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 Post subject: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 2:42 pm 
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Antisocial General
Antisocial General

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:35 am
Posts: 7883
Location: MLC, Lyran Alliance.
The class tries to stifle a giggle as a pudgy, white haired, four-eyed professor in outdated clothes comes into the classroom. He arranges books, papers and other items on his desk in a shuffling way, then takes the podium and begins to speak in a casually slow, but deliberate fashion.

So, I am Doctor Mallard. Most people, however, just call me "Ducky".

He pauses for the obligatory class chuckle at his name, and smiles awkwardly.

Welcome to our introductory course on xenobiology. That is, the study of "alien" life, or to say it more specifically, life forms that did not originate from Terra. And on that point, I must first make a distinction of dire importance, which you should carry with you throughout this course and into your future, whether you decide to specialize in xenobiology or not:

There is a great difference between TERRA, and TERRAN.

What I mean by that is that just because a world is classified as TERRAN, does NOT mean that its life forms will be anything like what we are accustomed to on TERRA itself.

You see, the classification of "Terran" worlds encompasses a staggering variety of environmental conditions. Atmospheric chemistry, water content, global temperature, impact events, volcanism, gravity...all these things and more can affect how life forms evolve, in surprising ways for seemingly minor differences.

For a simple example, let us look at a common dragonfly, an animal familiar to us from Terra.

He holds up a live dragonfly in a jar.

Dragonflies are insects. That is, arthropods, and like most land-bound arthropods, they breathe through their skin. This naturally limits their size, based on their surface area and weight and other factors that affect their consumption of oxygen, including the oxygen content of the atmosphere. As you can see, a large dragonfly in today's conditions is barely a decimeter across the wings.

However, in prehistoric times, the oxygen content of Terra's atmosphere was higher than now. The difference was only a few percentage points, but even that small change was enough to let dragonflies grow to wingspans of over two meters.

He pauses to let that sink in, then picks up an animal crate such as might hold a small dog, and sets it on the desk.

Spiders are another example. On Terra, a spider the size of your hand is considered HUGE. I already mentioned how arthropods breathe through their skin, and how that limits their size. So how do you think THIS is possible?

He opens the crate, and the class recoils in fear as a gray, hairy, tarantula-like creature half a meter long emerges. The professor merely smiles as he pets the creature, and it makes a happy vibrating sound almost like a purr.

This is an Alpine Crawler, a species native to Tharkad...an icy, rocky world, hence its fur covering and coloration. Its many legs allow it to get about in its native environment. It looks like a spider, to be sure, but in many ways, it has more in common with Terra's mammals...including the greater thermal and breathing efficiency of lungs. And domestication, I might add. They act much like dogs when one treats them properly.

The professor pulls out a small meat treat

Play dead!

The creature immediately flips on its back and curls up, and the class laughs as the creature gets its reward before being returned to its crate. The professor smiles as he waits for the laughter and chatter to die down, then continues.

The point of that demonstration was to show that you cannot assume anything about an alien creature based on its appearance, even if it appears similar to a familiar creature from Terra. Let me show you a...different...case in point.

He picks up a jar containing what appears to be a brightly colored butterfly.

Pretty, isn't it? Pretty deadly, actually. This is a Bloodmoth. We think it originally came from the jungles of Sian, but it has become an invasive species on many worlds in the Capellan Confederation. It is carnivorous, and catches and digests prey with an acidic, poisonous bite. To humans, the bite is hemotoxic, breaking down flesh and causing bleeding, both inside and out. A good bite can kill a human being within hours without treatment.

He puts down the jar, rolls up a sleeve, and then walks around the room showing the hand sized divot in his arm where flesh is missing.

I was lucky enough to have a local guide with the antivenom.

He returns to the podium, and faces the now quiet class with his head high.

THAT summarizes the first and most fundamental point of xenobiology: when dealing with alien life forms, ASSUME NOTHING. Because assumptions based on the familiar appearance of otherwise alien creatures, kill hundreds or even thousands of people every day across human space.

Now, with the gloom and doom out of the way, let's move on to the course outline...

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Last edited by Shades of Grey on Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:00 pm 
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Stratego
Stratego

Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 10855
Location: Ft. Hood Texas
Excellent...very well written.

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Darkness is a friend of mine. Sometimes I have to beat it back, or it would overwhelm me. Shirley Meier

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 1:40 pm 
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General Nuisance
General Nuisance

Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 3448
Location: In da Fridge stealing URBeer!
Reminds me of my Introduction to the Habu when I got to Okinawa. A bright green 6" long or so snake that's bite will leave you dead in just a couple of minutes. :shocked:

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 1:58 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:22 am
Posts: 2198
Such class should be mandatory for any military force operating outside of its own star system.

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Loki
Loki

Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 11444
Location: Minnesnowta
impressive

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:13 pm 
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Antisocial General
Antisocial General

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:35 am
Posts: 7883
Location: MLC, Lyran Alliance.
Thanks guys.

Literary note: I borrowed the character "Ducky" from the "NCIS" TV show to be the professor. I like to do things like that, because it gives readers a good visual in their head of the person and voice speaking.

_________________
Be careful what you wish for. I might let you have it. :evil:


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:45 pm 
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Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General

Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:13 pm
Posts: 670
Location: Sheffield UK
I'm showing my age but David MaCallum will allways be Ilya Kuryakin to me.

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hmmm hooom


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:22 am
Posts: 2198
Quote:
Literary note: I borrowed the character "Ducky" from the "NCIS" TV show to be the professor.
CGL does that too: on one page of Historical: Operation Klondike there are mentioned names Babylon, Sinclair and Sheridan.

_________________
[i]You know what they say, don't you? About how us MechWarriors are the modern knights errant, how warfare has become civilized now that we have to abide by conventions and rules of war. Don't believe it.[/i]

[url=http://www.mekwars.org][u]MekWars[/u][/url]


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 3:00 pm 
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C.O., 1st Kilted
C.O., 1st Kilted

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 1501
Location: Minneapolis
Quote:
Thanks guys.

Literary note: I borrowed the character "Ducky" from the "NCIS" TV show to be the professor. I like to do things like that, because it gives readers a good visual in their head of the person and voice speaking.
So I'm not going crazy, then. At least, not because of that.


Teemo

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 3:14 pm 
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Precentor Dementia
Precentor Dementia

Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 3317
Location: Sharkbase, in a CenTex Cavern
Quote:
Quote:
Literary note: I borrowed the character "Ducky" from the "NCIS" TV show to be the professor.
CGL does that too: on one page of Historical: Operation Klondike there are mentioned names Babylon, Sinclair and Sheridan.
*gives Matti a big ugly stare*

*smacks Matti upside the back of the head*

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:28 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:46 pm
Posts: 3155
Location: El Dorado
Excellent write-up. The Tharkad ice spider thing gives me the willies, especially because it reminds me of a bad made-for-SyFy movie. ;)
Quote:
Spiders are another example. On Terra, a spider the size of your hand is considered HUGE. I already mentioned how arthropods breathe through their skin, and how that limits their size. So how do you think THIS is possible?
I'm not sure if this quite contradicts your statement, since spiders' "book lungs" are basically pockets of highly folded skin that aren't actively pumped by a diaphragm, but spiders and scorpions do sorta-kinda have lungs.

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"Woo, that was bracing! They don't like it when you shoot at them. I worked that out myself." --Mal, Firefly

"Going bonkers from EI or DNI is pushing it. I mean how many Crusaders or Super Wobbies are sane to begin with...." --RockJock01


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:16 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:22 am
Posts: 2198
Silly question just came to my head: is there in BattleTech anything like the bugs of Starship Troopers?

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[i]You know what they say, don't you? About how us MechWarriors are the modern knights errant, how warfare has become civilized now that we have to abide by conventions and rules of war. Don't believe it.[/i]

[url=http://www.mekwars.org][u]MekWars[/u][/url]


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Supreme Mugwump
Supreme Mugwump

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:42 pm
Posts: 3183
i do not think so, but when the storyline has to be written on they might be an option...
id rule them as beast mounted infantry, being beast and infantrist in the same time

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typos and spelling-mistakes are property of the finder. english is not my mother-tongue.


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:56 pm 
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C.O., 1st Kilted
C.O., 1st Kilted

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 1501
Location: Minneapolis
Quote:
Excellent write-up. The Tharkad ice spider thing gives me the willies, especially because it reminds me of a bad made-for-SyFy movie. ;)
There's another kind? :tongue:


Teemo

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:08 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:46 pm
Posts: 3155
Location: El Dorado
Quote:
Silly question just came to my head: is there in BattleTech anything like the bugs of Starship Troopers?
See the "Bug storms" weather modification in TacOps, pg40. It's not a very lethal hazard, though certain bug storms can injure conventional infantry and certain other vulnerable units. Mostly they're a targeting penalty.

The idea is easy to modify, though, into a frequently voracious unit.

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Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

"Woo, that was bracing! They don't like it when you shoot at them. I worked that out myself." --Mal, Firefly

"Going bonkers from EI or DNI is pushing it. I mean how many Crusaders or Super Wobbies are sane to begin with...." --RockJock01


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:11 am 
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Supreme Mugwump
Supreme Mugwump

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:42 pm
Posts: 3183
just spray the bugstorm with growth hormones...

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typos and spelling-mistakes are property of the finder. english is not my mother-tongue.


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:43 pm 
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Major General
Major General

Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 759
Location: Hope Mills, NC
I'm showing my age but David MaCallum will allways be Ilya Kuryakin to me.


To me as well.

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Trueborn Warrior

Pain heals, Chicks dig scars but GLORY lasts forever!!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:56 pm 
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Antisocial General
Antisocial General

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:35 am
Posts: 7883
Location: MLC, Lyran Alliance.
Quote:
I'm showing my age but David MaCallum will allways be Ilya Kuryakin to me.
Actually, that is referenced in an episode of NCIS. Someone asked Gibbs what Ducky looked like when he was younger, and Gibbs answered, "Ilya Kuryakin." I laughed so hard... Image

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Be careful what you wish for. I might let you have it. :evil:


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 Post subject: Re: Xenobiology 101
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:59 am 
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General Nuisance
General Nuisance

Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 3448
Location: In da Fridge stealing URBeer!
Quote:
I'm showing my age but David MaCallum will allways be Ilya Kuryakin to me.


To me as well.
Showing my age... I thought this was about MacAttack :rotate:

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