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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Well, IMHO:

    - existence of such different systems in "blocks" like that relatively near to each other seems somehow improbable.
    I would guess that according to Earth "rule" there should be some bigger region of subtropical flora or some mountains or stuff to divide them, especially with ocean nearby.

    - Carpathians are hardly 'rugged hills' for most part, dunno about Appalachians.
    The Appalachians are an ancient thrust mountain range so old that they've weathered off the peaks into large rounded mountains.

    The map is probable, provided that your weather patterns blow from east to west (assume the north is on the top of the map), so you'd have a large wet climate on the east side of the mountains and it would be drier on the west. This would produce a large rain shadow. Depending on latitude this could be a large plains area similar to the Alberta or Montana in the US.

    I'd actually expect your red arrow would produce chinook winds on a regular basis. If you have winter there the temperature could change as much as 30 or 40 degrees celsius in a very short period of time (so we're talking from -20C to around 20C inside of 10 minutes).
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I'm from southern Jutland, everything about 30 m is a mountain to us and every bump in the ground a hill. We're not good with these terms.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    I have a question for a modern setting.

    a) With existing science and technology, is it possible to build a gun that delivers an anesthetic, causing people to drop unconscious without otherwise harming them? And what would it look like?

    I'm pretty sure there's such a thing for animals, but I have no idea how it works. How the drug is delivered, if it shoots something like darts or something like bullets (or something like syringes ), how long it takes to take effect, etc.

    b) If something like that is possible for humans, is it reasonable for law enforcement to use such guns instead of firearms? Would the "bullets" be too expensive, or the accuracy too low, or the range too small for example? Would the anesthetic be unreliable to actually stop someone on the spot?

    If it isn't feasible, what sort of non-existing scientific breakthrough would make it so? Something medical, like an anesthetic that works as instantly as a D&D touch poison? Or, if money is the problem, something that allows for cheap mass production of the drug? Or, if delivery is the problem, the engineering of an appropriate gun?

    And if it IS, in fact, feasible today with existing technology, why doesn't law enforcement use it already? I must be missing something.

    Thanks in advance. :)
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  4. - Top - End - #154
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    I would imagine that range would be always rather poor, and many kinds of clothing would make it even more erratic.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    HeadlessMermaid, here's some information. Basically, yes tranquilizer guns exist and there's no reason they can't work on humans, but they're not used because there's not a way to get a dose of something that will immediately knock out a human without risking overdose. (Remember, humans have a wide variety of body sizes and may or may not be under the influence of drugs/alcohol/whatever when they would be darted.)

    I'd guess the most critical breakthrough for that sort of thing would be finding a drug that can knock people out at a much, much, much lower dose than needed to kill, so you could load a relatively large amount (to take out a heavy human) without risking overdose or other side effects.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Drugged people that wander and fall around for few minutes before drug kicks in fully would probably be messy too.

    Plus syringes in bodies when someone can stomp them hard, assuming even moderate crowd, more broken glass...
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  7. - Top - End - #157
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    I have a question for a modern setting.

    a) With existing science and technology, is it possible to build a gun that delivers an anesthetic, causing people to drop unconscious without otherwise harming them? And what would it look like?

    I'm pretty sure there's such a thing for animals, but I have no idea how it works. How the drug is delivered, if it shoots something like darts or something like bullets (or something like syringes ), how long it takes to take effect, etc.

    b) If something like that is possible for humans, is it reasonable for law enforcement to use such guns instead of firearms? Would the "bullets" be too expensive, or the accuracy too low, or the range too small for example? Would the anesthetic be unreliable to actually stop someone on the spot?

    If it isn't feasible, what sort of non-existing scientific breakthrough would make it so? Something medical, like an anesthetic that works as instantly as a D&D touch poison? Or, if money is the problem, something that allows for cheap mass production of the drug? Or, if delivery is the problem, the engineering of an appropriate gun?

    And if it IS, in fact, feasible today with existing technology, why doesn't law enforcement use it already? I must be missing something.

    Thanks in advance. :)
    Anesthetics are dangerous. It is my understanding that more people die from anesthesia complications than surgical complications while in the operating room, and that is from a carefully monitored dose by a anesthesiologist rather than a standard issue projectile fired by a peace officer.

    I know Tasers have trouble with most thick clothing, I would imagine tranquilizer darts would have similar issues.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2012-07-15 at 05:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    in regards to the zombie question something to think about is they would probably all die of cold. since they would forget how to deal with ice and snow during the warmer half of the year leaving them defenseless unable to remember to put on warm clothes or turn on heaters.

    actually i think zombies would be the least of your concern with the long delay between infection and symptoms this would be more of a viral danger then a zombie danger with the zombies largely secondary to the general collapse of society. the zombies as described would only go after humans once all other food sources were gone becuase by the time they would have forgotten normal food they would also be to weak to threaten any one else.
    Last edited by awa; 2012-07-15 at 07:15 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #159
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    the long symptom delay is specifically meant to cause the fall of society. by the time anyone knows what's going on (say a month), hundreds of thousands or even millions of people might be infected.

    @zombies dying from stuff. true. but they still have human intelligence. and they can still breed. in fact, they can outbreed humans easily, since the child would develop and grow rapidly.

    Cold: a decent portion of them would still figure out how to wrap up in clothing, or group hug, or get inside a building. those that remember how to make fire will make fire.

    Food: remember that by the time they have truly become "zombies" they will have very little morality or inhibitions left. they will hunt humans when the humans are easy prey. they will eat grass and bugs if nothing else is around. if they get really desperate, they will even eat each other. also, while they may starve faster than a human in bad times, they also recover faster once they get food. so any that survive will bounce back rapidly, with no permanent damage.
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  10. - Top - End - #160
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I know Tasers have trouble with most thick clothing, I would imagine tranquilizer darts would have similar issues.
    They dart large mammals with 1"+ skin (like pachydyrms). Typical clothing isn't going to make much of a difference. Any sort of armor though....

  11. - Top - End - #161
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Synovia View Post
    They dart large mammals with 1"+ skin (like pachydyrms). Typical clothing isn't going to make much of a difference. Any sort of armor though....
    I don't think its an issue of penetration directly so much as it is getting tangled in loose clothing or multiple layers of clothing. Sort of like how a chainsaw can chop through a tree but not a towel. But I am not expert, I am just repeating some stuff I heard in my administration of justice class back at junior college.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    the long symptom delay is specifically meant to cause the fall of society. by the time anyone knows what's going on (say a month), hundreds of thousands or even millions of people might be infected.

    @zombies dying from stuff. true. but they still have human intelligence. and they can still breed. in fact, they can outbreed humans easily, since the child would develop and grow rapidly.

    Cold: a decent portion of them would still figure out how to wrap up in clothing, or group hug, or get inside a building. those that remember how to make fire will make fire.

    Food: remember that by the time they have truly become "zombies" they will have very little morality or inhibitions left. they will hunt humans when the humans are easy prey. they will eat grass and bugs if nothing else is around. if they get really desperate, they will even eat each other. also, while they may starve faster than a human in bad times, they also recover faster once they get food. so any that survive will bounce back rapidly, with no permanent damage.
    The problem with still having human intelligence is that we're able to do so much because we have methods to preserve information; they would not. Additionally, they'd probably have complications with their pregnancies, as speeding up the process is a bad thing- lots of things need to happen in a specific order, and they also need to stop at the right time, which is precisely what this virus appears to be messing with. Pregnancy is also a dangerous thing that makes life harder for the mother, which lowers a feral human's life expectancy further.

    As for starving, it takes us about a week to starve to death while living an active lifestyle. With their increased dietary needs, they'd probably starve to death in a few days, as they'll be leading a very active lifestyle. They also won't know what is and isn't edible, leading to deaths from eating inedible/poisonous things, and will have minimal sanitation and hygiene resulting in lots of people being infected with disease, parasites, and food poisoning. Additionally, they'll have to hunt prey unaided by most tools, which makes things far more difficult, especially if you're incapable of remembering how to make tools or to hunt. Instinct can be a great thing, but humans are not the species to showcase for this.

    As for healing, they'll only bounce back with no major issues if they recieve some form of medical care; otherwise they'll be having lots of problems. Sure, you can heal a broken bone, but it's unlikely that it will miraculously heal back right- in fact, the faster growth would make it easier to set incorrectly. Hygiene is also a major issue again.
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  13. - Top - End - #163
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Thank you all for your replies about the tranquillizer gun, I looked it up and now I know how to handle it. :)
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    If you did get a group who were significantly more healthy, better warriors, better looking, etc.--how do you think they'd be seen by other cultures? Would they be hated jealously, or looked on with admiration?

    Most stories have elves which fit this description, but they generally feel so distant from humans and the like. What are your opinions of how it would be, if you got a more human-like culture, which had traits that are often universally respected?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    If you did get a group who were significantly more healthy, better warriors, better looking, etc.--how do you think they'd be seen by other cultures? Would they be hated jealously, or looked on with admiration?
    You mean if they were a distinct culture, getting in contact with other cultures for the first time? I don't think it would matter at all. It's their cultural traits that would make all the difference, and obviously their behavior towards the "normal" folks.

    Basically, it goes back to the objection that there's no such thing as a genetically perfect human. There are no "universally respected traits" either. Healthy could count, but only in specific environments (depending on climate, available food, common diseases in the area etc).

    Universally better-looking makes no sense whatsoever. Beauty may be linked to healthy on some level (and also to the faces you saw a lot when you were an infant, notably your parents), but it's fundamentally a social construct. Whatever your specimens are like, they're not going to be considered universally handsome.

    Better warrior is also relative. Stuff like speed and strength may be secondary to training, training may be secondary to tech level (or vice versa, it depends), the elite mounted warriors are worthless in certain terrains, and so on.

    In short, you can't possibly separate culture and environment from the traits people are actually born with.

    Now, if you suppose that two distinct groups have the same culture and live in the same environment, but one is healthier, stronger etc, then we can talk. But you'll have to specify the culture, the environment and whether they're competing for the same resources or not. Otherwise, no one can guess. Today's societies are very different from prehistoric societies, and there are still enormously varied outlooks around the world. You can't possibly expect a similar reaction from everyone.

    As for the elves, the key word for them isn't "better" (whatever that means), it's "otherwordly". That's what makes them exciting. In D&D, this was downplayed, but only in the rules (their racial traits don't make that much of a difference). And yet, they are still expected to live in glorious forest cities, doing noble things, and without bothering themselves with trivialities such as farming and herding. Meanwhile, humans are toiling in the dirt to get food on the table. That's why elves are respected. Because the story demands that don't get their hands dirty.

    See? It all goes back to culture. Pointy ears and +2 to dexterity are aesthetic details. :)
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  16. - Top - End - #166
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    When they are nice guys, the traits that make them admirable will probably be the same that people despise them for if they turn out to be enemies.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    so, assume we do try to make a genetically superior (since perfect is impossible) humanoid race, regardless of environment. what would be some realistic traits that would be, if not universally advantageous, at least rarely disadvantageous?

    ideas:

    1. skeleton (bones, tendons, and ligaments) made of lightweight carbon polymers. half the weight or less of real bone, but stronger than steel. not too many situations where a greater strength to weight ratio is a bad thing. more flexible polymers may lace the skin, as well.

    2. skin pigment that deforms based on the amount of vitamin D in your blood. when you are low on D, it opens up, allowing light in. when you have enough D, it closes, protecting you from harmful radiation.

    3. a similar compound channels heat inward when your temperature is low, and outward when your temperature is high, replacing sweat as a means of regulating temperature.

    4. ability to regenerate lost limbs. how is regaining a lost arm a bad thing, assuming that's as far as the regeneration goes?

    etc. there are possible traits (even if they don't actually exist yet) that are just better than traits we have now. genetic superiority is possible, when you start thinking outside of the box.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    so, assume we do try to make a genetically superior (since perfect is impossible) humanoid race, regardless of environment. what would be some realistic traits that would be, if not universally advantageous, at least rarely disadvantageous?

    ideas:

    1. skeleton (bones, tendons, and ligaments) made of lightweight carbon polymers. half the weight or less of real bone, but stronger than steel. not too many situations where a greater strength to weight ratio is a bad thing. more flexible polymers may lace the skin, as well.

    2. skin pigment that deforms based on the amount of vitamin D in your blood. when you are low on D, it opens up, allowing light in. when you have enough D, it closes, protecting you from harmful radiation.

    3. a similar compound channels heat inward when your temperature is low, and outward when your temperature is high, replacing sweat as a means of regulating temperature.

    4. ability to regenerate lost limbs. how is regaining a lost arm a bad thing, assuming that's as far as the regeneration goes?

    etc. there are possible traits (even if they don't actually exist yet) that are just better than traits we have now. genetic superiority is possible, when you start thinking outside of the box.
    Those are engineering superiorities though, not genetic ones.

    Living organisms we know cannot have polymer bodies or regenerate limbs if they are of greater size/complication.

    Even regrowing relatively simple tails is very strenuous process for lizard, and they don't really return to their previous state.
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  19. - Top - End - #169
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Those are engineering superiorities though, not genetic ones.

    Living organisms we know cannot have polymer bodies or regenerate limbs if they are of greater size/complication.
    Depends on your definition of living. In theory its possible to have a life form that derives its basic structures from silicon rather than carbon. It would be an inorganic life form in the most literal of ways, but it could still be alive.

    Skin pigmentation isn't necessarily engineering, that can and probably would be a genetic trait. Neither is the ability to process energy levels to match the environment. I mean really that would make an organism exothermic rather than endothermic.

    If the heat levels thing is more about an increased efficiency of venting excess body heat to the environment when the body begins to overheat, or draw in extra heat from the environment when it is threatened by hypothermia I don't see why that couldn't be a natural process.

    Even regrowing relatively simple tails is very strenuous process for lizard, and they don't really return to their previous state.
    That fact is that its possible to regenerate a relatively simple extremity. Thus its should be possible to regenerate a limb. So its not completely beyond comprehension that a humanoid species might be able to regrow an entire limb without loss in function or capability once the regrowth is complete.

    As for genetic superiority, there are a few genetic traits that we could enhance in humans that would create people that have better than average abilities across the board. You'd never get superhumans, but I don't see why engineering in genetics for better health, high metabolism, low muscle fatigue, high intelligence (or rather the predisposition to it), excellent eye sight, never getting aging related diseases such as Alzheimer's, or even extremely low senescence. Depending on how you control the processes related to aging, many of which are thought to be genetic, you could extend human life spans by decades or possibly centuries. There are already complex organisms that can live for extremely long times, tortoises or lobsters for example (some scientists have suggested lobsters might be functionally immortal)
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    Those are engineering superiorities though, not genetic ones.

    Living organisms we know cannot have polymer bodies or regenerate limbs if they are of greater size/complication.

    Even regrowing relatively simple tails is very strenuous process for lizard, and they don't really return to their previous state.
    so are you saying it is impossible, or that it hasn't been done yet? don't for a second think that all possible organisms already exist or have exist.

    besides, isn't keratin (rhino horn, skin, hair, and nails) a polymer? we already have polymers throughout our body. simply replacing them with a stronger one should be relatively simple. as long as the polymer is made of common materials (such as hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen), and can be created through organic processes, there should be no disadvantages to the switch.

    also, an engineered genetic superiority is still a genetic superiority.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    That fact is that its possible to regenerate a relatively simple extremity. Thus its should be possible to regenerate a limb. So its not completely beyond comprehension that a humanoid species might be able to regrow an entire limb without loss in function or capability once the regrowth is complete.

    As for genetic superiority, there are a few genetic traits that we could enhance in humans that would create people that have better than average abilities across the board. You'd never get superhumans, but I don't see why engineering in genetics for better health, high metabolism, low muscle fatigue, high intelligence (or rather the predisposition to it), excellent eye sight, never getting aging related diseases such as Alzheimer's, or even extremely low senescence. )
    If high metabolsim would always be 'better' then billions of people wouldn't have slow metabolism.... Higher storage for periods of malnutrition, better resistance and 'dampening" to all kinds of toxins, and so on.

    Humans already have low muscle genetically, for the cost of being really weak compared to other primates.

    "Better health" is very ambiguous, and as mentioned, mainly dependent on conditions and environment, particularly during childhood.

    "Excellent eyesight" as well depends - humans generally already have very good eyesight - cannot see in such a great detail like birds of prey, but in exchange are very perceptive on closer distances, don't see to well in the dark, but very well in daylight, have vision somehow balanced between linear and peripheral vision and so on.


    All, in all, certainly there are ''unsuccessful' genes out there, and traits that are generally suboptimal in most cases, but one can't getting "better" traits without expense of something else.

    Otherwise earth would be full of super organisms...

    Depending on how you control the processes related to aging, many of which are thought to be genetic, you could extend human life spans by decades or possibly centuries.
    And seeing that Earth ecosystems are already overloaded with mortal humans, very long lived/immortal humans (or any other organisms, really) are not in any way good for environment, and as a result, for humans (organisms) themselves. Animals that large and space requiring must die to make place for next generations.

    So immortality may seem like "superior" trait for individual organism that enjoys living, but it's not so in broader spectrum.
    Last edited by Spiryt; 2012-07-18 at 12:43 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    besides, isn't keratin (rhino horn, skin, hair, and nails) a polymer? we already have polymers throughout our body. simply replacing them with a stronger one should be relatively simple. as long as the polymer is made of common materials (such as hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen), and can be created through organic processes, there should be no disadvantages to the switch.
    Insects have a chitin exoskeleton, which is a polymer that is derived from glucose. That said, most of these creatures kind of have a maximum size based on the square-cube laws. It might be possible to have a relatively large human sized organism covered in chitin, but wouldn't be a quite the same since it is actually quite flexible in large enough quantities.

    Keratin is also a protein that when formed in monomer filaments forms things like hair, nails and some types of horn. Its also found on the outer layer of skin on virtually all vertebrates. You can also find in the walls of some types of fungus.

    As a complete aside polymers already exist in humans. Every single cell in your body contains one: DNA. So polymers isn't really a very good term when discussing this since is applies to a very wide variety of chemical compounds, most of which don't really confirm to the idea of a commercial polymer like PVC or silicone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    "Better health" is very ambiguous, and as mentioned, mainly dependent on conditions and environment, particularly during childhood.
    We aren't talking radical changes in so far as virtual immunity of diseases. If there were a way to engineer out susceptibility to diseases that would be a benefit. For example sickle cells increase resistance to malaria, but with other attendant issues when not dealing with malarial environments. If there were a way to cause that malarial resistance without its attendant drawbacks I'd say that would be an improvement.

    "Excellent eyesight" as well depends - humans generally already have very good eyesight - cannot see in such a great detail like birds of prey, but in exchange are very perceptive on closer distances, don't see to well in the dark, but very well in daylight, have vision somehow balanced between linear and peripheral vision and so on.
    I'd refer to my inability to see more than three metres clearly without glasses as poor eyesight. Birds of prey are probably not a good example since the current idea behind their vision is that the centre of the vision is magnified and the peripheral needs to be used to focus on anything up close. Its why hawks and such will look at you sideways when you're standing close to them.

    That being said some humans have been reported to have eyesight well above the 20/20 standard (most people probably are above this, but its not really tested for since 20 feet or 6 metres is optically identical to infinity for the purpose of lens focusing). I think the highest reports that I've seen was something like 20/5, which is really quite incredible. If you could engineer in that level of vision into every human, and never have them require glasses or other corrective devices wouldn't that be better?

    And seeing that Earth ecosystems are already overloaded with mortal humans, very long lived/immortal humans (or any other organisms, really) are not in any way good for environment, and as a result, for humans (organisms) themselves. Animals that large and space requiring must die to make place for next generations.

    So immortality may seem like "superior" trait for individual organism that enjoys living, but it's not so in broader spectrum.
    Well, I'm not going to argue with current geopolitics and resource consumption, but that really seems more like a problem with culture rather than anything else.

    Other thoughts though regarding genetic improvements are really more removing negative traits (like Alzheimer's for example) or enhancing existing traits. You could improve oxygen transport in the blood. That alone would allow humans to function better in low oxygen environments, and would improve muscle performance.

    I suppose the biggest problem with genetic tinkering is that we don't know how most of biological processes really function beyond the most basic macro levels. For example whether we end up myopic is determined by a variety of things, genetic inheritance from our parents for one, but there may be environmental factors. Recently a study has show 90% of children 18 or younger in Chine, Korea and Japan require glasses of some kind. This can't be purely genetic since similar groups in other parts of the world have much lower levels of requiring corrective lenses. So the suggestion has been that they spend so much time inside doing school related activities they aren't exposed to enough sunlight and thus don't produce as much vitamin D as other geographical groups which is related to the growth of the eyes.

    How could genetic engineering remove the need for glasses, I don't know, but given that there seems to be both purely genetic factors and environmental factors it seems reasonable that a sufficiently advanced knowledge of the processes of eye growth could result in removing the need for corrective lenses.

    Realistically anything to happen I'd think just going with transhuman implants would probably be a easier to achieve. And probably require a whole lot less tinkering to get right.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2012-07-18 at 01:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    besides, isn't keratin (rhino horn, skin, hair, and nails) a polymer? we already have polymers throughout our body. simply replacing them with a stronger one should be relatively simple. as long as the polymer is made of common materials (such as hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen), and can be created through organic processes, there should be no disadvantages to the switch
    Is there any real theory how should cells, fluids, genes, and all that stuff look like if constructed from such stuff?
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    i never said build the whole body from it. i was simply talking about the skeletal system and the skin. but, if you want to take it that far, simply replace collagen with a stronger compound. all tissues in the body become stronger, hopefully with no increase to weight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    1. skeleton (bones, tendons, and ligaments) made of lightweight carbon polymers. half the weight or less of real bone, but stronger than steel. not too many situations where a greater strength to weight ratio is a bad thing. more flexible polymers may lace the skin, as well.
    Bones, tendons and ligaments are made out of a ligthweight carbon polymer. It's called collagen (type I, II and III, depending on which tissue you refer to). Not to mention that the bones, in addition to being protective are "springy" and serves metabolic purposes. The Calcium crystals that give it it's hard surface (put simply, bones are collagen covered in calcium crystals) is also our primary store of the very same calcium that makes muscles able to move (also serves as the emergency dump for all the heavy metals we cannot excrete in time).

    In addition, since bone is the primary contributor of our length it's crucial that the body can expand and replace bone as is needed. So any carbon polymer that's intended to replace it needs to be equally malleable by the human body itself. The primary limitation here being the chemical energy needed to form and break the bonds. If it's higher than bone then we'll grow and recover from injuries much slower.

    Not to mention that we'd probably have to eat a lot more to cover the needs of the carbon skeleton.

    2. skin pigment that deforms based on the amount of vitamin D in your blood. when you are low on D, it opens up, allowing light in. when you have enough D, it closes, protecting you from harmful radiation.
    Awesome idea. I know for a fact this will work. Seeing it's what the body already does. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that regulates the expression of (among others) melanin.

    3. a similar compound channels heat inward when your temperature is low, and outward when your temperature is high, replacing sweat as a means of regulating temperature.
    Again, this is how the body uses the blood to regulate heat. The sweat is merely a way to dissipate it off the body once brought to the surface. It is the blood and muscle movement that is the primary regulators of it.

    4. ability to regenerate lost limbs. how is regaining a lost arm a bad thing, assuming that's as far as the regeneration goes?
    It's not that it's bad. It's that it's tricky. The organisms on earth that do have regeneration either does not need to move or is very small. Personally, my arm here took avout 24 years to grow. Chop it off and it'll take... twentyfour years to replace it. There's billion of cells, several kilograms of extracellular material, almost half a meter of bone (and there's only so many osteoblasts that can fit working on it... and they have to wait for the chondrocytes to finish the "frame" first) and a few meters of peripheral nerves that needs to be properly adjusted to the motoric centre.

    Yes, sure. You could supposedly speed it up. Problem is that speeding cellular division up will a) be hugely demanding in energy b) the same sort of thing that happens in tumors, and c) risks mistakes during replication far more.
    Last edited by Aux-Ash; 2012-07-18 at 02:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Anybody know of a good mapping program for world-building?

    I was using Warcraft III's World-Editor (which works FABulously and I recommend it strongly) but I just got a big fat update on my Mac and the World-Editor no longer works.

    Alternately, if the WE has been updated that would be for the best but I can't seem to find it. There is a strong possibility that my google-fu is weak.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Genetic engineering might well lead other ways first. E.g. (courtesy of C.J. Cherryh) innate mathematical ability, more resistance to toxins, good night vision, and of course height + good looks. Society's definition of good looks will change, but if the engineering took place in one period in the past, they will at least look more similar and probably more symmetrical.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    If you don't mind some real math, I have a question for you:
    I am currently putting the finishing touches onto a magic system that requires a teleport explanation.

    Thus far, I have settled on a 4th spatial dimension, along which distances compress to half every 1 meter (1/4 at +2 and reverses to 2x at -1, etc.) so that teleport is essentially "moving inwards" until the distance is short enough, taking a step, then "moving outwards" again.
    (or making a bag of holding by moving everything inside the bag "outwards" and having a 4D bag; since when you move outwards from the world, distances get bigger)
    (There are some other problems with teleporting people getting no air, but let me handle that)

    The thing is that I don't want to have to deal with complicated 4 dimensional rotations. 4 dimensional surfaces are already bad enough, having to deal with something that is some kind of pole whose extent also goes through the 4th is really really bad.
    Therefore, I came upon the idea that the 4th dimension behaves like a Manhattan grid with respect to the usual 3. So we have a continuous world in 3D, but along the 4th, rotations aren't possible, only translations.

    I would like to ask if this does what I think it does?
    IE. is it true that one cannot rotate in a space where distances are calculated via manhattan distance instead of pythagoras?
    Last edited by jseah; 2012-07-20 at 03:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Unless your players are quantum physicists: yes.

    Because then they'll almost certainly have not the slightest clue what either variant is and how they are different. A mage snaps his finger, it makes *poff* and something appears somewhere else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    i actually have a "zombie" question. remember the zombieland movie, where zombies are caused by mad cow disease jumping to humans? that got me thinking about genetic engineering gone wrong.

    the premise is this:

    some scientist makes a virus that delivers new genetic material/alters existing material, whatever. this new material alters the way humans heal, cutting healing times roughly in half, and allowing limbs and stuff to eventually grow back. there are 2 main drawbacks to this, though.

    1. the brain now regenerates over a period of roughly 6 months, causing memory and skill loss. basically, if you haven't used a particular piece of information in the last 6 months, you don't have it anymore, causing a progressive loss of memory, advanced skills, etc. it wouldn't effect skills used on a regular basis, such as walking, running, or basic tool use, since those get rewritten often enough not to be significantly affected.

    2. the increased healing rates and faster cell replacement drastically increase metabolism, causing a need for large amounts of food.

    the end result: a creature that looks mostly human, but operates at a nearly instinctive level, and is almost always hungry. it would probably take a few days for the first symptoms to show up (increased appetite and/or rapid weight loss), with full transformation taking as much as a year.

    would this be a realistic zombie?
    Pretty sure this is the plotline for I am Legend. Retrovirus inserting DNA into humans that over time alters them to where the uninfected don't even recognize them as humans.

    Maybe explain it as a virus that results in rapid cell regeneration and growth. First noticeable impact will be quicker healing, bigger appetite and metabolism. Over time more and more out of control cell divisions occur, resulting in tumors. Tumors in the brain quickly reduce mental capabilities, ones around the body can result in disfigurement. Reduced vision, dexterity, intelligence, increased strength and constitution. Deformed mad beasts that are hard as hell to get rid of.

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