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SkepticJ
2005-Jan-11, 10:15 PM
These are the ideas I've had for incorporation into stories or whatever I want to do with them. How plausible are they and how novel? Laugh if you wish, but please don't steal them.

Zero G ducted fan: A conveyance device used in the zero gravity environment of giant space stations and in other extremely low gravity environments such as Dyson Trees, colony domes and other structures in and on asteroids. They consist of a ring 40cm in diameter and 15cm thick that has two rings of linear induction motors that propel propellers that counter rotate. A handle on each side allows for grasping the device and pointing it in the direction you want to go. The open ends of the duct have grilles of hexagons that protect hands from the blades. A micro fusion reactor powers the device. Centuries ago before fusion reactors were scaled down far enough they were powered by a loop of superconductor that held electrical power until needed.

Homo model 1985-021: A human engineered for zero gravity living. They are about a meter and a half in length. They have another set of arms where Homo sapiens have their legs. Their necks have more vertebrae than Homo sapiens do; its length is about 30cm and is highly flexible. They have genetic modifications to prevent the body from self-inflicting osteoporosis on their bones and their muscle mass and mitochondria count is kept even with the disuse. Their eyes are about 4cm in diameter and are better than an eagle’s. Their twenty fingers have setae adhesive pads allowing them to stand and walk on walls without being blown away by air currents in zero g.

Idatonian tri-squid: family of organisms found on the moon of Idaton. They have four spherical compound eyes, each one being on the end of a stalk. The stalks come off the body like the four points on a compass. Three of their tentacle arms end in six fingers that are arranged radially; the other three tentacles end in a foot of four thick toes adapted to bare the body’s weight. The ends of the hand’s fingers are wide pads that have setae adhesive on them. They have a skeleton of erectile tissue that allows them to walk on dry land like they have bones; but they can still fit through small holes like octopi can when their “bones” aren’t erect. They have the best of both worlds. They have both gill and lung-like organs, thus permitting them to function both underwater and on land.

Deathdealer: A frightening predator native to planet Thebann. Like most vertebrates on Thebann, they have six limbs. They have evolved a 30+cm long nano edge blade claw on a modified finger on the side of their front limb’s forearm. When not in use the claws are kept along side the arm, the modified finger doesn’t allow the claw to touch the arm. When needed the modified finger flicks the claw forward 180 degrees where it is then a few centimeters away from and parallel to the creature’s hand. But this is not where the creature’s arsenal ends. Their ancestors evolved two ultraviolet lasers on their heads. These lasers are used to ionize the air along the laser’s path creating “wires” in the air. These “wires” are used to carry an electric shock that drops prey like a tazer. Special muscle blocks in the creature generate the electric shock.

Hail of fire gun: Weapon that shoots flaming bouncing balls at an adjustable rate. They use a blend of nitrogen and oxygen as the propellant gas.

Planetary Devastator: A spherical robotic spacecraft one hundred meters in diameter. Warheads take much of the internal space up. They fire warheads that are 40cm long and 15cm in diameter. The warheads have a magnetic bottle that contains 1-3 kilograms of antimatter. The warheads are launched from a ball turreted rail gun.

Mother Wood trees: Three-mile high trees native to planet Thebann. They somewhat resemble banyan trees, save for their huge size. Since cohesion-tension can’t pull water up inside a tree higher than around one hundred meters, the Mother Wood’s water comes not from the roots up, but from the top down. The trees catch rainwater using millions of round, slightly inward sloping leaves that funnel the rainwater down into a hollow stem in the center of the leaf.

Nano edge blades: Blades whose edges are 1-50nm thick and are monomolecular, one single carbon nanotube runs the length of the edge. The blades themselves are generally very thin, usually between 2.5-10 microns thick. The entire blade is made of carbon nanotube composites. Sometimes the blades are double edged as in the nano edge swords and penknives.

Nano edge sword: Any sword with an edge that is 1-50nm thick and a blade that is usually 5-10 micrometers thick. The swords come in varying lengths, the one half and one-meter models being the most common. They’re a general-purpose tool used for cutting vegetation, opening large nuts and slicing through metal; among other things. They are the replacement of the antiquated machete. The sword's sheath telescopes into the handle and the end of the sheath is an iris diaphragm that closes over the hole in the end.

Penknives: Term usually refers to small nanoedge blades whose sheath is a cylinder around 1-1.5cm in diameter and almost never longer than 20cm. The sheath is usually made of metal glass, titanium or carbon nanotube composite. The blade can be fully extended, only expose 1mm of the end, or anything in-between, depending on the task.

Thebannese: A sentient, endothermic, reptile-like being from the planet Thebann. Adults range in size from one and a half to two meters in length. They have six limbs, all of them ending in a six fingered hand. They are able to walk upright on their hind two legs when needed. Their head is elongated, looking similar to a jellybean in shape. They have four eyes. Two are on the front of their head for binocular vision; the other two are on either side to give them nearly a total view of their surroundings. Their eyes are sensitive from low IR up through the entire visible spectrum and stops at very weak UV. Their noses are four tentacles that hang from the bottom of the back section of their head. van der Waals adhesive pads on their thirty-six fingers allows them to climb any surface. At the ends of their fingers are claws that look very similar to cat claws. They have a highly evolved system of chromatophores in their skin. They can even show pictures and movies on their skin, it’s that good. They use it for an active camouflage when hunting, matting displays etc.

Milli-fusion reactor: Nuclear fusion reactor between 12cm-30cm in diameter. They are used to power craft and robots of a large size.

Micro-fusion reactor: Nuclear fusion reactors less than 12cm in diameter. Most are 2cm and under. They are used to power robots, craft, entomopter packs and tools.

Entomopter packs are backpack sized personal flying machines. They have two fly-like wings and are powered by a micro-fusion reactor.

Atmospheric displacement sphere: A highly rigid balloon made of carbon nanotube composites that has had all the air pumped out of it so that it displaces more air than it weighs, thus it floats. Many have a small load of machinery hanging underneath them, while other larger ones have buildings slung under, on the sides and the top. Some spheres are greater than 50km in diameter. These are used to float structures in the atmospheres of super gas giants and gas giants.

Portable laser: A handheld IR and blue-green laser powered by a micro-fusion reactor. They are sealed tight except for the electrolysis chamber where water is poured into for the reactor’s hydrogen fuel. They are water resistant to great depth.

Bolo guns: shotgun-like firearms that fire two 2cm or 3cm in diameter tungsten spheres that are connected by a hair thin carbon nanotube wire. Several types of rounds are made for the guns. The bg1 round has a one meter long wire, bg3 has a three meter wire, bg5 has a five meter wire, bg10 has a ten meter wire and the bg20 has a twenty meter wire.

The Thebannese cook their food while on their sailing ships using parabolas covered in mirrors. They put the copper or iron pot of food at the focal point of the parabola.

The Uka fruit is about the size of a grapefruit. It is olive drab in color. The skin of the fruit is scaled. The scales are hexagonal and pentagonal in shape. The fruit’s skin is about as tough as a grapefruit’s. The fruit itself is like the inside of a watermelon; only it is blue-green in color and is sweeter than watermelon. The fruit’s seeds are embedded in it’s skin.

The Thebannese use exobamboo to build their homes, pipe water, slice it into wooden containers, build their ships, pipe natural gas, fill sections of it with black powder (gun powder) to use as explosives, including fireworks. A few species of exobamboo grow to 1 meter in diameter. Most species of exobamboo have tough but elastic fibers that connect the vertical wood fibers together, which prevents the splitting while drying that happens to Earth bamboo. Several species of exobamboo live in cold climates. Their leaves are like pine needles. These species store water through the winter inside the hollow cavities within them. They only fill the cavities partially full and they mix an antifreeze into the water. These adaptations keep the water from bursting open the plant.

Nowhere Man
2005-Jan-11, 11:37 PM
Homo model 1985-021: A human engineered for zero gravity living. They are about a meter and a half in length. They have another set of arms where Homo sapiens have their legs...
I can't comment on the other ideas, but this one at least I've seen before. See Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold. Not all of your modifications, of course, but the big ideas of arms instead of legs and no osteoporosis/muscle atrophy are there.

Fred

mike alexander
2005-Jan-12, 12:45 AM
Don't worry, almost everything has been thought of before by someone, somewhere. It's what you DO with them that counts.

The nanotube stuff reminds me of the variable-swords in Niven's Known Space stories.

The genetic mods, in addition to what Nowhere Man notes, remind me of the Varley stories in the Ophiuchi Hotline universe.

The first place I encountered the lowered internal pressure floating sphere was in Poul Anderson's story "Brake"

I do like the idea of the variable-rigidity skeleton.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 12:59 AM
The nanotube stuff reminds me of the variable-swords in Niven's Known Space stories.

Yeah I was wanting to have blades that don't need a field where time doesn't pass to make them work. I still don't know though, I thought them up back before I learned of lattice faults in crystals, so I thought the blades as I have them would be about as strong as 5mm of steel. Still can't find good info on the properties of nanotubes online, some places say they are chemically inert, others talk about atomic oxygen eroding them and others about cutting them with enzmes. See my problem? :-?
I want everything to be possible, I'm anal like that.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-12, 01:49 AM
Micro-fusion plants are out of the realm of hard sci-fi at this point, AFAIK.

And the Uka fruit needs a few more finishing touches. Lessee... How about having amino acids in it that are right-handed as opposed to the left-handed form that Earth life uses? Or perhaps the rind should have calcium oxalate crystals in it...

(I know of a certain edible fruit for which the latter is the case, though I forget its name... The calcium oxalate crystals sharp and painful, so eating the unripened fruit is not recommended. Also, IIRC, oxalic acid salts are toxic - oxalic acid is responsible for the toxicity of rhubarb leaves.)

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 01:58 AM
Micro-fusion plants are out of the realm of hard sci-fi at this point, AFAIK.

Why exactly? Nanotechnology is beyond what we can do now but will almost cetainly be possible someday, I thought this is what hard SF means.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 02:05 AM
Does anybody know a good bit about compound eyes? The tri-squids eyes are supposed to be compound but they need to be able to change the focus of their eyes from far away to close up, like we can. Can compound eyes change their focus?

What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?

The main thing with the Deathdealer is can lasers be evolved and the claws of course?

Ilya
2005-Jan-12, 02:25 AM
Nanotechnology is beyond what we can do now but will almost cetainly be possible someday, I thought this is what hard SF means.

The way Drexler and other hard-core nanotechnology advocates envision it, I am increasingly convinced it will NOT be possible, ever. If mechanical linkages at molecular level were workable, they would almost certainly have evolved in living organisms. The fact that they did not is telling. OTOH, if you regard nanotechnology simply as devices to manipulate individual molecules, then they exist in abundance -- they are called enzymes. However, they need liquid medium to work in, and do not communicate over large distances (again, as envisioned by nano-advocates, even if not consciously). Nano-devices built on these principles are certainly possible, but probably not very different or more versatile than genetically engineered bacteria.

Ilya
2005-Jan-12, 02:27 AM
What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?


Too easy to injure.

Swift
2005-Jan-12, 02:39 AM
What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?


Too easy to injure.
I agree, though if I remember correctly, squid do have photosensitivity on all of their skin, it allows them to change colors. But they can't "see" with them.

Swift
2005-Jan-12, 02:42 AM
Micro-fusion plants are out of the realm of hard sci-fi at this point, AFAIK.

And the Uka fruit needs a few more finishing touches. Lessee... How about having amino acids in it that are right-handed as opposed to the left-handed form that Earth life uses? Or perhaps the rind should have calcium oxalate crystals in it...

(I know of a certain edible fruit for which the latter is the case, though I forget its name... The calcium oxalate crystals sharp and painful, so eating the unripened fruit is not recommended. Also, IIRC, oxalic acid salts are toxic - oxalic acid is responsible for the toxicity of rhubarb leaves.)
The fruit of the wild flower Jack-in-the-Pulpit contain oxalate (reference (http://www.innogize.com/wildflowers/jack-plp.htm)

Swift
2005-Jan-12, 02:45 AM
The nanotube stuff reminds me of the variable-swords in Niven's Known Space stories.

Yeah I was wanting to have blades that don't need a field where time doesn't pass to make them work. I still don't know though, I thought them up back before I learned of lattice faults in crystals, so I thought the blades as I have them would be about as strong as 5mm of steel. Still can't find good info on the properties of nanotubes online, some places say they are chemically inert, others talk about atomic oxygen eroding them and others about cutting them with enzmes. See my problem? :-?
I want everything to be possible, I'm anal like that.
I assume when you say nanotubes, you are talking about Carbon nanotubes. However, people have made nanotubes out of other compounds. I think the reason you are getting different information about carbon nanotubes is that their properties can be different, depending upon the structure of the nanotube. I know, for example, that some exhibit metallic conductivity and some are semiconductors. I had not heard about cutting them with enzymes, but I won't rule it out.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 02:46 AM
What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?


Too easy to injure.

So what? It'd regenerate like certain salamanders can grow whole new arms, legs and tails back after they have been lost. Imagine a human with that ability spliced in. Your arm is back after three months or so. :D

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 02:51 AM
What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?


Too easy to injure.
I agree, though if I remember correctly, squid do have photosensitivity on all of their skin, it allows them to change colors. But they can't "see" with them.

I think you may be thinking of chromatophores. They don't see, just change color. Iridophores do stuff to light like polarize it. Octopi have both, plus the ability to change the texture of their skin on the fly. Isn't biology amazing?

TinFoilHat
2005-Jan-12, 03:44 AM
What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes? It would be covered in rods and cones or whatever else would work, or perhaps just tens of thousands if tiny individual compound eyes?
Unless I'm mistaken, certain starfish species do this - the skin has photosensitive nerve cells scattere through it, and the tiny calcium crystals in the skin act as lenses. The entire body is effectively a compound eye. They don't form a image, though, just detect movement to help the starfish avoid predators.

Covering the entire body with a high-resolution image-forming eye begs the question of where you'll put the vast amount of neural tissue you'll need to process all that information, and what kind of evolutionary pressures would drive a creature to need it. It works for the starfish becuase they have no need to resolve objects and a decentralized nervous system to begin with.

TinFoilHat
2005-Jan-12, 04:00 AM
Micro-fusion plants are out of the realm of hard sci-fi at this point, AFAIK.

Why exactly? Nanotechnology is beyond what we can do now but will almost cetainly be possible someday, I thought this is what hard SF means.

Hard science fiction usually means working with known laws of physics and technology that can be reasonably projected to exist someday. A 2cm wide fusion generator working off straight hydrogen, and generating a useful power output, is from what we've learned about fusion so far something that would require unimagineable physics breakthroughs and/or technological improvements. It puts you more in the realm of magic than hard SF.

DataCable
2005-Jan-12, 09:08 AM
Does anybody know a good bit about compound eyes?Try Here (http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CompoundEye.html).


Can compound eyes change their focus?
According to this page (http://www.mbl.edu/animals/Limulus/vision/), arthropod vision is fixed-focus, as the lenses are part of the exoskeleton itself. There aren't enough individual photosensitive cells in any individual ommatidium to resolve an image, anyway. As I understand it, the lenses don't focus an image (as in the Mk-I Eyeball), but rather narrow the field of view availible to that particular cluster of photoreceptors. This provides sharper contrast between adjacent facets, though each individual facet is only capable of little more than intensity discrimination... a single greyscale pixel, as it were.

That's not to say that variable-focus compound eyes would be impossible, but I'd think it would require much more density of photoreceptors per-facet to be workable, more akin to a cluster of individually-focusing but immovable Mk-I Eyeballs.


What of the possibility that the entire skin of an animal is its eyes?
Sounds kinda like a Brittlestar (http://www.imagequest3d.com/pages/general/news/brittlestars/) . But again, this is only "vision" at the most rudimentary level.

DataCable
2005-Jan-12, 09:41 AM
Octopi have [...] the ability to change the texture of their skin on the fly. Isn't biology amazing?
Anyone else remember that old cartoon consisting of brief tongue-in-cheek snippits on various forms of wildlife? The bit on chameleons had the narraror say something along the lines of "The Chameleon is the master of disguise. He can make his body take any color of the rainbow," as a chameleon happily blended in with the background of bright solid colors, changing from one to the next slide-show style. Then a swatch of plaid comes up, at which point he falls to the floor, pounding his fists, crying "I can't do it!"

After seeing a few documentaries on marine mollusks, I can't help but mentally append the image of a cuttlefish emerging from the plaid and slinking off-screen, snickering like Mutley. :lol:

nomuse
2005-Jan-12, 09:50 AM
In no order at all, and remembering I might read science fiction and popular science mags but I have no scientific or engineering background:

The micro-fusion plants bother me for the reasons given above, and an additional; I can't think of many things that need to be small AND have quite that much power. Me, I'd stick batteries in my ducted fan and be happy. Unless you are meaning to go with some sort of "cold" or catalyzed fusion, or esoteric fields, the idea of fusion temperatures and pressures -- and the magnetic fields and voltage potentials et al -- in my back pocket gives me the shakes. Having these things installed in the future equivalent of bicycles and boom boxes is just ASKING for trouble.

Oh, also on that ducted fan -- what kind of distances and velocities are you thinking of here? Actually, the main advantage to a large fan (instead of a small enclosed blower), could be noise abatement.

The human modifications are not the most recent idea, but they don't get done enough, either. However -- "eyes of an eagle?" In a true three-dimensional environment I'd take coverage over binocular vision. Besides, with the baseline of the human head depth perception is useless over anything other than short distances.

Thinking a little further on that....human beings are designed by nature as some of the world's greatest generalists. A bear can outrun us, a monkey outclimb us, a dolphin outswim us...but get a dolphin into a tree and see what happens!

If I was designing a species for zero-G environments I'd design for the day-to-day functions; enough grippers to keep from banging its head all day, eyes to keep it from flying into things, circulatory system, digestion and lungs that don't mind being cramped up or without the pressures of muscle and gravity. For those times the organism wants to travel distances, move fast, see far away or guide a ship into dock, it can grab tools for that task.

You might give a thought to radiation as well. I'm not sure what your bioengineers can do, tho...super-melanin perhaps (and, with the default SF hero still tending to be white, I kinda like the idea that the space borne are dark-skinned.)

The natural UV lasers are a cool idea. I don't know enough to know if the energy densities are biologically plausible. I would be interested, however, in seeing where other developments of the same line ended up. Are there creatures with natural laser-ranging ability? Are there hunting pairs that use laser to "paint" their prey? Are there naturally evolved defenses to this creature, from reflectors to insulation...or even biological superconductors?!

If you are dropping kilos of antimatter it doesn't really matter how the delivery vehicle is ordered. The point is the material, not the shape of the weapon. At that, small black holes would be just as devastating...and just as difficult to manufacture and contain. Besides, I just like the idea of micro-holes down at the Hawking limit. As I understand it, once they start going, they really go.

Monomolecular edges are so overdone. Nothing wrong with them, and carbon tubes is at least a new buzzword...but if you think of something really new that would be nice.

The entomopter flying machines would be cool looking. It looks like you are going for a kind of insect theme here, with a bit of Deathworld in the mix, and as such they can certainly help to set the style. Mechanically, tho...inefficient, fragile, quite possibly noisy. Of course, any method of flying in normal gravity is noisy -- gotta shove your MV in air, whether that is a lot of it slowly or a small amount very fast. And flapping wings get pretty funny when you approach human scale. Most insect wings, after all, are operating in what to them is a thick, viscous fluid.

The nanotube balloons are fine, but take a look around for something called aerogel. This is something variously called "solidified smoke" or "frozen jello." Right now the stuff is mostly just barely heavier than air, but some SF authors have suggested filling the cels with helium or partial vacuum, making it lighter than air. It's also an excellent insulator.

The bolo gun sounds more like the sail-cutting shot that was used in old naval battles. If you actually want to entangle the prey, nanotubes are probably not the best choice.

As you are aware, there are insects that use a natural antifreeze. I wonder, tho, if a simpler adaptation might be more interesting in the exobamboo -- salt water. If it were to concentrate salts to lower the freezing temperature, it also might be a source of dietary salt (or less benign salts).

Sock Munkey
2005-Jan-12, 01:24 PM
The Homo model 1985-021 should have polarized eye lenses and redundant DNA in addition to the UV blocking skin to prevent gentic anomalies in the offspring.

Instead of lasers why not have the critter spit twin streams of conductive saliva? We already have fluid stun guns that work like this.

eburacum45
2005-Jan-12, 03:27 PM
A good idea to have redundant DNA copies and datacheckers in your human models, because of the dangers of radiation induced mutation.

One thing about space adapted human designs that could affect their culture is that you wouldn't want meiosis and fertilisation happening in a high radiation envionment, even if the tissues of a adult individual are radiation resistant; so it is likely that the homo model 1985-021 will have low-risk mating and childrearing locations away from major sources of radiation; probably well inside rocky asteroids.

Microfusion would be imaginary technology; we have it in OA, but it is not explained thoroughly for obvious reasons. Because of the scale of the particles involved we call this sort of imaginary technology picotech; picofusion involves fulfulling Lawson's Criterion on a very small scale,
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nucene/lawson.html#c3
and exactly how this can be done will not be discovered for several hundred years (in our imaginary timeline).
As the future of technology holds many developments yet unknown, it is acceptable (in my opinion) to have a few placeholder technologies; these represent the technologies which have not even been imagined yet, and the number of such unknown developments is likely to increase when you consider periods further and further into the future.

Rich
2005-Jan-12, 04:09 PM
Sounds like neat stuff SkepticJ.

I like your Motherwood Trees. You could get around the gravity problem by having the trees develop catch-pockets for water. Water and nutrients could be pulled up to the limits of physics and stored in one way pockets. These resevoirs would then service the next teir of the tree. Various such resevoirs could by placed up the tree, to the limits of tensile strength to actually keep it erect. Your approach would probably be simpler in evolutionary terms than my suggestion.

If your Thebannese (I like Thebans better, and it allows earthlings to assign all kind of classical greek attributes to them, but it's your universe :P) , space their eyes out properly they have the opportunity for binocular vision in any direction. Well, maybe only in any two pair configurations at any time. Though it would require a fairly well developed part of the brain to take advantage and make sense of so much information (as someone else pointed out) the survival advantage when you've got predators as nasty as those you describe is pretty big.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 05:56 PM
Hard science fiction usually means working with known laws of physics and technology that can be reasonably projected to exist someday. A 2cm wide fusion generator working off straight hydrogen, and generating a useful power output, is from what we've learned about fusion so far something that would require unimagineable physics breakthroughs and/or technological improvements. It puts you more in the realm of magic than hard SF.

Ah I see. How small could they get within known physics though? Basketball size?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 06:02 PM
Instead of lasers why not have the critter spit twin streams of conductive saliva? We already have fluid stun guns that work like this.

I like the lasers better because they work at a much greater range.

Another weapon I thought of would be poison vapor contained inside tori blown at prey at high speed. Could this work?

What about an animal using networks of microtubes with salt water inside them to send electrical messages insead of the electrochemical mechanism our nerves use? It'd work much faster.

Swift
2005-Jan-12, 07:23 PM
What about an animal using networks of microtubes with salt water inside them to send electrical messages insead of the electrochemical mechanism our nerves use? It'd work much faster.
Heck, if you have biological lasers, how about an animal that has fiber optics for "nerves" and uses optical communications with IR lasers and detectors.

nomuse
2005-Jan-12, 09:51 PM
Yah. We have in one creature generation of high voltages, and organic lasers. At least one miracle too much; one would expect that the combination of these two talents is the contribution of this particular species; that both electrical generation and organic lasers exist in a variety of other species.

If you put the development of these talents far enough back in the evolutionary track, you might have whole trees of possibilities; laser communications, optical nerve trunks, laser ranging, bug zappers...bizzare stuff like a territorial species that acid-paints its territory in a micro-pit pattern that can be read like a CD by other members of its species...creatures evolved to detect laser frequencies, even ones that navigate across great distances by looking at the UV signals of distant O-class stars...

That's a problem that shows mostly in science fiction; there is a new bit of science invoked for one item, like a gun. Whereas in both nature and when you get it into the hands of engineers that one principle is going to get a lot of varied uses.

nomuse
2005-Jan-12, 09:58 PM
I have to add -- I like the stuff you have going, and you are obviously going to have fun with this project.

And for simplicity I agree with the spit -- how about polymerized spit, so it hardens on air contact and remains in place for a while. Given a thixatrophic "spitball" and the right launcher it might get a good distance.

Which, hey, since you've got the electrical generation -- what about an organic liniac to throw the wads?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 10:37 PM
Yah. We have in one creature generation of high voltages, and organic lasers. At least one miracle too much; one would expect that the combination of these two talents is the contribution of this particular species; that both electrical generation and organic lasers exist in a variety of other species.

If you put the development of these talents far enough back in the evolutionary track, you might have whole trees of possibilities; laser communications, optical nerve trunks, laser ranging, bug zappers...bizzare stuff like a territorial species that acid-paints its territory in a micro-pit pattern that can be read like a CD by other members of its species...creatures evolved to detect laser frequencies, even ones that navigate across great distances by looking at the UV signals of distant O-class stars...

That's a problem that shows mostly in science fiction; there is a new bit of science invoked for one item, like a gun. Whereas in both nature and when you get it into the hands of engineers that one principle is going to get a lot of varied uses.


Well electric eels produce high voltage with special muscle blocks so the only thing new would be the lasers, and the super thin claws.

I was thinking kind of like this working on what the stages before the functioning "laser taser" works. Started with a UV source that was used to communicate then evolved to be a laser to be more steathy when talking to other Deathdealers while hunting and at the same time also happended to ionize the air along the beam to conduct the shock. Before this time the Deathdealer's ancestors had to touch their prey with a hand to transfer the shock, then they could cut them up with their amazing blade claws. I short I was going for a predator you can't run from, they will slice rocks and fallen tree trunks and anything else to get to you. If they even have a line of sight to you and they are hungy you're basically dead meat. I did think it'd be neat if the Thebannese hunted them to not only keep their numbers small to protect themselves but to get their claws for use as knife blades when tied to sticks.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 10:47 PM
The bolo gun sounds more like the sail-cutting shot that was used in old naval battles. If you actually want to entangle the prey, nanotubes are probably not the best choice.


Then you're thinking just what I was. They aren't designed to trap but to slice in half. A hair-thin wire pulled through the air by supersonic balls of tungsten would have quite a bit of force on a small area. You could take out many beings with a 20 meter long wire. Oh what a horrible way to die. :o

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 10:54 PM
The way Drexler and other hard-core nanotechnology advocates envision it, I am increasingly convinced it will NOT be possible, ever. If mechanical linkages at molecular level were workable, they would almost certainly have evolved in living organisms. The fact that they did not is telling. OTOH, if you regard nanotechnology simply as devices to manipulate individual molecules, then they exist in abundance -- they are called enzymes. However, they need liquid medium to work in, and do not communicate over large distances (again, as envisioned by nano-advocates, even if not consciously). Nano-devices built on these principles are certainly possible, but probably not very different or more versatile than genetically engineered bacteria.

You could be right, but have any animals evolved gears? Or wheels on the end of their legs instead of feet? No. Somethings can't evolve because the stages inbetween working and not working don't give a survival advantage. Flight could and did evolve because the stages inbetween have an advantage for survival. I'd really like to see a turbin engine powered flying animal or living helicopter evolve.

TinFoilHat
2005-Jan-12, 11:08 PM
Ah I see. How small could they get within known physics though? Basketball size?
Basketball stadium sized, maybe.

The problem is that the proton fusion process proceeds very slowly even under ideal conditions. The sun's core produces about as much energy per area as a candle flame. So a basketball sized fusion reactor, even if it's managing to produce an environment as conducive to fusion as the sun's core, isn't going to generate all that much energy. Deterium fusion is much easier, which is why it's all we've seriously attempted so far.

Right now the only verified way we know of to make hydrogen fuse is to subject it to very high pressures and/or temperatures. Now, you might postulate for your science fiction the existence of materials and/or shielding technology that can contain a fragment of plasma hotter than the core of a star in a tiny object safely, but you'll be leaving the range of hard science fiction at that point. And to be consistent, you'll have to consider the ramifications of that technology elsewhere. You have assumed materials and/or shielding that can hold the core of a star on one side and room temperature and pressure on the other side - with a thickness of only a few inches and no massive cooling system or heat dump. Use this same technology for armor, and you can make a starship that can fly right through the core of a star unscathed.

Alternately, you might assume some completely unexpected law of physics that allows high-power room-temperature fusion. But then again, you're leaving the realm of hard science fiction, and to be consistent have to think out this amazing physics breakthrough and its ramifications on other technologies.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 11:31 PM
The way Drexler and other hard-core nanotechnology advocates envision it, I am increasingly convinced it will NOT be possible, ever. If mechanical linkages at molecular level were workable, they would almost certainly have evolved in living organisms. The fact that they did not is telling. OTOH, if you regard nanotechnology simply as devices to manipulate individual molecules, then they exist in abundance -- they are called enzymes. However, they need liquid medium to work in, and do not communicate over large distances (again, as envisioned by nano-advocates, even if not consciously). Nano-devices built on these principles are certainly possible, but probably not very different or more versatile than genetically engineered bacteria.

You could be right, but have any animals evolved gears? Or wheels on the end of their legs instead of feet? No. Somethings can't evolve because the stages inbetween working and not working don't give a survival advantage. Flight could and did evolve because the stages inbetween have an advantage for survival. I'd really like to see a turbin engine powered flying animal or living helicopter evolve.


Actually this is an interesting topic, lets talk about it in great detail. I'll start the thread.

Ilya
2005-Jan-13, 02:09 AM
The way Drexler and other hard-core nanotechnology advocates envision it, I am increasingly convinced it will NOT be possible, ever. If mechanical linkages at molecular level were workable, they would almost certainly have evolved in living organisms. The fact that they did not is telling. OTOH, if you regard nanotechnology simply as devices to manipulate individual molecules, then they exist in abundance -- they are called enzymes. However, they need liquid medium to work in, and do not communicate over large distances (again, as envisioned by nano-advocates, even if not consciously). Nano-devices built on these principles are certainly possible, but probably not very different or more versatile than genetically engineered bacteria.

You could be right, but have any animals evolved gears?

Yes, and at the right scale to begin evolution of nano-mechanical devices:

http://www.bms.ed.ac.uk/research/others/smaciver/Cell%20biol.topics/Cell_Locomotion.htm

Bacteria HAVE invented the wheel. It never went beyond flagellum moton.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-13, 02:19 AM
Bacteria HAVE invented the wheel. It never went beyond flagellum moton.

But did it need to? A propeller at those scales probably wouldn't work any better, and likely far less efficient than a flagellum. What would a bacterium need micro arms for so why would you expect them to have evolved them? You argument seems to me like saying "Lions haven't evolved a hunting device that rapidly fires chunks of lead at Mach 2 using an explosive chemical reaction therefor such a device probably can't work."

Ilya
2005-Jan-13, 02:56 AM
Bacteria HAVE invented the wheel. It never went beyond flagellum moton.

But did it need to? A propeller at those scales probably wouldn't work any better, and likely far less efficient than a flagellum. What would a bacterium need micro arms for so why would you expect them to have evolved them?

Here is one use right off the top of my head -- a parasitic bacterium which lives in bloodstream of a multicellular animal could use motion of interlocking wheels to crawl inside capillaries, thus reaching tissues it otherwise can not. In general, crawling through tight (by their definition) spaces is something protozoa are very bad at, and bacteria completely incapable. Nano-gears (NOT arms -- that's a strawman argument) would have come very handy... if they could work at all.

Sock Munkey
2005-Jan-13, 09:24 AM
One reason you can't have an animal with wheels is that there is no way to supply blood and nutrients to a rotating appendage thus making it impossible for that appendage to regnerate from normal wear and tear. Aditionally, while wheels are great on smooth ground there are only a handful of of naturally occuring places smooth enough for wheels to effectively function. (the Utah salt flats are one such place) Grantd, we are talking about an alien world but the laws of geology still apply.

As for glue-spitting animals this does have a precedent in nature. Some sepcies of termite have structures on their heads that spit a glue-like substance at their enemies.

JonnyWishbone
2005-Jan-13, 09:54 AM
Nice ideas, Skeptic. Some of your ideas remind me of David Brin, especially the laser species (Sundiver) and some of the subsequent conversation about creatures with wheels (later in the Uplift series). George RR Martin has a wonderful, creepy predator that uses monofilaments in his novella "The Plague Star", which is often collected and part of the collection Tuf Voyaging.

Keep going, and write that novel!

Cheers, Jon

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-13, 03:26 PM
Here is one use right off the top of my head -- a parasitic bacterium which lives in bloodstream of a multicellular animal could use motion of interlocking wheels to crawl inside capillaries, thus reaching tissues it otherwise can not. In general, crawling through tight (by their definition) spaces is something protozoa are very bad at, and bacteria completely incapable. Nano-gears (NOT arms -- that's a strawman argument) would have come very handy... if they could work at all.


Interesting point. Lets take this to the nanotech thread I started so we don't derail this thread. The ability to fly at great speed using turbine engines and wings that swoosh back to delta-like would be a great survival advantage for a flying animal to evovle to get away from predators at great speed, out flying them basically. Why haven't they evolved? <--counter this in the other thread, lets get back on topic. I think tiny claws on tiny arms would work better than gears for pulling along inside a capilary.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-13, 10:15 PM
Nice ideas, Skeptic. Some of your ideas remind me of David Brin, especially the laser species (Sundiver) and some of the subsequent conversation about creatures with wheels (later in the Uplift series). George RR Martin has a wonderful, creepy predator that uses monofilaments in his novella "The Plague Star", which is often collected and part of the collection Tuf Voyaging.

Keep going, and write that novel!

Cheers, Jon

I don't think I'd use any animals that have wheels instead of legs. It might not be immpossible but legs work so much better. I don't know if I could even write a novel. I/ve tried writing sci-fi before and it comes off as tech and descriptions of places. The only kind of person who'd want to read it would be someone who enjoys reading Star Trek encyclopedias and doesn't know there are better books out there. I want to draw and paint these things. But my class is now not until the fall, sigh. Maybe a novel someday; I'll need to think of an interesting story though. Novel biology and future tech only goes so far. Since I'm so inept at finding decent info on carbon nanotubes how plausible are blades that thin and strong? Perhaps I could combine the features of the Thebannese with the Deathdealers to create an even more unstoppable predator? You can't run, climb, or hide behind anything where they can't get to you. :o I had intended to never have humans and the Thebannese to meet. They evolve in a galaxy far far away and far in the past or future. But an unstoppable Thebannese Deathdealer would make an interesting foe for some GE humans who are stranded on a Thebann in the Milky Way a few thousand years from now.

nomuse
2005-Jan-14, 06:22 AM
Oh, don't give up so soon.

You've got some cute ideas, and they seem to hang together. The thing of it is...YOU need to know all this stuff about nanotubes and ionizing lasers before you can write, but the READER doesn't. As long as you have that understanding in the back of your head and in your notes, the scenes you write will have a feeling of veracity they wouldn't get otherwise. No need for it to get travellogue.

And if nothing else -- the novel is not the only form to look at. These are the sorts of details you hear fantasy illustrators, 3d modellers, game designers, sculptors talk about as well as they are coming up with concepts.

HerrProfessorDoktor
2005-Jan-15, 02:48 AM
I/ve tried writing sci-fi before and it comes off as tech and descriptions of places. The only kind of person who'd want to read it would be someone who enjoys reading Star Trek encyclopedias and doesn't know there are better books out there. I want to draw and paint these things. But my class is now not until the fall, sigh.


And if nothing else -- the novel is not the only form to look at. These are the sorts of details you hear fantasy illustrators, 3d modellers, game designers, sculptors talk about as well as they are coming up with concepts.

Good point. If plot is your weakness, there are many other fields your ideas would be useful in. You may want to look into game design (such as RPGs) as well as visual art, maybe even collaborative fiction where you can stick someone else with all that boring story stuff. :wink:

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-22, 06:15 AM
Good point. If plot is your weakness, there are many other fields your ideas would be useful in. You may want to look into game design (such as RPGs) as well as visual art, maybe even collaborative fiction where you can stick someone else with all that boring story stuff. :wink:

You mean like selling them or just letting them use the ideas for a fee?

HerrProfessorDoktor
2005-Jan-23, 12:06 AM
Good point. If plot is your weakness, there are many other fields your ideas would be useful in. You may want to look into game design (such as RPGs) as well as visual art, maybe even collaborative fiction where you can stick someone else with all that boring story stuff. :wink:

You mean like selling them or just letting them use the ideas for a fee?

I was thinking more co-authorship, where you split the copyright and pay. As an artist or writer ideas are your most valuable property, so I would never recommend just giving them away to someone who will make money off of them.

The one thing I would recommend against is screenwriting. Scripts are driven by story, and the sort of technical details you excel at are the first things that get butchered in a production. Almost all tech in movies exists for the sole purpose of advancing the premise.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-23, 12:57 AM
I would never recommend just giving them away to someone who will make money off of them.

The one thing I would recommend against is screenwriting. Scripts are driven by story, and the sort of technical details you excel at are the first things that get butchered in a production. Almost all tech in movies exists for the sole purpose of advancing the premise.

I said fee not free. No, I wouldn't give them away; well except for the Polypedal Grenades, pyro jelly, electrovapor grenades etc. I'm letting The Supreme Canuck use but not own.

Very true, most sci-fi movies are bad and I wouldn't want my stuff to be bad by proxy.



Anyway, what was the verdict? Could a sword blade 1cm by 10um by 75cm work? Like I said on the first page the edge itself is only supposed to be 2-50nm(depending on the diameter of the single nanotube used as and running the length of the blade's edge)
Secondly would such a blade be able to slice through just about anything with almost no pressure being applied? I picture it falling into a solid metal floor up to the sword's guard if dropped blade first. :) If so to the above could such a thing evolve for my Deathdealer's arm claws in your opinion?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-25, 01:13 AM
I think that it would be intrinsically, uh, floppy. If you could make it more rigid, it could work.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-25, 10:34 PM
I think that it would be intrinsically, uh, floppy. If you could make it more rigid, it could work.

This was my thinking as well. Carbon nanotubes have a Young's Modulus of between 1-5.5(this one says 4) Tera Pascals--> http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11182003-054829/
I still don't know if this is enough to keep it from flopping side to side like a plastic ribbon. The swords and claws couldn't be any more flexible than a sheet of 3-6mm of steel without them not working like I want them to.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-26, 12:29 AM
Are there materials that you can run a current through to increase rigidity?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-26, 09:54 PM
Are there materials that you can run a current through to increase rigidity?

Maybe, there are materials that bend when a voltage is applied. Even if so they wouldn't be stiff enough by orders of magnitude probably. This would also be one more thing the creatures would have to evolve. I think nanoedge arm claws, two UV lasers on their heads, electrical shock generating muscle blocks, chemical reaction cooled IR and Visible sensing eyes and digits with adhesive pads is about enough biological wonders for one creature. :o

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-26, 10:18 PM
Eh, true. Maybe make the edge of the blade corrugated and attach it to a thicker "backbone" ?

nomuse
2005-Jan-26, 10:51 PM
Too much for one creature...unless you pull out something that's already getting hoary, but that someone designed this stuff.

Which actually, though, leads me to an intriguing idea. What if there WAS some technological society working on the combination of nano-technology and genetic engineering...but this was way, way back in the evolutionary history?

Think of the way modern biology incorporated the mitochrondrial engine in what some evolutionary biologists speak of as the most successfull commensual relationship ever. Or think of the celluous-digesting bacteria in the stomuchs of higher mammals....

Now assume some technological tinkerers had managed to punch around a bacteria until it could manufacture carbon nano-tubes, or generate large electrical potentials, or form natural laser diodes. And said bugs escape into the environment of a very early ecology.

And now we are millions of years later, evolution having built upon the capabilities of these microbes, incorporating them into their systems in commensual relationships or extracting the genetic potential for themselves.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-27, 01:33 AM
Too much for one creature...unless you pull out something that's already getting hoary, but that someone designed this stuff.

Which actually, though, leads me to an intriguing idea. What if there WAS some technological society working on the combination of nano-technology and genetic engineering...but this was way, way back in the evolutionary history?

Think of the way modern biology incorporated the mitochrondrial engine in what some evolutionary biologists speak of as the most successfull commensual relationship ever. Or think of the celluous-digesting bacteria in the stomuchs of higher mammals....

Now assume some technological tinkerers had managed to punch around a bacteria until it could manufacture carbon nano-tubes, or generate large electrical potentials, or form natural laser diodes. And said bugs escape into the environment of a very early ecology.

And now we are millions of years later, evolution having built upon the capabilities of these microbes, incorporating them into their systems in commensual relationships or extracting the genetic potential for themselves.


Interesting idea, thought of it already though. Would they really be that farfetched to have all those features though? Think about house cats. They have needle sharp claws that have fleshy sheaths they are retracted into, eyes with mirror like backing that reflects light, a nose 14 times better than our's, wiskers that dectect the slightest air current around objects, padded feet that are silent except for on dry leaves, hearing 4 times better than humans, can do a standing vertical leap of 5+ body lengths, almost always land on their feet after a fall, can run 30mph even though they are quite small, can lick almost any part of their body, have a tongue with tiny "teeth" on it used to scrape the last bit of meat from bones, hairs on their tongue used as a comb for their fur and have a Jacobson's organ for smelling. Quite the packed animal aren't they?

You also assume the alien life can't make carbon nanotubes without genetic and nanotechnological modification. The life on another world could very well use quite different enzymes, proteins and so forth than Earth life. We might not be able to eat alien fruit and animals because we wouldn't have the chemicals to break their chemistry down, they might even be toxic. Carbon based doesn't mean they use DNA, mRNA, RNA etc.

Swift
2005-Jan-27, 02:50 PM
SkepticJ, interesting point about cats. I've always thought that cats are about the most amazing killing machines ever. They are almost scary when you think about it. And from house cats to lions, they all have about the same design. So the hard part for you would be to show why your creature evolved such abilities - cats didn't evolve those functions because they are neat, but because they were needed to catch their food.

nomuse
2005-Jan-27, 07:07 PM
What I found intriguing about the symbiotic or symbiogenetic idea I put forward above is that it allows a single organism to cross Kingdom lines -- like elysia viridis, a tiny green slug that has a Animal metabolism, yet, due to ingesting blue-green algae, is capable of photosynthesis (a process using entirely different enzymes and micro-structures)

The Endosymbiont Hypothesis looks at both chloroplast and mitochondria as being the remnant of a once-independent organism. My thought here is one might have an organism with one chemical structure, but within the cell walls of its mitichondrial equivalent, a completely alien chemistry.

But that was at the heart of my idea -- not so much that nothing could naturally evolve UV lasers, but that the organic UV laser came out of a different evolutionary track (and pressures, and even basic chemistry) then the modern creature using that function.


To expand on Swift -- I know you know this stuff, and I presume you are thinking about it; these talents you've given your big predator must come about because their chosen prey was getting too good at defeating their other methods, or they were in competition with a more efficient predator. Or, more complexly, these might be Australian rabbits; bred by the pressures of some other eco-niche and let loose in a new environment.

Anyhoo...makes me think there would be lesser predators, interesting defenses on creatures further down the food chain (a hippo might not be a meat eater but you really don't want to mess with one), some very odd looking scavengers...plus, what happens when you put mating pressures or the search for an open eco-niche to some of these odd abilities? A tunneling, wire-thin creature that uses the hardness of carbon-carbon structures to shove it's hair-thin body through trees and rocks? A prolific breeder that reacts to predation with sheer numbers of progency, but lights up the environment with UV laser light during mating season?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-27, 10:49 PM
Anyhoo...makes me think there would be lesser predators, interesting defenses on creatures further down the food chain (a hippo might not be a meat eater but you really don't want to mess with one), some very odd looking scavengers...plus, what happens when you put mating pressures or the search for an open eco-niche to some of these odd abilities? A tunneling, wire-thin creature that uses the hardness of carbon-carbon structures to shove it's hair-thin body through trees and rocks? A prolific breeder that reacts to predation with sheer numbers of progency, but lights up the environment with UV laser light during mating season?

I suppose I should have described the Thebannese Deathdealers a little better. They aren't fantastically thin, only a single 50 something cm long claw on the sides of their front two arms.(on the largest species) Deathdealers look like a blend of monitor lizards, fossas, geckos and have hair of different kinds depending on the species. The smallest Deathdealers are about the size of a very large house cat while the largest are about the size of a large human. They have six limbs, most vertebrates on Thebann have six limbs. The one's who don't lost them due to Natural Selection. Kind of like how capybaras only have three instead of five toes on their hind feet. I have other creatures too. The Shepbra is a kangaroo-like reptile-like being. They have four arms in addition to their hopping legs. They are endothermic but have dinosaur-like scales on their skin. They have four eyes. Their hopping feet have a large curved poison injecting claw that they kick their predators with and their muscular tail ends in a thick dagger-like point made of chitin. The ancestor of the Mother Wood dwelling Thebannese is a six legged(like most Thebann vertebrates...) lizard-like animal that spun webs to catch fossklies(a flying lizard-like animal whose mid legs evolved into wings) These "spiderlizards" had silk glands near at the wrists of their hands(sounds like I riped Spider-Man the movie off but I thought of silk glands at the wrists before I even heard of the movie) Anyway their ancestors didn't shoot webs anyway, this would be stealing :). Their ancestors just made their webs and spherical silk nests/homes out of it and as descender lines. As such the Thebannese also have silk glands for building "cargo nets" between Mother Wood tree limbs for added living space, making silk fabric, tying their exobamboo homes together etc.
Thebannese Deathdealers and Thebannese live on two different continents. The Deathdealer continent is about 2/3 the way to the other hemisphere side of Thebann from the tropical equatorial continent of the Thebannese. The Deathdealer continent is part tropical, subtropical and getting colder as one goes south until the end of the continet is artic. The Death dealer continent is quite long. The Thebann tropical continent is a bit bigger than Australia and is right on the equator. About 70% of this continent is covered in a Mother Wood(those three mile high trees) rainforest. The rest of the continent is exobamboo forests, "grass" lands, swamps, lakes and so forth. There are four+ other continents too, I just haven't made up what they are like. Thebann also has hundreds of decent sized islands. This is just one planet in a system of 11+ planets. :o Lots of work left to do. World building is fun. There's also the planet Opaka, the planet Aggosan(brown dwarf), Aggosan's 80something% water covered moon Idaton and so forth.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-28, 12:46 AM
It seems the Young's modulus of steel is around 190 gigapascals. About five times less than the most conservative for carbon nanotubes. This means the claws could be five times thinner than an equal thickness of steel while remaining just as stiff. A 5mm thick steel plate to a 1mm thick carbon nanotube composite plate. Hmmm, doesn't seem good at all for the feasibility of their claws. I guess it's impossible for claws that thin to be strong enough. :x

Sock Munkey
2005-Jan-28, 08:25 AM
This brings to mind a creature I designed a while back. It was insect evolved and I gave it more efficient respritory system by using double-action lungs. both lungs had their own seperate trachea and respritory opening with a muscular membrane between the lungs so that one lung would inhale as the other was exhaling. This not only allowed it to have a rigid exoskeleton it also let each lung compess down fully as the other one expanded resulting in a complete emptying and refilling of air.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-03, 07:07 PM
This brings to mind a creature I designed a while back. It was insect evolved and I gave it more efficient respritory system by using double-action lungs. both lungs had their own seperate trachea and respritory opening with a muscular membrane between the lungs so that one lung would inhale as the other was exhaling. This not only allowed it to have a rigid exoskeleton it also let each lung compess down fully as the other one expanded resulting in a complete emptying and refilling of air.

That sounds pretty neat. :)



Anybody know anything about porcupine quills? How they grow and when they evolved? I think a bipedal thebannese animal about the size of a Jurassic Park raptor with poison injecting quills on its body would be neat. They'd have a pumping mechanism like the abdomen of a bee does. The quills would pull out and continue to inject something super deadly like ricin or a conotoxin are to Earth life. Nothing would mess with these animals, not even Deathdealers. Not to be rude but I'm not getting much input about the Deathdealer's claws. I don't know if I should just scrap the claws. These are one of the main reasons I like my Deathdealers so much, and if the claws just can't work then they aren't so unstoppable. Do you think it'd be worth a post over on www.bladeforums.com ? I think thin carbon nanotube blades are out of what most of them would know. :P
How thick could the claws get while still slicing through steel, rock, wood etc like a wire cutter through butter. The edge stays at 2nm wide(the width of the smallest diameter nanotubes). It's the blade's floppyness that needs to be addressed, the blade should easily be strong enough to not break but a fantastically sharp claw that flops from side to side would be really dangerous and unusable to the creature.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-07, 08:51 PM
Do I have to beg? Fine. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease help me. :cry:

Swift
2005-Feb-07, 09:14 PM
Do I have to beg? Fine. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease help me. :cry:
One (http://www.uga.edu/srel/ecoview8-5-03.htm) reference about porkies. I didn't know this, but apparently their quills have an antibiotic on their surface. Why would they protect their enemies with an antibiotic - because they can get stuck with their own quills when they fall out of trees!

More (http://www.northern.edu/natsource/MAMMALS/Porcup1.htm) about porkies.

My only thought about your floppy blades, make them a composite. Have a stiff material (almost like a wire) with a coating on it. Sort of like a diamond coated wire used for cutting (commonly used on things like wire saws). But even those have a big problem keeping tension. :-k

You might be overthinking this. IIRC you were using this to write a story, not draw up a blueprint. If it sounds ok, leave the science to future inventors. :wink:

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-07, 10:02 PM
My only thought about your floppy blades, make them a composite. Have a stiff material (almost like a wire) with a coating on it. Sort of like a diamond coated wire used for cutting (commonly used on things like wire saws). But even those have a big problem keeping tension. :-k

You might be overthinking this. IIRC you were using this to write a story, not draw up a blueprint. If it sounds ok, leave the science to future inventors. :wink:


Well I'm not wanting them to be floppy and they are composite. They are made of carbon nanotubes with a bonding agent holding it together. Sort of like a graphite composite, but much stronger. A blade more flexible than an x-mas ribbon with an edge sharp to just a few atoms would flop side to side and could cut the creature's arms off. No, the blade must be thick enough to not flop at all. But if it's thick then the blade won't go through the material easily. Sure the edge would be much more than "hair popping" sharp but for cutting through walls, trees, rocks etc. the blade itself would need to be how thin? Would half or 1/4 of a millimeter thick be thin enough?

No because my interest is inventing accurate creatures. I'm not planning on a book; but if Deathdealers and my other creatures could work then I have something neat to write about. If they could work I might have a motivation to try writing about them. If a deathdealer were real and I was stuck on a planet with them I'd be wetting my pants with fear possibly. I don't know if I could say as much of Crichton's oversized endothermic and bulimic raptors. They can't cut through walls, doors and rocks to get to you, can't drop you from hundreds of meters away with a beam of light and electricity and can't climb walls. If a deathdealer is hunting you you better hide and have a gun; and use it before it sees or smells where you ran to. This is why the Thebannese live on a wholly different continent. Even with their amazing biology and their Bronze Age-18th century level tech they'd not survive beyond just living; always watching, always running. They wouldn't have time for culture, invention, science and art.
Same as humanity's ancestors before they lived in rock formations that kept out lions and other predators; having enough time to stop and think about things while sitting by the clan's fire.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-10, 10:16 PM
Well I've been getting input at Blade Forums for a few days now. I'm thinking about the blades now being about as thick as a aluminum can or maybe photographic film that tapers down to a single 2nm in diameter carbon nanotube edge. The tube runs the length of the edge still like on the old claw design. It won't be effortless cuting for the deathdealers but do you think a kilo of force behind the blade could slice through hardened steel and so forth? Please help me, I'm not a scientist or engineer. :cry:

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-15, 07:05 PM
How about an animal that evolved a lens to focus light to catch stuff on fire?

How about an animal that evolved several speakers and thus can play any sound back it hears? A musical animal, how neat.

nomuse
2005-Feb-15, 11:10 PM
Do you know there's six different species of "mimic birds" in Australia that have been going around imitating cell phones?

But that's nothing to the Lyre Bird, which has been known to imitate camera shutters, chainsaws, and according to one NPR correspondent, a diesel truck horn. (Not a sound you expect or want to hear when you are curled up in your bag somewhere in the Outback).

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-15, 11:16 PM
But that's nothing to the Lyre Bird, which has been known to imitate camera shutters, chainsaws, and according to one NPR correspondent, a diesel truck horn. (Not a sound you expect or want to hear when you are curled up in your bag somewhere in the Outback).

I've heard of those. Very funny birds. I do wonder why they evolved that ability though. Do they fake mating calls to trick other birds into coming and eat them?

nomuse
2005-Feb-16, 12:41 AM
Apparently, breeding sucess for these birds comes from being "hip." The bird with the new sounds is the bird that attracts the ladies.

Sock Munkey
2005-Feb-16, 06:45 AM
That sounds pretty neat. :)

:D Thanks, I originally created them for D&D an went so far as to create customs and society but never got a chance to use them.

Anyhow, one of the reasons I bring them up (other than showing off) is to point out that when I started creating them I realize that even though everone wants an uber-race to roleplay it gets lame quickly resulting in a great deal of eye-rolling. By compromising and keeping things within reason one can still have an ***-kicking species. While I dislike discouraging someone's creativity the way the deathdealers are coming out is somewhat comic-book like.

Giving them several incredible abilities is not neeed to make them terrifying. Killer bees aren't really different than our everyday bees in ability, the thing that makes them dangerous is that they are hyper-agressive. That's all it takes.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-16, 04:36 PM
That sounds pretty neat. :)
While I dislike discouraging someone's creativity the way the deathdealers are coming out is somewhat comic-book like.

What about them is that way? It's not like they have telekinesis or psionic beams from their eyes. Just a modification to what electric eels have to let it work in the air out to a few hundred meters and two really sharp claws. If you saw one and it didn't kill you you'd see an animal not any weirder than other Thebann animals. And I'm making Thebannese animals familiar to. They aren't energy beings made of magnetic fields living in a prominence of a star. Just carbon based life with some different enzymes and maybe a different genetic material than DNA as we know it.

nomuse
2005-Feb-16, 08:31 PM
Y'know, I think what gets me about the Death-dealers is that most animals are specialists. That's part of what finding an eco-niche is. So look at this guy; it has the ability to paralyze or kill a prey from a distance. Why would it need claws after that?

I'd imagine the death-from-a-distance ability to belong to something fairly slow and fumbly. And the claws to belong to something large, fast, and unsubtle. They are such different strategies, it really makes the Death-dealer look like it stacked the deck during the genetic lottery.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-16, 09:02 PM
Y'know, I think what gets me about the Death-dealers is that most animals are specialists. That's part of what finding an eco-niche is. So look at this guy; it has the ability to paralyze or kill a prey from a distance. Why would it need claws after that?

I'd imagine the death-from-a-distance ability to belong to something fairly slow and fumbly. And the claws to belong to something large, fast, and unsubtle. They are such different strategies, it really makes the Death-dealer look like it stacked the deck during the genetic lottery.


I wasn't having it shock them to death although I guess I could have them generate enough amps to do that. The reason for the claws is the prey can run and dive into stuff where it can't paint them with the twin UV lasers. A log, rock outcropping, dense exobamboo forests etc. This ability also makes them a threat if they can claw through metal doors and such to the high-tech Thebannese. I'm changing my mind posssibly and trying to set it about 400-500 years later than before. The Deathdealer Continent is off limits to Thebannese. Only robots go there. The layout of the continent was unknown until they invented aircraft(or perhaps breed giant petrosaur-like animals to ride on) that could fly above the laser's range to map it.

nomuse
2005-Feb-16, 10:52 PM
I've been thinking on what we mentioned earlier about mimic birds, and before that, on the possibilities once you have an organic UV laser.

Image something that was smart enough to learn, and that could copy to a great deal of accuracy electronic signals (electromagnetic, or if the high-tech's are particularly unlucky, they are using IR diodes for everything wireless).

Subtler and more interesting....a swarm of bugs that use the same "novelty" idea to attract mates. Thus whenever you introduce electronics into the area, it gets swarmed first by female bugs seeking a mate, then male bugs loudly spoofing the signal. At best, you've got intelligent jamming. At worse, you have to switch off all your electronics to keep your ship and self from looking like DC during the seventeen-year-locusts.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-16, 11:05 PM
I've been thinking on what we mentioned earlier about mimic birds, and before that, on the possibilities once you have an organic UV laser.

Image something that was smart enough to learn, and that could copy to a great deal of accuracy electronic signals (electromagnetic, or if the high-tech's are particularly unlucky, they are using IR diodes for everything wireless).

Subtler and more interesting....a swarm of bugs that use the same "novelty" idea to attract mates. Thus whenever you introduce electronics into the area, it gets swarmed first by female bugs seeking a mate, then male bugs loudly spoofing the signal. At best, you've got intelligent jamming. At worse, you have to switch off all your electronics to keep your ship and self from looking like DC during the seventeen-year-locusts.

You know what would be funny? If in centuries in the future lyre birds make these noises, passing them down via one copying older birds and someday long after future "humans" have forgotten except in data files few read what these noises are. Where did these birds hear them?

nomuse
2005-Feb-16, 11:20 PM
I'll go you one further. How about writing a present-day thriller in which a mimic bird has "recorded" a key code sequence?

I'm remembering a couple mysteries involving parrots, including a wonderful one on "Abarenbo Shogun" in which a parrot hears the last words of a man trying to stop a ginseng-smuggling ring ran by a minor noble, is found by a young girl dying of fever, and spends most of the episode squawking "Ginseng! Ginseng!"

Sock Munkey
2005-Feb-18, 01:22 AM
With such a deadly hunter as the deathdealer the prey are going to have to be just as tough to keep from being hunted to extinction leaving the deathealers with no food. Perhaps some animals are covered with mirror-like scales?

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-18, 04:20 AM
With such a deadly hunter as the deathdealer the prey are going to have to be just as tough to keep from being hunted to extinction leaving the deathealers with no food. Perhaps some animals are covered with mirror-like scales?

Good idea. Maybe there could even be ones that have a.....well whatever those skin things on those Australian lizards that unfurl really big. Anyway a deer-sized animal with a thing like that but is as shiny as a mirror and they use it to reflect light into the deathdealers face blinding it's vision.
I also posted about the quills. A deathdealer could drop one of the animals but wouldn't want to try to eat it. It'd get stuck with many deadly poison pumping back-barbed quills.

Another possibility is their prey breeds really fast. Like rabbits so to speak.

nomuse
2005-Feb-18, 04:43 AM
Superconducting slime. That's what I want to see as a defence against the Death-dealers. An animal that exudes superconducting slime to coat its own body.

Sock Munkey
2005-Feb-18, 10:04 PM
Yep, burrowing would be a great defense too.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-20, 09:15 PM
Superconducting slime. That's what I want to see as a defence against the Death-dealers. An animal that exudes superconducting slime to coat its own body.

How would this protect it? It'd have to be super high temp also because Thebann's climate is like Earth's was in the Cretacious(sp?) About 10 times the amount of CO2 in the air than Earth has now.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-20, 09:21 PM
Yep, burrowing would be a great defense too.

Like meercats. Lookouts could warn the grazing clan to dive back into the underground city of tunnels and chambers. The burrowers would need to be fairly small though otherwise the deathdealers could fit into their tunnels. But What would keep a deathdealer species evolving smaller to get at them? Nothing. There are already ones not much bigger than large house cats living on islands offshore of the Deathdealer Continent. Kind of like how lots of other animals get small on islands.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-20, 10:25 PM
So what can I do about weapons? I'm going for robotic because when the Thebannese have technology at 2300-2700 C.E. level they won't be risking their biological bodies, they might not even have any anymore. Just an expanded brain in a goo tank life support machine somewhere.

I have my polypedal grenades, pyrojelly, electrovapor grenades(work on biology only unless they could shock machines into not working), poison robot flies(against biology again), nanite injecting robot flies(great against machines and biology) then the not mine laser tasers that already exist and inspired the deathdealer's hunting adaptation. Could such a thing be connected to a tesla coil to really fry electronics from two or more km away and kill biology?

What do you think of laser "blades"? The beam would be so small you can't even see the dot with the unaided eye even if it wasn't IR. High powered and vaporising such a small amount of material would allow it to cut through thick metal and rock walls with just a fast swipe wouldn't it? How small could such a laser be in three-hundred years?

What are these clean fusion bombs I hear about?

What about anti-gravity? How plausible is this likely to ever be? Would it take power to maintain or just to turn it on and off? I'm thinking of flying machines that never land even millions of years after these events. If no power would be needed to maintain it it could work. Air plants and vine-like things growing on them as they drift with the wind all over the planet for eons. Even animals that have speciated to survive on these flying "islands".

Sock Munkey
2005-Feb-21, 12:45 AM
Hmm, I dunno about following them down into their tunnels. A long-range line-of-sight weapon is great out an open plain but nearly useless in a twisting confined tunnel. The defenders would have the home field advantage as well as numbers. The mini-deathdealer might find himself walled off in a blind tunnel to suffocate.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-21, 10:54 PM
Hmm, I dunno about following them down into their tunnels. A long-range line-of-sight weapon is great out an open plain but nearly useless in a twisting confined tunnel. The defenders would have the home field advantage as well as numbers. The mini-deathdealer might find himself walled off in a blind tunnel to suffocate.

The burrowers could spray them with a mist that would knock them out, drag them to a dead end tunnel, close it off and let it die from lack of air. Then dig it back out and eat it.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-26, 02:37 AM
I thought of another creature. Imagine something like a six-legged dinosaur about the size of those "club tailed" dinos. Instead of a bone ball at the end of their tail they have evolved a bomb a bit larger than a basketball. Now this sounds a bit weird but the animal won't hurt itself with it. What it does is swing its tail hard in the direction it wants the bomb to go then contracts special muscles in the end of its tail so hard its tail severs from the bomb and the bomb goes flying. How the animal controls how long until the bomb explodes is by injecting a certain amount of a chemical that times how long until the "fuse" sets off the bomb. After about two months it has grown a new bomb, like some salamanders can grow new legs, tails etc. after losing them; this "dinosaur" can do this also. What do you think?

SkepticJ
2005-Mar-03, 10:29 PM
I'm not asking for much, can't I get some input?

How about a creature that has organs that split water into hydrogen and oxygen? The oxygen is used by the cells and the hydrogen goes to a pressure tank made from layers of calcium carbonate(like a nautilus shell is) and maybe bone to. The hydrogen tank is connected to a tube that runs down the length of the tail and the hydrogen jets out a hole in the end. The hydrogen is ignited by a catalytic version of platinum just as it exits the tail. A flame thrower that can be pointed in whatever direction the large, six-legged, dinosaur-like animal wants. Any clue how long the pyrotechnic fireball could be fueled before it'd have to stop. How long would it take to make enough new H2 to fuel another jet/blast?

Sock Munkey
2005-Mar-14, 05:49 PM
Electrolysis of water is energy-intensive, one would be better off using the methane naturally produced by digestion.

SkepticJ
2005-Mar-14, 06:43 PM
Electrolysis of water is energy-intensive, one would be better off using the methane naturally produced by digestion.

I wasn't thinking of them using electrolysis. They are supposed to split the water using chemical means. I don't know how they do it but I read about some microorganisms, algae I think that produce hydrogen from water. I think I read about them in Popular Science. They were suggested as a possibility for getting hydrogen for fuel cells for cheap. Does anyone know what I'm talking about, because I can't remember their scientific name or how they do it, I doubt it's electrolysis. Methane does sound good to though, burns clean and can be set off using catalytic platinum.