#092: Gastly

Its body is 95% made of gas. Despite lacking substance, it can envelop an opponent of any size and cause suffocation.

We’re doing something a bit different for this post. So since Gastly has some cool physical properties as well as some cool biological properties, Professor Julie and Halie have decided to team up this time!

Professor Julie says:

Gases naturally expand to fill the space that they’re in. By this logic, Gastly would suffocate anyone and everything in the room with it. But, he doesn’t. Gastly appears as an orb of gas, a small poisonous cloud, so how does Gastly keep its shape?

At first, you might think its something like gravity. Just like we’re stuck to the Earth, the little gas particles could be stuck to Gastly. This isn’t practical, especially considering that Gastly ties for the least massive pokemon in the pokedex.

Instead of gravitational field, Gastly must use a similar static electrical field to keep its shape. Opposite charges attract, so if Gastly’s central orb was, say, positively charged, it would keep all negatively charged gas particles close to itself.

Alternatively, think of water. Water molecules like to stick together, which is why you get raindrops and why you can fill a cup over the edge without it spilling over. They do this because water molecules are highly polar. In other words, one side of the molecule is positively charged, and the other side of the molecule is negatively charged. This makes them all attracted to each other.

 If the gas molecules that make up Gastly are polar, they will want to stick together. With that, they would not expand and suffocate everything in the room.

Professor Halie says:

Alrighty, so thanks to Professor Julie we can assume that the molecules that make up Gastly are polar, but there are so many polar molecules out there that doesn’t really help us determine what exactly he is made up of, and as scientists we want to know everything we can. So let’s play detective!

Here is what we know about Gastly’s gas:

  • It is polar.
  • It is purple.
  • It causes suffocation.
  • It is sentient. (sorry, we can’t really explain this one)

Let’s take this piece by piece. (Remember, we have to take some creative liberties with these PokeDex entries because taking them literally doesn’t always seem to work.)

What polar gas is purple?
Well, none. The only gas that is known to appear purple is iodine vapor, but Iodine vapor is non-polar. So what we have to assume is that Gastly is mostly composed of some other polar gas with some iodine vapor mixed in, assuming that the two gases don’t react with each other and are able to maintain a stable mixture.

What polar gas can cause suffocation?
Let’s first define suffocate.

SUFFOCATE. transitive verb. 1 a (1) : to stop the respiration of (as by strangling or asphyxiation) (2) : to deprive of oxygen. b : to make uncomfortable by want of fresh air.

We are going to use the second definition for this, because when we get down to the physiological level it gets kind of specific.
Lets assume that Gastly is made up of carbon monoxide. Many of you have probably heard of carbon monoxide, this was used in gas chambers during the holocaust and many people have succumb to carbon dioxide poisoning after prolonged exposure to car exhaust.

When the body is exposed to a lot of carbon monoxide (or CO) it can’t ventilate all of it out of the system and the CO will bind to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen throughout the blood to supply it to the different areas of the body, including the brain. The chemical affinity (how much they want to bond) between CO and hemoglobin is way higher than that between oxygen and hemoglobin. The Hemoglobin is going to choose the CO over the oxygen. This causes a problem when the body can’t access oxygen as easily.

Everyone knows that we needs oxygen, but do you know why? So oxygen plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism, and how we make ATP. (Remember my Bulbasaur post? We learned about ATP then, so refer back to that if you need a bit of refreshing on the subject.)

So I think we’ve figured it out!

Gastly is made up of a mixture of Carbon Monoxide and Iodine Vapor, causing his purple hue and his ability to cause suffocation.

Carbon Monoxide is also found in cigarette smoke. So this is your friendly neighborhood Pokemon Professor reminding you kids not to smoke! Also, don’t hang around too many Gastly’s.

NASA’s Fleet of Planet-hunters and World-explorers

Around every star there could be at least one planet, so we’re bound to find one that is rocky, like Earth, and possibly suitable for life. While we’re not quite to the point where we can zoom up and take clear snapshots of the thousands of distant worlds we’ve found outside our solar system, there are ways we can figure out what exoplanets light years away are made of, and if they have signs of basic building blocks for life. Here are a few current and upcoming missions helping us explore new worlds:


Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope searched for planets by looking for telltale dips in a star’s brightness caused by crossing, or transiting, planets. It has confirmed more than 1,000 planets; of these, fewer than 20 are Earth-size (therefore possibly rocky) and in the habitable zone – the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. Astronomers using Kepler data found the first Earth-sized planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its star and one in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.

In May 2013, a second pointing wheel on the spacecraft broke, making it not stable enough to continue its original mission. But clever engineers and scientists got to work, and in May 2014, Kepler took on a new job as the K2 mission. K2 continues the search for other worlds but has introduced new opportunities to observe star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

Revving up for launch around 2017-2018, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will find new planets the same way Kepler does, but right in the stellar backyard of our solar system while covering 400 times the sky area. It plans to monitor 200,000 bright, nearby stars for planets, with a focus on finding Earth and Super-Earth-sized planets. 

Once we’ve narrowed down the best targets for follow-up, astronomers can figure out what these planets are made of, and what’s in the atmosphere. One of the ways to look into the atmosphere is through spectroscopy.  

As a planet passes between us and its star, a small amount of starlight is absorbed by the gas in the planet’s atmosphere. This leaves telltale chemical “fingerprints” in the star’s light that astronomers can use to discover the chemical composition of the atmosphere, such as methane, carbon dioxide, or water vapor. 

James Webb Space Telescope

Launching in 2018, NASA’s most powerful telescope to date, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will not only be able to search for planets orbiting distant stars, its near-infrared multi-object spectrograph will split infrared light into its different colors- spectrum- providing scientists with information about an physical properties about an exoplanet’s atmosphere, including temperature, mass, and chemical composition. 

Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Space Telescope is better than ever after 25 years of science, and has found evidence for atmospheres bleeding off exoplanets very close to their stars, and even provided thermal maps of exoplanet atmospheres. Hubble holds the record for finding the farthest exoplanets discovered to date, located 26,000 light-years away in the hub of our Milky Way galaxy.

Chandra X-ray Observatory

Chandra X-ray Observatory can detect exoplanets passing in front of their parent stars. X-ray observations can also help give clues on an exoplanet’s atmosphere and magnetic fields. It has observed an exoplanet that made its star act much older than it actually is

Spitzer Space Telescope

Spitzer Space Telescope has been unveiling hidden cosmic objects with its dust-piercing infrared vision for more than 12 years. It helped pioneer the study of atmospheres and weather on large, gaseous exoplanets. Spitzer can help narrow down the sizes of exoplanets, and recently confirmed the closest known rocky planet to Earth.


The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airplane mounted with an infrared telescope that can fly above more than 99 percent of Earth’s atmospheric water vapor. Unlike most space observatories, SOFIA can be routinely upgraded and repaired. It can look at planetary-forming systems and has recently observed its first exoplanet transit

What’s Coming Next?

Analyzing the chemical makeup of Earth-sized, rocky planets with thin atmospheres is a big challenge, since smaller planets are incredibly faint compared to their stars. One solution is to block the light of the planets’ glaring stars so that we can directly see the reflected light of the planets. Telescope instruments called coronagraphs use masks to block the starlight while letting the planet’s light pass through. Another possible tool is a large, flower-shaped structure known as the starshade. This structure would fly in tandem with a space telescope to block the light of a star before it enters the telescope. 

All images (except SOFIA) are artist illustrations.

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Before reading further, take a moment to go light something in your house on fire. That flame looks like that due to gravity, specifically the fact that hot air rises. The flame is fueled by oxygen, letting the excrement of carbon dioxide and water vapor heat up and lower in density. Eventually, they float away, only to be replaced with fresh, cool oxygen to be murder-burned. However, take that shit to zero gravity, and things will get weird. Fireball weird.

Yep, that there is a space flame. In zero gravity, puny Earth things like buoyancy and convection don’t exist. So when you light a match, the carbon dioxide goes nowhere. It just gathers around the flame like hobos around a barrel fire. Meanwhile, the flame keeps happily engorging itself with oxygen until the hobo CO2 all around it snuffs it out.

That flame shape you’re used to can only happen because the fire forces hot air to rise upward. Since none of that really happens in zero gravity, the flame just expands in all directions in a desperate search for random oxygen particles. Essentially, this means fires in zero gravity are lower in temperature, consume less oxygen, are dimmer in terms of brightness … and totally float around like fireballs if you, say, ignite a floating drop of gasoline.

5 Everyday Things That Go Totally Nuts in Zero Gravity

A Delayed Reaction

Title: A Delayed Reaction
Author: TripwireAlarm
Fandom: Doctor Who
Summary: Immediately post-Midnight introspection.
Length: 756 words 

Donna is sympathetic, he knows, but she doesn't understand.  Not really.

Fifteen feet of high-prism fenito glass to cull the xtonic rays is still fifteen feet too close to this planet and everything on it.  Too close to the light and the shadows of it, too close to the cold and the dark and the diamond cliffs of oblivion, too close to the vaporized bones of two dead women somewhere in that airless boil of diatomic-carbon vapor and galvanic radiation.

It’s what some might call a personality flaw of his.  Always thinking what he could have done, should have done–but never thinking he’d make himself a villain in his own story with his arrogance.

Driver Joe.  Claude, with engine grime under his nails.  The Hostess without a name tag.  Mrs. Sky Silvestry, recently single.  

Recently deceased.

Keep reading



Enceladus is a moon of Saturn that is believed to have an ocean under its surface. As pictured above, Enceladus has giant plumes. These plumes contain water vapor, carbon dioxide, and various trace compounds like ammonia. The geysers can erupt up to 3x the radius of Enceladus itself, suggesting the interior is rather warm.

This is a fantastic place to search for life! There could be life forms under the ice. Similarly to Earth, there could be life thriving on the extreme conditions at the bottom of the ocean.

Rose melted Pink Diamond into Lion.


Lion is totally different than any corrupted gem we see (and we’re told Rose never made any progress on fixing the corrupted gems and the only option was bubbling them. If Lion was a half-fixed corrupted gem, that’d have been cause for celebration), does not have any visible gem, is something Rose felt she had to keep completely secret from the rest of the CG, even Pearl.  (Furthermore, the gems don’t have any bad reaction to Lion - there’s nothing obviously upsetting about him, they just have no clue what he is. That suggests Rose kept him a secret because she didn’t want to answer that question.)

Lion’s mane glows like a gem, the glow isn’t restricted to just one area (so it isn’t glowing through the fur) plus we see the portal is on the fur itself. We’ve never seen any sign Pearl can shove stuff through the back of her head. Lion’s gem is his mane fluff itself.

Lion and Steven are the only gem-connected characters who get male pronouns. Corrupted gem monsters still get talked about as having the standard gem gender of female. So far, everybody we know who came about by normal gem reproduction methods is female, while Steven is male after being made out of another gem.

Bismuth confirms that gems don’t have to be just your standard rocks. Bismuth’s location also strongly suggests Lion’s been around since at least mid-war.

(Also I’ve seen speculation the diamonds literally sing whatever blast they sent at Earth, and Lion is the only gem we’ve seen with real sonic powers.)

Diamonds are carbon, and burn up. Carbon fibers are made by vaporizing carbon. Carbon fibers are just a different form of crystallized carbon. It’s even possible to make diamond nanothreads.

From Keeping It Together:

Garnet/Ruby: So this is what Homeworld thinks of fusion!
Garnet/Sapphire: We couldn’t have known they would do this…
Garnet/Ruby: This is where they’ve been. All the ones we couldn’t find. They’ve been here the whole time!
Garnet/Sapphire: Rose couldn’t have known.
Garnet/Ruby: This is punishment for the rebellion!

We have one example of Homeworld striking back at the CG by turning their tactics back on them. “Rose couldn’t have known”…that because the rebellion used mixed fusion in battle with great success, Homeworld would create cluster fusions.

We know Homeworld ended the war with something that wrecked the minds of the gems, and may have some connection to the fact it looks like a bomb went off where Russia used to be. Heating or irradiating gemstones can cause dramatic changes in color by changing the crystal lattice at the atomic level…no visible cracks, nothing easily fixed, just a massive disruptive change of the entire structure. That is to a full transformation as cluster fusion is to normal fusion.

And, as someone not supporting the conspiracy theories assuming every time Rose appears she’s being secretly evil and thinks we’re still getting a big reveal of something horrible she regrets: melting somebody down and then having all your friends get their minds melted in retaliation sure fits.

So in conclusion, Rose isn’t Pink Diamond because Lion is the ball of carbon fibers that used to be Pink Diamond.


I wanted to share my current project. I have been re-creating the 1980 Sears Exclusive Bespin Playset in a drawing program. Over the last week, in between projects at work, I have redrawn each line and shape. (except the sky backdrop and the smoke interior of the carbon freeze chamber. Vapor is hard to draw in vector format).

The finished product you see above is a prototype to test how I did. It’s rough, and doesn’t quite fit together correctly. It’s printed on regular paper, so it’s flimsy as well. But after I correct the alignment issues I will print it out on cardstock and then I’ll have a nice little (not so little) display for my Bespin figures.