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Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:06 pm
by Smivs
Ah, but they're hybrids! In my Ooniverse they are proper felines...no human contamination. :wink:

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:03 pm
by Queex
We have all committed a terrible sin of omission:

Image

"So what is it?"

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:27 am
by CommonSenseOTB
Yeah, I'm gonna eat you little fishy, cause I like eating fish. :)

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:20 pm
by ClymAngus
Flagging down a cab and heading for real street here:
There is a certain biological requirement for sentient thought and higher brain function. In a pinch although you can take a chunk of brain away from a human without effecting things too badly, it is preferable to have a brain mass comparable to a human.

More over the ratio of brain to rest of body would have to be relative to that of a human. So your looking at a body that can support a Human like brain, with some redundancy. Which is (funnily enough) about human size.

The main problem with a brain so big (relative to body size) is that it's very tricky for mammals to give birth to them. This would suggest a human solution to the problem (hip wise anyway). So you can start with a functionality wish list and work back from there.

My money is on at least human size (humans come in a range of sizes).

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:05 pm
by SandJ
ClymAngus wrote:Flagging down a cab and heading for real street here:
But the cab only drove you round the block, you're still at home. You may need to widen your horizons.
ClymAngus wrote:There is a certain biological requirement for sentient thought
which is assuming the constraint that all sentient life is made out of meat. But since that is the only kind we know of, it is a reasonable constraint.
ClymAngus wrote: and higher brain function.
Ah. 'Brain'. Just because on Earth we see higher animals having a majority of the processing and memory neurones in one mass which we call a 'brain', does not mean that is the only possible model. Bigger dinosaurs are believed by some to have had more than one brain. If trichordites (a 3 way spinal cord instead of one line) had not died out, how might they have evolved? We have processing and memory neurones in our spines and guts. The 'brain-in-a-head-case' model need not be the only valid model.
ClymAngus wrote:In a pinch although you can take a chunk of brain away from a human without effecting things too badly, it is preferable to have a brain mass comparable to a human.
... if there is a brain.
ClymAngus wrote:The main problem with a brain so big (relative to body size) is that it's very tricky for mammals to give birth to them.
Well, mammals are a very weird and narrow avenue of evolution. These space cats may hatch from eggs. Budding may also be valid, or even growing from spores. Do they go through metamorphosis stages - starting out as cute ickle kitties and eventually becoming alpha predators of immense proportions?
ClymAngus wrote: This would suggest a human solution to the problem (hip wise anyway).
A rubbish method of giving birth. We've really evolved ourselves into a corner here. The pelvis is required to support the weight of the child, then gets in the way. Perhaps space moggies raise their brood of hatchlings attached to their bodies as male anglerfish do the the females. Maybe the young eat the parent, like aphids do.
ClymAngus wrote: So you can start with a functionality wish list and work back from there.
Or almost anywhere.
ClymAngus wrote:My money is on at least human size (humans come in a range of sizes).
You could go to extremes and surgically (or genetically) remove the redundant limbs and hook the ship's controls and sensors straight into neural receptors. In this way only a tiny 'pilot' need remain to fly a ship. (Like Disembodied!)

We may never get to meet a proper alien kitty in space as the normal ones spend all their time on their home planet snoozing in front of fires with pet humans to run round after them.

Just like they do on Earth.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:22 pm
by drew
I always imagined felines more like the way the Kilrathi are portrayed in the Wing Commander series...

Image

Image

Cheers,

Drew.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:05 pm
by ClymAngus
SandJ wrote:
ClymAngus wrote:Flagging down a cab and heading for real street here:
But the cab only drove you round the block, you're still at home. You may need to widen your horizons.
I find your tone lightly acerbic, which is unlike you. I assume you are taking suspension of disbelief and cannon limiting factors into account when you were formulating your reply?

I would enjoy discussing the nature of compelling narrative with you. PM or publicly.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:23 pm
by Wildeblood
ClymAngus wrote:
SandJ wrote:
ClymAngus wrote:Flagging down a cab and heading for real street here:
But the cab only drove you round the block, you're still at home. You may need to widen your horizons.
I would enjoy discussing the nature of compelling narrative with you. PM or publicly.
Publicly, thanks.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:59 pm
by SandJ
ClymAngus wrote:
SandJ wrote:
ClymAngus wrote:Flagging down a cab and heading for real street here:
But the cab only drove you round the block, you're still at home. You may need to widen your horizons.
I find your tone lightly acerbic ...
Ah. That's because you can't hear the highly exaggerated tone of voice I was using when I wrote it down.

Written communication is pants. Or at least, mine is.

No offence was meant.
ClymAngus wrote:... which is unlike you.
That's kind of you to say so.
ClymAngus wrote:I assume you are taking suspension of disbelief and cannon limiting factors into account when you were formulating your reply?
I was assuming that the other sentient life forms we encounter in Oolite (and Elite) had evolved on other worlds. That being so, what we call a "feline" would not be a member of the Earth cat family, but a creature with a furry appearance, claws, big teeth and a character trait for being friendly enough until it rips your face off for no apparent provocation. A 'catoid' if you like. A creature that when we deal with it, makes us think of Earth cats.

Having determined it is off-worldy, then our evolutionary path - determined by atmosphere, mineral proportions, geography and an awful lot of chance encounters with meteorites - is unlikely to apply to the aliens we encounter. Their methods of reproduction, raising young and feeding need not be anything like our own.

Since I believe in evolution and that sentient life could have evolved elsewhere (despite the likelihood of us co-existing with a neighbour contemporaneously is very unlikely), no suspension of belief was required.

Cannon limiting factors also seem not to be a problem. Oolite ships could handle a Jabba the Hut sized ship's captain, or a small lifeform or even an auto-piloted one.
ClymAngus wrote:I would enjoy discussing the nature of compelling narrative with you. PM or publicly.
Oo-er. A google search for "nature of compelling narrative" has not enlightened me. It all seems a bit 'meta'. Does it mean "a plausible story"? If so, then a human-sized, upright, flat-faced, talking cat with stripes on its un-furry face that gets snogged by Capt James T Kirk does not strike me as a compelling narrative. Nor do many of the Star Wars human-sized, conveniently English speaking, walking upright aliens.

We cannot translate dog or whale noises and they are very closely related to us compared to say birds or even funghi and they evolved on our planet.

Give me aliens that did not evolve speech - how many life forms on Earth can speak? Give me aliens that do not walk upright - how many life forms on Earth do that? Give me aliens that do not have opposable thumbs, or breasts, or raise their eyebrows, or four limbs with joints arranged like ours, or soft skin-covered feet. More plausible are ultra-violet sight, infra-red sight, fantastic sense smell, communication outside our hearing range, communication by touch or giving off smells or tapping the ground or changing colour and not breathing oxygen.

If we think a duck-billed-platypus is odd, we're going to have a heck of a shock when we do meet some real aliens!

How big are alien felines? Huge on Arctyporus IV but teeny on Squidgem Beta. But the ones from Sol III are really weird: they vary from kitten-sized to tiger sized.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:03 pm
by ClymAngus
So I can take that as a yes then? :D
Fantastic. It may take me a little time to create an adequate response..........

Actually less time than expected, I can see what's happened here. Our basic understanding is different:

I'm thinking seeded, your thinking evolved. From your stand point everything you said makes absolute sense. As does mine from the seeded perspective.

Net result: we're having a cheese verses sand argument. Which by it's very nature is pointless. :)

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:55 pm
by SandJ
ClymAngus wrote:Our basic understanding is different:

I'm thinking seeded, you're thinking evolved. From your stand point everything you said makes absolute sense. As does mine from the seeded perspective.

Net result: we're having a cheese verses sand argument. Which by its very nature is pointless. :)
I dunno. It depends on how far back the seeding happened as I do wonder about the paths evolution has taken / been made to take on Earth.

What if the dinosaurs hadn't been trashed by a meteorite? Could you have a cold-blooded brain that could do philosophy? Is there any reason why not?

Is having a body with a single brain to do the processing and storing of data the only viable solution?

Is it always going to be a predator that ends up getting to sentience first? Why not a resourceful herbivore? Might it be a 50/50 chance whether the foxes or the rabbits come out on top in the war of cunning?

Could a non-mobile life form (I do worry about what funghi think about) achieve sentience? Would it make progress in science without direct communication?

What other forms of communication are available besides face-to-face speech and waving clubs at one another? Whales communicate for 100s or 1000s of kms through water. Plants communicate over 10s of Kms to warn of grazing elephants in the area. Elephants communicate by stamping on the ground which travels a jolly long way. Could an LED crystal be produced by biological means allowing communication by LED laser? We seem to be incredibly narrow-minded about the "five senses" when we ourselves have 10, 12, 14 or 20 depending on who you ask. And we struggle to comprehend the magnetic, electrical, pressure and other senses creatures around us have. Just what senses could exist? I suspect we are very ignorant in this area.

It is hard to imagine how evolution could occur without asexual reproduction. What alternatives exist? Sloppy, error-prone DNA replication and hordes of young at a time - would that have the same effect?

Is programmed death required for evolution? It appears that way but is it still true once predators have evolved?

Exoskeleton or endoskeleton? Is an exoskeleton really a poor design that prevents advancement? Maybe, but does it prevent sentience, philosophy, took-making? Or no skeleton at all - how long before the octopuses evolved philosophy since they are damn clever critters already?

The "hive-mind" feels implausible to us but when we function at a nation level, particularly in wartime, do we behave any differently from ants and bees? Wouldn't visiting aliens view us as a number of collectives, where lesser beings can be sacrificed for the greater good while the most powerful sit at home and direct the wars? When we scoff at the blind stupidity of the individuals in ant-like and bee-like civilisations in sci-fi, shouldn't we take a good look at ourselves some time?

I wonder about such things in the night and in the bath and have done so for about 35 years. I wonder if I could make a career out of all this worry? Can you get jobs in philosophical alien xenobiology?

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:09 pm
by Disembodied
SandJ wrote:Can you get jobs in philosophical alien xenobiology?
Yes – but not on this planet ...

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:57 pm
by ClymAngus
SandJ wrote:
ClymAngus wrote:Our basic understanding is different:

I'm thinking seeded, you're thinking evolved. From your stand point everything you said makes absolute sense. As does mine from the seeded perspective.

Net result: we're having a cheese verses sand argument. Which by its very nature is pointless. :)
SandJ wrote: I dunno. It depends on how far back the seeding happened as I do wonder about the paths evolution has taken / been made to take on Earth.
Reading your dissection of "the spiral everything" paper earlier. I'm going to be picking my words very carefully indeed.
When it comes to date of seeding we are hit with something of a paradox from the literary evidence and admittedly the conjectural reference material;
http://hughesd.co.uk/elite/index.php/Galactic_Timeline

Earliest you could have FTL transfer of large populations is: 2545
Before this your probably looking at generation ships. Even then your talking unstable unreliable detonate as much as they jump kind of ships. Not the kind of place you send humans to die so yes genetically modified slave animals do make sense for this job.
SandJ wrote:What if the dinosaurs hadn't been trashed by a meteorite? Could you have a cold-blooded brain that could do philosophy? Is there any reason why not?
We have lizard people in the ooniverse, they could be cold blooded. No one has written about it so we don't know.
SandJ wrote:Is having a body with a single brain to do the processing and storing of data the only viable solution?
Given the nature of the ooniverse (pre-galcop) is multiple brain DNA based creatures more or less likely?
SandJ wrote:Is it always going to be a predator that ends up getting to sentience first? Why not a resourceful herbivore? Might it be a 50/50 chance whether the foxes or the rabbits come out on top in the war of cunning?
This is an evolutionary question not a seeding one.
SandJ wrote:Could a non-mobile life form (I do worry about what funghi think about) achieve sentience? Would it make progress in science without direct communication?
This again is an evolutionary question not a seeding one.

SandJ wrote:The rest of it
Look I don't want to be down on your points because they are all good philosophical questions relating to the nature of sentience and evolution. I fail to see their relevance within a (recently) seeded ooniverse.

I would agree with you in relation to the hive mind however, and there is supportable evidence for it. The Thargoids kick ass so the nature of their psychology suggests a hive mentality has distinctive advantages over a human one.

Flights are fancy are fine but the burden of proof will out. Why is it there or why is it not there? You may see the evidence for evolution in the ooniverse I'm not. I feel the argument is much stronger for seeding.

Why is there such a restricted group of sentient creatures in the ooniverse?
Why is it restricted to recognisable (earth bound) animal types?

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:40 pm
by SandJ
ClymAngus wrote:
SandJ wrote:I dunno. It depends on how far back the seeding happened as I do wonder about the paths evolution has taken / been made to take on Earth.
Reading your dissection of "the spiral everything" paper earlier. I'm going to be picking my words very carefully indeed.
That wasn't a dissection - the content of the paper in question is like Mrs SandJ's scrummy twice-cooked steak casserole: no knife is needed as those formidable looking meaty chunks just fall part as soon as you touch them. :)
ClymAngus wrote:When it comes to date of seeding we are hit with something of a paradox from the literary evidence and admittedly the conjectural reference material: http://hughesd.co.uk/elite/index.php/Galactic_Timeline
That's a handy reference source, thank you. I've been trying to work from memory.
ClymAngus wrote:Earliest you could have FTL transfer of large populations is: 2545
Before this your probably looking at generation ships. Even then your talking unstable unreliable detonate as much as they jump kind of ships. Not the kind of place you send humans to die so yes genetically modified slave animals do make sense for this job.
That's a jolly interesting idea. So ... Monsanto probably made a few bucks from that. Genetically modified space engineer wolf, anyone? (Freefall is a favourite webcomic for me. If you want to understand it, read it from the start as it is actually all one long story.)
ClymAngus wrote:Flights are fancy are fine but the burden of proof will out. Why is it there or why is it not there? You may see the evidence for evolution in the ooniverse I'm not. I feel the argument is much stronger for seeding.
I've just never considered the Oolite / Elite universe to have been seeded. If so, we seem to have created competition for ourselves by creating these other sentient species.

Re: Oolite felines...

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:00 pm
by DaddyHoggy
Fantastic discussion guys!

From 1984 onwards I always presumed that Human Colonists in the Elite Universe met with sentient space-faring evolutionary developed creatures that we, in a human-centric view, pigeon-holed into Cat, Rodent, Lobster, Insect etc...

However, I've also quite liked the seeded idea (Star Trek:TNG "The Chase" which was used to reverse engineer why everybody is bipedal and binocular visioned and single brained) as it's neat.

(Although there are billions of stars per galaxy and billions of galaxy - and therefore there should be lots of "habitable" planets - Earth does look to have some fairly "unique" features - lots of water and a large satellite to hold our rotation stably and an iron core to create a decent electro-magnetic field to ward off all those nasty solar particles)

Also, Drew's recent books gave me a plausible explanation to the seeded conundrum within the narrow confines of the Ooniverse.

But I also like the sentient non-brain idea - such as those found in Avatar or even to a certain extent the bugs from "Starship Troopers".

Of course, I may have a different opinion tomorrow...