Why Gold Looks Golden Instead Of Silver

Today I Learned something really awesome and mind-boggling! So naturally I’m going to geek out about it.

Relativity, in extremely oversimplified terms, is the universal law that when things go fast everything gets weird. Time slows down, mass increases, all the things we think of as constants turn out not to be so constant, you and your twin have an awkward birthday reunion. However, when we say fast, we mean really really fast, measurable fractions of the speed of light: the kind of fast that, in general, does not apply to our day-to-day lives. Relativity is therefore associated most strongly with astrophysics and space technology (satellite-based GPS is the classic example of a real life application) and things that operate on a very, very large scale.

However! It turns out it’s also really important on a very, very small scale.

Atoms, as you may or may not recall, have a nucleus made of protons and neutrons (except for hydrogen, which don’t need no neutrons kthx), and then electrons orbit around this centre like tiny planets around a sun. The number of electrons in particular (and the way they are arranged into layers or shells around the nucleus) is important because they tend to have a big effect on the chemical behaviour of an atom.

But as you start getting into really heavy elements, with big bulky centres, the electrons have to move faster to keep up their orbits. So fast that they are actually moving at… measurable fractions of the speed of light.

And so relativity becomes a Thing.

Which brings us to the title: the reason that gold is yellow in colour is because its electrons are moving fast enough for relativistic effects to apply. Most other metals (apart from copper, which has its own shit going on) are silvery or grey in colour; gold would be too, except that the effects of relativity cause it to absorb more blue light than other colours, making it appear yellow to our eyes.

(It gets even weirder when you go much further along the table, into the semi-charted territory of superheavy elements that are so unstable they don’t exist in nature.)

So there you go. Next time you look at something made of gold, remember that its soft warm pretty colour is because its electrons are screaming around at unthinkable speeds that warp the fabric of spacetime and gobble up blue light!

I think that’s neat.

Further reading: Relativistic Quantum Chemistry (Wikipedia)

Website Stuff

Just a note that I am noodling around with customising my website layout at the moment, so you might see some weird layouts and graphics as I tinker. I was planning to start out with a basic WordPress template but apparently I am Very Picky about what I like in a layout, and I haven’t been able to find anything that works for me, so OFF I GO TO RELEARN PHP…

(Pretty sure no-one’s actually looking right now, but just in case. 😛 )

The Secret Ingredient Is Angst

So far, the Celestial Chronicle rewrite seems to consist mostly of me making Shoichi sad, so, uh… yeah.

It’s partly because I realised that years of writing fanfic had taught me to keep a fairly flat character arc. When people are reading your stuff because they love the characters as they already are, you don’t want to change them too much. In original fiction, though, that translated into my characters entering the story in their Final Form, with all the confidence and determination they should by all rights be earning through the course of the narrative.

For Akemi, the rewrite has meant leaning harder into her impulsive side, and letting her be truly reckless before she learns to be a better leader. For Shoichi, it means a greater emphasis on his loneliness, sense of alienation, and anxiety. I had not quite anticipated how badly I was going to be giving myself feels with this.

And one thing leads to another: if I change the way he sees himself and the world, it changes his relationship with Satoru and his feelings on meeting him again, changes his reaction to becoming Luna, changes his friendship with Akemi. Not, I hope, to an unrecognisable degree. Shoichi is still Shoichi, and he still has some Thoughts on defying genre convention, and Akemi is Trying Really Hard, and Satoru is… probably off listening to Linkin Park somewhere, tbqh. But their edges are rougher. And Shoichi is sad, and I keep having to resist the urge to write the fluffy High School AU version of my own story.

“So I don’t have a choice?”
“You… always have a choice, Luna. You can reject the power of the Guard by returning the medallion to me.”
“And then someone else will take my place?”
“No. You are Guardian Luna; there cannot be another.”
“And if I don’t do it, this… Multitude will just keep taking people’s souls, and eventually destroy the world?”
“That is their goal.”
“Then I don’t have a choice. Not really. Do I?”

Why I’ve Taken Down ‘Celestial Chronicle’

Sol, Luna, and Kestrel do their best impression of a famous Sailor Moon colour illustration
Sol, Luna, and Kestrel do their best impression of a famous Sailor Moon colour illustration

Short Version:

I’m rewriting extensively and have realised that posting chapter-by-chapter doesn’t work for me. The plan is to turn the series into a trilogy of three novels, and I’m aiming to have the first book (Web of Shadows) done this year. Follow this blog for updates, and I’ll also be posting more on Twitter and Tumblr as I go.

Long Version:

Celestial Chronicle is my anime-esque magical girl series that I started writing in 2015 with the intention of publishing it serially on my website and on Archive of Our Own. It stalled when I ran into a combination of writer’s block and the first bout of what turned out to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Continue reading →

Blog, Blogger, Bloggest

Is this thing on?

It’s weird how things go in circles. I used to have Livejournals (childofatlantis was my main) until the site fell apart. I moved to Dreamwidth (brightwanderer) and put my fanfic on AO3 (Atalan), but never really found the sort of community that I’d had on LJ. Eventually I got on Tumblr (seaskystone), but I’ve found that I don’t like it for text-heavy content, and now it’s heading down the same death spiral as LJ in the war between content producers and advertisers.

So here I am starting an Actual Blog and feeling weirdly old-fashioned about it, even though blogging has never really gone away. I also feel like I should be producing only Serious Blog Content or something. That, uh. That may not happen. I like to shitpost as much as anyone.

Anyway this is where you will find my Very Important Thoughts on writing, on various useful things I’ve learned and would like to share, and on my current creative projects. There may occasionally be Bad Art to illustrate my progress in teaching myself to draw. There will probably be random updates about my life. And there will definitely be cat pictures.

I am blep cat see me blep
I am blep cat see me blep