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[Because My Tears Are Delicious To You] Protector by Larry Niven
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James Nicoll
2019-10-20 14:10:06 UTC
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Protector by Larry Niven

https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
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Default User
2019-10-20 23:10:10 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
As we've discussed before, there are more problems with biology in Protector and other Known Space stories besides the "Humans are not from another planet" deal.

One is the Tree-of-Life virus. Viruses just don't work that way, especially for thousands of years. The virus does a major rework of the hominid body that does nothing for the spread of the virus. Protectors are not contagious. How would such a virus develop and not mutate?

And speaking of not mutating, the Pak have frozen their genome by destroying any offspring that have deviated from baseline (don't smell right). That's unusual to say the least, especially for an animal that was previously evolving rapidly. There are animals that haven't changed much for millions of years, but that's because they've found a solid ecological niche and haven't needed to change.

The much more likely solution to all of these is that Pak and ToL virus were genetically engineered in tandem, using Earth hominids as base stock. Who did it? Hard to say. It was probably around a million years back, so who would have been active? The purpose was probably to build a military force of some sort.


Brian
Johnny1A
2019-11-04 08:41:53 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
As we've discussed before, there are more problems with biology in Protector and other Known Space stories besides the "Humans are not from another planet" deal.
One is the Tree-of-Life virus. Viruses just don't work that way, especially for thousands of years. The virus does a major rework of the hominid body that does nothing for the spread of the virus. Protectors are not contagious. How would such a virus develop and not mutate?
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
Default User
2019-11-05 01:30:50 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.


Brian
Chrysi Cat
2019-11-05 03:15:27 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Brian
Well, with the exception that if a sapient species becomes aware of an
/actively infectious/ agent, they tend to do everything in their power
to eradicate it species-wide, let alone avoid spreading it. Unless the
virus can selectively choose only those who are done reproducing, an
infectious one would hit some people who aren't "ready" to become
protectors, so humans (whether Terran or Pak) would definitely be
_driven_ to retaliate against it instead, as well.
--
Chrysi Cat
1/2 anthrocat, nearly 1/2 anthrofox, all magical
Transgoddess, quick to anger.
Call me Chrysi or call me Kat, I'll respond to either!
Default User
2019-11-05 05:47:43 UTC
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Post by Chrysi Cat
Well, with the exception that if a sapient species becomes aware of an
/actively infectious/ agent, they tend to do everything in their power
to eradicate it species-wide, let alone avoid spreading it. Unless the
virus can selectively choose only those who are done reproducing, an
infectious one would hit some people who aren't "ready" to become
protectors, so humans (whether Terran or Pak) would definitely be
_driven_ to retaliate against it instead, as well.
How are the Pak, in the highly radiative environment there, keeping the virus from mutating? This virus just doesn't have the characteristics of a natural er whatever viruses are.


Brian
J. Clarke
2019-11-05 22:51:49 UTC
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On Mon, 4 Nov 2019 21:47:43 -0800 (PST), Default User
Post by Default User
Post by Chrysi Cat
Well, with the exception that if a sapient species becomes aware of an
/actively infectious/ agent, they tend to do everything in their power
to eradicate it species-wide, let alone avoid spreading it. Unless the
virus can selectively choose only those who are done reproducing, an
infectious one would hit some people who aren't "ready" to become
protectors, so humans (whether Terran or Pak) would definitely be
_driven_ to retaliate against it instead, as well.
How are the Pak, in the highly radiative environment there, keeping the virus from mutating? This virus just doesn't have the characteristics of a natural er whatever viruses are.
You are asking us to describe the technology of a species that has had
interstellar travel for longer than our species has existed, and whose
least intelligent member makes Einstein look like a moron.
Default User
2019-11-06 07:29:43 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
You are asking us to describe the technology of a species that has had
interstellar travel for longer than our species has existed, and whose
least intelligent member makes Einstein look like a moron.
Are you suggesting that ToL was designed by the Pak? How? They weren't geniuses until the virus was available.

This seems like your increasingly silly arguments just to argue.


Brian
J. Clarke
2019-11-05 04:12:46 UTC
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On Mon, 4 Nov 2019 17:30:50 -0800 (PST), Default User
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
This is the Pak we're talking about--a civilization that has been in
existence for a span of time longer than our species has existed,
where Einstein would be a moron. I'm pretty sure that "infectious"
unless it's designed by Pak doesn't have much of a chance.
Default User
2019-11-05 05:49:21 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
This is the Pak we're talking about--a civilization that has been in
existence for a span of time longer than our species has existed,
where Einstein would be a moron. I'm pretty sure that "infectious"
unless it's designed by Pak doesn't have much of a chance.
This is a whole lot of strange rationalization for something that just never could come into being naturally.

Brian
nuny@bid.nes
2019-11-05 08:52:18 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
This is the Pak we're talking about--a civilization that has been in
existence for a span of time longer than our species has existed,
where Einstein would be a moron. I'm pretty sure that "infectious"
unless it's designed by Pak doesn't have much of a chance.
This is a whole lot of strange rationalization for something that just
never could come into being naturally.
I still think the Tnuctipun could have designed TOL virus to be evolution-proof (like Bandersnatchi) and seeded it along with food yeast so that something (protohumans) could evolve from the food yeast so that TOL virus could infect us. That means they had to design the root too...


Mark L. Fergerson
Carl Fink
2019-11-05 13:27:15 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
I still think the Tnuctipun could have designed TOL virus to be
evolution-proof (like Bandersnatchi) and seeded it along with food yeast
so that something (protohumans) could evolve from the food yeast so that
TOL virus could infect us. That means they had to design the root too...
The Bandershantchi have enormous non-DNA chromosomes that are too big for a
cosmic ray to damage. That wouldn't work so well for viruses.
--
Carl Fink ***@nitpicking.com

Read John Grant's book, Corrupted Science: http://a.co/9UsUoGu
Dedicated to ... Carl Fink!
nuny@bid.nes
2019-11-07 07:34:37 UTC
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Post by Carl Fink
Post by ***@bid.nes
I still think the Tnuctipun could have designed TOL virus to be
evolution-proof (like Bandersnatchi) and seeded it along with food yeast
so that something (protohumans) could evolve from the food yeast so that
TOL virus could infect us. That means they had to design the root too...
The Bandershantchi have enormous non-DNA chromosomes that are too big for a
cosmic ray to damage. That wouldn't work so well for viruses.
Bandersnatchi have DNA-based gigantic chromosomes:

http://news.larryniven.net/concordance/main.asp?alpha=B

We know of many life forms with ordinary tiny chromosomes which use amazingly robust DNA repair mechanisms, like deinococcus radiodurans and everyone's favorite near-microscopic life form, the tardigrades:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_repair

(includes information on viruses repairing their own DNA while suppressing host repair mechanisms)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7984097

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-51471-8

We've only just started studying these things and it's already suggested that some of the tardigrade mechanism can be ported to humans.

The Tnuctipun were allegedly smarter than us and had far longer to work on the problem, suggesting to me at least that the Bandersnatch solution was a short-term hack they used just to get the project going quickly.


Mark L. Fergerson
k***@outlook.com
2019-12-05 20:53:52 UTC
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The Bandershantchi have enormous non-DNA chromosomes that are too big for a cosmic ray to damage.
A particularly cute text has a character say if you want to mutate Bandersnatch DNA a .50 cal auto-cannon might do the trick.

Nils K. Hammer

J. Clarke
2019-11-05 22:52:32 UTC
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On Mon, 4 Nov 2019 21:49:21 -0800 (PST), Default User
Post by Default User
Post by J. Clarke
This is the Pak we're talking about--a civilization that has been in
existence for a span of time longer than our species has existed,
where Einstein would be a moron. I'm pretty sure that "infectious"
unless it's designed by Pak doesn't have much of a chance.
This is a whole lot of strange rationalization for something that just never could come into being naturally.
Why would it have to come into being naturally?
Default User
2019-11-06 01:01:04 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Mon, 4 Nov 2019 21:49:21 -0800 (PST), Default User
Post by Default User
This is a whole lot of strange rationalization for something that just never could come into being naturally.
Why would it have to come into being naturally?
Which is what I said in the beginning.


Brian
Robert Carnegie
2019-11-05 15:56:14 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant? It's how it's supposed to work - speaking
teleologically, speaking of it as designed when it isn't (?)
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2019-11-05 16:02:32 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play
there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a
motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over
the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once
it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid
survival advantage.
Post by Default User
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant? It's how it's supposed to work - speaking
teleologically, speaking of it as designed when it isn't (?)
How does that work for males? Was Brennan "old"? For females, I guess
post-menopausal is a clear "breeder" demarcation line, but for males
is the idea, well, if you haven't done it by now, we don't want you in
our gene pool?
--
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Johnny1A
2019-11-06 06:32:34 UTC
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Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play
there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a
motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over
the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once
it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid
survival advantage.
Post by Default User
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant? It's how it's supposed to work - speaking
teleologically, speaking of it as designed when it isn't (?)
How does that work for males? Was Brennan "old"? For females, I guess
post-menopausal is a clear "breeder" demarcation line, but for males
is the idea, well, if you haven't done it by now, we don't want you in
our gene pool?
--
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
On Pak, at around age 40, both sexes developed the craving for the root, and transformed into neuter Protectors. I suspect that it was a rare healthy breeder who had not reproduced by then. It would be in the interest of the Protectors to make sure it happened.
J. Clarke
2019-11-05 22:54:27 UTC
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On Tue, 5 Nov 2019 07:56:14 -0800 (PST), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant?
If I recall correctly unpleasant things happen to a breeder who is
past a certain age if they eat it, so there are limits on both ends.
Post by Robert Carnegie
It's how it's supposed to work - speaking
teleologically, speaking of it as designed when it isn't (?)
a***@msn.com
2019-11-06 03:48:06 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Tue, 5 Nov 2019 07:56:14 -0800 (PST), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant?
If I recall correctly unpleasant things happen to a breeder who is
past a certain age if they eat it, so there are limits on both ends.
Yes. In the "natural" environment a breeder never gets the chance to be too old for ToL (because someone kills them beforehand or they run into ubiquitous ToL), but on Home, Brennan says something to the effect that the ToL virus would kill anyone older than 60ish (if I recall correctly) so that's probably the limit. Also ToL killed Seeker because he was too old (in Ringworld Engineers).

Robert Charles Wilson has something like the Protector phase in his novel "Spin" but the oldsters who get that treatment become more sensible than Pak Protectors.
Johnny1A
2019-11-06 06:33:40 UTC
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Post by a***@msn.com
Post by J. Clarke
On Tue, 5 Nov 2019 07:56:14 -0800 (PST), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Default User
Post by Johnny1A
It's not clear how such a symbiosis would emerge, but once in play there is certainly an advantage for the virus. It gives the Pak a motive to spread the root, and its associated microorganism, all over the planet, to protect it and make sure it never dies out, etc. Once it's up and running, the symbiosis gives the microorganism a solid survival advantage.
But not nearly so much as if it were infectious.
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant?
If I recall correctly unpleasant things happen to a breeder who is
past a certain age if they eat it, so there are limits on both ends.
Yes. In the "natural" environment a breeder never gets the chance to be too old for ToL (because someone kills them beforehand or they run into ubiquitous ToL), but on Home, Brennan says something to the effect that the ToL virus would kill anyone older than 60ish (if I recall correctly) so that's probably the limit.
More like 50, or maybe 45.
David DeLaney
2019-12-05 02:31:40 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Am I remembering right that only old breeders - and humans - get a craving
for the tree-of-life plant? It's how it's supposed to work - speaking
teleologically, speaking of it as designed when it isn't (?)
For some value of "old". Once medicine starts giving you struldbrugs, people
at 45 get the "I don't WANT to give up sex yet!" issue firmly entrenched, and
t-o-l's range of usability doesn't match up any more...

Dave, knee, knee, groin, chest, head, wasn't it?
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
Quadibloc
2019-11-08 05:49:18 UTC
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Post by Default User
One is the Tree-of-Life virus. Viruses just don't work that way, especially for
thousands of years. The virus does a major rework of the hominid body that does
nothing for the spread of the virus. Protectors are not contagious. How would
such a virus develop and not mutate?
It was the artificial creation of some ancient advanced alien race?

Otherwise, yes, a big problem.

John Savard
Johnny1A
2019-11-10 04:29:56 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by Default User
One is the Tree-of-Life virus. Viruses just don't work that way, especially for
thousands of years. The virus does a major rework of the hominid body that does
nothing for the spread of the virus. Protectors are not contagious. How would
such a virus develop and not mutate?
It was the artificial creation of some ancient advanced alien race?
Otherwise, yes, a big problem.
John Savard
Actually, a simpler explanation might be that it's not really a virus at all, but something else, and Niven called it a virus generically, the way people refer to all unicellular organisms as 'bacteria' sometimes.
-dsr-
2019-11-10 16:12:19 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by Quadibloc
Post by Default User
One is the Tree-of-Life virus. Viruses just don't work that way, especially for
thousands of years. The virus does a major rework of the hominid body that does
nothing for the spread of the virus. Protectors are not contagious. How would
such a virus develop and not mutate?
It was the artificial creation of some ancient advanced alien race?
Otherwise, yes, a big problem.
John Savard
Actually, a simpler explanation might be that it's not really a virus at all, but something else, and Niven called it a virus generically, the way people refer to all unicellular organisms as 'bacteria' sometimes.
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) and that the second stage
transformation requires a vitamin that the body doesn't synthesize by
itself. E.g. humans don't make vitamin C, but lots of other mammals do.
The vitamin enables the synthesis of some proteins that reconstruct
the body into Protector stage.

So the "tree of life" plant is the key because, given appropriate
growing conditions, it produces the vitamin in sufficient quantities
that a hominid can use them. No genetic information is encoded in it,
no virus exists. And there are plenty of cases where adults tend to
like things that taste or smell weird to younger folks, although I
don't know of any where *no* younger folks will like them. Or it could
be that all of the Pak like tree of life root, but don't feel driven to
eat it in large quantity until their bodies are ready to metamorph.

This is still entirely unworkable because humans clearly evolved on Earth
along with other vertebrates, and even in Niven's universe the various mammaloid
xenospecies clearly are not sharing family trees post-algae. The Kzin don't
have skeletons anything at all like cats or cattle or coelacanths.


-dsr-
Carl Fink
2019-11-11 02:25:35 UTC
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Post by -dsr-
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) ...
Our cousins, the orangutans, do.

Males have two bodyforms, the "small male" form that resembles the females
in size (but stronger) and the "large dominant male" form that we see in
zoos, with the big head flaps and twice the size of the females. A dominant
male can suppress other males in the area transforming into large form by
its vocalizations--hearing a dominant male calling prevents the
transformation. When the local dominant male dies, the other males nearby
compete to see who will be dominant, and that male transforms and grows the
head flaps.

So reasonably close relatives of Homo (the split was around 15 million years
ago) do have multi-stage life cycles, at least for males.

Mind you, it can be argued that menopause represents a separate life-stage
than the fertile period.
--
Carl Fink ***@nitpicking.com

Read John Grant's book, Corrupted Science: http://a.co/9UsUoGu
Dedicated to ... Carl Fink!
-dsr-
2019-11-11 11:54:46 UTC
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Post by Carl Fink
Post by -dsr-
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) ...
Our cousins, the orangutans, do.
Males have two bodyforms, the "small male" form that resembles the females
in size (but stronger) and the "large dominant male" form that we see in
zoos, with the big head flaps and twice the size of the females. A dominant
male can suppress other males in the area transforming into large form by
its vocalizations--hearing a dominant male calling prevents the
transformation. When the local dominant male dies, the other males nearby
compete to see who will be dominant, and that male transforms and grows the
head flaps.
Thanks! I hadn't even suspected this as a thing I should be curious about.

-dsr-
Gene Wirchenko
2019-11-12 23:52:13 UTC
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On Mon, 11 Nov 2019 06:54:46 -0500, -dsr-
Post by -dsr-
Post by Carl Fink
Post by -dsr-
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) ...
Our cousins, the orangutans, do.
Males have two bodyforms, the "small male" form that resembles the females
in size (but stronger) and the "large dominant male" form that we see in
zoos, with the big head flaps and twice the size of the females. A dominant
male can suppress other males in the area transforming into large form by
its vocalizations--hearing a dominant male calling prevents the
transformation. When the local dominant male dies, the other males nearby
compete to see who will be dominant, and that male transforms and grows the
head flaps.
Thanks! I hadn't even suspected this as a thing I should be curious about.
And from me. What a lovely bit of data to be ambushed by!

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
Dimensional Traveler
2019-11-13 00:31:56 UTC
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Post by Gene Wirchenko
On Mon, 11 Nov 2019 06:54:46 -0500, -dsr-
Post by -dsr-
Post by Carl Fink
Post by -dsr-
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) ...
Our cousins, the orangutans, do.
Males have two bodyforms, the "small male" form that resembles the females
in size (but stronger) and the "large dominant male" form that we see in
zoos, with the big head flaps and twice the size of the females. A dominant
male can suppress other males in the area transforming into large form by
its vocalizations--hearing a dominant male calling prevents the
transformation. When the local dominant male dies, the other males nearby
compete to see who will be dominant, and that male transforms and grows the
head flaps.
Thanks! I hadn't even suspected this as a thing I should be curious about.
And from me. What a lovely bit of data to be ambushed by!
Better than being ambushed by an orangutan at least. :)
--
"You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"
David DeLaney
2019-12-05 02:34:45 UTC
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Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Gene Wirchenko
On Mon, 11 Nov 2019 06:54:46 -0500, -dsr-
Post by -dsr-
Thanks! I hadn't even suspected this as a thing I should be curious about.
And from me. What a lovely bit of data to be ambushed by!
Better than being ambushed by an orangutan at least. :)
OOOK?

Dave, just pay your fines on time
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
nuny@bid.nes
2019-11-13 09:28:04 UTC
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Post by Carl Fink
Post by -dsr-
Similar to that: suppose these hominids naturally had a two-stage life
(which would be very weird, but whatever) ...
Our cousins, the orangutans, do.
Males have two bodyforms, the "small male" form that resembles the females
in size (but stronger) and the "large dominant male" form that we see in
zoos, with the big head flaps and twice the size of the females. A dominant
male can suppress other males in the area transforming into large form by
its vocalizations--hearing a dominant male calling prevents the
transformation. When the local dominant male dies, the other males nearby
compete to see who will be dominant, and that male transforms and grows the
head flaps.
So reasonably close relatives of Homo (the split was around 15 million years
ago) do have multi-stage life cycles, at least for males.
Thanks for explaining better than I would have.

It does fit rather neatly into the whole Protector thing...
Post by Carl Fink
Mind you, it can be argued that menopause represents a separate life-stage
than the fertile period.
Hence the widespread "social construct" of the stages in women's lives of "maid, mother and crone".


Mark L. Fergerson
Johnny1A
2019-11-18 06:26:45 UTC
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Post by Carl Fink
Mind you, it can be argued that menopause represents a separate life-stage
than the fertile period.
--
In context of the thread, menopause comes at (very approximately) the same age that a female 'should' be craving ToL and converting into a Protector.
Johnny1A
2019-10-25 04:47:12 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
Phssthpok exposes his human captive Brennan to Tree of Life. Despite the odds (surely millions of years of divergent evolution would have bred out the susceptibility) humans are still enough like Pak that the Tree of Life transforms Brennan into a Protector. No matter how odd they look, humans are Pak. Phssthpok has succeed into finding the lost colonists. With his help, they will regain their lost heritage. <
If we once grant that humans are descended from Pak, I have no problem believing that the transformation would still work. Millions of years is not a very long in evolutionary time, and _H. sapiens_ is not _that_ different from _H. habilis_. In fact, we see that it doesn't work _perfectly_, Protector-Brennan is different enough from Pak baseline that Phssthpok gets an uncanny valley vibe.
Post by James Nicoll
Standard classic SF genocide and mass murder warning. <
Niven actually manages to set Brennan a rather nasty moral dilemma, though. The oncoming Pak ships (before they find out about the armada) really are coming to save us, or would have been, and yet they are en existential threat to our survival.
Post by James Nicoll
Dean Ellis’ cover art was effectively eye-catching and relevant to the plot, in an era when a lot of SF lines were happy to toss a semi-naked woman on the cover and call it a day.
Ironically, in this case a naked woman (or naked couple) would have been completely _justified_ by the text. The spacesuits Truesdale and Alice wore were transparent, and they were naked under them at first on the asteroid.

ISTR that Niven said one inspiration for the story was an exploration of whether immortality, or extreme longevity, could make evolutionary sense, the 'late-life protector' stage was one possible answer that occurred to him.

It makes an interesting story, for all its biology problems, but the biggest negative issue with it, IMHO, is that it ate Known Space alive in later years, the Protector-stage effect ended up turning up everywhere in story after story.
Johnny1A
2019-10-26 04:21:19 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
One can see here themes that later appear in Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye: intelligence won’t free one from instinct; there exist worn-out worlds subject to millennia of world wars by genocidal races unable to moderate their reproduction (because being able to defer gratification never wins in these sort of universes); to the sufficiently intelligent there is only ever one right answer.
In fact, one pretty good sign that MIGE and _Protector_ were written roughly contemporaneously: in my copy of _Protector_, at one point Protector-Brennan calls Alice 'Sally' without explanation. I'm pretty sure that's a reference to Sally Fowler from MIGE, and Niven probably used that name by mistake from habit and it slipped past everyone.
Peter Trei
2019-10-26 05:31:28 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
As for the biology problem:

I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?

pt
Default User
2019-10-26 21:22:38 UTC
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Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The weren't "seeded" with anything but food yeast. Even starting from the same low-level organism like that won't give you high-level correlation. Humans are perfectly standard vertebrates, tetrapods, placental mammals, primates, apes, etc.

Brian
nuny@bid.nes
2019-10-28 01:10:25 UTC
Reply
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Post by Default User
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I
thought that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by
Slavers (see World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life.
Thus, Homo Habilis seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago)
by a failed Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics (and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The weren't "seeded" with anything but food yeast. Even starting from the
same low-level organism like that won't give you high-level correlation.
Humans are perfectly standard vertebrates, tetrapods, placental mammals,
primates, apes, etc.
The Slavers didn't seed anything, they had their slaves do it. Slaves like the Tnuctipun who I remind you designed the evolution-proof Bandersnatchi, proving they knew how at least some of how evolution works.

I would not put it past the Tnuctipun to make damned sure the food yeast would evolve into something that could challenge the Slavers, and steer the inevitable evolution toward featherless bipeds like us and the Pak. They may well have designed ToL virus too.

(What would a Tnuctip Protector be like?)


Mark L. Fergerson
J. Clarke
2019-10-28 04:35:56 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Default User
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I
thought that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by
Slavers (see World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life.
Thus, Homo Habilis seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago)
by a failed Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics (and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The weren't "seeded" with anything but food yeast. Even starting from the
same low-level organism like that won't give you high-level correlation.
Humans are perfectly standard vertebrates, tetrapods, placental mammals,
primates, apes, etc.
The Slavers didn't seed anything, they had their slaves do it. Slaves like the Tnuctipun who I remind you designed the evolution-proof Bandersnatchi, proving they knew how at least some of how evolution works.
I would not put it past the Tnuctipun to make damned sure the food yeast would evolve into something that could challenge the Slavers, and steer the inevitable evolution toward featherless bipeds like us and the Pak. They may well have designed ToL virus too.
(What would a Tnuctip Protector be like?)
But where did the Jotoki, Outsiders, and the like come from?
nuny@bid.nes
2019-11-07 06:40:48 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Post by ***@bid.nes
Post by Default User
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I
thought that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by
Slavers (see World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life.
Thus, Homo Habilis seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago)
by a failed Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics (and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The weren't "seeded" with anything but food yeast. Even starting from the
same low-level organism like that won't give you high-level correlation.
Humans are perfectly standard vertebrates, tetrapods, placental mammals,
primates, apes, etc.
The Slavers didn't seed anything, they had their slaves do it. Slaves like
the Tnuctipun who I remind you designed the evolution-proof Bandersnatchi,
proving they knew how at least some of how evolution works.
I would not put it past the Tnuctipun to make damned sure the food yeast
would evolve into something that could challenge the Slavers, and steer
the inevitable evolution toward featherless bipeds like us and the Pak.
They may well have designed ToL virus too.
(What would a Tnuctip Protector be like?)
But where did the Jotoki, Outsiders, and the like come from?
According to one of the "Man-Kzin Wars" books the Outsiders were designed by beings from another Universe. If you don't accept that as canon, I submit they are the result of so separate an evolution (liquid hydrogen and helium metabolism, remember) that they were around when the Thrint etc. were, but were immune to their mind control (no notochord and likely superconductive nerves, if they even *have* nerves). How do you think they came to know so damned much? They've been accumulating information for a LOOOOONG time.

The Jotoki- Where did octopi and squid come from on Earth? Same genetic ancestors we did whose genes recombined differently over zillions of generations. Are there or were there ever anything resembling featherless bipeds on the Jotoki homeworld?


Mark L. Fergerson
David DeLaney
2019-12-05 02:27:31 UTC
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Post by ***@bid.nes
(What would a Tnuctip Protector be like?)
VERY scary.

Dave, okay, everyone out of the universe! let's go, let's go ... no, push those
Xeelee aside...
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
James Nicoll
2019-10-27 15:24:52 UTC
Reply
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Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed
Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The problem with that solution in this setting is that there is at
least one intelligent species whose last common point with us was
slaver food yeast (the Kzin) and their body plan is nothing like
ours under the skin.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Peter Trei
2019-10-27 20:11:14 UTC
Reply
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Post by James Nicoll
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed
Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The problem with that solution in this setting is that there is at
least one intelligent species whose last common point with us was
slaver food yeast (the Kzin) and their body plan is nothing like
ours under the skin.
Point taken. At the biochemical level though, they remain similar enough for
Kzinti to eat humans (and presumably, the other way around).

pt
Johnny1A
2019-10-28 03:46:25 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed
Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The problem with that solution in this setting is that there is at
least one intelligent species whose last common point with us was
slaver food yeast (the Kzin) and their body plan is nothing like
ours under the skin.
Point taken. At the biochemical level though, they remain similar enough for
Kzinti to eat humans (and presumably, the other way around).
pt
Yeah, the food yeast concept could explain why Pak/Humans, Earth-based life, Kzinti, Puppeteers, etc. are all biochemically similar. But it doesn't explain why the Kzinti are 'cat people', or why Pak are so similar to Terran mammals.

Niven does touch on this issue, a little, in _Protector_. It's explicit that the major apes (chimps, gorillas, etc) are also Pak breeders after 3 million years of selective pressure. One of Brennan's worries, for ex, is that Phssthpok might seed a park area on Earth with tree-of-life, and let the ape Protectors be his foot soldiers to wipe out _H. sapiens_.

(A gorilla Protector would presumably be less intelligent than a human Protector, but still _way_ smarter than a Human breeder.)

But what about the monkeys? What about the lemurs? Are they Pak?

There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory. Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and travelled out to Sol.

OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic _miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using (IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the rock was solid plutonium.

I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
Chrysi Cat
2019-10-28 11:27:30 UTC
Reply
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Peter Trei
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
I haven't reviewed any Grand Timelines of Known Space recently, but I thought
that many planets in the KS space had been initially seeded by Slavers (see
World of Ptavs), many of which later evolved advanced life. Thus, Homo Habilis
seeded later (but still 10s of millions of years ago) by a failed
Protector colonizaton effort could still have had compatible
biochemistry and genetics
(and a distant cousin relationship) to Earth life?
The problem with that solution in this setting is that there is at
least one intelligent species whose last common point with us was
slaver food yeast (the Kzin) and their body plan is nothing like
ours under the skin.
Point taken. At the biochemical level though, they remain similar enough for
Kzinti to eat humans (and presumably, the other way around).
pt
Yeah, the food yeast concept could explain why Pak/Humans, Earth-based life, Kzinti, Puppeteers, etc. are all biochemically similar. But it doesn't explain why the Kzinti are 'cat people', or why Pak are so similar to Terran mammals.
Niven does touch on this issue, a little, in _Protector_. It's explicit that the major apes (chimps, gorillas, etc) are also Pak breeders after 3 million years of selective pressure. One of Brennan's worries, for ex, is that Phssthpok might seed a park area on Earth with tree-of-life, and let the ape Protectors be his foot soldiers to wipe out _H. sapiens_.
(A gorilla Protector would presumably be less intelligent than a human Protector, but still _way_ smarter than a Human breeder.)
But what about the monkeys? What about the lemurs? Are they Pak?
There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory. Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and travelled out to Sol.
OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic _miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using (IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the rock was solid plutonium.
I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
Well, the nice thing is that in THEORY and unlike almost all the rest of
the New Wave, you can still track him down to ask him (though whether
he'd react any better than Ellison would have had you managed to ask
about The Last Dangerous Visions is another matter altogether) :-P

Though since he _is_ 81 now I guess you'd have to be somewhat quick
about it? Too bad that if he ever frequented this group, it would have
been WAY back before I even found it.
--
Chrysi Cat
1/2 anthrocat, nearly 1/2 anthrofox, all magical
Transgoddess, quick to anger.
Call me Chrysi or call me Kat, I'll respond to either!
James Nicoll
2019-10-28 15:06:03 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory.
Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told
that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly
cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut
chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a
life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and
travelled out to Sol.
OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic
_miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using
(IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that
there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the
rock was solid plutonium.
I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to
skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.

Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.

Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Carl Fink
2019-10-28 16:23:04 UTC
Reply
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Post by James Nicoll
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
Niven forgot to mention that the starship did a double gravity slingshot
maneuver on a nearby binary neutron star system?
--
Carl Fink ***@nitpicking.com

Read John Grant's book, Corrupted Science: http://a.co/9UsUoGu
Dedicated to ... Carl Fink!
James Nicoll
2019-10-28 16:53:17 UTC
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Post by Carl Fink
Post by James Nicoll
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
Niven forgot to mention that the starship did a double gravity slingshot
maneuver on a nearby binary neutron star system?
According to Dyson, that could be good for up to .27 C, which just leaves the
problem of slowing down with a woefully inadequate ion drive. But hey, stars
move so maybe the reason the Pak chose Sol is because at that time it had
a handy neutron star binary passing by.

(curiously, at the average interstellar speeds in our neighbourhood, the ringworld
could have been adjacent to the Solar System when the Pak arrived before moving
on to its current position)
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
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Johnny1A
2019-10-29 03:43:45 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Carl Fink
Post by James Nicoll
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
Niven forgot to mention that the starship did a double gravity slingshot
maneuver on a nearby binary neutron star system?
According to Dyson, that could be good for up to .27 C, which just leaves the
problem of slowing down with a woefully inadequate ion drive. But hey, stars
move so maybe the reason the Pak chose Sol is because at that time it had
a handy neutron star binary passing by.
(curiously, at the average interstellar speeds in our neighbourhood, the ringworld
could have been adjacent to the Solar System when the Pak arrived before moving
on to its current position)
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Of course, if it was, the subsequent Pak wouldn't have chosen that star. I think it's more or less explicit canon that Ringworld is where it is because Earth is where it is, that is, a subsequent group of Pak Protectors followed the track of the original settlers, and chose a star in the same general region of the outer galaxy. (Upthread I made a reference to the 'other' galaxy, what I meant was the 'outer' galaxy, as opposed to the near-core regions where Pak orbits.)

But recall that we're talking about Pak Protectors. They'd come out to our region, because that route had been scouted and is thus preferable (i.e. lower risk to breeders) than going into the total unknown). They wouldn't come to Earth proper because they already know about the 'tree-of-life doesn't work here' issue.

At the same time, though, they wouldn't want to settle too close, either. Maybe someday the roots will work, or more Pak might come out toward Earth. Better to build their Ring somewhere a relatively safe (at STL speeds) distance away.
Johnny1A
2019-10-29 03:46:23 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Johnny1A
There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory.
Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told
that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly
cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut
chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a
life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and
travelled out to Sol.
OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic
_miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using
(IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that
there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the
rock was solid plutonium.
I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to
skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
It would also be interesting to find out what ever happened to that asteroid-ship. I can't imagine the Protectors would leave it in Earth orbit, if the orbit ever decayed, catastrophe follows. At the same time, it would be a lot of effort to send it out-system or dump it into the Sun. So I would suspect they put it in solar orbit somewhere...which means it ought to still be findable later. I wonder if the UN/Belters looked for it...
Robert Carnegie
2019-10-29 11:28:18 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Johnny1A
There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory.
Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told
that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly
cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut
chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a
life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and
travelled out to Sol.
OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic
_miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using
(IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that
there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the
rock was solid plutonium.
I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to
skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
--
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It would also be interesting to find out what ever happened to that asteroid-ship. I can't imagine the Protectors would leave it in Earth orbit, if the orbit ever decayed, catastrophe follows. At the same time, it would be a lot of effort to send it out-system or dump it into the Sun. So I would suspect they put it in solar orbit somewhere...which means it ought to still be findable later. I wonder if the UN/Belters looked for it...
It's not that big round thing that makes our tides?
Johnny1A
2019-10-31 03:28:10 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
Post by Johnny1A
There's also a physics issue Niven skims over in the backstory.
Supposedly, our ancestors arrived on an asteroidal slowboat. We're told
that the Pak who decided to settle the other galaxy took a roughly
cylindrical nickel iron rock, about 2 miles long by a mile across, cut
chambers inside it to carry Pak breeders in suspended animation, and a
life system for themselves, and accelerated slowly up to about .16c and
travelled out to Sol.
OK...calculate how much energy it would take to bring about 1.5 cubic
_miles_ of nickel iron to .16c. Then recall that the Pak were using
(IIRC) plutonium fission power to power the drive...my BOTEC says that
there wouldn't be anywhere close to enough energy available even if the
rock was solid plutonium.
I don't know if Niven didn't do the math on that one, or just decided to
skip it and hope it wasn't noticed.
We could do the math, though. Fission is what, up to about .1% conversion
of mass to energy? So each kg of Pu is good for 9x10E13 J? Assume because
Pak they have some way of turning that into exhaust without losses, and I
get an exhaust velocity of about 4% C. Plug that into the rocket equation
and we get a mass ratio of 55: for every kilogram of dry mass the Pak
came up with 54 kg of Pu. Call the rock 30 billion tonnes: the Pak found
a source for 1.6 trillion tonnes of Pu. Well, except they probably want
to slow down too so square the mass ratio: now it's closer to 90 trillion
tons of Pu.
Let's say the Pak homeworld has 10 ppm of fissionables in its crust (although
it wouldn't be in the form of Pu, surely?). That means they processed
~10E19 tonnes of crust material. Earth's crust masses about 6x10E19 tonnes?
So roughly one sixth of an Earth crust's worth of fissionables.
Except the text is plain that this is a cesium-based ion drive, so the
exhaust velocity is probably much, much lower than 4% C, the mass ratios
are much much much much much higher and somewhere adjacent to the Pak we
have to assume there was a very large world composed mostly of cesium.
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
It would also be interesting to find out what ever happened to that asteroid-ship. I can't imagine the Protectors would leave it in Earth orbit, if the orbit ever decayed, catastrophe follows. At the same time, it would be a lot of effort to send it out-system or dump it into the Sun. So I would suspect they put it in solar orbit somewhere...which means it ought to still be findable later. I wonder if the UN/Belters looked for it...
It's not that big round thing that makes our tides?
Wrong space opera.
Johnny1A
2019-11-04 08:39:45 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
As I noted on-thread, Niven said the inspiration for his thought process on _Protector_ was a discussion about whether immortality/extreme longevity would ever make biological sense.

If we look at the Pak life cycle independent of the idea that they are us, it seems to me that Niven might have been on to something. There are arguments in favor of the idea.

Having a creature transform into a form optimized for violence and protective behavior, after the reproductive phase, can be looked at as an extension of the tendency of parents to protect offspring (at least in those species that show that behavior at all). Further, since they have already reproduced, those elder individuals can be seen as 'expendable' in an evolutionary sense.
Johnny1A
2019-11-06 06:37:24 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
A possibility Niven never addressed, as far as I recall, but that occurred to me when I read _Protector_: the transformation has to be a delicate process while it's underway. But a lot of the humans of Earth and Belt in that era are genetic patchworks, because of all the organ transplantation. I wonder if that might not create issues...
Robert Carnegie
2019-11-06 14:30:55 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
A possibility Niven never addressed, as far as I recall, but that occurred to me when I read _Protector_: the transformation has to be a delicate process while it's underway. But a lot of the humans of Earth and Belt in that era are genetic patchworks, because of all the organ transplantation. I wonder if that might not create issues...
Niven's future had transplant organ compatibility well worked out;
IIRC real-world "genetic fingerprinting" hadn't appeared but they
had "tissue rejection spectrum" evidence to identify blood or other
biological traces. So, transplant organs might be compatible enough
to not be an issue.

But my impression is that they also had extended life span without
transplants, for most people. And someone just cited Brennan as
stating that people over 60 - presumably with the benefits I'm
imagining - would be non-survivors anyway.

Of course younger people have transplants, in real life.
Currently _House, M.D._ is getting two repeats a night:
a lot of his (fictional) patients end up with transplants.
The best doctors are the worst people, or something.
Johnny1A
2019-11-07 04:44:03 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
A possibility Niven never addressed, as far as I recall, but that occurred to me when I read _Protector_: the transformation has to be a delicate process while it's underway. But a lot of the humans of Earth and Belt in that era are genetic patchworks, because of all the organ transplantation. I wonder if that might not create issues...
Niven's future had transplant organ compatibility well worked out;
IIRC real-world "genetic fingerprinting" hadn't appeared but they
had "tissue rejection spectrum" evidence to identify blood or other
biological traces. So, transplant organs might be compatible enough
to not be an issue.
But my impression is that they also had extended life span without
transplants, for most people. And someone just cited Brennan as
stating that people over 60 - presumably with the benefits I'm
imagining - would be non-survivors anyway.
Of course younger people have transplants, in real life.
a lot of his (fictional) patients end up with transplants.
The best doctors are the worst people, or something.
What I was thinking was more along the lines of organs undergoing the transformation, but not quite physically matching once the transformation was underway, since they are from different bodies.
nuny@bid.nes
2019-11-07 06:32:47 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
A possibility Niven never addressed, as far as I recall, but that
occurred to me when I read _Protector_: the transformation has to
be a delicate process while it's underway. But a lot of the humans
of Earth and Belt in that era are genetic patchworks, because of all
the organ transplantation. I wonder if that might not create issues...
Do the Pak have what we call races? In that sense all of the Earth's population in most of Niven's futures- and most now- are "genetic patchworks".

Does it matter how much Neanderthal/Denisovan DNA one has?
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Robert Carnegie
Niven's future had transplant organ compatibility well worked out;
IIRC real-world "genetic fingerprinting" hadn't appeared but they
had "tissue rejection spectrum" evidence to identify blood or other
biological traces. So, transplant organs might be compatible enough
to not be an issue.
But my impression is that they also had extended life span without
transplants, for most people. And someone just cited Brennan as
stating that people over 60 - presumably with the benefits I'm
imagining - would be non-survivors anyway.
Of course younger people have transplants, in real life.
a lot of his (fictional) patients end up with transplants.
The best doctors are the worst people, or something.
What I was thinking was more along the lines of organs undergoing the
transformation, but not quite physically matching once the transformation
was underway, since they are from different bodies.
Why would that matter? The virus is just reading the DNA that's there- it doesn't care if it's from two different people. A person who's a real-world chimera should be able to make the transformation for that matter.

OTOH the resulting protector might think it "smelled funny" to itself. That could be awkward.


Mark L. Fergerson
a***@msn.com
2019-11-08 00:16:42 UTC
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Post by Johnny1A
What I was thinking was more along the lines of organs undergoing the transformation, but not quite physically matching once the transformation was underway, since they are from different bodies.
Or some organs being too old or too young to transform, because they had been taken from donors of significantly different age from the recipient.
Johnny1A
2019-11-18 06:33:03 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
Protector by Larry Niven
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/angry-sea
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
An interesting aspect of the story is the peculiar _limitations_ of Protector minds, along with their immense intelligence.

Phssthpok is intelligent enough that he can examine the fusion rocket that propels Brennan's ship for an hour or two, and from that be capable of replicating it, if he had the raw materials.

But at the same time, Protectors have little in the way of imagination, and no concept of representative art. There is a drawing (IIRC) on the cabin wall of Brennan's ship, a 2D representation of Brennan's family (mate and offspring). Phssthpok can't comprehend its purpose, he might not even recognize it as a representation.

Niven notes that if Phssthpok had understood it, he might have been inspired to the concept of artificially reproducing the pheromonal scent of offspring, which was an idea that could have completely transformed Pak history. Earth/Belt tech could probably do it by Brennan's time, I would imagine such replication would be trivially easy for Protectors.

But _they never thought of it_. Little imagination.
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