Saturday, June 4, 2016


New Location

Hello all, Anime Science 101 has moved and been restarted over at

I plan to continue with the exploration of science in anime on a regular basis with one update a week on Sat, or Sun during the school year.  I will be trying to add a second update each week on Wednesday during the summer.

Also you can catch me at Anime Midwest and Otakon this summer.

Thanks everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online

            Sword Art online or SAO has a number of different scientific and technological issues that I can explore.  The most popular of these topics, specifically the possibility of having a real life version of SAO, will not be explored today.  My reason for this is because I am not an expert on computers, it needs technology that has yet to be invented, and well I think it’s been done to death already.  Today we will looking at motion sickness, and how it relates to SAO.

            Before tackling motion sickness also known as kinetosis or travelers sickness, we need to know how the human body detects motion.  The vestibular system, is the part of the human sensory system that detects motion and spatial awareness.  The vestibular system is broken into two parts, the eye provides visual detection of movement, and the inner ear which detects changes in acceleration.  Also all of the nerves for these sensory systems run directly to and from the brain and do not enter the spinal cord.

            The signals from the eyes are processed in the occipital lobe of the brain, and used to determine if the body is moving.  The second and less well known part of the system is the inner ear specifically the vestibule and semicircular canal.

            The vestibule detects the body’s orientation in space.  Basically the vestibule is why you always know which way is up after being spun around, underwater, in an avalanche or any other situation.  The semicircular canals on the other hand detect angular acceleration of the head, vertical (nod your head up and down), horizontal (rotate the head side to side) and lateral (nod your head to the left and right).  The brain then combines information from both of these system to determine if the body is moving.

            There are currently three different causes for motion sickness, two of these involve the stretching of muscles and nerves involved in the vestibular system, and are not relevant to the current discussion.  The third and most common cause of motion sickness, is a disconnection between the two halves of the vestibular system.  Simplified what this means is that the eyes detect motion, and the vestibular system does not, or the eyes do not detect motion and the vestibular system does.  The body’s response to this disconnection, is to become nauseas and in many cases induce vomiting.  Before you think that this is just some quirk of our biology, there is an evolutionary basis for this response.  Many plants contain various neurotoxins, which can cause visual hallucinations, and expelling these plants before they killed you would be a good thing.

            Now what does all of this have to do with SAO, well a lot if you think about it.  Nerve gear the advanced technology that makes SAO possible is explained to use advanced technology to block nerve signals from traveling into or out of the brain via the spinal cord.  This is so the individual can run and move around in the game without moving their body in the real world.  A face plate provides the visual information so the player can see what they are doing.

            Specifically the nerve gear is explained as stimulating the five senses, sight, sound, taste, touch, and hearing.  There is no mention of a sense of motion.  Thus as explained, the nerve gear is setting people for developing motion sickness, as they would see motion, but not feel it.  The degree to which people will develop motion sickness will vary as some are more susceptible than others.  Thus the ability of SAO to completely replicate a virtual environment is

            However I am more than willing to give Reki Kawahara a pass because, A I think SAO is pretty darn cool, and B he most likely isn’t a science person and did not have knowledge of this in the first place.

            PS- Now that the summer is here I really want to try and do at least one post a week so if you have anything you want to see let me know.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anime hair

Anime Law 31

               As we can see from the above picture of Negi Springfield’s Class 2-A from Mahora any and all hair colors can and will be seen in anime.  This is also known as Anime Law number 31
Law of Follicular Chromatic Variability- Any color in the visible spectrum is considered a natural color.

Human hair color

               Sadly, human hair and eye color is not nearly as diverse.  A small sampling of the different hair colors present in humans is shown below.

               The two colors missing from the above diagram are varying shades of red, and silver. 

What causes Human hair color?

               All colors human or otherwise, are caused by pigments.  Pigments are chemicals that absorb certain wavelengths of light, and reflect other wavelengths.  This is referred to as an absorption spectrum and is unique to each pigment, and the reflected light is the color of the pigment.  The absorption spectrum of chlorophyll is seen below as an example.

               In the diagram we can see that chlorophyll absorbs blue and red light, reflecting green and yellow light.  This is why plants appear green in the spring and summer because they are reflecting green light.

               Melanin a group of pigments found in humans that colors our skin, hair, and eyes.  The role of melanin in the human body is to protect the body from excess ultraviolet radiation which can cause various mutations potentially leading to cancer.  This can be seen in the graph below.

               As seen above melanin has a higher absorption rate for violet and blue light, and then slowly tapers off into orange and red light, which is less damaging to the body.  The three main melanin pigments found in humans are eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin.  The first two play a role in human hair color and the last does not.

               Eumelanin has two subtypes, a black pigment, and a brown pigment
               Pheomelanin has only one type and that is a redish pigment

               It is the combination of these pigments that create the various shades and hues of human hair color

               Black hair- High concentrations of the black eumelanin sub type
               Brown hair- High levels of the brown eumelanin sub type with a low level of pheomelanin
               Blond hair- Low levels of eumelanin and pheomelanin determining the particular shade
               Red Hair- High levels pheomelanin with eumelanin determining the particular shade or hue
               Silver hair- Absence of any pigments

Non-human living organisms

               In nature one can see a wide variety of colors far beyond what is found in humans.  This is due to other pigments being used in the place of melanin.  Two of the more well known pigments are chlorophyll and carotenoid, which also have a variety of sub types conferring different colors.

Blue- yes its real just rare





               As we have just seen nature can and does use a variety of pigments that can create the colors see in anime hair.  Therefore I have determined anime hair color to be

               While we do not see the many anime hair colors as natural human hair colors at the present time, it does not mean that it cannot happen in the future.  Mankind is constantly changing and evolving over time so it is possible that at some point in the future we acquire a mutation leading to a new hair color.  The second point is that if our evolution had taken a slightly different path we could have ended up with different hair colors.  One only has to look at the bright coloration of many tropical bird species of which we share a common ancestor with in reptiles.

               I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading this post and maybe learned a thing or two.  I am always looking for new ideas and areas of research, so please let me know if you have an anime science question you want answered.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Super powered cybernetics

               The term cybernetics is commonly used to refer to the replacement of a person’s body parts with a technological replacement of some kind.  These replacements can run the gamut from a replacement organ to a replacement limb.  In the medical profession the term prosthetic is used when referring to a replacement limb, and artificial organ when referring to an internal body part.  At the current time modern medical science has created a wide range of prosthesis to replace missing body parts do to disease or injury.  Some of these include artificial arms, hands, legs, or feet, depending on the needs of the patient.  Despite the success of recently disgraced South African runner Oscar Pistorius, these replacement limbs have to completely match a normally functioning limb let alone exceed it.

Above the knee artificial leg

Below the elbow artificial arm

               In the world of anime and manga however the story is a bit different, with many characters gaining increased strength and ability from a replacement body part.  Some examples are shown below.

Edward Elric Full Metal Alchemist

Motoko Kusanagi

               As any fan of anime can probably tell me right now is that the Edward only has an artificial arm and leg, while the Major has an entirely cybernetic body.  This distinction is important and will be covered later on in the blog.  For now I will be looking at cybernetics where only part of the body is replaced such at Edward Elric.

Limits of the human body

               The human body is capable of performing many feats of strength and agility some of which are listed below.
Clean and Jerk Olympic record 411 lbs.
Squat world record 1268 lbs.
Bench press world record 722 lbs.

               Sadly to have any chance of being a real life superman you need to look something like this.

               Edward Elric he isn’t, but his size is needed in order to be able to lift such impressive amounts.  You will notice in the world’s strongest man competitor in the picture below the man’s entire body is quite large despite using his legs to lift the weight.

               The reason for this actually quite simple if the man’s back and arms were not strong, the act of lifting the weight would cause them to tear from their sockets.   Now this is not happening on a regular basis because most people lack the ability to lift a weight heavy enough to cause their own arms to tear from their sockets.

Partial Cybernetic Replacement

               This of course would be different for a person who was fitted with a super powered artificial limb if such a device could be built.  Now let’s take for instance Ross Syllabus shown below from Armitage the Third.

               Due to events in the movie his right arm is replaced up to the shoulder.  This enhanced limb allows him to operate heavy equipment with ease as shown above.  Now let’s examine his potential for greater than human ability.  If Ross uses his limb to crush a can or other object in his hand, then he will not run into any problems.  However should he try to use that arm to perform any action that required the support of the rest of his squishy body then the following will occur.


                Sadly our bodies are squishy and cannot support the extreme force of super powered cybernetics.  As such super powered cybernetic limbs are

Full Body Cybernetics

               There is however a caveat to the above rule and that is full body cybernetics.  In anime a full body cybernetics is used to refer to a person that has had their entire body except for the brain and or spinal cord replaced with a mechanical body.  Some of the more famous examples include the previously shown Motoko Kusanagi, Briareos (Appleseed), or Gally (Battle Angel Alita).



               A completely cybernetic body removes the problem of the squishy human body.  This is due to the artificial body supporting the weight removing any biological components from the equation.  As such super powered could be used up to the limit of the artificial body.  Thus, a completely cybernetic body has the potential to give a person super powered abilities, provided it can be built in the future.

               Thanks again for reading and I hope you learned something.  List any comments, questions, concerns, or recommendations below.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Black Lagoon

               Welcome class and please get out your physics books as this week’s lesson is on trajectory and Black Lagoon.  No we will not be examining bullet trajectories from the numerous shootouts found in the show, but the infamous boat scene.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, the clip can be found below.


               Now just at first glance, there are several factors that need to be examined, to determine if this stunt is possible in real life.  The speed of the boat, angle of the ramp, height of the helicopter, not to mention the strength of the ramp, and the strength of the boat’s hull.  For the purposes of this examination I will not be including the strength of the ramp or the strength boat’s hull.  The reason for this exclusion is because a PT boats hull is made out of wood, specifically mahogany, which while strong, does have its limits.  This is also the reason for excluding the strength of the sunken boat that is used as a ramp.  From the few shots that are shown of the boat it sports a fair amount of rust, and has been sitting there for an undetermined length of time.  Given the amount of force needed to launch a boat into the air, it is entirely possible that the PT boats hull or the ramp could give out as soon as they collide ending the myth right there.  Now given that the ramp is successfully used in the clip, we will assume that both the hull of the boat and the ramp are strong enough.


               In order to determine if the Black Lagoon can attack the helicopter with torpedoes, the trajectory of the Black Lagoon must be determined.  Trajectory is the path a projectile takes through space.  While the Black Lagoon is a PT and not a true projectile, once it leaves the water and can no longer propel itself, it can be considered one.  The type of trajectory that we are interested in is a ballistic trajectory.  In this type of motion the object moves both vertically and horizontally near the earth’s surface.  The force of gravity is the main force acting on the projectile so other forces like air resistance are excluded as their influence in this case would be negligible at best.

Basic Facts of the scene

               Before we begin diving into the math let’s consider the facts that will be used to consider if this particular scene is in fact possible.  In the picture below we can see that at the peak of its trajectory the Black Lagoon reaches a height greater than that of the helicopter.

               We can use a second picture to estimate the approximate altitude of the helicopter.

               In this picture we are concerned about the trees shown in the background as a way to determine the approximate altitude.  We can assume at this point in the show that the Black Lagoon is in an estuary close to Ronanapur, a fictional city in Thailand.  Mangrove trees are a common tree found in estuaries in Thailand.  There are several different species mangroves with a range of heights from 6 meters on the shorter side to species that can grow up to 35 meters on the larger side.  Now let’s assume that trees beneath the helicopter are of the shorter variety at 6 meters.  An examination of the image shows that the helicopter is two tree lengths from the water at a height of 12 meters.  Given the first image the Black Lagoon must reach a height of at least 12 meters for the scene to be possible.

The Math

               Projectile motion is motion in two directions and the equations for each are shown below.

x- Horizontal position
y- Vertical position
v- velocity- speed
t- Time
a- acceleration- change in speed= to the force of gravity at 9.8m/s2
f- Final
i- Initial

Determining horizontal position

               Xf = vt + Xi

Determining vertical position

               Yf = Yi +viti +atf2
               Vf2 = Vi2 +2a(Yf – Yi)

               The above equations work in situations where the object is not projected at an angle like a plate sliding off the edge of a table.  If the projectile is launched at an angle another wrinkle needs to be added in order to complete the calculations for a parabolic trajectory shown below.

               As shown in the diagram the angle of the launch determines the height and distance the projectile travels assuming each one is launched with the same initial speed.  For the purposes of this evaluation only the vertical component of the Black Lagoons trajectory will be considered as it does fly past the helicopter in the scene, and they can be considered close enough for the torpedoes to hit the target.  The maximum height will be determined for each of the three angles shown above

Calculating the vertical component of the initial velocity
                Vyi = Vxi(sin angle)

               The maximum speed of a PT boat is 76 kmph and it can be assumed that Dutch keeps the Black Lagoon in top form.  To make the math easier 76 kmph converts to 21.1 meters per second.

Vertical speed at 30 degrees

               Vyi = 21.1m/s x sin30
               Vyi = 21.1 x 0.5
               Initial vertical velocity at 30 degrees = 10.6 m/s

Vertical speed at 45 degrees

               Vyi = 21.1m/s x sin45
               Vyi = 21.1m/s x 0.71
               Initial vertical velocity at 45 degrees = 14.9 m/s

Vertical speed at 60 degrees

               Vyi = 21.1m/s x sin60
               Vyi = 21.1m/s x 0.87
               Initial vertical velocity at 60 degrees = 18.4 m/s

Calculating the maximum height of the Black Lagoon

Maximum height = (Vyi2) / (2a)

At 30 degrees

               X= (10.6)2 / 2 x 9.8
               X = 112.4 / 19.6
               Max height = 5.7 meters

At 45 degrees

               X= (14.9)2 / 2 x 9.8
               X = 222 / 19.6
               Max height = 11.32 meters

At 60 degrees

               X= (18.4)2 / 2 x 9.8
               X = 338.6 / 19.6
               Max height = 17.3 meters


               Well the numbers don’t lie guys, and to be honest I was surprised by this one.  If the angle of the sunken boat the Black Lagoon uses as a ramp is more than 45 degrees then the boat clears the 12 meter mark and the stunt works.  I did not expect to be able to call this one confirmed but here it is

               The infamous PT boat vs helicopter scene can actually work if we assume the hull of the boat and the ramp can survive the stress.  Plus Dutch has to be able to aim the torpedoes to hit the helicopter.


               For anyone who is reading, if you could let me know what you think on this one since I am mainly a biology and chemistry teacher.  Plus it’s been a while since I've done any physics.  Any suggestions you guys have are welcome.  I am always looking for new ideas.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Big Eaters

August 31, 2014

               Welcome class and today’s lesson will be about the big eaters seen in many anime series old and new.  The big eater in anime is classified as a character that routinely stuffs his or her face with a large amount of food in a short period of time.  The big eater also displays no outward signs of eating large amounts of food aside from the occasional large swollen belly, which can make female characters appear pregnant.  These bellies quickly disappear after a short period of time.  This also often shocks many of the other characters present at the time.  Some notable examples include Lina inverse from Slayers, and Natsu Dragoneel from Fairy Tail both shown below.  Other notable big eaters include the Sayians from Dragon Ball Z, and many Shounen heroes.

               So there are two parts to the big eaters of anime that need to be examined.
               1- The ability to ingest a large amount of food in a short period of time
               2- The ability to not gain weight from their frequent stuffing sessions
               There are many parts to the human digestive system, but only one that matters when considering big anime eaters, the stomach.  The human stomach is a muscle sac that physically and chemically breaks down food before sending onto the small intestine.  At rest the stomach only has a volume around a third of a cup however it has the ability to expand.  At maximum capacity the stomach can hold about four and a quarter cups.

Stomach Rupture

               Under normal conditions some of the stomach contents will empty into small intestine every 20 minutes, reducing the overall contents of the stomach until all of the food is digested.  If someone were to ingest more than 4 and a quarter cup the body’s response is to forcibly eject the food in a display reminiscent of the Exorcist.  If for some reason the person’s ability to vomit is suppressed the Stomach can continue to expand up to 1.3 gallons before rupturing.  This is a possible complication from Prader Willi syndrome, where the individual always feels hungry.  So the ability of the human stomach to hold the large amount of food ingested by big eaters is proven.

Competitive eaters

               Whether you consider competitive eating a sport or not, it does prove that we can eat a large amount of food in a short period of time.  The record at the Nathan’s hot dog eating in contest is 68 hot dogs in ten minutes.  This proves that we can eat large amounts of food in a short period of time so the first part of the Big Eater is


               The technical definition of Metabolism is all of the chemical reactions that a living organism needs to perform in order to survive.  A map of human metabolism is shown below.

               For the purposes of examining the big eater, we need only use the common definition of metabolism.  How much energy a person’s body burns.

1- Energy in > Energy out = a gain in weight
2- Energy in < Energy out = a loss of weight
       3- Energy in = Energy out = no change in weight

               Therefore a big eater must burn as much or more energy than they ingest in order to stay the same size or smaller.  Now there are some human conditions where this can possibly occur.  The first one is extreme amounts exercise normally performed by high level athletes.  Physical activity burns energy and the more active a person is the more energy their body burns.  As such, very active people need to eat more than their more sedentary companions.  The total daily meal for an Olympic soccer player is shown below.

               The second condition where people eat large amounts of food and remain the same weight or lose weight is hyperthyroidism.  The thyroid gland is found in the neck and is the main control of energy metabolism in the body.  In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is over active, producing more thyroid hormone than necessary.  As a result the body burns through food faster than a person can ingest it.  This causes large amounts of weight loss regardless of the individuals diet or activity level as shown in the image below.  Other side effects include infection, cancer, and heart problems so it is not a recommended method of weight loss.

               While not common and or not entirely healthy it is possible for a person to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight.  Part 2 of the Big Eater is


               Humans have the ability to ingest large amounts of food in a short period of time and not gain weight. While it is not entire healthy or recommended big eaters are

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anime Biology

August 8, 2014

               Welcome to Anime Science 101 where any and all science concepts found in your favorite anime will be poked prodded and thoroughly examined to determine their veracity.  Now before the non-science types run away screaming, I will be keeping the science material to the middle school and high school level so all are welcome.  Each concept will be examined using the following format, plausible, confirmed and busted.  Warning given the nature of this blog spoilers may occur for the purpose of explaining a particular topic, but I will limit them as much as possible.

Plausible- While the idea depicted in anime is not currently true it could potentially happen in the future, when technology advances, or could happen in nature in the future given certain circumstances.
Confirmed- The idea as depicted in anime is true and currently occurs in nature or is something we are currently able to do
Busted- It does not currently occur in nature and is something that is impossible to accomplish or build.
               Now a few words about my background and how Anime Science 101 began.  I am a former medical school student and current anime addict turned science teacher for the last six years.  It is my students who first planted the idea for this blog into my brain as they were the ones to first ask me if what they saw depicted in anime could possibly be true.  My adorable little seventh graders asked if a person could naturally have blue, pink, or silver hair and if you could genetically modify people to make them superior to normal people.  If there are any mecha fans reading this then I am sure you know what series they were watching, Gundam Seed, which just so happens to be one of my favorites.  When I asked if he was referring to Kira from the aptly named show, one third of the class cheered, one third groaned my teacher is a dork, and the last third asked what the hell is he talking about and furiously wrote everything down.  From then on I had a number of students at rapt attention and some interesting questions.

               My first post will be in their honor delving into the reason why Rau Le Creuset from Gundam seed had debilitating bouts of pain, and needed to take an unknown medication.  Tsunade from Naruto will also be mentioned for her Creation Rebirth technique.

The Hayflick Limit

               The Hayflick limit was discovered in 1961 by Dr. Leonard Hayflick and refuted the prevailing of the day that animal cells were for all purposes immortal.  In simple terms the Hayflick limit is the maximum number of times that an animal cell can divide.  In humans this turns out to be around 60 times before the cell can no longer divide.  This limit in the number of times a cell can divide to due to a shortening of the cells telomeres.

               Telomeres are segments of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes (the green segments in the picture above).  They can be thought of as the blank pages you find at the beginning and end of a book, if they get ripped out you do not lose any of the story.  Unlike a book where the blank pages remain in place for the life of the book, telomeres shorten every time a cell divides until the segments are worn down to nothing as a person ages.  Thus as a person ages the telomeres shorten and has everything to do with Rau Le Creuset and Tsunade.

               Rau Le Creuset is the 28 year old ace pilot and commander from ZAFT who needs to take medication to manage unnamed but clearly debilitating symptoms due to his being a clone.  A clone is an organism whose DNA is identical to the original and at the present time the technology does not exist to create a human clone.  It has been done with other animals such as sheep, shown below.

               Now sheep have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, but Dolly only lived for 7 years despite being born healthy.  The reason for this is due to the genetic age or the telomere length of the donor sheep.  While Dolly was only seven years old chronologically the DNA in her cells was 12 years old effectively shortening her lifespan.  Commander Creuset stated to be 28 years old in Gundam Seed (pictured on the left), and we can assume due to having a child Al Da Flaga (pictured on the right) was likely between 30-50 when he had a clone created.

               This makes Creuset’s genetic age somewhere between 58 to 78 years old.  While the commander still looks young his cells are entering or are well into old age by the start of Gundam Seed.  The medication he is seen taking is most likely being used to treat the cellular breakdown of his own body.  While these medications do not exist at this time there is no scientific reason why drugs to treat cellular breakdown and the degradation of DNA will not exist at some point in the future.

               While the technology to create and treat the medical conditions faced by cloning the science is there so the existence of Rau Le Creuset is ruled


               Now for the Naruto fans out there we have Tsunade and her Creation Rebirth technique both shown below.  The following is taken from the Naruto wiki as I haven’t seen the mange volume or anime episode that covers this.  The creation rebirth technique is a skill where Tsunade uses her chakra to stimulate the rapid growth and development of new cells instead of regenerating old cells.

               The actual technique is not what is going to be covered here but the stated downside of this skill, namely shortening her lifespan.  The healing of injuries by using rapid cell division would quickly cause the cells of the body to reach the Hayflick limit raising the individual’s genetic age faster and higher than their chronological age, effetely giving Tsunade the same problem’s faced by Rau Le Creuset and Dolly the sheep.  It also makes her look extremely old given the way other characters react to her true form (sorry no picture guys).  As such while the actual technique is not possible but the side effects of that skill are 

               Thank you for reading and questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome.

               Oh and if anyone is interested in Mongolia you can check out my Musings on Mongolia blog