Dracula, Static Electricity and The Octopus has Elbows

I thought that these stories were interesting.

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula was by no means the first vampire story. It was the culmination of a writing tradition of Gothic horror stories that had begun nearly eighty years earlier with “The Vampyre,” by John Polidori. (Was he a relative of mine, I wonder?) Others followed, like “Varney the Vampire” (1847), a serial that ran in magazines called “penny dreadfuls” for more than two years, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” (1871), which centered around a lesbian vampire.

But Dracula was a departure. In Stoker’s hands, the vampire became all-powerful, the embodiment of evil-and a creature whose immortality was bound up in a rich cocktail of blood, sex, and death.

Ironically, though the novel was first published in English in 1893, Romania’s most famous fictional resident, Count Dracula, was almost unknown there until 1992. Only with the fall of communism was Bram Stoker’s classic finally translated and published in Romania.

But the question remained, could Vlad Tepes have been the model for Stoker’s infamous Count?

What is known of Vlad the Impaler comes from a series of lurid stories dating back to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. They depict a man surrounded in corpses, a tyrant and madman, who literally drank the blood of his enemies. There are good reasons to think that Stoker was struck by this evil character and borrowed his surname, “Dracula,” because he thought it meant “son of the devil,” to create his own vampire. In fact, it meant “son of the dragon,” and this was because Vlad’s father had joined an order of knighthood called the Order of the Dragon. Dragon is written dracul in Romanian, and so Dracula literally means “son of Dracul.”

Read the whole story Or move along and learn about the power of static electricity.

“As you keep walking across the floor, you become full of electrons,” said Todd Hubing, from the Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory at the University of Missouri-Rolla. “Eventually more electrons don’t want to come up on you because you’re so charged up. You end up with a high voltage, about 20,000 to 25,000 volts.”

That’s serious power at your fingertips, considering a normal electrical outlet on the wall is only around 100 volts of electricity.”

Read the whole story Or move along and read about the octopus and its elbow.

“You might never expect to tell a wobbly armed octopus to keep its elbows off the dinner table, but new research reveals the creatures stiffen their arms to form human-like joints to guide food to their mouths.

A three-jointed human arm has only seven degrees of freedom (DOFs), which are defined as the types of movements each joint can perform. Your shoulder and wrist each have three DOFs—each can tilt up and down, turn left and right, and can roll in a circular motion. Your elbow, however, only has one DOF, which is tilting up and down.

Scientists consider each of an octopus’ eight arms to possess a virtually infinite number of degrees of freedom, allowing them to bend and twist freely. But when it’s time to eat, octopuses use their flexible muscles to form temporary, quasi-articulated joints that work similarly to how human joints function.”

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