What happens is that the sun, whilst supplying our lovely planet with energy for us to live (yay, sun!)
also gives off these lovely rays in the energy domain of ultraviolet light, which most of you probably know as the reason we get sunburns when we are outside too long in the summer (boo, sun. ). Another detrimental effect of this UV radiation is the fading of LEGO pieces. Why/how does it fade them? Well, Earth is extra special in that its atmosphere has wonderfully healthy amounts of oxygen (O2) gas which we need to breathe and live (yay, oxygen!). Not only do we like oxygen, but so does ABS plastic, from which LEGO is made. The plastic has a compound in it that possesses bromine which, for those of you who do not know your periodic tables, is a halogen in the second to last column of the periodic table and is, thus, highly reactive when on its own. Fortunately, it is nestled in the ABS compound, but this doesn't quite satiate its need for buddies to bond with it (because it's greedy that way), so it decides to find more buddies to bond with in our own air – the very oxygen we breathe!
What does UV radiation have to do with this? Well, it turns out that bonding takes energy, and the bromine within the ABS does not have the energy by its lonesome to absorb a buddy oxygen from the air (since oxygen gas is fairly stable and thus requires more energy to separate). So, the UV radiation of the sun is just the kick it needs to bond with oxygen, thus producing this:
Ugly, huh? But, someone discovered that our friend hydrogen peroxide (with a catalyst found in oxi-clean detergents) is able to reverse this process with the help of – guess what – UV radiation. That's right, the same thing that triggers the fading is also what allows it to reverse! Weird, huh? I decided to try this process on some of my faded white and gray pieces from some of my older sets (circa 1998-2000, mostly Adventurers theme) and this was the lovely result:
The difference is like night and day. For those of you wondering if it affected the printing on the skulls of the skeletons or the minifig bodies, the answer is no, it did not. Truly remarkable and a relief that my old pieces can shine as the pearly whites they were meant to be.
Night Lord's Castle: Awesome. It's pretty much everything a creepy castle run by a vampire and witch should have: bats adorning the entrance and tower, a prison cell in the tall tower for the good guys, and the eerie crystal ball predicting the doom of anyone who dares oppose them make the atmosphere wonderfully appropriate. Basil's throne is a nice touch in the main room of the castle, and the large oak doors on the side give it a sinister majesty (note, I have it in the configuration of the front of the instructions/box, for those curious). Also, the fact that it's swarming with guards add to the "do not mess with us because we're evil and magical" vibe.
Alien Avenger: The epitome of a UFO. It's a giant (for LEGO) flying saucer manned (?) by three aliens and an android guy with two extraterrestrial buggies to explore various worlds. Oh, and Alpha Dragonis' ship detaches from the main vessel. Pretty darn cool. The rotating laser canons on the front and the magnetic buggy-lifting hose are great touches and makes me want to reenact a scene of aliens abducting cattle (I need to obtain some LEGO moos!).
Sorry for the lack of pictures. I promise when I get a decent picture-taking apparatus (the iPhone 3G's camera is surprisingly lacking compared to my old phone) I will post pics.
EDIT: Picture of the Alien Avenger:
I should also review some of my other 90s sets some other time while I'm at it. I miss those days.
My roommate dressed as Sherlock Holmes, and I dressed as his colleague, Dr. John H. Watson. I had a fun time. 8D
New comic (and topic) have been posted over in the comics forum! Check it out!
To address the maths in the new comic, the first sum is
1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + ... = Sum(2^n), where n = 0, 1, 2, 3, ... all the way up to infinity. Now, if we look at the partial sums of this series, we see that the sum of the first term is 1, the first two terms is 3, the first three terms is 7, first four terms is 15, etc. Clearly, the sum gets bigger the more terms you add on. However, let's say that we have
s = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + ...
We can rewrite this by using the distributive property,
s = 1 + 2 (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + ...)
But, what's inside the parentheses is clearly the sum we had before, so we can rewrite this as
s = 1 + 2s
Subtracting s from both sides, we get
0 = 1 + s
Therefore, s = -1 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + ... So, while the sum does not converge to a number in the traditional sense, it still has some other meaning that says that it is equivalent to -1. Similarly,
1 - 2 + 4 - 8 + ... = Sum((-2)^n) where n = 0, 1, 2, 3, ... all the way up to infinity, or
s = 1 - 2 + 4 - 8 + ...
We can again rewrite this as
s = 1 - 2(1 - 2 + 4 - 8 + ...)
What's inside the parentheses is, again, the sum, so
s = 1 - 2s, or 3s = 1. Therefore, s = 1/3 So, while the partial sums (1, -1, 3, -5, 11, ...) get larger in magnitude (with alternating +/- signs), the sum is still on some higher level equal to 1/3. Neat, huh?
If this doesn't make sense, that's okay, because it is confusing and highly mathematical. What I think is cool, though, is that you can still show these two statements using alternative mathematical methods, meaning that these values are consistent with different techniques. It's about as awesome to me as how classical physics comes out of quantum mechanics when you take the limit of quantum mechanics for a "large" (classical) system.
I love math and science. 8D
As you may or may not have noticed, I haven't yet put life back into my comics topic (and by that, I mean re-posting said topic with new comics). I am, however, currently working on a new comic for the rebirth of Akano's Comics, so stay tuned for that.
Also, super-happy-fun news, I have recently acquired Night Lord's Castle from the classic Fright Knights theme of LEGO System, and I have to say, it is quite the awesome set. Basil's pad is something to envy, I must say.
As for life, I am currently in my first semester of graduate school and recently went through the privilege (read: trauma) of taking a graduate-level quantum mechanics in-class exam. That was four questions long. And was only given 80 minutes. It was great.
Thus, if my schedule for making comics remains the way it was before (i.e. unpredictable) I hope you understand why, because it's not necessarily that I'm forgetting about this place or you. Heart-promise.
I also got a green laser pointer. It's much fun to take long exposure photos of writing your own name on a wall in a dark room in green laser.
Also, there's a new-ish comic up in my topic. If you haven't seen it, it has some physics and a good meme joke. 8D
I just got an e-mail last night accepting me into one of the graduate schools I've applied to! Akano is on his way to torturing physics students by lecturing them to death on how trumpets work. 8D
Also, I got the new Pharaoh's Quest 7327 Scorpion Pyramid. While Jake Raines is no Johnny Thunder, I have to say that LEGO having a new Egypt line makes me happy. 8D
Akano Toa of Electricity
Stone Champion Nuva
+2 for Premier Membership
+1 from Pohuaki for reporting various things in Artwork
Real Name: Forever Shrouded in Mystery
Likes: Science, Math, LEGO, Bionicle, Ponies, Comics, Yellow, Voice Acting
Notable Facts: One of the few Comic Veterans still around
Has been a LEGO fan since ~1996
Bionicle fan from the beginning
Misses the 90's. A lot.