summary: you have a nightmare, and when you go to make yourself a cup of tea Loki surprises you in the kitchen. he offers some help
Sweat beads dripped down your face and your neck as you shot your head up and let out a strained scream. Your latest nightmare was more vivid than the regular ones you were used to. With your breath coming out in short pants, you attempted to calm yourself down before you woke anyone up. Laying down was not going to help ease your mind into the state of calmness it once was resting at, so you quietly got out of bed to make a cup of tea. It seemed like a routine at this point; waking up at 2 in the morning, and having to calm yourself down into a false sense of security.
You didn’t even notice Loki, the God of Mischief, quietly reading a book on the couch under lamplight as you shuffled through the main room and into the kitchen. With your hands still shaking from panic, you opened the cabinet and grabbed the familiar pink mug. After setting it onto the marble counter, you began the works for the cup of tea. Putting a pot of water on the stovetop to boil, you leaned on the counter, and continued to take in short, choppy breaths.
“Are you alright, Lady Y/n?” A silky voice quietly asked, startling you. You turned to see Loki grinning at you over the pages of his book, and you smiled at his civilian appearance. He had a cat sweater on that Thor must’ve given him, and sweatpants.
“Mhm, just couldn’t sleep.” You shrugged your shoulders, technically it wasn’t a lie. No one needed to know about the demons that plagued your sleep. You also wouldn’t be able to get more than four words out with his intense gaze locked on you. Something about Loki caught your eye in a special way, but you weren’t quite sure what.
Loki squinted, “Why are you lying to me about your well-being?” he pressed.
You snapped back, “I am not.” The water was boiling on the stove, so you took it as the perfect moment to break eye contact and get your tea together, and maybe even head back to your room. You poured the boiling water into the mug and hurried off past Loki and back down the hall. Before you were even in your room, he teleported in front of you and blocked the path to your room. Loki insisted once more that you were lying.
Instead of arguing with him any further, you tried to duck underneath his arm. He caught you, however, before you could even attempt and quickly swept one arm under your knees and the other cradling your back and picked you up. You couldn’t protest without waking up the rest of the Avengers, considering the two of you were smack dab in the middle of the hallway. It was a miracle you didn’t spill your cup of tea everywhere as he carefully held you against his chest and carried you to your room.
“Nightmares, I presume?” He whispered as he gently set you down back in your bed, took the cup of tea out of your hand and placed it on the bedside table. All you could do at the moment was nod tiredly and wonder in the back of your mind how he knew about your nightmares.
Loki, instead of returning to his book in the main room, moved to the other side of your bed and crawled in next to you, draping his arm around your waist. You were blushing like mad and tensed up a bit. He must have noticed, because he tightened his grip on you and buried his face in your hair. Loki snaked his other arm underneath of you, fully pulling you into a warm cuddle. You didn’t expect this type of treatment from someone as cynical as Loki, but fully welcomed it. His embrace finally started to sooth the fear from your nightmare. You felt safe wrapped up in his arms.
(C16H13ClN2O), also known as Valium, is a white solid that is of significant pharmaceutical importance. It is a member of the benzodiazepine family, which shares the similar bicyclic system comprising of a conjoined benzene and diazepine ring.
Diazepam is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, and this is achieved by its binding to GABA receptors on neurons. This causes the active site of the receptors to become a better fit for GABA molecules, resulting in a higher binding of GABA to it. This triggers a greater influx of chloride ions into the neuron.
Since the intracellular portion of the neuron is more negative than normal, the membrane is hyperpolarised to a greater extent. Consequently, a stronger stimulus is needed to trigger an action potential, which is created when a stimulus causes the membrane to reach the threshold potential.
Since the resting potential is now more negative, the action potential and thus firing of the neuron is less likely. This then produces the anxiolytic, sedative, amnesia-inducing, and anticonvulsant effects of diazepam.
Diazepam can be produced by various synthetic pathways; one such route is shown below.
Methamphetamine (C10H15N), also known as meth or crystal meth, is a
colourless liquid at room temperature. It is more commonly encountered as the
hydrochloride salt (C10H15N.HCl), which is a white solid under standard
conditions. It is a central nervous system stimulant, and is used as a
Methamphetamine acts as an agonist at trace
amine-associated receptor 1 (TAAR1), resulting in the release of cyclic
adenosine monophosphate. This causes dopamine and noradrenaline transporters to
reverse the movement of dopamine and noradrenaline through them; instead of
taking them up from the synapse, it releases them from the cell. Furthermore,
it inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO), which normally breaks down dopamine and
The resultant increase in dopamine and
noradrenaline in the synapse causes the corresponding receptors on the
postsynaptic membrane to be stimulated to a greater extent, resulting in
feelings of euphoria, increased alertness, and a raised heart rate.
Methamphetamine, however, has a high risk of
addiction. The high levels of dopamine and noradrenaline can result in
tolerance by the body as the postsynaptic neuron reduces the number of
receptors to modulate the stimulus. A protein called ΔFosB is also produced in
the neurons, resulting in the increased transcription of certain genes,
producing addictive behaviour.
As ΔFosB is degraded much more slowly than
related proteins, it accumulates upon regular consumption of methamphetamine,
resulting in increasing levels of addiction.
Methamphetamine also produces a range of side
effects such as loss of appetite, dry skin, acne, insomnia, irregular
heartbeat, psychosis, scratching of the skin, as well as loss of teeth. An
overdose can also result in tremors, hyperthermia, cerebral haemorrhaging,
kidney failure, circulatory collapse, coma, and death. (Below: before/after
It has been used as a treatment for
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity, albeit rarely due to its
significant drawbacks compared to other existing treatments for these
conditions. One of its isomers, levomethamphetamine (below left), is also used
in nasal decongestant sprays as it results in vasoconstriction. Unlike its
optical isomer, dextromethamphetamine (below right), it does not result in
addiction and dependence.
Methamphetamine can be easily synthesised from
the condensation of phenylacetone with methylamine, followed by reductive
Note: This post is intended to examine the compound from a chemical/medical
point of view for educational purposes, and does not endorse drug abuse in any
The German language is famous for some really long nouns (Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän comes to mind). This is because German nouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives are like lego bricks; you can stick them together in almost any way to create new words that encapsulate new concepts. This gives the language a special ability to name just about anything. You could call it the German language’s lego brick-like quality, or Legosteineigenschaft (see what I just did there?).
But why does German rely on such an elaborate process to name things as simple as squirrels? When broken down into their separate components, the names of familiar animals mutate into bizarre new creatures.
The Uncanny X-Tiere
Comics are full of heroes with names like super, wonder, iron, ultra, bat or cat followed by -man, -woman, -girl or -boy. A lot of German animal names work the same way, where Tier – the word for animal – is preceded by a word describing that animal’s “super power”.
Stinktier – stink animal (skunk)
Faultier – lazy animal (sloth)
Gürteltier – belt animal (armadillo)
Murmeltier – mumbling animal (groundhog)
Schnabeltier – beak animal (platypus)
Maultier – mouth animal (mule)
Trampeltier – trampling animal (bactrian camel). The verb trampeln means to trample or tread upon, whereas the noun Trampel is a clumsy oaf.
Sometimes suffixes get more specific than -tier, but still tend to describe the wrong animal:
Schildkröte – shield toad (tortoise)
Waschbär – wash bear (raccoon)
Nacktschnecke – naked snail (slug)
Fledermaus – flutter mouse (bat)
Seehund – sea dog (seal)
Tintenfisch – ink fish (squid)
Truthahn – threatening chicken (turkey). Trutis onomatopoeic for the trut-trut-trut cluck of a turkey, but it’s also been hypothesized that the name comes from the Middle German droten which means “to threaten”.
No, I’m Pretty Sure That’s A Pig
Swine seem to be a popular yardstick in German animal taxonomy.
Schweinswal – pig whale (porpoise)
Seeschwein – sea pig (dugong). Not to be confused with the Seekuh, or sea cow, known in English as a manatee.
Stachelschwein – spike pig (porcupine). The English word is actually just as literal; porcupine sounds a lot like “pork spine”.
Wasserschwein – water pig (capybara)
Meerschweinchen – ocean piglet (guinea pig). The ending -chen denotes something small. Add it to the end of Schwein and you get a little pig, or piglet. Since the stems Meer and Wasser are often interchangeable, it’s most likely that Meerschweinchen actually means little capybara.
Just Plain Weird
I’d like to end this list by giving one animal a category all to itself: the humble squirrel.
little oak horn: Eiche (oak tree) + Horn (horn) + -chen (little)
oak croissant: Eiche (oak tree) + Hörnchen (croissant)
Eichkätzchen (regional name) and Eichkatzerl (Austria) – oak kitten
Calling a squirrel a “tree kitten” is reasonably literal, but where does “little oak horn” come from? It seems that the answer comes down to a misplaced h: Eichhörnchen comes from the Old and Middle German eichorn, which has nothing to do with oak trees or horns. In this case, the eich comes from the ancient Indo-Germanic word aig, which means agitated movement, combined with the now obsolete suffix -orn. Somewhere in history a superfluous h was added (along with the diminutive -chen ending) but the original meaning remained. Today, Hörnchen is a category of rodents that includes all squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, prairie dogs and flying squirrels.
Keep an eye on this spot for an upcoming post where we’ll delve deeper into the animal kingdom: branching out to birds, insects, reptiles, fishes and any other mammals we find crawling around.
Adrenaline (C9H13NO3), also known as epinephrine, is a naturally-occurring hormone and neurotransmitter found in our body. Along with noradrenaline, it is produced by the adrenal medulla, which is situated above the kidneys.
As a hormone, adrenaline stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and is partly responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response.
It binds to adrenergic receptors, which are found in almost all tissues, inducing the breakdown of glycogen into glucose (see below), glycolysis, and also inhibits glycogen synthesis as well as insulin secretion. This results in a surge in glucose availability, providing a burst of energy needed to escape any danger.
Adrenaline also promotes vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels, as well as an increase in heart rate to raise the amount of blood being pumped throughout the body. This causes more oxygenated blood to reach the body at a faster rate, enabling cells to carry out respiration to produce more energy as well.
An interesting study revealed that adrenaline is associated with fear. A 1999 study showed that subjects injected with adrenaline experienced greater feelings of fear upon watching horror films. They also expressed greater negative emotions than the control group.
In nature, adrenaline is biosynthesised from phenylalanine through multiple enzyme-catalysed reactions:
On the other hand, adrenaline can be synthesised from resorcinol and 2-chloroethanoyl chloride in the lab: