Endless Blue – Week 41 – Alchemy: Mixing Concoctions Under Water   1 comment

Chemistry

Alchemy — Mixing Concoctions Under Water

The art of alchemy is a laborious process at best, with the need to balance proper proportions, equalize doses, and mix various solutions together under highly controlled conditions.  In an aquatic environment, the process becomes infinitely more complex as the very water of the surrounding environment constantly runs the risk of diluting any experiment.  The slightest taint of the pure ingredients by water that has been exhaled, expelled, or excreted could utterly invalidate the veracity of an experiment.  Conversely, alchemists play with substances that are dangerous, even lethal, to pisceans, and should some of these odorless, tasteless, sightless concoctions spill into widely spread currents a virtual mass slaughter could occur.

The first tool of the alchemist is the mated container.  This refers to the necks of the containers where the solutions may be poured in or out.  The body of the container could be stiff or supple, dependent on the need of the mixture, but it is the coupling shape of the necks that allow protected mixing.  It is based on simple invention of the Screw, which is credited to early Chelon philosopher Vitruvides of Naucratilus during the Golden Epoch.

The end of a container comes either as a male or female spout.  The male spout has an extended length that is slightly less than the outward circumference, around with a grooved thread has been carved; the female end has no such extension, but a mirrored pattern of groves is carved into its inner circumference.  The male end is insert into the female end and twisted in a clockwise fashion until the thread of the screw is fully embedded.

The coupling is made waterproof by the precision of the two screw threads and the use of a gasket placed flush in the female end.  This gasket is made of plant fiber or animal cartilage and cushions the inserted male end against the female end’s spout.  The produces a waterproof yet temporary seal that allows the substance in one container to be drained into the other simply by tipping the conjoined containers.  Sometimes these containers are constructed out of animal bladders instead of rigid materials, allowing a greater level of control over the expulsion of fluids from one container into another, and aided in the refinement of the alchemical tools used today.

Vacuum Sealed

Early alchemists first created waterless containers by inducing a vacuum in a sealed container by utilizing of denser-than-water liquids is required.  A long, stiff container with a resealable spout is immersed in a dense fluid located at least thirty-three feet below sea level and allowed to fill.  Water from brine rivers and lakes are ideally suited for this process as they will pool naturally at the ocean floor, and have such a distinct difference in density with the water around them that the effect is magnified.  By inverting the orientation of the filled container — the spout pointing downward and the body pointed towards the surface world — a vacuum can be achieved by gravity.  Pulling the stiff container slowly upward but not out of the brine pool creates a vacuum at the apex inside the container because the tensile strength of the container prevents itself from being crushed by external water pressure pressing inward, but the heaviness of the brine liquid is pulled downward by gravity.  Such vacuums were poor and small in size, but as the practice continued innovation allowed for the development of better tools.  Today alchemists have developed pumps that attach to mated containers that will draw all the water out.

By expelling water from a container, chemicals that would otherwise be toxic or caustic can be contained and used by alchemist.  This led to the hydrometallurgical process that the homeseas of Elqua use to produce their precious metals.  This also allows the leeching of gasses and solids from compounds, accomplished by letting the waste product from chemical reactions rise to an upper mated container (for gasses) or drop to a lower mated container (for liquids/solids).

Light Where the Sun Cannot Reach

The most ubiquitous application of this technology is the bluelight.  Named so due to the color of the light given off by the intermix of two distinct compounds, bluelight is the de facto method of illumination beneath the water’s surface.  By mixing the two components in equal amounts and vigorously shaking, the agitated medium produces enough light equal to a torch.  The chemical reaction is steady, producing a flicker-less light that flares quickly into existence and slowly fades out in about an hour.  Doubling the amount of the first compound extends the duration of light by 50%; doubling the second compound improves the luminosity by 50%.  The balance between duration and brightness has been finely tuned through trial and error, and while it is possible to just mix more of the two solutions together in one larger commixture, better results are attained in smaller controlled mixes.

More so before the invention of bluelight, packbreeders would raise bioluminescent animals as a form of lighting.  To this day the raising of siltfish used in mining operations still thrives.  Siltfish are specially bred tropical, beautifully patterned with bioluminescent cells, that are very sensitive to changes in temperature and clarity of the water.  They are prefered by miners for deep excavations where light is needed as well as some method to determine of the ambient waters are poisonous.  The siltfish normally glows an organic blueish-green, but the glow will slowly change to reddish-violet as toxins build up in the fish’s systems.  Using the fish requires a little more effort than simply cracking and shaking a bluelight, but so long as the fish is fed and tended well it will continually shed its light as long as it lives.

Traditionalist and many religious practices still require the usage of bioluminscent algae as a light source, such as the patriotic and uplifting ceremony of the Everglow during the Free Olympiad.  Even races such as the sonal Orcans, with their echolocative senses, still rely on the usage of sight for most of their daily routine.

Mechanics

Another adaption of the natural ocean around them is the application of lubricant.  Hinges and other moving parts made of solid material weather poorly under constant submersion in saline.  To counteract this corrosion, alchemists hit on the idea of employing the mucus of  hagfish as a grease.   When threatened, hagfish exude a slime that expands in water into a gelatinous goo that clings to surfaces yet slides effortless against itself.  The makes for a prime grease, and many times is used to accentuates the gasket in mated containers.  It possess innate anti-microbial properties that makes its seals antiseptic as well as watertight.  The slime itself is inert, but should it get in the gill slits of a piscean it can cause choking and eventual death from asphyxiation as the chest cavity fills with the phlegm.

Hagfish slime has since been co-opted by Resurrectionists as a component in their golem-like ambulatory undead for both the ability to block infections as well as it natural lubricatory and cartlaginous properties.

Connectors

With the introduction of the mated connectors, ingenious inventors have produced a long line of ancillary tools and aids that take advantage of this connectivity.  All manner of piping, valves, and taps have been designed to assist the alchemist in his chemical concoctions.  However, there has yet to be any form of standardization in these tools, with the work of each craftsman being nearly unique to themselves.  Some prefer thicker theading on screws to allow faster attachment, while other tend to use thinner threads that require more turning that results in a firmer coupling.  Aperture diameter, thread slope, even the very material comprising the tools differ between each manufacturer.  As a result many alchemists have resorted to carrying a hodgepodge of screw adapters lying about in the off chance two pieces of pipe differ in size, or are the same gender.  The finest alchemist set ups use vent-blown glass manufactured by the Lumulus, tempered for strength and clarity but chemically inert as not to interfere with the reactions being observed.

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 41 – Alchemy: Mixing Concoctions Under Water

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 90.5 – Jetsam: Civilization and the Vastness | Endless Blue

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