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Wednesday, 02 February 2000
Anders Sandberg wrote:
> "Robert J. Bradbury" <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> As for future architecture, I'm currently interested in biotech
> architecture for my next sf scenario (no, I can't get enough :-).
> thinking along the lines of Stateless in Egan's _Distress_ and the
> stuff described in the Wired article "Newer York, New York"
> (http://wired.lycos.com/wired/archive/8.01/futuretekture.html). Any
> other ideas for what you can do with programmed bacteria, transgene
> plants and good biotech?
> (The scenario will involve the division between the netocracy and
> nationlubbers, the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War, the arrival
> the next ice age and the death of the *real* dragons)
An old but relevant technology involves running current through sea
water. Dissolved salts precipitate onto a conductive mesh and liberate
hydrogen gas. Run current as long as you like, or at least until
you've reached the desired thickness of deposit. I understand this
material has about the strength of concrete, but has different
advantages and drawbacks. These include low-cost (just current and
electrodes), easy repair (turn the current on again), a built-in
network (the electrode mesh), limited construction location (under
salt water), difficult to remodel, and aesthetics (ugly looking).
Advantages can be played up and drawback played down in science
I leave it to your imagination for involving good biotech. This
method and material are simple and dumb. It could serve as seed
material for a coral reef, beach side cottages, sea walls, piers,
dikes, and so on. Greg Egan's _Distress_ had plants that produced low
but useful levels of electric power. Combining these two makes
floating plant life that makes it own carapace.
I assume any Chinese Civil War will involve action against Taiwan at
some point. Without serious collapse of American military prowess
naval action among People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), US Navy, and
Taiwanese forces seems reasonable. Any side involved might use this
technique to produce cheap hulls for "Liberty Ships" or low magnetic
signature mines. If your scenario has vessels using screws for
propulsion then they remain vulnerable to entangling wires.
Reinforcing such traps with electrodeposition might make them more
effective. On the other hand, I suspect magnetohydrodynamic propulsion
would prove very sensitive to changes in the gross electrical
properties of its working fluid. Perhaps salting (no pun intended) the
sea lanes with plants that release this material would damage or slow
If naval action plays a role in your next SF scenario, I'd like to
make further suggestions off list.
- - --
Jay Dugger : email@example.com
Til Eulenspiegel : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes the delete key is your best friend.
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