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Messages - Ziz

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Spore: General / Re: Your Most Popular Creature
« on: July 10, 2008, 05:37:43 pm »

Spore: General / Re: SPORE creature Tshirts
« on: July 04, 2008, 11:53:43 pm »
hmmmm, no those suck

Spore: General / SPORE creature Tshirts
« on: July 04, 2008, 02:06:17 pm »
This site lets you make one at a time, and they are very handsome.

Just upload a photo you took of your creature. You may have to crop it.

I have doubts about the durability of the images, though.

Here are two of mine:

They say the name of the creature on the front and "Viva la Evolucion" on the back. Corny, but better than writing SPORE all over it and doing all of their marketing for them.

Spore: General / Re: Inspiration of the sentient plant
« on: April 14, 2008, 07:32:38 pm »
And being unable to think outside of such a narrow viewpoint is pretty bad too, if you think about it.  Just because plants evolved with an 'inefficient' process of photosynthesis here doesn't mean that it's the end all be all of capabilities for using the sun as an energy source.  There could be a more efficient form of photosynthesis available that we just haven't thought of/found yet.  Granted, it probably wouldn't be good enough to make plants movable or sapient, but it could still be better than what we know of.

Of course I have to agree that it is possible that there could be a better form of photosynthesis that provides more energy to an organism, it is just that Earth is a fabulous petri dish of diverse environments, lots of energy, and stability over long periods of time; and even after the billions of years of trial-and-error, photosynthesis was left behind by more behaviorally complex organisms. This suggests that while it may be possible to make photosynthesis better, it is very unlikely.

Actually, scientists were convinced that nature screwed up photosynthesis, and in the 1970s a big group of biochemists were bent on improving a protein called RuBisco, one of the most abundant proteins on Earth (involved in photosynthesis). They genetically engineered organisms to change their proteins in all of these interesting and complex ways, certain that they could improve it (because it was so lousy) but everything they did made it worse.

We have a great system here on Earth for estimating exobiology, and it is probably a safer, more logical and plausible model to assume that things on other planets will be similar to Earth in scope and ability. Physics and chemistry don't gain new rules and laws and abilities just because the planet is more or less rocky or has more or less gravity or has more or less atmosphere.

I think one way for photosynthesis to be better than it has shown itself to be on Earth would be if a planet had a much more energetic star that rained down gamma rays that could be harnessed by the plants (and the planet couldn't have an iron core to shield the planet with a magnetic field, and the plants could not use phosphodiester bonds to connect its "DNA," and most amino acids would be useless under these conditions). On second thought, this environment would probably be too toxic for any life at all because as the intensity of the light of the star increases, the extra energy will break covalent bonds left and right, ruining any lifeforms that emerge.

Maybe it can find a way to evolve silicon solar cells and be electrical?

I don't mean to argue or anything, I just like to discuss and want to demonstrate that there are limits to life's possibilities outside Earth.

Spore: General / Re: Inspiration of the sentient plant
« on: April 14, 2008, 10:25:19 am »
Like I said in other discussions about sentient plants: plants (and bacteria) have evolved photosynthesis for billions of years (longer than almost any other adaptation) to make it as energetically streamlined as possible and it is still a horribly inefficient process.

The physics and chemistry behind harnessing light to make deliberate chemical bonds is simply at its limit of efficiency.

Accepting this, there is simply no way for photosynthesis to be used as the sole energy source for an organism that has a complex nervous system, or even a rudimentary one. They require way too much energy. There is certainly not enough energy for locomotion (at a reasonable pace), either.

If a plant evolved to gain a second energy source, like eating other organisms outright, and then evolved the ability to think and move, it would not continue to photosynthesize because the process is inefficient and expensive to maintain for what you get from it. Eating other things is extremely easy and efficient comparatively.

So they would just be "animals", and this is how (very grossly) animals evolved on Earth.

Plants and animals have completely different sets of competitive objectives, which drive them independently of each other to develop extremely divergent adaptations. Plants compete for sunlight, water, soil nutrients...they never (or extremely rarely) compete for outrunning each other, hunting better, planning smarter, or communicating faster, or anything else associated with animals.

Grouping plants and animals separately is one of the most natural and obvious distinctions in all of life, and we should expect these distinctions to be present on any planet because of the inefficient nature of photosynthesis which drives life into two completely different directions.

So discussing plants that have somehow jumped from one set of competitive objectives to develop an adaptation of the other set is hopeful fantasy more than science.

Spore: General / Re: Cute animal photoshopping reminiscent of Spore
« on: January 12, 2008, 11:28:03 pm »
You should mention that that link goes to a site with some pretty raunchy stuff.

Sorry I was just stumbling (Stumble Upon) and found these. Didn't really scan the site.

Spore: General / Cute animal photoshopping reminiscent of Spore
« on: January 12, 2008, 11:05:39 pm »

It is probably a competition or something.

Spore: General / Re: How gas giant civilizations -could- function
« on: December 04, 2007, 06:50:55 pm »
I personally plan to start by playing a good game of Spore!  8)
Not a bad next move.
Spore certainly promises to take people away from the confining mode of thought possessed by the better chunk of the population. Too many people think of the world, as it is now or in some idealized version of how it once was, as perfection... as if any deviation from their percieved norm is a sin against the universe. I'm hoping someone writes a study on the effects of Spore on western civilization's worldview.

I totally agree Hectonkhyres; the modern mindset that the world is somehow inherently perfect without human influence and that things that are "natural" or "organic" are somehow better just because is a bunch of garbage.

I guess it is not entirely modern, as these ideas exist all over (Jainism, hippies, etc.) but the widespread modern American hysteria over it is nauseating.

In any case, for as much change ("damage") as humans cause the Earth, they are the best thing to ever happen to it. Only humans will be around to preserve things when they go wrong: Assuming a) that preservation is "good" (how the crap do we define that) and, b) that some advanced civilization doesn't come and do the same thing.

I would love to see a study that explores how Spore has reshaped the culture's worldview, but it would take a lot of Spore infiltration and probably a generation to pass to actually see changes.

Spore: General / Re: How gas giant civilizations -could- function
« on: November 28, 2007, 10:58:51 pm »
As was previously mentioned, life wouldn't necessarily have to originate high up in the clouds. It could be spawned deep within the planet's atmosphere where the component gasses are so tightly compacted that it is almost a fluid. Damn near anything necessary for life would find a place where it is neutrally buoyant and it can no longer sink and th air is too thick for the wind to blow at any reasonable speed. Complex volitile chemicals would perpetually rain down from above by gravity or be brought up from below on massive convection currents.

Problem with that is... The necessary chemical forms that make DNA and RNA , as we know it, just don't form in liquid. That's why, for so long, there was a huge debate as how this happened until it was found they combine well in clay. I doubt amino acids and such would combine and fuse well or reproduce easily in a churning, volatile mass of constantly shifting gas. The materials would certainly be there. It's like throwing all the parts needed to make a cabinet into a tornado and expecting it to eventually form without breaking, and then to do so again, and again, and again, and again, and again, for an incalculably impossible amount of times. Just isn't likely. I'd believe life formed inside a comet and survived the impact to Earth before I'd believe this. No insult to you, it just seems improbable to me.

At this level of development all life would be chemotrophs or decomposers, similar to the tubeworms and bacteria that cluster around deep sea vents or the bacteria that live in benthic sludge. Some little squiggly wormlike thing would decide it likes eating these sessile organisms and Darwin's armsrace begins again. There is a school of thought that this was how all life began here on Earth. And, like earthborn life, it would diversify and spread to wherever life can scratch out a living until some unlikely bacteria eventually wanders high enough in the atmosphere to find itself basking in the glow of the sun. One of its descendants finds a way to capitalize on this new source of energy and, wallah, we have the foundations of our floating forests.

Not going to deny this part. It makes sense, if the life could start in the first place.

And the nice thing is that this only really needs to happen once in the galaxy, provided the inhabitants find away off their blob of gas. Everywhere they go, they will bring their bacteria and plants and whatever... even if they only stop long enough to drop a flag-on-a-balloon and fly away. And the game starts again.

Perhaps, but that's something else unlikely, as it's very hard to form a space ship in a windstorm.

In addition to the fact that molecules would have a really really hard time combining and recombining in surging drafts of all directions to start the foundation of chemical life, the Earth most likely had a really difficult time doing this as well...

Some scientists think that because the Earth is so extraordinarily fortunate enough to have such a large moon might be the only reason there is life here at all.

The moon, being so large relative to the Earth, creates huge tidal forces on Earth, heaving the water up and down in cycles. Well, when the water drops, tidal pools are left all around that sit around and evaporate, thus concentrating the lucky organic molecules that are there, causing the probability of their interaction and combination to increase by several orders of magnitude.

It is possible that if the Earth did not have our lucky lucky moon to act as a catalyst, life would have taken so long to originate that it might not even exist at all today.

(consider for thought what this means about how far the evolution of life has come on Earth: humans, and how rare we might really be in the galaxy)

The fact is that for life to originate on a planet truly (not be seeded), an enormous gigantic impossible set of odds must be beaten. There is a lot of speculation about what kinds and what magnitude these odds really are, of course.

Earth has had a lot of things going in its favor: distance from star (temperature), size (amount of gravity, time to grow CO2, O2, N2 atmospheres), material (from a 3rd generation star), moon (tidal pools), seasons (from tilt), even Jupiter causing the asteroid belt to stay non-coalesced and fling asteroids toward the Earth: causing extinction of giant reptiles and allowing mammals to become successfully competitive.

However, I am sure there must be a way for crazy, amazing, terribly unlikely things to happen in lots of other places, maybe even on a gassy planet. Who knows? Lots of people make careers thinking about that.

Spore: General / Re: Botanification!
« on: November 21, 2007, 11:06:31 am »
There are lots of creatures that perform photosynthesis that are not plants. TONS of bacteria, archaea, and phytoplankton/algae use photosynthesis. I bet you could argue that bacteria use it more than plants given the scope of the history of life on earth.

Actually, some categorization schemes do include bacterium as plants. Truth be told, defining what is alive is tough for scientists, let alone what is a kingdom or species, so we're a bit fracked on this one. What is a sapient or sentient plant can only be defined based on appearance, I suppose.

You are wrong. Bacteria and plants are never interchangeably categorized. You are correct that it is difficult to categorize some things, but there is no clearer distinction between plants and bacteria.

At the most fundamental level they have vastly different DNA structures (plants use chromosomes), different proteins, completely different cell structures. I bet that humans have more in common with a grapefruit than plants do with bacteria. There are 3 big categorizes for all life on earth: prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and archaea. Plants and animals are eukaryotes, and bacteria are prokaroytes. The differences are the largest of any separation of living organisms on earth.

Also, sentience and sapience are not somehow relativistic and based on appearance. Ask anyone interested in artificial intelligence: there are criteria for establishing what is a sentient being and what is not. Language, independent problem solving, self-awareness, modifying environments. At the very simplest level, a sentient being is just one that can convince us that he is sentient, regardless if he is or not. And this very simple test is the holy grail in AI research (the Turing Test). Nothing on earth except for humans can pass this test.

We have defined the word sentient, so if something does not match the definition, then it is not. If someone proposes to invent a new word or idea to describe plant or animal behavior, that is fine. But it is not sentience.

Spore: General / Re: Botanification!
« on: November 19, 2007, 09:21:24 pm »
Truthfully, any creature capable of performing photosynthesis is a plant. This means that you can have a broad definition of creatures that can be called plants.

There are lots of creatures that perform photosynthesis that are not plants. TONS of bacteria, archaea, and phytoplankton/algae use photosynthesis. I bet you could argue that bacteria use it more than plants given the scope of the history of life on earth.

None of these creatures evolved sentience.

Many bacteria communicate, however, via chemical signals that tell each other things like "hey it is too crowded, stop growing," or "there is a lot of x resource around, grow!"

And of course plants are complex organisms with tissues that communicate chemically; but even given the complexity of all of this interaction, it is rudimentary and irrelevant compared to building a civilization.

Even if an animal evolved that could run around and eat and photosynthesize, the photosynthesis would quickly be selected out (via natural selection) as it it not very useful because the amount of energy it generates is so pathetically small to that of eating other organisms and harvesting their energy, that it would not affect the organism to lose the trait. It may in fact be really expensive to keep the trait around for such a small purpose (having to generate all of the proteins, DNA transcription, bulkiness, repair, respiration, etc).

It is just not a very likely scenario. But I am sure weird things can happen! Also, if it works in your imagination, it doesn't matter if it can really happen; it is just a game, after all.

Spore: General / Re: Botanification!
« on: November 14, 2007, 11:41:20 pm »
From a biochemical standpoint there is simply not enough energy to be harvested from the sun by an organism to run the powerhouse of a brain. We use a gigantic amount of calories to maintain our sentience, and it is still fabulously streamlined.

Think about the single most significant event in modern human development: the advent of farming. If we had not figured out how to get a lot lot lot more food, we never would have grown to be lingual, mathematic, and cultured. You can imagine the lengths a plant would have to go.

This is why animals have a food web that is large in population at the bottom (where energy is introduced to the system) and small at the top. There are tons of "dumb" organisms harvesting energy and few "smart" smart ones eating the dumb ones.

Now one caveat: Earth has had 4.5 billion years to make plant photosynthesis the best that it can, and it is still a pretty crappy energy source (all plants can do it sit around and grow slowly), however, I suppose on some other planet an organism could find a way to harvest energy more efficiently from their sun, but science is leaning very heavily against it.

Spore: General / Re: Interesting social expriements
« on: July 23, 2007, 02:01:17 pm »
To clarify:

Latin Prefix/ Greek Prefix          Meaning
a-, an-                                   negative

Greek suffix
theo                                      God or god
-ist                                       nouns that denote someone who does something.

therefore, atheist = someone who believes in no god.

Don't confuse with nontheism,

Spore: General / Re: Interesting social expriements
« on: July 23, 2007, 07:50:48 am »
The theory of evolution itself says that evolving is random, but that only those who had the luck to have an useful mutation would survive and spread its gens.

According to the theory of evolution, evolution is NEVER random, this is probably the biggest misconception of all.

Mutation is (semi)random, not evolution. Just clearing things up.

This is because evolution is the slow drift in genetic proportions of a population over time; an individual can't evolve, and never will.

Spore: General / Re: HA, I solved the battle fish problem...
« on: February 22, 2007, 10:15:47 pm »
sltlamina, and everyone desiring photosynthetic "animals":

Think in terms of energy...both photosynthesis and symbiosis (for energy) provide a minute amount of energy, certainly not enough for complex processes like movement, or healing an organism with tissues as sophisticated as proposed. This is why photosynthetic organisms don't move much, nor do those involved in symbiosis.

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