favorite, but also because many fans considered him to have a role in the game of thrones more vital than we are aware of. So, here comes one of the most famous fan theories out there:

R+L=J

Let’s start from the beginning. During Robert’s Rebellion, Lyanna Stark is allegedly kidnapped and raped by Rhaeger Targaryen, and kept hidden at the Tower of Joy. Ned and four friends go to rescue her only to find three of the King’s Guard, including Arthur Dane who is described as the best swordsman ever to live, guarding the tower. Only Ned and Howland Reed survives the fight, but only to find Lyanna lying in a bad of blood. There, Lyanna extracts a promise from Ned, shortly before her dead. When the war ends, Ned returns Winterfell with a baby, which he claims to be his bastard. That baby is Jon Snow.

These are the facts from the books. So probably you can figure of what R,L and J mean in this theory by yourself now. They stand for Rhaeger, Lyanna and Jon and imply Jon is Rhaeger and Lyanna’s son, not Ned’s. Let’s move to the evidences that support this theory.

First of all, King’s Guard. Knights in the guard are tasked with protecting the king and the royal blood. So, three Guards’, including the best swordsman in the realm, presence in the Tower of Joy implies that there was also royal blood in the tower. Lyanna dies in a bed of blood in a room decorated with roses. There is a good chance that it was due to child birth. A room decorated with roses suggests that Rhaeger didn’t kidnap and rape Lyanna, but they were in love. Thirdly, the name of the tower. The Tower of Joy sounds like a perfect place to make some babies.

All of Ned Stark’s children are described as having Tully features, except for Arya and Jon who have similar features. Arya is described as resembling Lyanna, which indicates that Jon looked like her, too.

Lastly, there is a bit about Dany. In the House of Undying she sees some visions relating to this theory. In one of the m Rhaeger is speaking to Elia of Dorne, his wife, who is nursing their second newborn child. Rhaeger goes on to say: “There must be one more. The dragon has three heads.” However Elia is sick and incapable of bearing another child. This is why Rhaeger  finds Lyanna to give birth to a third child. Another vision is a blue rose growing on the Wall. Blue rose is Lyanna’s favorite flower, so fans believe that blue rose on the wall is to indicate Jon’s true parentage.

You can read more about this theory on here and see all of the related quotes from the books here.

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Nuclear Power Safety and Accidents Pt. 2: Three Mile Island Accident

A simplified PWR schematic

The first accident I’ll look at is the Three Mile Island Accident, which was a Pressurized Water Reactor. The accident is the most significant one in the USA. Even though there were no deaths caused by the accident itself or the radiation emitted due to the accident,  the public backslash was so huge that in the following two decades after the accident there hasn’t been any nuclear plant productions. The events led to the accident, is believed to start with a blockage in a condensate polisher, which are filters designed to clean the minerals and impurities in water. After the blockage, the heat and pressure rose in the reactor. At that time, SCRAM was performed, but the decay heat couldn’t be eliminated because water wasn’t going to the steam turbines. They activated the auxiliary water pumps, however, because, they had been closed for routine maintenance a few days ago, the system was unable to pump any water. So in order to decrease the pressure, pressure realizer valve was planned to be open for 8 seconds, but because of a malfunction in the system it got stuck and went unnoticed. The indicator in the control room only showed whether a close signal was sent, not whether it was actually closed or not. Coolant was lost rapidly through the open valve, turning this into a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA). Steam voids due to high heat formed in the coolant channel, further preventing the flow of coolant and heat transfer. Since the voids were forming more rapidly than the coolant lost through the open valve, operators were lead to believe water levels were increasing. In fact the situation was the exact opposite. This resulted in the cut of Emergency Coolant Flow, which could have prevented the formation of voids if it hadn’t been cut. At the end, with of the coolant lost, reactor core became exposed, and zirconium oxidation took place.

The fuel rods in a nuclear plant are covered with zirconium, which is an alloy with low neutron absorption, high hardness, ductility and resistance. However, when exposed the steam at high temperature the following reaction takes place and hydrogen forms: Zr + 2H2O → ZrO2 + 2H2. Hydrogen explodes when mixed with air. This reaction also melts the fuel pellets and releases radioactive ions.

All of these happened in Three Mile Island, yet only when a shift change happened and workers with a new mindset came into the plant, did they recognize that what they had in their hands was actually a LOCA. They closed the backup valve to stop coolant loss, but by that time plant was already seriously contaminated and partial meltdown had occurred. So what they did next was to release the radioactive steam into the atmosphere to drop the pressure. Considering all of the mistakes made by the operators, it is actually a miracle that no one bwas harmed by the accident.the staff it is a miracle that no one was actually harmed or got sick due to radiation poisoning.

Trivia Round Up: June

Apart fro Inside Out, I wasn’t able to review the movies I’ve seen this month, so I just share tiny bits of trivia about each of them that I find interesting. I’m borrowing the concept from another blog called Flick Chicks, and so if you want to read more interesting trivia bits, you should definitely check it out.

Inside Out (2015)

Some of the memory balls in Riley’s mind contain scenes from other Pixar movies, such as Carl and Ellie’s wedding in Up (2009).

I can’t believe I missed it. It makes me want to see the movie twice. BONUS: Peter David posted on his blog an interesting theory about the genders of the emotions. Check it out!

Jurassic World (2015)

According to the filmmakers, the T-Rex in the film is the same T-Rex that appeared in the original Jurassic Park. She bears visible scars from the climactic fight with the Velociraptors in the first film.

T-Rex ❤

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In creating the look of the film, director George Miller laid down two stipulations for the production to follow. Firstly the cinematography would be as colorful as possible in order to differentiate the film from other post apocalyptic movies which typically have bleak desaturated colors. Secondly the art direction would be as beautiful as possible, as Miller reasoned that people living in the post apocalypse would try to find whatever scraps of beauty they could in their meager environment.

Mad Max is truly one of the most beautiful movies ever made. It is just gorgeous to look at, and I never thought why. The reasons go to prove George Miller’s genius.

Tomorrowland (2015)

Brad Bird was sought out as the first choice for the director’s job of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015). Bird respectfully declined the offer in order to do this film. Bird stated, “It’s rare to do a film of size that’s original, so those opportunities can’t be missed either.” Bird went on to say, he is a huge Star Wars fan though and he looks forward (as a fan) to seeing the film like everyone else.

So he turned down Star Wars for this? WTF? And how come it is original? It is based on a theme park, for crying out loud. Even if it was, that’s no reason to turn down a Star Wars movie. 

Fan Theory Fridays

Fan theories are fun. From the famous R + L = J to tinfoils there are many out there in the world wide web. Some of them are well-respected to the point that there are treated as canon, and some of them are just, well, tinfoild. Nevertheless they are fun. It’s great reading someone connect little, seemingly irrelevant points in texts or scripts to draw to groundbreaking conclusions, so I decided to share one every Friday, starting with my favorite. I found it while browsing Reddit, and I don’t want to spoil it by saying anything, but you can definitely expect to have a good laugh. It is a theory about the Harry Potter series and how a certain misprint in the Prisoner of Azkaban actually reveals a horrifying secret of Professor McGonagall.

The original printing of “The Prisoner of Azkaban” contained an alleged continuity error that was corrected in later printings. However, if instead we examine the issue through the lens of the story’s time travel, the conclusion is much more disturbing.

The background: Hermione Granger is in possession of the powerful “Time Turner” that enables her to travel back in time so that she can attend multiple classes at the same time. Late in the story, she and Harry Potter use the Time Turner and watch their past-selves from afar

Read the full theory here!

Inside Out Review

For the last few decades Pixar Studios has been the number one name in animation. Although their recent recycled hits such as Cars 2 and Monster University weren’t acclaimed by the critics, Inside Out proves that the animation powerhouse is still on fire. The buzz surrounding the movie was huge since the Cannes screening, but the trailers had failed to get my hyped up to be honest. Fortunately the movie showed that all that buzz wasn’t for nothing.

Synopsis: Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Inside Out is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, so far. (It is actually tied with Mad Max: Fury Road for the first place.) It has a good script, funny enough to keep you cracking out with laughter for the whole duration which is a very rare quality in movies nowadays, visually mesmerizing and most importantly it is creative. After tons of sequels that come our way, watching an original story is a fresh breath. The film is a wonderful and imaginative take on adolescence, growing up and maturity with lots of fun moments.

My main concern with Inside Out was that it would be too childish based on the teasers and trailers. However director Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc.) successfully manages to create a fine balance between too childish and too serious. Even a topic like depression is delicately handled. I especially loved it that depression isn’t depicted as extreme sadness, but rather as lack of all emotions, joy and sadness alike. The only point that I might talk negatively is the last act. After a while the plot starts to seem like it makes use of the same formula over and over again, and it might feel repetitive. Yet, even at those times the movie never bores you, and this formulaic structure can be easily overlooked.

Since I’ve seen it dubbed in Turkish, but from the clips I’ve watched on Pixar’s YouTube channel, all of the voice actors seem very fitting. Especially in the reviews I’ve read, Phyllis Smith’s work as Sadness is told to be amazing, and Joy, who is actually just Leslie Knope’s animated counterpart, should be a piece of cake for Amy Poehler. You can check all of the promotional videos, including the teasers with the cast, on Pixar’s Youtube channel.

Speaking of cast, we should also mention the characters. Our main two emotions are Joy and Sadness. Although it starts like Joy is the one we should cheer for, and Sadness is just a slob who messes up everything, the movie takes an interesting turn and you find yourself sympathizing greatly with Sadness. Inside Out shows that just like life is not black and white, emotions cannot be simplified either, and you need Sadness in your life as much as you need joy.

Outstanding in every way, Inside Out is a movie that you shouldn’t miss, and definitely watch in theater if possible to enjoy the beautiful visuals in the best way possible. 9.5/10

Nuclear Power Safety and Accidents Pt. 1: Nuclear Plants and the Essentials

Today, there is a constant need for energy and nuclear fission is one of the most efficient sources of energy. Yet, in public’s eyes, nuclear power is considered to be extremely dangerous and unsafe. Accidents in the past years contribute to this perception. However in order to fully understand the real danger in nuclear power, we have to take a close look at this accidents. Before we do that, I want to briefly mention how nuclear plants functions and the basics of nuclear power.

How Nuclear Plants Work

Nuclear plants generate energy by nuclear fission which is a reaction where massive elements (usually uranium) split into smaller nuclei with the additional release of free neutrons and protons in the form of radiation. Even one reaction produces a large amount of energy. This energy is converted to heat, and then electricity is generated. However nuclear reactions are chain reaction with reaction rates growing exponentially. Although it is ideal for nuclear bombs, reactions in the nuclear reactors must be controlled in order to prevent a meltdown. There are various mechanisms that helps with controlling the chain reactions. The most important one is the control rods in the reactors. These rods absorb neutrons and prevent them from splitting further uranium atoms. They can be inserted and removed from the core which allow operators to control the neutron flux.

Another mechanism is called SCRAM, which stands for safety control rod axe man. After initiation of this procedure, all of the control rods are inserted to the reactor within four seconds, and the nuclear fission come to an immediate end. However, this doesn’t mean that SCRAM is the ultimate solution to prevent a meltdown. In fact, in all of the accidents that will be examined in the next posts, SCRAM was performed and the meltdown occurred after that. The reason for that is even though the neutrons produced by direct fission is immediately slowed; slower neutrons from the radioactive decay of the products limit the shutdown. Due to this decay, about 7% of the initial power of the reactor remains and then decreases. This heat is called the decay heat, and it is the main reason of most meltdowns. The ultimate shutdown state is the cold shutdown, which means even if the water pressure is readjusted to atmospheric pressure the water doesn’t boil.

There are various types of nuclear plants. The most commonly used one is Pressurized Water Reactor which constitutes a large majority of all Western power plants. It is a light water reactor and there are other types of it as well, such as Boiling Water Reactors and Supercritical Water Reactors. These reactors use water both as coolant and neutron moderators. It means water cools the system and slows down the fast neutrinos. Another type of reactors, RBMK reactors, also use water as a coolant and but use graphite instead as a moderator. I’ll describe the design features of these reactors in more details in the following posts.

INES Scale

So far, there have been ninety-nine nuclear power related accidents worldwide. The severity of these accidents is classified according to a logarithmic scale called INES (International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale), which ranges from 0 (deviation) to 7 (major accident). Of these 99 nuclear power related accidents, there are three major accidents which take place in a nuclear power plant: Three Mile Island accident, Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima Daiichi accident. These accidents have an INES level of 5(accident with wider consequences), 7 and 7, respectively. All three accidents have cost great financial damage, however apart from the Chernobyl disaster there haven’t been any major casualties. By looking at these accidents, we’ll also look at three problems of nuclear plants which are oxidation of zirconium, reactor poisoning and spent fuel pools, respectively.

A Series on Nuclear Power Safety and Accidents

This year I took a course called Modern Physics, which was infamous for being the most difficult course my high school had to offer. For the second’s term final, we had to do a seminar on a topic of our own choosing and mine was “Nuclear Power Accidents and Safety”. I’m from Turkey, and currently two nuclear power plants are under construction. When the news first broke in 2010, I, with the rest of the public, was quite concerned for our safety. For me nuclear power was Chernobyl, and Chernobyl was horrible. However, doing this project made me realize that it wasn’t a black-and-white issue. There are a lot of grey areas and misconceptions when it comes to Nuclear Power. Especially looking at the behind the scenes of the accidents are quite interesting in terms of seeing how small, careless mistakes can escalate into huge disasters. During my presentation I analysed three specific events which are the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disaster. Of course, before starting talking about them I have to briefly explain how nuclear plants operate and some basics. So, below is the general flow. I’ll update this post with links and edits as I write the series.

Science in Jurassic World

I finally got a chance to watch Jurassic World, and although it was entertaining, I was a little disappointed. I had seen the original Jurassic Park movies when I was little, and was fascinated enough to consider being a paleontologist for a time period. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs -and still don’t actually- but watching the Jurassic Park movies made me admire them and  the scientists who studied what is left of them. And this is one of the problems with Jurassic World. There is no science. None of the main characters are scientist and the main scientist is just a flat antagonist. As for the dinosaurs, they seem more like fantasy monsters rather than real animals. The velociraptors in the original movie were the most cunning and dangerous hunters of the nature. The chase scenes would and still does give me the chills. Now, in the new movie, they are reduced to pets. I don’t think anyone who grew up with Jurassic Park movies would find this idea credible. Sure, it is a movie and suspension of disbelief is a movie watcher’s best friend, but this one doesn’t create enough verisimilitude to facilitate that.

The video above is the scene from Jurassic Park where we are first told about the raptors. Compare it with the raptors in Jurassic World and you’ll see the problem.

The second issue with Jurassic World has nothing to do with science, yet in terms of believability it’s even worse. Our female protagonist Claire Dearing spends the entire movie in high-heels. Considering she works as a executive manager to at this park, it is perfectly OK for her to be dressed in this attire. Until she starts running from the dinosaurs in the woods in the same heels. Deciding on a character’s outfit doesn’t require scientific counselors, it is just common sense. Jurassic Park had Dr. Ellie Sattler, who, as a paleobotanist, made for a much more suitable protagonist. You can read more about the contrasting styles on Clothes on Films¹ .

Claire Dearing vs. Ellie Sattler

These two are the problems that bothered me. Of course, as it is expected from any blockbuster, there are many scientific inaccuracies that bother the scientists and other knowledgable people on these areas. Here are a few I thought that were the most interesting.

The Feather Debate

No one knows what the dinosaurs exactly look like, but still we have a somewhat rough idea. Their depiction of the carnivores in Jurassic World is not exactly accurate, which is actually a little understandable. You want them to look especially dangerous. However, there is one aspect that was completely ignored. We know dinosaurs are the ancestors of the birds, and there is more to that. According to a recent discovery, almost all dinosaurs had feathers covering their bodies.

Velocity Issue

In the Jurassic Park movie, we see a T-Rex chasing a Jeep. In Jurassic World, we see Claire Dearing (in her essential heels) outrunning a T-Rex. Which one is correct? Surprisingly, Jurassic World got this one right. According a study, a T-Rex’s max speed is between 10 and 25 miles an hour, which is roughly between 15 and 40 km/h. It means if you are fast, you can actually outrun a T-Rex.

For more scientific issues in Jurassic World, you can check this article on Vocative.

¹Clothes on Film is a very interesting site which feature detailed and also fun analysis of costumes in movies, with lots of interviews and reviews. It’s definitely worth checking.

How to Save Lois Lane

In my previous post I talked about how it is nearly impossible for Spider-Man to save a falling person by shooting a web. The necessary force to immediately stop fast-moving things are too great for human bones to handle. So if that’s the case, how can superheroes constantly save falling people while still being scientifically accurate. Well, one good example of the is from Superman, where Superman saves first Louis Lane and then a falling helicopter. I haven’t seen the movie, but was aware of the scene due to this discussion in The Big Bang Theory.

For those who are too lazy to watch it is basically the same argument. As soon as Superman catches Louis, she should be sliced into three parts because of the force Superman’s arms insert. But this time, Leonard proposes a solution. If Superman matches Louis’ speed and decelerates, then he can hold her without damaging. Of course, Sheldon dismisses this and says there isn’t enough space and time.

Yesterday, after writing the post, I was reminded of this scene. So I decided to watch it and realized that Leonard was, in fact, right. If you look closely you can see that when Superman catches Lois, they are still going downwards. This means that Superman indeed matches her speed and the decelerates to cause no harm. Now, that’s how you save falling people.

What Ever Happened to Gwen Stacy

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or aren’t familiar with the comics, read at your own risk.

Up until The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Spidey’s girlfriend in the movies and the cartoons was Mary Jane, and Gwen Stacy was never mentioned. If you’ve ever wondered why, you got your answer at the end of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Gwen died during a battle between Spider-Man and Green Hoblin. Although Spider-Man claims Goblin “killed the woman [he] loved,” it is actually Spidey himself who caused Gwen’s death. Here is a physical explanation:

In physics, impulse is the change in momentum and expressed as follows:

F • t = m • Δv

We can use it to estimate the force Gwen experiences when she is suddenly stopped either by hitting the ground or by Spider-Man’s web. Since Emma Stone is 52 kg, we’ll take it as Gwen’s mass. Let’s say the time the force is applied for 0.1 seconds. Now all we need is the change in her velocity. Gwen falls from the George Washington Bridge, which has a height of 184. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that g (gravitational constant) is 10m/s^2. Using 

Vf^2=Vi^2 + 2ad

the final velocity of Gwen is found to be 60m/s. It is also the change in her velocity when Spider-Man stops her with his web. Putting this all in the initial equation, the force Spidey’s web apply on Gwen is nearly 30,000N. For comparison our bones can withstand up to 4000N. So in Gwen’s instance the only way Spidey could save Gwen, would have been shooting a large web and using it as a life net in order to increase the time the force is applied.

Here is the scene from the movie. It’s a little ambiguous whether she hits the ground or not, but there is a clear snap sound that would imply that.