Roleplaying Video Games Entertainment & Media Politics & World
General Spirituality & Philosophy Worldbuilding Creative Forum
The Sports Center Science, Math, & Technology The Nostalgia Forum Sexuality
Community feedback needed: add_comment New add_comment New request

Science, Math, & Technology

Ultimate cellular animal

Posted Over 12 Years ago by jseamus

[unparsed][b:8c19cd9983][u:8c19cd9983]The Problem:[/b:8c19cd9983][/u:8c19cd9983]

For a while now, I have been trying to come up with the perfect cellular organism. The gods in my worlds are often physical, and therefore need bodies. These bodies need to fit several criteria: practically immortal and able to regenerate from immense damage; incredibly strong and able to absorb, convert, and direct immense amounts of energy (each gods body ought to show up on the Kardashev scale); mental capacity well above that of the average human.

One other criterion is that these bodies resemble, or at least have the capacity to resemble, human bodies in some ways. They must be cellular. They must be limited by the known laws of physics. Beside these criteria and preferences, I am rather open about what these creatures are like.

Just one more thing: These gods are in no way weakened or strengthened by the beliefs of any individual or party. I know that trope is becoming quite popular, but I have never been a great fan of it.

[b:8c19cd9983][u:8c19cd9983]Some possibilities:[/b:8c19cd9983][/u:8c19cd9983]

[u:8c19cd9983]"Highly evolved" humans:[/u:8c19cd9983] Assuming that no major setbacks interfere, human technology will eventually reach a point where it can facilitate immortality, near-light travel (or possibly something better), and other miraculous effects. The humans who would live in this kind of world would probably fit my criteria.

[u:8c19cd9983]"Highly evolved" aliens:[/u:8c19cd9983] This option is preferable. I am looking for a situation where evolutionary forces create a species that fits my criteria. What that situation would entail, I don't know.

[b:8c19cd9983][u:8c19cd9983]Also:[/b:8c19cd9983][/u:8c19cd9983]

What kinds of selective pressures would promote the evolution of a race of [i:8c19cd9983]benevolent[/i:8c19cd9983] gods? Under what circumstances could a race of purely benevolent creatures (gods or otherwise) evolve at all without falling prey to other more pragmatic species? Think [i:8c19cd9983]The Selfish Gene[/i:8c19cd9983].

Any possible solutions or pointers?

-----
[b:8c19cd9983]EDIT: poll deleted.[/b:8c19cd9983]

There are 18 Replies


[unparsed]I don't think this really works as a poll; the answers are not really distinct from each other, as there's too much grey area in between.

Aside from that, to the point:



In biology, there can't really be super organisms that are evolutionarily viable- this because of any number of viruses, bacteria, and cancer (which is an innate problem in any multicellular organism), and the simple limits of material physics and chemistry.

If you change one factor, you lose out on others.

For example: Super healing? Either epic cancer risk, or very fast aging.


There are ways around it, though. For one, you will probably want to separate the brain and the body- this will allow the body to heal and regenerate faster (and have a short life), while the brain can be easily transplanted from body to body, encased in some placental-like barrier (itself unable to regenerate much at all).

I could imagine selective pressures that could create a symbiosis like this.


If it's an alien species, some form of plastic surgery upon the body, or prosthesis, could make them resemble humans.

If you want shape shifting, that will come at the cost of physical strength, metabolic efficiency, and other factors.

Limited shape shifting- such as just being able to have any human's face- wouldn't be a big problem, but I'm hard pressed to think up selective pressures that would yield that "naturally".


[quote:2343520966]What kinds of selective pressures would promote the evolution of a race of benevolent gods? Under what circumstances could a race of purely benevolent creatures (gods or otherwise) evolve at all without falling prey to other more pragmatic species?[/quote:2343520966]

Reproductive selection or more overt social eugenics could cause this.

Look at veganism in humans- empathy for other species with no material benefit to the self or community (not in all cases- sometimes it's done for reasons of trendiness: teens). This degree of empathy came about by mere genetic (and memetic, I suppose) drift when it was no longer harmful to have it.

While there are of course environmental and social forces present, empathy is largely genetic (spectrum from sociopath to 'saint', which can present itself independent of environment).

A society that promotes empathy as a quality, and prefers empathetic individuals, would produce this to a greater degree over time.

By incrementally eliminating the *most* sociopathic and selfish individuals (by imprisonment, exile, whatever prevents reproduction and reintroduction of genetic material into the population), this would be the direction of evolution for that gene pool.



Likewise, through positive eugenics, it could occur- for example, say all of the females want gametes from the 'Nobel peace prize' winner (comparable conworld status) in their society, an they shun the 'normal' males.

I tend to suspect that this (the latter) couldn't happen in our society, because women tend to prefer abusive jerks for reproduction for some reason, and the nice guys [almost] always finish last. That wouldn't necessarily be the case in another species, or another culture, though.

Over 12 Years ago
Blake
 

[unparsed]I'd suppose if they are only "threatened" by each other and there were no other species that competed with them in the cosmos, after some period of time, along with the above mentioned eugenics, the race would have no reason to either fight among themselves nor to harm other races. If they were originally a communal and peaceful species whose intelligence allowed them to out run, out compete, tame or otherwise peacefully neutralize natural enemies, that would probably go even farther.

Over 12 Years ago
bloodb4roses
 

[unparsed][quote:6a9e64b7c9="Blake"]In biology, there can't really be super organisms that are evolutionarily viable- this because of any number of viruses, bacteria, and cancer (which is an innate problem in any multicellular organism), and the simple limits of material physics and chemistry.

If you change one factor, you lose out on others.

For example: Super healing? Either epic cancer risk, or very fast aging.


There are ways around it, though. For one, you will probably want to separate the brain and the body- this will allow the body to heal and regenerate faster (and have a short life), while the brain can be easily transplanted from body to body, encased in some placental-like barrier (itself unable to regenerate much at all).[/quote:6a9e64b7c9]

Your solution is promising.

As far as the problems you mention with rapid aging or cancer, could they be solved through the use of "backup" genetic information? Essentially, the organism could have the genetic material it uses to regenerate its cells and body parts, and then it would have an additional set of genetic information that would be accessed much less frequently. Because the backup material is accessed very infrequently and not copied often, it has less chance of becoming corrupted.

Also, what possibilities are there for a cellular organism formed of cells unlike those found in plants or animals? What possible alternative kinds of cells could an alien organism have? Is there a way to get around the problems you presented using exotic forms of cells?

Over 12 Years ago
jseamus
 

[unparsed][quote:00c6129594="jseamus"]
As far as the problems you mention with rapid aging or cancer, could they be solved through the use of "backup" genetic information? Essentially, the organism could have the genetic material it uses to regenerate its cells and body parts, and then it would have an additional set of genetic information that would be accessed much less frequently.[/quote:00c6129594]

How would this backup set find its way into the two cells that formed from replication of the one, if not by being copied?

(facepalm in five... four... three...)

Any genetic information in the cells needs to be copied every time the cell replicates (to make up for dead cells).

If you're talking about storing that info elsewhere as a (mostly) non-replicating stem-cell line that is drawn from... well, the body already kind of does that. We have regions of reserve stem-cells all over our bodies- particularly where many generations of cells are expected to turn over quickly.

If you're pulling genetic info from one place and distributing it to cells, that distribution channel is going to be *very* vulnerable to viruses.

Still stuck with the same problems.

Better to just refresh a short-lived body with a new one.


[quote:00c6129594]Also, what possibilities are there for a cellular organism formed of cells unlike those found in plants or animals? What possible alternative kinds of cells could an alien organism have? Is there a way to get around the problems you presented using exotic forms of cells?[/quote:00c6129594]

No, I don't think so. A cell needs instructions to build itself, and replicate. A cell has biochemical functions of metabolism, etc. Even if your cells are nanites (very small robots), they're subject to the same potential problems an weaknesses. This is a limitation of chemistry/physics.

If you built your creature on a larger, mechanical scale, you could mostly conquer that problem, but would face different limitations (on repair and versatility).

Over 12 Years ago
Blake
 

[unparsed]Sea turtles are believed to only die from sickness or injury but not "aging". They have two interesting enzymes: telomerase, which extends the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes, keeping the genes farther in getting damaged, and another that "degunks" genes so that they can continue being read long after they normally would in other animals.

But that wouldn't help with the healing or anti-infection areas.

Over 12 Years ago
bloodb4roses
 

[unparsed]
In real life here on Earth, there are and have been extremophiles, single-celled organisms that can live in conditions too hot or too acid or too salty or too high-pressure or too radioactive for organisms built of the kinds of cells people are built of.
Tardigrades (water-bears) are multi-celled eukaryotic polyextremophiles.
[quote="Wikipedia"]...
microscopic, water-dwelling, segmented animals with eight legs
...
biggest adults may reach a body length of 1.5 mm, the smallest below 0.1 mm. Freshly hatched larvae may be smaller than 0.05 mm.
...
Tardigrades occur over the entire world, from the high Himalayas (above 6,000 m), to the deep sea (below 4,000 m) and from the polar regions to the equator.
...
Tardigrades are polyextremophiles and are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal. Some can survive temperatures of -273�C, close to absolute zero [4], temperatures as high as 151 �C (303 �F), 1,000 times more radiation than other animals such as humans[5], nearly a decade without water, and even the vacuum of space.[6]
...

[quote="Wikipedia"]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A polyextremophile (faux Ancient Greek for 'friend of many extremes') is an organism which combines several extremophilic features. For example, a polyextremophile living at the summit of a mountain in the Atacama Desert might be a radioresistant xerophile, a psychrophile, and an oligotroph. Polyextremophiles are well known for their ability to tolerate both high and low pH levels.

See also
Deinococcus radiodurans ("Conan the Bacterium")
Extremophile
Tardigrade


[quote="Wikipedia"]
Types of extremophiles
There are many different classes of extremophiles, each corresponding to the way its environmental niche differs from mesophilic conditions. These classifications are not exclusive. Many extremophiles fall under multiple categories. For example, organisms living inside hot rocks deep under Earth's surface are both thermophilic and barophilic.

[list]
Acidophile: An organism with an optimum pH level at or below pH 3
Alkaliphile: An organism with optimal growth at pH levels of 9 or above
Endolith: An organism that lives in microscopic spaces within rocks, such as pores between aggregate grains; these may also be called cryptoendoliths, a term that also includes organisms populating fissures, aquifers, and faults filled with groundwater in the deep subsurface
Halophile: An organism requiring at least 0.2M concentrations of salt (NaCl) for growth
Hyperthermophile: An organism that can thrive at temperatures between 80�122 �C, such as those found in hydrothermal systems
Hypolith: An organism that lives inside rocks in cold deserts
Lithoautotroph: An organism (usually bacteria) whose sole source of carbon is carbon dioxide and exergonic inorganic oxidation (chemolithotrophs) such as Nitrosomonas europaea; these organisms are capable of deriving energy from reduced mineral compounds like pyrites, and are active in geochemical cycling and the weathering of parent bedrock to form soil
Metalotolerant: capable of tolerating high levels of dissolved heavy metals in solution, such as copper, cadmium, arsenic, and zinc; examples include Ferroplasma sp. and Ralstonia metallidurans
Oligotroph: An organism capable of growth in nutritionally limited environments
Osmophile: An organism capable of growth in environments with a high sugar concentration
Piezophile: An organism that lives optimally at high hydrostatic pressure; common in the deep terrestrial subsurface, as well as in oceanic trenches
Polyextremophile: An organism that qualifies as an extremophile under more than one category
Psychrophile/Cryophile: An organism that grows better at temperatures of 15 �C or lower; common in cold soils, permafrost, polar ice, cold ocean water, and in or under alpine snowpack
Radioresistant: Organisms resistant to high levels of ionizing radiation, most commonly ultraviolet radiation, but also including organisms capable of resisting nuclear radiation
Thermophile: An organism that can thrive at temperatures between 60�80 �C
Thermoacidophile: Combination of thermophile and acidophile that prefer temperatures of 70�80 �C and pH between 2 and 3
Xerophile: An organism that can grow in extremely dry, desiccating conditions; this type is exemplified by the soil microbes of the Atacama Desert
[/list]


However, there's a reason most of these are single-celled; and most of the multi-celled ones are microscopic; and most are "slow-living", sedentary organisms. In fact none of them are macroscopic "fast-living" animals.

As Blake said, most (all?) species of organisms are evolved "to the limit", in a certain sense. An ape like a human except with a gut like a ruminant's would have to simplify something else, for instance the brain; there's just not enough energy and material in a day to digest a lot of raw cellulose and keep a huge brain handy.

A recent Scientific American news-item is about "quorum-sensing" in certain pathogenic bacteria. Some species of bacteria are able to tell whether or not there are enough conspecifics around to do certain things, for instance, to form a biofilm (which is a lot harder to get rid of). They do this by both sending a signal (a certain chemical) and by receiving a signal (sensing that chemical). It turns out that a quorum of some quorum-sensing pathogen is likelier to be resistant to some antibiotic than some below-quorum-sized group of the same species of pathogen.
There are mutants ("cheaters") which are "quorum-deaf" -- do not and cannot sense that signal; and there are mutant "cheaters" which are "quorum-mute" -- do not and cannot send that signal.
These mutants are less likely to be resistant to the antibiotic, and also less likely to acquire resistance.
But they reproduce faster than the quorum-sending-and-quorum-sensing non-mutants.
(Actually, all nonresistant bacteria reproduce faster than their resistant mutants, but the quorum-enabled ones are likelier to pick up resistance from their neighbors.)

Do you know how, when people want to tone down a screwfly infestation in some area, they'll release scads of sterilized male screwflies? Female screwflies who have mated with one of those males won't mate with a "wild", fertile male; and then their eggs will be sterile; so the next generation of screwworm larvae will be much, much smaller.

Researchers into antibiotic-resistant pathogens are doing something similar. If a volunteer patient has an infection of some resistant, quorum-sensing pathogen, they introduce some mutants of that same pathogen that are either quorum-deaf or quorum-dumb; the mutants will soon outnumber the non-mutants, and so the non-mutants will not be able to establish a quorum; and resistance to the antibiotics will not arise or not spread within the infection, and the infection can be wiped out.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Essentially I see the same sort of thing happening with your "gods". Any energy or materiel they put into any feature -- such as invulnerability to heat or to cold or to high pressure or to low pressure or to various changes in the chemistry of their environment or into resistance to starvation -- will have to be "paid for".

The most obvious trade-off would be in the ability to reproduce. In fact, already, among RL organisms, the likelier each offspring is to survive to maturity, the fewer offspring each parent is likely to have. That even operates on a timescale shorter than evolution; in countries with excellent medical care, couples tend to have fewer children than in countries with very high infant and child mortalities.

Another very likely trade-off, and not one you want if I guess correctly, would be in activity. Organisms that can stand pretty much anything, can live on almost nothing, and don't reproduce fast, tend to just sit there most of the time. You want your gods to be able individually to do things no individual human can do. So they have to be both energetic -- capable of doing a lot of work -- and powerful -- capable of doing a set amount of work in a very short time, or capable of doing a great deal of work in a set amount of time. They have to have good senses -- I think you want them to be superior to human senses. They have to be able to communicate; they have to speak to and understand humans, and they have to speak to and understand each other.

The ability to move reduces vulnerability a good deal. Flying creatures' lifespan averages about three times what a similar non-flyers' lifespan averages -- at least, once they begin to fly. If your gods can swim, can submerge, can burrow, can fly, and can even travel through space, then they can get away from a lot of stuff that would bother them if they just had to stand there and take it.

You'll probably want them to be able to do without a lot of nutrition. I think that's a problem; you're just not going to get that along with the high activity. Even if they are lithotrophs or photosynthetic, the amount of nutrition they could get that way per unit of their size, would be too low for them to be active at that size.

You could perhaps have them alternate low-activity periods where they eat only rocks and sunlight with high-activity periods where they have to eat things that were once alive.

Or you could have them needing tremendous amounts of food; they can't stay active in a human group unless the humans sacrifice to them.

Or you could have them be nearly inactive practically all the time.

----------------------

I have a feeling Blake has either thought of, or will think of, most of the other interesting trade-offs.

Over 12 Years ago
chiarizio
 

[unparsed][quote:37905b3824="Blake"][quote:37905b3824="jseamus"]
As far as the problems you mention with rapid aging or cancer, could they be solved through the use of "backup" genetic information? Essentially, the organism could have the genetic material it uses to regenerate its cells and body parts, and then it would have an additional set of genetic information that would be accessed much less frequently.[/quote:37905b3824]

How would this backup set find its way into the two cells that formed from replication of the one, if not by being copied?

(facepalm in five... four... three...)

Any genetic information in the cells needs to be copied every time the cell replicates (to make up for dead cells).

If you're talking about storing that info elsewhere as a (mostly) non-replicating stem-cell line that is drawn from... well, the body already kind of does that. We have regions of reserve stem-cells all over our bodies- particularly where many generations of cells are expected to turn over quickly.

If you're pulling genetic info from one place and distributing it to cells, that distribution channel is going to be *very* vulnerable to viruses.

Still stuck with the same problems.

Better to just refresh a short-lived body with a new one.[/quote:37905b3824]

The system I was envisioning was not so much an analogue for stem cells as it was a secondary genome that goes through a cell cycle much longer than that of the common cells. Suppose that the common cells in this god's body reproduce and die slightly slower than human cells do; this second set of cells would reproduce far slower even than the normal cells of the gods body.

This genome would not appear in every somatic cell, but would be located only in a certain cells in the body that have a very limited function (carrying, reproducing, and rarely distributing the second genome) and therefore can afford to put a great deal of energy into being hard to kill.

These cells would only very rarely reproduce, and therefore be much less likely to degrade quickly from damage sustained during vulnerable periods of reproduction.

You could possibly think of all this as a symbiotic secondary organism, which could fit in nicely with your idea of the migrating brain.

[quote:37905b3824="bloodb4roses"]Sea turtles are believed to only die from sickness or injury but not "aging". They have two interesting enzymes: telomerase, which extends the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes, keeping the genes farther in getting damaged, and another that "degunks" genes so that they can continue being read long after they normally would in other animals.

But that wouldn't help with the healing or anti-infection areas.[/quote:37905b3824]

I had thought about solutions involving altered telomeres or the like, but that only applies to creatures with cells that have telomeres. For a creature that potentially has unconventional cellular structure, e.g. a genetic information storage system other than DNA, there are all new problems that I can't begin to handle with my limited knowledge of biochemistry.

Of course, there could be analogous mechanisms in my creatures, and that could be a possible way for the secondary cellular system to stick around so long.

As far as degunking, that would be the function of the secondary cellular system. Because it would not break out the genetic material very often, the organism might get very out of shape before its primary genome got degunked. It might look something like going through long cycles of normal aging and slow rejuvenation.

Calling on the common cells to heal heavy damage would make it more likely that a rejuvenation would need to take place soon, and thus potentially shorten the creatures overall lifespan, but this would be negligible provided that lifespan were extremely long.

As for infections and cancers, the creature as it currently stands would still be vulnerable to those between rejuvenations. Hopefully the rejuvenations would take care of those.

[quote:37905b3824="chiarizio"]The ability to move reduces vulnerability a good deal. Flying creatures' lifespan averages about three times what a similar non-flyers' lifespan averages -- at least, once they begin to fly. If your gods can swim, can submerge, can burrow, can fly, and can even travel through space, then they can get away from a lot of stuff that would bother them if they just had to stand there and take it.
...
You could perhaps have them alternate low-activity periods where they eat only rocks and sunlight with high-activity periods where they have to eat things that were once alive.[/quote:37905b3824]

Avoidance as opposed to head-on confrontation sounds like a good idea.

I also like the idea of alternating states of activity and inactivity. It suggests the kind of cycle of activity found in some vampire legends, i.e. the vampire sleeps for centuries and then has to consume a lot in order to stay active.

-----
I am not very knowledgeable about biology in general or cytology or biochemistry in particular, so y'all let me know if I'm talking out of my ass here. Best to here it from you now, right?

Oh, and is there some way that this creature can end up [i:37905b3824]not[/i:37905b3824] having the biology of a Time Lord? :-P

Over 12 Years ago
jseamus
 

[unparsed][quote:aee6989d0a="jseamus"]
As far as degunking, that would be the function of the secondary cellular system. Because it would not break out the genetic material very often, the organism might get very out of shape before its primary genome got degunked. It might look something like going through long cycles of normal aging and slow rejuvenation.[/quote:aee6989d0a]

This might not work, simply because it would be as likely for the "degunking" gene that makes the degunking agent to get gunked as any other. Now, even assuming they have a relative "gunk free" diet, there would still be something. And this is probably true no matter what kind of genes and fuel they run on.

[quote:aee6989d0a]
Oh, and is there some way that this creature can end up [i:aee6989d0a]not[/i:aee6989d0a] having the biology of a Time Lord? :-P[/quote:aee6989d0a]

Personally, I'd think having multiple of some organs is an energy drain, even if they are good as "backup".

Over 12 Years ago
bloodb4roses
 

[unparsed]
There has been a study using certain flowering plants, in which it was shown that, when the researchers deliberately damaged the nuclear DNA of the plant, damaging both copies of some chromosome, and then the plant reproduced without mating with an undamaged plant, that nevertheless the damage might be repaired in two(? maybe just one) generations.
They cited the likeliest way this was done to be, there were RNA "backups" of the damaged genes (actually, complements of the damaged genes, rather than copies), probably in the cytoplasm; and somehow the plant reverse-transcribed that RNA over its damaged DNA.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In Real Life many or most cancerous tumors behave a lot like an embryo; it grows and it recruits a blood-supply from its host body. If your gods are oviparous instead of viviparous, they may have a reduced risk of cancer. Or, if they are marsupials instead of placental, they may have a reduced risk. (Of course I'm not sure they'd be mammal-like at all). Or, if their reproduction-rate were very low, that might also reduce their cancer-risk.

Regeneration and healing are also helpful abilities that could go haywire and lead to something like cancer.

In general, what eventually kills us is usually what kept us alive up 'til then. Blood-clotting; inflammation; etc. Strokes and heart-attacks are usually caused by blood clots; if blood wouldn't clot, though, we'd have bled to death long before. These clots usually happen at the site of some inflammation in a blood vessel; if we couldn't become inflamed, however, we'd have been unable to contain infections or to heal certain lesions, and we'd have already died.

The same should be true of your gods. They may have many abilities that make them able to withstand much that would kill one of us. But one of those abillities might go wrong in some way that could be fatal.

I like Blake's idea of a symbiotic, not a parasitic, relationship between a nearly-immortal brain that would be very vulnerable without protection, and a nearly-invulnerable body that does succumb to old age. If a brain should run into trouble trying to move to a new body, it would be unprotected as well as unnourished, and could well die; if a body ran into trouble trying to acquire a new brain, it could be very stupid and wind up dying of some problem a brain could have easily figured out.

Over 12 Years ago
chiarizio
 

[unparsed]
Combining Blake's two-species idea (nearly-immortal, but vulnerable, "brain", symbiotic with nearly-invulnerable, but mortal, "body"), with the alternating torpor/superactivity I mentioned that you liked.

Perhaps the "body" could go through the alternating torpor with superpower, while the "brain" remains "active" (as active as an organ that doesn't move about can be) all the time.

When the body is torpid, it might almost approach the "omnipresence" or "ubiquity" of gods; it would spread out and have a big surface area that could gather sunsine and/or a big surface area that could "eat" dirt or rock (or, maybe, seawater).

Suppose during that time it almost didn't move at all, but most of its senses remained acute. The "brain" could then be aware of everything happening near any part of the body; and it could be, for instance, planning what to do when the active period begins. If it has worshippers who pray in those places, it may understand all the prayers, but be temporarily unable to act on them, and perhaps unable even to reply to them. So it could approximate "omniscience" in a way, though you couldn't prove it until the active state.

When the body becomes active, it will contract and/or shed a lot of the parts that were photosynthesizing or lithotrophing (pieces of these might be valuable and useful relics for a time to some of the worshippers), and be very powerful and mobile; it will be able to eat the sacrificed food its worshippers have left for it and that which they will provide; it may even be able to "congeal" (if that's the right word) in the area where the best or most abundant sacrifices are available (the brain would know where that is). It could speak to its worshippers; and it would remember all of the prayers and all of the events that had happened while it was in the torpid state. So, the active state would approximate the "omnipotence" of gods. And it might appear almost omniscient as well; though, even though its senses are acute, it can't sense anything that happens too far away or with too much cover between, so it knows less of what's going on since its body is actually smaller than it was when it was torpid.

The sacrifices would need to be what the god required biologically. Gold, precious metals, gems, etc., might not be useful at all -- or might be, up to a point. It would need meat, but what kind of meat might be different from the kind a human needs. It might also profit from eating the most nutritious, especially the most energy-rich, parts of and kinds of plants.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Perhaps the body might go through only two torpid states and only one active state, or only two active states and only one torpid state.

Think about slime-molds, for instance, for analogy.

Maybe the little godlet-bodies are highly active and mobile (and maybe not too bright; maybe they're too small for "brains"), until they find a "good spot". Maybe then they settle down to torpor, and begin growing rapidly, and grow to a great size; it might be during this stage that a young "brain" finds one and joins it. Maybe then the full-grown full-brained "god" does whatever it has to do to make a next generation of godbodies.

(Not sure how the brain's reproduction process fits into this.)

If I understand Blake's suggestion, a single "brain"'s lifetime could last many "bodies"' lifetime.

Over 12 Years ago
chiarizio
 

[unparsed]@all: I really like your suggested solutions and think I might develop them further in future. They manage to have biological verisimilitude and still seem mythical. Nice.

At the moment, I am looking for a different kind of god again. I think I might post about those gods. These gods might be human, which makes the problem different yet again.

Thanks for the help, folks.

Over 12 Years ago
jseamus
 

[unparsed][quote:564fd6e620="chiarizio"]
If I understand Blake's suggestion, a single "brain"'s lifetime could last many "bodies"' lifetime.[/quote:564fd6e620]

Yes, the brain is effectively immortal to human time scales, living potentially many thousands of years (a 'superior' body living perhaps only a couple years before being changed out, given the metabolic rate needed). None of its cells ever multiply or decay (save for repairing damage). It might have a heart, and very simple lungs, which are usually "off", in a kind of hibernation unless it is active changing bodies.

It wouldn't have its own digestive system or immune system, or even its own blood cells, and probably wouldn't be able to move on its own- merely survive off fat stores and wait to die of infection.

Over 12 Years ago
Blake
 

[unparsed]
I would find it easier to think of them as "gods" if the bodies' active phase (or their longest active phase if they have more than one) lasted a bit longer, say, either as long as a human generation (15 to 45 years), or as long as a human lifespan (70 to 120 years), or something in between.

[EDIT:] I forgot to mention that I'd also prefer at least one of its torpid states to last longer than a human lifespan, perhaps a few human lifespans. If, for instance, it pupates for, say, 165 years or so, then most humans from nearby will have heard of what it did in its larval state and many may be able to "recognize" it from descriptions handed down; but none will have ever known anyone who actually saw it, or at least for sure nobody alive will have ever seen it themselves. Thus, unless they have writing or photography or something like that, it will have had a chance to pass into legend. If it's the only god around locally, then only travelers and immigrants will have actually seen a god. [/EDIT]

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've thought of some things different insect-species do that might be useful parallels. (Also, anadromatous fish.)

Our RL insects that undergo a complete metamorphosis have a torpid phase (egg), then an active phase (larva), then another torpid phase (pupa), then a final active phase (adult). Could your godbodies do something like that?

The larvae are the most voracious; they do practically nothing but eat, and do a lot of it. This even includes those whose larvae are carnivorous.

Adults usually eat much more sparingly than larvae, even though usually the adults can fly and the larvae can't. For instance, moths and butterflies, as adults, live on a liquid diet, usually something like nectar; while many caterpillars are carnivores (as, for instance, hornet larvae are).

Perhaps the adult godbodies could live on only nectar and ambrosia (whatever the hell those are), but in a previous less-powerful but more voracious stage they could have eaten lots and lots of stuff.

Another thing you might consider is 17-year locusts and other periodic cicadas (apparently there may be 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, 7-year, 11-year, 13-year, 17-year, 19-year, 23-year, 29-year, and 31-year varieties.) They don't have a complete metamorphosis, having only three stages -- no pupa. But the nymph (kind of like "larva") live underground where they can't be seen; and they have no wings and are quite un-eyecatching. When they emerge, though, they are shiny and colorful, grow wings, fly, and make a lot of noise; and live at most another year.

Maybe your godbodies' first active phase could be less gaudy, as well as longer and more voracious, than their adult phase.

Again, you might consider mayflies, who have a long pre-adult life but live only one day as adults.

And there are species, such as ants, in which the winged ones are the sexually-active adults; and the males, though large and powerful and active, often have shortened lifespans because, although they could eat, they're more interested in mating than in eating.

And consider mosquitoes; the adults feed themselves on plant-juices. But the adult females drink blood-meals to create the yolk for their eggs.

Also, anadromatous fish such as salmon, when it's time to spawn, spend so much of their energy getting to the spawning-place that they lose things like fat and scales, and wind up dying almost right after spawning.

So, here's some ideas.

In the "wild", that is, without benefit of a godbrain, a godbody's life would go like this.

First, it's an egg, and just develops, consuming its yolk, and growing mostly by absorbing the water next to it. (edit:) How long should this last? Should it last a short enough time that local humans can recognize that it's the offspring of its parent? That is, short enough that some human who saw its parent will live to see the egg hatch? (/edit)

Then, it's a larva. I'm thinking "larva" might last 30 to 36 years. It might masquerade as a dull child for about 12 years, when it might acquire a godbrain (and a godbrain might acquire it); at first the godbrain wouldn't be integrated enough to give it any extra powers (except noticeable intelligence), but by age about 24 it might begin to "do miracles"; about six years later (age 30) it might clearly be superhuman pretty much all the time; then at some age between 33 and 36 it might pupate (maybe underground; it might look like a dead slightly-deformed human being at the beginning of this stage).

(edit:) That way, its goddishness would be recognizable to most for the last 3 to 6 years of its larvahood, and recognizable to some for the last 9 to 12 years of its larvahood. For the middle third (or at least middle twelve years) of its larvahood, people might notice something different about it, but not strongly suspect that it was a god. In fact it might wish to hide that fact for most of its time as a larva. (/edit)

It might pupate for a while; I don't know how long. The pupa might grow, slowly, a big, perhaps underground, network of nutrient-gathering or photosynthesizing or soil-"eating" parts, which might also be sensory, so that the "godbrain" (assuming it's already in the godbody) can gather information to think about. (edit:) It might be better if this took longer than a human lifespan; perhaps two or more human lifespans. Maybe 240 years (two long lifespans, or three short ones plus one long or two short generations), or 165 years (one long lifespan plus one long generation, or two short lifespans plus one long or two short generations), or some such length of time. (/edit)

Then it would emerge as an adult; now it can fly, and is obviously more radiant and glorious than the ordinary mortal human. The cocoon or chrysalis, and/or the big network previously mentioned, would be shed and abandoned like clothes no longer needed.

The males, and at first the females, are all about mating. They eat only certain energy-intense foods. After a year, the males all die of a combination of old-age and starvation.
Then the pregnant females begin ravenously consuming meat or blood or both to provide yolk for their fertilized eggs. They also have "specific cravings", just like pregnant women. This lasts for a year.
Then the pregnant females quit eating anything but "nectar and ambrosia" and start looking for a good place to lay the eggs. They care much more about finding a good spot than about eating, so they gradually get thin. After they lay their eggs, they die of old age and starvation.

I assume that the godbrains can alter this cycle somewhat if they so desire. Probably the biggest conflict would occur when the godbrain needs to mate and reproduce but so does its godbody; the smart godbrains will find a way for both to be satisfied.

If a formerly-brained godbody loses its brain, whether permanently or temporarily, it will want to and try to complete the mission its brain was on (to the extent it knows), but without the wisdom to guarantee success. Like a racehorse whose jockey falls off.

------------------------------------------------

Have you figured out how the godbrains can find new godbodies to inhabit?
The godbody wants a godbrain, of course, unless it already has one; how does it find one?
Which one finds the other?

[EDIT:] I notice that both Blake and I have suggested that the final active phase of the godbody be one or two or three years long; "shortish", in other words. [/EDIT]

Over 12 Years ago
chiarizio
 

I forgot all about this!
It intrigues me again!

4 Months ago
chiarizio
 

Some of the problems mentioned before could be solved, partially, by combining strategies from Deinococcus radiodurans and ciliates such as Paramecia.

D. radiodurans has four complete copies of its entire genome. If one gets corrupted it can always tell which one is incorrect and can correct it to match the other three. Even if two get corrupted, as long as they don’t get corrupted in exactly the same way, it can tell that the other two, which still match each other, are correct, and use that to correct the two that don’t match each other (or the correct ones).

Paramecia have a micronucleus and a macronucleus. The macronucleus is the working DNA; it’s where all the transcribing and translating and proteinogenesis is going on.
The micronucleus is inactive and protected except when the cell is actually going to fission.

So if the cells of both the godbrains and the godbodies had both of these features, as well as other DNA-repair and telomere-restoration and such mentioned above, they might not run into the Hayflick limit as often nor as soon, and be protected somewhat from mutations and cancers and viruses — especially retroviruses.

.......... .......... .......... ..........


As for being benevolent to humans or rather to mortals;
In their active phases they’d be dependent on human societies to feed them. They’d need too much food to gather it by themselves.
They’d try to cultivate the good will of a group of mortals.
They’d be benevolent toward the group or society, rather than to individuals.
If their society were threatened they could be quite wrathful toward the threatening.

OTOH if their community of worshippers seemed to be on the verge of abandoning them, hunger might drive them to atrocity; they might just, out of despair and hunger, kill and eat their ex-worshippers and, maybe, even their remaining worshippers.

Conflict between gods might happen when there is conflict between two communities of mortals each of whom has a god.
The gods would consider war between such communities wasteful, and try to work out a way of living together.
If that failed the battle could be spectacular.
Gods might see ungodded communities of mortals as targets for recruitment, or for exploitation, depending on circumstances.

What happens between two mortal communities when the god of one is in an active state and the god of the other is in a torpid state?

4 Months ago
chiarizio
 

What happens between two mortal communities when the god of one is in an active state and the god of the other is in a torpid state?


For that matter;

What happens to them when one’s god is male and the other’s is female and they want to mate?

Do any communities have two or more gods, each of whom is torpid whenever one of the others is active?

.....

And we haven’t talked about the life-cycle nor the reproductive behavior of the godbrains yet.

.....

It might be that the godbodies have a strategy in place for all entering their mating phases in the same year.
That would make sense.

OTOH they may also have a strategy for staggering their larval stages so mostly there won’t be too many of them at once?
Would that make sense? Maybe not?

....

Maybe adult female godbodies might live a fourth year after laying their eggs; staying on the nest and not leaving it even to eat. They may feed parts of themselves to predators to make them leave their offspring alone. If their offspring hatch before this fourth year is over they may eat parts of their mother’s body even though she’s still alive. By the end she’ll die either of starvation or of having lost too much of her body to being eaten.

.....

How will larval godbodies get adopted by mortal families? Remember they masquerade as rather dull mortal children for the first eight to twelve years, or until they hook up with a godbrain!
What is a god, and its life, like during the years after the godbody and godbrain acquire each other (so it now clearly has wisdom beyond its apparent years) but before the godbody and godbrain are fully integrated (so it can perform miracles and seek a mate)?

....

If any part of their cycle is prime-number-year periodic, which part? And what’s a good period?
How about 11 or 13 for acquiring a godbrain
23 for full integration
29 or 31 for fully public activation
37 for final phase
163 or 167 or 241 for the underground torpor pupation part?

Then 1 year (or 2 years?) of adulthood for males, 4 years for females.
Pregnant females spend their second year of adulthood eating meat etc.
Their third year looking for a good place to brood
And their 4th year brooding.

....

Clearly I don’t have it all figured out. I just have a bunch of prime numbers.

4 Months ago
chiarizio
 

Adult godbodies mostly eat high-energy foods (when they eat!).
Their worshippers may habitually reserve parts of the fat from any food animals to sacrifice to their gods.
They might also save a standard share of their milk and honey and suchlike for their gods.
There may also be fruits and vegetables and other high-energy food sources.

Pregnant females OTOH will also want to consume body-building foods with lots of proteins etc., including meat and blood etc.
Their worshippers might always reserve the blood of any food animals for their goddess during the year after she mates but before she broods.
Milk and dairy and eggs etc might also still be on the menu during that time.

During their “pupation” their worshippers will want to make sure the ground they’re in will be as hospitable as the worshippers can make it.

In their larval phases they will probably be about as hungry as, or a little bit hungrier than, the hungriest normal mortal kid.
They might want alcohol earlier (younger) and/or more than most mortals who aren’t drunks.
And lots of fruit and fruit-juice as well as meat and milk.
At first there may be no proof they’re gods instead of mortals.

3 Months ago
chiarizio
 

I am sort-of kind-of modeling the gods’ life-cycles on the story of Yehoshuah bin Yusef aka Iosa mac Marie.
Adulthood — post-resurrection Jesus
Pupation — Jesus in the tomb
Larval instar 3 (after godbrain has fully integrated with godbod) — Jesus’s ministry after allowing disciples to say publicly he’s the Messiah — basically years 30 to 36
Don’t know what would correspond to years 24 to 30
Larval instar 2 (after godbrain has hooked up with godbod but before full integration) — Jesus after displaying his wisdom to the elders in Jerusalem but before his first miracle (the wedding at Cana in Galilee) — basically years 12 to 24.
Jesus’s baptism by John — probably when the godbrain and godbod hooked up with each other.
Larval instar 1 (godbod w/o godbrain) — Jesus’s childhood as basically a rather dull boy who may have eaten more than the average kid but not gotten really fat.
Egg — Jesus up to the Epiphany; from Mary’s pregnancy and Joseph’s dream about it and the Annunciation and the Star of B and the Magnificat and the visit by the three Magi to the slaughter of the innocents and the holy family’s escape into Egypt.

There can’t be an exact correspondence.

For one thing I don’t know how to fit Maryama’s mother Hannah (aka St. Anne) or John the B. or his mom and dad Elizabeth and Zechariah into it. Also how did Mary become pregnant with the egg? And the pupation will last 160 something to 240 something years, not three days. And what will Jesus be doing post-resurrection? Presumably he’ll be finding a mate; and will finally die after two years since he’s male (is he?) while his mate will die after four years of adulthood.
And how will his miraculous mission work out? Will he be active on it from around age 23 to around age 37? Will his reputation grow from around age 11 or 13 to around age 23 or 29 or 31?
Will Pentecost be the result of his apotheosis? If so it’ll be about a year or two after his resurrection, instead of just fifty days, right?
What of his mate? Who will she be and where will she come from?
....
Of course JSeamus never wanted anything recognizably similar to JC of Nazareth to show up in his story.
So this parallel shouldn’t be as recognizable to a reader or viewer or player as I’m making it here.

3 Months ago
chiarizio
 

Reply to: Ultimate cellular animal

Username
Password