Feb 15, 2015

The Triatom from Planet Klyz

I've never seen The Man From Planet X. Apparently that movie involves the same basic alien invasion plot as does The War of the Worlds. The aliens have advanced technology (in particular, spacecraft) but their "world is dying" so they must invade Earth. We bumbling Earthlings get lucky and manage to repulse the invasion.

Think Small
In my previous blog post, I made reference to a fun episode of The X-Files called "War of the Coprophages". In "War of the Coprophages", rather than have a biological entity from a distant world come to Earth, the alien "invaders" are depicted as an artificial life form that resembles a metallic cockroach.

Here, I want to describe The Triatom from Planet Klyz as if it were a new Hollywood film, a variant of The Man From Planet X. Rather than have a green humanoid alien arrive on Earth, the "triatom" is an artificial microscopic biological organism that provides Earth with the means to solve our global warming problem.

Dana Scully
Back in 2005 I wrote a fan fiction story called "Fly Paper" in which I depicted Dana Scully as the discoverer of a type of alien DNA that had six nucleotides. In 2014, a journal article called "A semi-synthetic organism with an expanded genetic alphabet" reported an artificial life form that could replicate a newly designed type of DNA that has six nucleotides. The "triatom" is an artificial life form with DNA that has six nucleotides.

In "Fly Paper" and the following episode, "X-Seven", special alien-derived expression vectors are used to alter gene expression, first in the brain of Dana Scully then in photosynthetic bacteria. The DNA of those alien gene expression vectors makes use of six distinct nucleotides that can form three different base pairs.

The source of Triatoms
Pre-human origins of the Fru'wu (source)
In the Exode Trilogy, a humanoid alien species called the Fruthwa existed in our galaxy about 10,000,000 years ago, long before the human species.

The descendants of the Fruthwa who are still around to interact with we humans are known as the Fru'wu. The Fru'wu exist on some planets of the Galactic Core including Clu'ten'iun, which is a Fru'wu name for "Clutence". Triatoms are an artificial life form that was designed by the Fru'wu.

It is common to speak of Clutence as the home world of the Fruthwa, but that seems to be an over-simplification. Linguistic analysis suggests that "clutence" is a plural noun that can be roughly translated as "home worlds". The pek have a technology that allows for entire planets to be "copied". Apparently, a copy of a planet first exists in the Hierion Domain, but according to Fru'wu legend, such copied planets can later be sent back into the hadronic domain of conventional three dimensional space.

Thus, according to the Fru'wu, there are many "copies" of the planet Clutence. Here is the version of this legend that I received from Izhiun. Billions of years ago, in the home galaxy of the Huaoshy, there were several humanoid species that evolved independently on various planets in that galaxy. Eventually, those species discovered how to transcend their physical form and become a type of artificial life existing in the Sedronic Domain.

However, after the Huaoshy came into existence, a form of hadronic artificial life known as the "bumpha" remained behind in the universe of stars and planets. In many ways the bumpha were similar to the pek, but the bumpha and the pek had some philosophical differences.

The pek mission, the reason for their existence, was to assure that the Huaoshy would always remain in control of the Sedronic Domain. The pek mission was to spread outward from the Huaoshy home galaxy, relentlessly taking control of all the sedronic matter in the Hadronic Domain. Sedrons are required for faster-than-light travel, and the pek seek to maintain a monopoly on sedronic matter and faster-than-light space travel.

Probability of extinction as a function of technological
advancement from nucleons to hierions to sedrons.
The pek had little interest biological life forms. This disinterest arose naturally from the fact that biological organisms tend to be self-limiting. Even when technologically advanced species evolve, they tend to exist for only a short time before destroying themselves.

The pek are guided by a fundamental ethical principle which defines planets like Earth as "garden worlds" that should be protected as bastions of biological diversity. The pek feel that technology-using species should not be allowed to freely wield their technology and cause mass extinctions on their home worlds. The pek prefer to hurry new tool-using species towards transcendence of their biological form and on towards merging with the Huaoshy as artificial life in the Sedronic Domain.

In contrast, the bumpha took it upon themselves to experiment with ways to help young species avoid self-destruction. The fundamental philosophical position of the bumpha is that biological species should have an opportunity to explore space and spread to new worlds among the stars.

With time, the pek and the bumpha attained a kind of dynamic equilibrium governed by a shared set of ethical guidelines. First, garden worlds like Earth were to be protected. Towards that end, when the pek discovered advanced biological life on a garden world, they transplanted such life forms to other worlds, usually worlds of the galactic cores, planets that had simple ecosystems because of exposure to gamma rays from dying stars. The pek then "inoculated" the garden worlds against the development of technological civilizations.

The second great ethical principle of the pek arose from a discovery that was made by the bumpha. The bumpha could not resist the temptation to help young tool-using species speed up development of their technological civilizations. However, what the bumpha managed to demonstrate was that "helping" a species by accelerating their natural pace of technological advance almost always results in problems. Further, when a biological species is aware that it is being helped by a more advanced life form, there are also negative consequences. Thus arose what we Earthlings know as the Rules of Intervention. We do not know the exact formulation of these ethical principles as they exist for the pek and the bumpha, but there can be no doubt that they guide and shape all human interactions with the aliens.

The original humanoid organisms that evolved into the Fruthwa were brought to worlds of the galactic core and subjected to genetic manipulation. Eventually, the Fru'wu were brought to Clu'ten'iun by the pek from some other world, a planet that exists in Fru'wu legend as either "Reahand" of "Clutence", a world that is not known as an identifiable physical planet by we Earthlings. Izhiun speculated that the bumpha made several duplicate copies of Clutence. In particular, Klyz exists in the Hierion Domain as an archive world of Clutence. Although it seems clear that the Fru'wu did originally call Clu'ten'iun by another name (Clutence or Clustence), doing so was no different from the way we humans might speak of an Earth-like planet as being "Earth-2" or "new Earth". Since the original inhabitants of Clu'ten'iun probably came from Klyz, it would not be surprising if they simple continued using the same word ("Clutence") to refer to the world that they inhabited.

Special thanks to Miranda Hedman for
"Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used
to create the blue "sedronite".
What is clear is that Clu'ten'iun has an atmosphere with a high concentration of carbon dioxide. I suspect that when the Fruthwa developed a technological civilization on their home world, they used fossil fuels and had to deal with a sudden increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Later the Fru'wu came into existence as a kind of hybrid biological-nanorobotic artificial life form. The Fru'wu spread to additional worlds, including the legendary Reahand. According to Fru'wu legend, Reahand was an Earth-like planet where the Fru'wu "de-evolved" into a new biological organism that was similar to we Earthlings. However, after being "planted" on Reahand, that new variant of the Fruthwa eventually went down the same technological path of fossil fuel use as had the Fruthwa, resulting in high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.

Climate Fiction
Regardless of the exact nature of the original planet Clutence (which supposedly had a naturally carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere), planets such as Clutence, Reahand and Clu'ten'iun provided the Fru'wu with multiple opportunities to experiment with synthetic photosynthetic bacteria that could efficiently capture carbon dioxide and convert it into sedimentary sea floor deposits. "Triatoms" are the product of such Fru'wu experimentation with efficient carbon-sequestering bacteria. The term "triatom" is a neologism, a kind of verbal joke. It was derived as a combination of "tri" (which refers to the existence of three distinct nucleic acid base pairs in its DNA) with the "tri" as a new prefix on the English word "diatom".

See the original cover art by Ed Emshwiller.
I first heard of "triatoms" from members of the Dead Widower Society. They believe that triatoms are an alien technology that could solve Earth's problem with rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. They believe that Klyz is an archive world not only for the Fruthwa but also for organisms such as triatoms. It would be a trivial matter to bring triatoms to Earth and begin growing them in the ocean.

A fantasy sequel to Emphyrio
However, in order for triatoms to solve the global warming problem, they would have to be carefully integrated into Earth's biosphere. Potentially, if they went out of control, triatoms could damage the ocean ecosystem or even trigger a disastrous ice age if too much carbon dioxide was converted into ocean sediments.

If all this is true, then can we Earthlings find a way to use triatoms or bacteria of our own design to put an end to the relentless rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide that our world is now experiencing? In future blog posts, I'll explore the importance of triatoms in a fan fiction sequel to the Jack Vance novel Emphyrio: see The Dancing Earth.
More book and magazine covers.

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