The Battle of Agincourt

We all know that during the Hundred Years war there was something big going on between England and France. Henry V of England led his army against the French in a famous battle known as Agincourt, but what many people do not realize is that this victory is attributed greatly to his archers who used Longbows to turn the tides.

The battlefield lay on 1,000 yards of open ground between two woods, which prevented large-scale maneuvers and thus worked to Henry’s advantage….The English stood their ground as French knights, weighed down by their heavy armor, began a slow advance across the muddy battlefield. The French were met by a furious bombardment of artillery from the English archers, who wielded innovative longbows with a range of 250 yards. French cavalrymen tried and failed to overwhelm the English positions, but the archers were protected by a line of pointed stakes. As more and more French knights made their way onto the crowded battlefield, their mobility decreased further, and some lacked even the room to raise their arms and strike a blow. At this point, Henry ordered his lightly equipped archers to rush forward with swords and axes, and the unencumbered Englishmen massacred the French. –

With archers equipped to shoot at 250 yards they revolutionized war and were able to win an extremely unlikely victory. In the end around 6,000 Frenchmen lost their lives but only 400 Englishmen.

A wonderful account of this time period for readers and writers, Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell, focuses on one particular archer, Nicholas Hook and the world he sees around him. Bernard uses historic fiction and rich detail to bring the time period alive through his different characters and their interactions throughout the battle. Even the not-so-pretty aspects of the war.

But what is a longbow? For all of our archers today who draw from 35lbs to 75lbs with plenty of training, these English longbow archers pulled around 180 pounds to shoot this bow to it’s best abilities. And to put it into an even greater perspective, Guinness World Records lists the heaviest longbow draw weight.

Mark Stretton (UK) drew a longbow weighing 90 kg (200 lb) to the maximum draw on an arrow of 82.5 cm (32 ½ in) at the shooting grounds of The Bath Archers, Somerset, UK on 15 August 2004.


The Immortal Jellyfish

It’s the Pheonix of the ocean, and this little guy has gotten a lot of attention recently. Science Fiction and Fantasy writers could really have something neat on their hands with this one.

According to National Geographic, the jellyfish is

About as wide as a human pinky nail when fully grown, the immortal jellyfish (scientific name: Turritopsis dohrnii) was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea in 1883. But its unique ability was not discovered until the 1990s.

And what is this unique ability? This little guy is capable of turning back into its baby stage in case of emergency and appears to be immortal.

It all sounds like magic. How is it possible for this Jellyfish to revert completely and begin again? Turns out that there is a scientific term for this process:

Transdifferentiation: 1. The change of a cell or tissue from one differentiated state to another. 2. The differentiation of a tissue-specific stem cell into another type of cell as, for example, a bone marrow stem cell differentiating into a neuron. –

So what does this mean for humans? Many animals are studied for various reasons in order to develop cures for diseases or other ailments, so why not the immortal jellyfish? Could it lead to eternal life?

In the New York Times article,  “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?” we find that keeping them in captivity is difficult but Shin Kubota, at Kyoto University’s Seto Marine Biological Laboratory has found a way to keep a group of them, but he says that they are still organisms.

And their immortality is, to a certain degree, a question of semantics. “That word ‘immortal’ is distracting,” says James Carlton, the professor of marine sciences at Williams. “If by ‘immortal’ you mean passing on your genes, then yes, it’s immortal. But those are not the same cells anymore. The cells are immortal, but not necessarily the organism itself.–NYTimes

So the term we should really consider is regeneration. If we were like this jellyfish, our bodies would return to their youthful stage and then regenerate, but would this regeneration still be us? We’re talking about something on a cellular level. Immortality would be to live on and on as we are now, regeneration, well…

Have fun writing!