Microscopic liquid crystals have been made into a compound lens that could be used for 3-D imaging. University of Pennsylvania researchers built the lenses by creating tiny pillars out of a polymer sheet. The liquid crystals were then applied onto the sheet and self-assembled around the pillars’ curved surfaces.
Each variably sized crystal produces clear images at different focal lengths. They arrange themselves from largest to smallest crystals in concentric rings around the pillar
“That they focus on different planes is what allows for 3-D image reconstruction,” said chemist Shu Yang. “You can use that information to see how far away the object you’re seeing is.”
The crystals are also sensitive to light polarization. In the gif below, created from a video that accompanied the group’s study in the journal Advanced Optical Materials, light polarization is shifted from vertical to horizontal to vertical again. With vertically polarized light, images of smiley faces only come into focus in the lenses to the left and right of the micropillar at center. See the video below.
Smashing or crushing a Pearlcatcher’s pearl is hard to do, as they are quite sturdy, but it is possible. Doing so will cause the dragon immense pain until it is destroyed. This will wipe the Pearlcatcher’s memory, but there is a biological vengeance trigger: The image of the pearl’s destroyer is subconsciously implanted in the Pearlcatcher’s mind, and if it sees this dragon it will attack and attempt to kill them, without ever really knowing why. When Pearlcatchers die, their pearls aren’t buried or cremated with them, but are given to the dragon closest to them (in a mixed-species lair, usually a mate or a hatchling who remained in the clan, or even a close friend), as the pearl can create the sense that it’s owner isn’t really gone, and is in fact still inhabiting the area in a pleasant way-like being haunted, but much more benevolent. The dragon charged with the pearl’s keeping will polish it and clean it regularly, as it will dissolve if not cared for properly. Pearlcatcher-only lairs often have a room full of pearls of the deceased, which only the caretakers are allowed to enter. Hatchlings often wonder what is behind the doors of that forbidden room, but are told that it will be explained “when they’re older-” often when a clan member passes away and the hatchlings want to know where the pearl is kept. If it is a close relative who is lost, the hatchling may help the pearl’s caretaker in cleaning and preserving the pearl, knowing that the duty may fall upon them one day.
If Vision has learned one thing from the Internet, it is that small, impossibly cute creatures love being stroked or petted.
(He has learned two things at least from the aforementioned source; the more important is never to read the comments. After idly scrolling below a seemingly innocuous YouTube video, he must admit surprise that the casual, boundless vitriol of humankind has not torn the world to shreds long before now.)
(“Cat videos?” Tony Stark, peering over Vision’s shoulder, sounds aggrieved. “Where have I gone wrong? Bruce? Bruce, do you see what our son is—”
“Not our son, Tony.”
“Do you see what our son has been doing on the Internet? Looking at frolicking felines. It’s like he doesn’t even know what all is out there.” He claps a hand on Vision’s shoulder. “I’ll send you a link later, show you the true purpose of the Internet.” There is a leer in his voice, unseen eyebrows no doubt waggling.
“Don’t open any links Tony sends you.” Dr. Banner’s warning is entirely unnecessary, but Vision appreciates the thought. Appreciates being treated as something normal.)
There is correlation between offspring attractiveness and survival. Large eyes, uncoordinated limbs, a rounded face or head all bring out protective instincts in adults of most species, he knows, allowing the young the chance to survive until maturity. But there is also something satisfying about watching puppies at play, tripping over their own feet, or a lion cub chewing on her father’s ear. It is innocence, he supposes, and the knowledge that while these animals will one day be competent, efficient, even lethal, they are now harmless.
Just for a moment he pictures what he might have looked like, had he had a traditional biological infancy. The mental image is of dubious cuteness. He returns his attention to the screen.
Research has shown that pet ownership is beneficial to human health. Stroking an animal’s fur has a calming effect on both parties involved. It is something he would like to try—his health is perfect, his stress levels controlled and normal (for the time being), but he craves sensation. There are so many things that he has not felt yet; touch seems the most human of all the senses, while also the most socially circumscribed. It is a form of communication that he has little experience with, and the one he may never master. The others treat him cordially enough, with comradely pats on the back or firm handshakes coupled with a grasped arm, but he was never anyone’s baby to be cuddled and cosseted, was never led by the hand through childhood. He is something less than human, and something more, and his skin in every way proves it.
* * * * *
That night he hears a muffled scream. Nightmares are common here, though everyone reacts differently to them. The high keening that breaks into fractured sobs means that this nightmare is Wanda’s, and that she is again losing everything most dear to her.
Vision floats down the hallway toward the sound. It isn’t coming from her room, the expected source, but from a corner of the common room. She is curled up on the couch, a throw pillow clutched in her hands; in the dark he can see her fingers dimpling the cushion. Though her power is immense, even greater than she may realize, Wanda is the smallest of all of them, and now, her face tear-streaked and troubled, her hair a mess, she looks smaller than ever. Something within his abdomen tightens at the pitiful sight of her. It is a different feeling altogether than comes from watching cat videos.
He hovers for a moment, uncertainty rippling through him. He feels the impulse to act, but does not know how to proceed; wakefulness may not be any more welcome to her than sleep is. Better to leave, he thinks. Grief is often a private process, one upon which he does not want to intrude.
She mumbles something in Sokovian and her eyes flutter open. “You think so loud,” she says, voice ragged.
“I am sorry.” He turns to go. He feels heavy with sadness, for her and because of her.
Behind him he hears her shift. “Počkaj,” she says, just on the edge of pleading, and her hand brushes his cape before grasping his fingers. Hers are cool and fine, and he slides his hand further into her grip, reassuringly. She amends, more evenly, “I would not mind if you stayed.”
With his free hand he taps a finger to his temple. “I do not wish my loudness to keep you from sleeping.”
Almost infinitesimally, Wanda’s lips curl up at one corner. She tugs his hand. It seems a suggestion that he sit, so he arranges himself on the couch, near her head. “Not that loud,” she agrees as she drops his hand and adjusts her position. “Maybe just loud enough that I…cannot hear anything else.” Cannot hear her brother’s voice, perhaps, or her own screams, he thinks as her arms tighten around the pillow once again.
He nods and murmurs “Very well.”
For a few moments Vision thinks concertedly of vaguely pleasant things: of sunlight skirting the edges of a cloud, of the fresh smells of the farm, of subdued laughter from the next room. He fixes his thoughts on these things, and his eyes on the dark outside the window, until he hears a light snore next to him; only then does he look down. Though Wanda’s face is less troubled now, the tracks of her earlier tears are yet visible.
It is understandable that she still mourns. How many thousands of her fellow Sokovians still mourn? The death toll may have been kept to a minimum, the Avengers’ vigorous public relations machine may have considered the outcome a victory, but Wanda’s country suffered. Even now that she is far from it, it remains with her. Few are like Natasha Romanoff, able to shed every vestige of a previous life, to leave a home without regret; most remember who they have been, where they have come from. Wanda has every right to tears, and to anger, and to nightmares. She does not let them control her, though. She wars with them at every moment. He has not seen her fail, and suspects he never will.
Her spine stiffens; her shoulders hitch; he hears a tiny moan. He has let his thoughts grow too loud and too dark, but he makes no effort to shift them. Instead he looks down at her and lifts his hand to gently move a lock of hair from her cheek. It is soft, though somewhat tangled, and at the movement she gives her head a minute shake. The reaction gives him pause and he stills, hand in midair; after a quiet moment he lowers it and runs his fingertips through her hair, doing his best to avoid any snarls. This time there is a tiny puff of breath from her lips and a loosening of tension as she relaxes, so he repeats the motion. Her hair gives off the faintest fragrance as it slips through his fingers, its darkness an appealing contrast to the red of him, and merely watching the movement is soothing. In his opinion it is a highly satisfactory exercise. Besides, he thinks, Wanda is much more beautiful than a kitten, and when she smiles he wonders if that was loud enough for her to hear through her sleep, and decides that he does not care when it is true.
I don’t know how often I tell you this but man do I envy your writing ability. I don’t know, there is something so realistic and so conscientious and pretty about it, I wish I could match your skill. You make Vision think realistic things that he would, like, ‘what would I have been like as a child?’, you remember to include the whole of Sokovia in the grieving process rather than just Wanda. And it all flows together in an easy but complex sort of way. It has a lot of info but it feels so effortless. Ugh you’re too talented.
Your Scarlet Vision game is strong…. they are too cute. Head canon that Vision buys Wanda a kitten?
And Bruce and Tony, omg I’m dying. Tony no…. he forgets that Vision has seen his internet habits
“all of a sudden i’m twenty, i’m in seattle, in america, across the world, and i’m like, ‘holy fuck, i’m about to go out and i’m about to sing live for the first time.’ and i walk out onto the stage, probably the most nervous i’ve ever been, and i saw all of your faces and heard all of you scream, and started singing the first line of ‘bite’ and couldn’t even hear myself because you guys were singing so loudly. and i was like…’i feel like fucking michael jackson right now.’”
“The casting of the Charmings was amazing. I never get over how young Snow, Snow, and Emma all have the same crying face. On top of it Emma looks like she could be Snow and Charming’s biological daughter. ”