Writer's Block: Going boldly

If you could be any Star Trek character, who would you be, and why?

Q. I would rather enjoy being a god - like entity and using the universe as my own personal plaything. I would spend more time making my own worlds and universes, though. Q is the one with infinite power and eternal life so who else would be better?

If I am to choose a member of an Enterprise crew, that would be a little more difficult. Data or Spock would be my first choices. Data does not age - that is a plus - but I would not carry on his quest to be like humans.

An Interesting Thought

I had an interesting thought, a scenario that would make for a good short story premise, and would be incredibly ironic were it to actually take place;

An extrasolar planet is discovered in an area of space not more than a few light - years from Earth in an orbit that would place it at the right distance from its star for Terra - compatible temperatures. Its size and atmospheric pressure also lend themselves to habitability to terrestrial life. As technology advances, it becomes possible to more closely examine the planet and it is discovered that (along with liquid oceans) the atmosphere is Earthlike. A habitable planet has been discovered!

Some time in the future, it has become possible to travel to this planet. This is only possible because humanity has managed to develop sustainable technology and an environmentally responsible civilization. Earth has been (at least mostly) repaired, and humans have actually begun to spread into space. The prospect of colonizing this planet is very inticing, but there is the question of whether or not this planet is safe to live on, since the presence of oxygen and the absence of carbon dioxide on a world whose chemistry otherwise suggests it should have a carbon dioxide atmosphere denotes the existence of abundant life.

An exploratory mission to the planet is conducted and it is quickly discovered that there is abundant life, but that the planet had far more life and biodiversity just a few centuries before. In addition, the planet used to have technologically advanced civilization. However, most of the now extinct life, including the technological species, were anaerobic and therefore adapted to use carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. In fact, oxygen was toxic to them. It is also discovered that the planet used to be extremely hot - too hot for human habitation. Their technology, however, produced enormous amounts of oxygen and actually drained carbon. The (cosmo/astro)nauts are very confused. The inhabitants literally terraformed the planet for Earth colonists, killing themselves and most of their life in the process. They went extinct from oxygen contamination and catastrophic global cooling.

It doesn't take long to discover what actually happened. The oxygen and carbon sequestration were unintentional by - products of the technology they used, particularly for energy production, industry, and transportation. Around the planet, evidence of technology that could have prevented the disaster is discovered, but it was never widely used. The civilization had over 100 years to prevent this from happening, but did not take action in time. Once the planet started cooling, it led to a runaway decline in temperature, and soon it caused positive - feedback effects that generated more oxygen. The "pollution" of these beings is what makes the planet habitable to humans.

After discovering the life remaining on the planet not to be infectious to Terran organisms, the planet is colonized. The technology of the extinct civilization is adopted by humans for use in terraforming in Sol System.

In an alternate parallel universe, the extrasolar planet overcomes its environmental problems, develops the alternative technologies, and their world remains hot and carbon dioxide - rich. To the amazement of their astronomers, a planet just like their own is discovered in a nearby G - class yellow - star system. Their explorers discover that the third planet from its sun is perfect for colonization, but unbelievably, the inhabitants destroyed their own species making the world habitable for them. After discovering that the surviving life on Earth is save to coexist with, the aliens decide to colonize Earth, and use human technology to alter other world for their colonization projects.

Neither civilization detects the other's signals in either universe because of an unknown source of interference between them.

This is one of the two universes.

New Planet

I have recently found myself developing a new world, not for any particular story, but just for its own sake. I have been thinking of elements of this world for some time now, and I am now putting them together. A major feature of the world is similar to something brought up in a  post by fayanora  in which a world orbits a star in a binary system and passes between them in its orbit. This world is similar in that it is in a trinary system with a central white star (not large enough to be called a white giant, but larger than Sol) and two orange dwarves.

The stars pull the planet into a highly eliptical orbit, but the main effects are the geological activity caused by the tidal forces and the radical seasonal climate of this world. Volcanic and seizmic activity is constant. What caused so much catastrophe in Japan last month is a normal day there. There are volcanoes everywhere, and there is no part of the planet where you will not find lots of hydrothermal vents.

In addition, because of the eliptical orbit and the lack of axial tilt, seasons are the same in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Because of the air and water currents, the temperature difference in latitude is not as great as on Earth. In summer the planet is hot enough to make Death Valley seem cool.   At the end of summer there is a massive planetwide storm causing global flooding. Then there is a brief sub - summer (a severely hot summer by Earth standards) and then the first of four separate but short winters. Before each there is a massive superstorm which freezes the planet. It is somewhat similar to the storms in the film "The Day After Tomorrow". Immediately afterward, there is a return to mild weather. At the end of the first (and third) winter, when it is closer to one of the dwarves, there is a shift to moderately hot weather, then another winter. At the end of the second (and fourth) winter, there is a sudden heat wave, and another episode of flooding. The waters drain quickly, though, and then there is the long summer. There are two super - summers, two less extreme summers, four winters (really, just sudden freezes and then the recovery period), and two inter - winter "sub - summers" a year, but the extreme summers are longer than all of the other seasons combined. In the winter, the oceans freeze. In the summer, temperatures can get over 80 Celcius/176 Fahrenheit, from the equator to the poles.

The planet is tropical except for about 1 percent of the year, so all life just goes dormant for that period, or takes refuge underground. The entire planet is a honeycomb of caves, and most are extremely warm due to hydrothermal vents. The planet has extremely variable topography. The tallest mountains reach more than 25 miles, and there are areas of the ocean that are equally deep. There are a lot of strange rock formations, and much of the surface looks almost like the interior of a cave, but scaled up. There are vertical fomations which look almost like stalagmites, but they are the size of skyscrapers. There are also a lot of "mushroom mountains", inverted rock formations created by sediment accumulating in a massive hydrothermal vent. Essentially, the whole planet is Yellowstone meets the rainforests of northern Australia, meets the Amazon, meets Hawaii, in terms of geology and climate.

In terms of biology, it is in some ways very different than Earths, but in other ways it is very similar. If the first organisms on Earth had taken a different path, perhaps they would be the same. The kingdoms are mostly different. There is an entire kingdom for chemoautotrophs, and they are macroscopic. There are chemoautotrophs that are as large as trees, but they look more like some types of coral. These live both underwater and on land. There are large photoautotrophs, plant analogs, but they are a lot more colors than green, since the light is constantly changing color due to certain biologically - produced particulates in the air. There are organisms which are both chemoautotrophs and photoautotrophs, and there are bacteria - analogs which are more like depictions of nanotech swarms; they propel themselves through the atmosphere or oceans, and display collective intelligence (comparable to the average large mammal). There are two animal - analog kingdoms; one that is comparable to animals in the sense that it is heterotrophic and mostly motile, and another that is motile but still autotrophic. There is also a kingdom of organisms that switch from motile to sessile and vice versa, and tend to rely on symbiosis with other organisms. These are somewhere between plants, animals, and the large chemosynthetic organisms.

There are lots of intelligent and technological species. There are many species with technology as advanced as that of humanity or more. Over time, these species have formed a single global "civilization of civilizations", much like the modern global society on Earth. The difference is that this society is 1.) environmentally sustainable, 2.) polyspecific, and 3.) more advanced than humanity in some ways, most notably biotechnology, large - scale engineering, and (in some ways) spaceflight.

I still have not come up with a name for this planet. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind the name Xuxa emerged (with that particular spelling), but I looked it up just to find out if I had heard it somewhere, or if I had just come up with it and forgot (since it sounds Mayan) and it turns out that it  is actually a name in some parts of Latin America, so I am back to the drawing board.

There is a lot more I have come up with concerning this little planet, but I am going to get some sleep for now.

(no subject)

Every sci-fi film or television show depicting an alien invasion shows the same pattern; an armada of huge spaceships, often over a mile wide, descending over major cities and then leveling them using directed-energy weapons before deploying mechanized battle vehicles or soldiers. This is essentially a more high - tech version of human battle tactics. The main purpose for showing this scenario is to set up the human victory which always results at the end. Besides the technological advantages of any intelligence capable of reaching Earth, there is another reason that an alien invasion would not be averted by humans - the way it would occur in the first place.

The most likely scenario would be a swarm of self - replicating machines which would either 1.) convert everything in the Solar System into more members of the swarm, making no distinction between Earth and its biology and everything else in the system or 2.) convert the Solar System into a massive megascale habitat, perhaps a Dyson Sphere, to function as a Matrioshka brain for an AI or as a habitat for colonists to arrive later. Another scenario is a megascale spacecraft which  would carry an entire ecosystem and could either convert mass in the Solar System into megascale habitats, or simply terraform the worlds to accommodate its biology. Another possibility is an ecology of space - adapted living organisms, such as Dyson trees, drifting into the system and literally ensnaring Earth. There are many more possibilities, but their common thread is that humans would likely not even recognize the phenomenon, let alone be able to stop it.

There is also the possibility that an alien invasion would not be in any way perceptibly harmful to humans, though it may remove free will. There is no way to predict the ethics of an alien intelligence. Perhaps extraterrestrial intelligence would have standards of "humane captivity". If this is the case, with such advanced technology, they would most likely create an experience for humans (and other Terran organisms) which would be percieved as an improvement over present reality. An artificial human habitat, particularly if constructed as part of a megascale habitat, may appear as a paradise, eden, utopia, or heaven.  I even imagine such an event being percieved as of religious significance, such as the rapture. There is also the possibility of a "matrix" scenario, in which humans are actually unaware that this has occurred.

More likely, though, such an invasion will never happen. There are two reasons for this. The first is the lack of any need for such an invasion. All of the resources needed by any civilization are available in the form of other worlds, celestial bodies (asteroids, comets), particles in space, systemless stars, and nebulae. There is, simply put, enough to go around. The second reason is that if any species is hostile and warlike, it will develop the technology to destroy itself so long before developing interstellar space travel that it will likely destroy itself if it goes that long without losing those traits.

Likely, megascale engineering capable civilizations will expand and consume lifeless worlds. Living worlds will be "conserved" but intelligent species may be given the option of voluntarily joining artificial intelligence virtual worlds, megascale habitats, if they contain their homeworld's biosphere in a particular section, etc.


(no subject)

Gacked from various people...

If there is one person or more on your friends list who makes your world a better place just because they exist and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.

2011 plans (things to be started this year)

It is a new year, and even though it is an artificial transition specific to a single human calendar, I still value the symbolism. 2010 was not the best year in terms of getting things accomplished. I have developed greatly in the last year, partially in the process of acknowledging the reasons for my lower productivity. I have a rather large agenda which I will be posting more about.

I have made some additions to my academic plans. I will be graduating from my Master's program this summer. I will either be starting on my Ph.D. or working for a year in the Forest Service. My research area of interest is succession in forest ecosystems and regeneration of forests, specifically in reforestation. I have a particular interest in tropical forest regeneration. This is an environmental management approach which is recieving more attention, as it is beneficial not only for biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration, but also for carbon sequestration. I have decided to specialize specifically in research in the effects of reforestation. My Master's thesis is not specific to restoration ecology but I will conduct my Doctoral Dissertation in forest restoration ecology. I did an internship in tropical ecology as an undergraduate, and the area of research was the comparative species diversity and composition of primary and secondary tropical forest. I plan on eventually designing and managing reforestation efforts. I am going to incorporate computational modeling and GIS into my research. I am interested in developing models of forest ecosystems to analyze effects of secondary forest and to help develop better methods of forest restoration.

I have also decided on very long - term and large scale undertakings that I have been considering for a long time but have decided to actually commit myself to. These are based on ideas and deep interests, concerns, and passions I have held for a very long time. I believe that it is my purpose to make a positive impact on the state of the planet and the Autistic community. These are not specific to 2011, I do not expect any of this to be done this year. It is something I will be working on throughout my life. I have simply decided for sure that these undertakings are things I want to pursue.

I have a number of green inventions which I have designs for but have not done anything with. I don't know how much they could be developed, but I have decided to work to get them patented and to produce and distribute them if possible. They are all practical and many of them would be easy to produce. I have a number of environmental restoration/remediation methods as well, and I have decided to implement them. I am going to compose more detailed descriptions of them, and then it will be a matter of getting support (financial and labor) for the implementation, or working with an existing organization.

I have another idea which has been inspired by a deep passion that I have not previously known how to apply to real - world action: I see that there are Aspie/Autistic communities online and organizations which are active online and IRL, but I would be interested in seeing an Aspie/Autistic "society", basically a hybrid of a fraternity (in terms of networking and support) and a physical community (living together or in close proximity). It obviously would work differently than the usual examples of the above community types, but I think it would be extraordinarily beneficial. The most important aspect is that it would empower the Autistic community as a whole, as the main purposes of this network would be to promote the advancement of the Autistic community as a whole and to provide places, both online and in real life for people on the spectrum to be (or hopefully live) around more like - minded and understanding people. I would like to see how many others would be interested in this idea. It would be wonderful to create such a community.

Bringing my thoughts together

Everything has come together. I am now doing all of the things I had been putting off and working ten times faster than before. The problem was not too many things to do, or knowing where to start, because these things tend to grow organically. I have a natural starting point and it guides itself from there. It seems that there was a problem with the way my ideas were "interacting" in my mind. Basically, everything has to be in the same world to a certain extent. Any mental process I do for one creative work has to be able to contribute something to any other. That is why if I am writing a fictional story, there has to be a consistency with the science I know, and why it is important that I am creating ideas (real world or fictional) that pertain to something I am learning, in order to keep it in the same context. It gets a little more complicated than that. I have to make my inner world such that all content can be "in the same place". Since my mind works as a universe model, that essentially means I have to do a worldbuilding exercise, to make fictional ideas, scientific fact, and ideas that are applicable in the world coexist. I will go into that in a later post, but the point is, I had a different dilemma than I thought and I have come up with a permanent way to make my mind more efficient. It may be unusual, but it works for me.

So much in my world...

It has been a long time since I have made any posts. The reason: Input overload. Basically, I have been learning, reading about, and researching so many things that I don't know what to discuss first. This is the reason that creative activity has been at a minimum. I am still questioning where to begin. Despite the things to do in grad school, including my thesis research, I decided at the beginning of this semester that I will start several creative endeavors (with no deadline, the point is the process itself) including a science fiction story, a worldbuilding project (the universe(s) of the story), and what I can best describe as a compilation of futurist/technological ideas. So far, not much progress on any and I don't want to put them off any longer, but the question is where to start, especially since many of the ideas are years old. There are a lot of things that I remember but have not written down except for very disorganized notes on my computer or in a couple of spirals (yes I use paper sometimes). I have two ways of going about any thought process. Either I start with a larger objective in mind - developing a large thought "structure", like a story, world, design, research project, etc. or I discover something really interesting, learn everything I can about it, and then produce something from it or include it in a creative process already under way (output from input). Anyway, both are happening right now, so there is a "traffic jam" in my head and I am not sure what to create from all this input first.

I think I will just stick to the projects I mentioned and save anything interesting I come up with on the side in the form of "quick" notes for later. A pre - planned project gives me somewhere to start, at least. I have a bad habit of changing my mind about what to focus on, especially when I know I have to budget my time carefully.