Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-21 08:24am

The enemy would just launch a flamethrower-missile and turn all those birds into biotech organic kentucky fried chicken. :P

Alternatively, using counter-biorganotechnology, the enemy can make a giant flying filter-feeding fish or whale, like a cross between a blue whale and the Hindenburg, and it will end up eating all your pigeon/locusts.

And then it shits out a massive turd made out of phosphorus, and burns the shit out of your cities. Literally.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Teleros » 2010-08-01 07:52am

thegreatpl wrote:hmmmmm, an obvious use no one has really expanded on yet is using the technology to evolve humanity. Why not give us wings? Or gills and turn us into merpeople? Certainly this is going to be one of the first applications that occur to certain people.
The furries will be happy I guess :P . I'd imagine that if you've got very advanced biotech stuff then cosmetic applications will probably be the biggest field of research, because for most other stuff we can just build whatever it is we need.
thegreatpl wrote:Why not modify our lungs to breath other atmospheres? Hard vacuum is probably too hard to do, since you would also have to add a bunch of radiation protectors and harden your skin to stop expansion. But other atmospheres i think would be possible.
I suppose you could do this if you wanted to, but you'd need something akin to a Culture Mind or two to work out how the hell to have oxygen- and methane-based respiration working safely alongside one another in a single cell (for example). Hard vacuum might actually be easier if you can set up some cells to secrete a radiation-proof waxy coating or something (I believe 40K space marines can do something like this), and if you can store enough energy inside your body for the brain etc to respire with whilst you're in a vacuum.
thegreatpl wrote:I would definitely agree with having us with Na'vi like bio connections. You could then link up and drive the ships around, interface with computers, ect.
I'll just stick to my machine version I think. Will probably work better, too, unless your Na'vi plugs use fibre-optics for transmitting nerve impulses and are, to all intents and purposes, inorganic wiring...
thegreatpl wrote:I think that using the technology to colonize other planets would be very useful. Especially having them grow infrastructure. The question really is whether or not the time scale makes it worth it. Is it quicker to build a factory, or grow a factory? On colony worlds, it might very well be worth it, since growing is probably quicker than building up the infrastructure the old fashioned way.
A lot depends on how much you can ship out with the colonists (or just prior to them). If you can ship out von Neumann machines or Ikea starts selling all-in-one oil wells / refineries and the like, then the biotech option may be out-competed by machines.

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by thegreatpl » 2010-08-01 12:28pm

you know, i got to thinking about organic ship technology after seeing a thread on here saying how there is nothing you cant do with organic tech which you can't do with simpler mechanic tech, and i realized that you could probably, with sufficiently advanced genegineering, make it so that a ship grows from the egg without any infrastructure at all.

Dump a bunch of eggs on a random uninhabited planet, come back in 2 or 3 years, and voila, one fleet ready to go without manpower problems or infrastructure.

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-08-01 03:39pm

That's called a Von Neumann machine. :P
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by thegreatpl » 2010-08-01 11:56pm

i thought Von Neumann machines were self replicators who had turned against their masters? or is that what is the most common form of them in fiction and Von Neumann came up with something else.

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by adam_grif » 2010-08-02 12:48am

thegreatpl wrote:i thought Von Neumann machines were self replicators who had turned against their masters? or is that what is the most common form of them in fiction and Von Neumann came up with something else.
Von Neumman machines are self replicating machines. Usually probes of some kind. They do turn evil in fiction a lot, but that's by no means required.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by PeZook » 2010-08-02 05:54am

thegreatpl wrote:you know, i got to thinking about organic ship technology after seeing a thread on here saying how there is nothing you cant do with organic tech which you can't do with simpler mechanic tech, and i realized that you could probably, with sufficiently advanced genegineering, make it so that a ship grows from the egg without any infrastructure at all.
It will still need infrastructure no matter what you do. It could take the form of specialized organs for making the highly unnatural components required to build a viable ship, but you will definitely need it. And, of course, things like utilities for extraction and transport of rare minerals to the growing site, where they could be processed and fed to the baby-ship, are absolutely crucial, since you can't expect to just finds all the needed deposits right there where you land the egg...
thegreatpl wrote:Dump a bunch of eggs on a random uninhabited planet, come back in 2 or 3 years, and voila, one fleet ready to go without manpower problems or infrastructure.
What if the random planet doesn't have, say, uranium? Or molybdenium? Or only has those in deposits ten kilometres below the surface?
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by adam_grif » 2010-08-02 05:57am

If we're conceptually modeling a self replicating starship, then it may be useful to assume that there would be different kinds. It doesn't seem feasible to roll mineral extraction, refinement & manufacture, precision engineering etc all into a single ship. If it can be done, it's unlikely to be a very efficient way of doing things, especially if you want them to fight as well. Less like humans, more like some sort of insectoid colony with a caste system.
What if the random planet doesn't have, say, uranium? Or molybdenium? Or only has those in deposits ten kilometres below the surface?
The same thing that happens if you lay any kind of egg somewhere without critical resources for the organism nearby. Nothing, they die out.
A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: 'What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, 'What is the tortoise standing on?'

'You're very clever, young man, very clever,' said the old lady. 'But it's turtles all the way down.'

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Coalition » 2010-08-02 08:01am

PeZook wrote:
thegreatpl wrote:Dump a bunch of eggs on a random uninhabited planet, come back in 2 or 3 years, and voila, one fleet ready to go without manpower problems or infrastructure.
What if the random planet doesn't have, say, uranium? Or molybdenium? Or only has those in deposits ten kilometres below the surface?
A smart egg would develop the industry locally to transport the necessary mineralsto the shipyard. Depending on the concentration/distance of the materials, and the intelligence of the egg, you might have the egg industry build itself towards the minerals, and construct the ship at the new location.

Of course once you get the necessary industry built to make the first ship, the egg might be able to make more ships.

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-08-02 08:10am

If you want your "organics" to process raw materials and minerals and shit, then its "organic" components probably have more in common with those obscene giant German mining-wheels then anything else we'd recognize as biological. It'd be as organic as a goddamn iron mill, more like a modern factory then the birds or the trees and the flowers and the bees.

I mean, for the "organic" eggship to "eat" metal minerals to make its "bones", it has to have a "mouth" that's full of drillbits and crushing thinggies so it cam mine its "food" out of the planet's crust. To "digest" its food, its "gastrointestinal" system is gonna look like an iron smelt or something. Organic my ass. Bah.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by PeZook » 2010-08-02 09:55am

adam_grif wrote:If we're conceptually modeling a self replicating starship, then it may be useful to assume that there would be different kinds. It doesn't seem feasible to roll mineral extraction, refinement & manufacture, precision engineering etc all into a single ship. If it can be done, it's unlikely to be a very efficient way of doing things, especially if you want them to fight as well. Less like humans, more like some sort of insectoid colony with a caste system.
At which point you can just use Von Neumann machines for the same role without bothering with the pretense of "being organic".
adam_grif wrote: The same thing that happens if you lay any kind of egg somewhere without critical resources for the organism nearby. Nothing, they die out.
Yes, my point exactly. You need to survey the planet for proper conditions, carefully select a landing site, and then "seed" the necessary industrial organisms so that they have access to resources...what, exactly, do you gain out of your new ship being an "egg", rather than a Von Neumann probe? Better yet: what do you gain out of building starships using VN probes, which will have to build up the resource extraction infrastructure from scratch? It's not like they're magickal devices which have an easier time constructing a nuclear reactor than conventional industry...
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by The Yosemite Bear » 2010-08-02 11:14am

organic based tech that's not stupid:

Terraforming
air filtration/rebreating
food supply
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by madd0ct0r » 2010-08-02 01:38pm

Since energy was supposed to be the big problem, my first thought was a photosynthsising Dyson Sphere, or giant orbiting vine trellis.

Energy is sent back to the planet by packets of petrochemicals.

Then I realsied they'd need a constant supply of material to do that, so considered the asteroid belt.
Much as a large leafy maggot slowly 'eating' an asteroid and jetting diesel behind it appeals, there's a lot less sun energy out there.

So, put the damn thing on the planet.

A lichen-alike that uses solar energy to break down less stable minerals to produce oxygen and an seeds containing an oily sludge.
Course, you run the risk of it trying to break down your habs too.


Or, to borrow an idea from Terry Pratchett, Tobacco bushes that produce cigarette seedpods (the seeds are in the filter). The seeds are spread by discarding the ciggarette butt.

Extend indefinetly - trees that extrude useful timber (like coppicing, but square sections), mixed herb bushes, Matrress sponges, the Hangover Vine (seeds of paracetemol, leaves caffinated, stem sections store 500ml water), The Champagne Flute tree, Masonry ants, Thatching wasps, The Chicko-pede (always enough legs to go around), the CoffeeMug Crab, Silk making Goats http://www.physorg.com/news194539934.html that feed on the needle cactus.

It's more a case of looking at an item nearby, and thinking of a way it could be produced. Yes, machine production might be better, but not when chemical energy is in such short supply.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Uncluttered » 2010-08-03 01:08am

adam_grif wrote:
thegreatpl wrote:i thought Von Neumann machines were self replicators who had turned against their masters? or is that what is the most common form of them in fiction and Von Neumann came up with something else.
Von Neumman machines are self replicating machines. Usually probes of some kind. They do turn evil in fiction a lot, but that's by no means required.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by lordofchange13 » 2010-08-04 10:59am

If your useing somesort of warp drive thing why are you still useing biofuel? whouldn't earth have solved the problem of fusion by then, maybe enven cold fusion if were lucky. if you going to a nother planet and its all ready habitble i thing the colonist are more likly to use solar panels, of power. and the terraforming part i belive is all ready been created. boihules are worthless unless they work on a whole new configeration of biology. the only part here that would be useful would be some form of fst growing food crop that can servive out side of earth climets, and minerials.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by PeZook » 2010-08-04 02:59pm

Fossil fuels have a certain set of qualities that make them very useful for colonists. For example,the tolerances required to make combustion engines are much, much lower than for fusion reactors ; They produce no nasty neutrinos and radiation, the fuel can be stored and moved easily, etc.

It's like asking why people still use pencils when we have personal computers.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Uncluttered » 2010-08-04 03:04pm

PeZook wrote:Fossil fuels have a certain set of qualities that make them very useful for colonists. For example,the tolerances required to make combustion engines are much, much lower than for fusion reactors ; They produce no nasty neutrinos and radiation, the fuel can be stored and moved easily, etc.

It's like asking why people still use pencils when we have personal computers.
Right on everything but the neutrinos. Neutrinos are about as non-nasty as you can get. :D
Also, who says that fusion reactors are small in this scifi. They might be as big as ITER.

Still. Dropping petroleum from the sky is a little dumb. It's better to beam that power with microwaves. You DON'T want to mess with the planets carbon cycle, unless it's for terreforming.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Rossum » 2010-08-04 04:46pm

The way I see it with biofuels is that most of the planets out there will be devoid of life and you would have to set up some sort of plant/animal/yeast life on there if you want humans to be able to comfortably inhabit it (unless you have machines that automatically spit out edible proteins like Star Trek replicators do). If you engineer a type of corn that is both edible to humans and can grow on Mars or another planet then you can grow it all over the place.

Then, use the space corn as either food for humans and animals or you could use it as biofuel. Using it as biofuel would make sense some of the time in case you have more crops then you can use as food. You could then extract the fuel from it and either use it to boost your economy or store it up in tanks for an emergency. It would make sense to have alot of fuel reserves on hand if the fusion/wind/solar power plants break down.

The carbon cycle issue would be another thing, but the idea is that the planet would originally be lifeless and once you introduce enough plants to even start making biofuels or fossil fuels then you would already be there to collect all the excess fuel before it becomes fossil fuel. We are having a problem with fossil fuels now because the Earth spent the last million or so years creating all this oil and coal and we are burning it all like crazy in just a century or so. If there were humans who could use biofuels back when plant life first appeared on our planet then they probably would be using the fuels at about the same rate as it was being produced.

Colonist on planets who have an ecosystem set up to actually produce biofuels probably wouldn't stockpile enough of that fuel to allow later generations to burn it all at once and change the carbon cycle in a short enough time to cause damage.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by PeZook » 2010-08-04 05:00pm

Uncluttered wrote: Right on everything but the neutrinos. Neutrinos are about as non-nasty as you can get. :D
Yeah, I meant neutrons. And other radiation, too: it's a myth fusion is clean, in some designs major reactor components become really freakin' hot and have to be disposed of as high level radioactive waste.
Uncluttered wrote: Also, who says that fusion reactors are small in this scifi. They might be as big as ITER.
Yeah, and if your colony is a small startup slowly building up infrastructure, they might not be able to maintain a giant fusion power plant, whereas you can service combustion engines with a simple machine shop.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by Uncluttered » 2010-08-04 05:29pm

Rossum wrote:The way I see it with biofuels is that most of the planets out there will be devoid of life and you would have to set up some sort of plant/animal/yeast life on there if you want humans to be able to comfortably inhabit it (unless you have machines that automatically spit out edible proteins like Star Trek replicators do). If you engineer a type of corn that is both edible to humans and can grow on Mars or another planet then you can grow it all over the place.

Then, use the space corn as either food for humans and animals or you could use it as biofuel. Using it as biofuel would make sense some of the time in case you have more crops then you can use as food. You could then extract the fuel from it and either use it to boost your economy or store it up in tanks for an emergency. It would make sense to have alot of fuel reserves on hand if the fusion/wind/solar power plants break down.

The carbon cycle issue would be another thing, but the idea is that the planet would originally be lifeless and once you introduce enough plants to even start making biofuels or fossil fuels then you would already be there to collect all the excess fuel before it becomes fossil fuel. We are having a problem with fossil fuels now because the Earth spent the last million or so years creating all this oil and coal and we are burning it all like crazy in just a century or so. If there were humans who could use biofuels back when plant life first appeared on our planet then they probably would be using the fuels at about the same rate as it was being produced.

Colonist on planets who have an ecosystem set up to actually produce biofuels probably wouldn't stockpile enough of that fuel to allow later generations to burn it all at once and change the carbon cycle in a short enough time to cause damage.

The big problem here is that hydrocarbons only combust in the presence of oxygen. This limits there efficacy. You need an already terreformed planet to get the fuel/air ration right to support the reaction with an engine.

A better use of orbiting fuel plants would be to beam down microwaves,or lasers to make electricity. If your planet is tantooine, then drop a few mega tons of cometary ice in a deserted area.
You run your cars off of electricity. If you cannot make the batteries, use steam engines.

A steam engine can run off of Thermite pellets in the boiler. Use the electric/laser furnaces to remelt the themite. Smelting the metal will put oxygen into the atmosphere. The source of the oxygen will be water.

If you have an orbital mining facility, either mechanical or organic, you can just drop the aluminum and iron from orbit. Re-smelt the spend thermite only when you want.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by thegreatpl » 2010-08-08 03:32pm

frankly, if you beam the power down, then why not use fusion reactors in the sky rather than bio-tech. Even if the reactors produce massive amounts of radioactive waste, then just dump it into the sun.

Creating a plant that would terraform the planet would be useful.

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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by lordofchange13 » 2010-08-23 09:42pm

PeZook wrote:Fossil fuels have a certain set of qualities that make them very useful for colonists. For example,the tolerances required to make combustion engines are much, much lower than for fusion reactors ; They produce no nasty neutrinos and radiation, the fuel can be stored and moved easily, etc.

It's like asking why people still use pencils when we have personal computers.
wh would you use pencils if you got laptops? excluding scantron tests.
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Re: Any decent use for space-capable organic technology?

Post by PeZook » 2010-08-24 01:41am

lordofchange13 wrote: wh would you use pencils if you got laptops? excluding scantron tests.
Because you can put a pencil and a notepad in your pocket and carry it around for weeks until it's needed? Because you don't need to boot anything up or use a keyboard and can write notes, make drawings and simple maps in seconds with no need for power whatsoever? Because you can attach pieces of paper to stuff with simple messages? Because you can make pencils and paper with a XVth century tech base?

Why did I even have to answer that question?
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
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Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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