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 Post subject: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:56 pm 
Avisaru
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Did magic have any role to play in the development of life on Almea?

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:12 am 
Avisaru
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I'll understand if you don't want to answer with any specifics.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:45 am 
Boardlord
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There's no magical animals (sorry). Almean magic is effected through Powers, and they have no interest in non-sentient animals. (Magicians generally say that they're barely interested in humans, too.)


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:26 am 
Smeric
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What about the Iliu? I recall reading somewhere that they had psionic powers of some sort, which certainly sounds like a magical ability.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:22 pm 
Avisaru
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Psionic powers...iliu...

TOO MANY DEMOSHI...CREATE MORE KTUVOKI
THE SWAMP CLUSTER IS UNDER ATTACK

...seriously, create an Almea Starcraft mod, somebody...


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:34 pm 
Sanci
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Řotoštë scaleia vespinei...

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:48 pm 
Boardlord
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Eddy wrote:
What about the Iliu? I recall reading somewhere that they had psionic powers of some sort, which certainly sounds like a magical ability.


But it isn't one. That's a natural ability, for iliu.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:56 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
But it isn't one. That's a natural ability, for iliu.


I know little about physics or biology, but such an ability does sound rather hard to accommodate within the bounds of either as I understand them. Although it may depend on whether Almea has some different physics from our own universe.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:03 pm 
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Why? I have psionic powers myself. Merely by thinking, I can cause matter to lift up, move— indeed, I've developed the ability to move multiple things at once, in rather complex ways. I bet you can do the same; some of these powers are called "walking", "typing", "swimming", etc.

You're quite certain that you know the limitations of such psionic powers in all possible worlds?


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:22 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
Why? I have psionic powers myself. Merely by thinking, I can cause matter to lift up, move— indeed, I've developed the ability to move multiple things at once, in rather complex ways. I bet you can do the same; some of these powers are called "walking", "typing", "swimming", etc.

You're quite certain that you know the limitations of such psionic powers in all possible worlds?


It would depend, I suppose, on whether Almea has the same physical laws as our own world whether psionic powers would face similar limitations. I always assumed it did have the same physics as Earth apart from the Powers floating around in the background, in which case projecting visions as you describe them would prove rather difficult.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:24 pm 
Boardlord
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Even in science fiction, limiting aliens to "stuff that humans can do" is neither interesting nor scientific.

(Psionic powers are an old theme of sf, and really I can think of several ways to implement them without changing physical law. That human brains don't happen to use them is of no relevance.)


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:09 pm 
Boardlord
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Also....read this article and see if you still think that sharing mental images is against the laws of physics.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:07 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
Also....read this article and see if you still think that sharing mental images is against the laws of physics.


Eh, that requires some pretty advanced technology just to get a very rough impression. That seems quite a long way from evolving such an ability through biological components alone, let alone to the degree that you can easily share visions.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:20 pm 
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You're a doofus. Did you even know that this technology was available before tonight? Now you're an expert on what might evolve on another planet?


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:58 pm 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
You're a doofus. Did you even know that this technology was available before tonight? Now you're an expert on what might evolve on another planet?


Not really calling myself an expert. It just strikes me as somehow farfetched to get all the components necessary to evolve naturally. They would need some way of producing EM waves (as nothing else comes to mind as a way to transmit the visions) of incredible precision and some equally complicated way of turning those waves back into neurological impulses. I don't even know how humans could receive this vision since they would almost certainly lack the necessary organs to convert the EM waves. Unless this concept uses something even more esoteric than EM radiation to transmit visions.

Please don't take this as an attack on your conworld or anything. I am not trying to demolish the concept of the Iliu or their ability to transmit visions as you describe it. Something about it just sounds farfetched to me within the constraints of terrestrial biology and physics.

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:45 am 
Boardlord
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I don't mind criticism; this is just dumb, unimaginative criticism. You're right that electromagnetism would be one way of transmitting the information. But then you seem to stop thinking. Did you even wonder if any earthly animals are capable of, say, generating magnetic fields, or light? (Hint: yes, they can.) Or how much bandwidth would actually be required? (Hint: not much.) Did you spend five seconds trying to think of transmission besides light? (Hint: how does a bat echolocate?)


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:57 am 
Smeric
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zompist wrote:
I don't mind criticism; this is just dumb, unimaginative criticism. You're right that electromagnetism would be one way of transmitting the information. But then you seem to stop thinking. Did you even wonder if any earthly animals are capable of, say, generating magnetic fields, or light? (Hint: yes, they can.) Or how much bandwidth would actually be required? (Hint: not much.) Did you spend five seconds trying to think of transmission besides light? (Hint: how does a bat echolocate?)


Well sorry then, I was not even necessarily trying to criticize your work. I just thought the notion of projecting visions indistinguishable from reality implied magic since it has no precedent on Earth apart from cutting edge technology. If my speculation is hopelessly off the mark, though, then how does the Iliu vision projection work and how could it have evolved naturally?

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:32 am 
Boardlord
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Unprecedented? Jeez, Eddy, use your brain. By that I don't just mean "think a little harder"; I mean "think about what your brain does". It's a lump of unattractive gray tissue about the consistency of tofu, which has the interesting ability that it can host cognitive abilities. For instance, when bits of it are fired by electrical currents, these are transformed by an insanely complicated computing network into another set of electrical currents; we call this "seeing".

Maybe you don't see the connection yet... after all, we just "see" what the optic nerve brings in, right? But no, no optic input is required; other bits of the brain can produce the same kinds of input. We call different forms of this "remembering", or "visualizing", or "dreaming". Think about that for a moment: one bit of brain can create a detailed and convincing sensory image for another bit of brain. What you called "unprecedented" is an everyday occurrence within your own brain.

As the link I gave you showed, these electric storms in the brain are physical phenomena which can be externally detected, and in impressive detail. Don't just dismiss this as "technology"; technology is just a subset of physics— in this case, magnetism. A number of earthly animals can sense magnetism just as we can sense sound or light.

There's nothing physically that would prevent us from developing technology to match the iliu ability— especially if we could modify the brain a bit. The fMRI technique is crude, because it's using externally detectable by-products of the electrical ministorms; the data could be captured easier and more precisely within the brain. Transmit the data to the second brain and induce similar currents, and you've got it. The head of Steve Jobs will be announcing it at MacExpo in a couple hundred years.

What technology can do, biology could do, even if it doesn't happen to do so in St. Charles County. Humans are probably a fairly bad predictor for what sentient species are like in general.


Bottom line: psionic powers are plausible enough for science fiction.

On a meta-narrative level, they're also a traditional subject in sf, treated as science, not magic.

Fantasy has different rules, of course; some authors have the equivalent of psionics as magic. But this isn't necessary, and by choice I limit the amount of magic on Almea.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:41 pm 
Smeric
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How much the evolutionary history of Almea have in common with that of Earth, by the way? The existence of so many species and entire ecosystems very similar to those on Earth would suggest some unavoidable parallels. Does the existence of birds on Almea, for instance, imply that dinosaurs or something functionally equivalent to them once lived on the planet? And what happened to them if they did?

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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:09 pm 
Lebom
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If I remember correctly, Zompist said that there were no equivalents to terrestrial reptiles on Almea. But, still evolutionary processes tend to fill niches, so if there was a "dinosaur niche," it's not impossible or unlikely that such large land animals existed. Consider Zompist's allusions to Almean giants.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:14 am 
Boardlord
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Almea is designed so that Eretald, the initial focus of attention, is reasonably similar to Europe. It humans are very much like ours-- as in most fantasy books. Animals and plants are similar, though I don't have a reason to make them identical, so there are differences. If you recall my discussion of steaks vs. matwakos, I've used terrestrial terms for Almean plants and animals. But this is for narrative convenience.

Outside Eretald you get stranger things; my approach is a little more like sf than fantasy. On a metanarrative level, it's OK to be more exotic here, because these areas are exotic to Verdurians too.

Convergent evolution will produce similarities in some but not all areas. There's a reason fish, dolphins, and plesiosaurs all have a similar shape; also why birds, bats, and pterodactyls look somewhat alike. (You can't apply this all over, though: nothing on other continents looks quite like a kangaroo.) There's no necessity that Almean birds descended from reptiles.

Only people who really like taxonomy should pursue contaxonomy. Some things are more important than others in conworlding, and I think conbiology is fairly low on the list.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:27 pm 
Lebom
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Eddy wrote:
Not really calling myself an expert. It just strikes me as somehow farfetched to get all the components necessary to evolve naturally. They would need some way of producing EM waves (as nothing else comes to mind as a way to transmit the visions) of incredible precision and some equally complicated way of turning those waves back into neurological impulses. I don't even know how humans could receive this vision since they would almost certainly lack the necessary organs to convert the EM waves. Unless this concept uses something even more esoteric than EM radiation to transmit visions.


You realize that visible light is EM radiation? And that humans, along with nearly every terrestrial and some aquatic species, can easily convert this radiation into neurological impulses? As a matter of fact, some species can "see" different sections of the electromagnetic spectrum: Honeybees can see ultraviolet, and many snakes can see infrared. It seems entirely possible that an animal, advanced or not, could transmit and or receive any given portion of the EM spectrum. And those organs that the Iliu are almost certainly lacking in? They're called eyes.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:10 pm 
Lebom
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I think the point being raised here, which was what Eddy was trying to address, was the credibility of a very particular form of psionic ability. The field of Psionics addresses, more specifically, the ability to manipulate external objects with the mind alone. Using another organ or set of organs physically connected to the brain to pick something up and move it around is one thing. Bending a spoon merely by looking at it, or causing a fired torpedo to stop in mid-air, then explode, merely by staring at it, is another. Without throwing around the simple narrow-minded negating criticisms like "no, it can't," I feel the query of exactly how such an ability is supposed to work is not without merit. And so far, from what I know, no one has either seen or been able to explain such abilities as telepathy, telekinesis and clairvoyance. So, if everyone is generally aware that such abilities are impossible from a scientific standpoint, then what are they doing in Science Fiction?


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:30 am 
Boardlord
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Did you not read my responses? Far from being impossible, every aspect of iliu abilities is directly attested in some form. Mental activities affecting matter, check. Analysis of brain activity from outside the body, check. Electrical waves passing through the air, check.

In my SF novel, people have neurimplants, electrical devices implanted in their brains which include wireless connections to other devices. This is only slightly beyond humans with HUDs and earphones.

Science has busted up a lot of sf, but this isn't one of those cases.


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 Post subject: Re: Evolution on Almea
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 2:36 am 
Niš
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Hmmmm... why isn't the conbiology important to Almea to some extent?


Personally, I find myself having a lot of trouble writing about my world, Eurydice (which I am yet to post a topic on) without knowing the details of the biology. Assuming everything to be Earth-like can be rather boring.


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