Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

OT: anything goes!

Moderator: Edi

Patroklos
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2525
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Patroklos » 2017-05-17 01:17am

General Zod wrote:Also cotton is horrible for fabrics if you have to deal with extreme weather conditions. If you're bringing along goats you've got wool and you can skip the cotton.
Goats do produce fiber, but not a type as useful or as prolifically as sheep. Even cashmere goats who have been bred for thousands of years for this purpose just don't have comparable yields. Hence the price. So if you want soft cashmere great, but I would consider a larger quantity of less luxurious wool to be more useful. Sheep also produce more meat and milk.

In the goat's favor, however, is that they can flourish in the wild while sheep are entirely domesticated so depending on how much labor is needed goats may be the superior option if tending flocks of sheep is untenable.

In favor of cotton, it is the primary component of most canvas. That's a pretty important material for settler groups. Tents, clothing, sails, etc.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-17 01:26am

General Zod wrote:Just a nitpick. But capsaicin is an extract from peppers, not an actual pepper.
I thought it was pretty clear I meant something in the Capsicum genus but maybe it wasn't.
General Zod wrote:Also cotton is horrible for fabrics if you have to deal with extreme weather conditions. If you're bringing along goats you've got wool and you can skip the cotton.
Cotton is a fuckton less itchy than wool, though - do you really want wool underwear? Also, as I noted, the cotton plant is a source of oil, cotton fibers can be used to make things like paper, and the leftovers can be made into animal feed.

Yes, having the wool is useful (and dog hair can also be spun and woven into fabric, too) and in addition you can use the down feathers from chickens for insulation. Not as good as goose down or eider duck, but serviceable nonetheless.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
General Zod
Never Shuts Up
Posts: 29205
Joined: 2003-11-18 03:08pm
Location: The Clearance Rack
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by General Zod » 2017-05-17 06:43am

Cotton is rotten isn't just a pithy saying. It holds onto moisture and if you're in a survival setting it's literally the worst fabric you could be wearing.
"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

Image

ImageImage

User avatar
General Zod
Never Shuts Up
Posts: 29205
Joined: 2003-11-18 03:08pm
Location: The Clearance Rack
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by General Zod » 2017-05-17 07:48am

Anyway a list that I would probably bring:

1) Corn
2) Russet potatoes
3) Wheat
4) sugar beets
5) hemp - creates far more durable fabrics than cotton, useful for ropes
6) marijuana - thc extracts for pain management. Superior to opiates for non surgical needs.
7) flaxseed - useful for oil, linen, varnishes and ink
8) olives - food supply, oil
9) basmati rice
10) habanero peppers
11) black peppercorn
12) carob - alternative to chocolate, doesn't require tropical climate
13) grapes - fruit, wine
14) barley
15) poppy
16) wild onions
17) pinto beans
18) rapeseed - biodiesel, animal feed, oil
19) oats
20) green beans
21) pears
22) avocado
23) evergreen - because we need trees right?
24) peanuts
25) chestnuts

I tried to include a solid list of seeds for things that had at least two separate applications to get a range of diversity suitable for different climates and essential needs.
"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

Image

ImageImage

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-17 10:30am

I think a mayor directive for the list should be that you cannot expect to find anything on the alien world. For example, the local flora might be indigestible to all Earth herbivores, so you should think of including plants that can also double as feed as the animals are literary incapable of grazing. Or you might not even want to bring grazing animals along at all or pick the least food-intensive one.

There should also be redundancy taken into account. People mentioned soy and the like, and you definitely should bring a protein-heavy crop. Hell, you should bring three just in case one of them can't grow for whatever reason. Same should go for other things, you don't want just one source of fiber but several. Don't rely on one source of fiber, don't rely on one source of building materials, etc.

For food, the three big groups should be taken into account: carbohydrates (fibers in oats, rice, wheat and sugar in sugarbeets), protein (soy, lentils, peas) and micro-nutrients (I don't even know where to begin there except you want a complete package). Then other priorities like fibers, building materials and medicine (unless you can expect to be severely strapped for those too).

This is going aside the common criticism of interstellar colonies in that you would need to have the technology to build space habitats. That's not just simply making living spaces, but making completely self-sufficient habitats, especially in terms of food. They'd mine asteroids and whatnot for raw materials, but nothing else besides. So they would have very, very good experience of turning raw materials into whatever they need be it basic needs or complex things computers or medicine Going to a habitable planet would actually be easier than building habitats, because everything is so close to each other.

The other notion is that you should bring extensive genetic engineering into it, from adapting your plants to local day/night cycles and conditions to outright changing humans to be able to eat the local flora and fauna. But that's outside the scope of the OP I guess.
Formless wrote:We should likely take some average old grass along. It grows quickly, lets some of our animals graze, and could help prepare the soil outside for our other crops.
Except you are planting that in alien ecology. You do not want a runaway plant species to spread uncontrollably, you do not want to wreck the planet's ecology faster than you can repair it. If it can grow at all. If you have to make your own soil, then you might want to produce more productive crops that you can feed yourself and the animals with. Or even go with animals that require less food and are more direct with grain-to-meat ratio like chicken instead of cows.

There is also the question of how much arable land you have and how hard it is for you to make.
Why are you arguing sugar cane vs. sugar beets when, if you take bees, you not only get pollinators you also get honey?
Because sugar would be a mayor caloric source in place of meat (especially in a low-meat diet), one much more efficient per arable land. Bee honey is a source but is a byproduct of pollinating while sugar beets are direct source.
Broomstick wrote: Well, obviously, initially it's going to be very high tech what with space travel and all, but the tech level will plunge rapidly once they arrive due to a simple lack of infrastructure.
Yes, but fast will the colonists be able to build infrastructure in the first place? If you have 25st century tech and manufacturing base with 3d printers, nuclear-powered refineries, mining machines, robots with AI (another big thing) and who knows what else, then you could easily create early 20th century-level infrastructure rather than go back to 18th-century level. You would likely have access to nuclear power, either fission or fusion, either as cargo or taken from the spaceship (which you would recycle unless it goes on its own merry way after dropping the people). If you have 3D printer that can print itself, that would radically alter your plans. If you have molecule-fabricators with nanotechnology (or just very good chemical factories), you can create whatever medicine you need artificially rather than inefficiently grow them.

You would want this because even with just 20th century technology you can massively increase the efficiency of farmers. You will have limited amount of people, so you want them to be as efficient as possible even if you have to lug more machines. You'd go pre-industrial in things that are less important like hygiene, luxuries, house construction material, etc.

That is not to say that bringing everything essential for a low-tech technology base is a bad idea. Especially so as backup in case something bad happens to your high-tech manufacturing bases. But it does change what your priorities are. If you have good metal, ceramics and/or plastics manufacturing from the start, building materials are less of a priority.
1) they run on the same "fuel", broadly speaking, as people do, fuel that is grown rather than mined and refined and
Yes, but how much arable land will you have from the start?
2) they "engines" are self-reproducing, you don't have to build them they'll replicate on their own if you let them
True, but they have fixed reproduction rates. Babies need time to mature and grow up. That is actually a problem with plants too, no matter how big your fields are they need a certain amount of time before they can be harvested and that's not bringing seasons into it.
The colony might retain a very limited fleet of mechanical vehicles but how much fuel are they going to bring with them?
If you have nuclear power, you could have plenty of fuel either with batteries or by making new fuels like hydrogen for fuel cells, biodiesel, extracting from seawater, etc.

This also brings in the question whether the colony can expect (and use) hydrocarbon sources on the alien world. Without oil and coal you cannot jump-start the industrial revolution all over again and you will want to tailor your approach that you don't need to in the first place. In fact, it would be best to assume that nothing but simple resources would exist. Pretty much like making habitats in space, which a space-faring civilization would be familiar with.
Even today, there are times and places we still use horses for transport as a practical solution rather than for fun - rugged wilderness terrain, for example, and a new planet will be entirely "rugged wilderness". Horses don't need roads and where you're going there aren't any roads (yet - I'm sure there will be in time).
Places where horses are the most practical vehicles today are usually places that are not suited for arable land. You don't want to start your colony there or go regularly there.

As for vehicles:
a, you can make vehicles that work on rugged terrain.
b, one mayor advantage of horses is that they can graze to feed themselves on wild terrain. This might not work with the alien flora and you might find yourself having to grow crops just for them, in which case you might as well go for cows for more food and less transportation capacity.
c, you are going to do mayor landscaping anyway to make farmland and even low-tech roads can be efficient. That said, you want to limit motorized vehicles for truly essential tasks like being tractors, landscaping machines, suppliers of multi-ton loads, etc. Likely on developed roads, whereas you'd use cheaper and simpler vehicles for things like personal transportation.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

Patroklos
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2525
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Patroklos » 2017-05-17 10:43am

Assume rather Earth-like conditions, including the full range of Earth conditions in roughly the same proportions because I say so.
That's from the OP, so I think its safe to assume the intent is that whatever we bring will grow or live. The point of the exercise is analyzing what we chose.

As for carbohydrates, sugar via either beets or cane is a horribly inefficient way to get them. Both in crop yield per acre and per labor hour. If you are going to give a slot to either its a pure moral play.

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12914
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-17 11:16am

I'd avoid sugar and simply go with honey. Yes, it may have more calories, but it's also horribly unhealthy in most applications. If you must have sugar, put a container or two full of it on the colony ship and ration it out. Honey is sweet enough for most and will be plentiful if the bees thrive.

Though the question does come up as to what effect native plants might have on the honey they produce...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grayanoto ... ey_disease
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-17 12:08pm

Patroklos wrote:That's from the OP, so I think its safe to assume the intent is that whatever we bring will grow or live. The point of the exercise is analyzing what we chose.
^ This.

If nothing from Earth will grow on the new world there's little point in going there, you might as well just build a habitat in space. Well, there are advantages to living on a planetary surface, or digging a little ways into it, like NOT being surrounded by vacuum and having some protection from space weather stuff like solar flares, but if the our crops can't grow outside in the soil then essentially you're looking at an artificial biome.

It's somewhat like some prior thought exercises I've posted here, such as [url=http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=68827]this one[/i]. The point isn't to get bogged down in minutiae, it's to think about the given topic and/or make choices.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-17 12:14pm

Elheru Aran wrote:I'd avoid sugar and simply go with honey. Yes, it may have more calories, but it's also horribly unhealthy in most applications. If you must have sugar, put a container or two full of it on the colony ship and ration it out. Honey is sweet enough for most and will be plentiful if the bees thrive.

Though the question does come up as to what effect native plants might have on the honey they produce...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grayanoto ... ey_disease
Honeybees and flowering plants evolved in tandem on our world - there is no guarantee that the new planet will even have flowers or nectar production in plants. On our world flowers are a very recent invention, only about 130 million years old. Prior to that there were no honeybees and no honey.

But yes, toxins are a possible problem, not just for bees but also animals and even for crops which may absorb chemicals produced by native life or simply soak up too much heavy metal from the soil. But, for purposes of this exercise, assume that that will either not happen or can be prevented or can be worked around (some method of detoxing food sources exist, as an example).
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
GrandMasterTerwynn
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6768
Joined: 2002-07-29 06:14pm
Location: Somewhere on Earth.

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by GrandMasterTerwynn » 2017-05-17 08:45pm

I would submit that yeast has to be included in any list of "plants" that one would take with them. Without yeasts, you don't get bread (unless you like flatbreads,) and you don't get beer, wine, or any other spirit (also, alcohol has plenty of uses as a solvent, fuel, and general disinfectant.) You can also use it to supplement animal feed and, if you enjoy that kind of thing, consume it directly.

Also, via genetic engineering, you could conceivably consolidate your list of plants ... for example; there is a strain of rice (the somewhat infamous "golden rice") being developed that accumulates carotenoids into the rice seeds. Taking along golden rice, for example, may allow one to leave carrots at home and bring along something more nutritionally versatile; like the rutabaga.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-17 09:32pm

Yeast tags along with the human environment, spores floating in open air, on surfaces, etc.

Also, yeast is not a plant.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

Patroklos
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2525
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Patroklos » 2017-05-18 04:39am

I know broomstick mentioned fish earlier but it sort of fell off.

This is a tough one because its hard to think of any fish that are useful enough to supplant any of the land animals we have discussed. Maybe to expand the discussion we get five land animals AND five sea animals? We do get twenty-five plant species after all.

In any case, assuming we would want to replace some of the land animals here are my top options.

1.) Tilapia. Can be grown in fish farms with little more effort than normal plant farming. Further more these farms can be land based so no need to deal with the difficulties of aquaculture in the sea itself. Fast growing, not picky with feed, not high maintenance.

2.) Tiger shrimp. Can be grown in very basic conditions and again on farms that are land based. If available on the settling site natural areas like mangrove swamps can be converted into large farms. Most importantly these hardy critters can be introduced into the wild and probably survive just fine for wild harvest just like goats and pigs. Zero manpower required until harvest.

3.) Atlantic salmon. Can be farmed via aquaculture but this is labor/tech intensive. For this play to really work the settlement site needs to have suitable rivers for introduction, but if it can be introduced successfully you have a low maintenance subsistence stock that just happens to return to easily harvestable sites all by themselves year after year.

Adding a good edible seaweed to the plant list might be a good option as well.

Some of these options do bring up environmental concerns addressed a bit earlier. What obligation do we have regarding introducing invasive species and the likely extinction of vast swaths of local flora and fauna should introduction be successful. My take is that if we are settling alien worlds with the intent of founding permanent unrestricted civilization sites (ie not just huddling in restricted domes) this decision was already made. Open living means that our crops and livestock, while confined to farms initially, will inevitably spread outside our control. The best we can do is manage it so that we only alter the alien environment gradually instead of catastrophically. From a settlement perspective it makes sense to bring animals and plants that can thrive independent of human management in the wild for transparent multiplication and later harvest at our convenience. At the same time we don't want to be living on a dead planet in 1000 years because bees turn out to be an insatiable super predator on this world.

User avatar
GrandMasterTerwynn
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6768
Joined: 2002-07-29 06:14pm
Location: Somewhere on Earth.

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by GrandMasterTerwynn » 2017-05-18 10:06am

Broomstick wrote:Also, yeast is not a plant.
Hence the quotes. Also, one would really want to make sure they bring along the right kind of yeast. Relying on random wild strains to produce isn't always desirable as one is just as likely to end up with a strain that spoils things versus a strain that produces something useful.
Patroklos wrote:1.) Tilapia. Can be grown in fish farms with little more effort than normal plant farming. Further more these farms can be land based so no need to deal with the difficulties of aquaculture in the sea itself. Fast growing, not picky with feed, not high maintenance.
Tilapia is a good one. It has a better feed conversion ratio than chicken (1.5:1 vs 1.6-1.8:1), although since farmed catfish are even less picky than tilapia about what they eat, they manage a 50% better conversion ratio.

User avatar
General Zod
Never Shuts Up
Posts: 29205
Joined: 2003-11-18 03:08pm
Location: The Clearance Rack
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by General Zod » 2017-05-18 10:54am

You can farm the shit out of oysters in reasonably shallow pools if you're talking about meat supplies now.
"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

Image

ImageImage

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-18 11:02am

I thought: what about mushrooms? Is there any nutritionally beneficial and agriculturally efficient kind of mushroom worth bringing?
Some of these options do bring up environmental concerns addressed a bit earlier.
This is why I was talking about redundancy. It's not just that the plants wouldn't grow in alien soil, it doesn't matter what you bring if that's the case (in which case you are living closed habitat). But there are a myriad of other things that can happen: the plant grows too well, the plant picks up some toxin from the ground, the plant has addictive effects on local fauna that consume it faster than you can plant it, you have a massive crop failure, the seeds you brought have a disease that destroyed your stock, etc. Anything that might go wrong, can go wrong and often will. If something goes wrong, you can't expect help from outside to fix it in time.

So you want to avoid any situation where, for example, a crop failure leaves you with no source of Vitamin C (or textile fiber, or dietary fiber, or anything essential).
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

User avatar
Raw Shark
Stunt Driver / Babysitter
Posts: 6996
Joined: 2005-11-24 09:35am
Location: One Mile Up

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Raw Shark » 2017-05-19 01:10pm

Zixinus wrote:I thought: what about mushrooms? Is there any nutritionally beneficial and agriculturally efficient kind of mushroom worth bringing?
Mushrooms don't give a shit about you. They might poison you or have medical benefits, they might make you trip your face off, they might taste good, or 0-3 of the above. On the plus(?) side, they spread like wildfire with zero maintenance, and are high in fiber, but roughly half of humanity hates them. I wouldn't sacrifice say-for-example cannabis to bring them.

"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? Y'know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! Y'know, I just do things..." --The Joker

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-19 01:23pm

With cannabis, if you're going to bring some, I'd suggest a non-specialized or hybridized variety that produces somewhat adequate fiber and some useful pharmaceuticals, but isn't great at either. You can then later breed different varieties out of the stock, recreating the current varieties that are more specialized.

Which applies to a lot of plants and even your animals.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Raw Shark
Stunt Driver / Babysitter
Posts: 6996
Joined: 2005-11-24 09:35am
Location: One Mile Up

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Raw Shark » 2017-05-19 02:06pm

Broomstick wrote:With cannabis, if you're going to bring some, I'd suggest a non-specialized or hybridized variety that produces somewhat adequate fiber and some useful pharmaceuticals, but isn't great at either. You can then later breed different varieties out of the stock, recreating the current varieties that are more specialized.
Definitely. We could probably even do it on the ship. We're going to be out there for a while, and the aspiration to be the first to roll up a six-paper spliff Bob Marley-style and hotbox this boat should be pretty good motivation for some of our horticultural experts. Shit, I did it in about nine square feet in college. Take me out into the black and tell 'em I'm not coming back. Other strains that we develop will also produce some really excellent hemp fiber and hempseed oil long before we need it, and it has been found growing in the wild everywhere from the Sahara Desert to the Himalayas. It's called "weed" for a reason. You pretty much have to try to kill it, because barring some sort of global extinction event, it'll be alive and well long after any of us is fertilizing it.

For my part, I will also suggest rhubarb. It is also very hardy, and is packed with fiber, protein, minerals (including potassium), and vitamins (including C), and can also be used in morale-raising confections if you have a sugar source, or straight-up eaten raw off the plant if you like it sour. Just don't eat the leaves. The one currently sprouting every year untended by the hand of my father is supposedly, according to family legend, the result of a cutting that came over on the Mayflower.

"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? Y'know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! Y'know, I just do things..." --The Joker

Post Reply