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A bold new Universe......

Discussion in 'Mac Scene' started by mischief, Oct 29, 2002.

  1. macrumors 68030


    I want some Dedicated sci-fi fans to help me design a complete space-faring Universe from the ground up to prove that sci-fi can be done right. There have been several recent threads remarking on the failing points of current sci-fi and more comments made about poor writing than can be ignored. This is your oppertunity to put your mind where your complaints are.

    To start off we'll have to make some limited concessions to the sci-fi genre at large:

    To cover the need for interstella transport and communication we will use a space folding widget similar to the Babylon 5 stargate system.


    -there is no communications in null space. The craft has isolated itself in an artificial bubble of unique spacetime for the duration of the fold.

    -Only Capital Ships have enough power and mass to maintain their own fold drives and null-space pocket generators.

    -Popping into null-space as a defensive maneuver is risky because you need to designate not only x/y/z coordinates for where you pop back into realspace but also a time coordinate. popping back into realspace with your exit point equal to your entrance point results in a paradox-induced explosion.

    -Folding space near stars in a pain in the ass even for Capital ships because Spacetime is "thicker" in stellar space.

    -Particularly advanced races may be experimenting with "Stellar folding" where a Capital ship tunes and presets it's fold drive to use a star's centerpoint as a fold-gate. This is a VERY risky maneuver and the exit point is always the center of another stellar mass so knowing where the "out" is is essential!

    Now that we have travel and communications outlined let's look at biology:

    - Giant-insect species would have to be aquatic or low-gee.... period.

    - Sentient species are confined to environments where adversity and stability have conspired to create them.

    - Water and free-carbon are prerequisites to life.

    -Aquatic species will be quite likely.

    - Species that use technology will most likely not use the same RF range for the same things to begin with.

    - Species with vastly differing native environments will have vastly differing cultures and environmental needs.

    - Common means of communication are reliant on a common medium and similar ancestry. Aquatic species are more likely to use sound or chemical communication than visual communication. Also: Sound through air is very different than sound through water.
  2. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Communication shouldn't be limited to chemical and sound - biologically generated rf is feasible - especially in insects. Rats also use their whiskers to send signals to their brains.

    Low g for insects is fine - unless they are smaller. Having something a third the size of a human and still intelligent is not out of the equation.

    Given the wide range of communication forms - universal translators might not be realistic or if available, very bulky, requiring many means and forms to communicate.

    Aquatic species go interstellar? Thats tall order since evolving to the point where fire is possible underwater requires quite a bit of tech - not that it would be necessary for development. They'd just need more time to develop space travel, unless an alien species doesn't have any problems contacting all intelligent races its finds, regardless of tech level - and the aquanoids get to go along for the ride and get a big bump in base technology. Which could have happened millenia before a start date in the 'story'.

    If time is part of the equation for folding space to travel then that would allow time travel, correct? That might not be good.

    More later.

  3. macrumors 68030


    I was using those 2 as a common example from fish and aquatic/land animals. The variations on types of communication are nearly endless.

    Insects are limited to not larger than a 3 foot flying insect or a 5" long crawling insect at 1G without a fluid medium. They just can't structurally support themselves. I could see "hive minded" rf communicating cockroaches......:eek:

    Fire and chemical propulsion needn't be a limiting factor if the primary tech drive is in biology rather than engineering/chemistry.

    A "universal translator" will be fuctionally impossible. It'd become a monsterous "Rube Goldberg" kludge of devices, protuberances and software. More likely a single species will specialize engineered "ambassadors" and hire them out.

    Time is integral in the very fabric of space. Once you isolate a craft and remove it from that Matrix a return "when" becomes as important as a return "where". This would be the crux of the motivation behind fold "gates"...... less potential for catastrophic ****ups. Also: the key resonant frequency of the Universe is neccessary as well as a kind of "dimensional" marker. Without it you'd be returning to a different reality than the one you left with differing energetic principals! :eek:
  4. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Even though it might be a little more realistic at some level, its too complicated and provides with too many alternatives. Why bother with exploring your own space when other dimensions or parts of the multiverse allow you to travel to your own planet at different times and instances. If you were going to do a scenario, I'd stick with a single universe, or regional multiverse, not both.

  5. macrumors 68030


    Fair enough.

    It would make sense for the "home" universe to be hardwired into the process.... It would have to keep the pocket of nullspace "native" to what's in it anyway so I suppose that'd cover both the return Universe and the chronological too. It would, however require a VERY good ship's chronometer.
  6. macrumors 68040

    Sorry I'm late guys, count me in.

    One thing that traditional sci-fi always seems to screw up is morals of other races. Human morals stem from our hormones and learned reactions from our social structure. Wouldn't it seem that an alien race wou'd have a completley different set of moral "right and wrongs" An insect race may act so bizzare and offensive to us without realizing it that they would spark diplomatic tensions (or even a war)
  7. macrumors 68030



    Human ethics are based on the combination of Ape troop-behaviour and Sapient abstractions about right-action.

    If a species was encountered where the individual physical units are just pieces of any given sentient whole it would be likely that humans would find the race callous and manipulative. The Bugs, by contrast would find Humans wildly inefficient and insubordinate. Not to mention the communicatio gap. Humans would be transparent when encountered in person by a pherimone-sensitive insect....

    A race of sentient neudibranchs would be unlikely to stop long enough to communicate with the bugs: they'd be food. They'd avoid Humans altogether.... seeing them as predatory.
  8. macrumors 68040

    One thing I would like to see in this is Humans being the only ape-men. It always seemed silly to me that on things like SW, ST and B5 all life in the universe seemed to have evolved from funny looking apes.
  9. macrumors 68030



    Though that kinda precludes a live-action TV show coming out of this little project. No big loss..... Broadcast media is dying off as an artform. Games and Movies are where it's at outside of books, where there are no limitations. ;)
  10. macrumors 68040

    Re: exactly.

    Well, what were the odds of this leaving the realm of video games ;) Even if it did eventually get to the point where a TV show is feasible by then I would guess SFX will be fairly adavanced and cheap.

    A race of sentient nudibranchs, that would be strange :eek:
  11. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    What about if you put the whole thing in an alien perspective - and had the Humans as the new 'first contact' species. You need a plot, so a significant set of main characters would all be aliens, living and working together, whatever, and one day a Human Probe ship shows up.....
  12. macrumors 68040

    That seems like something to address when we have an idea of what to do with the ideas. We should worry about plot/characters when we get a Universe layed out. Good idea though.
  13. macrumors 68030


    I was thinking the same.

    I'd like to develop several races before deciding how they all begin interacting. Whole biosphere histories and cultures to develop before that. Humans alone are likely to have differentiated into "types" by the time we get routinely off planet.
  14. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Re: I was thinking the same.

    Maybe bad humans get found first and cause all sorts of problems when the 'official' representatives of Earh/Humans finally make contact.

    As for plot, I'm just throwing out ideas - it shouldn't matter.

  15. macrumors 68030


    Human Castes in the Interstellar Epoch Pt.1: Travellers.

    Humans as a species are born into one of several races designed specifically for the environment they are to spend the majority of their lives in. The archaic races as defined by minimal difrerentiation of phenotypes have been supplanted by broadly varying custom morphs built from the nucleotides up for the environment their parents live and work in. Thusly humanity has once again divided into Castes specialized for specific duties and environments.

    It is possible to interbreed between Castes and the original Morph of Homo Sapiens still exists...... Specialized safeguards ensure that every generation of cross breeding defaults the offspring closer to the original ape-based format.

    This is a society that runs smoothly only because the interaction of Castes is essential to the survival of Humanity as a whole. Archaic Xenophobia has been nearly eliminated by the extremes of deversity in society. Only the most isolated Caste cells develop such retrogressive and extreme beliefs.

    It is possible, though expensive to clone bodies and even to switch Castes..... though such things are rare and their are very serious theological debates on the subject that have lead to extremely strict controls binding each Caste and family to very specific courses of action in enacting this last resort.

    In Space the Travellers' Caste is one of the most exotic morphs..... no longer capable of life deep in a gravity well without technology as a crutch, these spindly, liquid breathing humans have adapted almost completely to the deadliest environment imagineable by adapting both themselves and their ships to reach a compromise befitting both.

    Their ships and they themselves are a complete, interactive organism encompassing technology and biotechnology in a symbiotic relationship that binds crew and ship in a nearly inescapable bond. A non-Traveller entering a Traveller ship's crew areas without special accomodations would either drown in the breathing fluid of the crew chambers or potentially go mad or suffer severe metabolic dammage from the teeming symbiotic organisms, pheremones and nanites permeating the fluid. Likewise a Traveller stranded without survival gear in a dry environment would suffer a similarly horrid fate. All Travellers are fitted early in life with cybernetic implants that tie them into the entire Caste's comm network and in dire emergency can upload their neurological content into a buffer in their home-ship's brain and burn out their own nervous system rather than suffer torture or stranding death.
  16. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    If Castes are made for a specific environment or planet - how many different types would you find on one planet? In some cases there would only be one major type, I would think. So I'm not sure that Caste is the right word here because individuals aren't living in a caste society where one person is 'better' from birth.

    If there were methane breathers they would be a separate species, not a caste. And there is nothing really wrong with that. I don't see it as 'The Mote in God's Eye' type society where different types of beings that share a common ancestor have been genetically manufactured for a specific task. The division of labor on the methane planet would the same as for humans today. Unless you're planning on having different sub casts and types inside a separately modified species.

  17. macrumors 68030


    I never intended it to go quite that far...

    I used "Caste" in the same sense that B5 used the word to refer to familial societal divisions accompanied with specific deliniations of body specialization. I was only really thinking of a handful of Castes in total: perhaps 5. On a given planet the # and type of Castes will depend on where in the colonization curve it fits. Being that the differentiation process is expensive and time consuming, adding new Castes for new environs is less practical than Terraforming or Hostile Environment Habitat building. Early on only Traveller, Shaper and a few Tinker Caste members will be present with support Core services. As the colony advances there will be more Player and Core and less of other Castes.

    Traveller Caste is all deep-space specialists. Although all Castes have their own space vessels, only the Travellers are really at home in space.

    Shaper Caste is all about terraforming and custom biotech.

    Player Caste is all entertainment. Any kind of entertainment you can imagine, they do..... Most have theatrical FX "built in" similar to Frank Herbert's "Face Dancers" but without the religious rhetoric.

    Core Caste is 99% of humanity. These are the average relatively unmodified homosapiens.

    Tinker Caste is to technology what Shaper is to Biotech.

    These Castes are whole sections of society in which individuals in non-Core castes are physically specialized for what their Caste does best. Because any one Caste has millions of potential duties there is no need for psychological and neurological "standardization". Such things are, in fact quite illegal. There are Nations within each Caste representing sub specializations. smaller groups within Nations (Tribe level and smaller) have unique monikers for each Caste.

    Traveller Caste for example uses the names of Cetateons to name their Nations and Tribes. The major Traveller Nations are:

    Blue Nation. The deep-space Travellers who explore new regions and harvest celestial materials in the farthest parts of Humanity's range. These make 1st contact most often.

    Grey Nation. These are the bread and butter of Traveller commerce. They travel vast space-routes and collect materials from celestial debris and nebulae in vast ships.

    Porpoise and Dolphin Nations. These provide "harbor services". Moving cargo and passengers to and from ships, client planets or space platforms as well as providing "tug" services to large vessels when docking or in need of assistance.

    Orca Nation is the Navy and Police of the Traveller Caste. They are matchless in space combat among their fellow Humans and are often hired as escorts and patrolls.

    Spermatisi Nation. The great thick skinned black hulks of these Travellers provide transport through "rough" space. They are cargo haulers and asteroid miners that travel armed into territory to hostile or otherwise physically dangerous for the Greys.
  18. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    One thing you are leaving out, but may have considered. All this modification of homo sapiens might not be necessary for the space part - robots and such are much more easily made and lower the risk factor for loss of life. Its more of a philosophical issue for this universe than anything else, but why put humans and different castes in jepardy when mechanical and tech to do the job just as easily.

    Its one thing that I see happening in scifi in general - either there is too much robotics or not enough. Look at the current NASA adjenda - manned space flight is just for show mostly why all the probes and such do the real science and exploration. Its cheaper, safer and gets us out there faster.

    This will only continue to more the case in the future.

  19. macrumors 65816


    And while we're on the subject of Sci-Fi...

    And isn't it just me - or are you folks all annoyed that in Sci-Fi movies, everyone just happens to speak English with a perfect North American accent?

    I like the idea of other forms of communication - bubble blowing, for example, or even snot excretion; where viscosity and colour dictate mood. Let's see the Enterprise's universal translater decipher that one...

  20. macrumors 68030


    I had actually thought about that a bit.... This is well beyond the timid steps we are taking into space now, this is a true spacefaring culture. Probes are launched into "new" systems constantly to detect new resources, planets, cultures and phenomena. The fail rate of such probes is likely less than the current probes as well but launching a probe through a nullspace jump is quite expensive by itself so it's limited to what are considered to be good potential targets. The process of Gate Building in lagrange points would more than likely be done by telepresence, particularly in systems that are so newly claimed that Colony ships have yet to arrive with the bulk of personell needed to really get such a venture started.

    There's certainly a place for such things but I was concentrating on cultural development over technological.

    I feel that such specialization of Castes is fitting for a species that exists in ten or twenty star systems spread out within our "local" Galactic space. Even with Jump-engines such ventures, not just space faring but colonization and terraforming would require some Castes to be VERY long lived and dedicate significant portions of even those extended lifespans to the tasks at hand. At that point it begins to make sense for there to be specific body morphs for specific conditions and tasks.
  21. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    I'm not really arguing that point, its just that realistically, if I can use that here, there would be significant development of machines and machine intelligence, that they would take the more difficult/dangerous jobs. And without the Bladerunner issues. I think keeping the robots more along the lines of StarWars where they mimic humans but don't try to be us.

    As for colonization of other worlds, that's where is see more of the genetic work being done. Waiting around for a planet to be terraformed would be a waste, its much better to alter the humans to live on a planet first and make the changes as you can. So different stages of humans would be needed. Alterations for different atmospheres, atmosheric pressures, underwater/different depths (could be used on Earth as well for undersea colonies).

    So a Martian would be a genetically engineered individual who would be able to survive on the surface of Mars with out a space suit. Provided by the time of this universe, enough water and oxygen had been introduced (via bombardment of comets and Oort cloud elements) to get things up to speed.

  22. macrumors 68030


    Okay, I see the point but I think that philosophical and cultural issues would shift the R&D budget toward longer lifespans for the colony teams and tremendous bioengineering investments in terraforming. If done efficiently the process could yield a passably earthlike environment in 1/3 lifespan for the heavilly engineered Castes or about 300 years. I figure that Core Caste citizens would increase in lifespan to about 150-300 years and only really get "old" as their upkeep-tech fails in the last 5-10 years of that spread. Once humanity gets "customized" you can bet that longevity and reduced need for geriatrics would be quite rapidly made mainstream.

    The most essential organisms to Terraforming are, ironically the easiest to mess with: Bacteria, algae, plants and protozoa. The need for bombardment, input of massive amounts of gas and a few other "gross" tweaks here and there are best done in the first year or so anyway just so it all stays relatively maleable up until it stabilizes.

    Using this Solar system as a model both Mars and Venus would best be terraformed at the same time so that the resources which are in exess on one can be used advantageously on the other. With Jump/Fold tech available and no populations on either world to worry about both planets could be changed drastically and fairly rapidly using large, remote-guidance vehicles and carefully placed temporary Jumpgates. This technique would also cut down on the number of space hazards by harvesting millions of cubic miles of debris. Highly radioactive wastes could be entombed in huge iron-rich asteroids to provide a nice hotspot when flung at tremendous velocities into the subsurface of Mars. Huge solar reflectors and MASERs could be utilized to fine tune the sculpting and pulvarization. Jovian moons could be moved whole to provide tidal forces and secondary terraformd "worldlets".
  23. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    By just starting far enough in the future, you could just set it up that Venus and Mars would be terranformed. Adding some nukes to the martian core could heat it up enough to get the magma moving again providing a magnetic field (protecting the atmosphere and surface from nasty solar radiation).

    The jovian moons are an interesting idea - but moving them into venutian or martian orbit would require forces, well, at astronomical scale - that going to be possible any time soon?

    I agree with the longetivity though. If you're going to make mods to the form, its just one more thing to 'fix'.

  24. macrumors 68030


    Precisely. I operate under the assumption that once the core technologies are available advancement and the taming of the solar system would be quite rapid so Terraforming Venus and Mars would be both showpiece experiments subject to uniquely high budgets and a testing ground for all the the ideas that would be refined later into a holistic technique.

    Moving the Jovian moons by placing tremendous, one-time-use foldgates powered by 5 or 6 Capital Ships in the orbital path of a Jovian moon corrisponding to a carefully placed identical gate angled and placed for a stable orbit would reduce the power required by several order of magnitude: you'd just be using the stable orbital velocity of the moon to pass it through into an orbit around another planet at the same velocity. These one-time-gates would likely be the key to the most fundamental terraforming techniques surrounding gross-adjustments.

    Yes, big-assed energy "weapons" of various sorts would be quite usefull in "softening" the martian mantle, as would the Jovian moons' tidal influence. If all the added mass came in simultanious to mantle-warming, had a fixed, oblique vector congruent to the orbital plane and direction of the added moon it is concievable that a stable, enertia generated soft mantle could be formed. The collective added mass involved would be sickeningly large but done with "goalpost" jumpgates and Capital Ships could be done suprisingly rapidly.

    As to the time factor: Technologically this could be done in the next fifty years if we got off our collective ass to do it. Culturally however the process would be stalled out another one hundred to three hundred years to get to the described level of intricacy and qualify as a fully interstellar species.
  25. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    You wouldn't need to soften the martian mantle - just bombard it with comets - you get the water and greenhouse gasses you need and light off nukes in the core to get the magnetics field going - no need for weaponry. Think of the all the energy released by the 1906 comet hit in Siberia - now jump that up an order of magnitude....


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