Plasm

Multipurpose biological material, sometimes described as biotech utility fog.

Plasm
Image from Steve Bowers

Biotechnic effector technology used by many bioist polities in place of more conventional utility fog and angelnet systems.

Plasm is constructed of an entire array of "Synthetic omnE-morphic Lifeforms" or SELs all operating together in a pseudo-ecological symbiosis. Individual SELs are complex bionanotechnic devices capable of reconfiguring their internal structure to produce a variety of useful effects and materials such as:

  • Bioluminescence
  • Changes in color, both stable and variable
  • Generation of chitin, bone, wood, shell, and keratin
  • Biological adhesives, waxes, water repellent coatings, and silk-like fibers as well as various other biological products and substances.
  • Synthesis and absorption of various chemicals and chemical compounds
  • Generation and storage of bio-electric charges and currents
In addition to their individual properties, SELs can also alter their external structure into contractive, tensile, non-compressive or fine-grain conductive forms which link into muscles or connective/supportive tissues and forms similar to neural nets. Together these tissues form a number of useful configurations and if necessary can be provided with a supply of nutrients and feedstock and detached from the main plasm mass to operate independently for a limited period of time, returning periodically to any of numerous interface ports scattered throughout the area to be "recharged." Such bio-bots are a normal sight in areas where plasm technology is used and may range in size from microscopic to massive, depending on their function.

Plasm may be used to create habitable structures. SELs can be transported into a given area and then configured to grow structures of wood, bone, shell, chitin, or even hybrid constructs combining properties of all four. Such "living buildings" will often not only be constructed using plasm but also incorporate it into their internal systems, using the technology to provide temperature control, illumination, and various internal services from data links, to plumbing, to self-modifying furniture.

Plasm can also be used as a low to mid-grade interface for the receipt and transmission of data. Linked to local communication and computronium resources, plasm SELs can configure themselves to form photosensitive structures, operate like pixels in a high-definition color display, or form multi-frequency vibrating tympani for the transmission and receipt of sound. Using their chemical sensory and synthesis capabilities, SELs can receive and generate virtually any combination of scents and pheromonal structures, making plasm especially well suited for use by those sophonts and clades that prefer such olfactory languages as G'slaw or Arumdure.

Using this wide range of interface options, plasm can be controlled in a variety of ways. Most commonly a user will issue commands via voice or DNI implant which are received by specialized input devices distributed around the area for this purpose (although gesture based command protocols are available for some basic functions and are popular with a significant minority of users). These devices in turn translate the commands into the system control protocols used by the plasm itself. Plasm uses a combination of control protocols, with primary control being managed by a sub-function of the systems ability to configure individual SELs into neural structures. As a given unit of plasm moves and configures itself, it automatically causes a certain percentage of its SEL structure to combine into neural control systems that transmit and relay command signals sent from the external interface units. In effect, the plasm grows its own nervous system while in operation and then modifies and adjusts that system as the plasm itself reconfigures itself from task to task. Secondary command protocols are handled by compact "messenger cells" which encode information in artificial pseudo-DNA structures and are then pumped by the plasm's internal material transport systems to control nodes scattered throughout the plasm mass.

Under some circumstances, plasm may be configured to transmit and receive control commands directly, often in areas or situations in which the normal associated infrastructure of plasm transport arteries and external command nodes are not available. In this case the plasm will usually grow one or more biobots specialized for user interface functions and use them to relay commands to and from dedicated stand-alone command structures grown by the plasm for the purpose.

Plasm requires a regular supply of nutrients and feedstock to operate effectively. This is normally provided from centralized reservoirs and transported as a sub-function of the plasm itself. A percentage of the SEL units in a given volume of plasm configure and combine to form a "circulatory system" of pumping organs, arteries, valves, diffusion layers, and protective membranes, all for the purpose of transporting and storing the "blood" that provides the plasm with the energy and materials to carry out its function.

In some light duty applications, plasm may configure itself to extract energy from local supplies of sunlight or decaying organic matter. Large-scale "industrial" applications may necessitate the introduction of specialized "bio-reactors" and materials transport stations to maintain energy and feedstock supplies at sufficient levels.

Plasm is especially popular in those polities and civilizations that prefer biotechnology to more conventional "dry tech" devices. It is used most famously throughout the Zoeific Biopolity and in the Gyanti system in the Utopia Sphere, as well as in any number of bioist or bioist leaning civilizations scattered across known space.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner

Initially published on 23 June 2006.