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accessing the future via the past - tomzdadster - 10-08-2016

hi,

i'm a student of biology who is grateful to encounter world-building contexts which have, through the imaginative extrapolation of scientific principles, achieved some distance from many historical tendencies to anthropomorphize... i love how this process opens doors creatively,

i've read many articles for OA beginners as well as specific entries in the Encyclopedia, but i am still new to OA and don't want to participate by re-hashing old discussions.

i'm wanting to access past discussions, whether they're fiction or not, about things like the original "terra-forming" of the Earth, abiogenesis, the "RNA world" hypothesis, how "evolutionary processes" apply to both living and non-living forms, complexity, "emergent" properties of complex systems, implications for how the work of imagining/explaining the past fuels the work of imagining/explaining the future (and vice versa), the development of life xenobiota et al.

i'm also interested in what's considered "(un)exceptional" in OA, e.g. so far I have the impression that "Garden Worlds" are exceptional in terms of biodiversity and suchlike while the existence of xenobiota generally is less exceptional; i also have the impression that abiogenesis on Earth, as opposed to some other places/times, is (generally?) not portrayed as subject to "alien" and/or "high toposophont" influence.

i'm trying to learn the OA lexicon as i go, and i hope this post hasn't been confusing; if anyone can direct my exploration of OA along the lines laid out above, i'd be even more grateful than i already am.


RE: accessing the future via the past - Dfleymmes1134 - 10-08-2016

Welcome, Tomzdadster!

Well, aside from the search function in the forum and on the website, I think asking people is usually the best way to find discussions- which is precisely what you have done. There's technically more than a decade of forum discussion about OA, but i'm sure we'll find a hard science fiction topic we haven't talked enough about yet.

someone else will answer your questions better than me, I'm guessing.

But we probably haven't discussed Ecology that much.
http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45b19244c3485


RE: accessing the future via the past - tomzdadster - 10-08-2016

(10-08-2016, 10:55 AM)Dfleymmes1134 Wrote: Welcome, Tomzdadster!

Well, aside from the search function in the forum and on the website, I think asking people is usually the best way to find discussions- which is precisely what you have done. There's technically more than a decade of forum discussion about OA....

But we probably haven't discussed Ecology that much.
http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45b19244c3485

Thanks for the encouragement! Diving in......


RE: accessing the future via the past - Drashner1 - 10-08-2016

Hi There! Welcome to OASmile

(10-08-2016, 07:08 AM)tomzdadster Wrote: hi,

i'm a student of biology who is grateful to encounter world-building contexts which have, through the imaginative extrapolation of scientific principles, achieved some distance from many historical tendencies to anthropomorphize... i love how this process opens doors creatively,

Glad you like it! Smile

One of the issues that has occasionally come up over the history of the OA project is whether or not we find our insistence on sticking to 'real world' physics as it is currently understood is restrictive or limiting of our creativity. I would confidently say that very much the opposite is true:

By requiring ourselves to stick to a certain ruleset, it actually forces us to think outside the box and often leads to ideas or takes on ideas that are more unique than what I think we would get if we took a more 'anything goes' approach.

(10-08-2016, 07:08 AM)tomzdadster Wrote: i've read many articles for OA beginners as well as specific entries in the Encyclopedia, but i am still new to OA and don't want to participate by re-hashing old discussions.

TBH it's not uncommon for us to come up with new ideas when an idea gets rehashed. So, if something is really a burning question for you, feel free to askSmile

We really don't mind answering questions as a general rule.

(10-08-2016, 07:08 AM)tomzdadster Wrote: i'm wanting to access past discussions, whether they're fiction or not, about things like the original "terra-forming" of the Earth, abiogenesis, the "RNA world" hypothesis, how "evolutionary processes" apply to both living and non-living forms, complexity, "emergent" properties of complex systems, implications for how the work of imagining/explaining the past fuels the work of imagining/explaining the future (and vice versa), the development of life xenobiota et al.

You're certainly welcome to access past discussions. Much of our older content lives on Yahoo Groups (where I'm sorry to say that Yahoo has managed to fubar access and use to an astounding degree), but if you'd like to look it over, you can request access via the website and one of the staff can make you a member over there.

Regarding the specific topics you raise - while evolution definitely plays a role in various aspects of the setting, I'm not remembering much in the way of discussions or articles around some of the specific points you mention. For others there has been some discussion and development, although not necessarily in a direct way. We have mentions of various cybernetic or biological systems 'evolving' in the setting, and certainly in imagining the earlier parts of the setting we've found various ways that it impacts the 'future' or later part of the timeline leading up to our 'present day' of 10,600AT.

Over and above all of this, there is the definite possibility that we simply haven't delved into these areas as much as we could - in which case you may find yourself opening up the group to whole new areas of thinking and ideas that we haven't explored before - but definitely shouldSmile

(10-08-2016, 07:08 AM)tomzdadster Wrote: i'm also interested in what's considered "(un)exceptional" in OA, e.g. so far I have the impression that "Garden Worlds" are exceptional in terms of biodiversity and suchlike while the existence of xenobiota generally is less exceptional; i also have the impression that abiogenesis on Earth, as opposed to some other places/times, is (generally?) not portrayed as subject to "alien" and/or "high toposophont" influence.

Hm. Garden Worlds are definitely considered exceptional in the setting - although so are xenobiota, albeit to a lesser extent. In both cases, these are exceptional because they are extremely rare in the setting. Xenosophonts are also extremely rare and exceptional.

We do take it pretty much as a given that Earth developed without 'outside' influence, although the Muuh did visit the Sol system some thousands or millions of years ago (they presumably sent some probes to Earth, but probably didn't visit such a hellishly hot and heavy world (by their lights) directly).

Re 'unexceptional' things in the setting...Probably one of the biggest such things (and one that sets us off in some ways from nearly every other SF setting) is how much the use of massive energies and structures is simply taken for granted by people in the setting. In most SF settings, a dyson sphere is treated as the ultimate expression of engineering prowess - the culmination of the technological capability of a civilization. In OA, they are more or less the equivalent of a large city or a hydropower dam. Similarly, OA civs think nothing of taking whole stars apart or remaking planets or creating entire new lifeforms and intelligent races from scratch.

One of the things OA likes to play with is what is life like when things like terraforming or dysons spheres are old hat - just all in a days work as it were - and where do we go from there?

(10-08-2016, 07:08 AM)tomzdadster Wrote: i'm trying to learn the OA lexicon as i go, and i hope this post hasn't been confusing; if anyone can direct my exploration of OA along the lines laid out above, i'd be even more grateful than i already am.

Nope - not confusing at allSmile By all means feel free to ask questions and don't worry about getting flak for using the wrong terms. We've all been new at one point or another and we taken it as read that everyone has a learning curve.

I'm hopeful that some other members may weigh in with suggestions for other sources around the questions you raise above - I may be forgetting something that would be very much in the areas you're interested in.

Hope this helps and once again: Welcome to OA!

Todd


RE: accessing the future via the past - stevebowers - 10-08-2016

Although Earth is not described in OA as being the result of naturally-occurring or directed panspermia, there are examples of both in the scenario; natural panspermia has happened to a limited extent in the cluster M67, for example, and in the Macrystis system, for example. Directed panspermia by aliens has happened in the so-called Garden of Paradise cluster and several other locations. But neither of these processes represent the norm.

In most cases the life that is found on the worlds of the Terragen Sphere has emerged there, from processes of abiogenesis; there are many different routes to abiogenesis, and it seems to be the case that every case of abiogenesis is unique; the number of possible biochemical signatures is so high that there could be a different biochemistry on every planet in the visible universe, purely by chance.


RE: accessing the future via the past - stevebowers - 10-08-2016

I've updated the article on Abiogenesis etc. with some links to articles written since it was first written; Macrystis and M67 for example.
http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/48e8cb5ecb84f


RE: accessing the future via the past - stevebowers - 10-08-2016

OA was established by M. Alan Kazlev, among others; he intended it to concentrate on the future, rather than the past, although we contributors have written extensively on the past since. But he also helped to establish another website purely about the past, which has also become very extensive; Palaeos.

We can of course extend the coverage of the past of the OA universe to any extent we like, but at least some of it is covered there.


RE: accessing the future via the past - Avengium - 10-09-2016

Hi @tomzdadster,

I studied biology too, in my country (Spain). The topics you propose are interesting. You have another person to comment on those topics. Big Grin


RE: accessing the future via the past - tomzdadster - 10-09-2016

Thanks to all of you for your replies!
I gathered my courage and asked for access to the yahoo archive....
Not sure when, but I've run across Palaeos before, and I do like how the summaries can provide a springboard for further thought.
For some reason, I'm identifying with the Muuh.
Is there a current Muuh forum or thread?
I haven't yet found anything which refers to an individual Muuh by name, but there's something about their approach to things like architecture and provolution that speaks to me ... and the fact that they have the time to do things "right," for want of a better word. The Muuh biobot idea also fits in there somehow. I'm thinking that they may use bio(tech) solutions a lot. I could see them using the "natural" genetic engineering/genetic transformation abilities of micro-organisms to create everything from food to art. There's also something about them that says they have a deep sense of humor....
I'm imagining a story of a Muuh traveler who jumps on an iceship to Muuhome with nothing more than a few biobot seeds and a few capsules of concentrated micro-organisms crafted to meet all eir travel needs. Just throw them down in an icy corner, with maybe some nutrient powder, go to sleep for a hundred or a thousand years, and wake up to find that every traveler's desire has been met organically. They could even take advantage of the stages of microbial "evolution" being "faster" than that of lumbering multi-cellular organisms. Pre-defining each stage, perhaps, such that earlier, simpler micro-biota become food sources, or otherwise serve as a foundation, to the increasing genetic and functional complexity of later forms. Think of the variety of intoxicants you could make! Of course, you can't account for everything, so sometimes breakfast has an unexpected taste, but why does it matter? It's all part of the experience, and anyway, you'll be home in a million years or so......
Yeah, I see the Muuh as having almost an intuitive sense for the potential of biotech and all the necessary time to realize that potential. I see them anticipating, engineering, and using the emergent properties of increasingly complex systems, particularly living systems.
Of course that's just me, and I'm obviously new here, but I did get a little excited there..... Need to work on my OA pronouns, though.....


RE: accessing the future via the past - Drashner1 - 10-10-2016

(10-09-2016, 04:48 PM)tomzdadster Wrote: Is there a current Muuh forum or thread?

Not a specific dedicated forum or thread, no. There have been several Muuh threads, but they tend to come and go organically as discussion of the Muuh comes and goes. We don't have any kind of policy or custom against permanent forums or threads, but just tend to find that few topics stay 'top of the collective mind' long enough to really justify it. More often we may make a thread 'sticky' so that we can refer back to it later for some reason. If a Muuh related thread were to see sufficient activity to justify it, we could certainly look at making it 'sticky' to keep it readily accessible. We're also fine if someone wants to pick up an existing thread and post new thoughts to it at any point.

(10-09-2016, 04:48 PM)tomzdadster Wrote: I haven't yet found anything which refers to an individual Muuh by name, but there's something about their approach to things like architecture and provolution that speaks to me ... and the fact that they have the time to do things "right," for want of a better word. The Muuh biobot idea also fits in there somehow. I'm thinking that they may use bio(tech) solutions a lot. I could see them using the "natural" genetic engineering/genetic transformation abilities of micro-organisms to create everything from food to art. There's also something about them that says they have a deep sense of humor....
I'm imagining a story of a Muuh traveler who jumps on an iceship to Muuhome with nothing more than a few biobot seeds and a few capsules of concentrated micro-organisms crafted to meet all eir travel needs. Just throw them down in an icy corner, with maybe some nutrient powder, go to sleep for a hundred or a thousand years, and wake up to find that every traveler's desire has been met organically. They could even take advantage of the stages of microbial "evolution" being "faster" than that of lumbering multi-cellular organisms. Pre-defining each stage, perhaps, such that earlier, simpler micro-biota become food sources, or otherwise serve as a foundation, to the increasing genetic and functional complexity of later forms. Think of the variety of intoxicants you could make! Of course, you can't account for everything, so sometimes breakfast has an unexpected taste, but why does it matter? It's all part of the experience, and anyway, you'll be home in a million years or so......
Yeah, I see the Muuh as having almost an intuitive sense for the potential of biotech and all the necessary time to realize that potential. I see them anticipating, engineering, and using the emergent properties of increasingly complex systems, particularly living systems.
Of course that's just me, and I'm obviously new here, but I did get a little excited there..... Need to work on my OA pronouns, though.....

I have a vague memory of an individual Muuh being mentioned by name somewhere, but can't get it to gel. Maybe someone else will remember more clearly.

The various ideas you suggest are interesting and certainly viable topics of discussion and EG entries. I think the challenge would be to find ways to do it that keep them distinctly different from the Terragens approach (they are aliens after all) and also don't given the impression that their only thing is biotech. There are some Terragen civs that do try to do things that way, but the idea of xenosophonts basing all their tech on biology is an old and well- worn one and we like to try to be a bit different about things where possibleSmile

This is not to say the Muuh shouldn't be described as using a lot a biotech - just that we would want to give thought to how we describe what they do to make it feel more alien and also not like an existing SF trope.

I would suggest posting some specific topics from what you've covered here so that the group can discuss them in more detail with a goal of eventually generating some writeups and additions for the EG.

ToddSmile