So a week or so ago when I was on the east coast, in a moment of extreme weakness, I went to see the Avengers exhibit at Times Square. It was awesome, I somehow charmed a really sweet employee — ahem, operative — into giving me their rad as hell SHIELD beret, I bought Ellen like sixteen souvenirs (okay, two) — but that is not what I’m here about. (Ask me about the Cap t-shirt I got. Please. Oh my god. Ask me.)
What I’m here about is, unsurprisingly, the Captain America portion of exhibit.
The experience is immersive, all set up so you feel like you’re in SHIELD archives or the like. The Cap section includes the VitaRay (complete with a cameo by the salt stains from, you guessed it, Chris Evans’ back sweat), the rescuing-Bucky leather jacket, some seriously exclusive trading cards I Coulson’d all over, the Avengers uniform, and, endearingly, a section where you can test your strength against Steve’s. There’s also a little portion by the VitaRay that explains the changes Steve’s brain went through after they administered the serum. Being the massive bag of science trash that I am, this is where I spent most of my time.
The info graphic basically told me what we already know: that the serum enhances everything you had going for you before. So Steve’s brain is smarter and faster, the neurons have a longer life span, the hippocampus — that’s your memory storage — is nice and healthy; whatever. But then they said that the part of Steve’s brain that increased the most in mass and synaptogenesis was the amygdala. And I promptly lost all control over my feelings.
Cut bc this is about to get really gnarly. It’s science time, kiddos.
Let me prime with some obvious and not-so-obvious: neurons are brain cells. When they connect, there’s a space between them called the synapse, wherein the neurons can communicate. It might sound weird, but certain parts of your brain can certainly change in mass and size depending on how much you use the neurons and synapses there, because if you don’t use neurons/synapses, they will naturally slough away and die over time. For example, a young person’s hippocampus is usually healthier and larger than an older person’s, or the hippocampus of a person with, I don’t know, some kind of degenerative symptom like dementia.
Simply put, the amygdala is the part of your brain where you feel emotion. It’s also the part of the brain where you connect an emotion to an object or a face. So when Steve looks at Stark Tower and bitches to himself, what an ugly goddamn building, it’s his amygdala working. Similarly, when Steve looks at Peggy and feels that awful rush of sorrow-happiness-regret, it’s his amygdala lighting up. Same for when he feels sympathy and rescues a cat out of a tree, or feels a sense of duty and stays back to help clean up after dinner.
So what does it mean that Steve’s amygdala is bigger and more active post-serum? How does that change his day-to-day life?
The answer’s pretty easy: more connectivity literally means that Steve just feels more. Needless to say, Steve is already a bleeding heart. His main priority is putting his own needs last. His selflessness is unreal. And so after the serum this could only have increased. Steve probably feels an amplified joy at everyday things — he might get a smidge happier when someone dishes him up with a big burger if he’s really hungry, and he might laugh a little harder at one of Nat’s Old Man Rogers jokes than he would have in 1938. Steve probably wouldn’t even notice it, not really. His good moods would just feel even better. All the same, having your emotions turned up a few notches has a downside too.
You can probably see where this is going.
When something hurts now, it just hurts even more. It’s bad enough to watch your lifelong best friend fall to a horrible death; it’s probably a lot worse when your amygdala is just as super as the rest of you. When Steve feels anything post-serum he feels it in a way that’s probably very immediate and raw and uncontainable. I’d try to get shitfaced after an ordeal like that, too.
So go ahead and have a fun time applying this line of thought to all the pain that Steve’s felt. Thanks, Avengers exhibit. Fun for the whole family.
And what about Steve’s self-sacrificial streak? Obviously this too must have grown. I think there’s a pretty good way of looking at that, if you’ll suspend your disbelief with me: before the serum, Steve jumped on the grenade, a knee-jerk reaction, because he knew it was the right thing to do and the right way to keep his unit safe. He didn’t really feel a lot about it. He yelled for everybody to get back, and then he curled himself up and screwed his eyes shut and was ready to die right there. He didn’t, you know, shed a single tear of pain over it, or have to obviously fight down the rising panic as death rushed up to meet him.
But after the serum, when Steve knows he has to put the plane in the water, the terror’s plain as day on his face. He’s sad and scared and he’s about to die alone. He reaches out to a voice in the snow and tries not to panic.
Idk; acting choices, the drama of the moment, etc. But it’s also totally fair to say, imho, that after the serum Steve just can’t keep it in so easy — because he’s scared, and because he’s also completely 100% torn up over the idea of millions dying because he couldn’t save them. His guilt is heavier. His sense of duty is bigger. But his sorrow matches tenfold.
tl;dr, Post-serum, there’s a war inside of Steve. His heart’s always been too big but now it’s fit to burst. And maybe it’s an advantage, at least tactically — congratulations to Stark and Erskine, I guess, bc even if it was unknowingly, they weaponized not only Steve’s body and mind, but also the one part of him that was never supposed to change. They weaponized his heart. And it sure is convenient to have a soldier who is now guaranteed to jump on the grenade every single time.
- 3 weeks ago
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
This is for actualmenacebuckybarnes, becase this shit is way too long for an ask.
Okay, so what we know the serum did:
- Put on muscle and bone mass.
- Increased his metabolism by 4, according to the Marvel Guide Book
- Gave him increased endurance and strength, super healing and increased natural faculties
- Cured him of all his illnesses
To address 1 and 4, I think the serum was mostly a growth hormone that triggered stem cell growth throughout his body. In a normal human, stem cells are found only during fetal development and very early childhood, resulting in cell differentiation. If this is triggered en mass in an adult, it would cue mass cell turnover, effectively allowing the manipulation of very specific disorders, such as Steve’s scoliosis and color blindness and coupled with a growth hormone not unlike ones they have today, this could also lead to drastic increases in muscle and bone mass. This would also lead to new neurons, making his brain larger and opening new pathways.
For number 2, metabolism is really controlled by one organ, the thyroid. In humans,over or under active thyroids lead to pretty gross side effects including severe mental retardation, but given a perfect case, altering the thyroid’s behavior could lead to increased need for food, partially explain his increase in mass, and increases in endurance.
Speaking of endurance, the serum would have had to change the way he sweats to result in increased heat tolerance, change the way he digests to get more nutrients out of food, and things that aren’t food but still could be eaten. (Steve has eaten some really gross stuff in canon to little effect.) He also would have more efficient lungs and oxygen transfer, reducing physical stress and load on his body even during high physical activities.
There is a good chance the PH buffers in his body also changed to have a higher threshold for pain and injury, and increased healing would probably be related to the stem cells I mentioned earlier, plus enhanced metabolism leading to faster cell turn-over.
And if we’re going with a stem cell theory, this would probably not drastically alter his genetics, though things like metabolism could need to be altered at a genetic level, which explains why a super soldier breeding program would be unlikely to work very well.
applying my biology boner to your biology boner (it’s not gay if our science dweeb balls don’t touch??)
Actually, they’ve found stem cells in adult humans, the only specific place i can remember is in the hippocampus (one of the deep brain structures implicated in the formation of long-term memories!) (goes on a long bucky ramble about if the serum rly bumps up yr stem cells, and how it might affect his memory after having the ever-loving shit zapped out of him!)
I like the stem cell + growth hormone hypothesis because you can solve a lot of sci fi problems by throwing stem cells at em
I don’t get the cell turnover —> fixed scoliosis connection though? from what little i know of scoliosis and bones in general, rapid cell death & regrowth wouldn’t do much in the short term to change the structure of his spine. it’s more likely that his spine was literally pulled back into shape when the muscles supporting it were suddenly strengthened. that’s the general treatment for adults w/ scoliosis today—exercise to strengthen your back, torso, and leg muscles, plus pain management, plus maybe a brace in severe conditions
colorblindness also wouldn’t be fixed w/ cell turnover, because it’s generally caused by your retinal cells not producing the photopigments that chemically detect different wavelengths of light. the cells literally don’t have the genes that instruct your RNA to make those pigments. your retinal cells are already replaced about once a day! part of me is wondering if steve is really actually colorblind, or if it’s just something they threw out there to pad his list of conditions, because it was only briefly on screen and never mentioned by any of the characters. was he colorblind in the comicsverse?
having more neurons or a bigger brain (not mutually inclusive things) does not actually lead to increased intelligence/reflexes/aptitude/whatever! because neurons are hungry little fucks, they use up a LOT of glucose & oxygen, so adding a bunch of them all at once would just starve out the whole lot. intelligence and reflexes come from the synchronization of neuronal firing, from the pathways you set down through repetition. you actually had about twice as many neurons as an infant than you do today— all those neurons grew and divided rapidly and threw down connections with everything the could get their grubby little dendrites on, and the ones that didn’t make enough connections, or didn’t connect in useful enough ways, were killed off mercilessly. i don’t actually know how they’d improve his reflexes or heighten his senses just using some mystery serum. still tryna work that one out.
the metabolism thing is a bit tricky, cause there’s a couple different ways of defining metabolism. if we’re just talking about energy+oxygen usage, there’s a really simple explanation: he’s bigger. he’s got more muscle mass, so he burns more glucose, no thyroid fuckery necessary. the increased metabolism would be a side effect of the serum, in this case.
if we’re defining metabolism as the ability to extract nutrients from things, or as the ability to metabolize poisons and toxins that would lay out a normal man [side note: alcohol is technically a toxin. steve can’t get drunk in the mcu. thus, the serum at least caused the second thing], then yeah they’d have to fuck with his entire digestive system somehow. especially the liver. i basically don’t know shit about the liver, i’ll have to research this & get back to you
yes to the more efficient lungs thing, apart from increasing his muscle & bone mass the serum mostly seems to have made all his organs more efficient. how did they do this? SCIENCE. i have no fucking idea abt the specifics
rapid cell turnover WOULD lead to more rapid healing. i can’t decide if this would make him more or less likely to get cancer, though?? because turnover includes cell growth AND cell death, and if his cells are dividing more often than normal that means there’s more opportunities for potentially-tumor-causing mistakes to be made when copying the DNA, but if you’re also bumping up the rate of natural programmed cell death then that would also kind of kneecap any tumors that tried to get off the ground? maybe ???
could the op explain the pH buffer-pain tolerance connection, please? idgi
i’m leaning more towards the stem cell/growth hormone cocktail theory rather than the genetic-alteration theory if only because widespread genetic alteration wouldn’t produce immediate or reliable results. the state of our CURRENT gene therapy is ridiculous, basically you chuck a bunch of programmed viruses at a cell culture and hope they correctly rewrite the DNA there, and then you hope the DNA change is correctly read by the RNA, and then you hope the DNA change produces the altered proteins you thought it would, and then you hope the DNA change is passed on to the daughter cells when your altered cell splits or else all of this was completely useless. the chances of all of the serum’s changes working on steve the first time, and not leaving him a bag of tumors & various defects, are ASTRONOMICAL.
As for Ph buffers, they prevent chemical reactions in blood and cell fluids because they absorb acids and bases. So having a stronger, more adaptable buffer in your body means you’d have a higher tolerance for acids, bases and the chemical effects of temperature. So things that would be damaging for a normal human like acids, heat or any chemical that attacks cells, would do a lot less damage. (I just realized that this is not quite the same thing as pain tolerance.)
Part of why I think stem cells would be a big part of fixing a lot of the chronic injury is that new cells would be much easier to realign than existing ones, and coupled with the massive growth would be much more elastic for differentiated growth. Also, seeing as there are forms of colorblindness that are caused by an absence or reduction in certain vision cells, it is possible that a mass triggering of stem cell growth would also fix his eye issues. (This would be dependent on the cause of his color blindness.)
And you’re right to point out that an increase in brain size alone wouldn’t lead to increased ability for sure, but it would almost guarantee increased emotional response thanks to growth in the hippocampus and amygdala and the rest of the limbic system along with potential for enhanced memory. (We Steve remember a HYDRA map perfectly after just a glance, so his memory is pretty photographic after the serum.)
As far as the liver, increased liver function would have to be a change in enzymatic functions, which would also bear out changes in blood, including increased red blood cell turnover potentially enhancing the body’s ability to carry oxygen.
Fun fact: Captain America would probably pee more than the average person.
- 1 month ago
JUST NOTICED LAST NIGHT THAT BUCKY WAS ALSO ON A DRIP IN THE ENTIRE CHAIR SCENE
I know it’s a fucked up scene, I do, but that to me just is nOPE. What the fuck are they putting into his system on top of the mind wiping and the physical abuse and the conditioning.
THE TUBE ON THE BACK OF HIS RIGHT HAND, IS THAT A DRIP?
Dr. Cyan calling in here, and yes, that is absolutely a peripheral IV cannula on his right hand. Watching the scene carefully you can see the IV stand on his right, with two infusion bags attached (sorry for the crappy images, maybe someone can grab a better screenshot if they have the DVD):
If you watch frame by frame, you can see that Bucky pops the connection tube off when he attacks the med tech; it dangles freely from the IV bag when the guards move to point their guns at him. In real life he’d probably have torn the cannula out of his hand entirely; it happens all the time with little old ladies in my ER so I was disappointed the directors didn’t draw on that particular body horror/’ouch’-factor here.
The infusion bags appear to be one 1,000 mL isotonic saline or D5W/D5NS (dextrose/glucose in a saline solution) for tissue rehydration, and one 500 mL isotonic saline, most likely a diluent for injectable/parenteral drug administration:
Which drug? Well, it could be any HYDRA concoction, but I’d put my money on the tried-and-true fallback of some benzodiazepine. BZDs/derivatives are anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), hypnotic (sedative/sleep-inducing), anticonvulsant (good for when you’re electrocuting someone’s brain), amnestic (affecting memory), and myorelaxant (muscle-relaxing), a nice cocktail for working with the Winter Soldier - and hey! paradoxical BZD reactions include aggression and violence (such as attacking attending medical staff), and it may also cause anterograde amnesia as well as internalised feelings of turmoil, anxiety, depression, and loss of the ability to experience and/or express feelings. Plus, withdrawal can cause depression, depersonalisation, derealisation, hypersensitivity, psychosis, and suicidal ideation - sounds like a lot of Bucky-in-from-the-cold fanfics, am I right?
Seriously, writing this, I’m wondering where the withdrawal!Bucky fanfics are - the fics I’ve read all focus on his mental issues, but what about the physiological ones? I’d really like to read a fic about Bucky coming off whatever HYDRA pumped him full of - now that’d make for some neat hurt/comfort (and a lot of curling up on Steve’s bathroom floor shaking and puking his guts out).
(When I get my hands on a HD copy of the movie I’ll have a look at the rest of the medical setup in that scene. I’m especially interested in the screens behind the chair - maybe some more medical meta to be explored? Please send any screenshots my way if you have them!)
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago
Okay seriously, I’ve never seen this guy get any credit, but check this out. Steve had just given his speech that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD and Project Insight was their means of taking total control. Project Insight, which must have taken hundreds of mislead SHIELD employees several months if not years to get this far, and suddenly all priorities are reversed with a few words from the Star Spangled Man With A Plan. So when Rumlow marches in and orders this kid to go through with it, he stares him down for a good 20 seconds, demanding “Is there a problem?” twice in the process. Everyone else is watching in tense silence. This guy is clearly terrified and probably in shock knowing everything he worked for was a Hydra crafted lie, but he sticks with his morals and finally works up the courage to say no, not happening. This is everyday heroism, on par with the man in the Avengers who stood up to Loki when he ordered everyone to kneel. It’s sticking up for what’s right, even in the face of repercussions and knowing your actions alone won’t stop what’s happening. At least you had the strength of character to do the right thing, when it would have been so much easier to follow along and not make yourself a target.
Give this kid a medal.
This guy is one of my favourite characters in the film, purely because of Aaron Himelstein’s performance. He is so, so wonderfully believably human, and it’s moments of realistic heroism that help stop Cap 2 from being just another film about people with highly specialised and/or superhuman abilities doing things that push the boundaries of plausability. This kid’s moment of defiance is such a small dramatic moment when compared to the epic battle that follows, but its enormity in terms of importance to the film as a whole should not be underestimated.
Also - Sharon Carter totally saves this character’s life a few seconds later. When she and Rumlow start fighting, she kicks the kid’s chair out from under him so he doesn’t get shot (because he’s rabbit-frozen), and he hits the floor and is able to hide under a desk.
BUTTON BOB 5EVER
(via spooky-banana)Source: isi-the-fangirl
- 1 month ago
I have been thinking about Alexander Pierce a lot recently, and I figured something out. He is is a brilliant manipulator and a highly skilled tactician. Okay, that is not news, but consider this.
- The attack on Fury he sets in motion minutes to hours before it happens. For an attack that large, with that many assets and different strategies involved, it had to have been in planning for some time.
- The attack on Cap in the elevator happens in the elevator as he is leaving Pierce’s office. Cap left the office, Pierce texted Sitwell or Rumlow, and they were off and running with an attack that had clearly been thought out and planned. In fact, they had to have been waiting on the go order.
- This is the part I really love. In the end, Pierce maneuvers the World Security Council into launching Insight, and making it look like he lost, like he had been out-maneuvered and he was going to have to do this against his will. Why is this important? Think about what would have happened if Insight had succeeded. Millions of people would have been dead before some power managed to blast them out of the sky. Who would have been left holding the bag? The Council members. Pierce was on record as not wanting to launch it, as being the last voice of reason before the Council members (now war criminals) took action. Heck, even those little badges he gives them that are deadly burn-through-your-sternum things were probably there so that when everything went “bad”, he could arrest them. He would have been left the hero (ready to decline another Peace Prize) and they would have been criminals.
The man is brilliant.
(via scratchthemaven)Source: spiderfire47