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Aug 30, 2015

Nanites

Men In Tights 2 and Zeptites in Women (click image to enlarge)
For the past three years I have often been making hypertext links from many of my blog posts about artificial life to this old blog post about nanites as well as related pages at the Encyclopedia of Future Science. I've recently had a chance to discuss nanites, femtobots and zeptites with Gohrlay, so it is finally time to have an updated blog post about these tiny devices and the forms of artificial life that contain them.

bond lengths in meters
Room at the bottom.
Nanites are imaginary technology that might one day be made from ordinary matter. Femtobots are a million times smaller and made of hierions, not hadrons. Hierion-based matter allows for creation of artificial life forms that are as complex as a human being, but as small as a molecule of ordinary matter.
A femtobot exploring the active site of an enzyme. (source)

Nanoarchaeum equitans
How many angels can sit on the head of a pin? What is the smallest living organism? Gohrlay insists on restricting our discussions about such topics to material objects. She holds that human concepts related to the existence of non-material things are a cognitive pathology that commonly arises among primitive creatures like Earthlings, but they are useless and irrelevant.
parvoviruses

Viruses can replicate, but they are often not counted as life forms. Neither viruses or the smallest bacteria can survive without access to resources from other organisms. According to Gohrlay, we humans are similar in that we require our zeptite endosymbionts to survive.

Matter
Contents of the universe.
The primitive physical sciences of Earth divide the contents of the universe into just a few main categories such as dark energy, dark matter, interstellar gas and stars.

Jean-Charles Cuillandre
All of the gas, dust, black holes and stars of our universe are made almost entirely of hadronic matter: by mass, ordinary matter is mostly in the form of protons and neutrons.

According to Gohrlay, the alien Huaoshy long ago discovered additional fundamental particles besides the quarks and the other particles that are known to Earthly scientists. There are two additional families of fundamental particles: the hierions and the sedrons.

Hierions
The Hierion Domain
The M-hierions allow for the existence of a form of stable matter in which the bonds between hierion particles are a million times smaller than the chemical bonds of conventional hadronic matter.

R. Gohrlay and her team of positronic robots spent about 10,000,000 years exploring how to use hierions for the construction of femtobots. According to Gohrlay, one of the tricks that can be performed using hierions is that it is possible to "convert" a person (composed of hadrons) into a "replicoid" that is composed of hierions.

Humans exploring hierions.
R. Gohrlay became an expert at working with hierions to create a complex  environmental matrix for artificial life forms within the Hierion Domain. Unlike quarks, hierions are able to move in additional spatial dimensions beyond the three that we experience here in the Hadronic Domain. Thus, the Hierion Domain is immediately "adjacent to" us at all times. Our endosymbionts routinely connect us to the Hierion Domain and with some special effort, can give us limited access to information in the Sedronic Domain.

One of the advanced technologies that was developed by R. Gohrlay is a kind of "portal" that can allow people to move back and forth between the Hadronic Domain and the Hierion Domain.

Sedrons
The Sedronite family tree.
Even smaller than femtobots are zeptites. R. Gohrlay was never able to fully understand sedronic matter and gain access to the Sedronic Domain. Zeptites are a form of sedron-based artificial life that was first created by the Huaoshy billions of years ago.

Here in the Hadronic Domain, pek zeptites constituted the chief adversaries of R. Gohrlay during the Time War. Composed of array sedrons, the physical structure of zeptites is at a scale 1,000,000 times smaller than that of femtobots.

According to Gohrlay, we Earthlings are hybrid organisms, only partially composed of biological cells and conventional hadronic matter. We are also partially composed of a zeptite endosymbiont. Just as Nanoarchaeum equitans is dependent on a host organism for survival, we humans require the presence of our endosymbionts. Humans were designed and originated as Sedronites and the whole reason why the pek range through the galaxies creating Sedronites is to eventually allow them to merge into the Sedronic Domain.
According to Gohrlay, the most common type of life in the universe is artificial life within the Sedronic Domain.
Sedronites are hybrid organisms, usually originating as a Eukaryote like we humans but with a zeptite endosymbiont.

Telepathy, Time Travel and Space Travel
Preland agents on Earth used nanites.
Sedrons are the basis of faster-than-light space travel and they used to be what made time travel possible. Although the Huaoshy recently altered the dimensional structure of the universe so as to make further time travel impossible, it was R. Gohrlay's use of time travel technology and sedron-mediated telepathy that created the basis for the Time War.

During the Time War, R. Gohrlay deployed femtobots on Earth and the pek routinely made use of zeptites, and we might wonder: was there ever advanced nanotechnology in use on Earth? According to Gohrlay, the Grendels and the Prelands who visited Earth both made use of nanites.

The Color of Nanites.
For example, Preland and Grendel agents who operated on Earth were a mixture of biological cells and nanite structural components. They used nanites to alter the form of their bodies, making it easy for them to take on any convenient form.

Due to a combination of laziness and ignorance, I often incorrectly use the term "nanite" to refer to either femtobots, zeptites or true nanites, without making a distinction between the vastly different size scales for hadronic, hierion-based and sedronic matter. Nanites are typically composed only of hadronic matter, but Gohrlay tells me that there can be special circumstances when it is useful to make hybrid devices that contain hierions or sedrons within a nanite superstructure.

Sedronites
Sedronite Interventionists
One of the greatest sources of confusion for me has been the technical term "Sedronite". According to Gohrlay, when the pek first reached our galaxy they "seeded" planets like Earth with zeptites. Thus, life on Earth has for many hundreds of millions of years evolved in a zeptite-rich environment. In many subtle ways the zeptite of Earth guide the course of biological evolution. Finally, about seven million years ago, the pek took some primates from Earth to worlds of the Galactic Core and the first Earth-derived Sedronites were crafted.

Special thanks to Miranda Hedman (www.mirish.deviantart.com) for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the blue "sedronite" who is in the image shown to the left.

The Grendel Intervention
Already at that time, there were other much more advanced Sedronites already in our galaxy, including some who had their genetic origin in the M2 globular cluster that orbits our galaxy. Some of those advanced Sedronites are what we Earthlings know as the Nereids. In those times of the far past, the main concern of the pek was crafting derivatives of "naturally occurring" biological-zeptite symbiotic life forms that could transcend their hadronic limitations and merge into the Sedronic Domain as purely artificial life forms.

Grean discovered our Reality Chain
Many genetic experiments were performed on worlds of the galactic core that involved mixing genetic patterns from different species in order to facilitate the cell-zeptite interactions that are required for transcendence to the Sedronic Domain. According to Gohrlay, it is important to remember that in addition to the pek, the bumpha have also played a role in crafting the human species. Not all Sedronites merge into the Sedronic Domain as quickly as possible. The Nereids were crafted as a hadronic life form that resisted transcendence and that wanted to exist as a technologically-advanced biological species for an extended period of time in the Hadronic Domain. Thus, when R. Gohrlay was in need of allies, it was natural for the bumpha and the Nereids to offer their help.

Other artificial life forms such
as the Phari played a role in shaping
human civilization in Deep Time
According to Gohrlay, the agents of the bumpha (such as the Grendels) have always operated under the Rules of Intervention. There is considerable speculation about the exact form that the Rules of Intervention take, but the only lists of those rules available to us were guesses created by people such as Ivory. I've never seen the actual Huaoshy Rules of Intervention, so I must speculate about the true nature of the rules under which the Grendels operated on Earth. Apparently by restricting the Grendels to the use of nanites, the pek could at any time "over-ride" the Interventionist efforts of the bumpha.

When R. Gohrlay finally realized that she and her allies could not compete against the advanced zeptite technology of the pek, a path to the Tryst-Grean Pact was cleared.

Did memory editing end along with time travel?
It remains a sore point for me that we Earthlings go through our lives unaware of the zeptite endosymbionts that reside within us. My great fear is that we are all puppets, our behavior controlled by the endosymbionts that reside within us. Gohrlay admits that many features of human biology reflect the fact that our biology was long ago adjusted to make it possible for endosymbionts to control our primitive ancestors. For example, the ease with which human memory processes can be disrupted is a remnant of our ancient design that allowed for the pek to quickly and efficiently erase the memories of anyone who "knew too much". Gohrlay claims that we are now in a new era when such memory wipes are not performed, but I'm skeptical.

Next: Beyond the Downwhen Terminus.
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Aug 26, 2015

2015: the Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens

...ya, but now they're cyborg spiders!
Last year, in 2014, my Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens (SIHA) came up empty and I gave the SIHA best alien award to an independent film. Will things turn out any different this year?

2015 Nominations
 Jupiter Ascending - nominated because alien zoo Keepers watch over we Earthlings and keep us fat, happy and ready for harvest.
 Aliens: Zone-X - nominated for the "cyborg spiders".
 Area 51 - nominated for the "Most Stereotypical Aliens" award.
The Skyline Trilogy: Skyline,
Beyond Skyline and Beyond Belief.
ancient alien: Maz Kanata
The Force Awakens - is Maz Kanata an interesting alien or just a Yoda reboot?
 Beyond Skyline - nominated because any flick with brain-harvesting aliens can't be all bad. Right?
Karellen
 Childhood's End - nominated because Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke's alien "Overlords" and the Overmind are classics of science fiction. The question is, can anyone in Hollywood successfully translate Clarke's vision of aliens into a video format?
 The Whispers - nominated because Ray Bradbury.

Thumbs Down
Stone-faced actor award
winner: Mila Kunis
I've taken a careful look at Jupiter Ascending because in that 2015 film the backstory includes the idea that we Earthlings are kept ignorant of the existence of people who live on distant worlds and travel between the stars.

However, the aliens in Jupiter Ascending are not important for the story. Worse than that, the plot is built around the idea that we Earthlings only exist as bioreactors for the production of some magical molecule that can extend life and rejuvenate people.

SIHA
Go to Hell.
OK...I admit, the real question behind my Search for Interesting Hollywood aliens is: can Hollywood make a science fiction movie that I would pay $ to watch?

This is a difficult challenge because, as a reader of science fiction, I'm generally appalled by what typically gets marketed as science fiction by the Hollywood Ca$h-O-Matic industry.

And the Winner Is....
Welcome your Overlords. There's no need to be afraid.
(after waiting until December)
And waiting for Monday. And waiting through commercials (Oh, I paid, baby). I'm giving the 2015 SIHA award to Clarke's "Overlords".
Had Childhood's End been a 90 minute movie in theaters, I would have been tempted to pay to watch it. However, I seldom go to a theater, so I probably would have waited for it to arrive on television. See my comments on Syfy's adaptation of this Arthur C. Clarke classic Sci Fi story. I congratulate Syfy for actually going to the trouble to bring Clarke's story to the attention of television watchers. Hopefully 1 or 2 of them will now read Clarke's book, or maybe Goggle it.

Related Reading:
Absolutely Anything

Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens (SIHA)
2016

2014
2013
2012 

Concept art by Emmanuel Shiu
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Jupiter's Aliens

image source
Immortality is a popular topic for many science fiction story writers. In the case of Jack Vance, his first novel (published in 1956), To Live Forever, was about immortality. During the rest of Vance's long and prolific career as a writer, characters who had a desire for longer life showed up in additional Vance stories.

For example, in The Killing Machine, Demon Prince Kokkor Hekkus had found a way to extend his life. On the "lost world" of Thamber, Hekkus could play out his fantasies, living many different lives of adventure and romance over the course of hundreds of years.

At the end of his writing career, Vance published Ports of Call in which the aging Dame Hester's quest for a fountain of youth becomes the driving force for launching Myron's space travel adventures and visits to distant space ports scattered across the Gaean Reach.

1976 edition
I've never read To Live Forever, but according to Jonathan Goodwin, the protagonist of that story, Gavin Waylock, is another one of Vance's "rebellious heroes" (and another of Vance's "G heroes"). Gavin had reached the apex of his society and had been granted immortality, but then his whole life, and, subsequently, his whole culture, began to unravel.

A common theme in stories about immortality is that attaining the ability to live forever is a kind of trap. Mortals might strive for immortality, but once achieved, immortality can have its own problems.

1982 DAW edition
One of the first novels that I ever read (The City and the Stars) depicted Arthur Clarke's version of an imagined future society where humans had achieved immortality. Clarke imagined a rather static society of immortals who were among the last few remaining residents of Earth. They had completely abandoned the use of space travel technology, then, finally, after many millions of years of stagnation on Earth, a new human was brought into existence and he grew up to become the "rebel" who could knock the immortals of Earth out of their rut and make a return to space travel.

Luri was able to use Fru'wu
technology to achieve immortality.
Until this current blog post, I only had one previous post with the label "immortality". That old blog post was about a woman who was possibly just the second (who was 1st?) Earthling to attain immortality, Luri. She was born "too early", so Luri had to wait around a couple of thousand years for the Buld spaceship to arrive at Earth.

The advanced technology that was used to give Luri immortality was not developed by humans. It was provided to Luri by Interventionist agents. The alien Fru'wu, a much more ancient species than we humans, used advanced nanotechnology to immortalize Luri. That was back when time travel was still possible, and Luri's role in First Contact could be known thousands of years in advance.

Immortal Space Aliens
cover art by Rowena Morrill
My favorite kind of science fiction story is one that involves alien beings from distant planets who are much more technologically advanced than we primitive Earthlings. I like stories that explore the implications of immortal aliens coming in contact with mortal humans.

Miners of Earth
However, I despise stories that involve alien beings who "feed" off of human "life forces". I'm not sure which is more annoying, science fiction plots that involve aliens traveling to Earth across vast interstellar distance to take our gold or plots that suggest aliens would in some way eat humans or collect some "elixir of life" from human bodies, a magic potion that would give the aliens eternal life.  

Jupiter Ascending
I've never seen the film Jupiter Ascending and I don't feel like I've stumbled upon an unbiased account of the film and the aliens that are portrayed in it, so what follows, below, is my best-guess understanding of the film based on what I've read. The rest of this blog post is similar in nature to the most popular post of this blog, in which I tried to make sense of the film Prometheus. Are there any interesting space aliens in Jupiter Ascending?

- - - - - - - - SPOILER WARNING - - - - - - - -
Mrs. Jones, please DON'T NAME YOUR DAUGHTER "JUPITER".
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jupiter's Aliens
The human home world: Orous.
Jupiter Jones is taken away from Earth and given a tour of the galaxy. Even before being taken away from Earth by space-traveling humans from another planet, she gets to meet some "space aliens". I put "space aliens" in quotes because it is not clear exactly what the odd creatures are that show up near the start of Jupiter Ascending and start altering Ms. Jone's life on Earth. 

Ms. Jupiter Jones
This is not a science fiction story about space aliens. In fact, the whole story could have been told on Earth with no mention of space travel.  Humans are the dominant critter of this particular fictional universe. According to this wiki, which tries to give a coherent account of Jupiter Ascending, the human species is very ancient and evolved on a distant planet called Orous.
Caine was engineered to have a huge, ahem, gun.

During their long existence on Orous, humans used genetic engineering to create many different types of creatures who have mixtures of human genes and genes from other species. These genetically-engineered hybrids are called "splices".

Size matters.
Urban Fantasy: Caine's bootie call at the UPS store.
Ms. Jones has an insta-romance with Caine, who was genetically engineered to be part wolf, part bird and part whatever came to Lana or Andy in a moment of "inspiration". Ms. Jones likes dogs and Caine has cool gravity boots, so, of course, she instantly wants to grab his huge gun.

RegeneX you're the one
You make bath time so much fun
RegeneX
A major concern of the residents of Orous is acquiring RegeneX. RegeneX can extend a person's life, but the only source of RegeneX is "harvested" bodies of primitive humans such as Earthlings. Supposedly the only reason that there are humans on Earth is because we have been "planted" here and it is our fate to be "harvested" and processed so as to provide a supply of RegeneX for the human "royalty" who live on other planets like Orous.

"I am not Seraphi."
Okay, so if we grant this highly implausible backstory, we are also asked to believe that one particular Earthling (Ms. Jones) is genetically identical to a recently deceased human royal family member (Seraphi) from the planet Orous. This freak genetic concordance thrusts Ms. Jones, who works as a cleaning lady, into the center of an incoherent transgalactic plot with the fate of all we Earthlings hanging in the balance.
Sargorn Gorn

This "new" science fiction story sounds like the result of some Hollywood script-writing hack's rushed effort to mash together plot ideas from old Sci Fi stories like Dune and Soylent Green. But then, why should we expect anything better from writers who were college drop-outs and who got their start writing for comic books such as Hellraiser?

"..... like a supermodel ... when she opens her mouth, you realize there's almost nothing going on, inside. Which is a shame, because so, so pretty."

Did someone mention aliens?
Keepers from Diorite
We are told that in the fictional universe of Jupiter Ascending, humans discovered Earth about 65,000,000 yeas ago, at a time when it was dominated by Sargorns. The Sargorns were eliminated from Earth, but some were genetically modified and kept around as servants on Orous for the House of Abrasax, the family that "owns" Earth and uses it as their cattle human ranch.

The presumed "space aliens" of Jupiter Ascending (shown in the image to the right) serve the royal humans of Orous as "Keepers". These Keepers make sure that the humans of Earth remain ignorant and unaware of their lowly status as livestock.

Princess Jupiter
Members of the House of Abrasax take turns trying to capture or kill or endlessly chase after Ms. Jones because (listen carefully!) she is genetically identical to the former and recently deceased head of the royal family. Ms. Jones eventually gains legal title as the new "owner" of Earth. Yes, this is a fantasy Princess movie.

from Rotten Tomatoes
Based on what I've read about the "Keepers", I'm disappointed in the limited role that aliens play in Jupiter Ascending. I guess the Keepers just do dirty work for royal dicks like Balem Abrasax. But the point of the movie is not to reveal something interesting about space aliens. There is nothing interesting "out there", at all: after eons of human existence there is only a bunch of royal jerks who want to own Earth and process Earthlings into RegeneX so that they continue living their long decadent lives as "royalty". 

shape-shifting Keepers
"...Mass Effect for idiots"

I was motivated to investigate Jupiter Ascending when I learned that it uses some of the same types of Sci Fi plot elements that are in my current writing obsession, the Exode Trilogy. However, as is usual for Hollywood science fiction, this flick seems full of absurd science. I'd hoped that there might be some interesting aliens in Jupiter Ascending, but the only supposed "aliens" (the "Keepers") might not actually be aliens. As far as I can tell, they could just as well be one of the many comic book human variants in this flick that are the result of genetic engineering

"Look, the flick makes no sense
so just make sure that everyone
screams really loud."
Balem the bad guy.
In the fictional universe of Jupiter Ascending, the Keepers use super advanced technology to keep we primitive Earthlings trapped in a "Matrix" of ignorance and believing that humans evolved on Earth. This could be interesting, but we must ask: if there are all these fantastic technologies available to the people of Orous, then why do they need to obtain their precious RegeneX from the bodies of Earthlings? That defies logic and ruins the entire Jupiter Ascending story.

"You have to tell them! RegeneX is
made out of people!"
Jupiter Ascending has been nominated for an award in the 2015 Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens. The award category is "silliest solution to the Fermi Paradox". There are beings who live on other planets, but we don't know that they exist because the Keepers constantly reprogram our memories. We must be kept ignorant because (listen carefully!) the beings who live on other planets (who are very ancient and have super advanced technology including sophisticated genetic engineering) need to grow billions of humans on Earth as the raw material from which they extract a rare maguffin elixir of youth. This makes no sense, but as they say, "That's Hollywood".

The sequel: Jupiter and the RegeneX Factory